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What The Romans Did For Us


Are we about to sacrifice the most wonderful and valuable of the many things the Romans and other ancient civilisations did for us to the worship of the new, synthetic god technology and the wisdom of the crowd?

What The Romans Did For Us.
by John De Roe
May 2009

Last time the Romans featured on Boggart Blog, and it is some time ago, we were asking "what did the Romans really do for us. It turns out that according to what Bill Gates calls "the wisdom of the crowd" the Romans did something quite surprising. They built Stonehenge, which proves they arrived 2,500 years before most of us thought. Even more surprising is that the Romans could not have built Hadrian's Wall because it is in China.

All this is revealed in a survey used in an about to be screened in a TV show on the state of Education in Britain.

The same survey puts us right about The Pennines which are not between Lancashire and Yorkshire but lie along the border between France and Spain. And did you know the heraldic beast representing Britain is not the Plantagenet lion but the skinhead Bulldog. Come on, sing up, "Three bulldogs on my shirt..."

We mention this because today Tony Blair will give self congratulatory speech reminding us of New Labour's achievements under his leadership. One of the things he will certainly mention is the great advances in education. While New Labour might not use the phrase Dumbing Down themselves, the increaser in the IQ (Ignorance Quotient) of the average Briton has declined since the party took power in 1997 and set about "the project" to turn fuddy duddy old Britain into new, on line, on message Cool Britannia, a modern, dynamic state full of young, positive people filled with new enthusiasm and ready to tackle anything as they moved forward to meet the challenges of a new millennium.

Sorry,I've been reporting this crap so long I can't help the odd attack of Blairesque verbal diorreah.

The Dumbing Down of Britain was always part of the project. New Labour is really old, authoritarian statism and like the Bolsheviks before them and those who will come after, they know that a stupid, unquestioning society is a controllable society.

Technology has been a gift to Blair and Co. How easily people have allowed themselves to be persuaded that unthinking machines are really better at thinking than humans, Homo Sapiens Sapiens, man who knows he knows. There's the rub you see. A machine can sort data and match strings of binary characters but it cannot think. Techies like Gates and his ilk see that as an advantage. Artificial Intelligence they reason would not be encumbered by emotions and sensual distractions.

Artificial Intelligence however is as far await from reality as it was when thinking, reasoning machines were first dreamed of fifty years ago. As somebody who worked in the information Technology business for many years I would be prepared to bet my life savings that the only way humans will ever create Artificial Intelligence is by radically redefining what we mean by Intelligence. Were we to say that intelligence is no more than an ability to parse vast amounts of data very quickly and collate all the results that match the query string then Artificial Intelligence would exist now.

The Turing test, named after computer pioneer Alan Turing requires that to be considered intelligent a computer program must be able to hold a conversation with a human for five minutes without the human suspecting the other party is a computer. (Turing Test resources) Follow the link and if there is a suitable resource online try throwing something quite surreal and unexpected at the computer, not something totally unconnected but a bit off the wall - you'll soon find out what is at the other end is not human.

Both Bill Gates advice to us to follow the wisdom of the crowd and Tony Blair's policy of Dumbing Down, which we could also call education on a need to know basis have the same aim, to control people. Discourage curiosity and people become controllable, discourage independent thought and people will be happy to converse with a computer and accept standard answers to predictable questions.

Here however we come to what The Romans, Greeks, Celts, Saxons, The Persians and Egyptians and Assyrians really did for us. They bequeathed us myths, music, poetry and the skills to develop individuality, to think for ourselves, to discern. Let's not let the stupidity of crowds or the wild enthusiasm of swivel eyed fanatics rob us of it.

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