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Jim Henson and Ayn Rand on Arpanet

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I really can't figure out where to put this, so I'm just slapping it here (I know this isn't the right spot.) It's an old Arpanet (very old) discussion between Jim Henson, Ayn Rand, Yoko Ono, and Sydney Nolan. It's an interesting read, to say the least.


Sadly, from what I can read here, Rand comes off as quite a dick. There's nothign wrong with being rude for a point, but here it comes across as quite pointless. She doesn't seem to be listening to the others and is very much trying to make the conversation about her and her philosophy as quickly as possible, while also being unnecessarily insulting (doing it for its own sake).

For someone who is not looking for outward approval, there is something that reads somewhat desperate in her writing here. Where the others choose to engage in actual dialogue, Rand is highly pedantic. A modern chatbot could easily have replicated her writing here. It is not the writing of an ego, but simply a reaction to external force.

It's a bit of a painful read.

Edited by emorris1000
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Did this conversation actually happen?

Anyway, if it did, toward the end, Yoko says that she is outraged and disgusted and must leave because Rand and Nolan are philosophizing while children are "dying of our neglect."

I wonder if she then rushed off to give her time and money to the dying children.

Probably not.


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One reason to doubt the authenticity of this is that three of the four participants are extremely famous, and we would have heard of this event decades ago if it had actually happened. Another is that the real Rand's grammar and usage were impeccable, and this one's isn't. Those are not the only reasons.

If AI were more powerful than it is, this is what a program might come up with if you directed it to imagine a conversation among these people. Or maybe if it had taken place in a different language and you applied a spottily-accurate machine translation program.

(Later PS: a statement, however sticky its phrasing, that the conversations are an invention: http://www.arpanetdialogues.net/disclaimer/)

Edited by Reidy
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I suspect that if somebody had invited her she would have been pleased to accept, as she was to attend the Apollo launch. She would have ascertained carefully who else would be on the line, and she would have pulled out on finding out that Yoko Ono would be there. Since Lennon was still alive in 76, they would have invited him, not her.

The technology of the day would have entailed a visit to an ARPA installation (a university or a military site), but that was doable.

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