Ada Lovelace

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pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, millennium bug, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Following his repeated procrastinations, the government funding he received was cancelled after the Treasury lost faith in him delivering anything at all. Nor did he write a manual to describe how the Analytical Engine functioned. However, in 1842 the Italian mathematician and military engineer Luigi Menabrea (1809–1896) wrote a description of the machine in French. One year later Countess Ada Lovelace, the daughter of Lord Byron, translated the description into English. Included in her translation was the first computer program ever written, which makes Ada Lovelace the inventor of software. Ada Lovelace (1815–1852) was the only legitimate child of Lord Byron. A month after she was born, her father abandoned her and her mother, and travelled to Italy, where he would ultimately meet up with Percy Bysshe and Mary Shelley by Lake Geneva the following summer. Ada never saw her father again. Lord Byron would die in Greece eight years later, while taking part in the Greek War of Independence.

Babbage was also impressed by her mathematical acumen and used to call her the ‘Enchantress of Numbers’. By annotating her translation of Menabrea’s description of the Analytical Engine,10 Ada Lovelace gave us one of the most significant documents in the history of computing. Impressed with the potential of her friend’s design, she wrote: ‘Mr Babbage believes he can, by his engine, form the product of two numbers, each containing twenty figures, in three minutes.’ She then proceeded to demonstrate how the Analytical Engine would work by writing an executable algorithm that could calculate the sequence of the Bernoulli numbers.11 This algorithm is considered to be the first software program ever written. The Analytical Engine and Ada Lovelace’s ‘first program’ have been subjects of fascination for historians and fiction writers alike. How would the world be today if the British Treasury had not stopped funding Babbage’s dreams and designs?

The influence of mechanical automata in Hoffmann’s work is not surprising – after all, this was the age when the mechanical Turk was touring Europe and setting alight the imagination of writers and artists. Hoffmann’s work, as well as the ballets based on his stories, would later influence two of the most important heroes in the history of Artificial Intelligence, the English mathematician Charles Babbage and Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace. These two would go on to invent the first general-purpose computer and write the first computer program respectively. But the achievements of Babbage and Ada still lay in the future at the time when Byron and his friends delved into Hoffmann’s dark fantasy world. In June 1816, Europe was in ruins following the end of the Napoleonic Wars. Neutral Switzerland was supposed to be a haven, but this Romantic company of friends was stuck indoors in the Villa Diodati, with the rain lashing down outside and little to do but read and talk.


pages: 855 words: 178,507

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood by James Gleick


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, bank run, bioinformatics, Brownian motion, butterfly effect, citation needed, Claude Shannon: information theory, clockwork universe, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Honoré de Balzac, index card, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of the printing press, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Simon Singh, Socratic dialogue, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, stochastic process, talking drums, the High Line, The Wisdom of Crowds, transcontinental railway, Turing machine, Turing test, women in the workforce

♦ “ANY PROCESS WHICH ALTERS THE MUTUAL RELATION”: Note A (by the translator, Ada Lovelace) to L. F. Menabrea, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage,” in Charles Babbage and His Calculating Engines, 247. ♦ “THE ANALYTICAL ENGINE DOES NOT OCCUPY COMMON GROUND”: Ibid., 252. ♦ “THE ENGINE EATING ITS OWN TAIL”: H. Babbage, “The Analytical Engine,” paper read at Bath, 12 September 1888, in Charles Babbage and His Calculating Engines, 331. ♦ “WE EASILY PERCEIVE THAT SINCE EVERY SUCCESSIVE FUNCTION”: Note D (by the translator, Ada Lovelace) to L. F. Menabrea, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage.” ♦ “THAT BRAIN OF MINE”: Ada to Babbage, 5 July 1843, in Betty Alexandra Toole, Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers, 147. ♦ “HOW MULTIFARIOUS AND HOW MUTUALLY COMPLICATED”: Note D (by the translator, Ada Lovelace) to L. F. Menabrea, “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage

“The discovery of the Analytical Engine is so much in advance of my own country, and I fear even of the age,”♦ he said. He met the Sardinian king, Charles Albert, and, more significantly, an ambitious young mathematician named Luigi Menabrea. Later Menabrea was to become a general, a diplomat, and the prime minister of Italy; now he prepared a scientific report, “Notions sur la machine analytique,”♦ to introduce Babbage’s plan to a broader community of European philosophers. As soon as this reached Ada Lovelace, she began translating it into English, correcting errors on the basis of her own knowledge. She did that on her own, without telling either Menabrea or Babbage. When she finally did show Babbage her draft, in 1843, he responded enthusiastically, urging her to write on her own behalf, and their extraordinary collaboration began in earnest. They sent letters by messenger back and forth across London at a ferocious pace—“My Dear Babbage” and “My Dear Lady Lovelace”—and met whenever they could at her home in St.

