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Re: Paul Graham's PyCon Keynote

At 6:29 PM -0400 4/9/03, Neel Krishnaswami wrote:
>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! :)

It's generally agreed that Neanderthals were as intelligent
as their contemperaneous Cro-Magnons.  And bone studies of
Neanderthal skeletons also indicate that they were probably
several times as strong as we are.  So strong, in fact,
that they didn't actually need tools to butcher animals --
they could simply tear them apart with bare hands.

It's a scary concept to think of Cobol programs running around
tearing modern program apart using its mighty features like MOVE