Transcript: Janna Levin on her book Madman Dreams of Turing Machines | Nov 19, 2006

[Theme music plays]

The opening sequence rolls. The logo of "Big Ideas" featuring a lit lamp bulb appears against an animated green slate.
Then, Andrew Moodie appears in the studio. The walls are decorated with screens featuring lit lamp bulbs, and two signs read "Big ideas."
Andrew is in his early forties, clean-shaven, with short curly black hair. He’s wearing a light shirt.

Andrew says HELLO.
I'M ANDREW MOODIE AND THIS...
IS
BID IDEAS.
WHAT, UM, WAIT A SECOND.
WHAT...
AM I ANDREW MOODIE?
IS THERE ANY WAY FOR YOU TO BE
CERTAIN THAT I EXIST?
UH, IS THERE ANY WAY FOR ME TO
BE CERTAIN THAT I EXIST?
I'M SPEAKING RIGHT NOW INTO A
MICROPHONE.
A CLUSTER OF CHARGED COUPLE
DEVICES PLACED BEHIND A SERIES
OF LENSES MEASURE THE PHOTONS
THAT ARE BOUNCING OFF MY SKIN
AND CLOTHING BUT...
IS THAT EVIDENCE ENOUGH?
FOR CENTURIES, SCIENTISTS HAVE
BEEN EXPLORING THE UNIVERSE IN
HOPES THAT A SIMPLE ELEGANT
THEORY WILL REVEAL THE
FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF ALL
THINGS.
IT'S A NOBLE CAUSE BUT ACCORDING
TO RATHER EXTRAORDINARY MINDS
LIKE KURT GODEL AND ALAN TURING,
IT'S A POINTLESS EXERCISE.
SOME THINGS WE'RE JUST NOT MEANT
TO UNDERSTAND.
IN HER BOOK, "A MADMAN DREAMS OF
TURING MACHINES," JANNA LEVIN
DETAILS THE LIVES AND TRAGIC
ENDS OF THESE TWO FASCINATING
THINKERS AND CHALLENGES THE
VALUE OF HER OWN WORK AS
PROFESSOR OF PHYSICS AND
ASTRONOMY AT BARNARD COLLEGE OF
COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY.
HERE IS THE SPIRITED JANNA LEVIN
WITH A LIVELY AND TRULY
ENTERTAINING PRESENTATION AT THE
PERIMETER INSTITUTE.

Janna Levin stands on a stage. She’s in her late thirties with shoulder-length brown hair. She’s wearing a black shirt and matching trousers.

Janna says I AM TALKING
ABOUT THIS BOOK THAT I WROTE
CALLED "A MADMAN DREAMS OF
TURING MACHINES."
WE LABOURED FOR A LONG TIME
AFTER THE BOOK WAS WRITTEN AS TO
WHETHER OR NOT TO CALL THIS
FICTION OR NON-FICTION.
IT VERY MUCH
SITS ON THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE
TWO, THAT KIND OF STRANGE PLACE
BETWEEN THE TWO AND AS WE TALK
MORE ABOUT SOME OF THE IDEAS
THAT INSPIRED THIS BOOK, IT
MIGHT NOT SEEM SO ODD THAT IT
SITS ON THAT BOUNDARY BECAUSE A
LOT OF THESE IDEAS ARE ABOUT
TRUTH AND ABOUT MATHEMATICAL
TRUTH.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Janna Levin. Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Barnard College, Columbia University. Author: A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines."

She continues IT'S ABOUT WHAT'S FACT, NOT
REALLY WHAT'S FICTION BUT WHAT
WE CAN KNOW AND THE LIMITS OF
OUR KNOWLEDGE AND, UM, AND SO IT
SEEMED LIKE AN INTERESTING
EXPERIMENT TO TRY TO WRITE A
FICTIONALIZED STORY.

The caption changes to "Perimeter Institute, Waterloo. October 4, 2006."

She continues SO I'LL, I'LL
TELL YOU A LITTLE BIT ABOUT
THAT.
THE, UM, CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK
ARE KURT GODEL WHO YOU MAY OR
MAY NOT HAVE HEARD OF.
HE IS NOT AS WELL KNOWN AS THE
OTHER CHARACTER, ALAN TURING.

She runs a PowerPoint presentation. A slide shows the black and white pictures of an old man and a young man.

She continues KURT GODEL WAS, UH...
MOST INFLUENTIAL IN 1931 WHEN HE
PUBLISHED A PAPER ON THE
INCOMPLETENESS OF MATHEMATICS.
HE WAS LIVING IN VIENNA, HE WAS
25 YEARS OLD, VERY YOUNG.
UM, VERY PROMISING STUDENT.
CLEARLY BRILLIANT BUT VERY
RETICENT, DIDN'T, DIDN'T, UH...
DIDN'T REALLY SOCIALIZE MUCH.
HE WAS SORT OF AS AN ODD
CHARACTER BUT, UM, BUT HE WAS
CLEARLY BRILLIANT AND HE WAS
INVOLVED WITH A LOT OF THE GREAT
THINKERS IN VIENNA AT THE TIME
AND HE PUBLISHED A VERY
IMPORTANT PAPER ON THE LIMITS OF
MATHEMATICAL KNOWLEDGE AND I'LL
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT WHY THAT
WAS SO SHOCKING.
I'LL TRY TO MAKE IT PERSONAL FOR
WHY IT WAS SHOCKING FOR ME.
FOR WHY IT SORT OF HAUNTED ME.
UM, THE OTHER PERSON IS ALAN
TURING.
HE'S A BIT MORE FAMOUS.
TURING IS WELL KNOWN FOR HAVING
CRACKED THE GERMAN ENIGMA CODE.
PEOPLE MIGHT HAVE HEARD OF HIM
IN THAT CONTEXT.
WHEN HE WAS A YOUNG STUDENT OR
RATHER A FELLOW AT CAMBRIDGE
UNIVERSITY, WAR BROKE OUT AND
EVEN THOUGH HE WAS SORT OF
APOLITICAL AND ONCE WENT TO AN
ANTI-WAR PROTEST, HE DIDN'T
REALLY KNOW WHO HE WAS OR WHERE
HE WAS IN THE POLITICAL SPECTRUM
OF THINGS.
HE WAS A PROBLEM SOLVER.
HE LOVED TO SOLVE PROBLEMS.
HE WAS ANOTHER TRULY ECCENTRIC
CHARACTER AND, UH, OVER AT HIGH
TABLE, I DON'T KNOW IF YOU KNOW
ABOUT HIGH TABLE.
IN CAMBRIDGE AT THE COLLEGES,
THERE'S ONE TABLE WHERE THE
ELITE SIT AND DISCUSS GREAT
IDEAS AND THEY ALL FEEL VERY
PROUD OF THEMSELVES.
[Laughing]
AND, UM, ALAN TURING SAT AT HIGH
TABLE BUT HE WAS AGAIN, A PERSON
WHO WAS NOT SOCIALLY THAT WELL
EQUIPPED.
I THINK YOU WOULD DESCRIBE ALAN
TURING AS SOMEONE WHO HAD
HANSBERGER SYNDROME WHICH YOU
MAY HAVE HEARD OF.
HE WAS SORT OF A HIGHLY
FUNCTIONING AUTISTIC.
ALTHOUGH, AT THE TIME, IT WASN'T
DIAGNOSED AS THAT BECAUSE
HANSBERGER, I'M NOT SURE IF I'M
PRONOUNCING HIS NAME JUST RIGHT,
WAS A VIENNESE PSYCHOLOGIST WHO
WAS JUST THEN COMING UP WITH HIS
IDEAS AND JUST THEN FRAMING OR
DIAGNOSING THIS CONDITION BUT
CLEARLY, TURING WAS ONE OF THOSE
PEOPLE.
HE, HE TALKED TOO LOUDLY, HE
DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO MODULATE THE
RHYTHM OF HIS VOICE PROPERLY, HE
ALWAYS MISSED THE EMOTIONAL
CURRENT IN A ROOM, HE COULDN'T
REALLY GAUGE PEOPLE'S FACES.
HE, HE LOST...
HE WAS LOST IN SOCIAL
SITUATIONS.
THIS IS A KIND OF UPPER CLASS
ENGLISHMAN.
IT WAS NOT AN ADVANTAGE TO BE
LOST IN SOCIAL SITUATIONS.
AND, YOU KNOW, THERE IS A SORT
OF ENGLISH RESERVE AND IN AN ODD
WAY TURING DIDN'T HAVE ANY OF
THAT.
HE WAS BLUNT, HE WAS HONEST, HE
WAS VERY FORTHRIGHT.
NOT THAT THE ENGLISH AREN'T
HONEST.

[Audience laughing]

Janna continues AND MY, MY SON
MY SON WAS BORN IN ENGLAND, HE'S
GOT AN ENGLISH PASSPORT.
MY HUSBAND'S ENGLISH.
[Laughing]
UM.
ANYWAY, WHERE WAS I?
[Laughing]
THAT'S RECORDED ON TV.
NOW I'M A LITTLE NERVOUS.

[Audience laughing]

She continues UM.
BUT SO, BUT HE WAS THIS VERY
CHARMING PERSON ALL THE SAME
EVEN THOUGH HE WAS REALLY QUITE
ECCENTRIC.
AND WHEN HE WAS ALSO A VERY
YOUNG STUDENT ABOUT SIX YEARS
AFTER GODEL DID HIS MOST
IMPORTANT WORK, TURING DOVE
TAILED WITH ANOTHER BIG IDEA AND
WE'LL TALK ABOUT THE LIMIT IDEAS
AND HOW IT LEAD TO THINGS
LIKE...
UH, MACHINES THAT MIGHT THINK
ONE DAY.
HOW IT LEAD TO DIFFERENT IDEAS
ON THE MIND AND ARTIFICIAL
INTELLIGENCE.
WE'LL JUST TOUCH ON THESE
THINGS.
I SHOULD ALSO MENTION THAT
GODEL, BEING THIS GREAT GENIUS,
THIS BRILLIANT MAGICIAN, THE
MOST IMPORTANT MAGICIAN SINCE
ARISTOTLE.
YOU KNOW, FOR CENTURIES THERE
HAD NOT BEEN A MIND LIKE THIS IN
LOGIC.
AND, UH, WAS, WAS ALSO A
PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIC.
THIS WAS A DEEPLY TROUBLED
PERSON.
HE WAS IN AND OUT OF MENTAL
INSTITUTIONS.

A black and white picture shows a man wearing glasses, hat and a fur collar coat.

She continues I MEAN, THEY WEREN'T REALLY
MENTAL INSTITUTIONS.
THEY WERE SORT OF SANATORIA.
THEY WERE, IN EUROPE THEY, THEY
WERE, THEY'RE MORE MILDLY KNOWN.
[Laughing]
THEY'RE NOT SO SEVERE AS IN
AMERICA.
[Laughing]
AND, UM, BUT HE DID HAVE SEVERAL
NERVOUS BREAKDOWNS AND COMMITTED
HIMSELF WILLINGLY MORE THAN ONCE
IN HIS LIFE.
AND HE WAS ALSO A SEVERE
HYPOCHONDRIAC.
AND WOULD OFTEN REGULATE HIS
DIET SO RIGIDLY THAT HIS WEIGHT
FELL BELOW 100 POUNDS.
SO, HE WAS A VERY, UM, TROUBLED
PERSON.
WHICH IS WHY THEY MAKE FOR GREAT
STORIES, YES?
THAT'S WHY THEY MAKE FOR GREAT
STORIES.
SO, WELL, ACTUALLY BEFORE I SLIP
TO THAT.
NO, I'VE DONE IT.
HERE YOU ARE.

The slide changes to show three images that read "Infinity," "Big Bang" and "Black holes" respectively.

