Ada Lovelace

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pages: 720 words: 197,129

The Innovators: How a Group of Inventors, Hackers, Geniuses and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution by Walter Isaacson

1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Apple II, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, beat the dealer, Bill Gates: Altair 8800, bitcoin, Bob Noyce, Buckminster Fuller, Byte Shop, c2.com, call centre, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, commoditize, computer age, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Debian, desegregation, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, en.wikipedia.org, Firefox, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, Howard Rheingold, Hush-A-Phone, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, Mother of all demos, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, PageRank, Paul Terrell, pirate software, popular electronics, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFC: Request For Comment, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, speech recognition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Crocker, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, wikimedia commons, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

“Human ingenuity,” wrote Leonardo da Vinci, whose Vitruvian Man became the ultimate symbol of the intersection of art and science, “will never devise any inventions more beautiful, nor more simple, nor more to the purpose than Nature does.” There is, however, yet another possibility, one that Ada Lovelace would like, which is based on the half century of computer development in the tradition of Vannevar Bush, J. C. R. Licklider, and Doug Engelbart. HUMAN-COMPUTER SYMBIOSIS: “WATSON, COME HERE” “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions whatever to originate anything,” Ada Lovelace declared. “It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.” In her mind, machines would not replace humans but instead become their partners. What humans would bring to this relationship, she said, was originality and creativity. This was the idea behind an alternative to the quest for pure artificial intelligence: pursuing instead the augmented intelligence that occurs when machines become partners with people.

In addition to sources cited below, this section also draws on Joan Baum, The Calculating Passion of Ada Byron (Archon, 1986); William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, The Difference Engine (Bantam, 1991); Dorothy Stein, Ada (MIT Press, 1985); Doron Swade, The Difference Engine (Viking, 2001); Betty Toole, Ada: Prophet of the Computer Age (Strawberry, 1998); Benjamin Woolley, The Bride of Science (Macmillan, 1999); Jeremy Bernstein, The Analytical Engine (Morrow, 1963); James Gleick, The Information (Pantheon, 2011), chapter 4. Unless otherwise noted, quotes from Ada’s letters rely on the Toole transcriptions. Writers about Ada Lovelace range from canonizers to debunkers. The most sympathetic books are those by Toole, Woolley, and Baum; the most scholarly and balanced is Stein’s. For a debunking of Ada Lovelace, see Bruce Collier, “The Little Engines That Could’ve,” PhD dissertation, Harvard, 1970, http://robroy.dyndns.info/collier/. He writes, “She was a manic depressive with the most amazing delusions about her talents. . . . Ada was as mad as a hatter, and contributed little more to the ‘Notes’ than trouble.” 2.

Lady Byron’s first cousin Viscount Melbourne (who had the misfortune of having been married to Lady Caroline Lamb, by then deceased) was the prime minister, and he arranged that, in Queen Victoria’s coronation list of honors, William would become the Earl of Lovelace. His wife thus became Ada, Countess of Lovelace. She is therefore properly referred to as Ada or Lady Lovelace, though she is now commonly known as Ada Lovelace. That Christmas of 1835, Ada received from her mother the family’s life-size portrait of her father. Painted by Thomas Phillips, it showed Lord Byron in romantic profile, gazing at the horizon, dressed in traditional Albanian costume featuring a red velvet jacket, ceremonial sword, and headdress. For years it had hung over Ada’s grandparents’ mantelpiece, but it had been veiled by a green cloth from the day her parents had separated.


pages: 337 words: 103,522

The Creativity Code: How AI Is Learning to Write, Paint and Think by Marcus Du Sautoy

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Alvin Roth, Andrew Wiles, Automated Insights, Benoit Mandelbrot, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, Donald Trump, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Fellow of the Royal Society, Flash crash, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, Jacquard loom, John Conway, Kickstarter, Loebner Prize, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, music of the spheres, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Peter Thiel, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Rubik’s Cube, Second Machine Age, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons

Studying Babbage’s plans some years later for the Analytical Engine, it dawned on Ada, now married to the Earl of Lovelace, that this was more than just a number cruncher. She began to record what it might be capable of. ‘The Analytical Engine does not occupy common ground with mere “calculating machines.” It holds a position wholly its own, and the considerations it suggests are more interesting in their nature.’ Ada Lovelace’s notes are now recognised as the first inroads into the creation of code. That kernel of an idea has blossomed into the artificial intelligence revolution that is sweeping the world today, fuelled by the work of pioneers like Alan Turing, Marvin Minsky and Donald Michie. Yet Lovelace was cautious as to how much any machine could achieve: ‘It is desirable to guard against the possibility of exaggerated ideas that might arise as to the powers of the Analytical Engine.

It turns out you don’t have to solve intelligence first. You can allow algorithms to roam the digital landscape and learn just as a child does. Today’s code created by machine learning is making surprisingly insightful moves, spotting previously undiscovered features in medical images, and investing in shrewd trades on the stock market. This generation of coders believes it can finally prove Ada Lovelace wrong: that you can get more out than you programmed in. Yet there is still one realm of human endeavour that we believe the machines will never be able to touch, and that is creativity. We have this extraordinary ability to imagine and innovate and to create works of art that elevate, expand and transform what it means to be human. These are the outpourings of what I call the human code. This is code that we believe depends on being human because it is a reflection of what it means to be human.

Surely these are traits that can never be programmed into a machine. Or can they? This is why, as a mathematician, I am attentive to how successful the new AI is being in gaining entry to the world’s galleries, concert halls and publishing houses. The great German mathematician Karl Weierstrass once wrote: ‘a mathematician that is not something of a poet will never be a true mathematician.’ As Ada Lovelace perfectly encapsulates, you need a bit of Byron as much as Babbage. Although she thought machines were limited, Lovelace began to realise the potential of these machines of cogs and gears to express a more artistic side of its character: It might act upon other things besides number … supposing, for instance, that the fundamental relations of pitched sounds in the science of harmony and of musical composition were susceptible of such expression and adaptations, the engine might compose elaborate and scientific pieces of music of any degree of complexity or extent.


pages: 499 words: 144,278

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise

sequence of numbers: My description of Lovelace’s life and work draws from James Essinger, Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age (New York: Melville House, 2014); Betsy Morais, “Ada Lovelace, the First Tech Visionary,” New Yorker, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ada-lovelace-the-first-tech-visionary; Amy Jollymore, “Ada Lovelace, An Indirect and Reciprocal Influence,” Forbes, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/oreillymedia/2013/10/15/ada-lovelace-an-indirect-and-reciprocal-influence; Valerie Aurora, “Deleting Ada Lovelace from the History of Computing,” Ada Initiative, August 24, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ada-lovelace-the-first-tech-visionary; Amy Jollymore, “Ada Lovelace, An Indirect and Reciprocal Influence,” Forbes, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/oreillymedia/2013/10/15/ada-lovelace-an-indirect-and-reciprocal-influence; Valerie Aurora, “Deleting Ada Lovelace from the History of Computing,” Ada Initiative, August 24, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://adainitiative.org/2013/08/24/deleting-ada-lovelace-from-the-history-of-computing.

sequence of numbers: My description of Lovelace’s life and work draws from James Essinger, Ada’s Algorithm: How Lord Byron’s Daughter Ada Lovelace Launched the Digital Age (New York: Melville House, 2014); Betsy Morais, “Ada Lovelace, the First Tech Visionary,” New Yorker, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ada-lovelace-the-first-tech-visionary; Amy Jollymore, “Ada Lovelace, An Indirect and Reciprocal Influence,” Forbes, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/oreillymedia/2013/10/15/ada-lovelace-an-indirect-and-reciprocal-influence; Valerie Aurora, “Deleting Ada Lovelace from the History of Computing,” Ada Initiative, August 24, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.newyorker.com/tech/elements/ada-lovelace-the-first-tech-visionary; Amy Jollymore, “Ada Lovelace, An Indirect and Reciprocal Influence,” Forbes, October 15, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/oreillymedia/2013/10/15/ada-lovelace-an-indirect-and-reciprocal-influence; Valerie Aurora, “Deleting Ada Lovelace from the History of Computing,” Ada Initiative, August 24, 2013, accessed August 18, 2018, https://adainitiative.org/2013/08/24/deleting-ada-lovelace-from-the-history-of-computing. it contained a bug: Eugene Eric Kim and Betty Alexandra Toole, “Ada and the First Computer,” Scientific American, May 1999, 76–81. she wrote in a letter: Essinger, Ada’s Algorithm, 184. “to the sound of Music”: James Gleick, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood (New York: Pantheon, 2011), 118–19, 124. recounts in Recoding Gender: Janet Abbate, Recoding Gender: Women’s Changing Participation in Computing (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012), Kindle.

