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Our current goal is translate everything into 1s and 0s.
That’s pretty much what we’re down to at this point.
Every since ENIAC was unveiled in 1946 (the first Baby Boomer!), we’ve been on a relentless digitizing binge.
It started out with the easy stuff…arithmetic, equations, calculus and the like. Those were easy because they already existed in the world of numbers and formulas. Turning numbers into binary bits was an impressive achievement, but relatively easy.
Then, Moore’s Law kicked in, exponentially upping our computing power.
And, we all got Pong!
One of the major lessons of these last 60-plus years has been that as hardware develops, software becomes more ambitious; more elaborate.
Just four years after ENIAC, Alan Turing laid down the challenge: can we write code that makes it impossible for a human to know if one is interacting with another person or a machine? The “Turing Test.”
In a way, the Turing Test confronts one of civilization’s most ancient gulfs: the one between Apollo and Dionysus.
The Greek god Apollo brought order to the universe. Harmony, reason and clarity are Apollo’s province. Think of him as the first programmer.
The Delphic oracle’s marching orders came from Apollo: “know thyself.” For Apollo, knowledge rules all.
His nemesis? Dionysus, the god of all that is irrational, impulsive, wild. The original artist.
Dionysus’ charge: “be thyself.”
Warts, and all.
Traditionally, while both are depicted as Zeus’ sons, Apollo is traditionally associated with “maleness” and Dionysus with “femaleness.”
It’s not surprising that when IBM’s Watson system “appeared” on Jeopardy recently, the software was given a male voice.
Males have always been presented as the keepers of the rational, while females operate in the murky land of “intuition”; “women’s intuition.”
And, all that intuition makes women so damned unpredictable!
But, not for long!
To me, it doesn’t take much to see the modern march towards 1s and 0s as the progressive “Appollonization” of the Dionysian. The goal: reduce all the uncertainty in the world to clarity.
Intuition is simply a chain of logical steps that hasn’t yet been been encoded.
Translating intuition into 1s and 0s is just a matter of figuring out the circuitry, tracing the complex algorithms that underlie the “feeling” we get when “something’s just not right”; or, the one we have when we’re just on the verge of a big idea, or meet someone we feel “destined” to be with.
All of that Dionysian messiness, soon to be de-mystified, explained, de-coded and re-coded.
Intuition, that ancient, primitive form of “thinking,” soon to be eliminated.
This is progress.