She continues I, I WANTED TO TELL YOU WHY
THESE PEOPLE GRIPPED ME.
I AM NOT REALLY A MATHEMATICIAN.
I'M A MATHEMATICAL PHYSICIST.
IT'S A LITTLE DIFFERENT.
I USE MATH.
I LOVE MATH.
I'M ENAMOURED OF IT BUT I DON'T
REALLY OPERATE AT THE LEVELS OF
PROOF.
I DON'T REALLY PROVE THAT ONE
PLUS ONE IS TWO.
THERE IS A PROOF OF IT.
IT TAKES LIKE TWO VOLUMES.
I'M NOT KIDDING.
IT'S OUTRAGEOUS WHERE YOU'D FIND
THE PROOF THAT ONE PLUS ONE IS
TWO.
THAT'S NOT WHERE THE LEVEL AT
WHICH I OPERATE.
I'M HAPPY TO ACCEPT THAT AND TO
DEAL WITH NUMBER THEORY AND
TOPOLOGY AND VERY BEAUTIFUL
BRANCHES OF MATHEMATICS.
BUT I WAS DRAWN TO THESE
MATHEMATICIANS BECAUSE THEY SAID
SOMETHING THAT KIND OF TERRIFIED
ME.
THEY SAID THERE CAN BE NO
MATHEMATICAL THEORY OF
EVERYTHING AND THAT REALLY
HAUNTED ME BECAUSE I WORK ON THE
IDEA THAT THERE COULD BE A
PHYSICAL THEORY OF EVERYTHING.
UM, I, I SHOULD ALSO WARN YOU,
I'M TRYING TO SEEM REAL COOL AND
CASUAL BUT I'M TRAVELING WITH A
TWO MONTH OLD SO I'M TOTALLY
RATTLED.
MY TWO MONTH OLD IS, IS IN A
CLASSROOM SOMEWHERE RIGHT NOW
WITH A BABY SITTER.

[Laughing]
[Audience laughing]

Janna says UM, SO, YOU
KNOW, ANYTHING I SAY OR DO IS
FORGIVABLE, ALRIGHT?

[Laughing]
[Audience laughing]

Janna says UM, AND MY SENSE
OF TIME IS COMPLETELY OFF BUT
HERE WE GO.
SO...
SO, SINCE EINSTEIN, WE'VE HAD
THIS GREAT AMBITION FOR THE
THEORY OF EVERYTHING.
THAT ONE MATHEMATICAL SENTENCE
WHICH WOULD NEARLY EXPLAIN NOT
ONLY ALL OF PHYSICS BUT
EVERYTHING IN THE UNIVERSE
BECAUSE EVERYTHING IN THE
UNIVERSE REDUCES TO PHYSICS.
I MEAN, THIS IS THE GREAT
AMBITION.
AND IT'S SIMPLE.
IT'S VERY SERIOUSLY ON THE TABLE
NOW AND THAT PEOPLE EITHER FEEL
THEY'RE CLOSE TO OR FAR FROM BUT
THAT'S THE DIALOGUE WHAT'S GOING
ON IN PHYSICS.
AND I'VE WORKED ON NOT THE
THEORY OF EVERYTHING DIRECTLY
BUT I'VE KIND OF COME IN FROM
COSMOLOGY TO LOOK AT WHERE IT
MIGHT SHOW UP AND OTHER
IMPLICATIONS.
SO, I'VE BEEN VERY INTERESTED IN
THINGS LIKE IS THE UNIVERSE
INFINITE OR IS IT FINITE?
BECAUSE I BELIEVE THE THEORY OF
EVERYTHING WILL TELL US THAT AND
I'VE WORKED ON THINGS LIKE THE
BIG BANG BECAUSE THE THEORY OF
EVERYTHING HAS TO TELL US HOW
THE UNIVERSE WAS CREATED.
AND I'VE WORKED ON THEORIES OF
BLACKHOLES BECAUSE AT THE CORES
OF BLACKHOLES IS WHERE WE WOULD
SEE A THEORY OF EVERYTHING
REALLY ACTING OUT.
AND SO, HERE'S MY LIFE'S WORK
AND AT THE SAME TIME, I HAVE TO
REMEMBER THOUGH THESE GREAT
MATHEMATICIANS WHO AT A TIME
WHEN ALL OF MATHEMATICS BELIEVED
THERE WOULD BE A MATHEMATICAL
THEORY OF EVERYTHING WERE BLOWN
AWAY BECAUSE THEY HEARD FROM
GODEL AND TURING THAT THERE IS
NOT AND THERE WILL NEVER BE.
IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE NOT CLEVER
ENOUGH TO FIND A MATHEMATICAL
THEORY OF EVERYTHING.
IT'S THAT CERTAIN NUMBERS AND
CERTAIN MATHEMATICAL
PROPOSITIONS ARE FOREVER BEYOND
OUR UNDERSTANDING.
THEY'RE BEYOND MATHEMATICS'
UNDERSTAND.
THIS IS REALLY A WILD IDEA SO
WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT IDEA.
AND SO, THAT'S WHY THEY KIND OF
ALWAYS GNAWED AT ME AND STARTED
TO HAUNT ME AND I STARTED TO
THINK MORE ABOUT THEIR WORK AND
THEIR IDEAS.
THERE'S GOING TO COME A POINT IN
THIS LECTURE WHERE YOU'RE GONNA
GO "I STILL DON'T GET IT."
YOU KNOW?

[Laughing]
[Audience laughing]

Janna says AND THAT'S OKAY.
DON'T BLAME ME.

[Laughing]
[Audience laughing]

Janna says DON'T BLAME
YOURSELVES.
THIS STUFF IS HARD.
IT TAKES YEARS.
THERE ARE COURSES TAUGHT ON
THIS.
YOU SPEND A WHOLE YEAR
STRUGGLING, LABOURING, TAKING
THIS COURSE AND YOU STILL COME
OUT SAYING "I DON'T QUITE GET
IT."
UM, BUT WE WILL GET TO, WE'LL
TALK ABOUT A PARALLEL IDEA, AN
EPISTEMOLOGY THAT'S A LITTLE
EASIER TO GET AND THEN I'LL,
I'LL ARGUE FOR YOU HOW IT WORKED
IN MATHEMATICS.
BUT THEY PROVED THERE ARE SOME
TRUTHS THAT CAN NEVER BE PROVEN
TO BE TRUE.
AND THAT EVEN A MATHEMATICAL
TRUTH CAN BE ELUSIVE.
THIS IS NOT METAPHORICAL LIKE,
YOU KNOW...
TRUTH IS RELATIVE SO YOUR SIDE
OF THE STORY AND YOUR
BOYFRIEND'S SIDE OF THE STORY
ARE EQUALLY GOOD.
YOU KNOW, THAT'S NOT REALLY WHAT
WE'RE TALKING ABOUT IN TERMS OF
THE ELUSIVENESS OF TRUTH.
WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A PROOF
THAT THERE ARE TRUE PROPOSITIONS
THAT WE CAN NEVER REALLY KNOW.
OKAY, HERE'S A...
I JUST GLEAMED THIS FROM A RUB.
HERE'S A PICTURE OF A VIENNESE
COFFEE HOUSE.
I PULLED THIS DOWN BECAUSE GODEL
IN 1931 WHEN HE WAS WORKING ON
THESE IDEAS, HUNG OUT WITH A
GROUP OF PHILOSOPHERS AND
SCIENTISTS AND MATHEMATICIANS IN
A, IN A CAFE.
THIS IS NOT THE ACTUAL CAFE
[Unclear] IN THAT PICTURE BUT IT
LOOKED LIKE THIS ONE.
VERY SIMILAR.
AND THIS IS A VIENNESE CAFE AND
THEY WOULD TALK EVERY THURSDAY
NIGHT ABOUT REALITY, METAPHYSICS
WHICH THEY HATED, RELIGION WHICH
THEY HATED, POLITICS WHICH THEY
HATED AND ALL THAT THEY LOVED
WAS MATHEMATICS AND LOGIC.
THIS WAS GONNA SAVE THEM.
YOU HAVE TO UNDERSTAND, THIS IS
ALSO POST WORLD WAR ONE WHICH
WAS A VERY TRAUMATIC TIME FOR
EUROPE.
AND THIS, THIS IDEA THAT THE
PURITY OF MATHEMATICS AND THE
COMPLETENESS, THE WHOLENESS OF
MATHEMATICS WAS GONNA SAVE THEM
SOMEHOW.
IT WAS GONNA, YOU KNOW, LIFT
THEM UP.
MAYBE I'M BEING A LITTLE TOO
EMOTIONAL BUT I THINK IT'S FAIR
TO SAY.
AND, UM...
AND THERE, THERE WAS A CALL BY
THE GREATEST MATHEMATICIAN AT
THE TIME, DAVID HOBART, THAT,
THAT THE MATHEMATICAL COMMUNITY
RISE UP AND PROVE ONCE AND FOR
ALL THAT INDEED MATHEMATICS IS
COMPLETE.
THAT IS TO SAY THERE IS A
MATHEMATICAL THEORY OF
EVERYTHING.
TO PROVE THAT ALL MATHEMATICAL
THEOREMS COULD BE PROVEN TO BE
TRUE IN MATHEMATICS.
IT'S NOT THAT OUTRAGEOUS A
CLAIM.
AND, UH, HE WASN'T SAYING PROVE
THEM ALL.
THERE SURELY IS AN INFINITE
LIST.
IT WILL NEVER BE COMPLETED BUT
JUST PROVE THAT IT COULD IN
PRINCIPLE BE DONE.
AND SO THIS WAS ALMOST...
I MEAN, THERE WAS A LITTLE BIT
OF ARGUMENT.
MOST PEOPLE BELIEVED THAT THE
DAY WOULD COME WHEN IT WOULD BE,
IT WOULD BE SETTLED.
BUT THERE WAS THIS FUNNY THING
HANGING AROUND AS THEY TALKED
ABOUT PHILOSOPHY AND MATHEMATICS
AND SCIENCE AND THAT WAS AN
ANCIENT PARADOX CALLED THE
LIAR'S PARADOX.
THE LIAR'S PARADOX IS, UH, DUEL
[Unclear] BUT IN OTHER, IT HAS
SEVERAL WAYS OF BEING EXPRESSED
BUT ONE IS THAT THE CRETAN SAYS "ALL CRETANS ARE LIARS."
SO THE CRETAN'S LYING TO YOU
SAYING HE'S A LIAR.
SO IS HE LYING OR IS HE NOT
LYING?
IT'S SORT OF ONE OF THOSE FUNNY
EXPRESSIONS.
THE WAY I PREFER TO THINK ABOUT
IT IS TO SAY "THIS IS A LIE."
OKAY, THE LIAR DECLARES "THIS IS
A LIE."
THEY THINK ABOUT THIS, UM,
PROPOSITION.
"I CAN'T DECIDE IF IT'S TRUE OR
FALSE."
IF IT'S TRUE, THAT IT'S A
LIE.
THEN IT IS A LIE BUT IF IT'S A
LIE, DOESN'T THAT MEAN IT'S
FALSE?
I MEAN, TO BE A LIE, IS IT THE
SAME AS BEING FALSE?
SO IF IT'S TRUE, IT MUST BE
FALSE.
AND HERE I HAVE THIS PARADOX.
THIS UNDECIDABLE PARADOX.
IF IT'S TRUE IT MUST BE FALSE.
SO IF I TRY IT THE OTHER WAY
AROUND, THEY SAY "WELL, NO.
IT'S FALSE.
THEN IT'S NOT A LIE AND IF IT'S
NOT A LIE, DOESN'T NOT BEING A
LIE MEAN THAT SOMETHING IS
TRUE?"
SO IF IT'S NOT A LIE THEN IT'S
TRUE BUT I JUST SAY I DETERMINED
THAT IT WAS TRUE THAT DECIDING
IN THE BEGINNING THAT IT WAS
FALSE.
SO, YOU KNOW, THE LIAR'S PARADOX
ACTUALLY LOOMS LARGE IN MY BOOK
BECAUSE IT'S, IT'S ONE OF THE
THINGS THAT INSPIRED ME TO TRY
FICTION.
YOU KNOW, THE NARRATOR'S LYING
TO YOU.
THERE'S THIS FAMOUS THING AND...
A BIT OF A
DIGRESSION HERE BUT A FAMOUS
THING IN LITERARY FICTION WHERE
OF THE UNRELIABLE NARRATOR.
THE NARRATOR WHO YOU THINK IS
TELLING YOU THE TRUTH, THEN
SOMEWHERE ALONG THE WAY YOU
START TO SUSPECT IS LYING TO YOU
A BIT.
AND I THINK THAT'S TRUE OF ALL
NARRATORS.
I MEAN, EVEN IN PURE
NON-FICTION, THERE'S A NARRATOR
THERE WHO'S TRYING TO TELL YOU
SOME STORY.
AND SO THE IDEA
OF FICTIONALIZING THE TALE OF
PEOPLE WHO WORKED ON THESE
IDEAS, UM...
STARTS WITH THE IDEA OF THE
LIAR'S PARADOX.
OKAY, SO THIS IS
UNDECIDABLE.
I REALLY DON'T KNOW IF IT'S TRUE
OR FALSE.
NOW, THERE IS,
UM...
A LOT OF...
THERE WAS ANOTHER LUNATIC
HANGING AROUND AT THE TIME WHICH
I'LL TELL YOU ABOUT IN A SECOND.
[Laughing]
BUT A LOT OF PEOPLE BELIEVED
THAT THIS WOULD JUST BE TRUE IN
EPISTEMOLOGY AND, OR THIS WOULD
JUST BE TRUE IN OTHER WORDS, IN
THE LANGUAGE AND, AND IT WASN'T
REAL.
IT DIDN'T REALLY EXIST.
IT WASN'T A MEANINGFUL PROBLEM.
SO HERE COMES LUDWIG
WITTGENSTEIN.
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN IS THE
GREATEST PHILOSOPHER OF THE 20th
CENTURY AND EVEN IF YOU DON'T
LIKE HIM, YOU GOTTA LOVE HIM.
[Laughing]
HE WAS A...
HE HAD CRAZY HAIR, HE WAS ILL
TEMPERED, HE WAS FROM THE
WEALTHIEST FAMILY IN ALL OF
EUROPE.