In PM, as Gödel said, “one can prove any theorem using nothing but a few mechanical rules.”♦ Any theorem: for the system was, or claimed to be, complete. Mechanical rules: for the logic operated inexorably, with no room for varying human interpretation. Its symbols were drained of meaning. Anyone could verify a proof step by step, by following the rules, without understanding it. Calling this quality mechanical invoked the dreams of Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, machines grinding through numbers, and numbers standing for anything at all. Amid the doomed culture of 1930 Vienna, listening to his new friends debate the New Logic, his manner reticent, his eyes magnified by black-framed round spectacles, the twenty-four-year-old Gödel believed in the perfection of the bottle that was PM but doubted whether mathematics could truly be contained. This slight young man turned his doubt into a great and horrifying discovery.


pages: 287 words: 86,919

Protocol: how control exists after decentralization by Alexander R. Galloway


Ada Lovelace, airport security, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, Bretton Woods, computer age, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, discovery of DNA, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, phenotype, post-industrial society, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Stallman, semantic web, SETI@home, stem cell, Steve Crocker, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telerobotics, the market place, theory of mind, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Review, working poor

Chapter 6 184 personal computer, cyberspace, viruses, video games, multimedia,30 and so on—cultural critic Sadie Plant had this to say: “Hardware, software, wetware—before their beginnings and beyond their ends, women have been the simulators, assemblers, and programmers of the digital machines.”31 That the three occupations named here carry less clout then others one can imagine (Engineer, CEO, etc.) does not diminish the strength of Plant’s argument: that computers are, and have always been, a technology of the female. Plant’s coup is the unveiling of Ada Lovelace, a female protagonist drawn from computing prehistory. More on her later. Plant reaches beyond mythmaking—for what else can Lovelace be at this stage in the game—into a complex relationship between women and machines. This relationship, tied up in problematics surrounding identity, technology, and the body, is at the heart of the 1990s movement called cyberfeminism. Cyberfeminism is a type of tactical media.

Stone, on the other hand, focuses on how virtual communities, far from being simple gathering places, actually produce things like bodies, identities, and spaces. Like French feminist Luce Irigaray before her, Plant argues that patriarchal power structures, which have unequally favored men and male forms in society, should be made more equal through a process of revealing and valorizing overlooked female elements. Her book Zeros and Ones turns on the story of Ada Lovelace, the world’s first computer programmer. As assistant to Charles Babbage, Lovelace helped build early calculation machines that many consider critical to the prehistory of computer science. Championing Lovelace over Babbage, Plant’s goal is to recuperate this lost female origin from within the history of technology.36 However, as her manifesto-like “Feminisations: Reflections on Women and Virtual Reality” shows, Plant wishes not to valorize some negative space created by patriarchy, but to unveil the always already feminine space of technology.

This is ultimately a more powerful move, for instead of simply objecting to past inequalities, it reveals how many of those inequalities were unfounded. “Masculine identity has everything to lose from this new technics,” prophesizes Plant. “The sperm count falls as the replicants stir and the meat learns how to learn for itself. Cybernetics is feminisation.”37 The universality of protocol can give feminism something that it never had at its disposal, the obliteration of the masculine from beginning to end. 36. Ada Lovelace’s influence has not been completely lost. Aside from her roles in various science fiction novels, there is the late, eponymous Web art site äda ’web ( and Lynn Hershman Leeson’s film Conceiving Ada. 37. Sadie Plant, “Feminisations: Reflections on Women and Virtual Reality,” in Clicking In, ed. Lynn Hershman Leeson (Seattle: Bay Press, 1996), p. 37. Chapter 6 188 With inspiration from the VNS Matrix (self-styled “saboteurs of Big Daddy Mainframe”), Plant begins to define this pure feminine space and how it can inflect protocological space.


Geek Wisdom by Stephen H. Segal


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, battle of ideas, biofilm, fear of failure, Henri Poincaré, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Mark Zuckerberg, mutually assured destruction, Saturday Night Live, Vernor Vinge

Freud introduced the concept of the id in his 1920 essay “Beyond the Pleasure Principle.” Forbidden Planet, the greatest science-fiction film ever inspired by Shakespeare, explored the id more tangibly in 1956. “ONLY SPARTAN WOMEN GIVE BIRTH TO REAL MEN.” —QUEEN GORGO, 300 “THE ANALYTICAL ENGINE WEAVES ALGEBRAIC PATTERNS, JUST AS THE JACQUARD LOOM WEAVES FLOWERS AND LEAVES.” —ADA LOVELACE, ON CHARLES BABBAGE’S ANALYTICAL ENGINE THE REAL QUEEN GORGO of Sparta was a political mover and shaker on par with the modern age’s most respected power brokers. She was also a geek and early cryptanalyst, helping her fellow Spartans find the code hidden in a chiseled wooden board that warned of impending Persian attack. And, predictably, she may also have been one of the first targets of geek sexism, for she is lauded in many historians’ accounts not for her own (substantial) accomplishments, but primarily for her relationship to the men around her—as the daughter, wife, and mother of kings.

Placed in this female-to-female context, Gorgo’s declaration becomes less a statement on her value in the eyes of men and more subversive—perhaps an encouragement from one woman to another on methods of escaping oppression and gaining power of her own. Gorgo may also have been implying that men can be partners in this process, if they are willing … or pawns, shaped from birth by the power of maternal influence, if not. Nineteenth-century writer Ada Lovelace may be one of the first women to triumph over the historical biases against Queen Gorgo. Though in her lifetime she was most known as the poet Byron’s daughter, today she’s remembered as the world’s first computer programmer. “OUT OF MY WAY. I’M GOING TO SEE MY MOTHER.” —SEPHIROTH, FINAL FANTASY VII SEPHIROTH: BADASS. Super-soldier. Terrifying megalomaniacal mass-murdering sociopath … and mama’s boy.


pages: 298 words: 81,200

Where Good Ideas Come from: The Natural History of Innovation by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, cleantech, complexity theory, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Ernest Rutherford, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, greed is good, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, invention of air conditioning, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, Mercator projection, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, online collectivism, packet switching, PageRank, patent troll, pattern recognition, price mechanism, profit motive, Ray Oldenburg, Richard Florida, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, side project, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, six sigma, Solar eclipse in 1919, spinning jenny, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Good Place, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, transaction costs, urban planning

