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October 16, 1955 - Image 5

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Sunday, October 16, 1955 -ae v

Y Page Five

How Good Is A Brain Machine?
Half a million dollars for a high-speed automatic computer
also purchases human-like problems
By DICK LAING
treatment is the same. The prob-
LECTRONIC computing mach- lem is "got out in the open." The
Ines, developed during World machine, after it is cleared of the
War II to process large amounts disturbing problem, is given a test
of data, proved a spectacular suc- routine. Humans are often given
cess. simple tests designed to bolster
their self confidence or define the
Before the War most of the area of worry.
larger computing machines had
been slow and unreliable mechani- If the machine or human con-
cal devices. During the War, the tinues to "go in circles," there
use of electro-mechanical systems are several courses still open.
instead of gear trains greatly in- The human may be "put away,"
creased the speed, reliability and "kept quiet." But although this
flexibility of the large computors. is often done with humans, the
By 1942 MIT had its Differential big computors are too valuable
Analyser No. 2 in operation and to leave standing around un-
by 1944 Harvard's Mark I was also used. Another stenographer or
in action. college professor can be ob-
tained in a few hours; it may
All electronic computers prey- take months to build another
ed even better than the electro- machine.
mechanical ones. The Eniac, at In "therapy," a sort of shaking
the University of Pennsylvania, and scrambling treatment may be
was the first of the high-speed, used in the belief that no new ar-
all-electronic computors. rangement of mental circuits could
Automatic computors in many be worse than the present inac-
ways are superior to human cal- tivity or inaccessibility of the
culators. They are faster and more machine or human. In the case of
reliable. They are "tireless." In a the machine, unusually large elec-
few hours they can devour trical currents are often passed
amounts of data that would keep through the system in an attempt
a man busy for years. to "unstick" the offending part.
For the human there is the elec-
BUT THE large electronic com- tric or insulin shock treatment.
puting machines have their
problems too. Not just quaternions IF THE shock treatment fails, all
or Rieman integrals or long divi- is not yet lost. The operator-
sion. A computing machine may at psychiatrist may decide that the
times behave in patterns analag- offending portion of the machine
ous to those of neurotic humans, or human brain must be removed',
and the "cure" for erratic elec- Most of the recent large com-
tronic behavior is startingly sim- putors (including Illinois' Illiac
ilar to methods of therapy em- and Michigan's Midae) have been
ployed in mental hospitals, built up out of packaged plug-in
When humans and machines get parts and the faulty unit is easily
a neurotic "one track mind," the removed. If the unit is not essen-
"Hun, ter's Horn"

--y
-PhosteoCurtesy Unisersity News Servlee
THE UNIVERSITY'S mechanical brain MIDAC has made good in the small but select world e
high-speed computer machines. Developed originally to solve certain complicated military problems,
MIDAC has proved itself an all-purpose computer in the bargain. More officially known as MIchi-
gan Digital Automatic Computer, it has the distinction of being the first machine of Its type in
the Midwest. It is one of about twenty large-se ale digital computers throughout the country.
Housed at the Willow Run Research Center, MIDAC'S units are on hand to give quick and econom-
ical solution to many scientific and engineering problems. Pictured at the left is MIDAC's arith-
metic control unit, with a back view of the same
tial to the solving of the problem The big machines are quite or this or that.) But most of the
at hand, it is left out. If it is es- stupid. Their brainpower is a bit reduction of the problem to terms
sential, it is replaced by another more than a flatworm and less the machine can understand an
standard unit . handle mtstha tomadlshiman dn

.d

It would seem then, that the
machine possesses great advan-
tages the human does not. The
machine is usually better cared
for, it has replaceable parts,
and can solve problems amaz-
ingly fast. But it is a miscon-
ception that huge electronic
computing machines somehow
think "bigger" thoughts than
most humans.