A black and white photograph of a middle-aged man with a powerful look on his eyes appears.

She continues I MEAN, THIS WAS AN
EXTRAVAGANTLY WEALTHY FAMILY.
I CAN'T EVEN GAUGE THE MATERIAL
WEALTH.
THEY LIVED IN A PALACE.
LITERALLY A PALACE.
HE KEPT TRYING TO SHED HIS
WEALTH.
HE WOULD DO STARK THINGS.
HE WOULD GO LIVE IN NORWAY IN
SOME RURAL AREA AND TEACH
GRAMMAR TO SCHOOL CHILDREN AND
THEN HE WOULD TRY TO GIVE AWAY
ALL HIS MONEY BUT THERE WAS SO
MUCH OF IT.

[Audience laughing]

Janna says UM.
AND HE WOULD, YOU KNOW, HE HAD
EIGHT BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND
THREE OF THEM COMMITTED SUICIDE.
I MEAN, IT WAS A, A, AN
ASTOUNDING PERSONAL STORY FOR
LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN ALONE.
AND, I, I BRING HIM HERE BECAUSE
THE CIRCLE, THE VIENNA CIRCLE
THAT SAT AROUND THOSE COFFEE
HOUSES EVERY THURSDAY NIGHT,
THEY WERE FIXATED WITH
WITTGENSTEIN.
THEY, THEY LOVED HIM.
THEY READ HIS BOOK, UH, HIS
FIRST BOOK "THE TRACTATUS," UH,
LINE BY LINE.
IT TOOK THEM OVER A YEAR TO SIT
THERE AND READ THIS BOOK LINE BY
LINE AND HE WOULD MAKE THESE
BEAUTIFUL DECLARATIONS ABOUT,
UH, WHAT WAS TRUE, WHAT WAS
REAL, WHAT WAS LOGICAL AND, BUT
THEY WERE, IT WAS WRITTEN ALMOST
IN THIS SARCASTIC SORT OF WAY.
IT WAS JUST PROCLAMATIONS WITH
NO EXPLANATION.
AND, UM, AND IT WAS VERY
INFLUENTIAL ON VIENNA CIRCLE AND
ONE OF HIS ARGUMENTS WAS THIS IS
A PROBLEM WITH LANGUAGE THAT TO
SAY THE LIAR'S PARADOX CAN'T BE
DECIDED ISN'T THAT BIG OF A DEAL
BECAUSE IT'S REALLY MEANINGLESS
ACTUALLY.
AND ONLY MEANINGFUL QUESTIONS
ARE WORTH TALKING ABOUT AND
MATHEMATICS IS SOMETHING THAT
HAS ONLY MEANINGFUL QUESTIONS.
IN SOMETHING LIKE MATHEMATICS, A
PURE LOGIC, YOU WOULD NEVER HAVE
ANYTHING LIKE THE LIAR'S
PARADOX.
THIS IS REALLY CENTRAL.
THEY WOULD NEVER HAVE THE LIAR'S
PARADOX IN MATHEMATICS.
AND, UM...
THE BELIEVE AND HOPE WAS THAT
MATHEMATICS WAS COMPLETE.
AGAIN, THE IDEA IT HAD A THEORY
OF EVERYTHING AND THERE WOULD
NEVER BE A STATEMENT LIKE THIS
THAT LIES IN SOME SENSE OUTSIDE
OF MATHEMATICS ABILITY TO
DETERMINE IF IT'S TRUE OF FALSE.
NOW, IF YOU HAVE A STATEMENT
WHERE YOU CAN'T DETERMINE IF
IT'S TRUE OR FALSE, AND IT LIES
OUTSIDE OF THE REACH OF
MATHEMATICS THEN MATHEMATICS IS
NOT COMPLETE.
IT CAN'T TOUCH EVERYTHING.
IT CAN'T PROVE ALL TRUE THINGS.
AND SO THIS SEEMS FAIR ENOUGH TO
ACQUIRE AND, UM, SO THEY DID AND
IT TURNS OUT TO BE WRONG AND
THIS IS WHERE, WHERE GODEL
SHOWED UP.
HE SHOWED THAT MATHEMATICS WAS
NOT COMPLETE, THAT THERE WERE
THESE UNDECIDABLE STATEMENTS AND
THE WAY HE DID IT WAS TO THINK
ABOUT THE LIAR'S PARADOX.
HE SAID IN ORDINARY LANGUAGE
THERE'S SOMETHING LIKE THE
LIAR'S PARADOX.
YOU SAY THIS IS A LIE AND WHAT'S
INTERESTING ABOUT IS IT REFERS
TO ITSELF.
THAT'S ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL.
IT REFERS TO ITSELF AND THEN IT
MAKES AN UNSOLVABLE CLAIM ABOUT
ITSELF.
AND SO, THAT'S WHAT HE TRIED TO
DO.
IT TOOK HIM 46 PRELIMINARY
LOGICAL DEFINITIONS AND AN
INCREDIBLE, INCREDIBLE LEAP OF
INTUITION.
TRUE STROKE OF GENIUS TO DO IT.
UH, BUT WHAT HE
DID WAS HE CONSTRUCTED THE
MATHEMATICAL EQUIVALENT TO THE
STATEMENT "THIS IS UNPROVABLE."
SO IT'S THE MATHEMATICAL
EQUIVALENT TO THE IDEA THAT THIS
IS UNPROVABLE.
AND HERE'S WHERE
WE GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU
SHOULDN'T BLAME ME.
[Laughing]
OR YOURSELVES BUT IT, THIS IS
GONNA BE, YOU KNOW, THE, THE
STICKY POINT IN TRYING TO THINK
THIS THROUGH AND...
I HAVE TO APOLOGIZE BECAUSE IT
DOES TAKE A YEAR'S WORTH I THINK
OF A LECTURE TO REALLY GET YOUR
HEAD AROUND THIS SO I'LL JUST
KIND OF GIVE YOU A SKETCH OF
WHAT HE DID.
HE STARTED WITH THE IDEA THAT
SOME, THAT YOU, YOU COULD HAVE
THIS DECLARATION "THIS IS
UNPROVABLE."
BUT WHAT DOES PROOF REALLY MEAN?
IN MATHEMATICS, PROOF MEANS YOU
START WITH SOME AXIOMS.
SO, LET'S JUST THINK ABOUT
ARITHMETIC WHICH IS THE THEORY
OF MATHEMATICS FOR NUMBERS.
FOR REGULAR NUMBERS.
ORDINARY NUMBERS.
THE THEORY THAT PROVES THAT ONE
PLUS ONE IS TWO AND TWO PLUS TWO
IS FOUR.
THAT PROVES THAT...
FOUR SQUARED IS 16 AND IT'S
REALLY BASIC ARITHMETIC.
YOU START WITH THE AXIOMS OF
ARITHMETIC, LET'S SAY.
AND TO HAVE A MATHEMATICAL
PROOF, YOU TAKE THE RULES TO
TRANSFORM THOSE AXIOMS STEP BY
STEP.
THERE ARE OPERATIONS LIKE
ADDITION, THERE'S RULES OF
INFERENCE.
SUBTRACTION, MULTIPLICATION,
DIVISION AND RULES OF INFERENCE
AND THOSE WILL LEAD YOU TO THE
THEOREMS OF ARITHMETIC AND
SURELY THERE ARE AN INFINITE
NUMBER OF THEOREMS OF ARITHMETIC
AND ALL OF THAT'S FINE.
BUT WHEN HE SAID THERE'S NO
PROOF, HE MEANS IF I STARTED
WITH THE AXIOMS OF ARITHMETIC
AND I TRANSFORMED THEM RULE BY
RULE, I WOULD NEVER FIND THE
MATHEMATICAL EQUIVALENT OF THIS
STATEMENT AS A THEOREM OF
MATHEMATICS.
AND, UM, I'M JUST GOING TO SHOW
IT TO YOU HERE.

She laughs and approaches a large screen that shows an equation.

She continues AND I'M NOT GONNA PROVE IT BUT
WHAT HE ESSENTIALLY DID IS HE
CODED, THIS IS REALLY, I MEAN,
HIS PROOF REALLY IS MANY, MANY,
MANY PAGES LONG.
BUT HE CODED THIS STATEMENT INTO
NUMBERS.
FIRST HE WROTE IT DOWN AS AN
EXPRESSION.
HE SAID SOMETHING LIKE THERE IS
A NUMBER THAT BELONGS TO THIS
CLASS OF ALL NUMBERS THAT CAN'T
BE PROVEN.
AND THEN HE SHOWED THAT THAT
VERY NUMBER CORRESPONDED TO THE
THEOREM ITSELF.
AND HE DID SOMETHING VERY
MAGICAL WHICH WAS TO CODE
EVERYTHING, MAP EVERYTHING INTO
NUMBERS SO EVERYTHING BECAME
PURELY NUMERICAL.
IT WAS A REALLY A KIND OF CODING
AND THIS WAS INTERESTING WITH
RESPECT WITH HIS STRANGE
RELATIONSHIP WITH ALAN TURING
BECAUSE ALAN TURING BECAME THE
GREATEST CODE BREAKER.
AND, UM, AND YET THIS VERY
INFLUENCE BY GODEL'S IDEAS ON
MATHEMATICAL CODING.
AND SO GODEL
REALLY PROVED, REALLY HAS A
MATHEMATICAL PROOF TO SHOW THAT
THERE ARE STATEMENTS THAT MAKE
CLAIMS ABOUT THEMSELVES THAT CAN
NOT BE SOLVED WITHIN
MATHEMATICS.
OKAY?
AND SO THEREFORE, MATHEMATICS
CAN NOT BE A THEORY OF
EVERYTHING BECAUSE EVEN IF I CAN
KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT ORDINARY
NUMBERS THAT I'M USED TO DEALING
WITH EVERY DAY, NUMBERS LIKE PI
AND LIKE FIVE AND LIKE 7.672,
THERE'S, THERE'S AT LEAST THIS
ONE RELATIONSHIP AMONG NUMBERS,
IT'S A STRANGE ONE, GRANTED.
NOT ONE I RUN INTO EVERY DAY BUT
IT'S ONE THAT I CAN NEVER PROVE
IS TRUE OR FALSE.
AND YET SOMETHING VERY STRANGE
CAN HAPPEN.
SINCE IT CLAIMS ABOUT ITSELF
THAT IT CAN NOT BE PROVEN, I CAN
STEP OUTSIDE OF MATHEMATICS...
I CAN LOOK AT IT FROM THE CORNER
OF MY EYE...

