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A lot will come tumbling out here – perhaps simply if it is constructed in an outline format, to be addressed later. I don’t yet know.
Socrates, in the Phaedrus of Plato, discussed the conflict surrounding the oral tradition and the defects of the written account thereof. His analysis neared the mark, but did not hit it.
In specific consideration of the practical pursuit of the best answer to a question, the writings of Plato report dialectics between two living persons. As they bob back and forth in their discussions, they follow what can be compared to the principle of least action in classical physics. Things that are in motion follow the most suitable path in their motion. The principle derives from newton, but was expanded by Hamilton and Lagrange to clarify the generalized equation of motion of a particle independent of its coordinates in any reference system. The Lagrangian equation is merely the equation of motion under the constraint of least action.
A dialectic between two humans can be considered in analogy to such least action. An account of the actions, however, is merely a report of the movement of the discussion under these conditions. It does not respond to the immediate development of the dialogue. It is, in effect, merely a reference system by which one can follow the motions of a discussion completed in the past, to serve as a useful analogy to possible progression of real discussions in the future.
The dialogue, in other words, does not act under living thought. It is mute, on both sides. Neither “participant” in the dialogue acts as a living human being; rather, as a record of how one dialogue followed through in the past.
A person interacting with an inanimate or insentient object pursues a course of action that seems intermediate to both example. A sentient person who deliberately addresses a group of facts, engages them to order them in a manner of his own particular pleasing. As one becomes more adept in the handling of such things, one can be said to progress in the skill of the art in this sort of area, such as medicine and surgery. Observers can then consider the written account of such deliberation, and assess the practitioner’s adeptness in handling this particular challenge which he or she has engaged.
Technology has fostered the unquestioned assumption that one can measure the fidelity of a mechanical machine’s imitation of the sentient human by whether its “opponent,” in such things as a game, is perceptibly mechanical, or that assumption cannot be made, and the actor may in fact be human. That is the Turing Test.
In a game, or anything with a restricted set of actions, the problem of perceiving a mechanical or human source of the action becomes quite difficult. In the broad field of all possible human responses in an interaction such as a dialectic, there really is little expectation that a machine could imitate a human, although technologists will hold such possibilities tenable.
When an interaction between humans is recorded, there is a certain artificiality to the account that bothered Socrates. The lines of the discussion are sharply drawn; however, there is no means of asking what might happen if they deviated off into a different direction. They are infinitely narrow curves of thought, from which the consideration cannot be displaced even by a minuscule; otherwise, they completely lose their meaning.
In such areas as teaching of the pure sciences such as mathematics, there are ideal truths, to which real examples can be compared, but cannot fit exactly. Pure mathematics admits of a line in a single dimension, having no existence in any other.
In seeking examples of how things in the real world exist, one cannot use universals such as in pure mathematics. All things approximate and resemble. Therefore, such things as Socrates’ various dialogues (in their written account, obviously) can only be used as though gridlines, measurement-marks or axes upon which to compare real things which go on unfolding in a manner similar to others which are documented.
“Technology” pretends to make a presentient process, made up of the various parts of things gone by, to predict what can be established in a dialectic. I hope to show why this is an absurd Frankenstein’s monster of arrogance and pretentiousness.