The Analytical Engine was—on paper, at least—the world’s first programmable computer. Being programmable meant that the machine was fundamentally open-ended; it wasn’t designed for a specific set of tasks, the way the Difference Engine had been optimized for polynomial equations. The Analytical Engine was, like all modern computers, a shape-shifter, capable of reinventing itself based on the instructions conjured by its programmers. (The brilliant mathematician Ada Lovelace, the only daughter of Lord Byron, wrote several sets of instructions for Babbage’s still-vaporware Analytical Engine, earning her the title of the world’s first programmer.) Babbage’s design for the engine anticipated the basic structure of all contemporary computers: “programs” were to be inputted via punch cards, which had been invented decades before to control textile looms; instructions and data were captured in a “store,” the equivalent of what we now call random access memory, or RAM; and calculations were executed via a system that Babbage called “the mill,” using industrial-era language to describe what we now call the central processing unit, or CPU.

Unlike all modern computers, Babbage’s machine was to be composed entirely of mechanical gears and switches, staggering in their number and in the intricacy of their design. Information flowed through the system as a constant ballet of metal objects shifting positions in carefully choreographed movements. It was a maintenance nightmare, but more than that, it was bound to be hopelessly slow. Babbage bragged to Ada Lovelace that he believed the machine would be able to multiply two twenty-digit numbers in three minutes. Even if he was right—Babbage wouldn’t have been the first tech entrepreneur to exaggerate his product’s performance—that kind of processing time would have made executing more complicated programs torturously slow. The first computers of the digital age could perform the same calculation in a matter of seconds.

REVOLVER (1836) Improving upon the flintlock firing mechanism, in 1836 American inventor Samuel Colt designed and patented the revolver, a handgun that featured a rotating cylinder with multiple chambers for bullets. PROGRAMMABLE COMPUTER (1837) Although a working version was never built, Charles Babbage outlined the basic principles of the programmable computer—including the notions of what we now call software, CPU, and memory—in his legendary Analytical Engine, which he first published a description of in 1837. Lord Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer algorithm for the device. TELEGRAPH (1838) In an effort to improve clumsier, five-wire models of the telegraph, inventor Samuel Morse and his assistant Alfred Vail created a one-wire model that used electric signals to shift an electromagnet in a patterned print across paper, known as Morse code. PHOTOGRAPHY (1839) Most historians credit French chemist Louis Daguerre with developing the first practical photographic process, which involved fixing images on copper places covered in a chemical substance by exposing them to light.


pages: 210 words: 62,771

Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science by Chris Bernhardt


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, British Empire, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, Conway's Game of Life, discrete time, Douglas Hofstadter, Georg Cantor, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John Conway, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Norbert Wiener, Paul Erdős, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture

Although Turing’s definition has an elegant simplicity, the other definitions, though equivalent, give us different vantage points from which to view computation. As we commented before, things that are difficult to see from one viewpoint become easier from another. We will look at some of these ideas in the next chapter. 5 Other Systems for Computation “We may say most aptly, that the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard-loom weaves flowers and leaves.” Ada Lovelace In 1823, with substantial funding from the British government, Charles Babbage began the construction of his first “Difference Engine.” The mathematical tables of the time contained many errors that were caused by human computers. Babbage’s Difference Engine was to be a mechanical calculator. It would provide a quicker, cheaper, and more accurate way of generating these tables. Babbage drew the plans for the machine, but employed an engineer, Joseph Clement, to actually build it.

Its most important and innovative feature was that it could be programmed using punched cards. This was an idea that he borrowed from mechanical looms. In 1801, Joseph-Marie Jacquard had designed a mechanical loom that could weave intricate patterns based on operations controlled by a sequence of punched cards. Babbage realized he could use the same idea for his machine. He had designed the programmable computer. Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace, now usually known as just Ada Lovelace, was the daughter of the poet Lord Byron. Her mother, concerned about the mental instability in Lord Byron’s family, decided that her daughter should study mathematics to help build her mental defenses. This, along with the fact that she had a natural talent for mathematics, resulted in Lovelace being tutored and mentored by some of the best mathematicians of the time. It was natural that she and Babbage would meet.


pages: 250 words: 73,574

Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future: The Ingenious Ideas That Drive Today's Computers by John MacCormick, Chris Bishop


Ada Lovelace, AltaVista, Claude Shannon: information theory, fault tolerance, information retrieval, Menlo Park, PageRank, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush

So the next time you enjoy some high-definition satellite TV on the weekend, spare a thought for this delicious irony: it was the frustration of Richard Hamming's weekend battle with an early computer that led to our own weekend entertainment today. 6 Pattern Recognition: Learning from Experience The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform. —ADA LOVELACE, from her 1843 notes on the Analytical Engine In each previous chapter, we've looked at an area in which the ability of computers far outstrips the ability of humans. For example, a computer can typically encrypt or decrypt a large file within a second or two, whereas it would take a human many years to perform the same computations by hand. For an even more extreme example, imagine how long it would take a human to manually compute the PageRank of billions of web pages according to the algorithm described in chapter 3.

