# My Kindle Clippings/2018

### From charlesreid1

## January

========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 218 | Loc. 3405-7 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:57 PM Here Shannon was more concrete: he proposed six strategies, and the fluency with which he walked his audience through them—drawing P’s for “problems” and S’s for “solutions” on the chalkboard behind him for emphasis—suggests that these were all well-trodden paths in his mind. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 219 | Loc. 3407-11 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:57 PM You might, he said, start by simplifying: “Almost every problem that you come across is befuddled with all kinds of extraneous data of one sort or another; and if you can bring this problem down into the main issues, you can see more clearly what you’re trying to do.” Of course, simplification is an art form in itself: it requires a knack for excising everything from a problem except what makes it interesting, a nose for the distinction between accident and essence worthy of a scholastic philosopher. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 219 | Loc. 3412-15 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:57 PM Failing this difficult work of simplifying, or supplementing it, you might attempt step two: encircle your problem with existing answers to similar questions, and then deduce what it is that the answers have in common—in fact, if you’re a true expert, “your mental matrix will be filled with P’s and S’s,” a vocabulary of questions already answered. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 219 | Loc. 3416-19 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:57 PM If you cannot simplify or solve via similarities, try to restate the question: “Change the words. Change the viewpoint. . . . Break loose from certain mental blocks which are holding you in certain ways of looking at a problem.” Avoid “ruts of mental thinking.” In other words, don’t become trapped by the sunk cost, the work you’ve already put in. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 219 | Loc. 3420-22 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:58 PM Fourth, mathematicians have generally found that one of the most powerful ways of changing the viewpoint is through the “structural analysis of a problem”—that is, through breaking an overwhelming problem into small pieces. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 220 | Loc. 3425-26 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:58 PM Fifth, problems that can’t be analyzed might still be inverted. If you can’t use your premises to prove your conclusion, just imagine that the conclusion is already true and see what happens—try proving the premises instead. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 220 | Loc. 3426-28 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:58 PM Finally, once you’ve found your S, by one of these methods or by any other, take time to see how far it will stretch. The math that holds true on the smallest levels often, it turns out, holds true on the largest. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 220 | Loc. 3435-39 | Added on Wednesday, January 03, 2018, 12:59 PM If there was any tension in the auditorium when he concluded—and invited the audience up to the front to examine a new gadget he’d been tinkering on—it was between Shannon the reluctant company man and Shannon the solitary wonder. The latter was as elusive as ever. There is a famous paper on the philosophy of mind called “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?” The answer, roughly, is that we have no idea. What was it like to be Claude Shannon? ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 224 | Loc. 3461-66 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:04 PM Shannon was able to use each talk to dive deeply into a topic of personal interest. The “Seminar on Information Theory” in the spring term of 1956 served as a carousel for Shannon’s passions. In a lecture titled “Reliable Machines from Unreliable Components,” Shannon presented the following challenge: “In case men’s lives depend upon the successful operation of a machine, it is difficult to decide on a satisfactorily low probability of failure, and in particular, it may not be adequate to have men’s fates depend upon the successful operation of single components as good as they may be.” What followed was an analysis of the error-correcting and fail-safe mechanisms that might resolve such a dilemma. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 224 | Loc. 3466-71 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:04 PM In another lecture, “The Portfolio Problem,” Shannon pondered the implications for information theory of illicit gambling: The following analysis, due to John Kelly, was inspired by news reports of betting on whether or not the contestant on the TV program “$64,000 Question” would win. It seems that one enterprising gambler on the west coast, where the program broadcast is delayed three hours, was receiving tips by telephone before the local telecast took place. The question arose as to how well the gambler could do if the communication channel over which he received the tips was noisy. