Peter Lynn

July 2001

Busy, busy, busy!

Fano was excellent, as usual, and Scheveningen had the best weather we've seen there for at least 6 years. I'm back in Ashburton now for a month with an impossible number of things to get done before the next round of events starts. Actually Fano was a bit of a failure in one way.

Careful forward planning based on extrapolation from previous years indicated that the correct answer was 42, or was that the question?, whoops, can't remember, but no matter. Anyway we headed north from Germany with the requisite 42 bottles of wine, calculated to last our household for the entire 12 days of island incarceration- but we failed and had 10 or so left over at the end. The cause of failure was a distinct lack of effort even by people who should have been able to do better. In fact by the last day or two, beer, even water had become the preferred hydrator. Even then the goal could have been achieved with a little more outside help- but getting good help is so difficult these days. While still in Holland for a few days after the Scheveningen Festival, (officially for the purpose of becoming serially re-aquainted with Veronica ' s, our favourite restaurant but in reality to maybe sneak in a bit of kite-flying), one evening we headed out to the beach when Michel D. told us that according to the weather forecast there was going to be "strong wind for sure".

Now this is where I must digress a bit. Ever heard of the Turing test for artificial intelligence? Alan Turing was one of the 20th century's most accomplished mathematician, pioneer in games theory, central to the birth of the electronic computer, and a leading player in the breaking of the WW2 "Enigma" code. He suggested that any machine with sufficient verbal skills to convince an interviewer that it was human deserved to be regarded as intelligent. So then there is David Sulzer, professor of neurology at Columbia and Richard Lair an elephant expert from San Francisco who have this project in Thailand developing musical instruments for an elephant band. They (the elephants) sell a lot of CD's, but is it really "music". Well apparently gullible listeners who aren't aware of it provenance assume the musician's are human. And, there are examples of gorilla art that get rave reviews by contemporary art experts who minutely analyse their sophisticated communication of complex human issues, er, until they meet the artist that is.

Also, share picking competitions, and especially one famous one between a child, a professional share analyst and a chimpanzee, have been won by chimp 's (the professional analyst was dismally last). Taking a Turing view of this, elephants gorilla's and chimps therefore qualify as intelligent- but I have an alternate view- I think that these are really Turing tests in reverse, the human participants FAILED the test rather than the non human's passing. So, back to Scheveningen and our evening's kite flying with Michel and Artur.

Anyone who is gullible(a word that isn't even in the dictionary by the way) enough to believe weather forecasts is in the same category as people sucked in by elephant music, gorilla art and chimpanzee stock picking- that is, DUMB! There wasn't any wind of course- -but the new kite we went to test was quite incredible just the same. WATCH THIS SPACE! New things this month? Developmentwise: YES Available now: sorry, not yet.

PS. If you're one of those who do believe weather forecasts, the elephant music is available on the "Mulatta" label




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