Rice pudding and income tax

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The JC’s amateur guide to systems theory

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And to this end they built themselves a stupendous super-computer which was so amazingly intelligent that even before its databanks had been connected up it had started from “I think, therefore I am” and got as far as deducing the existence of rice pudding and income tax before anyone managed to turn it off.

Douglas Adams, The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

Douglas Adam’s famous passage from The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which in these pages exists mainly to lampoon modernists, determinists and those who labour under the illusion that technology can fix deeply-seated human problems.

Also, those who believe the whole path of the universe can be derived from its initial state, and that Conway’s Game of Life somehow illustrates this, and the notion — which is basically the same idea, only run in reverse — that it logically follows we are living in a computer simulation.

Three ideas have a similar cultural pedigree, and resting state plausibility, as the argument from design and cogito ergo sum. That is, very little.

See also