A slide shows the statements she’s making.

Janna continues AND I CAN
REALIZE, WELL, IT'S TRUE, ISN'T
IT?
I MEAN, IT'S MAKING A TRUE
CLAIM.
AN INTUITIVE NOTION OF TRUTH
EMERGES AND THIS IS ONE OF THE
VERY STRANGE THINGS ABOUT IT.
I CAN SEE IT'S TRUE BUT I CAN'T
ACTUALLY PROVE THAT IT'S TRUE.
AND AGAIN, THIS
PARTLY INSPIRES AN IDEA OF
TRYING TO DEAL WITH A
FICTIONALIZED FORM.
SOME TRUTHS YOU CAN'T REACH BY
FOLLOWING LOGICAL STEP AFTER
LOGICAL STEP.
SOMETIMES YOU STEP OUTSIDE.
AND SO THAT WAS PART OF THE IDEA
OF STEPPING OUTSIDE OF BIOGRAPHY
OR STEPPING OUTSIDE OF
NON-FICTION.

The audience listens carefully.

She continues UM, AND ALAN TURING COMES ALONG.
ALAN TURING IS A LITTLE BIT
YOUNGER THAN KURT GODEL AND HE'S
VERY INFLUENCED BY HIS IDEAS
WHEN HE HEARS IT.
HE KNOWS A BIG IDEA WHEN HE
HEARS IT.
AND ALAN TURING'S IN A STRANGE
WAY, A MORE PRACTICAL PERSON.
KIND OF A LESS PHILOSOPHICAL
PERSON.
AND THERE'S ONE ISSUE THAT'S
STILL REMAINING ON THIS WHOLE
QUESTION OF THE THEORY OF
EVERYTHING IN MATHEMATICS AND
THAT IS, LET'S SAY I JUST THROW
A THEOREM, UH, A MATHEMATICAL
PROPOSITION AT YOU.
CAN YOU TELL ME WHETHER OR NOT
IT COULD IN PRINCIPLE BE DECIDED
IF IT WAS TRUE OR FALSE?
NOT PROVE THAT IT'S TRUE OR
FALSE BUT JUST TELL ME IN
PRINCIPLE, IS THERE SOME
SYSTEMATIC FORM OR WAY TO KNOW
THAT IT CAN BE DECIDED?
AND ACTUALLY, TURING ALSO
ANSWERS THIS BY SAYING NO AND HE
DOES SOMETHING INCREDIBLY
INGENIOUS IN THE PROCESS.
HE INVENTS A MACHINE.
AND IT'S JUST A THOUGHT
EXPERIMENT.
HE BEGINS BY IMAGINING A KIND OF
TYPEWRITER.
AN OLD TYPEWRITER AND HE SAYS "SUPPOSE I BUILT A TYPEWRITER
THAT COULD READ SOME INPUT."

Another slide shows the picture of an old typewriter. It reads "Turing Machine. 001010. Infinite list of numbers cannot be computed by any machine. Uncomputable numbers. Mechanize thought. Devise a machine that could think. The thought experiment behind the computer."

She continues AND THEY MAKE A VERY SIMPLE
MACHINE SO IT READS A TAPE,
LET'S SAY AND MAYBE THE TAPE HAS
ZEROS AND ONES ON IT SO IT CODES
INFORMATION IN ZEROS AND ONES.
IS THIS STARTING TO SOUND
FAMILIAR?
AND, AND THIS MACHINE WOULD READ
THESE ZEROS AND ONES AND, AND
FOR A ZERO IT WOULD DO SOME VERY
SIMPLE THING.
LIKE, MAYBE IT WOULD CHANGE
CONFIGURATION AND THEN MOVE ON
TO THE NEXT SQUARE AND IF IT SAW
A ONE MAYBE IT WOULD PRINT A ONE
AND THEN IT WOULD MOVE ON TO THE
NEXT SQUARE AND IT WOULD HAVE
THESE VERY SORT OF SIMPLE SET OF
OPERATIONS.
AND WHAT HE REALIZED BY THINKING
ABOUT THIS MACHINE WAS THAT...
HE COULD GET THIS MACHINE TO ADD
AND HE COULD GET IT TO MULTIPLY
AND HE COULD GET IT TO, UM...
DIVIDE AND HE COULD GET IT TO DO
JUST ABOUT ANY KIND OF
MATHEMATICAL OPERATION THAT A
HUMAN WHAT HE CALLED COMPUTER
COULD DO.
A PERSON WHO COMPUTES.
HE SAID "ANYTHING A HUMAN
COMPUTER COULD DO IN MATHEMATICS
AS LONG AS IT'S FOLLOWING THE
LOGICAL TRANSFORMATION RULES OF
MATHEMATICS, ANY THEOREM A HUMAN
COMPUTER COULD PROVE, THIS
MACHINE COULD PROVE."
AND IT TOOK A LONG TIME I THINK
FOR PEOPLE, NOT THAT LONG BUT A
WHILE FOR PEOPLE TO ACCEPT THAT
THIS WAS REALLY A VERY GENERAL
MACHINE, THAT IN SOME SENSE IT
WAS UNIVERSAL AND THEY WERE
EVENTUALLY COINED, UM, AS TURING
MACHINES AND WHAT HE REALIZED IN
MAKING THESE COMPUTERS, I'M NOT
GONNA EXPLAIN THIS IN DEPTH.
I'M JUST GONNA MENTION IT.
IS THAT EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE
FAMILIAR NUMBERS LIKE ONE AND
TWO AND FIVE AND PI AND 7.672,
WHATEVER THEY ARE, THERE'S AN
INFINITE LIST OF NUMBERS ABOUT
WHICH WE KNOW NOTHING.
ABOUT WHICH WE
ESSENTIALLY KNOW NOTHING AND HE
PROVED THIS BY SAYING THAT EVEN
IF HE TRIED TO GET HIS MACHINE
TO COMPUTE ALL OF THE INFINITE
LIST OF DIGITS AFTER, LET'S SAY
THE DECIMAL POINT OF ONE OF
THESE NUMBERS, IT WOULD NEVER
HALT.
IT WOULD NEVER
STOP COMPUTING.
IT WOULD HAVE TO COMPUTE
FOREVER.
AND SO IN PRINCIPLE, THERE'S
THIS LIST OF INFINITELY LONG
NUMBERS ABOUT WHICH WE CAN
REALLY KNOW NOTHING.
IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT EVERY
NUMBER IS INFINITELY LONG...
WE CAN KNOW NOTHING ABOUT 'CAUSE
THAT'S NOT REALLY TRUE.
UM, ABOUT PI,
WHEN WE HAVE, WE HAVE A
COMPUTABLE, A WAY OF COMPUTING
PI BUT THERE'S A LIST OF NUMBERS
ABOUT WHICH WE HAVE NO MEANS OF
COMPUTING THEM.
THEY'RE ESSENTIALLY RANDOM.
THEY'RE RANDOM NUMBERS.
THEY'RE NUMBERS WHO'S PROPERTIES
MIGHT AS WELL BE UP TO THE TOSS
OF A COIN.
THEY'RE SO, ANOTHER WAY OF
SAYING IT AND THIS CAME LATER,
UH, SOMEBODY NAMED GREGORY
CHAITIN WHO'S A MATHEMATICIAN
TODAY WHO'S, UH, DONE AMAZING
WORK ON THIS, ANOTHER WAY OF
SAYING IT IS TO SAY THAT THE
COMPLEXITY OF THE NUMBER, IT'S
SO RANDOM, SO COMPLEX THAT IT
EXCEEDS THE COMPLEXITY OF ANY,
THAT NO MACHINE COULD POSSIBLY
COMPUTE IT AND BE LESS COMPLEX.
IT'S ANOTHER WAY
OF SAYING IT.
THE MACHINE WOULD HAVE TO BE AS
COMPLEX AS THE NUMBER ITSELF.
THESE WERE CALLED UNCOMPUTABLE
NUMBERS.
AND, UM, AND IT WAS AGAIN, A
REALLY SEVERE BLOW TO THE
MATHEMATICS COMMUNITY.
IT MEANS THAT THERE'S AN
INFINITE LIST OF NUMBERS ABOUT
WHICH WE KNOW NOTHING.
BUT WHAT'S FASCINATING IS WHAT
EMERGED FROM THIS IS THAT TURING
REALIZED HE COULD MECHANIZE
THOUGHT.
THAT HE COULD MAKE A MACHINE
THAT COULD THINK AND HE REALLY
MEANT THINK AND IT BECAME THE
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT BEHIND THE
COMPUTER.
SO ALAN TURING INVENTS THE
COMPUTER.
NOW, THE IDEA OF THE LIMITS
LEADING TO DISCOVERY IS NOT, UH,
IT'S NOT THE FIRST TIME IN THE
HISTORY OF SCIENCE AND MATH THAT
THIS HAS HAPPENED AND IN FACT,
THERE'S TWO OTHER EXAMPLES THAT
HAPPENED RIGHT AROUND THE SAME
TIME WERE ABSOLUTELY FASCINATING
SO I'M JUST GONNA MENTION THAT,
THAT THIS WAS NOT THE ONLY LIMIT
THEOREM THAT LED TO A GREAT
DISCOVERY.
UM, THERE WAS THE LIMIT OF THE
SPEED OF LIGHT AND THE THEORY OF
RELATIVITY.
WHEN ALBERT EINSTEIN COULD NOT
GET A JOB BECAUSE, UM, HIS
TEACHERS THOUGHT HE WAS A LAZY
DOG WAS THE QUOTE.
[Laughing]
SO WHEN YOU'RE FEELING BAD ABOUT
YOUR STUDIES, JUST REMEMBER HIS
PROFESSOR CALLED HIM A LAZY DOG.
IT DOESN'T MEAN THAT IF YOU'RE A
LAZY DOG YOU'RE GONNA DISCOVERY
RELATIVITY OF COURSE.
IT DOESN'T ALWAYS WORK THAT WAY.

[Audience laughing]

Janna says HE'D ALSO SAY
ABOUT HIMSELF, HE SAID "YOU
KNOW, WHEN I WAS A STUDENT, I
WAS NO EINSTEIN."
SO, UM...

[Audience laughing]

Janna says SEE, IT
ALWAYS...
IT ALWAYS TAKES A SECOND TO
RESPOND TO THAT JOKE.

