- 页码：第220页 2018-10-15 16:21:10
We have followed the lives of a group of brilliant innovators spanning three centuries. Each of them in one way or another was concerned with the nature of human reason. Their individual contributions added up to the intellectual matrix out of which emerged the all-purpose digital computer. Except for Turning, none of them had any idea that his work might be so applied. Leibniz saw far, but not that far. Boole could hardly have imagined that his algebra of logic would be used to design complex electric circuits. Frege would have been amazed to find equivalents of his logical rules incorporated into computer programs for carrying out deductions. Cantor certainly never anticipated the ramifications of his diagonal method. Hilbert’s program to secure the foundations of mathematics was pointed in a very different direction. And Godel, living his life of the mind, hardly thought of applications to mechanical devices.This story underscores the power of ideas and futility of predicting where they will lead. The dukes of Hannover thought they knew what Leibniz should be doing with his time: working on their family history. Too often today, those who provide scientists with the resources necessary for their lives and work try to steer them in directions deemed most likely to provide quick results. This is not only likely to be futile in the short run, but more importantly, by discouraging investigations with no obvious immediate payoff, it shortchanges the future.
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