Blargh Blog

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Pray for the internet

Maths holy grail could bring disaster for internet

There is the warning heading the cautionary essay of the Guardian: mathematicians set on delving into Things That Should Not Be Spoken Of are threatening the internet itself. Instead of acting with prudence and restraint, they plunge heedlessly onward towards the abyss. Bent on pursuing their reckless reductionist ideology, they seek a universal mathematical solvent that will break every number up into parts.

Foreign to them is the idea that there is something special about each whole number, something that we might even call mystical or spiritual, that vanishes, like a vapor, when the number is dissected by their cold, hard mathematical scalpels. Basic phenomenological questions like what it is like for that number fail to make even a fleeting appearance in the heads of these people who can do nothing more than smash things apart and see what remains.

Since the internet is put together with numbers, those intent on chopping up numbers are bound to tear apart the very fabric of the internet. Now buzzing with conversation and febrile energy and brimming over with non-zero-sumness, as the seamless web of the internet unravels it will lose all its meaning, all its emotion, all its experiences, if not its very existence.

In their quest for the holy grail of mathematics, these Number Theorists have envisioned themselves as great creators, like God, of eternal life and harmony. But instead they can only bring destruction and division. Such is the hubris of Man.

(hat tip: Agoraphilia)


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