Danny Hillis

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pages: 194 words: 49,310

Clock of the Long Now by Stewart Brand

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Albert Einstein, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, Danny Hillis, Eratosthenes, Extropian, fault tolerance, Internet Archive, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, life extension, nuclear winter, pensions crisis, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog

At one point Danny Hillis remarked, “This is a clock that Harrison or Babbage could have built, if they’d had FedEx.” Indeed the eighteenth-century creator of the Longitude clock and the nineteenth-century builder of the first mechanical computer would recognize the crafting details of the eight-foot-high device, though the bit adder rings replacing gear ratios would be new (and fascinating) to them. They would smile at the familiar brass and marvel at the Monel (“the alloy that stainless steel would like to be”). They would marvel even more at Federal Express’s ability to bring precisely machined—and redesigned and remachined—parts from distant fabricators overnight to Chris Rand’s high-tech machine shop in a decaying shipyard on the waterfront of Sausalito, California. There Danny Hillis’s clock design was refined and improved by designer (and project manager) Alexander Rose, mechanical engineer Liz Woods, and clockmaker David Munroe.

:16 “What people mean by the word technology . . .” The remarks by Alan Kay and Danny Hillis are frequently made by them in speeches. :16 “The world did not double or treble its movement between 1800 and 1900 . . .” Quoted by Arthur Schlesinger Jr., “Has Democracy a Future?” Foreign Affairs (September 1997), p. 5. :16 “Five-year plan???” “Managing on (Internet) Time,” Wired (June 1998), p. 86. :16 “If Moore’s Law is true, over time is time more or less valuable?” Luyen Chou, president and CEO of Learn Technologies Interactive in New York. :17 “continuous discontinuous change” Regis McKenna, Real Time (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School, 1997) :17 “Some people say that they feel the future is slipping away . . .” Danny Hillis, “The Millennium Clock,” Wired Scenarios (1995), p. 48. CHAPTER 4, THE SINGULARITY :20 “At this singularity the laws of science and our ability to predict the future would break down.”

These observations about Egypt’s timelessness come from Daniel Boorstin, The Creators (New York: Random, 1992), pp. 156-8. CHAPTER 9, CLOCK/LIBRARY :48 “In some sense, we’ve run out of our story . . .” Quoted in Po Bronson, “The Long Now,” Wired (May 1998), p. 118. :48 “If you’re going to do something that’s meant to be interesting for ten millennia . . .” Danny Hillis interview with Richard Kadrey, HotWired (5 December 1995). :51 “To me the Clock and the Library capture two different aspects of time.” Danny Hillis in same HotWired interview as above. :53 Historian Daniel Boorstin reports that the Inner Shrine at Ise. . . Daniel Boorstin, The Creators (New York: Random House, 1992), p. 140. CHAPTER 10, BEN IS BIG :56 The monument is named for its biggest bell, Big Ben. Most of the information in this chapter comes from John Darwin, The Triumphs of Big Ben (London: Hale, 1986).

 

pages: 433 words: 106,048

The End of Illness by David B. Agus M. D.

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Danny Hillis, discovery of penicillin, double helix, epigenetics, germ theory of disease, Google Earth, impulse control, information retrieval, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Murray Gell-Mann, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, Steve Jobs, the scientific method

To my dad for always modeling to me how to be as loving and attentive a doctor as a father. To Steven Spielberg, for your contagious passion and insight. To Larry Ellison, for your certainty and trust in me. To Marc Benioff, for your true friendship. To Al Gore, for pushing me in the right direction (and first introducing me to Danny Hillis). To Max Nikias, Carmen Puliafito, and Eli Broad, for bringing me to USC, a remarkable academic home. To Sumner Redstone, for your unwavering belief in me. To Larry Norton, Danny Hillis, and Murray Gell-Mann, for making me think beyond my own discipline and putting up with my endless questions. To Lance Armstrong and the late Steve Jobs, for your unending inspiration. To Michael Milken and Stuart Holden for your encouragement over the past decade. To John Doerr and Mark Kvamme, for supporting my beliefs and me through the years.

