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Programming/Coding is witchcraft/magic just modernized...

Junious

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Regardless of whether or not programming itself is magic electricity most certainly is. Like you're telling me that I have to worry about directional vectors in a domain that's physically meaningless? How the hell do you even measure direction in this scenario? Yet we do and it works. Somehow.

Most of the math behind electrical engineering is done by taking this one variable, slapping it into your equations and doing some laplace transforms (also magic) and you end up with your results. No one really understands this variable, it's just there and it works. The more you learn about electronics the crazier it gets and it makes less and less sense. Sure you'll understand how to do things but you'll never understand why things are the way they are.

Is there an argument to be made that programming is sort of magic by proxy because it runs off of magic? Maybe
Electrical engineering works by grossly simplifying Maxwell's laws using the so called lumped matter discipline, such that consequential side effects are ignored unless they cause a problem. People called physicists do actually understand this variable, and make careers out of arguing about it. If you told a mathematician you thought a laplace transform was magic, they'd pat you on the head and smile. Its a consequence of our number system, not magic!
 
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InsufferableCynic

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Regardless of whether or not programming itself is magic electricity most certainly is. Like you're telling me that I have to worry about directional vectors in a domain that's physically meaningless? How the hell do you even measure direction in this scenario? Yet we do and it works. Somehow.

Most of the math behind electrical engineering is done by taking this one variable, slapping it into your equations and doing some laplace transforms (also magic) and you end up with your results. No one really understands this variable, it's just there and it works. The more you learn about electronics the crazier it gets and it makes less and less sense. Sure you'll understand how to do things but you'll never understand why things are the way they are.

Is there an argument to be made that programming is sort of magic by proxy because it runs off of magic? Maybe
Programming may not be, but computers certainly are.

Did you know that quartz, an inert rock, has a very accurate timer built in it. How? Magic.
 

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I still don't understand why people assume that magic, by nature, has to be misunderstood or not understood at all to remain 'magic'.
Science can also be magic. There's no rule that says they have to be mutually exclusive. Understanding a thing doesn't make it less magical. And if you get into asking the big questions about whether things can actually ever be truly understood, everything starts looking like magic by this definition anyway.
 

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I still don't understand why people assume that magic, by nature, has to be misunderstood or not understood at all to remain 'magic'.
Science can also be magic. There's no rule that says they have to be mutually exclusive. Understanding a thing doesn't make it less magical. And if you get into asking the big questions about whether things can actually ever be truly understood, everything starts looking like magic by this definition anyway.
I don't think this definition addresses what was in the OP. Essentially, the article in the OP is comparing programming to magical spells. If I perform the correct rituals then I can achieve results that would otherwise appear impossible or in violation of common sense (if not physics). The article in OP is fawning over the ability to say, "Alexa, play Despacito," and have it happen. The author is saying that programming is magic because it uses language to cause action. He states this fairly directly when he says, "when people say that coding is magic, they mean that coders can transform the world, as though with incantations and spells." He later quotes another piece saying, "magic is founded upon bridging the distinction between words and the wider world around us: 'in the heat of magic that boundary between word and thing ruptures. It cracks, and the one flows back into the other, and the two melt together and fuse. Language gets tangled up with the world it describes.'"

I take issue with this position for two reasons. First, this is clearly not a new feature of consumer computers. The author is presenting it as though this is a recent development that people should be excited about. It isn't. Almost every computer has been programmed using language. The few exceptions are very early or very niche devices which need to be reprogrammed by reconfiguring circuitry. Second, I think these kinds of comparisons are immature. They obfuscate what is really going on and make it seem as if computation is caused by binding demons. In reality, the basics of computation are neither especially esoteric nor complex. Just because the author is wowed by, "Slack bots and messaging apps—artificially intelligent text chat services that allow us to do an increasing number of tasks via something akin to a command line," doesn't mean any magic is happening. It just shows us that he doesn't understand computation and is easily excited by features that have existed in one form or another since the 1950s.
 