Thus, pattern recognition can be defined more generally as the task of getting computers to act “intelligently” based on input data that contains a lot of variability. The word “intelligently” is in quotation marks here for good reason: the question of whether computers can ever exhibit true intelligence is highly controversial. The opening quotation of this chapter represents one of the earliest salvos in this debate: Ada Lovelace commenting, in 1843, on the design of an early mechanical computer called the Analytical Engine. Lovelace is sometimes described as the world's first computer programmer because of her profound insights about the Analytical Engine. But in this pronouncement, she emphasizes that computers lack originality: they must slavishly follow the instructions of their human programmers. These days, computer scientists disagree on whether computers can, in principle, exhibit intelligence.


pages: 242 words: 68,019

Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, From Atoms to Economies by Cesar Hidalgo


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, Skype, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, transaction costs, working-age population

* Though often not in the traditional language of economics. 4 Out of Our Heads! We talk much of imagination. We talk of the imagination of poets, the imagination of artists, and I am inclined to think that in general we don’t know very much exactly what we are talking about. It is [that] which penetrates into the unseen worlds around us, the worlds of science. It is that which feels and discovers what is, the real which we see not, which exists not for our senses. —ADA LOVELACE That’s all the motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel. There’s no part in it, no shape in it, that is not out of someone’s mind. —ROBERT M. PIRSIG Consider two types of apples: those that grow on trees and you buy at the supermarket, and those that are designed in Silicon Valley. Both are traded in the economy, and both embody information, whether in biological cells or silicon chips.

Faraday is credited with the invention of the electric motor, which was later perfected by Tesla. So when we blow-dry our hair, vacuum our floors, or make a daiquiri in a blender, we are receiving a favor from none other than Michael Faraday, someone whom we, our parents, and even our grandparents are unlikely to have met. The economy is the system that amplified the practical uses of the knowledge that was developed and accumulated in Faraday’s brain—and which was inspired in part by Ada Lovelace.2 Faraday’s ghost, therefore, lives in all electrical products, together with those of Lovelace, Tesla, Edison, Maxwell, and many other great scientists whom we know only through their work. Ultimately, the world of products is more social than what we would naively imagine, and in a deep metaphorical sense it is a world that is populated densely by ghosts. These ghosts are the information begotten by others that survives embodied in objects, and also in us.


pages: 696 words: 143,736

The Age of Spiritual Machines: When Computers Exceed Human Intelligence by Ray Kurzweil


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, fudge factor, George Gilder, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, information retrieval, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Whole Earth Review, Y2K

“I am thinking that all these tables might be calculated by machinery!” Babbage replied. From that moment on, Babbage devoted most of his waking hours to an unprecedented vision: the world’s first programmable computer. Although based entirely on the mechanical technology of the nineteenth century, Babbage’s “Analytical Engine” was a remarkable foreshadowing of the modem computer.1 Babbage developed a liaison with the beautiful Ada Lovelace, the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, the poet. She became as obsessed with the project as Babbage, and contributed many of the ideas for programming the machine, including the invention of the programming loop and the subroutine. She was the world’s first software engineer, indeed the only software engineer prior to the twentieth century. Lovelace significantly extended Babbage’s ideas and wrote a paper on programming techniques, sample programs, and the potential of this technology to emulate intelligent human activities.

Alu A meaningless sequence of 300 nucleotide letters that occurs 300,000 times in the human genome. Analog A quantity that is continuously varying, as opposed to varying in discrete steps. Most phenomena in the natural world are analog. When we measure and give them a numeric value, we digitize them. The human brain uses both digital and analog computation. Analytical Engine The first programmable computer, created in the 1840s by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace. The Analytical Engine had a random access memory (RAM) consisting of one thousand words of fifty decimal digits each, a central processing unit, a special storage unit for software, and a printer. Although it foreshadowed modern computers, Babbage’s invention never worked. Angel Capital Refers to funds available for investment by networks of wealthy investors who invest in start-up companies.

Stan Augarten, Bit by Bit: An Illustrated History of Computers (New York: Ticknor and Fields, 1984): 63-64. Babbage describes the features of his machine in “On the Mathematical Powers of the Calculating Engine,” written in 1837 and reprinted as appendix B in Anthony Hyman’s Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). For biographical information on Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, see Hyman’s biography, and Dorothy Stein’s book Ada: A Life and a Legacy (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1985). 2 Stan Augarten, Bit by Bit, 63-64. Babbage’s description of the Analytical Engine in “On the Mathematical Powers of the Calculating Engine,” written in 1837, is reprinted as appendix B in Anthony Hyman’s Charles Babbage: Pioneer of the Computer (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982). 3 Joel Shurkin, in Engines of the Mind, p. 104, describes Aiken’s machine as “an electromechanical Analytical Engine with IBM card handling.”


pages: 370 words: 94,968

The Most Human Human: What Talking With Computers Teaches Us About What It Means to Be Alive by Brian Christian


4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Bertrand Russell: In Praise of Idleness, carbon footprint, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, complexity theory, crowdsourcing, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, high net worth, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, job automation, l'esprit de l'escalier, Loebner Prize, Menlo Park, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Skype, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

The raison-d’être-less-ness of computers, in this sense, seems to chip away at the existentialist idea of humans’ unique purchase on the idea of existence before essence. In other words, another rewriting of The Sentence may be in order: our machines, it would seem, are just as “universal” as we are. Pretensions to Originate Although computer science tends to be thought of as a traditionally male-dominated field, the world’s first programmer was a woman. The 1843 writings of Ada Lovelace (1815–52, and who was, incidentally, the daughter of poet Lord Byron) on the computer, or “Analytical Engine,” as it was then called, are the wellspring of almost all modern arguments about computers and creativity. Turing devotes an entire section of his Turing test proposal to what he calls “Lady Lovelace’s Objection.” Specifically, the following passage from her 1843 writings: “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything.

