Wednesday, 14 November 2007

This Paradigm is no has ceased to be...

Many of us will be familiar with the Monty Python sketch about the dead parrot

You will have no doubt also used the word paradigm on several occasions in every day affairs...'the price of petrol has gone past £1 a litre - now that's a paradigm shift'. Quite often we use the term to mean our awareness of some new information.

The guy most associated with the term is Thomas Kuhn who wrote about the notion in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which was an explanation of how science progresses. His explanation that advances occur due to 'mind-set' changes of groups of scientists was a counter explanation to that put forward by Karl Popper (bloody hell I nearly wrote Pooper there)who explained scientific advances as a continual process of testing and rejecting of hypotheses. This resulted in a big row amongst philosophical types in the 1960s and they're still at it.

Paradigm (probably because it is an impressive word to dropped out in a night club) has massive memetic properties, and in fact you could say a Paradigm is a Meta-Meme, a big idea that catches on... It is also a word that is used in error.

Kuhn suggested that Paradigms are 'total re-thinks of your world view' not just a different way of the doing the same thing. So much so that people who hold the prevailing paradigm simply can't let go of it because for them 'this is how the world is'... and anyone who thinks diffrently is an ass. It takes a heretic to start a new paradigm e.g. The Earth is the centre of the its not the Earth goes around the Sun, and even the Solar System is on the edge of one of many many galaxies.

And so, this is where I have problem with Professor Artur Ekert who commented in Future Directions of Computing that computer processing by "by caged atoms known as quantum bits or Qubits... is a new paradigm for computation," might be a new method, but it can't be a new paradigm because it isn't altering the fundamental way that information is processed. i.e. 1+0+101+1011 is an arithmetic constant, even though the properties might change (as far as we know)

If there was something other than addition, subtraction, division and multiplication for the management of number then that would require a paradigm shift!

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