[lit-ideas] Re: The Answering Machine

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 11 Jan 2012 23:41:56 +0900

No one and no machine will ever produce an infinite number of answers. The
point is that given the right mechanisms the set of possible answers is
infinitely large.

That said, there is the wonderful short, short story in Frederic
Brown's *Angels
and Spaceships *about a day in some far off future when the President of
the Universe stands in front of a giant computer in which all the knowledge
accumulated by all of the peoples of the universe has been stored. He steps
up to throw the switch that turns the computer on and asks the question
still on everyone's mind, "Is there a God?"  A lightning flash from heaven
fuses the switch shut and a mighty voice intones...."Now there is."

Happy Year of the Dragon,


On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 10:53 PM, Andy <mimi.erva@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> From what I understand, the number 1 is as close to infinity as is a
> number to the millionth power.  If infinity is unapproachable, at some
> point there has to be an end to the number of answers that humans and their
> machines can generate.  Pi is allegedly infinite, but it's a human
> discovery, like infinity itself.  It has nothing to do with humans.  The
> universe is unimaginably vast, but there's some suggestion that even it may
> be finite.
> Andy
>   *From:* John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
> *To:* lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
> *Sent:* Tuesday, January 10, 2012 8:20 PM
> *Subject:* [lit-ideas] Re: The Answering Machine
> A Turing machine and an answering machine differ in one fundamental way.
> An answering machine is limited to a finite set of answers (typically with
> only one member). A Turing machine shares with human beings the ability to
> generate an infinite number of different answers, thanks to combinatorics
> and recursion.
> Cheers,
> John McC
> On Wed, Jan 11, 2012 at 9:13 AM, John Wager <jwager@xxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
>  Donal McEvoy wrote:
>  "And indeed the phone itself is simply a vehicle of communication that
> itself does not communicate, so it is doubly wrong an expression as we do
> not
> answer the phone but respond to the person ringing."
> Would that mean the same thing for a  "Touring machine?"  Is it an
> "answering machine" as well
> that is only a means to respond to the person "ringing" the machine?
> Is ANY machine that is programmed by people basically a complicated
> "answering machine"
> that allows communication between two human parties, or is a Touring
> machine somehow NOT
> an "answering machine" even if it's been programmed by someone in a more
> complicated way than
> (but basically similar to) a phone answering machine?
> --
> John McCreery
> The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
> Tel. +81-45-314-9324
> jlm@xxxxxxxxxxxx
> http://www.wordworks.jp/

John McCreery
The Word Works, Ltd., Yokohama, JAPAN
Tel. +81-45-314-9324

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