Hofstadter, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (New York: Basic Books, 1979). 8 Mark Humphrys, “How My Program Passed the Turing Test,” in Parsing the Turing Test, edited by Robert Epstein et al. (New York: Springer, 2008). 9 V. S. Ramachandran and Sandra Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain: Probing the Mysteries of the Human Mind (New York: William Morrow, 1998). 10 Alan Turing, “On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem,” Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society, 1937, 2nd ser., 42, no. 1 (1937), pp. 230–65. 11 Ada Lovelace’s remarks come from her translation (and notes thereupon) of Luigi Federico Menabrea’s “Sketch of the Analytical Engine Invented by Charles Babbage, Esq.,” in Scientific Memoirs, edited by Richard Taylor (London, 1843). 12 Alan Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind 59, no. 236 (October 1950), pp. 433–60. 13 For more on the idea of “radical choice,” see, e.g., Sartre, “Existentialism Is a Humanism,” especially Sartre’s discussion of a painter wondering “what painting ought he to make” and a student who came to ask Sartre’s advice about an ethical dilemma. 14 Aristotle’s arguments: See, e.g., The Nicomachean Ethics. 15 For a publicly traded company: Nobel Prize winner, and (says the Economist) “the most influential economist of the second half of the 20th century,” Milton Friedman wrote a piece in the New York Times Magazine in 1970 titled “The Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits.”


pages: 322 words: 88,197

Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson


Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Book of Ingenious Devices, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, colonial exploitation, computer age, conceptual framework, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Drosophila, Fellow of the Royal Society, game design, global village, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, HyperCard, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telegraph, Islamic Golden Age, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Landlord's Game, lone genius, megacity, Minecraft, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition,, placebo effect, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit motive, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Oldenburg, spice trade, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, talking drums, the built environment, The Great Good Place, the scientific method, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, Victor Gruen, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Wunderkammern

But I have also advanced one stage further and without making all the cards, I have communicated through the same means orders to follow certain laws in the use of those cards and thus the Calculating Engine can solve any equations, eliminate between any number of variables and perform the highest operations of analysis. Babbage borrowed a tool designed to weave colorful patterns of fabric, which was itself borrowed from a tool for generating patterns of musical notes, and put it to work doing a new kind of labor: mechanical calculation. When his collaborator Ada Lovelace famously observed that Babbage’s analytical engine could be used not just for math but potentially for “composing elaborate . . . pieces of music,” she was, knowingly or not, bringing Babbage’s machine back to its roots, back to the “Instrument Which Plays by Itself” and Vaucanson’s flute player. Always one to celebrate his influences, Babbage managed to acquire one of the silk portraits of Jacquard and displayed it prominently in his Marylebone home alongside Merlin’s dancer and his Difference Engine.

., 2011). “We wish to explain,” the brothers: Imad Samir, Allah’s Automata: Artifacts of the Arab-Islamic Renaissance (800-1200) (Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2015), 68–86. “Using the Jacquard loom”: James Essinger, Jacquard’s Web: How a Hand-Loom Led to the Birth of the Information Age (New York: Oxford University Press, Kindle edition), 38. “You are aware”: Essinger, 47. When his collaborator Ada Lovelace: Quoted in Johnson, How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World, 249. A roster of instruments: Tim Carter, “A Florentine Wedding of 1608,” Acta Musicologica 55, Fasc. 1 (1983), 95. The chips might have followed: It would seem that typewriter-style keyboards are a condition of possibility for advanced computers, almost the way capturing and transmitting electricity was a condition of possibility for the lightbulb.


pages: 528 words: 146,459

Computer: A History of the Information Machine by Martin Campbell-Kelly, William Aspray, Nathan L. Ensmenger, Jeffrey R. Yost


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, barriers to entry, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, Byte Shop, card file, cashless society, cloud computing, combinatorial explosion, computer age, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, financial independence, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, garden city movement, Grace Hopper, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of the wheel, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John von Neumann, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, pirate software, popular electronics, prediction markets, pre–internet, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, Robert X Cringely, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, the market place, Turing machine, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight, women in the workforce, young professional

One should note, however, that the extent of Lovelace’s intellectual contribution to the Sketch has been much exaggerated. She has been pronounced the world’s first programmer and even had a programming language (Ada) named in her honor. Later scholarship has shown that most of the technical content and all of the programs in the Sketch were Babbage’s work. But even if the Sketch were based almost entirely on Babbage’s ideas, there is no question that Ada Lovelace provided its voice. Her role as the prime expositor of the Analytical Engine was of enormous importance to Babbage, and he described her, without any trace of condescension, as his “dear and much admired Interpreter.” Shortly after his return from Italy, Babbage once again began to negotiate with the British government for funding of the Analytical Engine. By this time there had been a change of government, and a new prime minister, Robert Peel, was in office.

