Wednesday, May 18, 2005

A tribute

Quite a number of people think I'm a funny guy. Ok, well my wife thinks I'm a funny guy. And even then, I'm not that funny most of the time. While looking for the Hitchhiker's quote for "Start Spreading the News", I came across another part of the book that, when I first read it, had me in tears. Reading it again did the same thing but for a different reason.

Douglas Adams died awhile ago. But his humor was so unique and fantastic, the movie Hitchhikers didn't do him justice. The following is a quote from one of the Hitchhiker's books. If you find it nearly as funny as I do, do yourself a favor and read the books.

Anything that thinks logically can be fooled by something else that thinks at least as logically as it does. The easiest way to fool a completely logical robot is to feed it with the same stimulus sequence over and over again so it gets locked in a loop. This was best demonstrated by the famous Herring Sandwich experiments conducted millennia ago at MISPWOSO (the MaxiMegalon Institute of Slowly and Painfully Working Out the Surprisingly Obvious). A robot was programmed to believe that it liked herring sandwiches. This was actually the most difficult part of the whole experiment. Once the robot had been programmed to believe that it liked herring sandwiches, a herring sandwich was placed in front of it. Where upon the robot thought to itself, Ah! A herring sandwich! I like herring sandwiches.It would then bend over and scoop up the herring sandwich in its herring sandwich scoop, and then straighten up again. Unfortunately for the robot, it was fashioned in such a way that the action of straightening up caused the herring sandwich to slip straight back off its herring sandwich scoop and fall on to the floor in front of the robot. Whereupon the robot thought to itself, Ah! A herring sandwich...etc., and repeated the same action over and over again. The only thing that prevented the herring sandwich from getting bored with the whole damn business and crawling off in search of other ways of passing the time was that the herring sandwich, being just a bit of dead fish between a couple of slices of bread, was marginally less alert to what was going on than was the robot.

Feel free to start blithering now.

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