December 6, 2005
Google Book Search and Books Not Yet Written
The Edge is where the really, really smart people go to converse with someone on their own level. Obviously, I have no business going there but that's where you will find Turing's Cathedral, George Dyson's provocative essay about his visit to Google on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of John von Neumann's proposal for a digital computer. Dyson writes about his Google visit:
I felt I was entering a 14th-century cathedral — not in the 14th century but in the 12th century, while it was being built. Everyone was busy carving one stone here and another stone there, with some invisible architect getting everything to fit. The mood was playful, yet there was a palpable reverence in the air. "We are not scanning all those books to be read by people," explained one of my hosts after my talk. "We are scanning them to be read by an AI."
Dyson agrees with Google to a certain extent. He writes:
[O]nce the digital universe is thoroughly mapped, and initialized by us searching for meaningful things and following meaningful paths, it will inevitably be colonized by codes that will start doing things with the results. Once a system of template-based-addressing is in place, the door is opened to code that can interact directly with other code, free at last from a rigid bureaucracy requiring that every bit be assigned an exact address.
|"[The] ability to take general, organized advantage of local, haphazard processes is exactly the ability that (so far) has distinguished information processing in living organisms from information processing by digital computers."|
At that point, "the machines take control!" Or do they?
In a follow-up interview for the Edge, Dyson was asked if he had anything to say about books, authors, and the digital age. He did. He calls attention to the fact that digitization only covers "The Complete Works of Homo Sapiens, Unabridged;" it does not encompass the books that have not been written. Thus, the author is beyond the reach of "the machine." Dyson concludes that "even in the Age of Search, we will still need authors to find the meaningful books."
As librarians, do we not know this to be the case?
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Google Book Search and Books Not Yet Written:
We do need authors, but within a few decades we will have authors who are electronic. Things will then get very very strange. <3
Posted by: mungojelly | Dec 17, 2005 8:47:07 AM