February 14, 2007
Clickety Clack - The Sound of Nothing HappeningSitting at my desk on my client's site this afternoon, all I can hear is the clickety clack of fingers on keyboards. All heads are down, eyes fixed on the liquid crystal directly in front of them.
It reminds me a little of the Doctor Who story Logopolis. Logopolis is a planet where people with superhuman mathematical intellects incant algorithms that have the power to shape the Universe. They don't use computers to run their programs. They "run" their programs using their own keen minds, since the mind is capable of much more than any computer. Anyway, they sit in alcoves that line the criss-crossing streets that make up an entire city of thousands of Logopolitans all totally devoted to pure computation.
The Doctor visits Logopolis to get the chameleon circuit of his ship, the TARDIS, fixed so it can adopt any disguise - it having been stuck as a police telephone box for hundreds of years. In the story, the Logopolitans are able to transform reality using pure computation. We might know this as a sort of mathematical voodoo.
In reality, of course, the only thing that can be made real through pure computation is heat due to increases in informational entropy (though that's a long story in itself). We cannot compute TARDIS's or teddy bears or tofu into existence just by manipulating information.
The people all around me with their heads down going clickety clack would do well to remember that...
Posted 14 years, 9 months ago on February 14, 2007