But then it reversed trend—and started falling. By 2013, the participation rate for women was back to 26 percent. Things had regressed to worse than the point they were at in 1960. Nearly every other technical field has had increasing numbers of women arrive. Programming is the one field where things went backward, and women were actually chased away. Why? It’s often noted that the first computer programmer ever was a woman: Ada Lovelace. As a young mathematician in Victorian England, she met Charles Babbage, the inventor who was trying to create an Analytical Engine. The Engine was a steampunk precursor to the modern computer: Though designed to be made of metal gears, it could execute loops and store data in memory. More even than Babbage, Lovelace grasped the enormous potential of computers. She understood that because they could modify their own instructions and memory, they could be far more than rote calculators.


pages: 370 words: 107,983

Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All by Robert Elliott Smith

Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, AI winter, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, animal electricity, autonomous vehicles, Black Swan, British Empire, cellular automata, citizen journalism, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, corporate personhood, correlation coefficient, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, desegregation, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, Fellow of the Royal Society, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, gig economy, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the wheel, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, p-value, pattern recognition, Paul Samuelson, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, precariat, profit maximization, profit motive, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Future of Employment, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, twin studies, Vilfredo Pareto, Von Neumann architecture, women in the workforce

Unlike Mary Edwards, and even Mary Wollstonecraft, Ada Lovelace had every social advantage. She was a rich aristocrat by birth and marriage who had both fortune and fame. She was not denied an education in science and maths, and she made obvious, published contributions under her own name. Despite all this, her contribution did nothing to shift the movable window that was focused on separate spheres, even among contemporary scientists who were sure to have known her. One of those scientists was, of course, Charles Darwin who likely knew of Ada Lovelace’s abilities, perhaps even her formal contributions. It’s possible that they may have met as they both attended Babbage’s popular soirees, but it would have been while Ada was more famous than he as well as being significantly superior to him socially. Ada Lovelace died of uterine cancer on 27 November 1852.

In her notes, Ada set about describing the Analytical Engine’s function, which was not clearly understood even by other notable scientists. She also added a section detailing a method for computing a series of values known as Bernoulli Numbers (named for the same mathematician who gave us the first probability distribution), which would have run correctly if the machine had ever been built. It is for this contribution that Ada Lovelace is often described as the world’s first computer programmer; however, that description fails to capture the real novelty and insight of her contribution. While Babbage, Menabrea and others had primarily thought of the Analytical Engine as a number-crunching machine, a reconfigurable version of the Pascaline, or a mechanical version of de Prony’s human computer factories, Lovelace realized it could do more, writing that it ‘might act upon other things besides numbers, were objects found whose mutual fundamental relations could be expressed by those of the abstract science of operations’.8 Lovelace’s suggestion is the view forward from calculators like the Pascaline to modern symbol-processing algorithms, with a nod back to the ideas of Llull and Leibniz, that computing could be about symbols rather than numbers.

Darwin further writes that women demonstrate sensibilities ‘characteristic of the lower races’, while commenting that a man can always reach ‘a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up’ than a woman. He continues that through evolution women were inferior to men in any thinking ‘requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination’. These observations were made despite of the manifest evidence to the contrary of women like Mary Wollstonecraft, Ada Lovelace and Caroline Kennard, along with other contemporary female scientists of note, who Darwin’s corresponded with, thanked for their contributions to his work and encouraged in their pursuits. Yet Darwin still could not recognize these extraordinary women as anything other than outliers in the separate spheres model. This is particularly ironic, since black swans are the real fuel of evolution, the variants that (if allowed to reproduce) cause lasting change.


pages: 371 words: 93,570

Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet by Claire L. Evans

"side hustle", 4chan, Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, British Empire, colonial rule, computer age, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Doomsday Book, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, East Village, Edward Charles Pickering, game design, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Haight Ashbury, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, hypertext link, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge worker, Leonard Kleinrock, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Network effects, old-boy network, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pets.com, rent control, RFC: Request For Comment, rolodex, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, subscription business, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, telepresence, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, women in the workforce, Works Progress Administration, Y2K

Granddaughters and great-granddaughters. They will sprout up everywhere, all over the world, and work with the same dogged, unrelenting focus. Other people will keep getting the credit, until one day they won’t anymore. And then your history will be written, a hundred times, by teenage girls at their desks in the heart of their kingdoms, on machines beyond your wildest imagination. KILOGIRLS By her insistence, Ada Lovelace was buried next to her father in a small church near his ancestral estate of Newstead Abbey. Her coffin, finished in soft violet velvet, bore an inscription of the Lovelace family motto, an axiom she’d embraced as her own while toiling over her notes on Babbage’s Analytical Engine. LABOR IPSE VOLUPTAS, it read. “Labor is its own reward.” Labor would remain its own reward for a long time.

It meant that the ENIAC could calculate at speeds previously unimaginable, by human or machine. And although it was funded by the military to churn out firing tables as fast as the army could manufacture guns, the ENIAC was much more than a ballistics calculator. Pres and Mauchly had designed a general-purpose computer—think of the difference between Charles Babbage’s one-note Difference Engine and the speculative Analytical Engine, which so entranced Ada Lovelace. It could perform an essentially limitless number of computational functions, as long as new programs for it were written. In its time at the Moore School, it would calculate the zero-pressure properties of diatomic gases, model airflow around supersonic projectiles, and discover numerical solutions for the refraction of shock waves. Hardware may be static, but software makes all the difference.

But with “both the expertise to devise solutions and the incentive to make programming easier for experts and novices alike,” they were in a unique position to effect real change, and did. Grace Hopper wasn’t the first woman to believe in programming, automatic or otherwise. Many of Grace’s female peers worked tirelessly to develop and standardize programming strategies that would transform the early computer industry, just as Ada Lovelace had made the mental leap from hardware to software a century before. But although the Difference Engine was never finished and the Analytical Engine was only imaginary, she knew, just as Grace did: a computer that does only one thing isn’t really a computer. It’s just a machine. Chapter Five THE COMPUTER GIRLS In 1967, the April issue of Cosmopolitan ran an article, “The Computer Girls,” about programming.


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, animal electricity, 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, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kickstarter, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, millennium bug, Moravec's paradox, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, off grid, 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, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, 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, Donald Knuth, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, 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, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lifelogging, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microbiome, Milgram experiment, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, pre–internet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 252 words: 74,167

Thinking Machines: The Inside Story of Artificial Intelligence and Our Race to Build the Future by Luke Dormehl

Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Alexey Pajitnov wrote Tetris, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, Automated Insights, autonomous vehicles, book scanning, borderless world, call centre, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, drone strike, Elon Musk, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, global village, Google X / Alphabet X, hive mind, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet of things, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, out of africa, PageRank, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, remote working, RFID, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

The Lovelace Test In chapter four, I discussed the Turing Test, which to date remains the most famous test for measuring machine intelligence. However, as the question of creativity has become more prominent within AI circles, some people have suggested that a new test needs to be created. The first person involved with modern computing to discuss the subject of machine creativity was one of the world’s first computer programmers, Ada Lovelace. The daughter of no less a creative force than the Romantic poet Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace worked alongside Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine in the 1800s. This was intended to be history’s first mechanical general-purpose computer, although due to a lack of funding it was never completed. Lovelace was impressed by the idea of building the Analytical Engine, but she argued that it would never be considered capable of true thinking, since it was only able to carry out pre-programmed instructions.

According to USPTO, a patent can only be awarded to an idea that is deemed to be an ‘illogical step’. ‘What the patent office means by an “illogical step” is that it is more than something you would inevitably think of were you to plod along working on something based entirely on the past,’ Koza explains. Why does that matter? Because, Koza says, if computers are only good at performing logical operations, how can they take an illogical step? It would certainly be enough to have Ada Lovelace scratching her head. Congratulations to the Chef In September 2015, I ate my first meal from a recipe prepared by an AI. It was an Indian turmeric paella, a combination of cuisines which was both unusual and, as it turned out, delicious. I was following a recipe created by IBM’s Watson, the Jeopardy!-winning AI described in the previous chapter. ‘The ideas for the recipes in this book weren’t generated by your average chef,’ reads the introduction in a cookbook entitled Cognitive Cooking with Chef Watson.

The very first story to ever feature the word ‘robot’, a 1920 science-fiction play by Karel Čapek called Rossum’s Universal Robots, ends with its titular AI beings rising up against their human overlords and taking over Earth. Humanity is, inevitably, all but wiped out in the process. Earlier than that was Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. Dreamed up during a summer spent at the home of Lord Byron (a.k.a. Ada Lovelace’s father), the novel tells the story of a young science student who creates a sentient creature that proceeds to run amok. The ‘Frankenstein Complex’ is a term which has become used to describe the fear that mankind has of artificial creation. It’s a theme since revisited time and again, in everything from the sci-fi stories of Isaac Asimov to the airport thrillers of Michael ‘Jurassic Park’ Crichton to recent movies like Ex Machina.


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, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Grace Hopper, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, John Conway, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, linear programming, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Norbert Wiener, old-boy network, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, 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 (http://adaweb.walkerart.org) 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.


