I'm astounded when people under-estimate computers' potential to deeply disrupt our understanding of Life's meaning, consciousness and free will. So today's Impossible is meant to illustrate just how much computers can reconfigure our perception of reality. Courtesy of philosopher Daniel Dennett:
"Proving just what is and is not possible within the rules of chess is an intricate task, and mistakes can be made that get perpetuated. For instance, a few years ago, a computer chess program discovered a mating net - a guaranteed win - consisting of over two hundred moves without a capture. This disproved a long-standing 'theorem' of chess and has forced a change in the rules of the game. It used to be that fifty moves without a capture by either side constituted a draw (stalemate), but since this lengthy mating net is unbreakable, and leads to a win, it is unreasonable to maintain the fifty-move stalemate."
Dennett hits a homerun with the following: "Before computers began playing chess, nobody imagined that there could be a guaranteed win of anywhere near this length". For anyone who's dabbled with data mining and machine learning, it's clear computers can uncover unknown unknowns - Things we didn't know we didn't know! It might sound like Science Fiction but, then again, Isaac Asimov reminds us precisely what Science Fiction is for:
"It was only with the coming of the Industrial Revolution that the rate of change became fast enough to be visible in a single lifetime. People were suddenly aware that not only were things changing, but that they would continue to change after they died. That was when science fiction came into being as opposed to fantasy and adventure tales. Because people knew that they would die before they could see the changes that would happen in the next century, they thought it would be nice to imagine what they might be." + "Science fiction is important because it fights the natural notion that there's something permanent about things the way they are right now."
To an impermanent day, acknowledging the universe of our blind-spots and an impossibly amazing morning ;)