Re: Jaron Lanier

From: Eugen Leitl (
Date: Wed Nov 26 2003 - 11:52:56 MST

On Wed, Nov 26, 2003 at 09:54:04AM -0800, Robin Lee Powell wrote:
> > I have asserted for many years that Shannon ruined computing as we
> > know it from a theoretical standpoint. By the time the
> > mathematics was properly addressed a few decades later, the
> > inertia of Shannon's pervasive influence was essentially
> > unstoppable and fully ingrained in the way people think about
> > computing.
> This might be better off-list, but I'd like to hear more details.

I'm not James, but please let's do it on-list.

In my personal view, the screwup is directly traceable to the
introspection illusion of a single sequential-process observer and not a large
mess of concurrent processes occuring all in parallel. Our
science is all sequential (traceable at least to the Greeks),
and of course our understanding of computers comes from a *mill*,
a large complex entity sequentially processing dumb matter.
Jacquard looms, Hollerith machines, Turing machine, Bombes/Zuse,
and all the rest of them. We do have a collective parallelism

It is curious that many of the pioneers (Turing's morphogenesis, Zuse's
Rechnender Raum, Ulam/Neumann's cellular automata; doubtless many
others, not all of them published) did attempt to pursue alternative
paradigms for computation. The hardware base was hostile to that
thinking at the time (now, paradoxically, we have to embrace the
cellular approach as we begin the feel the constraints of computational
physics), but one can't help but to wonder how an alternative
landscape of computing could have developed, if some of those early
founders did push into that alternative universe fork.

It is also interesting to observe how vogues come and go, and
how evolutionary lemmings deserted the field in droves when the
field stalled due to hardware limitations and inability to understand
that one has to evolve evolvable systems first, as brittleware
doesn't take kindly to have its bits mutated under its feet.

> Have you had a chance to write up your views? What exactly about
> Shannon's view broke things, IYO, and how?

Yes, please tell.

-- Eugen* Leitl leitl
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