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merlyn (47)

merlyn
  merlyn@stonehenge.com
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PAUSE-ID: MERLYN [cpan.org].
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Journal of merlyn (47)

Tuesday November 22, 2005
09:15 PM

The "ark" question... how many scientists does it take to...

[ #27703 ]
This came up in the monks CB a few minutes ago.

I've contemplated the "ark" question. Imagine the end of the world, but the ability to construct an ark to ensure the continuation of the species on some suitable planet after a one-way journey.

How many scientists would you need to put on the ship to encompass a working knowledge of all the technical skills presently available to humankind?

My guess is that no single person grasps more than about 0.1% of all the technical fields, so the number would be about 1000 at a minimum.

I'm presuming that the ship is carrying a copy of the internet (on some sort of disconnected storage device), so it's not about remembering facts, but about carrying knowledge.

Any other speculation? And then, the same question for the arts...

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  • Before you go choosing scientists and artists, make sure you have enough public telephone sanitation engineers to sustain the species.
  • You are implicitly asking which sciences and skills can only be taught by apprenticeship, and could not be taught by canned computerized instruction.

    Arguably the only truly encyclopedic encyclopedia was the 11th Edition Encyclopaedia Britanica of 1911. For one brief shining momemnt, typesetting technology and bibliographic practice caught up with the exponential growth of other knowledge. The subsequant war years had an explosion of technical arts, and the immediate post-war editions only reported detail

    --
    Bill
    # I had a sig when sigs were cool
    use Sig;
  • All of them.


    The feasibility of that aside, I think you need to ask yourself how precisely you want to model human knowledge -- say, getting 99% of it versus 99.9999%.


    My own estimate would be that you'd need about 100,000 in order to have something that would be indistinguishable (by humans, anyway) from the whole of human knowledge to humans...but I'm no expert.

    --

    ------------------------------
    You are what you think.