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Junious

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I still don't understand why people assume that magic, by nature, has to be misunderstood or not understood at all to remain 'magic'.
Science can also be magic. There's no rule that says they have to be mutually exclusive. Understanding a thing doesn't make it less magical. And if you get into asking the big questions about whether things can actually ever be truly understood, everything starts looking like magic by this definition anyway.
You can't just arbitrarily redefine a word that has an accepted meaning. Merriam Webster defines magic as: the use of means (such as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. One does not gain supernatural power over natural forces through programming, full stop. It may seem supernatural to those existing primarily in a virtual world, but at the end of the day meatspace has primacy. Meatspace is governed by natural forces which are explained by science. If you could go onto the computer and write some code that changed the weather or made people love you, that would be magic. Closer to magic is the ability of programmers to conjure up a better financial situation for themselves by writing code. For all those who think programming is magic, what do you think of the financial industry? Banks can create piles of money out of nothing! Is it magic, or is it an illusion?
 
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zalaz alaza

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You can't just arbitrarily redefine a word that has an accepted meaning. Merriam Webster defines magic as: the use of means (such as charms or spells) believed to have supernatural power over natural forces. One does not gain supernatural power over natural forces through programming, full stop. It may seem supernatural to those existing primarily in a virtual world, but at the end of the day meatspace has primacy. Meatspace is governed by natural forces which are explained by science. If you could go onto the computer and write some code that changed the weather or made people love you, that would be magic. Closer to magic is the ability of programmers to conjure up a better financial situation for themselves by writing code. For all those who think programming is magic, what do you think of the financial industry? Banks can create piles of money out of nothing! Is it magic, or is it an illusion?
bit misdirected to site dictionaries/publishers as the creators of the what is defined rather than an articulation. language is an evolving entity that involves the interplay of invocation by an individual(s), institutional definitions of those invocations, and the relationship between those two things. Also, magicians are masters of illusion so havent you sort of answered your own question there @Junious ?
 
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Junious

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bit misdirected to site dictionaries/publishers as the creators of the what is defined rather than an articulation. language is an evolving entity that involves the interplay of invocation by an individual(s), institutional definitions of those invocations, and the relationship between those two things. Also, magicians are masters of illusion so havent you sort of answered your own question there @Junious ?
Well, if a word means anything, then it means nothing. I just feel that we can aspire to something higher than the notion that sending a few electrons down the right tube is magic. That is controlling a controllable abstraction of the human mind, a sub dimension within the meatspace dimension. For me and Webster, magic must come from the dimensional space above our own. Supernatural forces, beyond our control or the rules that govern nature. I argue that what is created through programming is actually a "subnatural" force, that is manipulation of a dimensional space of our own abstraction, hence beholden to the will of its creator. To the subnatural, I suppose programming is magic, but not for me in meatspace, dammit! :IAMINIMMENSEPAIN:
 
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zalaz alaza

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Well, if a word means anything, then it means nothing. I just feel that we can aspire to something higher than the notion that sending a few electrons down the right tube is magic. That is controlling a controllable abstraction of the human mind, a sub dimension within the meatspace dimension. For me and Webster, magic must come from the dimensional space above our own. Supernatural forces, beyond our control or the rules that govern nature. I argue that what is created through programming is actually a "subnatural" force, that is manipulation of a dimensional space of our own abstraction, hence beholden to the will of its creator. To the subnatural, I suppose programming is magic, but not for me in meatspace, dammit! :IAMINIMMENSEPAIN:
so what of magicians?
 
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Junious

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If you extend the magic using class to contain programmers among tv performers, druids, neopagans, freemasons, and some psychiatrists, you may as well include gamers as well. Gamers will manipulate sometimes persistent created realities in ways that may not always comply with the given rules for a system as designed. Why not include anyone who use uses image or video manipulation software, at that point?
We can create subordinate planes with our minds that follow different essential natural orders. These can be a novel, comic book, DnD game, computer game, weather model, social media environment, or anything where we have a different set of rules than apply in meat space. Within these abstractions, we have a freedom to act in ways that can both defy the rules of the medium and are impossible in the meatspace plane. Anyone creatively acting in ways that break or change the rules in subnatural plane could be said to be a magician on that plane. The problem with calling them a magician is that this definition would include natural scientists and engineers working with deterministic models. A subnatural abstraction space could be a physics problem or a framework of equations explaining a natural process. It is not a total explanation of the problem in nature, but it allows one to run through what's going to happen in a universe with simpler rules and a simple situation. These scientists and engineers would certainly not see themselves as magicians, because they are doing the opposite of magic -- they are creating simpler subspaces to model the more complex superspace with rigid adherence to the rules.
That said, I admit my personal bias in that I am existing primarily in the meatspace, and see myself as a neo-Luddite meatspace supremacist, a viewpoint that is certainly at odds with many of the internet aficionados hanging around here. I only accept a magician as someone working from meatspace to interact with a higher plane (or pretending to), be it a monotheistic god, a pagan god, a collection of spirits, deep meditation, or higher maths.
 