[Audience laughing]

Janna says AND SO, HERE HE
WAS A [Unclear] CLERK WHO
COULDN'T GET A JOB AND HE
INVENTS SPECIAL RELATIVITY BY
THINKING THAT THE SPEED OF LIGHT
IS A FUNDAMENTAL LIMIT.
AND IF THE SPEED OF LIGHT IS A
FUNDAMENTAL LIMIT, HE REALIZED
HE WOULD HAVE TO MAKE SPACE AND
TIME RELATIVE.
THAT IF MY CLOCKS AND MY RULERS
MEASURE SPACE AND TIME RELATIVE
AS I MOVE PAST YOU...
WE COULD ACTUALLY MEASURE THE
SPEED OF LIGHT THE SAME.
THIS WAS SOMETHING HE REALIZED.
SO, IF HE KEPT THE SPEED OF
LIGHT THE SAME BETWEEN US AS I
CAME FLYING PAST YOU BUT I GAVE
UP THE NATURE OF SPACE AND TIME,
HE, HE REALIZED HE HAD A
CONSISTENT THEORY THAT SOLVED
SOME PROBLEMS AT THE TIME AND
INVENTS RELATIVITY.
REMARKABLE.
THERE WAS ALSO HEISENBERG WHO
WAS THE GREAT PHYSICIST WHO, UM,
REALIZED THAT WE COULD NEVER
KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT THE
FUNDAMENTAL NATURE OF MATTER.
THAT EVEN IF I TRIED TO MEASURE
THE LOCATION OF AN ELECTRON, A
PARTICLE THAT ORBITS AROUND THE
NUCLEUS, INCREDIBLY PRECISELY
AND I TRIED TO PIN IT DOWN,
INCREDIBLY PRECISELY, THERE'S A
FUNDAMENTAL LIMIT TO HOW WELL I
COULD EVER, UH, I COULD EVER
DEFINE IT'S LOCATION AND IT'S
NOT A STATEMENT THAT MY
EXPERIMENT'S NOT REALLY GOOD
ENOUGH.
IT SEEMED TO SAY SOMETHING ABOUT
REALITY AND IT LED TO THE IDEA
OF QUANTUM...
UH, IT DIDN'T LEAD TO BUT IT WAS
ONE OF THE BIG IDEAS IN
DEVELOPING QUANTUM MECHANICS AND
ONE OF THE STRANGEST THINGS
ABOUT QUANTUM MECHANICS IS THAT
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE
REALITY ITSELF THAT IS GENUINELY
SLIPPERY.
THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT THE
MEANING OF THE ELECTRON EXISTING
IN A LOCATION OF SPACE THAT
ACTUALLY BECOMES FUNDAMENTALLY
SLIPPERY.
SO THIS IS ANOTHER DEEP IDEA.

A new slide shows a white circle that reads "Mathematical truth." Two arrows point to it from above and two others stretch from it downwards. One of the downwards arrows reads "Gödel: transmigration of the soul, platonic reality."

Janna says SO, GODEL
BELIEVES IN TRANSMIGRATION OF
THE SOUL AND HE WAS VERY SERIOUS
ABOUT THIS.
HE BELIEVED THAT, THAT THERE WAS
A PLATONIC REALITY WHICH IS TO
SAY A MATHEMATICALLY PURE
REALITY BEYOND THIS ONE AND IT
WAS MORE REAL IN SOME SENSE THAN
THE ORDINARY WORLD THAT HE LIVED
IN WHICH HE WAS VERY SUSPICIOUS
OF AND VERY PARANOID ABOUT.
AND THAT BY
THINKING HE WAS TOUCHING THIS
OTHER REALITY AND THAT EACH TIME
HIS SOUL IS REINCARNATED, HE
WOULD MIGRATE TO THIS PLATONIC
REALM.
OKAY, SO, IF YOU BELIEVE THAT
HIS THEOREMS HAVE PROVED THAT...
[Laughing]
THAT'S WHAT YOU HAVE IN STORE
FOR YOU.

[Audience laughing]
The second downward arrow reads "Turing: materialist, soulless, biological machines."

Janna continues TURING BY
CONTRAST WAS A KIND OF RELIGIOUS
ADOLESCENT AND HE WAS STRUGGLING
WITH HIS RELIGION AND STRUGGLING
WITH HIS FAITH.
UM, BECAUSE HE KNOW THAT THERE
WERE FLAWS AND PROBLEMS THAT HE
COULDN'T QUITE FIGURE OUT IN
TERMS OF ALLOWING FOR FREE WILL
OR, OR THE ISSUE OF THE SOUL WAS
VERY CONFUSING TO HIM BUT HE
WROTE LETTERS ABOUT THIS TO
FRIENDS, ABOUT THE SOUL AND I
THINK WHEN HE HAD HIS
MATHEMATICAL EPIPHANY IN HIS
20s, HE BECAME A FULL
MATERIALIST.
HE ABANDONED HIS
RELIGIOUS BELIEFS ENTIRELY AND
CAME TO THE CONCLUSION THAT NOT
ONLY DON'T WE, UH...
NOT ONLY DOESN'T OUR SOUL
MIGRATE TO A PLATONIC REALITY
BUT THAT WE HAVE NO SOUL.
THAT WE ARE REALLY SOULLESS
BIOLOGICAL MACHINES IN THAT WHEN
COMPUTERS THINK, THEY'D BE AS
ALIVE AND AS CONSCIOUS AS, AS WE
ARE.
SO, THESE ARE OBVIOUSLY TOTALLY
DIVERGENT THEORIES AND GODEL I
THINK WAS QUITE HAUNTED BY
TURING'S CONCLUSION.
AND HERE'S ANOTHER PICTURE OF
KURT GODEL.
I COULD HAVE GOTTEN A BETTER
RESOLUTION BUT I THOUGHT THE
GRAININESS ADDED KIND OF A NICE
QUALITY.

[Laughing]
[Audience laughing]

Janna says AND SO HERE, I
WAS A STUDENT OF, OF...
WELL, AT LEAST OF PHYSICS AND
MATHEMATICAL PHYSICS FOR MANY
YEARS AND I KNEW ABOUT THEIR
THEOREMS BUT IT WAS A LONG TIME
BEFORE I KNEW SOME OF THESE
BELIEF SYSTEMS THAT THEY HAD AND
THEN THERE CAME ANOTHER SHOCKING
BIT OF INFORMATION THAT I HADN'T
KNOWN ABOUT AND THAT WAS THAT
KURT GODEL STARVED HIMSELF TO
DEATH.
I FIND IT'S AN ABSOLUTELY
SHOCKING FACT.
HE WAS A SEVERE HYPOCHONDRIAC.
IT WAS ALMOST LIKE THERE WERE
THESE TWO PARALLEL FOR...
THESE TWO OPPOSING FORCES.
ONE DEFENDING HIS LIFE SO
AGGRESSIVELY AND THE OTHER
ACTUALLY BEING QUITE SUICIDAL
AND THERE WAS THIS CONSTANT,
UM...
UH, PUSH AND PULL BETWEEN THE
TWO.
THIS CONSTANT TENSION.
SO, HE, MANY TIMES IN HIS LIFE,
BECAME SO ILL AND SO THIN THAT
HIS WEIGHT WAS 75, 85 POUNDS.
100 POUNDS.
AND HIS WIFE ADELE WHO WAS 10
YEARS OLDER THAN HIM AND REALLY
MOTHERED HIM BACK TO LIFE WOULD
HAVE TO FEED HIM SPOONFUL BY
SPOONFUL TO KEEP HIM ALIVE AND
IT WASN'T UNTIL ADELE, UM,
REALLY FELL ILL HERSELF THAT HE,
SHE WASN'T THERE TO CARE FOR HIM
AND THAT WAS...
THAT WAS REALLY THE END FOR KURT
GODEL.
HE STARVED HIMSELF TO DEATH.
HE WAS 65 POUNDS WHEN HE DIED.
VERY SHOCKING.
HE FEARED THAT THE GOVERNMENT
WAS POISONING HIM AND SO THAT'S
WHY HE REFUSED TO EAT HIS FOOD.
AND, UM...
AND IT'S STRANGE.
HE WAS REALLY LOGICAL TO THE END
THOUGH, IN A STRANGE WAY.
HE DIDN'T THINK, YOU KNOW,
PURPLE ELEPHANTS WITH TUTUS WERE
FLYING IN THE WINDOWS.
I MEAN, HE DIDN'T HAVE THOSE
KINDS OF STRANGE DELUSIONS.
HE HAD VERY RATIONAL DELUSIONS.
I MEAN, EVEN IF THEY WERE
WRONG...
IT WAS VERY LOGICALLY EXECUTED
IN HIS MIND AND IN A WAY, TO
ABSTAIN FROM EATING FOOD THIS,
IN A STRANGE, PECULIAR SENSE,
LOGICAL.
AND, UM, ALAN TURING BY ALMOST
PERFECT INVERSION AND PERFECT
CONTRAST, ATE A POISON APPLE AND
COMMITTED SUICIDE.
UM, TURING'S FAVOURITE MOVIE WAS
"SNOW WHITE."
AND HE USED TO GO AROUND SINGING
"DIP THE APPLE IN THE BREW.
LET THE SLEEPING DEATH SEEP
THROUGH."
AND, UH, BUT HIS, HIS LIFE TOOK
A TURN WHEN HE, UM, ADMITTED TO
THE POLICE, HIS HOUSE HAD BEEN
BURGLED IN THE '50s.
THIS WAS AFTER THE WAR AND AFTER
HE HAD BEEN A GREAT HERO BUT
NOBODY KNEW HE WAS A HERO
BECAUSE IT WAS STILL BEING KEPT
SECRET TO PROTECT LIKE, THE
STATE SECRETS.
AND, SO, UM, HE WAS CONSIDERED
AN ORDINARY CITIZEN.
I MEAN, PEOPLE DIDN'T REALLY
UNDERSTAND THAT THIS MAN HAD
REALLY TURNED THE TIDE IN THE
FAVOUR OF BRITAIN DURING THE
WAR.
I DIDN'T TALK MUCH ABOUT HIS
CODE BREAKING BUT HE WAS
ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL IN, UM, IN
TURNING THE, THE DIRECTION OF
THE WAR AND, UM...
AND YET, HE WAS SORT OF AN
ORDINARY CITIZEN AT THIS TIME IN
THE '50s AND HIS HOUSE HAD BEEN
BURGLED AND WHEN HE REPORTED IT
TO THE POLICE, HE ADMITTED TO
HAVING A HOMOSEXUAL AFFAIR WITH,
UM, ONE OF THE SUSPECTS AND IT
WAS ILLEGAL TO BE GAY IN
ENGLAND.
AS IT WAS I THINK IN AMERICA.
NOT COMPLETELY SURE ABOUT THAT.
AND THEY ARRESTED HIM AND HE WAS
TRIED AND CONVICTED OF
HOMOSEXUALITY AND HOMOSEXUAL
ACTIVITY AND WAS GIVEN A, A
SENTENCE THAT WAS EITHER PRISON
OR...
HORMONAL CASTRATION.
CHEMICAL CASTRATION.
AND THEY GAVE HIM HORMONE
TREATMENTS FOR TWO YEARS.
HE BECAME OBESE AND DEPRESSED
AND EVENTUALLY COMMITTED SUICIDE
BY EATING A POISON APPLE.
SO, I BROUGHT YOU HERE TO TELL
YOU THESE HAPPY TALES.

[Audience laughing]

Janna says UM...
BUT HERE IS WHY AGAIN, IT MAKES
FOR GREAT FICTION.
TO HAVE MY FICTION SO, HERE'S
WHY IT MAKES FOR GREAT FICTION.
NOT BECAUSE IT'S TERRIBLE AND
TRAGIC BUT BECAUSE THERE'S
SOMETHING ABOUT...
WELL, I GUESS IT IS TRAGIC.
SOMETHING ABOUT THE, THE TRAGIC
HERO THAT I THINK SPEAKS, UM, TO
ALL IMAGINATION WHICH IS THERE
IS SOMETHING ABOUT THESE MEN
THAT MAKES THEM GREAT AND
THERE'S SOMETHING, SOMETIMES THE
SAME EXACT CHARACTER THAT IS
THEIR DOWNFALL.

[Applause]

A black slate reads "Questions and Readings."

Janna sits in front of a host on the stage. He’s in his mid-forties, with brown hair and a beard. He’s holding a microphone and wears glasses, a gray shirt and black trousers.

The Host says HERE YOU HAVE KURT GODEL WHO
AS YOU SAY IS SOMEBODY WHO'S
QUITE DIFFERENT.

Janna says MHMM.

The Host says WHO HAS THESE METAPHYSICAL
TENDENCIES...

Janna says RIGHT.

