Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes


"Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all." - John F. Kennedy, fully John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy

"Home is where the computer is." - Jack Mercer

"Despite many assertions to the contrary, the brain is not “like a computer.” Yes, the brain has many electrical connections, just like a computer. But at each point in a computer only a binary decision can be made – yes or no, on or off, zero or one. Each point in the brain, each brain cell, contains all the genetic information necessary to reproduce the entire organism. Brain cell is not a switch. It has a memory; it can be subtle. Each brain cell is like a computer. The brain is like a hundred billion computers all connected together. It is impossible to understand because it is so complex." -

"We are on the brink of a historic convergence as novelists, playwrights, and filmmakers move toward multiform stories and digital formats; computer scientists move toward the creation of fictional worlds; and the audience moves toward the virtual stage. How can we tell what is coming next? Judging from the current landscape, we can expect a continued loosening of the traditional boundaries between games and stories, between films and rides, between broadcast media (like television and radio) and archival media (like books or videotape, between narrative forms (like books) and dramatic forms (like theater or film), and even between the audience and the author. To understand the new genres and the narrative pleasures that will arise from this heady mixture, we must look beyond the formats imposed upon the computer by the older media it is so rapidly assimilating and identify those properties native to the machine itself." - Janet H. Murray

"I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We've created life in our own image." -

"Could Hamlet have been written by a committee, or the Mona Lisa painted by a club? Could the New Testament have been composed as a conference report? Creative ideas do not spring from groups. They spring from individuals. The divine spark leaps from the finger of God to the finger of Adam, whether it takes ultimate shape in a law of physics or a law of the land, a poem or a policy, a sonata or a mechanical computer." - Alfred Whitney Griswold

"We believe that the most basic of all changes in human social organization have been the result of three processes. Starting 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, agriculture was invented in the Middle East – probably by a woman. That’s the First Wave. Roughly 250 years ago, the Industrial Revolution triggered a Second Wave of change. Brute-force technologies amplified human and animal muscle power and gave rise to an urban, factory-centered way of life. Sometime after World War II, a gigantic Third Wave began transforming the planet, based on tools that amplify mind rather than muscle. The Third Wave is bigger, deeper and faster than the other two. This is the civilization of the computer, the satellite and Internet." - Alvin Toffler

"[The] men of the technostructure are the new and universal priesthood. Their religion is business success; their test of virtue is growth and profit. Their bible is the computer printout; their communion bench is the committee room." - John Kenneth Galbraith, aka "Ken"

"These men of the technostructure are the new and universal priesthood. Their religion is business success; their test of virtue is growth and profit. Their bible is the computer printout; their communion bench is the committee room." - John Kenneth Galbraith, aka "Ken"

"If anything could testify to the magical powers of the priesthood of science and their technical acolytes, or declare unto mankind the supreme qualifications for absolute rulership held by the Divine Computer, this new invention alone should suffice. So the final purpose of life in terms of the megamachine at last becomes clear: it is to furnish and process an endless quantity of data, in order to expand the role and ensure the domination of the power system." - Lewis Mumford

"Information is entirely basic in the universe. In the latest conception the universe doesn't consist of matter and space; it consists of energy and information. Energy exists in the form of wave-patterns and wave-propagations in the quantum vacuum that fills space; in its various forms, energy is the "hardware" of the universe. The "software" is information. The universe is not an assemblage of bits of inert matter moving passively in empty space: it's a dynamic and coherent whole. The energy that constitutes its hardware is always and everywhere "in-formed." It's in-formed by what David Bohm called the implicate order and physicists now regard as the quantum vacuum or zero-point field (also called physical spacetime, universal field, or nuether). This is the "in-formation" that structures the physical world, the information we grasp as the laws of nature. Without information the energy-waves and patterns of the universe would be as random and unstructured as the behavior of a computer without its software. But the universe is not random and unstructured; it's precisely "in-formed." Would it be any the less precisely informed, complex systems could not have emerged in it, and we would not be here to ask how this on first sight highly improbable development could have come about." - Ervin László

"The most revolutionary aspect of technology is its mobility. Anybody can learn it. It jumps easily over barriers of race and language. … The new technology of microchips and computer software is learned much faster than the old technology of coal and iron. It took three generations of misery for the older industrial countries to master the technology of coal and iron. The new industrial countries of East Asia, South Korea, and Singapore and Taiwan, mastered the new technology and made the jump from poverty to wealth in a single generation. " - Freeman John Dyson

"Intelligence belongs to the watching consciousness; memory belongs to the mind. Memory is one thing -- memory is not intelligence. But the whole of humanity has been deceived for centuries and told indirectly that the memory is intelligence. Your schools, your colleges, your universities are not trying to find your intelligence; they are trying to find out who is capable of memorizing more. And now we know perfectly well that memory is a mechanical thing. A computer can have memory, but a computer cannot have intelligence. " - Osho, born Chandra Mohan Jain, also known as Acharya Rajneesh and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh NULL

