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Second Order Metaprogramming

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  • david_dodds_2001
    Copyright 2009 David Dodds Second Order Metaprogramming, when its capabilities are applied to the system itself is called Self-Metaprogramming. Present day
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 8, 2009
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      Copyright 2009 David Dodds

      Second Order Metaprogramming, when its capabilities are applied to the
      system itself is called Self-Metaprogramming. Present day computer
      system designs are derived from thinking that goes back to Charles
      Babbage, if not earlier.

      It is in fact instructive and illuminating to read the correspondence
      of Charles Babbage and of Ada Augusta Lovelace. The daughter of Lord
      Byron (the poet guy) she was an accomplished mathematician, no small
      feat in her day because it was socially the role of woman to make
      babies and serve their husband, not to have a brain and actually think
      with it. Our society now is faster and has many motors and lights but
      the people are still just as arrogant and ignorant and closed-minded.

      In Babbage's day the latest technology was steam powered things, like
      trains, and machines with gears, the more gears the more impressive.
      (Kind of like the number of transistors in current devices.) Babbage
      was able to visualize that gears assembled in particular collections
      could perform certain functions such as logic and arithmetic which in
      those days was supposed the purview only of educated technical humans
      such as accounting clerks and philosophers.

      At the time rather few people of the public would find it credible
      that such a cognitive feat as doing sums could be performed by a mere
      machine. Babbage designed and drew diagrams of his machine
      visualizations. He made working subsystem models of parts of his
      Analytical Engine but alas the metalcraft of the day could not produce
      the gears and such of his designs with enough accuracy to build a
      complete system. His designs/drawings were later used by an American
      University to build a full-scale working replica. One can be see at
      the British Science Museum. (on the web). Ada Augustas correspondence
      shows clearly that she comprehended what the machine needed to do in
      order to perform arithmetic calculations. She was arguably the first
      computer programmer / systems analyst.

      I mention these two because there is still debate among many people
      whether or not a mere machine can do anything beyond rote mathematics,
      and employ a small set of limited logical operations. Alan Turing
      described what has now become known as The Turing Machine, a said to
      be universal machine. No one has yet figured out a design of a Turing
      machine that is practical to use as a computer. They are much too slow
      to be practical.

      Today's computers seem very fast to many people. But that is only
      when they are doing things which are easy for them to do. When today's
      computers are pressed to do weather forecasting or nuclear simulations
      we quickly see that computers are fast only for a limited range of

      While there are artificial neural networks which are simulated in
      computers these networks are rather tiny compared with those of most
      any living biological system, including ants, house flies, bees let
      alone Alex the Gray Parrot. [continued next posting]
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