—Dean Ornish, MD, founder and president of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute; clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco “David Agus is one of the great medical thinkers of our age. The End of Illness reframes the entire discussion of sickness and health. Instead of thinking about disease, Agus thinks about the system that is the human body, and what we need to do to guide it toward health. Before you take your next vitamin, read this book.” —Danny Hillis, PhD, cofounder, Applied Minds and Thinking Machines “Dr. David Agus has been disrupting medicine as we know it for his entire career. Now he brings his ideas out of the lab and exam room and into the lives of everyone—showing us how to live long, healthy, disease-free lives. Reading this book is the best thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones. A monumental work that will change your life.”

Because DNA tends to be a relatively abstract construct, much like black holes or quarks, which we cannot touch, see, or feel, it might as well be a “something else” to which we can assign guilt. After all, DNA is “given” to us by our parents and we have no choice. In this regard, DNA is practically accidental; just as accidents happen, so does DNA, without our having much say in the matter. What most people don’t think about, though, is that DNA says more about our risk than our fate. It governs probabilities, not necessarily destinies. As my friend and colleague Danny Hillis (whom we’ll meet later when I cover emerging technologies) likes to describe it, DNA is simply a list of parts or ingredients rather than a complete manual that explains how those parts work together to generate results. To hold your DNA responsible for your health is missing the forest for the trees. It’s not the pièce de résistance. I say this knowing full well that DNA does hold certain keys to your health; if it didn’t, then I wouldn’t have cofounded a company that performs genetic testing so you can take preventive measures based on your genomic risk profile.

 

pages: 326 words: 103,170

The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Joshua Cooper Ramo

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Airbnb, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, British Empire, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, defense in depth, Deng Xiaoping, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Firefox, Google Chrome, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, job automation, market bubble, Menlo Park, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, Oculus Rift, packet switching, Paul Graham, price stability, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, road to serfdom, Sand Hill Road, secular stagnation, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, sovereign wealth fund, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, Vernor Vinge, zero day

But before we can do that, there is one final question we need to answer about the networks all around us now, the only one that will put us on an even level with the New Caste: What, in the end, are the networks really for? CHAPTER EIGHT “MapReduce”: The Compression of Space and Time In which we learn what networks are really, rather wonderfully, meant for. 1. Starting in the early 1990s, the American scientist and inventor Danny Hillis began what has since become an every-few-months sort of ritual. He packed up from his home in Encino, a short drive over the Hollywood Hills from Los Angeles, and headed off for a desolate corner of the Southwest for a few days that would largely be defined by rock and dynamite. Hillis, who was born in 1956, has spent most of his life working at the electron level of the world, crafting some of the most significant computer processing systems of our age.

They hoped such a laureate would cast a bit of glamour on the first year of their award for Contributions to Man’s Present Condition. But when our committee sat down to talk it over, we knew that the boldfaced names didn’t want or need a prize. They certainly didn’t need a million dollars. As we considered people we all knew who’d made fundamental, essential contributions but had not been as boldfaced as they might have been, Danny Hillis’s name came up immediately. Hillis had developed a revolutionary “massively parallel” computer in the 1980s. The machine had helped create an entire discipline of high-speed computing by tying together tens of thousands of processors to tackle a problem at once. Traditional computers worked problems the way you or I might, step by step. Hillis’s design was the equivalent of millions of minds all moving at once.

His centrality in that project was memorialized in a famous speech he once delivered in which he described having one of the very first Internet domain names in history—and then whipped out a sheaf of bound pages that represented the entire Internet address list at the time. It ran about fifty pages. If there were membership cards in the New Caste, Danny’s would have had a very low number. It was an easy decision for our prize committee. No Bill Gates. No Steve Jobs. So here’s how I met Danny Hillis: I called to tell him he had won a million dollars. (I recommend this as a way to start a friendship.) Hillis had been a tinkerer since he was a child and never seemed to have lost the pleasure of a wild intermingling of joy and practice. You can’t tell with him where passion ends and work starts. He was so technically adept that he could inject even the coldest digital projects with a bit of hot emotion, like Bernini breathing life into a block of carved marble with one “just so” grace note of his chisel.

