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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Another reason why Darwinism is wrong: Life forms spookily correct errors

Friend Gil Dodgen, an accidental software genius, writes,
I have an interesting story to tell concerning computational error detection.

Some of you might have heard that Jonathan Schaeffer and his team at the University of Alberta recently solved the game of checkers. It made big news in the computer science world.

I first met Jon at the First Computer Olympiad in London (organized by the famous David Levy of chess and computer-chess fame) at which Jon's program won the gold medal and mine won the silver.

Jon and his team eventually computed the eight-piece endgame database for checkers, and later my colleague Ed Trice and I computed it as well. Jon and I compared results, and it turned out that his database had errors that had evaded his error-detection scheme. This scheme produced internally consistent results, despite the errors. Later, Jon detected errors in my database, which were traced back to a scratch on a CD that evaded my error-detection scheme.

All the errors were eventually traced to data transfer anomalies and not the generative computational algorithms, so CRC (cyclic redundancy check) methods were used to solve the problem.

Check it out.

Jon thanks three of us (Ed Gilbert, Gilbert Dodgen, and Ed Trice -- how's that for a strange combination of names?) for database verification.

The bottom line is this: Errors creep in easily, are difficult to detect, and are even more difficult to correct.

Biology apparently does much more than detect and correct errors. It is not only anti-entropic, it is neg-entropic; that is, it mysteriously produces new information despite all the forces of nature that attempt to drive it in the opposite direction.

This is something that materialistic evolutionary theory is completely impotent to explain. How one cannot arrive at a design inference from this obvious evidence is a complete mystery to me.
Score one for intelligent design - the ultimate negentropy!

(Note: From Gil: A bizarre classical music aside: Levy had heard through the grapevine that I was a classical concert pianist. He asked if I would be willing to play for the closing ceremonies, since the competition hall had a wonderful concert piano on the stage. I was reluctant to perform, because I didn't feel that an international group of computer nerds would be interested. Levy insisted. Boy was I wrong. I played the Chopin A-Flat Polonaise to a thunderous standing ovation and was called back for an encore. I was stunned. These were people who theoretically should have had no appreciation of, or interest in, classical music. Apparently the lack of appreciation of classical music is a U.S. phenomenon.)

[From Denyse: Hey, Gil. Not every nerd is a philistine. And you are a marvellous pianist. Download free music here.]

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Comedy, comedy, comedy, last night ...

Well, I went to the Comics for Freedom Rally at the Comedy Bar (945B Bloor Street West) last night. The formula (40 comics, one minute each) works very well - after all, if you can't be funny in one minute, dragging it out to five is unlikely to help. But I would gladly have heard the talented comics longer.

Guy Earle, readying himself to face the BC Human Rights Tribunal, was in fine form (celebrating his 40th birthday, I gather).

Still, I went away thoughtful, for two reasons:

Many attendees wore black tee shirts proclaiming their right to "be an [ice]hole." I was curious as to whether they understood clearly that they were actually making a profound statement, not a silly one. It goes to the heart of the fundamental difference between two styles of government - limited vs. totalitarian. A limited government exists for certain agreed purposes. It's not the government's business to change your thinking to match the preferences of social engineers.

Limited government is based on the idea that there is an indelible core in you that is you, and a similar core in me that is me. Traditionally, that was called a soul. See, I warned you. We are in deep waters here.

Totalitarian government - to which Canada's "human rights" commissions are rapidly taking us - takes a different view. You are a robot. The purpose of government is to fix everything social engineers identify as wrong with you. That includes punishing thoughtcrimes by whatever means necessary. Thoughtcrimes, after all, lead to facecrimes and speechcrimes - and remember, the government is responsible for absolutely everything, including everyone's feelings at all times.

At one time, you might hear a clergyman condemn your lifestyle or a comic mock it and - well, so? No longer. A government with totalitarian responsibilities must silence both the clergyman and the comic. Move over, Rev. Boissoin, to make room for Guy Earle.

Restoring limited government to Canada will not be easy, and I have no master plan. But I do have one suggestion, aimed at comics: Start talking about political issues more in your routines.

I acknowledge that by even showing up and letting your names appear on a list, you are taking a risk, even if you didn't talk about sensitive issues. Grievance mongers are everywhere nowadays and who knows what they will make a grievance out of next year or the year after, even if it hasn't yet occurred to them? And even if they pick the fight themselves ....

But there is plenty of material out there. Has anyone noticed, for example how food faddists have morphed into food fascists, anxious to force tofu and soy down everyone's throats? And what about the recent perfume-free zones? (I am glad to attend a church where clouds of incense rise periodically during the service. Our "perfume-free zone" is the Great Outdoors.)

A few weeks ago in the subway, the guy who was dumping all the garbage together that people had separately sorted into three different types of bins explicitly told me that it all just gets trashed together, period. So did you think you were being righteous by carefully segregating your trash? You were just wasting your time. The city is gaming you.

And while we are here, what about the new buses, whose left turn momentum is better suited to the space shuttle - where there isn't nearly enough room for two people to pass each other in the elevated back, without aggravated assault? What engineering genius agreed to pay for that?

And how about the Toronto "Catholic" school trustees? My parish priest announced in the bulletin recently that Catholic adults' applications to teach catechism would be considered - unless they came from school board trustees. And that's the only laugh at those self-absorbed nits' expense that I have personally heard since the scandal broke. And Father isn't even well known for his sense of humour ...

Just a few random examples, these. I am not trying to tell anyone what is and isn't funny - I leave that to the appropriate authorities: human rights commissions and alternative* magazine entertainment editors.

I want to say only this: Toronto right now - like so many places - is chock full of crackpottery, hypocrisy, and corruption that are solemnly and uncritically fronted as "good causes" that everybody should believe in. I would love to hear more of it sent up to the moon, to Moon Bat City where it belongs.

*alternative .... I LOVE it! Just what the country needs right now - an alternative form of fascism, in case we ever get tired of mainstream fascism.

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