Bioethics Blogs

Part II: THE IMITATION GAME meets HOW I CAME TO HATE MATH/ Comment J’ai Détesté Les Maths Moral Relativism vs Beneficence and Justice: Maths and Economics

HOW I CAME TO HATE MATH/ Comment J’ai Détesté Les Maths is a film Directed by Olivier Peyon and written along with Amandine Escoffier. It  is a documentary whose initial purpose seems hijacked by historical events. Its parallel to the fictional historical biopic thriller, THE IMITATION GAME, screened at the Mill Valley Film Festival 2014, need be made. 
 
The MATH story, like in THE IMITATION GAME, begins lightly with young people who are awkward. Some of them, like Alan Turing,  grow into the lovely eccentricity that those who both love and understand maths often bear. Peyton’s film tours the world of elite global mathematics prize winners and its retreats. The viewer has the feeling of watching young Einsteins. The film is initially a celebration of Maths. 

After showing the rarefied air which the theoretical mathematicians breathe, MATHS eases viewers into the world of technical applications of maths. Finally, the story leads to the economic crisis of our current millennium and the misleading mathematical modeling which wrought it. 

Mathematicians, on camera, own the horrific results of their science.  It is reminiscent of Einstein after the the theory of relativity was weaponized. A nausea is shared by many clinicians and other applied scientists as they wade through memory of disasters sometimes mediated by applied theory, particularly when ethical parameters were absent. 

 “Is there any definable method for deciding whether any given mathematical assertion is true or not?”  The procedure for seeking this answer required stating a hypothesis, like any other science.  “If it were true,” Toulman paraphrased  Alan Turing,  ”Any method of ‘routinizing’ mathematical proof can be thought of as a mechanical process.” Then the question was one of ‘simple’ technology “What sort of a “machine” would be needed to carry out such a proof?”   This was how the computer was theorized and developed.  It happened that the resources to build the machine arrived in the form of WWII.  However, the drive, well before the War, was Turing’s theory needing proof.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.