September 16th, 2002


I had a meeting, this afternoon at 12:30, with Dr. Jane Magrath. Dr. Magrath is a relatively recent addition to the UPEI English faculty, a woman of formidable intelligence and organization, in charge of giving advice to students interested in graduate school.

It was a good meeting, I think. She made some very useful suggestions to me--I'd like to particularly share the suggestion that in looking for a school with a Master's program, one should look for a school that also doesn't have a PhD program since resources tend to get diverted to the latter program.

She suggested, though, that I might not want to get a Master's degree. To be sure, a Master's degree wouldn't lock me into a particular career path, not nearly in the same way that a doctorate would, but it would still be a large expenditure of time and money. I want a Master's degree, if for no reason other than for the sake of learning, of havingthe degree. (Living alone is also an interesting challenge; I don't relish it, but I want to do that.)

She suggested that I might be interested in a career in library sciences, and kindly gave me the E-mail of a librarian--a McGill's grad--on the UPEI campus before I left.

There is, in cybernetics, a procedure known as the Turing test. It was proposed by the British cyberneticist Alan Turing as a way of telling if an entity--a human being, or a computer--was intelligent or not, basically involving a judgement of whether or not an entity's replies to a human's questions were plausible, did reflect an intelligence on the entity's part. The validity of this test has been challenged from multiple perspectives, of which the most telling is that this test only judges the degree to which an entity appears intelligent, not the degree to which an entity actually is intelligent.

I'm beginning to feel--have been, in one way or another, since that fateful February--that for most of my life I've been sleepwalking, that I've been about as conscious as the average chess-playing computer, like the ones that IBM regularly pits against Gary Kasparov.

I want a master's degree. Now I have to decide why I want one.

Ah. Being an adult's complicated, isn't it?
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