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 225 | Loc. 3479-85 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:06 PM As he wrote to his supervisor, Hendrik Bode, “It always seemed to me that the freedom I took [at the Labs] was something of a special favor.” Bell Labs, understandably, didn’t see it that way. They made a counteroffer, with a generous increase in Shannon’s salary. But, in the end, it wasn’t enough to sway him. His letter of resignation was a thoughtful weighing of industry against the academy. “There are certainly many points of superiority at Bell Labs,” Shannon writes. “Perhaps most important among these is the freedom from teaching and other duties with a consequent increase in time available for research.” Shannon acknowledged, too, that Bell Labs was offering him more money than MIT, “although the differential was not great in my case and, at any rate, I personally feel other issues are much more important.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 226 | Loc. 3485-90 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:06 PM Bell Labs’ somewhat remote location in New Jersey was a complicating factor in its own right. “The essential seclusion and isolation of Bell Labs has both advantages and disadvantages. It eliminates a good many time-wasting visitors, but at the same time prevents many interesting contacts. Foreign visitors often spend a day at Bell Laboratories but spend six months at MIT. This gives opportunities for real interchange of ideas.” Bell Labs matched and even exceeded MIT in the caliber of its thinking, Shannon allowed. But in the end, “the general freedom in academic life is, in my view, one of its most important features. The long vacations are exceedingly attractive, as is also the general feeling of freedom in hours of work.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 232 | Loc. 3585-90 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:13 PM Shannon became a whetstone for others’ ideas and intuitions. Rather than offer answers, he asked probing questions; instead of solutions, he gave approaches. As Larry Roberts, a graduate student of that time, remembered, “ Shannon’s favorite thing to do was to listen to what you had to say and then just say, ‘What about . . .’ and then follow with an approach you hadn’t thought of. That’s how he gave his advice.” This was how Shannon preferred to teach: as a fellow traveler and problem solver, just as eager as his students to find a new route or a fresh approach to a standing puzzle. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 232 | Loc. 3591-3603 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:14 PM One anecdote, from Robert Gallager, captures both the power and subtlety of Shannon’s approach to the work of instruction: I had what I thought was a really neat research idea, for a much better communication system than what other people were building, with all sorts of bells and whistles. I went in to talk to him about it and I explained the problems I was having trying to analyze it. And he looked at it, sort of puzzled, and said, “Well, do you really need this assumption?” And I said, well, I suppose we could look at the problem without that assumption. And we went on for a while. And then he said, again, “Do you need this other assumption?” And I saw immediately that that would simplify the problem, although it started looking a little impractical and a little like a toy problem. And he kept doing this, about five or six times. I don’t think he saw immediately that that’s how the problem should be solved; I think he was just groping his way along, except that he just had this instinct of which parts of the problem were fundamental and which were just details. At a certain point, I was getting upset, because I saw this neat research problem of mine had become almost trivial. But at a certain point, with all these pieces stripped out, we both saw how to solve it. And then we gradually put all these little assumptions back in and then, suddenly, we saw the solution to the whole problem. And that was just the way he worked. He would find the simplest example of something and then he would somehow sort out why that worked and why that was the right way of looking at it. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 233 | Loc. 3604-6 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:15 PM Irwin Jacobs, an MIT student of that era and later the founder of Qualcomm, recalled: “People would go in, discuss a new idea, and how they were approaching it—and then he’d go over to one of his filing cabinets and pull out some unpublished paper that covered the material very well!” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 233 | Loc. 3614-28 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:17 PM It wasn’t only Shannon’s constant presence in the house, or the collection of electromechanical ephemera, that set him apart from other fathers. The Shannons were peculiar in the way that only a family headed by two mathematical minds might be. For instance, when it came time to decide who would handle the dishes after dinner, the Shannons turned to a game of chance: they wound up a robotic mouse, set it in the middle of their dining room table, and waited for the mouse to drop over one of the edges—and thus select that evening’s dishwasher. Then there were the spontaneous moments of math instruction. At a party hosted by the Shannons, young Peggy Shannon was in charge of the toothpicks. She was carrying a box of them on the house’s verandah—and then dropped it by accident, spilling its contents onto the porch. Her father, standing nearby, paused, took stock of the mess, and then said, “Did you know, you can calculate pi with that?” He was referring to Buffon’s Needle, a famous problem in geometric probability: it turns out that when you drop a series of needles (or toothpicks) on an evenly lined floor, the proportion of needles falling across a line can be used to estimate pi with surprising accuracy. Most important, Peggy remembered, her dad wasn’t angry with her for the mess. The Shannon household coalesced around the parents’ passions: chess and music became family pastimes, and stock picking and tinkering were a part of everyday life. Shannon took his children to circus performances. Alice in Wonderland, the favorite of many a mathematician, was in the air; Shannon especially enjoyed quoting from “Jabberwocky.” When it came to challenging math assignments, Peggy was regularly pointed in her father’s direction, even though, as she admits, this was overkill; anyone in the household, including her two older brothers, could have helped. He was, by her account, a patient teacher, though he often went on tangents that betrayed his own inclinations. