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Monday, 10 May 2004


Been reading Gödel, Escher, Bach again? (Well, I was, anyway)

Something else I've been musing about crosses things I read from Hofstader and from Kurzweil. In particular, thinking about beings with different sense - ala Kurzweil's future transhumans with pan-spectrum vision, different appreciation of rhythm timing, and various other things that radically alter experience.

Would some non-human being, equipped with an entirely different set of sense than ours, or at least senses differently calibrated or differently operating, be able to interpret our forms of information-bearing material at all?

Been thinking about things like MP3, something psychoacoustically modeled. Would an alien being even perceive coherent sound? Or television - cats & dogs don't see what we do, what about an intelligent being with different "scan rates" for vision? Maybe some things are universal, but would other sorts of brains even do edge detection the same way as we do? Would our sort of printed symbols be recognized?

Anyway... thought you might appreciate that musing

Sagan's book Contact has a great bit (left out of the movie) about how to write a message (even in just ones and zeros) so that a (very intelligent) alien could appreciate what it is and decypher it, assuming nothing but the same physics.

Speaking of Gödel, I wonder wouldn't a non-self-describing book be non-self-describing, and hence describe itself? ;)

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