The Best of Creative Computing Volume 1 (published 1976)

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The Life and Times of Multivac

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beings fail to understand it? I have not yet completed the analysis of that

"I have come to you with a problem," said Bakst.

Multivac asked, "What is it?"

Bakst said, "I have spent a great deal of time on mathematical problems inspired
by the study of genes and their combinations. I cannot find the necessary
answers and home-computerization is of no help."

There was an odd clicking and Bast could not repress a slight shiver at the
sudden thought that Multivac might be avoiding a laugh. It was a touch of the
human beyond anything even he was ready to accept. The voice was in his other
year and Multivac said:

"There are six billion different genes in the human cell. Each gene has an
average of perhaps 50 variations in existence and uncounted numbers that have
never been in existence. if we were to attempt to calculate all possible
combinations, the mere listing of them at my fastest speed, if steadily
continued, would, in the longest possible lifetime of the Universe, achieve but
an infinitesimal fraction of the total."

Bakst said, "A complete listing is not needed. That is the point of my game.
Some combinations are more probable than others and by building probability upon
probability, we can cut the task enormously. It is in the manner of achieving
this building of probability upon probability that I ask your help."

"It would still take a great deal of my time. How could I justify this to

Bakst hesitated. No use in trying a complicated selling job. With Multivac, a
straight line was the shortest distance between two points.

He said: "An appropriate

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