You can’t solve a problem with the same mind that created it — Albert Einstein
Me and my adviser were talking about fixing some problem with the path on his computer which prevented him from compiling some C++ code, and then it was that he quoted Einstein. He was saying that to solve the problems with today’s software, you cant use the same technology that created them. My first instinct, whenever I start using a new Microsoft application is to turn off the help, and all the automatic options off – the Auto Indent and the Auto Format options, for example. MS Visio’s “Glue” and “align to grid” options are prime examples. Whats funny about the quote though is the fact that it came after he said that he needed to turn the “Einstein Guy” off (the office assistant in MS Word masquerading as Einstein). This set me off thinking that if you want to promote hatred or disgust for an individual or thing, just create a new MS office assistant with a similar visage.
Jaron Lanier’s ideas regarding phenotropic software keep coming back to me.
For example, like he says, what if we never had the concept of files, and thus file format incompatibility? Quite possible, if only Apple had not changed their minds about not having or using files in the first Macintosh computer. Files were controversial when computing was nascent. The mind boggles.
And all this brings me to the classic question I was asked long ago, which started to get me interested in A.I. as a discipline, which is, “Why can’t we write a program to write programs?”. The answer I like till this day is that a program does not know what it is doing, or will be expected of it, so it can’t write a program, given a problem. A corollary is the fact that we have not been able to create an artificial brain, because we don’t fully understand how it works, because we cant see the meta-picture.
All these are thoughts that have long been active in my brain, and today when I heard what Einstein said, another block fell into place. You cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness that created it.