I am an engineer. In 2005 I was involved in a company designing high-speed computer networking hardware and systems. Coming down to the old “Dinky” train station in Princeton, I encountered John Nash. I had known his son John since he was 15. He asked me what I am doing. After telling him some of the challenges of doing high speed, he replied, “Have you thought of this?” What he described is now known as channel bonding, but after two years of working on this project we had not considered it. A beautiful mind indeed, that could come up with an instant answer in an impromptu meet-up.http://www.towntopics.com/wordpress/2015/06/03/an-engineer-remembers-john-nash-coming-up-with-impromptu-answer/
There is something we have missed about this man, or many things, but one in particular I wish to highlight. In the 1950’s John Nash wrote a seemingly frantic letter to the NSA describing a certain machine and the importance of a conjecture surrounding it. Fundamentally Nash was excited with the realization that encryption would always far surpass decryption. Why the big fuss?
Nash’s works and words are never well understood in their parts and out of context (although seemingly he never minded this). I wish to highlight the importance of another seeming unimportant and unrelated letter from near that time. This letter explains Nash’s design for a high speed, highly parallel computer that can heal itself and solve multiple problems simultaneously.
It is the authors understanding that this design is still nowhere near implementation, but that latest advancements in computer science and cryptology have brought the possibility that much closer.
What I want to point to is this part of that letter:
A parallel control machine could locate points in itself
needing repair. It would tend not to be completely incapaci-
tated by any single material failure.
In the 1950’s, before Nash was famous or credited so well with defining achievements, he had already envisioned designed a computer system that is capable of healing itself.
We all know the famous story about how eventually after some incredible breakthroughs in math and related sciences, Nash lost control of his psyche and was instituted twice for his psychotic behavior.
Nash fled to europe where he tried to exchange his monies for the Swiss Franc which he saw as superior to the USD. Eventually the American military tracked him down and took him back to the US against his will (Nash tried to denounce his American citizenship at this time!).
In the movie A beautiful Mind, it is widely known that the scenes in which Nash took medication to eventually get better (and receive his nobel prize 40+ years later), were not very factual at all. It is widely documented that Nash’s recovery was not at all from medication but through his own thought process and will power.
Is this a miracle, should we be surprised? Was this chance, or did Nash truly have the logical aptitude to cure his own mental illness?
Here lies the setup for what I think is one of the most significant lines of his that was ever made public:
In closing, the human brain is a highly parallel setup.
It has to be.
Over 50 years ago, Nash had already realized and applied the implications of the ramifications of the advancement of computer technology and its comparability to our brains. He already knew (and proclaimed!) it was possible that such a set up could heal itself…
But more importantly and amazingly, he clearly showed in real life, that HIS BRAIN was in fact capable of this. That our brains are capable.