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How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

A. Roger Ekirch, Ada Lovelace, big-box store, British Empire, butterfly effect, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, germ theory of disease, Hans Lippershey, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jacquard loom, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Live Aid, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, planetary scale, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, walkable city, women in the workforce

Ada’s father was not only the most notorious author of his time; he was also guilty of incest, and the offspring of this scandalous union was a girl Ada had known for many years. Annabella had volunteered the news to her daughter as definitive proof that Byron was a wretch, and that such a rebellious, unconventional lifestyle could only end in ruin. And so, at the still young age of twenty-five, Ada Lovelace found herself at a crossroads, confronting two very different ways of being an adult in the world. She could resign herself to the settled path of a baroness and live within the boundaries of conventional decorum. Or she could embrace those “peculiarities of [her] nervous system” and seek out some original path for herself and her distinctive gifts. It was a choice that was deeply situated in the culture of Ada’s time: the assumptions that framed and delimited the roles women could adopt, the inherited wealth that gave her the option of choosing in the first place, and the leisure time to mull over the decision.

But the paths in front of her were also carved out by her genes, by the talents and dispositions—even the mania—Ada had inherited from her parents. In choosing between domestic stability and some unknown break from convention, she was, in a sense, choosing between her mother and her father. To stay settled at Ockham Park was the easier path; all the forces of society propelled her toward it. And yet, like it or not, she was still Byron’s daughter. A conventional life seemed increasingly unthinkable. But Ada Lovelace found a way around the impasse she had confronted in her mid-twenties. In collaboration with another brilliant Victorian who was equally ahead of his time, Ada charted a path that allowed her to push the barriers of Victorian society without succumbing to the creative chaos that had enveloped her father. She became a software programmer. — WRITING CODE IN THE MIDDLE of the nineteenth century may seem like a vocation that would be possible only with time travel, but as chance would have it, Ada had met the one Victorian who was capable of giving her such a project: Charles Babbage, the brilliant and eclectic inventor who was in the middle of drafting plans for his visionary Analytical Engine.

If there is a common thread to the time travelers, beyond the nonexplanation of genius, it is this: they worked at the margins of their official fields, or at the intersection point between very different disciplines. Think of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville inventing his sound-recording device a generation before Edison began working on the phonograph. Scott was able to imagine the idea of “writing” sound waves because he had borrowed metaphors from stenography and printing and anatomical studies of the human ear. Ada Lovelace could see the aesthetic possibilities of Babbage’s Analytical Engine because her life had been lived at a unique collision point between advanced math and Romantic poetry. The “peculiarities” of her “nervous system”—that Romantic instinct to see beyond the surface appearances of things—allowed her to imagine a machine capable of manipulating symbols or composing music, in a way that even Babbage himself had failed to do.


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, Mark Zuckerberg, mutually assured destruction, nuclear paranoia, 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: 501 words: 114,888

The Future Is Faster Than You Think: How Converging Technologies Are Transforming Business, Industries, and Our Lives by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, blood diamonds, Burning Man, call centre, cashless society, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, computer vision, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Dean Kamen, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, digital twin, disruptive innovation, Edward Glaeser, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, experimental economics, food miles, game design, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, gig economy, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hive mind, housing crisis, Hyperloop, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, loss aversion, Lyft, M-Pesa, Mary Lou Jepsen, mass immigration, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, mobile money, multiplanetary species, Narrative Science, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, out of africa, packet switching, peer-to-peer lending, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, QR code, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart contracts, smart grid, Snapchat, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supercomputer in your pocket, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, Tim Cook: Apple, transaction costs, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize

Ada decided to translate it into English and, at the urging of Babbage himself, add her own ideas to the mix. Which is exactly what she did. But Ada’s ideas included a new idea, a novel way for the analytical engine to perform calculations. Ada Lovelace wrote the world’s first published computer program—our first algorithm. Unfortunately, maybe it was the strain of her discoveries, maybe it was just bad luck, but not long after she finished the translation, Ada fell ill. The world’s first computer programmer and one of the most interesting minds in history was dead by age thirty-six. And this raises a second question: How many of us die before we’re done? What might Ada Lovelace or Albert Einstein or Steve Jobs have accomplished with an additional thirty years of healthy life? It’s ironic that as we reach our later years, when we have the most knowledge, the sharpest skills, and the greatest number of fruitful relationships, old age takes us out of the game.

New business models are no longer forces for stability and security. To compete in today’s accelerated climate, these models are designed for speed and agility. Most importantly, none of this is in any danger of slowing down. Force #7: Longer Lives Computers run our world and algorithms run computers, which begs the question: Where do algorithms come from? Fear of poetry, that’s where. Fear of the maddening influence of poetry. Ada Lovelace was born in 1815, in London, the daughter of the infamous genius poet, Lord Byron. When Byron deserted the family before Ada was a teenager, her mother took charge of her education. A very intelligent woman, Lady Byron hired tutors for her daughter, particularly emphasizing math and science skills—which was a fairly radical step at a time when women were not really allowed into either profession.

the multimillion-dollar economy: Maria Korolov, “Second Life GDP Totals $500 Million,” Hypergrid Business, November 11, 2015. See: https://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2015/11/second-life-gdp-totals-500-million/. The Experience Economy: Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, “Welcome to the Experience Economy,” Harvard Business Review, July-August 1998. Harvard’s Clayton Christensen: Mark Johnson, Reinvent Your Business Model (Harvard Business Press, 2018), back cover. Force #7: Longer Lives Ada Lovelace: Walter Isaacson, The Innovators (Simon & Schuster, 2014) pp. 7–33. the average caveperson hit puberty: For a great review of lifespan through history, see: https://ourworldindata.org/life-expectancy. cardiac disease and cancer: Author interview with Robert Hariri, MD, PhD, 2018. “Google’s New Project to Solve Death”: Harry McCracken, “How CEO Larry Page Has Transformed the Search Giant into a Factory for Moonshots.


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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, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, digital Maoism, digital map, discovery of DNA, Dmitri Mendeleev, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, 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, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Johannes Kepler, John Snow's cholera map, Joseph Schumpeter, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, mass immigration, 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, 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.


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Tools for Thought: The History and Future of Mind-Expanding Technology by Howard Rheingold

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, card file, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, experimental subject, Hacker Ethic, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, popular electronics, post-industrial society, RAND corporation, Robert Metcalfe, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, Turing machine, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Von Neumann architecture

Babbage wrote books of varying degrees of coherence, made breakthroughs in some sciences and failed in others, gave brilliant and renowned dinner parties with guests like Charles Darwin, and seems to have ended up totally embittered. Bowden noted that "Shortly before Babbage died he told a friend that he could not remember a single completely happy day in his life: 'He spoke as if he hated mankind in general, Englishmen in particular, and the English Government and Organ Grinders most of all.'" While Ada Lovelace has been unofficially known to the inner circles of programmers since the 1950s, when card-punched batch-processing was not altogether different from Ada's kind of programming, she has been relatively unknown outside those circles until recently. In the 1970s, the U.S. Department of defense officially named its "superlanguage" after her. George Boole Although it came too late to assist in the original design of the Analytical Engine, yet another discovery that was to later become essential to the construction of computers was made by a contemporary of Babbage and Lovelace.

He had a substantial private income and an additional $10,000 a year from the Institute. He was widely known to have a huge repertoire of jokes in several languages, a vast knowledge of risqu� limericks, and a casual manner of driving so recklessly that he demolished automobiles at regular intervals, always managing to emerge miraculously unscathed. Despite his apparently charmed existence, von Neumann, like Ada Lovelace and Alan Turing, died relatively young. Lovelace died of cancer at thirty-six, Turing of cyanide at forty-two, and von Neumann of cancer at fifty-three. Like many other Los Alamos veterans, he may have been a victim of exposure to radiation during the early nuclear bomb tests. His death came as a shock to all who knew him as a vital, lively, peripatetic, seemingly invulnerable individual. Stanislaw Ulam, von Neumann's mathematical colleague and lifelong friend, in a memorial to Johnny published in a mathematical journal shortly after von Neumann's death, described his physical presence in loving detail: Johnny's friends remember him in his characteristic poses: standing before a blackboard or discussing problems at home.

From the secrets of life to the ultimate fate of the universe, the principles of communication and control have successfully been applied to the most important scientific puzzles of our age. These principles were discovered through a strange concatenation of events, and the people who were involved in those events were no less unusual than the software patriarchs who preceded them. Eccentrics and prodigies of both the blissful and agonized varieties dominated the early history of computation. Ada Lovelace, George Boole, John von Neumann, Alan Turing, and Presper Eckert were all in their early twenties or younger when they did their most important work. All except Eckert were also more than a little bizarre. But for raw prodigy combined with sheer imaginative eccentricity, Norbert Wiener, helmsman of the cybernetic movement, stands out even in this not-so-ordinary crowd. Norbert's father, a Harvard professor who was a colorful character in his own right, had definite opinions about education, and publicly declared his intention to mold his young son's mind.