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zalaz alaza

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If you extend the magic using class to contain programmers among tv performers, druids, neopagans, freemasons, and some psychiatrists, you may as well include gamers as well. Gamers will manipulate sometimes persistent created realities in ways that may not always comply with the given rules for a system as designed. Why not include anyone who use uses image or video manipulation software, at that point?
We can create subordinate planes with our minds that follow different essential natural orders. These can be a novel, comic book, DnD game, computer game, weather model, social media environment, or anything where we have a different set of rules than apply in meat space. Within these abstractions, we have a freedom to act in ways that can both defy the rules of the medium and are impossible in the meatspace plane. Anyone creatively acting in ways that break or change the rules in subnatural plane could be said to be a magician on that plane. The problem with calling them a magician is that this definition would include natural scientists and engineers working with deterministic models. A subnatural abstraction space could be a physics problem or a framework of equations explaining a natural process. It is not a total explanation of the problem in nature, but it allows one to run through what's going to happen in a universe with simpler rules and a simple situation. These scientists and engineers would certainly not see themselves as magicians, because they are doing the opposite of magic -- they are creating simpler subspaces to model the more complex superspace with rigid adherence to the rules.
That said, I admit my personal bias in that I am existing primarily in the meatspace, and see myself as a neo-Luddite meatspace supremacist, a viewpoint that is certainly at odds with many of the internet aficionados hanging around here. I only accept a magician as someone working from meatspace to interact with a higher plane (or pretending to), be it a monotheistic god, a pagan god, a collection of spirits, deep meditation, or higher maths.
let me give you an example of what i consider real magic - language. this example suits this conversation almost perfectly because as i see it, you're having a different conversation with different people than you think you are. The magic of language is in invocation. If i say "giraffe" are you thinking of a specific giraffe? Is it the same giraffe as me? is it a giraffe as an abstraction, and if so is it the same abstraction i use? id wager it isnt, and yet we still can understand what each other mean through these very muddy abstractiions. A ethereal giraffe is manifested between our interaction. Now thats all well and good, but Id also wager you know what people mean when they speak of technology as "magic". In some abstract sense a blackbox is involved for most(or maybe all) people somewhere along the timeline of their existence(s?). Its a bit of a >redditcostanzayeahrightsmirk take ill give you that, but also a good conversation could be had about it. Particularly for me I am interested in the grey area of understanding these abstractions of language, and i think that applies to computers as well. There are many abstractions people can assume with some validity within the electronics/technological sphere that add to a greater understanding of reality. The space between those abstractions is the magic because the fact that we are able to ever actually complete anything cooperatively is astonishing
 
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Adrenochrome

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Everything that has to do with language is in itself ''magic'', it is a way to transfer thoughts from one person to another or to make thoughts take form in material reality. Following that logic, programming is magic using computers as the reality matrix into which thoughts are transferred. However, because of our increasingly computerized (??) world, our material reality and the matrix of the internet/computers are more and intertwined, giving programming the power to impact our material reality through the computers we use to interface with said reality. Does that make sense? English is not my first language so my writing might be goofy af.
 
