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Alan Turing (4) vs. Pele; Veronica Geng advances

I gotta go with Geng, based on this from Jonathan:

I was all in on Geng, as you know, but I have no idea what she sounded like.

But it’s not the voice is it? It’s the content. And listen to what Geng could do (Remorse, April 7, 1986) “I will also spend one hundred hours working with youthful offenders, who, I believe, could profit tremendously from one hundred hours away from the grind of science or math, listening instead to me explaining why I am talking to them instead of their teachers or parents.” If she can do that for youthful offenders, imagine what she can do for those of us lucky enough to attend. And science and math really is a grind, no?

Dalton almost had me going with this counter-argument:

If we’re going solely by Wikipedia, (And let’s be honest, I have been for the entire contest) it’s Nora by a mile. Nora’s got a picture and bio-box. A personal life and a career section. An entire section entitled “Ephron and Deep Throat.” Nicely formatted tables.

I was with him until he got to the tables. I hate tables.

Today two modern secular saints face off. Pele can do anything with a soccer ball. But a Turing machine can do anything computable. We’re a Venn diagram situation here:
– There are some things that are computable but can’t be done with a soccer ball.
– There are some things that are computable and can be done with a soccer ball.
– There are some things that can be done with a soccer ball but are not computable.

I can see a path to victory for either contestant. On one hand, if Pele could implement the Game of Life using a soccer ball, then Turing would be superfluous. From the other direction, if Turing could implement soccer using Boolean operators, then we wouldn’t need Pele. Either of these tasks seems pretty NP-tough to me. But this is a hypothetical seminar series, so all things are possible, no?

Again, here are the rules and here’s the bracket:


  1. Dalton says:

    To his credit, Pele didn’t have to play in the era of VAR (video assistant referees). As last Tuesday’s Champions League game between Paris – Saint Germain and Manchester United (as well as the recent World Cup final between Croatia and France) demonstrate, there is an indistinct, but abrupt border between the beautiful and the farcical and that border is guarded by imperfect humans with flawed methods for making binary decisions. Football is all kinetic energy and continuous movement. That’s why it is so beautiful and beloved. But (like Stan) football runs into trouble when that continuity is confronted with a latent discrete state. The stochastic motions of a 450 gram truncated icosahedron will occasionally cause it careen into the demilitarized zone between the discrete states delineated by the Laws of the Game. Did it or did it not touch the hand or arm? Was that contact SIGNIFICANT enough to cause a penalty? Many of us hate the use of p-values on this blog, but when was the last time somebody was stabbed because they didn’t like the outcome of binary decision given by a p-value (

    Pele, at his best, transported us so far away from these uncomfortable boundaries that we were able to forget they exist. Turing, on the other hand, dwelt in the uncanny trenches where the messy but still quantized states of the world must be directly confronted. Football’s (and Pele’s) transcendence can only be temporary because of the Laws of the Game. We need the Laws of the Game, otherwise every game would only be ever escalating chaos whose obvious destination is violence. But the Laws of the Game, by attempting to impose order, manage only to concentrate the chaos at the seams. Turing helped prove this fundamental limitation on our ability to reside forever in the domain of certainty. And so elevating Turing over Pele is the only grown-up thing to do. As much fun as Pele can be the night before, only Turing allows us to continue living after the cold brutal truth of the morning after.

  2. Turing vs. Pelé

    A Villanelle

    It would be fun to listen to Pelé
    kick words across the room and score a goal.
    That said, Turing has got my vote today.

    No one could possibly forget the day
    the Yugoslavs fell under his swift sole.
    It would be fun to listen to Pelé.

    Nor could a mainframe imitate his play;
    its algorithms lack an athlete’s soul.
    That said, Turing has got my vote today.

    What, though, are seminars? I’d like to say
    they plant the seeds of thought. In a large hall
    it would be fun to listen to Pelé,

    but given the more intimate array,
    I feel for the magnanimous console
    that said: Turing has got my vote today.

    Egad, this tournament will turn me gray
    if I don’t finish up my rigmarole!
    It would be fun to listen to Pelé;
    that said, Turing has got my vote today.

  3. plusplus says:

    One of these god-like avatars should win the whole thing. You will have repechage rounds too, yes? And if so, the other should get to the bronze medal match too. Pele has experience in bronze medal matches, so Turing has to advance.

  4. Manuel says:

    bciw mqbe huek cwcq kwtn wbgo sphe wthr behq jpiz htjz fjnj ntic kkzu eyxr ndan cfoq

    Model: Enigma M4 “Shark”
    Reflector: UKW B thin
    Rotor 1: Beta, position 1, ring 1
    Rotor 2: I, position 17, ring 1
    Rotor 3: I, position 12, ring 1
    Rotor 4: I, position 1, ring 1

    Plugboard: bq cr di ej kw mt os px uz gh

    Composed with the help of

    tl;dr: Pelé advances

  5. zbicyclist says:

    “if Turing could implement soccer using Boolean operators, then we wouldn’t need Pele”

    If we assume you misspelled Ballean, then Turing could do it.

    So let’s advance the inventor or “around the house chess”.

    Also note that “around the house soccer” is not a bad idea if you only have one of those kiddie goals. One team clockwise, the other counter-clockwise.

  6. Jonathan (another one) says:

    Both invented a game. Pele’s invention of soccer is metaphorical, but we like metaphors.
    Turing’s actual invention of running chess is underspecified and confusing to some of the brightest minds in the world.

    So it’s the beautiful game against the sloppily defined game. I opt for beauty.

  7. Dzhaughn says:

    There are no recordings of Turing, but plenty of Pele. We should seize the opportunity to enable Elon Musk clones to send an IKEA-annotated LP of Alan Turing drifting, hopelessly, in the great ocean, between the stars. It is the destiny of our species!

    The full message was “TL;DR. Send More Chuck Berry.”

  8. Lou Feringo says:

    > I was with him until he got to the tables. I hate tables.

    Me too.

    Hulk Out Smash Table GIF from Hulkout GIFs

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