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

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, assortative mating, business cycle, Claude Shannon: information theory, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, Douglas Hofstadter, Everything should be made as simple as possible, frictionless, frictionless market, George Akerlof, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, income per capita, industrial cluster, information asymmetry, invention of the telegraph, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, job satisfaction, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, New Economic Geography, Norbert Wiener, p-value, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, price mechanism, Richard Florida, Ronald Coase, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 485 words: 126,597

Paper: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

Ada Lovelace, clean water, computer age, Edward Snowden, invention of the telephone, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, lone genius, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, moveable type in China, paper trading, trade route, Vannevar Bush

Lately, it has become popular to attribute the invention—as Walter Isaacson suggests in The Innovators and James Essinger affirms in Ada’s Algorithm—to Ada Lovelace, poet Lord Byron’s neglected and brilliant daughter. In the early nineteenth century, she wrote the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. The computer age does seem to have its origins in the Industrial Revolution, and Ada Lovelace was probably the first to write about a machine that could be programmed to work on any problem. But her ideas were based on those of Charles Babbage, who had built a machine, the Difference Engine, that could make calculations. Her most famous work is an 1843 treatise on the potential of Babbage’s machine. Forty years earlier, Joseph-Marie Jacquard had invented a loom that could be programmed with punch cards. Ada Lovelace was probably familiar with that machine because when the Luddites tried to smash them, her father, Lord Byron, famously spoke in the Luddites’ defense.


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, 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.


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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, Everything should be made as simple as possible, 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, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, Law of Accelerating Returns, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, optical character recognition, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, phenotype, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, Robert Metcalfe, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, stochastic process, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, the medium is the message, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, 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.”


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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, Edward Thorp, 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, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, lone genius, mass immigration, megacity, Minecraft, moral panic, Murano, Venice glass, music of the spheres, Necker cube, New Urbanism, Oculus Rift, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, pets.com, 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, white picket fence, 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.


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The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, Bayesian statistics, Bernie Sanders, bioinformatics, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Deng Xiaoping, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Flynn Effect, gig economy, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Inbox Zero, Internet of things, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jeff Bezos, Joan Didion, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge worker, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, natural language processing, New Urbanism, one-China policy, optical character recognition, packet switching, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, Rubik’s Cube, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, theory of mind, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing machine, Turing test, uber lyft, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

If this was true, and if we had until this point been capable of creating lifelike ducks and tiny monks, then it should follow that someday, humans could create replicas of themselves—and build a variety of intelligent, thinking machines. Could a Thinking Machine Be Built? By the 1830s, mathematicians, engineers, and scientists had started tinkering, hoping to build machines capable of doing the same calculations as human “computers.” English mathematician Ada Lovelace and scientist Charles Babbage invented a machine called the “Difference Engine” and then later postulated a more advanced “Analytical Engine,” which used a series of predetermined steps to solve mathematical problems. Babbage hadn’t conceived that the machine could do anything beyond calculating numbers. It was Lovelace who, in the footnotes of a scientific paper she was translating, went off on a brilliant tangent speculating that a more powerful version of the Engine could be used in other ways.13 If the machine could manipulate symbols, which themselves could be assigned to different things (such as musical notes), then the Engine could be used to “think” outside of mathematics.

You now have a better understanding of how the Big Nine are driving AI’s developmental track, how investors and funders are influencing the speed and safety of AI systems, the critical role the US and Chinese governments play, how universities inculcate both skills and sensibilities, and how everyday people are an intrinsic part of the system. It’s time to open your eyes and focus on the boulder at the top of the mountain, because it’s gaining momentum. It has been moving since Ada Lovelace first imagined a computer that could compose elaborate pieces of music all on its own. It was moving when Alan Turing asked “Can machines think?” and when John McCarthy and Marvin Minsky gathered together all those men for the Dartmouth workshop. It was moving when Watson won Jeopardy and when, not long ago, DeepMind beat the world’s Go champions. It has been moving as you’ve read the pages in this book.


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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, commoditize, complexity theory, crowdsourcing, David Heinemeier Hansson, 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, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, starchitect, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Thales of Miletus, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

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.”


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Journey to Crossrail by Stephen Halliday

active transport: walking or cycling, Ada Lovelace, Boris Johnson, British Empire, congestion charging, wikimedia commons

Between 1842 and 1843, Ada translated an article by Italian military engineer Luigi Menabrea together with notes which resemble a simple computer programme. In 1835 she married William King, who in 1838 became Earl of Lovelace, Ada thereby becoming Countess of Lovelace. She died in 1852 aged 36, after a lifetime of ill health, and was, at her own request, buried close to her neglectful father, Byron, in the churchyard of St Mary Magdalene, Hucknall, Nottinghamshire. Along with Babbage she is regarded as one of the pioneers of computing. Ada Lovelace (1815–52), Byron’s neglected, faithful and very gifted daughter, was one of the pioneers of computing and is remembered in the tunnelling machine that bears her name. (Stipple engraving, based on a drawing by Frank Stone) Phyllis Pearsall (1906–96), designer of the London A–Z, was born Phyllis Gross in East Dulwich, the daughter of a Hungarian Jewish immigrant, Alexander Grosz (changed to Gross) and Isabella Crowley, a suffragette of Irish-Italian descent.


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

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, basic income, 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, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hedonic treadmill, 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, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, 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, The Future of Employment, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E, zero-sum game

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.


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The Case for Space: How the Revolution in Spaceflight Opens Up a Future of Limitless Possibility by Robert Zubrin

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, battle of ideas, Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological principle, discovery of DNA, double helix, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, flex fuel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gravity well, if you build it, they will come, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, more computing power than Apollo, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, off grid, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, place-making, Pluto: dwarf planet, private space industry, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, telerobotics, Thomas Malthus, transcontinental railway, uranium enrichment

Thus nanomachines filled with gears, levers, clockwork, motors, and all kinds of mechanisms could, in principle, be built. Energy to drive the units could be obtained from nanophotovoltaic units and stored in nanosprings or nanobatteries. To go from there to nanorobots, we need nanocomputers. Drexler proposes that these could be built out of mechanical nanomachines, along the same principle as the first mechanical computers proposed by Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace to be built out of brass gears and wheels in the nineteenth century. Such machines could be programmed with punched tape or cards, and presumably nanoscopic analogs for these mechanical software devices could be found as well. Babbage's ingenious mechanical computers don't even remotely compare in capability to modern electronic ones, but the parts used by Drexler's nano–Babbage machines would be so small that enormous amounts of computing power could be contained in a microscopic speck.

So, once we accomplish the admittedly difficult job of building the first nanorobot, with all its necessary nanomechanisms for locomotion and manipulation, and equip it with a superpowerful version of a Lovelace-programmable Babbage machine built on the nanoscale, we could set this first “assembler” loose and it would multiply itself through exponential reproduction. The vast horde of assemblers would then turn their attention to accomplishing some task they had been programmed to execute, such as inspect a human body for cancer cells and make appropriate adjustments, manufacture huge solar sails from asteroids, or terraform a planet. Figure 8.2. Hardware and software. Charles Babbage invented the mechanical computer. The mathematician Countess Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron, realized that Babbage's computers could be programmed to act like mechanical brains. Her insight could enable self-replicating nanorobots, endowing humanity with nearly unlimited power to terraform worlds. To build macroscopic structures, billions of nanorobots would have to group themselves together to form large robots, perhaps on the human scale or even much bigger.


The Kingdom of Speech by Tom Wolfe

Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, Bonfire of the Vanities, British Empire, complexity theory, Copley Medal, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, failed state, Isaac Newton, Nelson Mandela, Norman Mailer, Steven Pinker, Thomas Malthus

It transfixed readers high and low—Alfred, Lord Tennyson; Gladstone, Disraeli, Schopenhauer, Abraham Lincoln, John Stuart Mill; and Queen Victoria and Prince Albert (who read it aloud to each other)…as well as the general public—in droves. There was no author’s name on the cover or anywhere in its four hundred pages. He or she—there were those who assumed a writer this insidious must be a woman; Lord Byron’s too-clever-by-half daughter Ada Lovelace was one suspect—apparently knew what was coming.6 The book and Miss, Mrs., or Mr. Anonymous caught Holy Hell from the Church and its divines and devotees. One of the pillars of the Faith was the doctrine that Man had descended from Heaven, definitely not from monkeys in trees. Among the divines, the most ferocious attack was the Reverend Adam Sedgwick’s in the Edinburgh Review.7 Sedgwick was an Anglican priest and prominent geologist at Cambridge.


