Monitor Quotes (10 quotes)
[The launch of Nautilus, the world's first atomic submarine] marked a transition in naval warfare—a transition as sudden as that associated with the Monitor.
His [Marvin Minsky’s] basic interest seemed to be in the workings of the human mind and in making machine models of the mind. Indeed, about that time he and a friend made one of the first electronic machines that could actually teach itself to do something interesting. It monitored electronic “rats” that learned to run mazes. It was being financed by the Navy. On one notable occasion, I remember descending to the basement of Memorial Hall, while Minsky worked on it. It had an illuminated display panel that enabled one to follow the progress of the “rats.” Near the machine was a hamster in a cage. When the machine blinked, the hamster would run around its cage happily. Minsky, with his characteristic elfin grin, remarked that on a previous day the Navy contract officer had been down to see the machine. Noting the man’s interest in the hamster, Minsky had told him laconically, “The next one we build will look like a bird.”
I read them. Not to grade them. No, I read them to see how I am doing. Where am I failing? What don’t they understand? Why do they give wrong answers? Why do they have some point of view that I don’t think is right? Where am I failing? Where do I need to build up.
If the resident zoologist of Galaxy X had visited the earth 5 million years ago while making his inventory of inhabited planets in the universe, he would surely have corrected his earlier report that apes showed more promise than Old World monkeys and noted that monkeys had overcome an original disadvantage to gain domination among primates. (He will confirm this statement after his visit next year–but also add a footnote that one species from the ape bush has enjoyed an unusual and unexpected flowering, thus demanding closer monitoring.)
It is fair to say that astronomy is still just about the only science in which the amateur can make valuable contributions today, and in which the work is welcomed by professionals. For example, amateurs search for new comets and ‘new stars’ or novae, and since they generally know the sky much better than their professional colleagues they have a fine record of success. Routinely, they keep watch on objects such as variable stars, and they monitor the surfaces of the planets in a way that professionals have neither the time nor the inclination to do.
It would be a very wonderful, but not an absolutely incredible result, that volcanic action has never been more violent on the whole than during the last two or three centuries; but it is as certain that there is now less volcanic energy in the whole earth than there was a thousand years ago, as it is that there is less gunpowder in a ‘Monitor’ after she has been seen to discharge shot and shell, whether at a nearly equable rate or not, for five hours without receiving fresh supplies, than there was at the beginning of the action.
No society has ever yet been able to handle the temptations of technology, to mastery, to waste, to exuberance, to exploration and exploitation. We have to create something new, something that has never existed in the world before. We have to learn to cherish this Earth and cherish it as something that is fragile, that’s only one, that’s all we have, and we have to set up a system that is sufficiently complex to continue to monitor the whole. We have to use our scientific knowledge to correct the dangers that have come from science and technology.
The acquired [space exploration] technology has immediately been aimed at practical and profitable applications: worldwide communications, global positioning systems for ships and aircraft, and remote sensing to better know our planet and monitor its resources and to trace migrations of whales, fish, and birds. Unfortunately, it is now almost monopolized by the military.
The first [quality] to be named must always be the power of attention, of giving one's whole mind to the patient without the interposition of anything of oneself. It sounds simple but only the very greatest doctors ever fully attain it. … The second thing to be striven for is intuition. This sounds an impossibility, for who can control that small quiet monitor? But intuition is only interference from experience stored and not actively recalled. … The last aptitude I shall mention that must be attained by the good physician is that of handling the sick man's mind.
We are more than just flesh and bones. There’s a certain spiritual nature and something of the mind that we can’t measure.… With all our sophisticated equipment, we cannot monitor or define it, and yet it’s there.