 

pages: 239 words: 70,206

Data-Ism: The Revolution Transforming Decision Making, Consumer Behavior, and Almost Everything Else by Steve Lohr

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23andMe, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, bioinformatics, business intelligence, call centre, cloud computing, computer age, conceptual framework, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, David Brooks, East Village, Edward Snowden, Emanuel Derman, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Google Glasses, impulse control, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, informal economy, Internet of things, invention of writing, John von Neumann, Mark Zuckerberg, market bubble, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, obamacare, pattern recognition, payday loans, personalized medicine, precision agriculture, pre–internet, Productivity paradox, RAND corporation, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, speech recognition, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, The Design of Experiments, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

They include Sam Adams, Brooke Barrett, Richard Berner, Patrick Bosworth, Thomas Botts, Erik Brynjolfsson, John Calkins, Murray Campbell, Dennis Charney, Herbert Chase, Jeffrey Chester, Sharath Cholleti, Adam D’Angelo, Arne Duncan, Sue Duncan, Tony Fadell, Edward Felten, David Ferrucci, Rachana Shah Fischer, Brian Gehlich, Jim Goodnight, Nagui Halim, Hendrik Hamann, Glenn Hammerbacher, Lenore Hammerbacher, Danny Hillis, Jeffrey Immelt, Jon Iwata, James Kalina, Kaan Katircioglu, Gary King, Jon Kleinberg, Martin Kohn, Randy Komisar, Patricia Kovatch, Edward Lazowska, and Michael Linderman. They also include Mark Malhotra, James Manyika, Yoky Matsuoka, Andrew McAfee, David McQueeney, Douglas Merrill, Tom Mitchell, Craig Mundie, Arvind Narayanan, Tim O’Donnell, Sharoda Paul, Alex Pentland, Claudia Perlich, Stephanie Pieroni, William Pulleyblank, Tara Richardson, Virginia Rometty, Itamar Rosenn, Jeff Rothschild, Marc Rotenberg, Alex Rubinsteyn, William Ruh, Eric Schadt, Benjamin Scheuer, Neal Sidhwaney, Larry Smarr, Andrew Smeall, Jim Spohrer, Halle Tecco, Menka Uttamchandani, Veronica Vargas, Anil Varma, David Vivero, David Vladeck, Donald Walker, Danny Weitzner, and Michelle Zhou.

It’s not a false-positive diagnosis for breast cancer.” In high-stakes decisions like diagnosing cancer, you unquestionably want a human in the loop. But systems like IBM’s Watson will increasingly plumb data, accumulate knowledge, and build models of the world—on their way to sometimes becoming superhuman decision makers. How do you really control them? At a research conference at IBM’s Watson lab, Danny Hillis, an artificial intelligence expert and cofounder of Applied Minds, a technology design and research firm, took up that issue. The ever-smarter systems being made by IBM, Google, and others, Hillis says, will each need its own explanatory assistant—“a storyteller.” A computer system, no matter how clever, he said, will not get very far if it just spouts answers. The machine, Hillis explains, must be able to “tell a story about why it did what it did.

Advocates for self-driving cars marshal safety statistics and logical-sounding arguments to push their case—about accident rates and the human foibles of drowsiness, distractedness, and drunkenness. Those arguments help, but they do not speak to the issues of trust and comfort with the machines. People are not aggregates; we all experience the world as individuals. So declaring that something will be good for the population, on average, isn’t entirely persuasive. What will be needed is the storytelling that Danny Hillis, the artificial intelligence expert, describes as the machines explaining themselves, giving a simplified account of how they work. What is also needed is time—a threshold of accumulated experience of living with the decision-making machines, in the house or on the road, to reach a level of comfort. That sort of human-machine accommodation is far easier to reach with a learning thermostat than with a self-driving car, of course.

