Tuesday, September 10, 2013

"Curiosity killed the cat" - yeah right!

This is a proverb which has been buzzing in and out of my mind for the past two and something weeks. I mean, who on earth did curiosity actually kill? And additionally which cat did it kill so as to make the proverb so popular?

I was trying to find answers to these questions on the internet and came across the earliest recorded references (apparently) of the proverb. Believe it or not the proverb is initially attributed to a guy called Ben Jonson, a British playwright, who wrote something similar in his play from 1598 called Every Man In His Humour.

The problem I have with curiosity killing a cat, is the fact that the proverb sort of sends out an incorrect message. Namely, being too curious can be detrimental and dangerous to your health. Let's think about that for second. How can that be true, when curiosity has brought mankind to where it is now in terms of evolution? Curiosity led us to create the first tools. It showed us that the planet was round and revolving around its axis. Curiosity brings solutions to problems. It brings enlightenment, knowledge and power. Curiosity elevated us to the top of the food chain and on 26th of November 2011, Curiosity landed on our neighboring planet Mars on a crater called Aeolis Palus, just 2.4KM from its specifically predefined target (which considering that it made a 563,000,000KM journey is a pretty good approximation).

So fuck no! Saying that curiosity killed the cat, is analogous to saying something stupid like "global warming is a result of the sun being too near to our planet" or “cancer kills people because we are not praying hard enough”. In fact, curiosity is probably the very reason why our fury feline friends have made it so far as to guarantee the survival of their species, by stirring up human love and compassion towards them.

There are three morals to this story.

The first, is that I believe we (meaning us, humans) are lacking (or have dismissed as unimportant) curiosity! We can never have enough of it. I will try to quantify this reasoning using numbers: lets say, that when man decided to make his first journey to the moon (or for those pompous skeptics who don't believe that ever happened: when we discovered the earth was round), we had a curiosity quotient of 5 for example (I’m just throwing these numbers out of my beautiful and humble cerebral cortex) . For the advancements we have today and those that we imagine for tomorrow we would need a cutiosity quotient of 500. Let's try to always keep this in mind. So, by all means, as they say, question EVERYTHING! Indeed, be curious!

My second point (and a discussion for my next blog post ) is that curiosity is probably a prerequisite for intelligence! Think about it when you try to answer the question of what is intelligence? Well, to begin with its a function of curiosity. Being able to represent curiosity as a mathematical structure would go a long way to solving a lot of roadblocks in artificial intelligence. For those tech savy minds, here is something to think about: can you imagine a software application, which is curious about the output its internal functions produce with regards to either their input or some other sensory input from the environment?

Finally a thought for conclusion. Curiosity did NOT kill the cat! If anything did, it was probably incomprehention or unawareness of the given situation. This is something which evidently goes on par with the LACK of curiosity!

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