Prescience, or Claude Shannon Anticipates Sen. McConnell’s Procedural Maneuver Today

Claude Shannon is best known as the founding titan of information theory — which was an idea of such pervasive impact, some have ranked it along side relativity theory as the most significant intellectual creation of the 20th century.

He wasn’t simply a brilliant mathematician and logical thinker, though.  He was as well a lifelong tinkerer, builder, and whimsy merchant. You can get a sense of that side of his life from this catalogue of MIT’s collection of Shannonania.

Among those creations you can find a simple device, apparently inspired by Marvin Minsky (himself no stranger to orthogonal humor), one that Shannon dubbed the Ultimate Machine.

I happened across mention of it today while reading Jon  Gertner’s excellent new book about Bell Labs, The Idea Factory, looked it up, and on seeing it, realized it was a perfect model for both Minority Leader McConnell’s decision today to filibuster his own bill — and for the Republican approach to the whole concept of governance.

Check it out:

As a lagniappe, enjoy this demonstration of the boss donkey’s approach to tech:

You’re welcome.

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2 Comments on “Prescience, or Claude Shannon Anticipates Sen. McConnell’s Procedural Maneuver Today”

  1. jre Says:

    My dad, a geek before any of us knew that’s what they were called, had one of those machines. There’s something irresistible about a goofy concept made material.


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