Subject: Re: Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Encyclopedia
From: Erik Naggum <>
Date: Tue, 06 Nov 2001 14:23:40 GMT
Newsgroups: comp.lang.lisp
Message-ID: <>

* Erann Gat
| The difference is this: it is possible to take the information content of
| a book and render it in a computer in a way that does not lose the book's
| essential value.

  This begs the question of why a computer is so special.  What, exactly,
  makes electricity non-real?  What kind of magic wand does a computer
  possess that makes that which is stored within it _materially_ different
  from any other reality?  The fact that we can no longer _see_ it is no
  different from a lot of other very real things that we cannot see.

  And who _values_ things?  How come a particular aspect of a book is
  designated an "essential value" just because a computer can retain it?

  If I model a car down to its smallest details in some form that is not
  usable as a car, but from which a working car may again be built, it is
  completely irrelevant to the owners of the car design that I had a
  non-usable intermediate model.  The same goes for books, actually, and
  whether the intermediate, non-book model can be _read_ through _yet_
  another duplication process is also irrelevant.

  We can already give industrial robots computerized drawings of a lot of
  things and they will happily reproduce them faithfully.  The _amount_ of
  work that goes into the duplication process is completely immaterial.
  The fact that _some_ work is required is the essential issue.

  Norway is now run by a priest from the fundamentalist Christian People's
  Party, the fifth largest party representing one eighth of the electorate.
  Carrying a Swiss Army pocket knife in Oslo, Norway, is a criminal offense.