Two thoughts

That I had today:

  1. I am constantly reminded of the fact that when you gain a proper perspective of our place in the universe... the concept that a mere human brain is able to discover and understand everything that is trully knowable is... ridiculous. We are just the best that 4 billion years of evolution has managed to come up with in our little speck of the universe. Compare the most stupid person who has eve lived to the most brilliant person who has ever lived: the difference is utterly insignificant compared to how intelligent someone, or some machine, could in theory be.
  2. I was having a discussion with a friend about "big-O" notation... (basically, looking up a name in the phone book by searching sequentially through the pages is much slower than other ways you could adopt given that you know the names are sorted). As hardward has improved, "preferred" programming languages have changed towards what programmers can express against efficiency of execution... Yet, "big-O" notation has still kept dominion over what constructs people invent in programming languages.  Paul Graham wants to design an "idealized" programming language ... a "perfect" programming language, if you will. But... think really big for a moment: Suppose some technological advance (quantum computers or such) made it possible to compute any decidable proposition in constant time? What would programming languages look like then? The most important thing would be how easy it was to express the answer that you wanted. There would never be any point in saying "how" you wanted to calculate something - you would only ever be interested in the sorts of "questions" you could pose...  (what a delicious thought... to have such a machine!...)... I'm thinking of constructs such as the "amb" operator in Scheme.

Oh... while typing this I was watching the first episode of the new Apprentice series... it's become so miserable and negative now. All of the contestants are miserable, Sir Alan looks miserable... they are all desperately unhappy. It seems to me, in the first series, he got some really impressive candidates... a few "leaders" (such as James Max) who were able to bring out the best in the team despite all of the negative energy.  But then again, it's no wonder that, after that first episode, they can't find any good contestants. What sane person would want to work for Sir Alan? He's all about "business is all about being aggressive, you're either a winner or a loser"... you'd have to be a masochist to want to work for him. All of the smart people realise that there's so much more to life, and relationships... and anyway, business (and life) is about co-operation so much more than it's about competition...

The program has completely jumped the shark... but I'll probably still watch it anyway. At least until the really fit blonde contestant drops out.


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