 

pages: 422 words: 113,525

Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto by Stewart Brand

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agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, biofilm, borderless world, Buckminster Fuller, business process, Cass Sunstein, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dark matter, decarbonisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Elon Musk, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, glass ceiling, Google Earth, Hans Rosling, Hernando de Soto, informal economy, interchangeable parts, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, Jane Jacobs, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Kibera, land tenure, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, microbiome, New Urbanism, out of africa, Paul Graham, peak oil, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart grid, stem cell, Stewart Brand, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, Thomas Malthus, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, working-age population, Y2K

We thought that Yucca might give us some hints, and indeed it did—long, straight, cylindrical tunnels are boring; a twenty-five-foot ceiling is boring; but anything below ten feet is cozy, and anything above thirty-five feet is thrilling. Our main lesson from Yucca, though, threatened Long Now’s very core. Something was pathological about Yucca Mountain, and the sickness was embedded in its long-term thinking, its ten-thousand-year time frame. Among those on the bus were Danny Hillis, designer of the clock, and Peter Schwartz, cofounder of Global Business Network. I wrote in my trip report that at the entrance to the Repository,a training video informed us that it was important not to trip on anything, and showed how to use a belt-mounted emergency breathing apparatus. Danny Hillis remarked that it is the device which, in event of a mine fire, OSHA demands to find on your body. Outside the tunnel entrance were not one but two brand new ambulances, contextually shrieking “SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY!!” After a briefing in a pleasant underground “alcove” we rode a noisy train a mile and a half into the mountain—laser straight in a 25-foot diameter tunnel.

Lloyd Kahn wrote about handmade houses. We promoted bioregionalism, restoration, and “reinhabitation” of one’s natural environment. There’s now an insightful book about all that by Andrew Kirk—Counterculture Green: The Whole Earth Catalog and American Environmentalism (2007). These days I divide my time between Global Business Network and an idiosyncratic foundation. In the 1990s, when inventor Danny Hillis came up with an idea to help people think long-term by building a monumental ten-thousand-year clock, I responded by cofounding The Long Now Foundation with him in 1996. “Fostering long-term responsibility” is its mission. The “long now” is defined as the last ten thousand years and the next ten thousand years. That is the reach of humanity’s current decisions. • Lovelock said, “The planet really is on the move.”

Then some group says, ‘No, we’re going to use this new process called breeding . We’ll create all kinds of interesting recombinations, we’ll blast seeds with radiation and chemicals to get lots of mutations, and we’ll grow whatever comes up, pick the ones we like, and hope for the best.’ What would people say about the risk of doing it that way?” They would call it genetic gambling, says inventor Danny Hillis, and outlaw it. As for medicine, the panic generated by recombinant DNA back in the 1970s has completely died away. In 1982, a human gene was introduced into the bacterium E. coli so that “bioreactors” of trillions of the engineered organisms could generate vast quantities of human insulin in a way that is safer and far cheaper than the old technique using the pancreases of calves and pigs.

 

pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller, c2.com, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Bacon helped launch the scientific method, which accelerated the speed of invention; thereafter society was in constant flux, as one conceptual seed after another disrupted social equilibrium. Seemingly simple inventions like the clock had profound social consequences. The clock divided an unbroken stream of time into measurable units, and once it had a face, time became a tyrant, ordering our lives. Danny Hillis, computer scientist, believes the gears of the clock spun out science and all its many cultural descendants. He says, “The mechanism of the clock gave us a metaphor for self-governed operation of natural law. (The computer, with its mechanistic playing out of predetermined rules, is the direct descendant of the clock.) Once we were able to imagine the solar system as a clockwork automaton, the generalization to other aspects of nature was almost inevitable, and the process of Science began.”

“If it is a very crowded space where lots of innovation is happening, like e-commerce, and it is a ‘tool,’ probably 100 percent have been thought of before. We find the patent office rejects about two-thirds of challenged patents as ‘anticipated.’ Another space, say gaming inventions, about a third are either blocked by prior art or other inventors. But if the invention is a complex system, in an unusual space, there won’t be many others. Look, most invention is a matter of time . . . of when, not if.” Danny Hillis, another polymath and serial inventor, is cofounder of an innovative prototype shop called Applied Minds, which is another idea factory. As you might guess from the name, they use smart people to invent stuff. Their corporate tagline is “the little Big Idea company.” Like Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures, they generate tons of ideas in interdisciplinary areas: bioengineering, toys, computer vision, amusement rides, military control rooms, cancer diagnostics, and mapping tools.