The Host says... WHO'S A PLATONIST, WHO
WAS, AS YOU SAY COMPLETELY
OPPOSED TO THE WHOLE OPERATION
AND ONE OF THE THINGS WHICH HAS
ALWAYS PUZZLED ME IS WHY ON
EARTH...
WAS HE HANGING AROUND THESE
GUYS?
WHY DID HE WANT TO HANG AROUND
THEM BECAUSE HE WAS A VERY
LACONIC PERSON AS YOU MENTIONED,
HE DIDN'T TALK VERY MUCH.

Janna says YEAH.

The Host says WHY WAS HE THERE AND WHY DID
THEY WANT HIM THERE?

Janna says MHMM.

The Host says DO YOU HAVE ANY, ANY
UNDERSTANDING OF THIS?

Janna laughs and says WELL, I THINK IT WAS CLEAR.
HE WAS BROUGHT INTO THE CIRCLE
BY, UH, A PROFESSOR WHO WAS
ADVISING HIM ESSENTIALLY.
IT WAS VERY CLEAR THAT HE WAS
EXCEPTIONALLY TALENTED.
I THINK THAT WAS CLEAR AND
THAT'S WHY THEY WANTED HIM
THERE.
AND THEY WERE, THE PEOPLE WHO
COULD JOINED THE CIRCLE WERE
HAND PICKED FOR THEIR ABILITY
AND THEIR TALENTS SO IT'S CLEAR
THAT THAT'S WHY HE WAS INVITED.
UM, WHY DID HE GO?
I MEAN, I THINK THAT'S PART OF
WHY I HAD TO IMAGINE HIS REASONS
FOR GOING BECAUSE I DON'T HAVE A
DOCUMENTED REASON.

The Host laughs.

Janna continues I MEAN, I
WONDERED THE SAME THING MYSELF
AND...
I INVENTED THIS KIND OF
RELATIONSHIP HE MIGHT HAVE HAD
WITH MORITZ SHLICK WHO WAS THE
FOUNDER OF THE CIRCLE AND ALSO
HAD A FASCINATING STORY WHICH IS
TOLD.
UM, BUT I DON'T REALLY KNOW THAT
THAT'S TRUE AND I THINK HE WENT
BECAUSE MATHEMATICS WAS HIS ONLY
LINK TO REALITY AND AT LEAST TO
DISCUSS IT, EVEN TO ARGUE ABOUT
IT OR EVEN TO STAND IN
OPPOSITION TO IT, WAS AT LEAST
TO BE RELATING TO THE WORLD IN A
WAY THAT HE HAD SOME CONFIDENCE.

Now, Janna stands behind a wooden lectern holding a book.

Janna says SO, LET ME READ A SCENE, UM...
THIS IS IN, UH, COFFEE HOUSES IN
1931 AND IT'S A SCENE ABOUT KURT
GODEL.
She reads THE SCENE IS A COFFEE HOUSE.
THE CAFE, JOSEPHINA IS A SMELL
FIRST.
A STINGING SMELL OF ROASTED
TURKISH BEANS TOO HEAVY TO WAFT
ON AIR AND SO WADING INSTEAD
FROM THE MORE POWERFUL CURRENT
OF STEAM BLOWN OFF THE SURFACE
OF BOILING SAUCERS.
THE CAFE APPEARS IN THE BRAIN AS
THIS DELICIOUS MUDDY SCENT
FIRST.
AWAKENING A MEMORY OF THE
SHIFTING ROOM OF [Unclear]
SECOND.
THE MEMORY NEARLY AS ENERGETIC
AS THE ACTUAL SIGHT OF THE ROOM
WHICH APPEARS IN THE MIND ONLY
THIRD.
THE COFFEE IS A FUEL TO POWER
IDEAS, A FUEL FOR THE ANXIOUS
HOPE THAT THE HARVEST OF ART AND
WORDS AND LOGIC WILL BE THE
RICHEST EVER BECAUSE ONLY THE
MOST FREQUENT SEASON WILL SEE
THEM THROUGH THE SIEGE OF THIS
TERRIBLE WINTER AND THE SEIZE OF
THAT TERRIBLE WAR.
NAMES ARE MADE AND FORGOTTEN,
FAMOUS LINES ARE PENNED ALONG
WITH NOT SO FAMOUS LINES.
ARTISTS PAY THEIR DEBT WITH WORK
THAT COVERS SOME WALLS WHILE
OTHERS FALL INTO AN APPEALING
DECREPITUDE.
OUTSIDE, VIENNA DETERIORATES AND
REJUVENATES IN SWATCHES.
A [Unclear] ATTENDED GARDEN.
FROM OUT HERE, THE WINDOWS OF
THE COFFEE HOUSE SEEM TO PROTECT
A CROWD INSIDE FROM THE ELEMENTS
AND THE TEDIUM OF ANY GIVEN DAY.
INSIDE, THEY LAUGH AND SMOKE AND
SHOUT AND ARGUE AND STARE AND
WHISTLE AS THE MILKY BREW
HARDENS TO LACE ALONG THE LIP OF
THEIR CUPS.
I'M JUST SKIPPING AHEAD A BIT.
GODEL IS TASITERM, ALONE EVEN IN
A CROWD.
BACK AGAINST THE WALL LOOKING
OUT AS THOUGH IN A CINEMA, HE IS
RETICENT BUT NOT UNLIKABLE.
THE ATTENTION WITH WHICH HIS
SMOOTH HAIR BRUSHED BACK OVER
HIS HEAD AWAY FROM HIS FACE IS
CREAMED INTENDED, HINTS AT A
STRONGEST INTEREST NEXT TO
MATHEMATICS.
NAMELY WOMEN.
HIS EFFORTS OFTEN COME TO
FRUITION ONLY ADDING TO HIS
MYSTERY FOR A GREAT MANY OF THE
MATHEMATICIANS AROUND HIM.
AND WHILE HE'S BEEN KNOWN TO
SHOW OFF A GIRLFRIEND OR TWO, HE
KEEPS HIS REAL LOVE A SECRET.
HIS BRUISED APPLE.
HIS SWEET ADELE.
THERE'S
SOMETHING SWEET ABOUT HIS FACE
TOO.
HIDDEN AS IT IS BEHIND THICK
RIMMED GOGGLE GLASSES, INVERTED
BINOCULARS SO THAT THOSE WHO ARE
DRAWN INTO A DISCUSSION OF
MATHEMATICS WITH HIM FEEL AS
THOUGH THEY ARE PEERING INTO A
BLURRY, DISTANT HORIZON.
THE COMPLETELY
ROUND, BLACK FRAMES WITH THICK
NOSE PIECE HAVE THE EFFECT OF
ACCENTUATING HIS EYES OR PLACING
THEM WITH CARTOON ORBS.
A PHYSICAL MANIFESTATION OF
GREAT METAPHORICAL VISION.
THEY LEAVE THE SUGGESTION WITH
ANYONE LOOKING IN THAT ALL
EMPHASIS SHOULD BE PLACED THERE
ON THOSE SAD WINDOWS OR MORE
IMPORTANT, ON THE VAST
INTELLECTUAL WORLD THAT LIES
JUST BEYOND THE FOCUS OF THE
BINOCULAR LENSES.
HE SPEAKS ONLY WHEN SPOKEN TO
AND THEN ONLY ABOUT MATHEMATICS
BUT HIS RESPONSES ARE STARK AND
BEAUTIFUL AND THE VERY FEW ABLE
TO CONNECT WITH HIM FEEL THEY
HAVE DISCOVERED AN INVALUABLE
TREASURE.
HIS SPARSE COUNSEL IS SOUGHT
AFTER AND ESTEEMED.
THIS IS A YOUTH OF IMPRESSIVE
TALENT AND INTIMIDATING
WEAKNESS, STRENGTH.
THIS IS ALSO A YOUTH OF
IMPRESSIVE STRANGENESS AND
INTIMIDATING WEAKNESS.
MAYBE HE HAS NO MORE WEAKNESSES
THAN THE REST OF US HARBOUR BUT
HIS ALL SEEM SO EXTREME.
HYPOCHONDRIA, PARANOIA,
SCHIZOPHRENIA.
THEY'RE EVEN MORE PRONOUNCED
WHEN LAID ALONG SIDE HIS GREAT
MENTAL STRENGTHS.
THEY APPEAR AS HUGE BLACK VOIDS,
CHUNKS TAKEN OUT OF AN INTENSELY
SHINING STAR.
HE IS STILL ALL POTENTIAL.
THE POTENTIAL TO BE GREAT.
THE POTENTIAL TO BE MAD.
HE'LL ACHIEVE BOTH
MAGNIFICENTLY.
EVERYONE GATHERED ON THIS
THURSDAY.
THE ROW TELLING NUMBERS
ACCOUNTING FOR SOME THREE DOZEN.
BELIEVE IN THEIR VERY HEARTS
THAT MATHEMATICS IS
UNASSAILABLE.
GODEL HAS COME TONIGHT TO
SHATTER THEIR BELIEF UNTIL ALL
THAT IS LEFT ARE CONVINCING
PIECES THAT WHEN ASSEMBLED,
ELECT A POWERFUL MONUMENT TO
MATHEMATICS BUT NOT AN
UNASSAILABLE ONE.
GODEL WILL PROVE THAT SOME
TRUTHS LIVE OUTSIDE OF LOGIC AND
THAT WE CAN'T GET THERE FROM
HERE.
SOME PEOPLE, PEOPLE WHO ARE
QUICK TO DISTRUST MATHEMATICS,
CLAIM THEY KNEW ALL ALONG THAT
SOME TRUTHS ARE BEYOND MATH BUT
THEY JUST DIDN'T.
THEY DIDN'T KNOW IT.
THEY DIDN'T PROVE IT.
GODEL DIDN'T BELIEVE THAT TRUTH
WOULD ELUDE US.
HE PROVED IT WOULD.
HE DIDN'T INVENT A MYTH TO
CONFORM TO HIS PREJUDICE OF THE
WORLD.
HE DISCOVERED HIS THEOREM AS
SURELY AS IF IT WAS A ROCK HE
HAD DUG UP FROM THE GROUND.
HE COULD PASS IT AROUND THE
TABLE AND IT WOULD BE AS REAL AS
THAT ROCK.
IF ANYONE CARED TO, THEY COULD
DIG IT UP WHERE HE BURIED IT AND
FIND IT JUST THE SAME.
LOOK FOR IT AND YOU'LL FIND IT
WHERE HE SAID IT IS.
JUST OFF CENTER FROM WHERE
YOU'RE STARING.
THERE ARE FAINT STARS IN THE
NIGHT SKY THAT YOU CAN SEE BUT
ONLY IF YOU LOOK TO THE SIDE OF
WHERE THEY SHINE.
THEY BURN TOO WEAKLY OR TOO FAR
AWAY TO BE SEEN DIRECTLY, EVEN
IF YOU STARE BECAUSE, BUT YOU
CAN SEE THEM OUT OF THE CORNER
OF YOUR EYE BECAUSE THE CELLS ON
THE PERIPHERAL OF YOUR RETINA
ARE MORE SENSITIVE TO LIGHT.
MAYBE TRUTH IS JUST LIKE THAT.
YOU CAN SEE IT BUT ONLY OUT OF
THE CORNER OF YOUR EYE.

A white screen pops up.

The Host says SO, AS YOU MENTIONED, TURING
AND GODEL NEVER MET.

Janna says NO.

The Host says IT JUST SO HAPPENED WHEN,
UH...
TURING WENT TO PRINCETON, GODEL
HAD GONE BACK TO VIENNA.
UM, BUT WHAT DO YOU THINK WOULD
HAVE HAPPENED HAD THEY MET?

Janna says MHMM.

The Host says WHAT, WHAT SORT OF DIALOGUE
DO YOU IMAGINE THAT THEY WOULD
HAVE HAD AND, UH...
HOW, HOW WOULD THAT HAVE PLAYED
OUT IN YOUR VIEW?

