[Humanist] 22.480 computing the intuitive

Humanist Discussion Group willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk
Tue Jan 27 07:45:07 CET 2009

                 Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 480.
         Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                Submit to: humanist at lists.digitalhumanities.org

        Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2009 12:32:51 +0000
        From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty at mccarty.org.uk>
        Subject: computing the intuitive

From an article on computing in medicine (1971):

"It is a remarkable paradox... that we can use this machine with
particular effect in manipulating the non-computable. We can compute
(with or without a computer) a death rate, the protection rate of a
vaccine, the survival rate following a treatment, or the risk of getting
lung cancer in terms of the amount we smoke. These results mark the end 
of a computational process. But we can *not* compute a new disease 
entity, or a management decision, or the natural history of a tumour, or 
the cause of cerebral thrombosis, or the best way of running a screening 
programme; these non-computable items must be declared intuitively. 
However, they can be used to initiate computational processes which will 
work out formally the consequences of our untuitive good (or bad) 
judgement and permit a comparison between these consequences and our 
data or our desires. These methods of working are quite distinct, the 
first deriving a result from data, the second deriving a consequence 
from premises."

E. G. Knox, "A case for the computer", Thinking by Numbers 4, The Times 
Literary Supplement, 3 September 1971, pp. 1059-60.

Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing,
King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/;
Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist;
Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org.

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