My favorite Koan

In the days when Sussman was a novice, Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.
“What are you doing?”, asked Minsky.
“I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe”, Sussman replied.
“Why is the net wired randomly?”, asked Minsky.
“I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play”, Sussman said.
Minsky then shut his eyes.
“Why do you close your eyes?” Sussman asked his teacher.
“So that the room will be empty.”
At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.

Explanation: Just as the room does not become empty if we close our eyes, a randomly interconnected artificial neural network still has a wiring diagram; it is just that we don’t know about it. A randomly wired artificial neural network is not same as a neural network that dynamically rewires itself.

Randomness is our inability to predict the next outcome. Randomness is a measure of ignorance. The more random a phenomena may appear to you, the more ignorant you are about it.

Probability & Statistical Techniques are ways of acknowledging our ignorance and to use it to observe other predictable patterns in it.

The God Hypothesis is bad because it misleads us into thinking we know something that we do not. It makes us arrogantly escape the need to explain reality in anyway that may be beneficial to our survival. More likely than not, it is always better to know than to believe. It is always better to know there is a lion the cave than to believe there is one in the cave. So I urge all religious people to assume a methodologically naturalistic mentality to explain reality and not to shrug off and say “God did it”.


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