Re: What Is a Machine?

From: Haseldine, Philip (
Date: Sat Mar 02 1996 - 16:59:33 GMT

Machines. Humans. Why can't they be the same thing?

Okay, I realise I've gotta start by defining what a machine is. I'll
assume that we all know what a human is.

Okay. I believe that a machine is a thing, which can be animal,
mineral, and I suppose vegetable also, that was brought into the world,
be it by an inventor's thoughts, copulation, or asexual reproduction in
plants, not necessarily to do a particular job, but simply to be alive
( I know you can't really say that an internal combustion engine is
"alive") and in doing so perform tasks that may range from the very
specific,eg. the mechanism of strings, etc. which produce a reminiscent
sound from the action of a pianist's fingers, to the variant and
diverse, eg. the life of a cat. I do not see where the problem lies in
classifying humans as machines, or rubbers as such, or cacti, but of
course there comes a point where you have to draw the line. Is a piece
of paper a machine? In a sense, it is.It enables us to deposit layers
of, say, graphite, or ink into/onto its fibres such that a permanent
record can be made of our scribblings. But, we are the ones scribbling-
work is done not BY the paper but ON the paper. So, maybe, to be a
machine, you have to be ACTIVE- passiveness disqualifies you from the
status of being recognised as a "machine" and so perhaps a piece of
paper is not a machine after all- all it does is act as a storage
system, the storage itself not requiring any work at all.

Does anybody else have any views on whether a piece of paper is a
machine? I think I've come to the conclusion that it isn't, for reasons
I have stated above. Phil.

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