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The People vs Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) by Jamie Bartlett

Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Andrew Keen, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Boris Johnson, central bank independence, Chelsea Manning, cloud computing, computer vision, creative destruction, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, future of work, gig economy, global village, Google bus, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, information retrieval, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mittelstand, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, Nicholas Carr, off grid, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, payday loans, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, QR code, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Mercer, Ross Ulbricht, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, smart contracts, smart meter, Snapchat, Stanford prison experiment, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, too big to fail, ultimatum game, universal basic income, WikiLeaks, World Values Survey, Y Combinator

They shape how companies see themselves and reflect how they wish to be seen by others. The founding myth for social media is that they are the heirs to the ‘hacker culture’ – Facebook’s HQ address is 1, Hacker Way – which ties them to rule-breakers like 1980s phone phreaker Kevin Mitnick, the bureaucracy-hating computer lovers of the Homebrew Club scene and further back to maths geniuses like Alan Turing or Ada Lovelace. But Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and the rest have long ceased to be simply tech firms. They are also advertising companies. Around 90 per cent of Facebook and Google’s revenue comes from selling adverts. The basis of practically the entire business of social media is the provision of free services in exchange for data, which the companies can then use to target us with adverts.* This suggests a very different, and far less glamorous, lineage: a decades-long struggle by suited ad men and psychologists to uncover the mysteries of human decision-making and locate the ‘buy!’


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Robot Rules: Regulating Artificial Intelligence by Jacob Turner

Ada Lovelace, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, AI winter, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, autonomous vehicles, Basel III, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, distributed ledger, don't be evil, Donald Trump, easy for humans, difficult for computers, effective altruism, Elon Musk, financial exclusion, financial innovation, friendly fire, future of work, hive mind, Internet of things, iterative process, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Loebner Prize, medical malpractice, Nate Silver, natural language processing, nudge unit, obamacare, off grid, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, technological singularity, Tesla Model S, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge

See also Daniel Susskind and Richard Susskind, The Future of the Professions : How Technology Will Transform the Work of Human Experts (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015). 5See Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). 6See Ray Kurzweil, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology (New York: Viking Press, 2005). 7Several nineteenth-century thinkers including Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace arguably predicted the advent of AI and even prepared designs for machines capable of carrying out intelligent tasks. There is some debate as to whether Babbage actually believed that such a machine was capable of cognition. See, for example, Christopher D. Green, “Charles Babbage, the Analytical Engine, and the Possibility of a 19th-Century Cognitive Science”, in The Transformation of Psychology, edited by Christopher D. Green, Thomas Teo, and Marlene Shore (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Press, 2001), 133–152. See also Ada Lovelace, “Notes by the Translator”, Reprinted in R.A. Hyman, ed. Science and Reform: Selected Works of Charles Babbage (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 267–311. 8What follows is by no means intended to be exhaustive.


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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, Donald Davies, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, linked data, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, Mitch Kapor, natural language processing, Network effects, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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.


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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, Johannes Kepler, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, 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: 345 words: 75,660

Prediction Machines: The Simple Economics of Artificial Intelligence by Ajay Agrawal, Joshua Gans, Avi Goldfarb

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Air France Flight 447, Airbus A320, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Black Swan, blockchain, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, data acquisition, data is the new oil, deskilling, disruptive innovation, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Google Glasses, high net worth, ImageNet competition, income inequality, information retrieval, inventory management, invisible hand, job automation, John Markoff, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Lyft, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Nate Silver, new economy, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, pattern recognition, performance metric, profit maximization, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, strong AI, The Future of Employment, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Tim Cook: Apple, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, US Airways Flight 1549, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Langewiesche, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

Tim Bresnahan, a Stanford economist and one of our mentors, pointed out that computers do arithmetic and nothing more. The advent and commercialization of computers made arithmetic cheap.5 When arithmetic became cheap, not only did we use more of it for traditional applications of arithmetic, but we also used the newly cheap arithmetic for applications that were not traditionally associated with arithmetic, like music. Heralded as the first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace was the first to see this potential. Working under very expensive light in the early 1800s, she wrote the earliest recorded program to compute a series of numbers (called Bernoulli numbers) on a still-theoretical computer that Charles Babbage designed. Babbage was also an economist, and as we will see in this book, that was not the only time economics and computer science intersected. Lovelace understood that arithmetic could, to use modern startup lingo, “scale” and enable so much more.


pages: 252 words: 79,452

To Be a Machine: Adventures Among Cyborgs, Utopians, Hackers, and the Futurists Solving the Modest Problem of Death by Mark O'Connell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, brain emulation, clean water, cognitive dissonance, computer age, cosmological principle, dark matter, disruptive innovation, double helix, Edward Snowden, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Extropian, friendly AI, global pandemic, impulse control, income inequality, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, lifelogging, Lyft, Mars Rover, means of production, Norbert Wiener, Peter Thiel, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Skype, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Travis Kalanick, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, uber lyft, Vernor Vinge

“The data, the code, the communications,” he says. “Forever, amen.” With these invocations, he moves his arms downward, then outward to either side, before clasping his hands to his chest. He turns about the room, bestowing a gesture of esoteric benediction on the four points of the compass, speaking in each of these positions the hallowed name of a prophet of the computer age: Alan Turing, John von Neumann, Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace. Then he stands perfectly still, this priestly young man, arms outspread in a cruciform posture. “Around me shines the bits,” he says, “and in me is the bytes. The data, the code, the communications. Forever, amen.” This young man, I learned, was a Swedish academic named Anders Sandberg. I was fascinated by the explicitness of Sandberg’s curious ritual, its cultic acting out of transhumanism’s religious subtext, but could not accurately gauge how seriously to take it—whether the performance was partly playful, partly parodic.


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, 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: 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, commoditize, computer age, corporate governance, creative destruction, deskilling, en.wikipedia.org, Freestyle chess, future of work, Google Glasses, Grace Hopper, industrial cluster, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, job automation, knowledge worker, low skilled workers, Marc Andreessen, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Narrative Science, new economy, rising living standards, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Skype, social intelligence, 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: 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, commoditize, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, delta neutral, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, dumpster diving, Flash crash, G4S, Gödel, Escher, Bach, High speed trading, Howard Rheingold, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, knowledge economy, late fees, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, medical residency, money market fund, Myron Scholes, Narrative Science, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, Renaissance Technologies, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Robert Mercer, 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: 360 words: 85,321

The Perfect Bet: How Science and Math Are Taking the Luck Out of Gambling by Adam Kucharski

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Antoine Gombaud: Chevalier de Méré, beat the dealer, Benoit Mandelbrot, butterfly effect, call centre, Chance favours the prepared mind, Claude Shannon: information theory, collateralized debt obligation, correlation does not imply causation, diversification, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Edward Thorp, Everything should be made as simple as possible, Flash crash, Gerolamo Cardano, Henri Poincaré, Hibernia Atlantic: Project Express, if you build it, they will come, invention of the telegraph, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, locking in a profit, Louis Pasteur, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, p-value, performance metric, Pierre-Simon Laplace, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, random walk, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Rubik’s Cube, statistical model, The Design of Experiments, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

The computer programs sat through billions of hands, betting and bluffing, their artificial brains developing while they played. As the bots improved, Dahl found that they began to do some surprising things. IN HIS LANDMARK 1952 paper “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Turing pointed out that many people were skeptical about the possibility of artificial intelligence. One criticism, put forward by mathematician Ada Lovelace in the nineteenth century, was that machines could not create anything original. They could only do what they were told. Which meant a machine would never take us by surprise. Turing disagreed with Lovelace, noting that “machines take me by surprise with great frequency.” He generally put these surprises down to oversight. Perhaps he’d made a hurried calculation or a careless assumption while constructing a program.


pages: 292 words: 85,381

The Story of Crossrail by Christian Wolmar

Ada Lovelace, autonomous vehicles, Beeching cuts, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, data acquisition, Kickstarter, megacity

A small section of tunnel was cut out in advance to prepare the way for each of the TBMs whose work then started in earnest, boring the separate eastbound and westbound tunnels between Paddington and Farringdon. Phyllis and Ada were named after two rather different women: the painter and writer Phyllis Pearsall (1906–96), devised the A–Z street map of London in the 1930s (supposedly being inspired to do so after getting lost in London while using the latest street map, which turned out to be hopelessly out of date); Ada Lovelace (1815–52) was an early computer scientist (and Lord Byron’s only legitimate daughter). The tradition in the tunnelling business that boring machines have to be named after women to ensure good luck dates back to the sixteenth century, when miners prayed to St Barbara, a third-century martyr murdered by her father for becoming a Christian. Apparently God exacted his revenge on the cruel parent who was soon struck dead by lightning, and hence praying to Barbara was seen as a form of protection from lightning flashes and explosions in dark tunnels.


pages: 345 words: 84,847

The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World by David Eagleman, Anthony Brandt

active measures, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Andrew Wiles, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, en.wikipedia.org, Frank Gehry, Google Glasses, haute couture, informal economy, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Dyson, John Harrison: Longitude, John Markoff, lone genius, longitudinal study, Menlo Park, microbiome, Netflix Prize, new economy, New Journalism, pets.com, QWERTY keyboard, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, self-driving car, Simon Singh, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, wikimedia commons, X Prize

