beamjockey (beamjockey) wrote,

Usenet Memories: Rumination on Hearts and Minds

A friend just sent me a Christmas note that included a picture of the Tin Woodman of Oz. I was reminded of this posting from 20 March 2006.

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From: Bill Higgins 
Subject: Rumination on Hearts and Minds
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Date: Thu, 30 Mar 2006 19:02:54 GMT

So the Scarecrow is looking for brains.

The Tin Woodman is looking for a heart.

But the Scarecrow is stuffed full of straw.   Why isn't he *also* looking 
for a heart?  He doesn't have a heart does he?  Is he merely unconcerned 
about lacking one?

And does the Tin Woodman have a brain?  Shouldn't he want a brain as well as 
a heart?  All his parts have been replaced with metal.  If he has a brain, 
it's a metal brain.

As I understand it, *The Wonderful Wizard of Oz* appeared in 1900, so I 
presume the story takes place in that year.

A quick Moore's Law calculation shows that the Tin Woodman could not have 
had much more than thirty billionths of a transistor to his name.  Seems to 
me he needs more brains almost as badly as the Scarecrow does.  Perhaps he 
is not bright enough to realize this.

Or his calculation concerning whether he needs brains or not has not yet 
halted, given the tiny amount of processing power available to him.

(I have seen the movie version, but not the book, so maybe this is all 
explained by Baum.)

-- 
   Bill Higgins    |             "I continue to feel that
     Fermilab      |    if you're going to go on being this stupid,
     Internet:     | you should try to be more polite; or alternately,
  higg...@fnal.gov |     if you're going to go on being this rude,
                   |    you should try not to say such dumb things."
                   |             --T. Nielsen Hayden


Followups from other Usenet correspondents may be found here.

(Is the reference to "a quick Moore's Law calculation" too elliptical?)
Tags: robots, sf, usenet moments
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