Hui Tzu said to Chuang: I have a big tree, The kind they call a "stinktree." The trunk is so distorted, So full of knots, No one can get a straight plank Out of it. The branches are so crooked You cannot cut them up In any way that makes sense. There it stands beside the road. No carpenter will even look at it. Such is your teaching- Big and useless. Chuang Tzu replied: Have you ever watched the wildcat Crouching, watching his prey— This way it leaps, and that way, High and low, and at last Lands in the trap. But have you seen the yak? Great as a thundercloud He stands in his might. Big? Sure, He can't catch mice! So for your big tree. No use? Then plant it in the wasteland In emptiness. Walk idly around, Rest under its shadow; No axe or bill prepares its end. No one will ever cut it down. Useless? You should worry!
I too am convinced that the days of programming as we know it are numbered, and that eventually we will construct large computer systems not by anything resembling today's meticulous but conceptually impoverished procedural specifications. Instead, we'll express our intentions about what should be done in terms of gestures and examples that will be better designed for expressing our wishes and convictions. Then these expressions will be submitted to immense, intelligent, intention-understanding programs that then will themselves construct the actual, new programs
In order for that to happen, though, we will have to invent and learn to use new technologies for "expressing intentions". To do this, we will have to break away from our old, though still evolving, programming languages, which are useful only for describing processes. But this brings with it some serious risks!.
The first risk is that it is always dangerous to try to relieve ourselves of the responsibility of understanding exactly how our wishes will be realized. Whenever we leave the choice of means to any servants we may choose then the greater the range of possible methods we leave to those servants, the more we expose ourselves to accidents and incidents.
The ultimate risk comes when our greedy, lazy, master-minds attempt to take that final step––of designing goal-achieving programs that are programmed to make themselves grow increasingly powerful, by self-evolving methods that augment and enhance their own capabilities. ...
Consider how one can scarcely but see a hammer except as something to hammer with
An icon's job is not to represent the truth about how an object (or program) works. An icon's purpose is, instead, to represent how that thing can be used! And since the idea of a use is in the user's mind––and not inside the thing itself––the form and figure of the icon must be suited to the symbols that have accumulated in the user’s own development
Now it is easy enough to say that the mind is a society, but that idea by itself is useless unless we can say more about how it is organized. If all those specialized parts were equally competitive, there would be only anarchy, and the more we learned, the less we'd be able to do. So there must be some kind of administration, perhaps organized roughly in hierarchies, like the divisions and subdivisions of an industry or of a human political society.
What then agentlike brought about that tragoady thundersday this municipal sin business? – Finnegans Wake
Agency simply means “the quality of being capable of taking action”. You and the people around you seem to have agency; while rocks generally do not. Inanimate objects are sometimes granted agency in a kind of humorous quote marks (eg “the washer decided to break today”); later we will try to take such constructions seriously. Agents (entities that have agency) have goals or purposes, and the actions they take are seen as being in pursuit of these goals. Agency thus implies some rudimentary rationality, and a degree of autonomy.
I wrote this book in three months while simultaneously attempting seventeen other missions, including running a startup, launching a hit iPhone app, learning to write 3,000 new Chinese words, training to attempt a four-hour marathon from scratch, learning to skateboard, helping build a successful cognitive testing website, being best man at two weddings, increasing my bench press by sixty pounds, reading twenty books, going skydiving, helping to start the Human Hacker House, learning to throw knives, dropping my 5K time by five minutes, and learning to lucid dream. I planned to do all this while sleeping eight hours a night, sending 1,000 emails, hanging out with a hundred people, going on ten dates, buying groceries, cooking, cleaning, and trying to raise my average happiness from 6.3 to 7.3 out of 10.