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Software & Wizardry

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Jan. 19th, 2002 | 12:05 am
mood: sicksick

So, this thought came accross my mind a few days ago.

I'd been listening to a talk by Gerald Sussman about "Amorphous computing". The idea beign in the "near future" it'll be possible to build vast quantities of usually functional computers about the size of a grain of sand, whith maybe the equivalent of an 8086 and a meg of ram.

And then they asked the question what you could do with such a device.

They came up with some simulations of laying out circuit topologies using these micro-cpu's. Or a later simulation showed the possibility of a smart sheet that could fold itself up into little origami objects.

This research reminded me of the desire to transform code into changes in the physical world.

Code is merely a specialized language, so the fantasy wizard's speaking "words of power" seem to inspire some large fraction of computer geekdom.

I thought of one of my own little projects, my slow process of adding home automation and sensors to my apartment. At some point it occured to me to add some voice control to the system. But processing english is hard, and using english makes it more likely that casual conversation might trigger unfortunate side effects in ones' system.

But learning lojban... A language that's machine parsable, has controlled ambiguity, that solves some of the problems.

Not to mention it certianly fits the image of an arcane spellcaster to be commanding the unseen forces via an obscure language, rather than common english.

So at least in my own life there does seem to the this desire to use writing code as a form of "magic". It always really amuses me to see code actually do something in the physcical world: turn a light on, move an actuator, etc.

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from: soulsong
date: Jan. 19th, 2002 08:45 am (UTC)
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Lojban looks interesting. I always find myself fascinated by obscure languages for some reason, although that fascination seems totally unburdened by the slightest iota of talent as far as my ability to learn and use those languages goes. I really enjoyed studying latin and ancient greek at school, but promptly forgot it all a few minutes after the exams were over. Recently I discovered the beauty of Sanskrit, which is a superb language for spirituality, but I always seem to find the learning curve too steep, or the amount of effort required before one can use the language to be too great. Computer languages are so much easier to pick up a little at a time.

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