"There is only one real computer - the universe - whose hardware is made up of non-spatial states of consciousness and software is made up of superhuman as well as non-superhuman thoughts." - Kedar Joshi

"The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behaviour control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers." - Lewis Thomas

"I saw that you'd buy a PC for about $3,000, and inside that PC was about $600 worth of parts. IBM would buy most of these parts from other companies, assemble them, and sell the computer to a dealer for $2,000. Then the dealer, who knew very little about selling or supporting computers, would sell it for $3,000, which was even more outrageous." - Michael Dell, fully Michael Saul Dell

"I think the '90s are going to see a greater integration between the human mind and the computer. Today, you have to communicate with a computer by a keyboard that is somewhat awkward and clumsy. We are working on other ways to do this. The best computer is the one you don't even know is there." - Michael Dell, fully Michael Saul Dell

"I realized that the computer market was very inefficient. The markups were incredibly high over the cost of materials and the service was very poor." - Michael Dell, fully Michael Saul Dell

"A human being is like a computer that is capable of thousands of things. But we put in a card that only lets it do one thing. Until you change the card, that is all the computer will do: that one thing, over and over and over. That is the state in which we function and we believe that no other cards exist, that this card is the one and only card that we can function upon. I say that the difference between human beings and machines is that we make the cards. So, when one card doesn´t work, take it out and put in a new card." - Moshé Feldenkreis, fully Moshé Pinchas Feldenkrais

"Family life is not a computer program that runs on its own; it needs continual input from everyone." - Neil Kurshan

"The strength of the computer lies in its being a logic machine. It does precisely what it is programed to do. This makes it fast and precise. It also makes it a total moron; for logic is essentially stupid. " - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"The information revolution. Almost everybody is sure ...that it is proceeding with unprecedented speed; and ...that its effects will be more radical than anything that has gone before. Wrong, and wrong again. Both in its speed and its impact, the information revolution uncannily resembles its two predecessors ...The first industrial revolution, triggered by James Watt's improved steam engine in the mid-1770s...did not produce many social and economic changes until the invention of the railroad in 1829 ...Similarly, the invention of the computer in the mid-1940s, was not until 40 years later, with the spread of the Internet in the 1990s, that the information revolution began to bring about big economic and social changes. ...the same emergence of the “super-rich” of their day, characterized both the first and the second industrial revolutions. ...These parallels are close and striking enough to make it almost certain that, as in the earlier industrial revolutions, the main effects of the information revolution on the next society still lie ahead." - Peter F. Drucker, fully Peter Ferdinand Drucker

"Today's electronic village has certainly complicated the challenge of parenting. When It Takes a Village was published, the Internet was largely the province of scientists; no one owned an iPod; and cell phones weighed as much as bricks. Innovations are now coming at an exponentially faster pace, and media saturates our kids' lives as never before. Many of these changes are for the good: when I was in college, a phone call home was rare and a flight home, a once-a-year luxury. Now I know parents who see and speak to their kids every day by computer and video hookups, and I think how much Bill would have loved that when he was campaigning. But knowing that one third of kids under six have TVs in their rooms, that the fashion industry is marketing its latest styles to preteen girls, and that predators stalk our children through the World Wide Web makes me thankful to have raised Chelsea in a less media-saturated time." - Hillary Rodham Clinton

"I used to have a sign over my computer that read OLD DOGS CAN LEARN NEW TRICKS, but lately I sometimes ask myself how many more new tricks I want to learn. Wouldn" - Ram Dass, aka Baba Ram Dass, born Richard Alpert

"I still love books. Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can't really put a book on the Internet. Three companies have offered to put books by me on the Net, and I said, 'If you can make something that has a nice jacket, nice paper with that nice smell, then we'll talk.' All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don't want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket." - Ray Bradbury, fully Ray Douglas Bradbury

"Computers do what they are told. They slavishly obey any instructions given in their own programming language. This is how they do useful things like word processing and spreadsheet calculations. But, as in inevitable by-product, they are equally robotic in obeying bad instructions. They have no way of telling whether an instruction will have a good effect or a bad. They simply obey, as soldiers are supposed to do. It is there unquestioning obedience that makes computers useful, and exactly the same thing makes them inescapably vulnerable to infection by software viruses and worms. A maliciously designed program that says, Copy me and send me to every address that you find on this hard disk will simply be obeyed, and then obeyed again by other computers down the line to which it is sent, in exponential expansion. It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to design a computer which is usefully obedient and at the same time immune to infection." - Richard Dawkins

