“For one can well conceive that a machine may be so made as to emit words, and even that it may emit some in relation to bodily actions which cause a change in its organs, as, for example, if one were to touch it in a particular place, it may ask what one wishes to say to it; if it is touched in another place, it may cry out that it is being hurt, and so on; but not that it may arrange words in various ways to reply to the sense of everything that is said in its presence, in the way that the most unintelligent of men can do. And the second is that, although they might do many things as well as, or perhaps better than, any of us, they would fail, without doubt, in others, whereby one would discover that they did not act through knowledge, but simply through the disposition of their organs: for, whereas reason is a universal instrument which can serve on any kind of occasion, these organs need a particular disposition for each particular action; whence it is that it is morally impossible to have enough different organs in a machine to make it act in all the occurrences of life in the same way as our reason makes us act.”

– Descartes, Discourse 5

 

You know, when you start looking for this stuff, you find it everywhere. That’s about as good as it gets when it comes to summarizing the inherent problems of algorithmic computing….written over three centuries before computers came onto the scene.

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