From Mass and Energy to Information

Newton revolutionized our thinking by reducing everything to Mass and Energy – and a few mathematical formulas. Everyone was amazed – even the poet Wordsworth, as romantic a poet as ever there was. He knew Newton was talking about the real stuff.

But Physics moved on, into Quantum Mechanics. I will not dwell on this, because I cannot understand it – no one can, really. But fortunately for me – the Computer came to my rescue.

This I could understand. All anyone had to understand, was that this strange device could follow the orders people gave it – if you spoke to in a way that it could understand. If you gave it long strings of ones and zeros (arranged in exactly the right way) – it would reply with different strings of ones and zeros – also arranged in the exactly the right way.

That was all it could do – and is still all it can do. But people (being the clever beings that we are) have made it very useful. We are smart (some of the time) but it is stupid all of the time.

This makes no sense to you, but it did to Ada Lovelace, whose amazing history you can read here.

Eventually, computer languages were developed that people could write and read – and could be compiled into the digital input the Computer could use. It would respond in the same way – but its responses could be changed into a variety of forms – and eventually, human words that could be formed into sentences.

Now people can talk to their computers – and they can talk back! People do not realize the long, long process required to do this. They think it understands human language – when it does not at all. It is going through some long calculations, using its Silicon hardware. That is not the least bit like the processing the brain does, with its biological hardware.

They are the same in one way only – information was being processed – but in two different ways.

The natural way any child can learn – but only some people can do it the artificial way.

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