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Sunday, February 20, 2011

ALGORITHM FUN!


(pictured above: George Price - Altruist)

Google’s algorithm system makes associations with whatever words you enter into its search engine. Sometimes the connections seem tenuous but there is usually some kind of link there. Taken as a whole, the results can often tell you something about the preoccupations, preferences, biases and behaviour of internet users as a whole. Some fundamental truths may be found.

This algorithm system might also be capable of revealing something altogether larger, something about existence and our place within it. Perhaps, by making links and associations from the vast amount of information available to it, the algorithm system can show us how we got from the past to the present. Perhaps it hints at the future. If considered and understood in its entirety, the algorithm might reveal the inevitable trajectory of our species. Perhaps we will learn to decode our destinies via the algorithm and discover the system to be a reliable variation on reading the future in the stars or from the scattered entrails of animals.

The internet algorithm we use every day was born of early computerised data analysis methods such as the Hollerith punch card system which was developed by IBM to help the Nazis identify Jews during the Holocaust.

Which links to:

IBM’s punch card system being used to process data in the development of A-bombs for the Manhattan Project. These A-Bombs were later dropped on Japan resulting in over 200,000 deaths.

Which links to:

The A-Bombs used against Japan being delivered to their launch destination by the U.S.S. Indianapolis. During its return from this mission, the Indianapolis was torpedoed by a Japanese naval submarine. Of a crew of 1196, 300 went down with the ship. Of the remaining 896, 564 died of hypothermia or were eaten alive by sharks as they awaited rescue.

Which links to:

Computerised data analysis advancing greatly after World War 2 thanks to mathematician Alan Turing’s application of the algorithm concept. Despite the great assistance he provided to the allied effort during the war, Turing was later convicted of homosexuality. As an alternative to prison, he agreed to chemical castration. He took his own life shortly after.

Which links to:

Theoretical biologist and former employee of the Manhattan Project and IBM, George Price. A complex and haunted man, Price went on to develop an algorithmic mathematical formula to measure the human trait of altruism. A practising altruist himself, Price invited the homeless of London to take up residence in his house. This did not end well, resulting in eviction and homelessness for the man himself. On January 6, 1975, Price used a pair of nail scissors to slash his throat. His body lies in an unmarked grave in St. Pancras Cemetery.

Now what does all that tell us about our species and how, I ask you, do you like them apples? . . .LOL!

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