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Why Computers are Straight up Magic

Post created 2013-11-30 20:03 by Gabe Koss.

Since ancient times there have been specific elements to the archetype of the magician. Many of these are shared across many cultures and are a common theme in myth and literature.

Strangely enough these are the same core components which are used in very practical application in modern computing.

Pop Quiz: What is being described here? A wizard or a computer user?

I gather elements from the earth and form them in specific shapes and patterns. Into this new structure I imbue electrical energy infused with esoteric words and utterances. Before me, a glowing portal opens and lo, I can see my friend.

It all starts with energy...

When you come up against a problem of logic or math the most intuitive approach one would take is not necessarily lightning from the sky. Okay, I get it, it's electricity. But, electricity to solve logic puzzles? How do we manage going to do that?

Obviously, we start by gathering the key elements we need to control the electricity: Silicon, Copper, Gold, Silver, Lead ...

We can't simply gather raw mineral elements and put them together in a room with some lightning and expect them to do calculus, can we?

Of course not! We need to take these raw mineral elements and craft them with symbols that, well not nobody, but not very many people can decipher. Some of these components are so small and so finite that they can not even be perceived by the naked eye.

Code snippet is a screenshot from grothe.c, a winner of the IOCCC Obfuscated code contest.

I'm not saying that science doesn't give us lots of handy explanations for all of this, but lets face it, very few people really understand the tech they use. When the mass of the population relies day to day on devices which allow them to do things which are not practically feasible via other means and they have no real way to explain what they are experiencing than to wave their hands and say something about "electricity" and "the cloud" and "anti-virus software" we have to conclude that we live in a world right with magic and magic users.

Certainly we have more people alive today who can explain what is going on under the hood, but imagine explaining this era to a future generation who has lost the power of computer technology, or maybe the only have the tiniest vestigial remnant thereof,

So there is only one conclusions they could draw: we live in the golden age of wizards.

Arthur C. Clark put it best when he said:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

I'll just leave you with that.

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