On 6 May 1949, a thin ribbon of paper containing the program was loaded into the computer; half a minute later the teleprinter sprang to life and began to print 1, 4, 9, 16, 25. . . . The world’s first practical stored-program computer had come to life, and with it the dawn of the computer age. FROM BABBAGE’S DIFFERENCE ENGINE TO SYSTEM/360 In 1820 the English mathematician Charles Babbage invented the Difference Engine, the first fully automatic computing machine. Babbage’s friend Ada Lovelace wrote a Sketch of the Analytical Engine (1843), which was the best description of the machine until recent times. In the 1970s the programming language Ada was named in Lovelace’s honor. BABBAGE PORTRAIT AND DIFFERENCE ENGINE COURTESY OF CHARLES BABBAGE INSTITUTE, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA; LOVELACE PORTRAIT COURTESY OF SCIENCE MUSEUM, LONDON. The Central Telegraph Office, London, routed telegrams between British provincial towns.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E

Babbage never finished the construction of his devices, although working machines have recently been built based on his designs. His Difference Engine (designed in 1822) would carry out basic mathematical functions, and the Analytical Engine (design never completed) would carry out general purpose computation. It would accept as inputs the outputs of previous computations recorded on punch cards. Babbage’s collaborator Ada Lovelace has been described as the world’s first computer programmer thanks to some of the algorithms she created for the Analytical Engine. The first electronic digital computer was the Colossus, built by code-breakers at Bletchley Park (although not by Turing). But the first general-purpose computer to be completed was ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer), built at the Moore School of Electrical Engineering in Philadelphia, and unveiled in 1946.


pages: 238 words: 46

When Things Start to Think by Neil A. Gershenfeld


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Bretton Woods, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Dynabook, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, invention of movable type, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, means of production, new economy, Nick Leeson, packet switching, RFID, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telemarketer, the medium is the message, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush

Babbage oversaw the construction of a small version of the Difference Engine before the project collapsed due to management problems, lack of funding, and the difficulty of fabricating such complex mechanisms to the required tolerances. But these mundane details didn't stop him from turning to an even more ambitious project, the Analytical Engine. This was to be a machine that could reason with abstract concepts and not just numbers. Babbage and his accomplice, Lady Ada Lovelace, realized that an engine could just as well manipulate the symbols of a mathematical formula. Its mechanism could embody the rules for, say, calculus and punch out the result of a derivation. As Lady Lovelace put it, "the Analytical Engine weaves algebraical patterns just as the Jacquard Loom weaves flowers and leaves." Although Babbage's designs were correct, following them went well beyond the technological means of his day.


pages: 239 words: 68,598

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James E. Lovelock


Ada Lovelace, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, continuous integration, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, discovery of DNA, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Henri Poincaré, mandelbrot fractal, megacity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, planetary scale, short selling, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

Even Gaia theory was discovered in the fertile environment of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and the one biologist who understood it and developed it further was that eminent American scientist Lynn Margulis. Of course, advances in science and technology emerged in Europe in the Middle Ages and moved its centre of excellence among the nations. In computer technology and theory Babbage, Ada Lovelace and that most tragic of men Alan Turing all did the groundwork here in the UK. Turing was the one who with his group built the first serious computing device and used it to deconvolute the otherwise unbreakable code of our wartime enemies. But that was then. Now America is at the centre of science. I make this paean of praise to the United States of America because I am puzzled that, despite its scientific excellence, this of all nations was among the slowest to perceive the threat of global heating.


pages: 271 words: 77,448

Humans Are Underrated: What High Achievers Know That Brilliant Machines Never Will by Geoff Colvin


Ada Lovelace, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Black Swan, call centre, capital asset pricing model, computer age, corporate governance, deskilling,, Freestyle chess, future of work, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, job automation, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Narrative Science, new economy, rising living standards, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs

I hate to pile it on, but in addition to women’s considerable advantages in an economy that increasingly values empathy, collaboration, and relationships, men have another reason to worry. Besides losing in competition with women, they are likely to lose disproportionately in competition with technology. This seems odd, considering that men, on average, are attracted to technology and have been, on average, the sex most responsible for the technology revolution. Of course, a number of computer pioneers were unsung women—Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Jean Jennings, to name a few—who are only beginning to get the recognition they deserve. But it’s undeniable that the industry has been and remains dominated by men, a situation that many companies, schools, and governments worldwide are trying to remedy. Yet the surprising new trend is that for men in general, technology’s advance is becoming a problem. That’s because in the systemizers-versus-empathizers model, systemizing is exactly what technology is taking over.


pages: 257 words: 80,100

Time Travel: A History by James Gleick


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, augmented reality, butterfly effect, crowdsourcing, Doomsday Book, index card, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, self-driving car, Stephen Hawking, telepresence, wikimedia commons

In the 1860s, as railroad trains chugged across the countryside and sailing ships gave way to steam, he imagined vessels traveling under the sea, across the skies, to the center of the earth, and to the moon. We would say he was a man ahead of his time—he had an awareness, a sensibility, suited to a later era. Edgar Allan Poe was ahead of his time. The Victorian mathematician Charles Babbage and his protégé Ada Lovelace, forerunners of modern computing, were ahead of their time. Jules Verne was so far ahead of his time that he could never even find a publisher for his most futuristic book, Paris au XXe siècle, a dystopia featuring gas-powered cars, “boulevards lit as brightly as by the sun,” and machine warfare. The manuscript, handwritten in a yellow notebook, turned up in 1989, when a locksmith cracked open a long-sealed family safe.


pages: 469 words: 97,582

QI: The Second Book of General Ignorance by Lloyd, John, Mitchinson, John


Ada Lovelace, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, clean water, double helix, Etonian, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murano, Venice glass, out of africa, the built environment, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman

