Maybe not such a good idea…

Szpylbert cartoon of a Natter rocket plane

Your cartoonist is a big aviation enthusiast. One particular design that’s always fascinated him is the German WW2 era Bachem Ba 349 Natter (“Adder”), developed just before the end of the war. It was a tiny, vertically-launching rocket plane designed to shoot down incoming bombers. Constructed mainly of wood it was designed for speeds of up to 1,000 km/h. It was also partially disposable, with the main rocket engine and the pilot returning to the ground by parachute. It only flew once, immediately crashed, killing the unlucky test pilot. It’s designer went on to build caravans after the war – probably a bit less dangerous.


Science and that


As a scientific researcher you are always on the hunt for novelty (and by that I don’t mean gimmicks you can buy in a shop). Often such newness comes from solving old problems by doing some difficult new method à la “it’s never been done before”. Of course, this goes wrong a lot – that’s why research feels hard and often seems to lead nowhere. In many cases not even to a permanent job.

Breaking into the ivory tower

Szpylbert cartoon about trying to get a job as an academicBeing an “academician” doesn’t start when you’ve finished your last university degree. Oh no, sir. To be admitted into the ivory tower with a permanent job you must first prove that you can cut the mustard as a researcher (if you’re not a certified genius). That means: short contracts, long hours, pressure of finding own funding and publishing as much as you can. Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Nobody home

Szpylbert cartoon about AI scienceSzpylbert is annoyed with an article on artificial intelligence in The Economist (09/05/2015), claiming that there “is no result from decades of neuroscientific research to suggest that the brain is anything other than a machine, made of ordinary atoms, employing ordinary forces, and obeying ordinary laws of nature”. If your cartoonist isn’t entirely wrong, then the article is about the possibility of creating an artificial mind. However, for good reasons, a mind can only be completely unlike a machine (c.f. Thomas Nagel). It should therefore be impossible to create anything like an artificial mind at our current level of thinking...