Author Archives: W.P. McNeill

It’s Frank’s World, the Rest of Us Just Live in It

Ferdinand de Saussure: Meaning is difference. Claude Shannon: Difference can be quantified. Alan Turing: Quantification can be automated. Go! Advertisements

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At the Institute for Primate Communication

“NEW SIGN. WE MAKE. YOU SEE.” At first I thought I might have been misinterpreting BoBo, but he kept repeating the signs until it was clear what he meant. “YES YOU SEE” Dian added. “WE MAKE SIGN. YOU HAPPY.” Noam … Continue reading

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Invasion

–Why are we doing this? –Doing what? –Replacing all the humans. –I don’t know. We’re pod people. It’s what we do. –Do you want to? –Want to what? –Replace the humans. –I don’t want to do anything. It’s all just…reflex. … Continue reading

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The Evergreen Idiocracy

A purple-highlighted passage from Carl Sagan’s 1996 book The Demon Haunted World made the rounds of social media recently. In it Sagan expresses concern for a future in which people have chosen ignorance over reason, and some have taken this … Continue reading

Posted in Belonging to the emperor | 1 Comment

“The King of France is Bald” is Tricky

The king of France is bald. What does this mean? Is it this? ∃x [KingOfFrance(x) ∧ ∀y [KingOfFrance(y) → x=y] ∧ Bald(x) Or maybe this? How about this? All of these depictions are useful. The translation of natural language into predicate calculus—pioneered … Continue reading

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Haiku From the Golden Age of Computing

You’ve already seen this. Just wanted to get them all in one place. Continue reading

Posted in Those that at a distance resemble flies, Those that have just broken the flower vase | 3 Comments

Beers with the Boss

What presidential candidate would you rather have a beer with? Continue reading

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