Consider that for most of our civilization’s history – and still in many parts of the world – more than half the human population has been denied an education and professional advancement because of gender. The child prodigy Nannerl Mozart toured Europe with her younger brother Wolfgang, where she was frequently the main attraction; however, as soon as she reached marrying age, her parents cut short her career. Mathematician Ada Lovelace disguised her gender by using a pseudonym when she laid out the principles for computer programming. Her mathematical insights were so far ahead of their time that her peers did not know what to make of them; more than a century later, her computer models were reinvented by her male counterparts. Seventy years after the dawn of Hollywood, Shirley Walker became the first woman to compose and conduct the score for a major studio release.


pages: 239 words: 80,319

Lurking: How a Person Became a User by Joanne McNeil

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Burning Man, Chelsea Manning, Chris Wanstrath, citation needed, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, don't be evil, Donald Trump, drone strike, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, feminist movement, Firefox, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, helicopter parent, Internet Archive, invention of the telephone, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, l'esprit de l'escalier, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, moral panic, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Network effects, packet switching, PageRank, pre–internet, profit motive, QAnon, recommendation engine, Saturday Night Live, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, Turing complete, We are the 99%, web application, white flight, Whole Earth Catalog

My comment that “no legends or legendary work emerged from” New York’s tech-media-art scene is a bit of a provocation, given that such things take time. Even in later years, hardly anyone has set their film or fiction in this time period and scene (notable exception: Thomas Pynchon’s Bleeding Edge, 2013). Until then, we might look to nineties San Francisco for West Coast context, including Lynn Hershman Leeson, who made the film Conceiving Ada, about a computer artist making a CD-ROM, which starred Tilda Swinton as Ada Lovelace and included appearances by John Perry Barlow, Bruce Sterling, and Timothy Leary. That same year—1997—Ellen Ullman’s Close to the Machine (City Lights) was published, recounting her work as a computer engineer. I wrote about the camgirl art movement in the 2014 book Art and the Internet (Black Dog Publishing, 2014, 18–23). Jennifer Ringley reported that JenniCam received 100 million page views a week, but that was self-reported, and Theresa M.


pages: 245 words: 83,272

Artificial Unintelligence: How Computers Misunderstand the World by Meredith Broussard

1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, availability heuristic, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, Buckminster Fuller, Chris Urmson, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, digital map, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Douglas Engelbart, easy for humans, difficult for computers, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Firefox, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, life extension, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, mass incarceration, Minecraft, minimum viable product, Mother of all demos, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, natural language processing, PageRank, payday loans, paypal mafia, performance metric, Peter Thiel, price discrimination, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ross Ulbricht, Saturday Night Live, school choice, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, the High Line, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Travis Kalanick, Turing test, Uber for X, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, women in the workforce

Babbage worked on building the difference engine for years, eventually using twenty-five thousand components that together weighed fifteen tons, but he never got it to work. However, in 1837, Babbage published another, better idea: an analytical engine. This was a design for a machine that could interpret a programming language with conditional branching and loops; it had features recognizable from today’s computers, like the ability to perform arithmetic and process logic and add memory. Ada Lovelace, generally considered the first computer programmer, wrote programs for this hypothetical machine. Unfortunately, the analytical engine was so far ahead of its time that it didn’t work either. Scientists assembled it from Babbage’s designs in 1991 and discovered that it would have worked—if there were important other components, like electricity. The next milestone toward the development of the modern computer happened when English mathematician and philosopher George Boole proposed Boolean algebra in 1854.


pages: 383 words: 92,837

Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain by David Eagleman

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Columbine, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, endowment effect, facts on the ground, impulse control, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, out of africa, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Saturday Night Live, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), Steven Pinker, Thales of Miletus

There’s Someone In My Head, But It’s Not Me 1 Music: “Tremendous Magic,” Time December 4, 1950. 2 Something I’ve always found inspiring: the year Galileo died—1642—Isaac Newton was born into the world and completed Galileo’s job by describing the equations underlying the planetary orbits around the sun. 3 Aquinas, Summa theologiae. 4 Specifically, Leibniz envisioned a machine that would use marbles (representing binary numbers) that would be guided by what we now recognize as cousins to punch cards. Although Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace are generally credited with working out the concepts of software separation, the modern computer is essentially no different than what Leibniz envisaged: “This [binary] calculus could be implemented by a machine (without wheels) in the following manner, easily to be sure and without effort. A container shall be provided with holes in such a way that they can be opened and closed. They are to be open at those places that correspond to a 1 and remain closed at those that correspond to a 0.


pages: 469 words: 97,582

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

Ada Lovelace, Boris Johnson, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, double helix, Etonian, George Santayana, ghettoisation, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Mikhail Gorbachev, Murano, Venice glass, out of africa, the built environment, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, traveling salesman, US Airways Flight 1549

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.


Cataloging the World: Paul Otlet and the Birth of the Information Age by Alex Wright

1960s counterculture, Ada Lovelace, barriers to entry, British Empire, business climate, business intelligence, Cape to Cairo, card file, centralized clearinghouse, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Deng Xiaoping, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, European colonialism, Frederick Winslow Taylor, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Law of Accelerating Returns, linked data, Livingstone, I presume, lone genius, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, Norman Mailer, out of africa, packet switching, profit motive, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Scramble for Africa, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, Thomas L Friedman, urban planning, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog

Moreover, he imagined a wide range of ­expression taking shape across the network: distributed encyclopedias, virtual classrooms, three-dimensional information spaces, social networks, and other forms of knowledge that anticipated the hyperlinked structure of today’s Web. He saw these developments as fundamentally connected to a larger utopian project that would bring the world closer to a state of permanent and lasting peace and toward a state of collective spiritual enlightenment. The conventional history of the Internet traces its roots through an Anglo-American lineage of early computer scientists like Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, and Alan Turing; networking visionaries like Vinton G. Cerf and Robert E. Kahn; as well as hypertext seers like Vannevar Bush, J. C. R. Licklider, Douglas Engelbart, Ted Nelson, and of course Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau, who in 1991 released their first version of the World Wide Web. The dominant influence of the modern computer industry has placed computer science at the center of this story.


pages: 350 words: 98,077

Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell

Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, artificial general intelligence, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, Claude Shannon: information theory, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dark matter, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Gödel, Escher, Bach, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, ImageNet competition, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, license plate recognition, Mark Zuckerberg, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, ought to be enough for anybody, pattern recognition, performance metric, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, strong AI, superintelligent machines, theory of mind, There's no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home - Ken Olsen, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

Kahn, “To Get Ready for Robot Driving, Some Want to Reprogram Pedestrians,” Bloomberg, Aug. 16, 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-16/to-get-ready-for-robot-driving-some-want-to-reprogram-pedestrians.   5.  “Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the Economy,” Executive Office of the President, Dec. 2016, www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/images/EMBARGOED%20AI%20Economy%20Report.pdf.   6.  This harks back to what Alan Turing called “Lady Lovelace’s objection,” named for Lady Ada Lovelace, a British mathematician and writer who worked with Charles Babbage on developing the Analytical Engine, a nineteenth-century proposal for a (never completed) programmable computer. Turing quotes from Lady Lovelace’s writings: “The Analytical Engine has no pretensions to originate anything. It can do whatever we know how to order it to perform.” A. M. Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence,” Mind 59, no. 236 (1950): 433–60.   7.  


pages: 334 words: 104,382

Brotopia: Breaking Up the Boys' Club of Silicon Valley by Emily Chang

23andMe, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, affirmative action, Airbnb, Apple II, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Burning Man, California gold rush, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, equal pay for equal work, Ferguson, Missouri, game design, gender pay gap, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, high net worth, Hyperloop, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, Khan Academy, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microservices, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, post-work, pull request, ride hailing / ride sharing, rolodex, Saturday Night Live, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Snapchat, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, subscription business, Tim Cook: Apple, Travis Kalanick, uber lyft, women in the workforce

The exclusion of women from this critical industry was not inevitable. In many ways, the industry sabotaged itself and its own pipeline of bright female talent. • • • WHILE THERE MIGHT HAVE been no women in Pratt’s lab on the day Lena’s image was chosen, what many don’t realize is that women played crucial roles in the burgeoning technology industry. In the 1840s, a woman and brilliant mathematician named Ada Lovelace wrote the first program for a computer that had yet to be built. A century later, women were among the pioneers who worked on the first computing devices for the military during World War II. Women were marginalized once peace was restored. After that setback, however, the percentage of computer science bachelor’s degrees awarded to women steadily increased. For a time, women were charging into the field at about the same rate they were moving into other traditionally male realms, including medicine and the law.


pages: 331 words: 104,366

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by Garry Kasparov

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, business process, call centre, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, computer age, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Brooks, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, Freestyle chess, Gödel, Escher, Bach, job automation, Leonard Kleinrock, low earth orbit, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nate Silver, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pattern recognition, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, rising living standards, rolodex, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero-sum game

