By Peter Duren

ISBN-10: 0821801368

ISBN-13: 9780821801369

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Extra resources for A Century of Mathematics in America (History of Mathematics, Vol 3)

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This is an important consideration with respect to AIDS, which is spread mainly by voluntary intimate contact with infected people. It might seem that the role of technology in relation to naturally occurring diseases would be wholly positive. Not so. )12 I call it “promiscuous” because neither the patient nor his doctor is likely to consider the effect of prescribing the antibiotic on the evolution of resistant disease strains. But it may be offset by the benefit to the patient, and may even be neutralized by the fact that curing an infected person shortens the time during which he or she can infect other people.

52 It seems extraordinarily unlikely that there is anything that would qualify as a “Loch Ness Monster” — but would one want to bet the planet that there is not? Or consider the proposition that no human being has ever eaten an entire adult elephant at one sitting. Philosophers use such propositions to argue that one can have empirical certainty without a confirming observation. Yet although there is no known instance of such a meal, it is conceivable that modern technology could so compact an elephant as to make it digestible in one sitting, and it is also conceivable, though only barely, that someone, somewhere, has successfully employed that technology.

88 He believes that no human capacity is beyond the foreseeably enlarged mental capacity of machines, which is sensible, but he looks forward to the development of such machines without misgivings, which is more dubious. He reminds one of those astronomers who, with the support of NASA, are trying to advertise our existence to possible intelligent life in other solar systems. 89 Our eager searchers for extraterrestrial life are heedless of the danger that beings more intelligent than we—and many planets, perhaps a million in our galaxy alone, may be inhabited by beings as intelligent as we90 — might, if they discovered our existence, want to destroy us or put us in zoos, and be capable of doing so.

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A Century of Mathematics in America (History of Mathematics, Vol 3) by Peter Duren


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