Asked by MPs whether his machine would still produce the right answers even if wrong figures were entered, he replied, ‘I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question.’ Despite patenting the cowcatcher for locomotives, and a pair of shears that made the metal tips for shoelaces, Babbage died embittered and forgotten. He had failed to find the money to build his greatest invention, a computer in the modern sense, with a memory and a printer, run by a programme that used punched cards. This first programming ‘language’ was the work of Ada Lovelace (1815–52), daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who understood the potential of Babbage’s work even better than he did, predicting (in the 1840s) that computers would one day play chess and music. Using Babbage’s plans, two Swedish engineers, George and Edward Schuetz, completed the first prototype of what Babbage called his ‘Difference Engine’ in 1853. The father and son team not only built the first working computer of modern times, they sold two – one to an observatory in New York and the other to the Registrar-General’s office in London.


pages: 317 words: 84,400

Automate This: How Algorithms Came to Rule Our World by Christopher Steiner


23andMe, Ada Lovelace, airport security, Al Roth, algorithmic trading, backtesting, big-box store, Black-Scholes formula, call centre, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Sergey Aleynikov, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, speech recognition, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y Combinator

Without it, the execution of endlessly complex algorithms—the kinds that now change the world every day—would be impossible. Boole’s ideas did not set the world on fire after he published. Few Britons, including the country’s mathematicians, were familiar with logic theory. And there was no obvious way to apply what’s now called Boolean algebra without machines or computers capable of reading algorithms. That’s not to say nobody tried. Perhaps the most important was Ada Lovelace, who, aside from being a female math scholar in a time when few women were allowed to study, is often recognized as the first hacker. In 1842, while documenting Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine, a mechanical computing machine that Babbage never completed, Lovelace devised several different inputs that, theoretically, would make the machine perform certain calculations and tasks. In doing so, Lovelace had composed the first algorithm meant for a machine.


pages: 594 words: 165,413

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy


Ada Lovelace, cuban missile crisis, financial independence, impulse control, LNG terminal, trade route, Upton Sinclair

It was enough to make Tyler's leg ache where it met the metal-plastic prothesis. He was used to that. Tyler was sitting at a control console. He had just finished a trial run of his program, named MORAY after the vicious eel that inhabited oceanic reefs. Skip Tyler was proud of his programming ability. He' d taken the old dinosaur program from the files of the Taylor Lab, adapted it to the common Defense Department computer language, ADA—named for Lady Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron—and then tightened it up. For most people this would have been a month's work. He'd done it in four days, working almost around the clock not only because the money was an attractive incentive but also because the project was a professional challenge. He ended the job quietly satisfied that he could still meet an impossible deadline with time to spare. It was eight in the evening.


pages: 434 words: 135,226

The Music of the Primes by Marcus Du Sautoy


Ada Lovelace, Andrew Wiles, Arthur Eddington, Augustin-Louis Cauchy, computer age, Dava Sobel, Dmitri Mendeleev, Eratosthenes, Erdős number, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, music of the spheres, New Journalism, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Simon Singh, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Turing machine, William of Occam, Wolfskehl Prize, Y2K

‘The loom is capable of weaving any design which the imagination of man may conceive,’ he marvelled. If this machine could produce any pattern, then why couldn’t he build a machine that could be fed a card to tell it to perform any mathematical computation? His blueprint for the Analytical Engine, as he named it, was a forerunner of Turing’s plan for a universal machine. It was the poet Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace, who recognised the enormous programming potential of Babbage’s machine. While translating into French a copy of Babbage’s paper describing the machine, she couldn’t resist adding some extra notes to extol the machine’s capability. ‘We may say most aptly that the Analytical Engine weaves Algebraic patterns, just as the Jacquard loom weaves flowers and leaves.’ Her notes included many different programs that could be implemented on Babbage’s new machine, even though the machine was purely theoretical and had never been built.


pages: 463 words: 118,936

Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson


Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, British Empire, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, Danny Hillis, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture

The three-ton device “flawlessly performed its first major calculation,” and “affirmed that Babbage’s failures were ones of practical accomplishment, not of design.”22 Babbage associated with the famous and powerful of his day (“I . . . regularly attended his famous evening parties,” recalled Charles Darwin)23 and held Isaac Newton’s Lucasian chair at Cambridge University from 1828 to 1839. His most celebrated collaboration was with the mathematically gifted Lady Augusta Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and protégée not only of Babbage but, to a lesser extent, of logician Augustus de Morgan, who was at the same time encouraging work on the Laws of Thought by George Boole. Lovelace’s extensive notes, appended to her translation of Luigi Menabrea’s description of the analytical engine (compiled after Babbage’s visit to Italy in 1841 as a guest of the future prime minister) convey the potential she saw in Babbage’s machine.


pages: 523 words: 143,139

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths


4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, double helix, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, first-price auction, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Henri Poincaré, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator

Hollerith’s firm merged with several others: Austrian, Herman Hollerith. first code ever written for a “stored program” computer: “Written,” here, means literally written out by hand: when the renowned mathematician John von Neumann jotted down the sorting program in 1945, the computer it was meant for was still several years away from completion. Although computer programs in general date back to Ada Lovelace’s writing in 1843 on the proposed “Analytical Engine” of Charles Babbage, von Neumann’s program was the first one designed to be stored in the memory of the computer itself; earlier computing machines were meant to be guided by punch cards fed into them, or wired for specific calculations. See Knuth, “Von Neumann’s First Computer Program.” outsort IBM’s dedicated card-sorting machines: Ibid.


