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Predicting the Internet
In his recent editor’s letter “On Science Fiction” (March/April 2007), Jason Pontin writes that “Older computer scientists and electrical engineers such as Marvin Minsky and Seymour Cray, born in the mid-1920s, pursued a vision of humanlike artificial intelligence and mainframe computing ­popularized by science fiction after World War II (see Isaac Asimov’s ‘Multivac’ stories).” Minsky and Cray just missed the right story, as did a lot of other folks. Murray Leinster, in his story “A Logic Named Joe,” predicts a version of the Internet and the home computer. Astoundingly, it was published in 1945.
Alan Dean Foster
Prescott, AZ

Taking Exception to the Rules
I enjoyed Jason Pontin’s editor’s letter about the expression of ideas (“On Rules,” January/February 2007). But in closing, he writes, “The best expression of ideas occurs in forms that are strict and simple.” I take issue with this notion and the thrust behind it: the belief that ideas should be conventionalized and rule based. Envisioning ideas in a form–as expressed by a software language or by a poem–limits the possibility of expression and the development of new form.

In my opinion, it only makes sense to think of “mature” ideas in a strict and simple form. Ideas that are under development are messy and complicated things. It is the process of interacting with, and distilling, an idea that shapes it into a useful form.
Michael H. Felberbaum
Milford, CT

An item in the “10 Emerging Technologies, 2007” feature in the March/April issue incorrectly identified Ed Boyden as a postdoc at Stanford University. He was a Stanford graduate student when he performed the research described.

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