So, what about Robot, dreaming in New York, like an undocumented immigrant from Mexico, of the status of his great-grandchildren?
What about his evolutionary chances?
I got a phone call from Hauser. I'd sent him an e-mail, telling that I was interested in the faculty of language, either broad or narrow. Hauser invited me to his place. So, I made the trip to Cambridge.
» Okay, you wanted to talk. Talk.
» Sir, can you tell me about FLB and FLN.
He nodded to me.
» Go on.
» I asked you a question.
» Just talk. I'll listen.
» Talk about what.
» Don't bother. If you want to talk nonsense, feel free. Next week I'll answer your question.
» Okay ...
And I talked and talked ...
Next week I went back.
He showed me a scheme.
» You say, this is what I'm doing?
It appeared that what we call chatting or a serious meeting isn't talking or discussing.
- we do grammatical computations
- our phonological converter tunes the results for our sensory-motor
- our semantic driver tunes the result for our conceptual-intentional layer
in order to be sure that the message we want to deliver is delivered by our mouth!
Did you know that?
I do not bother. It's our way of thinking since we were kids.
For the Greeks we were just water earth fire.
After Galileo and Keppler we consisted of solar systems and galaxies.
When we invented the watch the human body was like a watch.
We invent God: humankind is his image.
We build systems: we believe we are systems.
That's our fate.
Have you ever eaten spaghetti à la Leonardo? Can you imagine, having a plate in front of you, prepared by me?
Suppose you come along my place, just to say: nice post Leonardo!
And I invite you to have dinner with me.
But you are in a hurry.
No problem, I say, just a quick and dirty (think of the dirty rice of Autogrill, but not that dirty - I don't like chicken livers or giblets)
There it is: a tangled ball of spaghetti with egg and bacon, tomatoes and herbs.
And you do: hmmmmmm
(thanks for the compliment).
And I say: Nice system ay?
I understand your confusion.
But there exists something like spaghetti code.
Programs which flow looks like a bowl of spaghetti.
As we now and then made quick and dirty programs - temporary provisions in systems because there's not enough time or money.
(By the way: forget about temporary.)
So, where does that leave Robot, eating from the pizza tree.
Jan is still fervently supporting the idea of evolution.
Some husbands are looking forward to it, a nice robot in the kitchen ... leaving the wife with mixed feelings.
Ah, systems and subsystems.
But there are two problems with our metaphor.
Our systems are discrete and far from perfect.
Natural systems lack discreteness and are perfect ...
... sorry, no objection, my phonological converter is still tuning up for the grammatical computations of Greenpeace and the climate movement.
Of course, Hauser and Co are talking concepts. But, reading their article you can hear them thinking: well-ordered systems, and logical, reusable components.
But what kind of law tells us that nature provides us with well thought-out modular systems. Nature has also a lack of time. What if there's an impact of a meteorite, or something like the first industrial revolution in England? Nature has not always time for structured programming.
And one thing for sure. Quick and dirty and spaghetti code suffer a flaw in common: you can't use these techniques for a component in a body of functions, procedures and programs.
The problem is: seeing ourselves as systems makes also the reverse true. Because we have evolution behind our shoulders, we believe that these systems we are building have an evolutionary future waiting for them.
Those who hate elections hope that the theory proves right, which means you will be rid of presidential and other hopefuls.
But, can Jan, the writer, be sure that no robot will beat him in what a scholar perhaps likes to call the function of word-processing but what I like to see as a brilliant manipulation of characters words text form.
Once again: what about Robot's aspirations?
I know three arguments for the absence of evolution in robots - sorry Jan, I am what we call in Italy un testardo.
- it's robust programming, certainly no quick and dirty style; so you can trust the processor feels comfortable in his envelope
- we pamper them: our robot has nothing to complain about his "natural" environment - there's no incentive for changes
- if there's something to improve we take initiative, way before the robots can even think about it
» Sorry Robot, the first scenario was the best for you. Leave at once New York and return to that police barricade. Don't do what they ask you to do. Let them fire that anti-aircraft missile. It means an honour to you and it will be their shame. Jan and I will create a new robot. I'll call him Robot II.
*) this is a sequel to my post Robot