The first thing, which the Incomparable Marge encountered because she checked us is, was that the woman at the check-in desk was from Phillipsburg NJ, across the river from Rath O Flynn. Well, sez I when apprised later of the happen of this stance, I have on several occasions on the road encountered the diaspora of the Lehigh Valley.
Which means that the last thing, which we encountered in the elevator on the way out, was two other people in the elevator who came from Easton PA. And which the woman used to work out at the Y with the Marge. And which the husband went to school with my brother and worked with my father. Statisticians love sh*t like that. (One time, I co-taught a lead auditor course in Detroit, and one of the students turned out to be a second cousin on my mother's side.)
Boston maintains a highway system second to none, which means it comes in second place to no system at all. The basic idea is that everyone coming in from the west, which is pretty much everyone not already in New England, is funneled into a single highway. On a toll road. A five hour drive from Pennsylvania spent a disproportionate amount of those hours on the last stretch of road from the end of the Mass Pike to the destination.
I had an 8PM panel and was just barely in time for it. The Marge dropped me off at the hotel and zipped off to check into our hotel across the highway, where she had the aforementioned experience. It would have been within walking distance had it not been for the cold. The thermospatial effect ensures that distances increase in inverse proportion to the temperature.
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1. The Singularity: There Can Be Only One.No, I don't know why the title, but Vernor Vinge (who was GoH) and others discussed whether or not the Singularity would happen. Vernor believed in the Rapture of the Nerds, but three of the panelists, incl. yr. obt. svt., were skeptical in one measure or another. The Skepticism of the TOF was founded on three things: history, mathematics, and philosophy. (A fourth objection: that the nature of the singularity is plastic -- is it the speed of technological change? the transformation of human nature? what? -- but that is really a second philosophical point.
The historical objection is that the technological singularity has already happened, ca. 1870-1920. By 1920, all the elements of the modern world were in place. We had cars, radios, airplanes, etc. Our ancestor from 1870 would have been astonished to be dropped into the world of 1920; but a man of 1920 would have taken the world of 1970 in stride. Planes had lost their propellers. Radio had gained picture tubes. Cars were faster. But technologically at least, it was all recognizable. Lasers had been described in a paper in 1910. Punched cards had been used to compile and summarize the 1880 census. Panelists and audience members waved their iphones about in refutation; but really, there was wireless telephony by 1920 and the idea of knowing what was shaking in far-off places was an old hat by then. Remember, the contention is not that there was no change after 1920, but that it was not as revolutionary. In 1870, the average person had no idea what was going on elsewhere. Google is faster, sleeker, more ubiquitous, but the idea of easy access to remote knowledge was no longer a pipe dream for those with radios.
x→0(1/x) is a mathematical abstraction. It is a calculation of a final cause and does not actually exist in the universe of discourse. More finitely, the value 0 does not exist in the open interval (0,1) although one may approach it infinitesimally.
As for the philosophical objection, see the novella "Places Where the Roads Don't Go" in the collection Captive Dreams for a discussion of mind uploading and artificial intelligence and "Hopeful Monsters" for a case study in genetic enhancement.