It was as if ghosts could be imagined in the machines as soon as their processes could no longer be followed by the naked eye. Mechanical calculators had been around since the seventeenth century and key-driven desktop versions were produced in the thousands by the middle of the nineteenth. Programmable mechanical calculators were designed by Charles Babbage in 1834, and the first “computer” program for one was written by Ada Lovelace in 1843. Despite the impressive sophistication of these machines, nobody seriously wondered if they were intelligent any more than they did about pocket watches or steam locomotives. Even if you had no idea how a mechanical device like a cash register performed, you could hear the wheels spinning. You could open it up and see the gears turning. As amazing it was for a machine to perform “mental” feats like logic and mathematics faster than a human could, there was little discussion of how it did it compared to how the human mind worked.


pages: 343 words: 102,846

Trees on Mars: Our Obsession With the Future by Hal Niedzviecki

"Robert Solow", Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, business intelligence, Colonization of Mars, computer age, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flynn Effect, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Zinn, if you build it, they will come, income inequality, Internet of things, invention of movable type, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Kodak vs Instagram, life extension, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, Ponzi scheme, precariat, prediction markets, Ralph Nader, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, ride hailing / ride sharing, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, Steve Jobs, TaskRabbit, technological singularity, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas L Friedman, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, working poor

He spoke of using this mathematical language to “work out by an infallible calculus, the doctrines most useful for life, that is, those of morality and metaphysics.”16 Leibniz invented calculus and even, in 1679, “imagined a digital computer in which binary numbers were represented by spherical tokens, governed by gates under mechanical control.”17 He laid the groundwork for the information-based computer revolution to come. But first, there would be Charles Babbage, who never did quite manage to bend the steam technologies of nineteenth-century England into his difference engine—the massive calculating machine he believed he could build. But that didn’t stop his supporters from trumpeting what the thing would and could eventually do. In particular, Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and Babbage’s mathematically gifted muse, enthused that Babbage’s analytical engine would not just calculate numbers, it would perform operations on “any process which alters the mutual relation of two or more things.” She went on: “This is the most general definition, and would include all subjects in the universe.”18 Lovelace, dubbed everything from “the prophet of the computer age” to “the enchantress of numbers,” had that rare combination of mathematical genius and inherited gift for language; as a result she had a vision for what a language of pure information could make possible—just about anything.


pages: 416 words: 112,268

Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Alfred Russel Wallace, Andrew Wiles, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, blockchain, brain emulation, Cass Sunstein, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer vision, connected car, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, delayed gratification, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Flash crash, full employment, future of work, Gerolamo Cardano, ImageNet competition, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the wheel, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kenneth Arrow, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, Mark Zuckerberg, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, NP-complete, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pareto efficiency, Paul Samuelson, Pierre-Simon Laplace, positional goods, probability theory / Blaise Pascal / Pierre de Fermat, profit maximization, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Thaler, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, Thales of Miletus, The Future of Employment, Thomas Bayes, Thorstein Veblen, transport as a service, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, uranium enrichment, Von Neumann architecture, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, zero-sum game

Clearly, if they were able to tell us about their species’ current situation vis-à-vis humans, the consensus opinion would be very negative indeed. Their species has essentially no future beyond that which we deign to allow. We do not want to be in a similar situation vis-à-vis superintelligent machines. I’ll call this the gorilla problem—specifically, the problem of whether humans can maintain their supremacy and autonomy in a world that includes machines with substantially greater intelligence. Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace, who designed and wrote programs for the Analytical Engine in 1842, were aware of its potential but seemed to have no qualms about it.1 In 1847, however, Richard Thornton, editor of the Primitive Expounder, a religious journal, railed against mechanical calculators:2 Mind . . . outruns itself and does away with the necessity of its own existence by inventing machines to do its own thinking. . . .


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, Donald Davies, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, IFF: identification friend or foe, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, low earth orbit, Menlo Park, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, phenotype, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, spectrum auction, strong AI, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture, zero-sum game

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: 364 words: 119,398

Men Who Hate Women: From Incels to Pickup Artists, the Truth About Extreme Misogyny and How It Affects Us All by Laura Bates

4chan, Ada Lovelace, Boris Johnson, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, gender pay gap, glass ceiling, Grace Hopper, job satisfaction, Kickstarter, off grid, recommendation engine, ride hailing / ride sharing, Snapchat, young professional

Like most incel sites, the MGTOW community differs from some other areas of the manosphere in its decision to actively police its online spaces to exclude women. ‘MGTOW.com is exclusively a men’s interest website – for men only,’ emphasises the website. Of course, MGTOW philosophy gifts this community a particularly powerful rationale for the exclusion of women. As one typical site puts it: ‘The internet was… created by men (for other men), and it is only by our divine manly grace that women are permitted to use it.’ Tell that to Ada Lovelace and Grace Hopper. MGTOW ideology has also spawned a number of spin-off and related online movements, including IBMOR (Introspective Black Men of Reform) – an online movement with extremely similar aims, but the additional desire to overthrow white supremacy. ‘INTROSPECTIVE BLACK MEN OF REFORM (IBMOR)’, declares the community page for the group, in dramatic capital letters, ‘ARE BLACK MEN WHO ARE DEDICATED TO SELF-STUDY AND SELF IMPROVEMENT.


pages: 492 words: 118,882

The Blockchain Alternative: Rethinking Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Theory by Kariappa Bheemaiah

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, Airbnb, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, balance sheet recession, bank run, banks create money, Basel III, basic income, Ben Bernanke: helicopter money, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, business cycle, business process, call centre, capital controls, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cashless society, cellular automata, central bank independence, Claude Shannon: information theory, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, commoditize, complexity theory, constrained optimization, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, deskilling, Diane Coyle, discrete time, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, diversification, double entry bookkeeping, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, fiat currency, financial innovation, financial intermediation, Flash crash, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, interest rate derivative, inventory management, invisible hand, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, large denomination, liquidity trap, London Whale, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, MITM: man-in-the-middle, money market fund, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nikolai Kondratiev, offshore financial centre, packet switching, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, precariat, pre–internet, price mechanism, price stability, private sector deleveraging, profit maximization, QR code, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ray Kurzweil, Real Time Gross Settlement, rent control, rent-seeking, Satoshi Nakamoto, Satyajit Das, savings glut, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, software as a service, software is eating the world, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, supply-chain management, technology bubble, The Chicago School, The Future of Employment, The Great Moderation, the market place, The Nature of the Firm, the payments system, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Von Neumann architecture, Washington Consensus

Although he never secured the funds to develop the second project, the ideas in its design (documented in over 6000 pages of notes, hundreds of engineering drawings and operational charts) are the basis for today modern computers. These included a separated section for calculation (what we today refer to as a Central Processing Unit (CPU)), another section for storing data (or a memory) and a method of providing instructions to the machine (a programming language). Ada Lovelace, who corresponded with Babbage, also played an influential role in developing programming languages by emphasising that the Analytical Machine could manipulate symbols as well as numerical calculations. However, the real advances in programming languages came from George Boole who devised a language for describing and manipulating complex logical statements for determining the statements were true or false.


pages: 502 words: 128,126

Rule Britannia: Brexit and the End of Empire by Danny Dorling, Sally Tomlinson

3D printing, Ada Lovelace, Alfred Russel Wallace, anti-communist, anti-globalists, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, colonial rule, Corn Laws, correlation does not imply causation, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Etonian, falling living standards, Flynn Effect, housing crisis, illegal immigration, imperial preference, income inequality, inflation targeting, invisible hand, knowledge economy, market fundamentalism, mass immigration, megacity, New Urbanism, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, out of africa, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, We are the 99%, wealth creators

It was seen in Ronald Reagan’s 1976 trope of the black welfare queen, and in Peter Lilley’s 1992 ‘little list’ of ‘scroungers’ (which included ‘young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing queue’), and in Esther McVey, in her role as Work and Pensions Secretary, saying that it was ‘right’ that more people were using foodbanks.12 While taking away from others, Conservatives simultaneously celebrate taking so much for themselves. Much of what Cabinet members have been accused of is not specifically illegal, but it is immoral. They are members of a political party that attempts to moralise about the behaviour of others, especially people poorer than they are. When the official Downing Street photo of the Cabinet was published in 2016 (Figure 7.1), a photoshopped similar photo went viral. The huge 1836 painting of Ada Lovelace behind them had been replaced by Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream. Scream-worthy revelations of personal, financial and sexual impropriety engulfed the Cabinet at the time. Historians of the future, even those familiar with the peccadilloes of politicians in the long-distant past, may be amazed at the behaviour of the people in charge of the most important issue for Britain in the early twenty-first century – leaving the EU.


pages: 457 words: 128,640

Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain From the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times by Lucy Lethbridge

