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[Computational Complexity] Pure Evil

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  • Lance
    A conversation I had with a graduate student, maybe ten years ago. Student: I hear Bill Gates wants P NP proven at Microsoft and is hiring smart
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 8, 2007
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      A conversation I had with a graduate student, maybe ten years ago.

      Student: I hear Bill Gates wants "P ≠ NP" proven at Microsoft and is hiring smart mathematicians to do so. Me: All the power to him. Student: How can you say that? Isn't Bill Gates pure evil.

      There is a tendency among many academics to think of the world in black and white and in particular consider some people or institutions truly evil. Elsevier, George Bush (and Republicans in general) and the RIAA only desire to destroy everything good about academic publishing, the US, and personal freedom respectively. Bill Gates certainly used to be in that category but has softened now that Microsoft has lost some dominance and hires many of our friends.

      Scientist tend to believe the world works by simple rules and we reinforce these viewpoints by only hanging out with other scientists like ourselves. The Internet has only made things worse, as we tend to only read stuff written by people who already agree with us.

      I certainly don't defend all the policies of Elsevier, George, and the recording industry, but they don't have agendas of evil and in fact often have the same long-term goals that many of us share. We don't always share the same strategies but it would be better to work with them then to shut them out entirely by having no faith that they can do any good.

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      Posted by Lance to Computational Complexity at 3/08/2007 10:26:00 AM

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