than a moth. They can swiftly pick y
out the differences between plus operators. To worry about mach-
20 volts and minus 10 volts (the ines "taking over" and "dominat-
electrical equivalent of a yes or a ing the world" by their superior
no, or a zero or a one in the bi- "brainpower" is unwarranted.
nary number system.) If "big" It is true that the use of com-
problems can be reduced to a puting machines is increasing.
series of small "yes-no" problems, Computing devices will be at the
the machine may be able to handle heart of automation plants, con-
the job. (And a large number of trolling the action of dozens of
human problems do in fact re- separate factory tools.
duce to yes and no, this and that See MACHINE, Page 11

(Continued from Page 4)
next so that the end might be
brought about. She builds slowly
and her structure is strong. When
you have finished you have come
to know these persons better than
you know your friends. You have
lived in the hill country. It is
good writing and good story tell-
ing.
IF THERE is any quarrel with
the book it could be contained
in two aspects. The first is minor,
and not influenced by comparison
with "The Dollmaker." As im-
portant as the event of birth is
in the hill country, there seemed
an undue description and pre-
occupation with it. In Laureenie's
death there is some of the most
powerfull writing contained in
"Hunter's Horn:" an almost un-
bearable realism and emotion.
Everything that could be said
about birth, death or burial of
these people is said in Laureenie's
efforts. There is a reluctance
after such a depth is reached to
read the further incidents that
deal with birth and death.
The other criticism goes deeper
and lies less in possible personal
prejudice. It is also where com-
parison of "Hunter's Horn" to
"The Dollmaker" becomes partic-
ularly interesting. Here the pos-
sibility arises that the strength
of "The Dollmaker" is there be-
cause "Hunter's Horn" preceded it.
"The Dollmaker," despite the
number of characters and the full-
ness of their characterization, al-
ways remains Gertie's story. This
is not so with Nunn Ballew in
"Hunter's Horn."
After the death of King Devil
you know that Nunn Ballew will
build his farm again in the tra-
dition of the Ballews. Ironically,
it is his son Lee Roy who will see
to this even better than the father
will. Milly Ballew, the wife, will
go on, secure in her love of Sweet
Jesus if not always understanding
His ways and women's sorrow.
The degree of her real happiness
will rest upon whether the year
was a good one and her fruit jars

are filled. The two smallest child-
ren remain unaffected.
WITH THE affect on Suse Bal-
lew, the oldest child, however,
a division of the book occurs.
Suse, not Nunn, emerges as King
Devil's real victim at a time in her
life when she is most vulnerable.
It is a way that could not be
more cruel, for Suse contains the
past and the promise of the
Ballews to their greatest degree.
When Nunn Ballew substitutes the
hearthstone for the dead King
Devil he creates a final havoc
more terrible than his pursuit of
King Devil . He turns what had
seemed his strength into a weak-
ness, and what had been his weak-
ness into a strength to bring
about the final destruction of
Suse.
It is at this moment that there
is the complete shift for the read-
er, despite the subtle building to-
ward Suse's tragedy from the time
of Laureenie's death. Suse has
progressed in the story ever more
importantly. Nunn Ballew is real,
but Suse emerges the more real.
Nunn Ballew is important to you,
but as you close "Hunter's Horn,"
and long after the reading is over,
it is Suse whom you remember -
Suse and the hill country -
though it was Nunn that you
avidly followed through it in pur-
suit of the red fox. "Hunter's
Horn" fails in this respect as
suit of King Devil. "Hunter's
"The Dollmaker" doesn't.
A COPY of this nook Is now
difficult to obtain, except
through the library. It is well
worth the search to read it, and
better yet, to own it. Harriette Ar-
now is a writer who can be read
and re-read. She gives the
pleasure of revisiting those you
have come to know and under-
stand, a place where you have
been and would like to go again.
It is a compliment that cannot
always be given a writer, no mat-
ter how enjoyable the story at
first reading. - It is, a compliment
that cannot be denied Harriette
Arnow in "Hunter's Horn" any
less than in "The Dollmaker,"
The two books are entirely differ-
ent. It is a gain to have read
them both.

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