Ada Lovelace, British Empire, decarbonisation, garden city movement, high net worth, invisible hand, Louis Pasteur, new economy, period drama, Ralph Waldo Emerson, social web, Thorstein Veblen, traveling salesman, women in the workforce

Woman, Barbara Woman Woman and Home Woman’s Own Book of Modern Homemaking women conscription of education and liberation and end of domestic service feminism and independence and inner life and political change post-war dress and appearance post-war employment pre-war employment separate domestic space war work Women’s Electrical Association Women’s Employment Federation Women’s Institute Women’s Institute Magazine women’s magazines women’s suffrage movement Woolf, Virginia Woolton Pie workhouses working classes diet disdain for servants and middle-class contempt politics and unrest post-war aspirations respectability and servant-keeping working-time directive Wylde, Mary, A Housewife in Kensington Yeddon, Emily Yorke family Yorke, Jock Zweig, Ferdynand A Note on the Author Lucy Lethbridge has written for a number of publications and is also the author of several children’s books, one of which, Who Was Ada Lovelace?, won the 2002 Blue Peter Award for non-fiction. She lives in London. © National Trust The household servants of Erddig in Wales in 1912, each holding a tool representing their particular work. The housekeeper holds a large bunch of keys; the footman (front left) a silver salver for conveying visitors’ calling cards. Private Collection A housekeeping book from 1900 in which the mistress has kept a record of the wages and duties of her servants


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, Georg Cantor, German hyperinflation, global village, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, lateral thinking, music of the spheres, New Journalism, P = NP, Paul Erdős, Richard Feynman, Rubik’s Cube, 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: 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, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, Donald Knuth, 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, Johannes Kepler, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, Leonard Kleinrock, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, Pierre-Simon Laplace, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, Sam Altman, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Stanford marshmallow experiment, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Bayes, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

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: 573 words: 157,767

From Bacteria to Bach and Back: The Evolution of Minds by Daniel C. Dennett

Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Andrew Wiles, Bayesian statistics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Build a better mousetrap, Claude Shannon: information theory, computer age, computer vision, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, epigenetics, experimental subject, Fermat's Last Theorem, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information asymmetry, information retrieval, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, iterative process, John von Neumann, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, trickle-down economics, Turing machine, Turing test, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

It is an obvious fact that although there have been many brilliant women of great attainment, none of them has achieved the iconic status of Aristotle, Bach, Copernicus, Dickens, Einstein.… I could easily list a dozen more men in the same league, but try for yourself to think of a great female thinker who could readily displace any of these men in playing the emblematic role in my title. (My favorites would be Jane Austen, Marie Curie, Ada Lovelace, and Hypatia of Alexandria. I doubt I’ve overlooked any obvious candidates, but time will tell.) There have not yet been any female superstar geniuses. What might explain this fact? Political oppression? The self-fulfilling sexist prophecies that rob young girls of inspiring role models? Media bias over the centuries? Genes? Please don’t jump to conclusions, even if you think the answer is obvious.


pages: 524 words: 155,947

More: The 10,000-Year Rise of the World Economy by Philip Coggan

"Robert Solow", accounting loophole / creative accounting, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, airline deregulation, Andrei Shleifer, anti-communist, assortative mating, autonomous vehicles, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, basic income, Berlin Wall, Bob Noyce, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, call centre, capital controls, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, Celtic Tiger, central bank independence, Charles Lindbergh, clean water, collective bargaining, Columbian Exchange, Columbine, Corn Laws, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, currency peg, debt deflation, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of the americas, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, falling living standards, financial innovation, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, Frederick Winslow Taylor, full employment, germ theory of disease, German hyperinflation, gig economy, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, global value chain, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Haber-Bosch Process, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, hydraulic fracturing, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, income inequality, income per capita, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, inflation targeting, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, joint-stock company, joint-stock limited liability company, Kenneth Arrow, Kula ring, labour market flexibility, land reform, land tenure, Lao Tzu, large denomination, liquidity trap, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Blériot, low cost airline, low skilled workers, lump of labour, M-Pesa, Malcom McLean invented shipping containers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, McJob, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, mittelstand, moral hazard, Murano, Venice glass, Myron Scholes, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, Paul Samuelson, popular capitalism, popular electronics, price stability, principal–agent problem, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, railway mania, Ralph Nader, regulatory arbitrage, road to serfdom, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, savings glut, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, special drawing rights, spice trade, spinning jenny, Steven Pinker, TaskRabbit, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, The Great Moderation, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, universal basic income, Unsafe at Any Speed, Upton Sinclair, V2 rocket, Veblen good, War on Poverty, Washington Consensus, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

In the early 19th century, Babbage discovered that astronomical tables were riddled with errors. These errors tended to persist as scholars copied the work of their predecessors. So Babbage envisaged a machine, called the difference engine, which could perform the calculations without errors. The government gave him a grant, worth around $1m in today’s money, to pursue the project. After many failures, he was helped by Ada Lovelace, an accomplished mathematician. He went on to devise a more sophisticated machine called the analytical engine, which included many of the elements of modern computers, including the memory, central processing units and Lovelace’s algorithms (or programmes) needed to make the calculations.5 But Babbage was too early. What was needed was a practical reason to develop a calculating machine. This came, in the first instance, in the form of the cash registers that spread in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.


pages: 594 words: 165,413

The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy

Ada Lovelace, cuban missile crisis, financial independence, impulse control, LNG terminal, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, 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: 799 words: 187,221

Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Bonfire of the Vanities, Commentariolus, crowdsourcing, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, game design, iterative process, lone genius, New Journalism, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, urban planning, wikimedia commons

He proved by flying a kite that lightning is electricity, and he invented a rod to tame it. He devised bifocal glasses, enchanting musical instruments, clean-burning stoves, charts of the Gulf Stream, and America’s unique style of homespun humor. Albert Einstein, when he was stymied in his pursuit of his theory of relativity, would pull out his violin and play Mozart, which helped him reconnect with the harmonies of the cosmos. Ada Lovelace, whom I profiled in a book on innovators, combined the poetic sensibility of her father, Lord Byron, with her mother’s love of the beauty of math to envision a general-purpose computer. And Steve Jobs climaxed his product launches with an image of street signs showing the intersection of the liberal arts and technology. Leonardo was his hero. “He saw beauty in both art and engineering,” Jobs said, “and his ability to combine them was what made him a genius.”4 Yes, he was a genius: wildly imaginative, passionately curious, and creative across multiple disciplines.


pages: 778 words: 227,196

The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, 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, 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: 1,201 words: 233,519

Coders at Work by Peter Seibel

Ada Lovelace, bioinformatics, cloud computing, Conway's Game of Life, domain-specific language, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, fault tolerance, Fermat's Last Theorem, Firefox, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Guido van Rossum, HyperCard, information retrieval, Larry Wall, loose coupling, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, Metcalfe's law, Perl 6, premature optimization, publish or perish, random walk, revision control, Richard Stallman, rolodex, Ruby on Rails, 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: 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, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), 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, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, 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, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, 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.


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, Donald Davies, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, 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, Leonard Kleinrock, Marc Andreessen, Menlo Park, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, pink-collar, popular electronics, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert Metcalfe, 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, zero-sum game

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).


pages: 993 words: 318,161

Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Ada Lovelace, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, bitcoin, blockchain, cloud computing, coherent worldview, computer vision, crossover SUV, cryptocurrency, defense in depth, demographic transition, distributed ledger, drone strike, easy for humans, difficult for computers, game design, index fund, Jaron Lanier, life extension, microbiome, Network effects, off grid, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, planetary scale, ride hailing / ride sharing, sensible shoes, short selling, Silicon Valley, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, Turing test, Works Progress Administration

Somehow that had come together in an institution called the Leibniz-Archiv, in Hanover, which frankly hadn’t done a heck of a lot for a few hundred years. The designers of this exhibit had cleverly filled in that awkward gap with some material about early mechanical computers, including a working replica of Babbage’s difference engine (built in a fit of nerd energy, and later contributed to this museum, by a different local tech magnate). There was the obligatory shrine to Ada Lovelace and then a fast-forward to the mid-twentieth century and a black-and-white photo of the young Alan Turing, Lawrence Pritchard Waterhouse, and Rudolf von Hacklheber on a bicycling expedition. This was where C-plus began to feel he was losing the thread, since the last mention of any Hacklhebers he’d seen was from 250 years earlier—but apparently this Rudolf was one of those hyperprivileged white guys who actually turned out to have legit mathematical talent.


pages: 1,758 words: 342,766

Code Complete (Developer Best Practices) by Steve McConnell

Ada Lovelace, Albert Einstein, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, continuous integration, data acquisition, database schema, don't repeat yourself, Donald Knuth, fault tolerance, Grace Hopper, haute cuisine, if you see hoof prints, think horses—not zebras, index card, inventory management, iterative process, Larry Wall, loose coupling, Menlo Park, Perl 6, place-making, premature optimization, revision control, Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, 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.