Insight on the News
Honesty Still Appreciated
● The African country of Zambia holds its Trade Fair each year, lasting six days. For the past four years the gates at the Fair have been manned by Jehovah’s witnesses. Why?
An article in the “Times of Zambia” says that certain other organizations had been used by the Fair management in the past but these had “displayed a singular disregard for honesty.” Shortages in gate receipts would run as high as 400 to 500 “kwacha” (or, in dollars, from $615 to $769). To illustrate the honesty of the Witnesses, the article states that this year the shortage in gate receipts for the six days amounted to “an astounding 40n [about 62c].”
How “Smart” Are Computers?
● Modern computers handle mathematical problems with astounding speed. They store up tremendous amounts of information in their “memory banks.” Some twenty years ago, scientists predicted that computer-controlled automation would revolutionize human society, with increased production displacing millions of laborers. Others foresaw future computers that would “think” better than people, even replace humans in government. What has happened?
In the August 1974 “Atlantic” magazine, science reporter Fred Hapgood shows that productivity rates were no different in the 1960’s than in the 1950’s, despite the addition of nearly 200,000 more computers.
As to computers ‘thinking,’ those advancing the idea evidently choose to ignore the time and effort humans must spend preparing the “data” (figures and facts) fed into computers and preparing the “programming” that tells the machine just how to handle the data. The slightest change in a problem can mean that all this complicated work must be done over again so the computer will function properly. Pointing out that there is no “intelligence” involved in the mechanical operations of a computer, author Hapgood says: “Whatever else intelligence may be, it surely implies an ability to link up with the real world, to pursue some objective or apply a competence over at least a small range of natural experience.”
A classic example cited of the limited ability of computers is the automatic zip-code readers used in some post offices. After years of development, the most sophisticated model (costing $800,000) can successfully handle “only 9.5 percent of the mail.”
The May 1974 issue of “Psychology Today,” cites another illustration. One corporation uses these sentences to test a computer’s ability to “understand” language: “Tommy had just been given a new set of blocks. He was opening the box when he saw Jimmy coming in.” Three questions are then put to the computer: “Who was opening the box? What was in the box? Who came in?” The article says: “Although any first-grader could easily answer these questions, the computer finds them surprisingly hard.” It needs the data spelled out in still simpler, more specific terms.
Another good question is: If modern science cannot produce intelligence in a machine, how could the blind chance that the evolution theory relies on have produced it in man?
Decline in Sunday Schools
● In Canada, Sunday-school attendances have dropped “catastrophically” in the past ten years. The “Toronto Star” reports that the overall decline is close to 50 percent, with some major churches having even greater decreases. United Church rolls listed 648,354 children in 1962. In 1972 the figure was down to 293,900. Presbyterian schools dropped from 109,864 in 1963 to 63,362 in 1973.
Anglican bishop L. S. Garnsworthy of Toronto said: “Unless Christian parents start teaching their children themselves, Christianity will not be transmitted to another generation. Sunday schools, as we have known them, are withering away.”
Some religious groups report growth in Sunday-school attendances but most of them achieve it only through bussing of children and such things as contests for attendance records or pre-Sunday-school sports and similar methods.
The Bible nowhere sets forth any basis for isolating children in Sunday schools. It shows that the parents themselves are responsible to bring up their offspring “in the discipline and mental-regulating of Jehovah,” and to have them with them in congregational meetings.—Deut. 6:4-7; 31:12, 13; Eph. 6:4; Matt. 15:32, 38.