… Minsky once came to him as he sat hacking at the PDP-6.
“What are you doing?” asked Minsky.
“I am training a randomly wired neural net to play Tic-tac-toe,” Sussman replied.
“Why is the net wired randomly?” asked Minsky.
“I do not want it to have any preconceptions of how to play,” Sussman said.
Minsky then shut his eyes.
“Why do you close your eyes?” Sussman asked his teacher.
“So that the room will be empty.”
At that moment, Sussman was enlightened.
— an AI koan from the Jargon File.
It was a very eventful weekend. For one thing, the FSF associate member’s meeting was being held at MIT on Saturday. I’m not a fan of social events, but as it turns out, geek hangouts are where I thrive. Made the long and arduous journey to Boston with Supun, a colleague of mine and a free software aficionado, and took the subway to Kendall/MIT. It was a very pleasant day, perfect for some good ol’ curbside hackin’.
The turn out at the meeting was pretty good, and there were some FSF merchandise right outside and I promptly bought a couple of books. Scanning the lounge for familiar faces, I quickly noticed Niibe walking over. Niibe came over to Sri Lanka and participated in a Code Fest held at Virtusa as part of the sixth Asia Open Source Symposium. Niibe is well known for his efforts on the Linux kernel SuperH port.
One of the speakers was the venerable MIT professor Gerald Jay Sussman, who invented the Scheme programming language along with Guy Steele Jr, one of his former students. It was a very interesting talk titled “Software is never finished”.
Eben Moglen followed soon afterwards, followed by Richard Stallman. RMS spoke about the evils of DRM and the new provisions introduced to counter it in GPLv3.
After the presentation, I managed to have a little chat with him in the lounge area, and when I mentioned the LKLUG he was quick to point out that a name change was in order. You can trust RMS not to miss that one. There was a long and heated LKLUG mail thread on this same issue way back in 2004. Thanks to lurker, I’ve managed to dig it up.
Some photographs of the event can be found here.