Janna says WELL, I THOUGHT
ABOUT PUTTING THEM IN A ROOM
TOGETHER BUT, UM, I DECIDED
AGAINST IT.
SO, LET ME JUST MENTION IN, IN
THE PROCESS OF HOW YOU MAKE
CHOICES IN FICTION, IS WRITING
FICTION UNLIKE NON-FICTION...
WELL, IT'S ALSO IN NON-FICTION
BUT ESPECIALLY IN FICTION, IT'S
ALL ABOUT YOUR CHOICES.
IT'S ALL ABOUT WHAT YOU CHOOSE
TO INCLUDE AND WHAT YOU CHOOSE
TO EXCLUDE.
AND, UM, I FELT THAT WHAT I
REALLY WANTED TO DO WAS TRY TO
MAKE SOMETHING AS CLOSE TO THE
FACTS AS POSSIBLE AND YET TO
SHOW THAT...
THE TRUTH OF THEIR LIVES DOES
NOT EMERGE AS A THEOREM IN A WAY
AND SO I REALLY WANTED TO STICK
TIGHT TO THE FACTS.
EVEN IF I COULD IMAGINE THE
SCENES AND EMBELLISH ON THAT, I
DECIDED NOT TO DO ANYTHING
RADICAL LIKE PUT THEM IN A ROOM
TOGETHER AND SO I THINK IT WAS
AN IMPORTANT CHOICE TO STICK TO.
UM, BUT I DID WONDER HOW THAT
CONVERSATION WOULD GO AND, UM...
IT WAS...
I DIDN'T, MAYBE THAT'S WHY I
DIDN'T GET IT ACTUALLY, I GAVE
THIS LOFTY ANSWER BUT IT DIDN'T
WORK THAT WELL FOR ME.
IT WASN'T CLEAR TO ME THAT THEY
WOULD HAVE UNDERSTOOD EACH OTHER
AND IT WAS CLEAR THEY WOULD HAVE
UNDERSTOOD EACH OTHER IN THE
WORLD OF LOGIC BUT IT WASN'T
CLEAR THAT THEY WOULD HAVE
UNDERSTOOD EACH OTHER OUTSIDE
OF, I MEAN, GODEL HAD
CONVERSATIONS WITH MANY GREAT
MATHEMATICIANS AND THERE WAS
OFTEN A MOMENT WHERE THEY, HE
JUST SEEMED SO PECULIAR, OTHER
WORLDLY, MANY PEOPLE DESCRIBED
HIM AS.
SO OTHER WORLDLY SO TO DISCUSS
ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF LOGIC, I'M
NOT SURE THAT CONVERSATION WOULD
HAVE BEEN ANY MORE FRUITFUL THAN
IT WAS WITH ANYONE ELSE.
UM, AND, UH, THE CONVERSATION
WITHIN LOGIC, THAT COULD HAVE
BEEN VERY INTERESTING.
WHAT WOULD THEY HAVE SAID
ABOUT...
UM, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND
IN SUCH EARLY DAYS.
I MEAN, THAT'S FASCINATING TO
WONDER.
WOULD GODEL REALLY HAVE PRESSED
TURING TO THINK ABOUT HIS THESIS
ON THE MIND AND...
AND I DOUBT TURING COULD HAVE
PERSUADED GODEL TO BELIEVE
OTHERWISE BUT WHAT COULD THEY
HAVE COME UP WITH AND IT'S...
YOU KNOW, IT IS FASCINATING TO
WONDER.
WHAT PEOPLE STARTED TO SAY WAS
"MAYBE WE JUST CAN'T PROGRAM...
INTELLIGENCE."
BECAUSE BY PROGRAMMING ALL YOU
CAN DO IS LAY DOWN LOGICAL
RULES.
MAYBE WHAT WE CAN DO IS DEVISE
AN ORGANISM SO TO SPEAK THAT
HAS, THAT BEGINS WITH SOME
SIMPLIFIED PROCESSES AND ALLOW
IT TO EVOLVE AND ALLOW IT TO
EVOLVE A COMPLEXITY THAT'S
GREATER THAN ANYTHING A HUMAN
BEING COULD PROGRAM BUT IT, IT'S
ONE THAT BEGINS TO MATCH
INTELLIGENCE.
AND SO THE STATEMENT WASN'T THAT
WE WOULD HAVE ARTIFICIAL, UH,
MACHINES THAT, THAT ARE
INTELLIGENT.
IT'S THAT WE WOULD HAVE
ARTIFICIAL LIFE AND THAT IT
WOULD BE A LIFE THAT HAD SOMEHOW
EVOLVED AND SO I THINK THAT IS
NOT THAT FAR OFF OF SOME OF THE
REALLY AMBITIOUS PROGRAMS THAT
PEOPLE ARE TRYING TODAY.
THUS YOU CAN TRY TO NUMERICALLY
INVENT, UM, AN ORGANISM SO TO
SPEAK IN A COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT
THAT BEGINS TO EVOLVE AND MUTATE
AND DEVELOP IT'S OWN, UM, KIND
OF COMPLEXITY.
BUT TO BRING IT BACK TO, UM,
TURING'S PRACTICALITY I THINK HE
WOULD SAY THAT THAT MACHINE
WOULD BE AS CONVINCED THAT IT
HAS A SOUL AND A FREE WILL AS
YOU ARE.
AND THAT THE WAY TO DECIDE
WHETHER OR NOT THAT MACHINE IS
TRULY ALIVE AND INTELLIGENT IS
TO PUT IT BEHIND A SCREEN AND TO
ASK IT AND IF IT CAN CONVINCE
YOU JUST LIKE YOU COULD CONVINCE
ME YOU'RE REAL BEHIND A SCREEN
THAN BY ANY DEFINITION, IT'S
ALIVE.
SO, IT CAN HAVE A VERY PRACTICAL
DEFINITION.
YOU ASK IT AND IF IT CONVINCES
YOU THAN IN THAT SENSE IT'S,
IT'S INTELLIGENT.
UH, TURING'S PHYSICALITY IS
SOMETHING THAT'S REALLY
INTERESTING ABOUT HIM BECAUSE
HE'S ALSO KIND OF CLUMSY
SOMETIMES.
LIKE, HE WOULD LOVE TO DO, UM,
KIND OF...
ALCHEMY.
ALCHEMY, THAT WAS THE WORD I WAS
LOOKING FOR, AND, UH, IT WAS
PRACTICALLY ALCHEMY.
HE WOULD TRY TO DO THESE
CHEMISTRY EXPERIMENTS AND HE
WOULD SOMETIMES SET THE CURTAINS
ON FIRE OR, YOU KNOW WHAT I
MEAN?
OR THE SMELLS WOULD INFILTRATE
THE WHOLE HOUSE.
I MEAN, HE'S ALWAYS DOING
SOMETHING SLIGHTLY ANNOYING AND
CLUMSY BUT, UM, AND KIND OF
MESSY, BUT HE, HE HAD THIS
BEAUTIFUL PHYSICALITY ABOUT HIM
AND I THINK IT WAS PART OF HIS
GENIUS AND HIS DISCOVERY OF
INVENTING THE COMPUTER IS
CLEARLY ROOTED IN THAT
PRACTICALITY.
AS ABSTRACT TO THINK AS HE IS,
IT'S A STUNNING COMBINATION FOR
HIM BUT HE IS BOTH REALLY BUT
HE'S NOT THAT PHILOSOPHICAL.
UM, SO, I, I APPRECIATE THAT YOU
NOTICED THAT AND, I DON'T THINK
IT WAS A MOTIVATOR IN WRITING
THE BOOK.
I THINK IT WAS SOMETHING I
DISCOVERED AS I WENT ALONG.
I STARTED TO SEE HOW MUCH HE WAS
LIKE THAT AND HOW GODEL WAS SO,
ALMOST UNREAL.
HE WAS, HE WAS A PHANTOM.
HE WAS A WISP OF, OF A PERSON IN
A LOT OF WAYS AND SO I DIDN'T
WANT TO CONVEY THAT.

Janna stands behind the lectern.

Janna says UM, I'LL JUST TRY ONE OTHER
PASSAGE.
ACTUALLY, I WANTED TO TELL YOU A
LITTLE BIT ABOUT ALAN AGAIN
BEFORE I DO THIS.
UM...
SO, EVEN THOUGH HE WAS A
DECLARED OPENLY GAY PERSON, HE,
UM, HE WAS ENGAGED TO BE
MARRIED, UH, WHICH WAS A STRANGE
THING.
HE, UM, WHEN HE WAS AT [Unclear]
PARK WORKING ON CODE BREAKING,
HE WAS INVOLVED WITH ANOTHER ONE
OF THE CRYPTANALYSTS.
I THINK THAT'S ALL I REALLY HAVE
TO SAY ACTUALLY AND THEN I'LL
READ THIS PASSAGE.
UM, HER NAME WAS JOAN.
She reads ALAN IS ENGAGED TO BE MARRIED.
TO A WOMAN.
SHE HAS BEEN HIS BEST FRIEND
SINCE HE WAS DRAFTED BY THE
GOVERNMENT CODE INSIDE THE
SCHOOL AND THIS COUNTS FOR
SOMETHING.
HE REMEMBERS HER IN HUT EIGHT,
BENT OVER MEANINGLESS GROUPS OF
LETTERS.
HER NECK TENSE AND HORIZONTAL
OVER A TABLE HOPING SOME POWDER
MIGHT STICK IN HER EYE.
HIS CLEAREST MEMORY OF HER
BEGINS THAT MORNING AFTER THE
[Unclear] WHEN HE WAKES WITH
THIS IDEA NOT NEARLY FORMED.
A TECHNICAL VISION.
HE MAKES IT TO HUT EIGHT AT NOON
WITH A GAS MASK STRAPPED TO HIS
FACE AND HIS SAGGING PANTS HELD
UP BY A PIECE OF STRING.
JOAN WATCHES HIM THE MORNING
AFTER HE BURIED HIS TREASURE IN
THE WOODS AND EVERYTHING ELSE
SEEMS FAR AWAY.
THE SMELL OF THE LONDON BOMBS,
THE CREEK AND DRONE OF THE
U-BOATS STIFLED BY THE OCEAN,
THE CRICKETING OF MACHINES.
IT ALL GOES QUIET.
EVEN THE CLICK OF THE KEYS OF
THE ENIGMA MACHINE.
SHE LIKES HIS FACE MOST WHEN IT
IS STILL AS A PHOTOGRAPH.
THE WAY HIS DARK EYEBROWS
ACCENTUATE HIS EYES.
DOES NOT LOOK TYPICALLY ENGLISH
AND MAYBE THIS DISTRACTS PEOPLE
FROM NOTICING HOW HANDSOME THE
ACCENT CAN BE.
ESPECIALLY WHEN HE ISN'T MOVING
OR TALKING OR LAUGHING.
SHE WATCHES ALAN UNLOCK THE TEA
MUG HE LUDICROUSLY KEEPS CHAINED
TO A RADIATOR AS THOUGH SOMEONE
COULD POSSIBLY MISTAKE THE OWNER
FOR SOMEONE OTHER THAN ALAN.
AS THOUGH ANY OF THE OTHER
CRYPTOGRAPHERS WOULD PUT THEIR
LIPS TO HIS PERSONAL CUP.
THE INSIDE WALLS HORRIBLY
STAINED A RUSTY BROWN FROM THE
TEA HE ALWAYS OVER BREWS.
AS HE KNEELS AT THE RADIATOR TO
UNLOCK HIS POSSESSION, HIS HEELS
SPLAY OPEN AND SHE SEES WHERE HE
TRIED TO WASH THE MUD FROM THE
SEAT OF HIS PANTS.
AS SHE LOOKS ALONG HIS LEG, SHE
CAN'T HELP BUT MARVEL THAT EVEN
AS HE WASHED THE CUFFS AND HEM
PROBABLY IN THE SINK OF HIS ROOM
THIS MORNING, HE DIDN'T NOTICE
THE TWO LEAVES MATTED WITH GREY
MUD INTO THE SEAT OF HIS
TROUSERS.
ALAN AND HIS SCHEMES IN ADDITION
TO THE MUG SECURED BY STEEL
LINKS TO THE HEATING APPARATUS
AND HIS PLAN FOR THE SAFE HIDING
OF SILVER BOUILLON, THERE IS A
GOVERNMENT ISSUE GAS MASK HE
WEARS TO DEFEND HIMSELF AGAINST
ALLERGIES.
THERE'S THE ALARM CLOCK HE TIED
TO HIS WAIST TO TIME HIS RUN
FROM [Unclear] NEARLY ALL THE
WAY TO LONDON.
AS WELL AS THE RAZOR BLADES HE
WANTS TO SELL OUT OF A SUITCASE
WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH AND IS
UNABLE TO SECURE A JOB BECAUSE
HE IS UNABLE TO REVEAL THE
NATURE OF HIS SERVICE TO HIS
COUNTRY.
THERE ARE HIS MACHINES THAT
MECHANIZE THOUGHT AND CRACK CODE
AND SHE TOO, IS SHE ONE OF HIS
SCHEMES?
TO HAVE A HOME AND A WIFE TO
WASH HIS CLOTHES, BARE HIS
CHILDREN, TEND HIS HOUSE?
HE OCCASIONALLY SURPRISES HER
WITH THESE CONVENTIONAL SOCIAL
IDEAS.
PRESERVED RELICS OF HIS FAMILY
BACKGROUND.
MAYBE THEY SURVIVE DESPITE ALL
OF HIS OTHER ECCENTRICITIES
BECAUSE THEY ARE SO UTTERLY
IRRELEVANT TO HIS ACTUAL LIFE.