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 235 | Loc. 3638-44 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:18 PM Even with his aversion to writing things down, the famous attic stuffed with half-finished work, and countless hypotheses circulating in his mind—and even when one paper on the scale of his “Mathematical Theory of Communication” would have counted as a lifetime’s accomplishment—Shannon still managed to publish hundreds of pages’ worth of papers and memoranda, many of which opened new lines of inquiry in information theory. That he had also written seminal works in other fields—switching, cryptography, chess programming—and that he might have been a pathbreaking geneticist, had he cared to be, was extraordinary. Yet Shannon had also come to accept that his own best days were behind him. “I believe that scientists get their best work done before they are fifty, or even earlier than that. I did most of my best work while I was young,” Shannon said. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 235 | Loc. 3644-46 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:19 PM This belief in an implicit age cap on mathematical genius was hardly unique to Shannon. As the mathematician G. H. Hardy famously wrote, “no mathematician should ever allow himself to forget that mathematics, more than any other art or science, is a young man’s game.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 235 | Loc. 3646-52 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:19 PM While there have been notable exceptions to that rule, Shannon was convinced that he would not be one of them. His Bell Labs colleague Henry Pollak recalls visiting Shannon at home in Winchester to bring him up to date on a new development in communications science. “I started telling him about it, and for a brief time he got quite enthused about this. And then he said, ‘Nuh-uh, I don’t want to think. I don’t want to think that much anymore.’ It was the beginning of the end in his case, I think. He just—he turned himself off.” But if Shannon turned off the most rigorous part of his mind, he also freed himself to take a bird’s-eye view of the emerging Information Age that his work had made possible. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 236 | Loc. 3654-59 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:20 PM “For everybody who built communication systems, before [Shannon], it was a matter of trying to find a way to send voice, trying to find a way to send data, like Morse code,” recalled Gallager. “The thing that Claude said is that you don’t have to worry about all those different things.” Now their worries had a far more productive outlet: the coding, storage, and transmission of bits. “Once all the engineers were doing that, they start making this enormously rapid progress, start finding better and better ways of digitizing things and of storing and of communicating these very simple objects called binary digits, instead of these very complicated things like voice waveforms. If you look at it that way, Shannon is really responsible for the digital revolution.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 236 | Loc. 3661-67 | Added on Saturday, January 20, 2018, 08:20 PM I think that this present century in a sense will see a great upsurge and development of this whole information business . . . the business of collecting information and the business of transmitting it from one point to another, and perhaps most important of all, the business of processing it—using it to replace man at semi-rote operations at a factory . . . even the replacement of man in the things that we almost think of as creative, things like mathematics or translating languages. If words like that seem self-evident and unremarkable to us today, it’s worth remembering that Shannon was speaking more than a quarter century before the birth of the World Wide Web, and at a time when virtually all computers were still room-sized. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 245 | Loc. 3776-80 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 12:50 AM And yet, Thorp wrote, what impressed him more than any of the gadgets was his host’s uncanny ability to “see” a solution to a problem rather than to muscle it out with unending work. “Shannon seemed to think with ‘ideas’ more than with words or formulas. A new problem was like a sculptor’s block of stone and Shannon’s ideas chiseled away the obstacles until an approximate solution emerged like an image, which he proceeded to refine as desired with more ideas.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 249 | Loc. 3845-50 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 12:55 AM Juggling lacks the nobility of mathematical pastimes like chess or music. And yet the tradition of mathematician-jugglers is an ancient one. As best as we can tell, that tradition began in the tenth century CE in an open-air market in Baghdad. It was there that Abu Sahl al-Quhi, later one of the great Muslim astronomers, got his start in life juggling. A few years later, Al-Quhi became a kind of court mathematician for the local emir, who, fascinated by planetary motion, built an observatory in the garden of his palace and put Al-Quhi in charge. The appointment bore some fine mathematical fruit: Al-Quhi invented an adjustable geometrical compass, likely the world’s first, and led the revival among Muslim geometers of the study of the Greek thinkers Archimedes and Apollonius. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 250 | Loc. 3852-54 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 12:55 AM As Graham observed, “mathematics is often described as the science of patterns. Juggling can be thought of as the art of controlling patterns in time and space.” So it’s no surprise that generations of mathematicians could be found on university quads, tossing things in the air and catching them. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 266 | Loc. 4110-14 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 01:13 AM But computing was not only a central thread of his life’s work. As the lecture’s title suggested, it was also, always, his hobby—or, as he translated the word for his audience, his shumi. “Building devices like chess-playing machines and juggling robots, even as a ‘shumi,’ might seem a ridiculous waste of time and money,” Shannon admitted. “But I think the history of science has shown that valuable consequences often proliferate from simple curiosity.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 266 | Loc. 4114-19 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 01:13 AM What might proliferate from such curiosities as Endgame and Theseus? I have great hopes in this direction for machines that will rival or even surpass the human brain. This area, known as artificial intelligence, has been developing for some thirty or forty years. It is now taking on commercial importance. For example, within a mile of MIT, there are seven different corporations devoted to research in this area, some working on parallel processing. It is difficult to predict the future, but it is my feeling that by 2001 AD we will have machines which can walk as well, see as well, and think as well as we do. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 266 | Loc. 4121-25 | Added on Thursday, January 25, 2018, 01:14 AM Incidentally, a communication system is not unlike what is happening right here. I am the source and you are the receiver. The translator is the transmitter who is applying a complicated operation to my American message to make it suitable for Japanese ears. This transformation is difficult enough with straight factual material, but becomes vastly more difficult with jokes and double entendres. I could not resist the temptation to include a number of these to put the translator on his mettle. Indeed, I am planning to take a tape of his translation to a second translator, and have it translated back into English. We information theorists get a lot of laughs this way. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 268 | Loc. 4133-35 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:35 AM As Robert Gallager put it, “Claude was never a person who depended a great deal on memory, because one of the things that made him brilliant was his ability to draw such wonderful conclusions from very, very simple models. What that meant was that, if he was failing a little bit, you wouldn’t notice it.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 270 | Loc. 4164-67 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:37 AM From 1983 to 1993, Shannon continued to live at Entropy House and carry on as well as he could. Perhaps it says something about the depth of his character that, even in the last stages of his decline, much of his natural personality remained intact. “The sides of his personality that seemed to get stronger were the sweet, boyish, playful sides. . . . We were lucky,” Peggy noted. The games and tinkering continued, if at a more measured pace. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 273 | Loc. 4210-12 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:41 AM His deepest legacy, in some sense, wasn’t the one he owned, but the one woven into the work of others—his students, his admirers, later information theorists, engineers, and mathematicians. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 274 | Loc. 4218-23 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:42 AM Shannon’s work left its lasting mark on generations of American engineers and mathematicians, in part, because it resonated with their fundamental values. What were those values? Simplicity matters. Elegant math was forceful math. Inessential items, superfluous writing, extra work—all of them should be discarded. In his way of approaching mathematics as an exercise in getting down to the essentials, Shannon produced work that would be regarded as remarkably self-contained, polished, intuitive, and, of course, brilliant—on par with F=ma or E=mc2. A group of Russian mathematicians wrote that in Shannon’s work, “the logical and natural development of sections into each other makes an impression that the problem is developing itself.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 275 | Loc. 4247-50 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:44 AM Shannon never acknowledged the contradictions in his fields of interest; he simply went wherever his omnivorous curiosity led him. So it was entirely consistent for him to jump from information theory to artificial intelligence to chess to juggling to gambling—it simply didn’t occur to him that investing his talents in a single field made any sense at all. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 276 | Loc. 4255-59 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:44 AM The great Russian mathematician Andrey Kolmogorov put it like this in 1963: In our age, when human knowledge is becoming more and more specialized, Claude Shannon is an exceptional example of a scientist who combines deep abstract mathematical thought with a broad and at the same time very concrete understanding of vital problems of technology. He can be considered equally well as one of the greatest mathematicians and as one of the greatest engineers of the last few decades. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 276 | Loc. 4262-65 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:45 AM He reached the heights of the ivory tower, with all the laurels and professorial chairs to prove it, but felt no shame playing games built for children and writing tracts on juggling. He was passionately curious, but also, at times, unapologetically lazy. He was among the most productive, honored minds of his era, and yet he gave the appearance that he would chuck it all overboard for the chance to tinker in his gadget room. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 277 | Loc. 4274-78 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:46 AM Courage is one of the things that Shannon had supremely. You have only to think of his major theorem. He wants to create a method of coding, but he doesn’t know what to do so he makes a random code. Then he is stuck. And then he asks the impossible question, “What would the average random code do?” He then proves that the average code is arbitrarily good, and that therefore there must be at least one good code. Who but a man of infinite courage could have dared to think those thoughts? That is the characteristic of great scientists; they have courage. They go forward under incredible circumstances; they think and continue to think. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 278 | Loc. 4283-86 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:47 AM Importantly, his courage was joined to an ego so self-contained and self-sufficient that it looked, from certain angles, like the absence of ego. This was the keystone quality of Shannon, the one that enabled all the others. At almost every opportunity for self-promotion, Shannon demurred. Mathematicians worry about spending time on problems of insufficient difficulty, what they derisively call “toy problems”; Claude Shannon worked with actual toys in public! ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 278 | Loc. 4289-92 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:48 AM And that is connected, we think, to the other great hallmark of Shannon’s life: the value of finding joy in work. We expect our greatest minds to bear the deepest scars; we prefer our geniuses tortured. But with the exception of a few years in his twenties when Shannon passed through what seems like a moody, possibly even depressive, stage, his life and work seemed to be one continuous game. He was, at once, abnormally brilliant and normally human. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 279 | Loc. 4305-6 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:49 AM he was drawn to the idea that knowledge was valuable for its own sake and that discovery was pleasurable in its own right. As he himself put it, “I’ve been more interested in whether a problem is exciting than what it will do.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 279 | Loc. 4308-9 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:50 AM “He was not interested in forming a company to build unicycles. He was interested in finding out what made unicycles fun and finding out more about them.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 281 | Loc. 4427-31 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 09:57 AM Shannon set four goals for artificial intelligence to achieve by 2001: a chess-playing program that was crowned world champion, a poetry program that had a piece accepted by the New Yorker, a mathematical program that proved the elusive Riemann hypothesis, and, “most important,” a stock-picking program that outperformed the prime rate by 50 percent. “These goals,” he said only half-jokingly, “could mark the beginning of a phase-out of the stupid, entropy-increasing, and militant human race in favor of a more logical, energy conserving, and friendly species—the computer.” ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 283 | Loc. 4478-82 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 10:01 AM Here is how Arthur Koestler, a physics student turned novelist, once put it: Modern man lives isolated in his artificial environment, not because the artificial is evil as such, but because of his lack of comprehension of the forces which make it work—of the principles which relate his gadgets to the forces of nature, to the universal order. It is not central heating which makes his existence “unnatural,” but his refusal to take an interest in the principles behind it. By being entirely dependent on science, yet closing his mind to it, he leads the life of an urban barbarian. ========== A Mind at Play: How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age (Jimmy Soni and Rob Goodman) - Highlight on Page 284 | Loc. 4483-85 | Added on Tuesday, January 30, 2018, 10:01 AM We would add: it is not the Internet that is unnatural, nor our feast of information, but a refusal to consider what their origins are, how and why they are here, where they sit in the flow of our history, and what kinds of men and women brought them about. We think there is something of an obligation in beginning to learn these things. ==========

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