Mad erudition and strong AI


Colin McLarty’s comment on the nuance that distinguishes mere erudition from Mad erudition reminds me that a famous French mathematician once told me how pleased he was to have discovered Mad Magazine during his first trips to the US.  (You won’t find him in the picture, reproduced above, of the International Mathematical Congress of 1893.)  The mathematician in question is widely admired for (among other things) his impeccable taste, and this inevitably leads to the question you might want to ponder if you contemplate a future of machine-assisted proof:  is the ability to appreciate the humor of Mad Magazine (as opposed, say, to the ability to hallucinate) a prerequisite for mathematical research?  Or is it an (intended or unintended) consequence?

I was appalled to discover, by the way, that Mad Magazine now belongs to the Warner Bros. Entertainment Group.

Image from the Cornell Mathematics Dept. website.


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