A one-volume world history, starting from the Big Bang? A one-
volume encyclopedia? A world almanac?
Doug Lenat's Cyc project started with a world almanac, trying to
use AI techniques to spell out all the common sense assumed in a
human reader of such works-- what is a president, what is a king,
what is a country, etc.
In theory, one might print out everything Cyc knows, one topic
at a time, and rewrite these into encyclopedia essays, which
would constitute another sort of counter-Gideons.
Cyc is built on an 'ontology' that tries to classify _everything_
in the world. Such an ontology is a main goal of the Semantic
Web movement, with XML primed and ready as the syntactic
framework into which these web semantics will be poured.
Lenat's hope is that Cyc will eventually learn to read on its
own, once a critical mass of basic facts have been spelled out.
Such an encyclopedia of common sense could also serve as the
basic AI for computer adventure games, determining the normal
consequences of a player's actions in a given environment.
And, rightly constructed, this ought to provide a unified
_simulation_ of history since the Big Bang, integrating the
separate mathematical simulations of astrophysicists,
geologists, biologists, sociologists, etc.
But astrophysics, geology, and biology should take up far less
than half of our one-volume counter-Gideons. Most of it should
be devoted to human history and human culture, but mathematical
simulations of these domains have reached no higher degree of
sophistication than Will Wright's "The Sims". (Lenat explicitly
dropped _psychological_ concepts from his ontology, as too
difficult, for now.)
In AI, this is usually called (despairingly) "the AI problem".
I want to redefine it as "the grand metasynthesis" and survey
the many sorts of progress that it can build on, especially in
the humanities (where AI has so far feared to tread).
What we'll find is that most subdomains of the humanities have
taken their own broad view of the human experience, so that a
'metasynthesis' is necessary to unify these, with each other and
with the natural sciences.
_Law_, for example, takes a very broad view of human activity,
from a very specialised perspective. I'm not aware of any
attempt to summarise the law using a well-defined limited
vocabulary (as AI requires). Philosophy _has_ been summarised,
in Mortimer Adler's Syntopicon, which seems to me an ideal
startingpoint for defining a 'Philosophy Markup Language'.
Anthropologists should be compiling a database of the human
cultural toolkit, in all its tribal variations (what do they
eat, how do they hunt, how do they build, what do they wear,
Many universal histories have been compiled, but none yet
using a limited vocabulary-- eg, starting with population
movements, technological innovations, wars of conquest, etc.
As we reconstruct the evolution of the nervous system, we
should be able to trace the gradual emergence of _all_
concepts, allowing a re-sorting of Roget's Thesaurus by a
chronological principle I call 'etymogeny' (as distinguished
The same reconstruction should trace the emergence of
mathematical concepts and algorithms, and a general history
of ideas. http://www.robotwisdom.com/ai/timeline/0000.html
Roget and the Dewey Decimal System take their own broad
views of human activity, as does the Yahoo index of webpages.
The Grand Metasynthesis should replace all these, and
provide a framework for organizing not just one's own
bookmarks (as in My Yahoo)but all one's personal files--
email, netnews postings, word processing documents, etc.
As this becomes the basis of the ultimate integrated
software program, it will also become the object-library of
the ultimate programming language.
To improve "The Sims", we'll need to look to broad analytic
views of literature, like Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations or
my own _Solace_ and _Anti-Math_.
Before it sold out to Amazon, the Internet Movie Database
had undertaken a bold initiative to index movie motifs.
If we want to understand language, we'll have to revive
and extend the old classification of rhetorical tropes.
[Arthur, in the interest of flogging, his only goal
ever, omitted all attributions; sorry to the
original authors. Jorn Barger seems to have written
the original, though, from a check via Google Groups,
which doesn't even see the intermediate article.]
Fair call; I recently read the New Testament
straight through (being tossed in jail for being
homeless is an _opportunity_ if used correctly),
in about a day, and seeing all of Paul's words in
close time proximity makes you realize that most
of the horrors of Christianity have him as their
single source -- homophobe, control freak,
xenophobe, anti-Semite, racist, hypochondriac,
misogynist, and more, the man had many, many facets,
most bad, Christianity inherited them all.
This would of course be Arthur's self-published book
containing his "theory of mind" which he has been
flogging for three decades to no avail, since it is
valueless. He has also, straight-facedly suggested
this as a classroom textbook for a first course in
AI. The man has no shame. For further information,
on Arthur and his adulthood-long campaign, you
cannot go wrong reading the FAQ:
[segue fast enough to snap your neck -- caution]
For purposes of equal opportunity self-interested
flogging, my Dad, Chester Dolan, fully as obsessed a
kook as Arthur T. Murray, has self-published the, at
least fifth, all pretty much the same book, in his
series of polemics against religion, _Religion on
Trial_ Second Edition, a rewrite of _Religion on
Trial with 800 Material Witnesses_, a much catchier
It is nearly unreadable, Dad is too proud of his
enormous vocabulary to write comprehensible text,
but as a hate spew against religion from an atheist
zealot, it does at least have the advantage of
responding to the intent of the original request,
something to "provide balance" to the Gideon Bible.
At over 800 pages, it is also useful to stave off
hypothermia if burned in a fireplace, or as a
brickbat to fling at amorous cats. Dad, at 87 if I
guess correctly, isn't about to toss up a web page.
Inquiries may instead be directed to:
P.O. Box 8544
Long Beach, CA 90808
(which is just a post office box my Dad maintains;
"Mopah" is "my own publishing at home" or some such).
Bought directly from the author, you get this book
pretty much at cost. Dad is poor as a church mouse,
but still gives away half his Social Security (only)
income to his adopted Guatamalan Indian daughters,
long ago grown to adulthood, lives himself on crusts
and canned goods. He does live the morality which he
professes (but probably so did Mussolini). Thus, he
won't try for a profit when that might diminish the
distribution of his book.
Reviews, one favorable, one hostile, of two of the
five or more stages of his "single book" are here:
just to provide, again, a bit of balance.
The thinking of the second reviewer just cracks me
up: "I got married as a virgin, therefore religion
is valid" -- p'lease!
A remote control for activating the pay-per-view Xrated
channels on the TV? Oh, wait. They do that.
> A one-volume world history, starting from the Big Bang? A one-
> volume encyclopedia? A world almanac?
These things aren't antithetical to the Gideon bible; they
don't "balance" it, they just explore something else. Science
and religion aren't really comparable; rather than being
opposed, they are just about different things.
I think it would be interesting to have, next to the Gideon
Bible in the drawer, the Gideon Torah, the Gideon Book of
Shadows, the Gideon Bhagavad Gita, the Gideon Zen Mind, the
Gideon Kama Sutra, the Gideon Vedas, the Gideon Hymn to Innana,
the Gideon Confucian Canon, The Gideon Egyptian Book of The
Dead, The Gideon Kojiki and Nihongi, The Gideon Eddas, the
Gideon Tao Te Ching, the Gideon Qur'an, the Gideon Tarot.....
Thing is, this drawer's getting pretty big. You'd need a
As for the Grand Metasynthesis, it will have to wait until
we understand more about ourselves.
>Start with the image of a motel-room drawer with its unavoidable
>Gideons Bible, effectively symbolising the American rightwing--
>what analogous volume could you put beside it in the drawer, to
>provide some balance?
An issue of Penthouse.
>Lenat's hope is that Cyc will eventually learn to read on its
>own, once a critical mass of basic facts have been spelled out.
Computer programs only do what they are programmed or misprogrammed