pages: 1,201 words: 233,519

Coders at Work by Peter Seibel


Ada Lovelace, bioinformatics, cloud computing, Conway's Game of Life, domain-specific language, fault tolerance, Fermat's Last Theorem, Firefox, George Gilder, glass ceiling, HyperCard, information retrieval, loose coupling, Menlo Park, Metcalfe's law, premature optimization, publish or perish, random walk, revision control, Richard Stallman, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, side project, slashdot, speech recognition, the scientific method, Therac-25, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, type inference, Valgrind, web application

Both of my moms, biological and in-law, came on visits to watch the the kid and let me get some extra work done; my parents gave my wife and kid a place to escape for a week so I could make another big push. And most of all, thanks to the wife and kid themselves: Lily and Amelia, while I may occasionally need some time to myself to do the work, without you guys in my life, it wouldn't be worth doing. I love you. Introduction Leaving aside the work of Ada Lovelace—the 19th century countess who devised algorithms for Charles Babbage's never-completed Analytical Engine—computer programming has existed as a human endeavor for less than one human lifetime: it has been only 68 years since Konrad Zuse unveiled his Z3 electro-mechanical computer in 1941, the first working general-purpose computer. And it's been only 64 years since six women—Kay Antonelli, Jean Bartik, Betty Holberton, Marlyn Meltzer, Frances Spence, and Ruth Teitelbaum—were pulled from the ranks of the U.S.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, Copley Medal, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, Etonian, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John Harrison: Longitude, music of the spheres, placebo effect, polynesian navigation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Solar eclipse in 1919, Stephen Hawking, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, trade route, unbiased observer, University of East Anglia, éminence grise

Mathematician and brilliant interpreter and populariser of science for adults, especially with her broad survey of current scientific trends, On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences (1834). She translated (and clarified) Laplace’s Mécanique Céleste as The Mechanism of the Heavens (1831), and with Caroline Herschel was elected one of the first two women Fellows of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1835. She also tutored Byron’s daughter Ada Lovelace (1815-52) in mathematics. A powerful hostess in Victorian scientific circles, she was awarded the Victoria Medal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1869. The first women’s college in Oxford, Somerville - now co-educational - was named after her. ROBERT SOUTHEY, 1774-1830. Poet, critic and notable biographer. A good friend to young Davy at Bristol, he eagerly discussed the early relations between Romantic science and poetry, but was soon overtaken by the work and influence of Coleridge.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

We are, like everything else, also its product. This conceptual shift is important to how we hope to consider reforming The Stack. One of Turing's signal achievements is to show that an artificial “machine” could approach, and even approximate, the scope of natural computation, as defined in a particular way. His innovation was the specific pairing of formal logic with industrial technology that was, even after Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's Victorian-era calculating machines, by no means obvious in its implications. For measuring the significance of that pairing in relation to The Stack, it is important to distinguish the limits of formal computation, on the one hand, from what the limits of actual computational technologies can really do, on the other. These are two very different kinds of limits. While Turing's hypothetical machine demonstrated the mathematical limits of formal computability, it also demonstrated that any problems that could be captured and expressed symbolically through a reduction to rational integers (which likely describes the vast plurality of things and events in the world as representable by intelligent creatures) could be simulated and solved by a machine engineered to do so, given enough time, materials, and energy.


pages: 1,758 words: 342,766

Code Complete (Developer Best Practices) by Steve McConnell


Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, choice architecture, continuous integration, data acquisition, database schema, fault tolerance, Grace Hopper, haute cuisine, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, index card, inventory management, iterative process, late fees, loose coupling, Menlo Park, place-making, premature optimization, revision control, slashdot, sorting algorithm, statistical model, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Turing machine, web application

Ada Ada is a general-purpose, high-level programming language based on Pascal. It was developed under the aegis of the Department of Defense and is especially well suited to real-time and embedded systems. Ada emphasizes data abstraction and information hiding and forces you to differentiate between the public and private parts of each class and package. "Ada" was chosen as the name of the language in honor of Ada Lovelace, a mathematician who is considered to have been the world's first programmer. Today, Ada is used primarily in military, space, and avionics systems. Assembly Language Assembly language, or "assembler," is a kind of low-level language in which each statement corresponds to a single machine instruction. Because the statements use specific machine instructions, an assembly language is specific to a particular processor— for example, specific Intel or Motorola CPUs.


The Dream Machine: J.C.R. Licklider and the Revolution That Made Computing Personal by M. Mitchell Waldrop


Ada Lovelace, air freight, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Apple II, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, Byte Shop, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, conceptual framework, cuban missile crisis, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, fault tolerance, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Rulifson, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Silicon Valley, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture, Wiener process

Babbage's marvelously intricate array of brass gears was never built, unfortunately, largely due to a lack of funding and the difficulty of fab- ricating precise enough parts. Nonetheless, his patroness Augusta Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace (and daughter of Lord Byron), wrote a number of programs for the machine to demonstrate its potential power. Moreover, Babbage's surviving designs show that his Analytical Engine would indeed have worked; today, Ada Lovelace is widely honored as the first programmer, and Charles Babbage is like- wise revered as the spiritual father of modern computing. It is certainly true that Howard Aiken, who had come across Babbage's biography in the mid-1930s, when almost no one in the United States had ever heard of him, considered himselfBab- bage's spiritual heir. Aiken began design work on his automatic calculating machine in 1937, when he was thirty-seven (he had worked for more than ten years as an electrical engi- neer at Westinghouse before going back to school to get a doctorate in physics).