[FRIAM] Kissing Kissinger

Marcus Daniels marcus at snoutfarm.com
Sat Jun 11 13:45:00 EDT 2022

Fahlman (et. al.) CMU Common Lisp is still used.  It is central to the core software stack of at least two quantum computing companies.

From: Friam <friam-bounces at redfish.com> On Behalf Of Frank Wimberly
Sent: Saturday, June 11, 2022 5:56 AM
To: The Friday Morning Applied Complexity Coffee Group <friam at redfish.com>
Subject: Re: [FRIAM] Kissing Kissinger

In 1978 as I was about to leave Pittsburgh for a job at Bell Labs my wife and I were staying with with Scott and Penny Fahlman since our furniture was on a moving van.  Scott was an AI hotshot who had recently arrived at Carnegie Mellon.  I was typing the final revision of my numerical analysis dissertation on my Smith Corona when Scott said, "Frank, that will be the last computer science dissertation ever written on a typewriter."

Frank C. Wimberly
140 Calle Ojo Feliz,
Santa Fe, NM 87505

505 670-9918
Santa Fe, NM

On Sat, Jun 11, 2022, 5:20 AM Steve Smith <sasmyth at swcp.com<mailto:sasmyth at swcp.com>> wrote:

Holy Moley!

The references to Kissenger et. al.'s "The Age of AI: and our Human Future" here lead me to find his  1950 Senior Thesis at Harvard (scanned copy of the typewritten original<https://ia903000.us.archive.org/23/items/HenryAKissingerTheMeaningOfHistoryReflectionsOnSpenglerToynbeeAndKant/Henry%20A%20Kissinger%20-%20The%20Meaning%20of%20History_%20Reflections%20on%20Spengler%2C%20Toynbee%2C%20and%20Kant.pdf>).


I am only 20 something pages into this 400 page tome and definitely over my head in several ways.   His language reads a little *overly* flowery and technically specific, and yet that may just be a result of the *era* and it's topic as an analysis of three writer's take on history itself (Spengler, Toynbee, Kant).   I have tried resolving several obscure terms such as "genus Culture", references to which I can only find in archaic botanical texts?   I have not read Spengler and only skimmed Toynbee and the Kant I read is now 40 years past, so of course I don't have much more than an effing clue of what he is effing on about here, yet it is fascinating nevertheless.

Even reading the typewritten type carries a sort of spectre of the time and place this was generated.   It adds significance that I gifted my last working typewriter (at times I have had as many as 5 or 6 which could be made to work with a little care in use) to one of our house-sitters while we travel.   She may well be typing on it as I type this.  The unevenness of a manual typewriter, the waviness of the line and the uneveness of the impression reflects in some way the mechanical device but also the operator.   My instinct is that Kissinger did not type this final manuscript himself if in fact he even typed any of it.   It has the evenness (relative, given the limits of the type of device) of an accomplished typist, typing in a workman-like way.  The digital copy (pdf) appears to be a scan of a photocopy to boot, adding contrast enhancement and some subsequent elision of bits by thresholding.

I was tempted to cut-n-paste a few choice lines (images, not txt) and comment on them, but realize that perhaps nobody else here cares and it would just be a manual exercise for myself to no point otherwise.   OCR is good enough these days to make it possible to render it as txt, etc.  but since I am bogged down in the text itself and distracted by trying to graze through Jenny's library here in Weesp, while quaffing the entireity of one of her favorite tomes (a biography of Gregory Bateson), I will leave it now and see if anyone else delves deep enough into the source material to spark a conversation here that I can join or simply enjoy.

So many books, so little time!  If I had more time I would learn to speedread so I can have more time to read more.

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