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gwen

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NO. it's not magic. if you think it's magic you're a shit programmer. a program is a CLARIFICATION of an idea that makes it so unambiguous and explicit that even the physical universe has to choice but to go along with it. if you think it's magic then you think math is magic, you think physics is magic, you think everything is magic, so what even is magic?

on the other hand if you DO think everything is magic, or that communication in general is magic, then i guess programming is magic. it's a matter of perspective
 

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NO. it's not magic. if you think it's magic you're a shit programmer. a program is a CLARIFICATION of an idea that makes it so unambiguous and explicit that even the physical universe has to choice but to go along with it. if you think it's magic then you think math is magic, you think physics is magic, you think everything is magic, so what even is magic?

on the other hand if you DO think everything is magic, or that communication in general is magic, then i guess programming is magic. it's a matter of perspective
I'll go with ''it's a matter of perspective''. Math are definitely not magic, quite possibly the opposite. Physics aren't magic either since they are observable material facts. I simply think that things like language, music, social interactions etc. are magic in the way that they come from within and manifest observable results from thoughts. Programming in that way manifests thoughts into a matrix that we look upon and live into. I'm not talking about microchips being sigils, just a matter of seeing the world in a less ''materialistic'' way.
 
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bnuungus

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dude the more you get into math the more magic it is. I remember being is differential equations and when we learned about laplace transforms, something where you literally move the equation out of the time domain into a meaningless one, you can just do simple algebra on the equation, move it back to the time domain and it just works? Every single student in that classroom (including me) was in such awe that this was not only possible, but a normal thing in mathematics. I guess it really is just a matter of perspective but that moment of awe about about the reality we live in, that more than anything else, is true magic in my book
 
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Interesting! To me, that would be more akin to prestidigitation since math is, after all, something we made up to explain our surroundings as opposed to something that is within and that we later explain with theory. Still, I agree that it is impressive. My previous boss was an optics physicist and his maths were petty bonkers, even though I had no use whatsoever for them.
 
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bnuungus

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Interesting! To me, that would be more akin to prestidigitation since math is, after all, something we made up to explain our surroundings as opposed to something that is within and that we later explain with theory. Still, I agree that it is impressive. My previous boss was an optics physicist and his maths were petty bonkers, even though I had no use whatsoever for them.
i think this view of mine stems from dabbling in card magic tricks where the greatest satisfaction to me was seeing the audience rethink their entire view on reality. they just witnessed something with their own two eyes that was impossible even though there is an explanation behind it. and honestly the more advanced you get with programming and electricity the more those moments occur so to me it's magic
 
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gwen

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dude the more you get into math the more magic it is. I remember being is differential equations and when we learned about laplace transforms, something where you literally move the equation out of the time domain into a meaningless one, you can just do simple algebra on the equation, move it back to the time domain and it just works? Every single student in that classroom (including me) was in such awe that this was not only possible, but a normal thing in mathematics. I guess it really is just a matter of perspective but that moment of awe about about the reality we live in, that more than anything else, is true magic in my book
i think you're right, i do see this as "magic" in the sense of being like, another layer that's different from but as real as or in some sense even more real than the reality we know, that doesn't depend on us, but that we can tap into to affect the world in amazing ways. like casting a spell or whatever.

i suppose my resistance to calling these things magic is because i have a vague sense that it "personalizes" this impersonal, universal reality, which to me is sort of sacred. like, it makes it about the "magician" in some way, when really everything the practitioner does is based on and comes from this other layer, that's sort of more solid than ours.
 

bnuungus

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i think you're right, i do see this as "magic" in the sense of being like, another layer that's different from but as real as or in some sense even more real than the reality we know, that doesn't depend on us, but that we can tap into to affect the world in amazing ways. like casting a spell or whatever.

i suppose my resistance to calling these things magic is because i have a vague sense that it "personalizes" this impersonal, universal reality, which to me is sort of sacred. like, it makes it about the "magician" in some way, when really everything the practitioner does is based on and comes from this other layer, that's sort of more solid than ours.
well even in that regard magic is just something that the common man doesn't understand about the world. The practitioner of magic is able to do things that the common man previously thought was impossible. Magic even in the traditional sense of wizards fundamentally relies on the fact that the practices done within it are incomprehensible to those not practicing it yet it's still how the world works. So in that regard, yes magic does rely on people to define it and there is a good argument to be made as to whether or not programming is magic. The world works the way it does and we as mere humans will never ever fully understand it so therefore magic will always occur. Those who mess with the unexplainable are the magicians. We will always have those moments where we rethink reality as we know it and I find that to be truly beautiful.
 
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bnuungus

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by "common man" here I mean anyone who hasnt tried to understand reality more than their own personal lives' experiences
 
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