Monday, September 10, 2018

Who Gets to Be a Mathematician?

Responding to an essay on Medium:

Given trends in AI (machine learning), humans are coming to appreciate that in constructing and internalizing any Reality Model (the process starts before birth) one is performing intensely mathematical operations, updating new “priors” (synthetic a priori judgements) in some Bayesian feedback loop, complete with cybernetic back propagation though many layers of perceptron.

As Kraftwerk so eloquently put it: “we are the [mathematicians]”.

Dr. Keith Devlin showed biological life is at bottom a form of mathematical computation. Humans claim to do it consciously, as a brain activity, on top of a 99% automated metabolism.

Sure, universities want their name on the bottle, when the math smells and tastes like the real deal. They’re like wine merchants. However I’m always willing to accredit the mathematical abilities, properties and practices I encounter in so many walks of life. Fine wines come with many labels.

English majors studying New England Transcendentalism come up against a lot of architecture and geometry these days. Their PhD may be in American Literature of the 1900s, but that means knowing what the “isotropic vector matrix” is all about (1970s metaphysics), and of course “tetravolumes”. No, this isn’t mathematics necessarily, but when it comes to Reality Modeling, such concepts have utility.