She closes the book and says OKAY, I'M GONNA STOP THERE.
UM...
SEE, PART SCIENCE TALK, PART
READING.
UM, I WAS GOING TO READ A
PASSAGE FROM WITTGENSTEIN BUT I
THINK IT'S TOO MUCH.
UM, SO...
LET ME JUST CLOSE BY SAYING, UM,
THAT...
THAT...
EVEN THOUGH MY CLAIM IS THAT
MATHEMATICAL TRUTH IS ELUSIVE
AND I WROTE A SORT OF
FICTIONALIZED STORY, DOESN'T
MEAN THAT ALL TRUTHS ARE
ELUSIVE.
I THINK IT'S A PROFOUND THING TO
WONDER IF IN THIS VERY LIMIT OF
MATHEMATICS, UM, AS WE'RE
DISCOVERING GREATER THINGS ABOUT
OUR ABILITIES IN THINGS LIKE
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE AND
MACHINES THAT MIGHT THINK, WE'RE
ALSO AT THE SAME TIME CONFESSING
SOME LIMIT IN OUR OWN ABILITY
AND I THINK THAT THAT'S A VERY
PROFOUND THING THAT'S HAPPENED
MANY TIMES BEFORE.
EVEN IF YOU THINK OF COPERNICUS,
THIS BIG REVOLUTION WE HAD, THIS
BIG MOMENT OF, OF HUGE ADVANCE
SCIENTIFICALLY WAS MADE BY
REALIZING WE ARE NOT AT THE
CENTER OF THE COSMOS.
IT IS MADE BY MAKING THAT
ADMISSION.
WE DO NOT, THE CELESTIAL BODIES
DO NOT ORBIT US, WE ORBIT THE
SUN.
THE SUN IS NOT AT THE CENTER OF
THE GALAXY, THE GALAXY IS NOT AT
THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE AND I
THINK SOMETHING SIMILAR AND
CURRENTLY HAPPENS AND I THINK
THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT SUCH A
BEAUTIFUL, UM, STORY.
THAT WE ARE SIMULTANEOUSLY
LIMITED EVEN AS WE ARE DOING
THINGS THAT MAKE US GREAT.
THANK YOU.

[Applause]

The caption changes to "Andrew Moodie."

Back in the studio, Andrew says I DON'T KNOW
ABOUT YOU BUT I CAN'T HELP
ASKING MYSELF HOW GREAT CAN THE
WORK OF A MAGICIAN BE IF HE
STARVES HIMSELF TO DEATH?
BOTH GODEL AND
TURING SUFFERED THE SAME FATE AS
MANY OTHER GREATS FROM VAN GOGH
TO VIRGINIA WOOLF.
BUT ONLY BECAUSE THEY'VE COME TO
THE SAME END, IT DOESN'T MEAN
THAT THEY'VE TRAVELED THE SAME
PATH.
IF ONE IS PRONE TO ASSOCIATE
PEACE OF MIND WITH TOTAL
KNOWLEDGE AND SUCH KNOWLEDGE IS
NOT POSSIBLE, WHAT THEN?
I MEAN, EXACTLY HOW CAN WE KNOW
EVERYTHING?
SEEMS UNLIKELY, DOESN'T IT?
THE BIG QUESTION IS...
IS IT EVEN DESIGNABLE?
JANNA OBVIOUSLY HAS A DEEP
CONNECTION WITH TURING AND
GODEL AND YET THE LIAR'S PARADOX
THAT SHE PRESENTS AS A PROOF MAY
ALSO SIMPLY BE YET ANOTHER
REDUCTO ATOM CERTUM MADE FAMOUS
BY A GREEK PHILOSOPHER ZENO.
HE'S THE ONE WITH THE FAMOUS
DICHOTOMY PARADOX THAT STATES
THAT NOTHING CAN TRULY TOUCH
ANYTHING ELSE BECAUSE SPACE IS
INFINITELY DIVISIBLE AND THE
PEOPLE OF GREECE WERE SO
IMPRESSED WITH HIS LOGIC THAT
THEY PELTED HIM WITH STONES.
[Chuckling]
WHAT IF THEY WERE RIGHT?
YOU CAN LISTEN TO
BIG IDEAS
ACTUAL LECTURE BY GETTING A HOLD
OF ONE OUR POD CASTS.
NOW, IMAGINE THIS.
OKAY?
YOU.
YOUR MP3 PLAYER AND A
BIG
IDEAS
LECTURE AND A WALK
IN THE PARK.
OOH!
NOW, ISN'T THAT CIVILIZED
LIVING?
TO DO SO,
PLEASE GO TO OUR WEBSITE AT
tvo.org/bigideas AND IF YOU WANT
TO RECEIVE WEEKLY UPDATES,
PLEASE, DROP US A LINE AT
bigideas@tvo.org AND JUST BEFORE
WE GO, HERE ARE A FEW EXAMPLES
OF WHAT WILL BE NEXT ON
BIG
IDEAS.

A clip plays.

A green slate reads "Coming up, Minxin Pei." It shows Minxin Pei giving a lecture behind a lectern. He’s in his late forties, clean-shaven with grayish hair. He’s wearing glasses, a gray suit, white shirt and red tie.

Minxin says I WOULD SAY THAT
CHINA IS UNLIKELY TO BE AN
EXPANSIONIST SUPER POWER FIRST
AND FOREMOST.
BECAUSE THE CHINESE...
LEADERSHIP UNDERSTANDS FULLY
THAT FOLLOWING EXPANSIONISM IS
ONE OF THE...
ON OF THE IMPORTANT REASONS FOR
THE COLLAPSE OF THE FORMER
SOVIET UNION.
AND ECONOMIC GROWTH AND
PROSPERITY IS KEY TO THE
SURVIVAL OF THE CHINESE
COMMUNIST PARTY.
AND BECAUSE THE CHINESE ECONOMY
IS NOW SO INTEATED WITH THE
REST OF THE WORLD FOREIGN TRADE
ACCOUNTS FOR ALMOST 70 percent OF
CHINESE GDP.
JUST THINK OF...
THE ABLENESS OF THE CHINESE
ECONOMY AND THEN YOU LOOK AT...
CHINA RELIES ON THE REST OF THE
WORLD FOR EXPORTS AND FOR
IMPORTS OF CRITICAL MATERIALS.
IF CHINA...
FOOLISHLY ENGAGE IN MILITARY
EXPANSIONISM ABROAD IT WILL ONLY
ENDANGER THIS PEACEFUL
INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENT
CRITICAL TO IT'S CONTIED
ECONOMIC GROWTH AND IF YOU LOSS
THAT INTERNATIONAL STABILITY
THAN YOU CAN KISS GOODBYE YOUR
ECONOMIC PROSPERITY AND THEN OF
COURSE YOUR GOING TO BE IN VERY,
VERY DIFFICULT SITUATION
DOMESTICALLY.
SO THAT'S WHY I THINK THIS
DOMESTIC FOCUS OF THE CHINESE
COMMUNIST PARTY...
THIS VERY RATIONAL FOCUS IS THE
MOST FUNDAMENTAL REASON FOR A
PRUDENT PRAGMATIC FOREIGN
POLICY.
SO, UNLESS GO, WE DO NOT HAVE TO
WORRY.

The slate changes to "Jeffrey Rosenthal." Jeffrey is in his forties, with a beard and curly brown hair. He’s wearing a red polo-shirt.

Jeffrey says THERE'S
THIS, A LITTLE CIVIL SURVEY TO
GET US WARMED .
IT IS SOMETHING THAT WAS
CONDUCTED LAST YEAR THAT ASKED
THE FOLLOWING QUESTION THAT YOU
CAN READ.
IT SAID:

A slide reads "Example: A survey (July 2005). Which medium do you rely on most to keep abreast of the news?"

Jeffrey continues OKAY, A
REASONABLE QUESTION.
IT WAS MULTIPLE CHOICE AND YOU
COULD SAY, YOU KNOW, THE
NEWSPAPER OR THE RADIO OR THE
TELEVISION...
WELL, HERE'S WHAT THE SURVEY
FOUND.
AN ASTONISHING 62 percent OF THE PEOPLE
REPLIED THAT THEY USE THE
INTERNET.
AND AT FIRST YOU SAY "GEE, WELL,
WHAT DOES THAT PROVE?
DOES THAT PROVE HERE JUST HOW
MUCH COMPUTERS HAVE BECOME
INFLUENTIAL IN OUR SOCIETY?
UH, DOES IT SHOW HOW MUCH THINGS
CAN CHANGE IN A SHORT PERIOD OF
TIME?"
WELL, [Unclear] A LITTLE MORE,
WHAT IF I TELL YOU THAT THE
SURVEY WAS CONDUCTED ON THE
WEBSITE globeandmail.com?

[Audience laughing]
Jeffrey stands by a large screen on a stage.

Jeffrey continues THEN YOU
SAY "WELL, WAIT A MINUTE, RIGHT?
THIS IS WHAT WE CALL A BIAS
SAMPLE."
Smiling, he continues THEY WERE
SAMPLING PEOPLE WHO WERE ALREADY
GETTING THEIR NEWS ON THE
INTERNET RIGHT?
SO, IF THERE'S ANYTHING
SURPRISING ABOUT THE FIGURES IS
THAT IT'S NOT EVEN MORE THAN
62 percent.
SO, WHAT
HAVE WE LEARNED FROM SOMETHING
LIKE THIS?
WELL, THE FIRST THING WE LEARN
IS THAT YOU CAN'T BELIEVE
EVERYTHING YOU READ AND IF
SOMEONE SAYS THAT 62 percent SAID THE
INTERNET, YOU SHOULD TRY TO GET
A LITTLE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT
IT AND THE REAL PROBLEM IS TO
ME...
IS THAT SOMEHOW ANYTHING YOU
HEAR ABOUT ALWAYS TAKEN
[Unclear] WHAT ARE THE
PROBABILITIES, THE UNCERTAINTY
WHEN A SAMPLE IS INVOLVED, YOU
HAVE TO ALWAYS KEEP THAT IN
MIND.

The clip ends.

Andrew says I'M ANDREW
MOODIE.
I'LL SEE YOU NEXT TIME.

[Theme music plays]

The end credits roll.

bigideas@tvo.org

416-484-2746

Big Ideas. Producer, Wodek Szemberg.

Producers, Lara Hindle, Mike Miner, Gregg Thurlbeck.

Logos: Unifor, Canadian Media Guild.

A production of TVOntario. Copyright 2006, The Ontario Educational Communications Authority.

Watch: Janna Levin on her book Madman Dreams of Turing Machines