I’m sure it’s clever, but ….

September 27, 2009

Pastimes are just that. Things to do to pass the time. In addition some pastimes require some thinking skills, with the added attraction of exercising your brain and maybe giving you a sense of satisfaction in achieving something. That is why I do cryptic crosswords and hard sudokus.  Although I failed to get any satisfaction from the Rubik Cube (as I was never much good at solving it), I did enjoy the challenge. There is less fun in doing these things if you have to seek external help. Particularly if that help is mechanical. Yes you can use various software to solve sudoku or help with crosswords, but the pleasure is much reduced.

So what to make of these two little devices from a boffin in Sweden – Hans Andersson? image image 

Using Lego Mindstorms, he has designed and built robots for solving Sudoku and Rubik’s Cube. There are videos and building instructions (including the software) on his website. And whilst I think it all very clever, I wonder what the point is. I don’t get much satisfaction from watching other people solve sudoku or crosswords or play patience, if I am not contributing myself. So why this?

Don’t answer that. It is not a serious question. A disclaimer here. When I first decided to teach myself to program in Basic, I wrote a noughts-and-crosses solving program. Of course I understand that the exercise in designing and building these is the point. Nonetheless, I do wonder. Perhaps Hans Andersson should be turning his mind to solving bigger problems. He clearly is capable.

Maybe someone said that of Edwin Votey when he demonstrated the first player piano in 1895? What pleasure is there in having a machine play your music for you? Don’t answer that either.

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2 Responses to “I’m sure it’s clever, but ….”

  1. Danny Says:

    True. Especially for people that just copy these little gadgets. And isn’t it the same with sport? Why do so many people who don’t play, watch it every weekend? There’s no personal achievement there either?

    As for Hans, maybe this is an educational exercise and he’ll progress onto greater things. Like a Lego AFL! 🙂 I’m not sure whether I’d support the Star Wars Lego or the Bionicles?

  2. Bek Says:

    Now they just need to build a robot that can build a robot that can solve Sudoku and they will be totally obsolete!


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