"Like computer viruses, successful mind viruses will tend to be hard for their victims to detect. If you are the victim of one, the chances are that you won't know it, and may even vigorously deny it. Accepting that a virus might be difficult to detect in your own mind, what tell-tale signs might you look out for? I shall answer by imaging how a medical textbook might describe the typical symptoms of a sufferer (arbitrarily assumed to be male)." - Richard Dawkins

"On the properties of God: Such a bandwidth! God, who may not have a brain made of neurons, or a CPU made of silicon, but if he has the powers attributed to him he must have something far more elaborately and non-randomly constructed than the largest brain or the largest computer we know." - Richard Dawkins

"Personally, I rather look forward to a computer program winning the world chess championship. Humanity needs a lesson in humility." - Richard Dawkins

"Think about the two qualities that a virus, or any sort of parasitic replicator, demands of a friendly medium, the two qualities that make cellular machinery so friendly towards parasitic DNA, and that make computers so friendly towards computer viruses. These qualities are, firstly, a readiness to replicate information accurately, perhaps with some mistakes that are subsequently reproduced accurately; and, secondly, a readiness to obey instructions encoded in the information so replicated." - Richard Dawkins

"It has been a mystery ever since it was discovered more than fifty years ago, and all good theoretical physicists put this number up on their wall and worry about it. Immediately you would like to know where this number for a coupling comes from: is it related to ? or perhaps to the base of natural logarithms? Nobody knows. It's one of the greatest damn mysteries of physics: a magic number that comes to us with no understanding by man. You might say the hand of God wrote that number, and we don't know how He pushed his pencil. We know what kind of a dance to do experimentally to measure this number very accurately, but we don't know what kind of dance to do on the computer to make this number come out, without putting it in secretly!" - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"The inside of a computer is as dumb as hell but it goes like mad!" - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"There is a computer disease that anybody who works with computers knows about. It's a very serious disease and it interferes completely with the work. The trouble with computers is that you 'play' with them!" - Richard Feynman, fully Richard Phillips Feynman

"From 1986 to today, in just 25 years, the typical consumer-grade personal computer has increased in performance thousands of times over while dropping in price " - Richard Heinberg

"A good location, and what we have to pay for it, is so important to the success of a store. And it’s one area of the company in which we’ve always had family involvement." - Sam Walton, fully Samuel Moore "Sam" Walton

"I think computer viruses should count as life. I think it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. We ve created life in our own image." - Stephen Hawking

"I think it would be a disaster [meeting an alien civilization]. The extraterrestrials would probably be far in advance of us. The history of advanced races meeting more primitive people on this planet is not very happy, and they were the same species. I think we should keep our heads low." - Stephen Hawking

"Quiet people have the loudest minds." - Stephen Hawking

"Over the years, I have watched with disappointment the continuing failure of most scientists and mathematicians to grasp the idea of doing computer experiments on the simplest possible systems… [Mathematicians] tend to add features to make their systems fit in with complicated and abstract ideas—often related to continuity—that exist in modern mathematics. …One might imagine that the best way to be certain about what could possibly happen in some particular system would be to prove a theorem… But in my experience… it is easy to end up making implicit assumptions that can be violated by circumstances one cannot foresee. And indeed, by now, I have come to trust the correctness of conclusions based on simple systematic computer experiments much more than I trust all but the simplest proofs." - Stephen Wolfram

"So the thing I realized rather gradually - I must say starting about 20 years ago now that we know about computers and things - there's a possibility of a more general basis for rules to describe nature." - Stephen Wolfram

"In the end, it's the reality of personal relationships that save everything." - Thomas Merton

"Basic research is what I am doing when I don't know what I am doing." - Wernher von Braun, fully Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

"My experiences with science led me to God. They challenge science to prove the existence of God. But must we really light a candle to see the sun?" - Wernher von Braun, fully Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

"The greatest gain from space travel consists in the extension of our knowledge. In a hundred years this newly won knowledge will pay huge and unexpected dividends." - Wernher von Braun, fully Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun

"We have become a more juvenile culture. We have become a childish me, me, me culture with fifteen-second attention spans. The global village that television was supposed to bring is less a village than a playground." - Wes Jackson

"Everybody today, it seems, wants to reform education. It would be interesting if this ambition were a mark of our times. But it is not, for an ambition to reform education is found in most of the ages known to civilization." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"In high technology cultures today, everyone lives each day in a frame of abstract computed time enforced by millions of printed calendars, clock, and watches. In twelfth-century England there were no clocks or watches or wall or desk calendars." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"Writing moves words from the sound world to a world of visual space, but print licks words into position in this space. Control of position is everything in print." - Walter J. Ong, fully Walter Jackson Ong

"You can always count on a murderer for a fancy prose style." - Vladimir Nabokov, fully Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov