a very old, prophetic quotation
I just discovered this by accident (first a bit of context, and on the
second page marked with "*"s the prophetic piece of text I wanted to share
Vannevar Bush: "As We May Think" (The Atlantic Monthly, July 1945)
"The scientist, however, is not the only person who manipulates data and
examines the world about him by the use of logical processes,
although he sometimes preserves this appearance by adopting into the fold
anyone who becomes logical, much in the manner in which
a British labor leader is elevated to knighthood. Whenever logical
processes of thought are employed - that is, whenever thought for a
time runs along an accepted groove - there is an opportunity for the
machine. Formal logic used to be a keen instrument in the hands
of the teacher in his trying of students' souls. It is readily possible
to construct a machine which will manipulate premises in accordance
with formal logic, simply by the clever use of relay circuits. Put a set
of premises into such a device and turn the crank, and it will
readily pass out conclusion after conclusion, all in accordance with
logical law, and with no more slips than would be expected of a
keyboard adding machine.
Logic can become enormously difficult, and it would undoubtedly be well
to produce more assurance in its use. The machines for higher analysis
have usually been equation solvers. Ideas are beginning to appear for
equation transformers, which will rearrange the relationship expressed
by an equation in accordance with strict and rather advanced logic.
* Progress is inhibited by the exceedingly crude way in which
* mathematicians express their relationships. They employ a symbolism
* which grew like Topsy and has little consistency; a strange fact in that
* most logical field.
* A new symbolism, probably positional, must apparently precede the
* reduction of mathematical transformations to machine processes.
* Then, on beyond the strict logic of the mathematician, lies the
* application of logic in everyday affairs. We may some day click off
arguments on a machine with the same assurance that we now enter sales
on a cash register. But the machine of logic will not look like
a cash register, even a streamlined model. "
"The act of defending any of the cardinal virtues has today
all the exhilaration of a vice." -
G.K.Chesterton: A Defense of Humilities, The Defendant, 1901