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Re: Paul Graham's PyCon Keynote

Paul Graham wrote:
> I think that, like species, languages will form evolutionary trees,
> with dead-ends branching off all over. We can see this happening
> already. Cobol, for all its sometime popularity, does not seem to
> have any intellectual descendants. It is an evolutionary dead-end--
> a Neanderthal language. [...]
> At any given time, you're probably happiest on the main branches of
> an evolutionary tree. Even when there were still plenty of
> Neanderthals, it must have sucked to be one. The Cro-Magnons would
> have been constantly coming over and beating you up and stealing
> your food.

This is an analogy that does not quite tell the story you want it to.
The average brain volume of Neanderthal skulls appears to be somewhat
greater than than the average for Cro-Magnons and modern humans. So if
we chauvinistically assume that good languages correspond to brain
capacity, then our analogy suggests that Lisp, ML, and the like are
Neanderthal languages -- languages doomed to extinction, as smaller-
brained Cro-magnon languages like Java come and out-compete the deep
thinkers! :)

Neel Krishnaswami