From: Thomas Buckner (email@example.com)
Date: Wed May 26 2004 - 11:44:17 MDT
--- Samantha Atkins <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
> looks more like
> saying that SAI is not likely to arrive soon enough
> for humanity to
> survive unless humanity matures substantially. This
> I suspect is true.
> - samantha
Also agreed. Our technological infrastructure is less
robust than it appears, depending not only on physical
resources but on mental resources which can also be
lost, on the expertise of a small portion of humanity.
Item: In one of his Popular Mechanics columns, auto
fancier Jay Leno bewailed the near-total disappearance
of knowledgeable machinists who knew how to make the
complex helical gears needed to repair antique
Item: Disney, I have read, has lost most of the people
who knew how to do hand-drawn animation.
Item: What was nauscopie? Nobody knows how it was
done, but a subject of Napoleon invented a way to look
at the horizon and see signs of the imminent arrival
of ships far over the horizon. His discovery was
officially ignored, only one other person ever learned
how to do it, and the secret of nauscopie is lost
Item: An old Chinese fable tells of a master wheel
maker who was invited to go see the Emperor. The
Emperor proudly showed the old wheel master a wall of
scrolls written by great philosophers. The wheel maker
looked at this trove of wisdom and said, "The lees and
scum of dead men."
The Emperor angrily replied, "Insolence! Why does a
mere wheel maker say this? These are the writings of
the greatest minds who have lived!"
The old wheel maker said, "Sire, there is an art to
making wheels. It can only be learned by making many
wheels, year after year, until it is almost like
breathing. I cannot teach this art, not even to my own
son. I believe that it is no different with these
philosophers whose scrolls you keep. The scrolls only
contain what they were able to find words to say, and
the greater part of their wisdom died with them. That
is why I tell you that this is only the lees and scum
of men who are gone."
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