Greater technology will selfishly unleash our talents, but it will also unselfishly unleash others: our children, and all children to come. That means that as you embrace new technologies, you are indirectly working for future generations of Amish, and for the minimite homesteaders, even though they are not doing as much for you. Most of what you adopt they will ignore. But every once in a while your adoption of “something that doesn’t quite work yet” (Danny Hillis’s definition of technology) will evolve into an appropriate tool they can use. It might be a solar grain dyer; it might be a cure for cancer. Anyone who is inventing, discovering, and expanding possibilities will indirectly expand possibilities for others. Nonetheless, the Amish and minimites have important lessons to teach us about selecting what we embrace. Like them, I don’t want a lot of devices that add maintenance chores to my life without adding real benefits.

 

pages: 222 words: 53,317

Overcomplicated: Technology at the Limits of Comprehension by Samuel Arbesman

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3D printing, algorithmic trading, Anton Chekhov, Apple II, Benoit Mandelbrot, citation needed, combinatorial explosion, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, discovery of the americas, en.wikipedia.org, Erik Brynjolfsson, Flash crash, friendly AI, game design, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, HyperCard, Inbox Zero, Isaac Newton, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, mandelbrot fractal, Minecraft, Netflix Prize, Nicholas Carr, Parkinson's law, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, software studies, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, superintelligent machines, Therac-25, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Howard, “Fixing Broken Government: Put Humans in Charge,” The Atlantic, September 22, 2014, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/09/fixing-broken-government-put-humans-in-charge/380309/?single_page=true. the writer Quinn Norton has noted: Quinn Norton, “Everything is Broken,” The Message, May 20, 2014, https://medium.com/message/81e5f33a24e1. Langdon Winner notes in his book: Winner, Autonomous Technology, 290–91. computer scientist Danny Hillis argues: Danny Hillis, “The Age of Digital Entanglement,” Scientific American, September 2010, 93. Take the so-called Flash Crash: Nick Bostrom, Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2014), 17. It is still not entirely clear, however, what caused the Flash Crash. Understanding something in a “good enough” way: See also César Hidalgo, Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order, from Atoms to Economies (New York: Basic Books, 2015).

Wells came to believe late in life “that the human mind is no longer capable of dealing with the environment it has created.” Wells concluded this in 1945, discussing primarily human organizations and societies. This problem has become even more acute in recent years, through the development of computational technologies to a level that even Wells might have had difficulty imagining. The computer scientist Danny Hillis argues that we have moved from the Enlightenment to the Entanglement, at least when it comes to our technology: “Our technology has gotten so complex that we no longer can understand it or fully control it. We have entered the Age of Entanglement. . . . Each expert knows a piece of the puzzle, but the big picture is too big to comprehend.” Not even the experts who have actually built them fully understand these technologies any longer.

 

pages: 463 words: 118,936

Darwin Among the Machines by George Dyson

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

This does not imply that Esther agrees with any of my interpretations of her work. Thanks to Esther, I met literary agent John “No Wasted Motion” Brockman in 1984, who, nine years later, with Katinka Matson, helped precipitate this book. William Patrick at Addison-Wesley accepted an ambiguous proposal, and Jeff Robbins had the patience to await a manuscript, followed by the efficiency as editor to produce a book without additional delay. Others, including Danny Hillis, William S. Laughlin, James Noyes, Patrick Ong, and Ann Yow, offered encouragement at different stages along the way. The builders of my boat designs kept me afloat. I owe the last sentence in this book, and more, to David Brower—archdruid, mountaineer, and editor of landmarks from In Wildness . . . to On the Loose. My daughter Lauren had just turned five, in 1994, when we watched a videotape describing Thomas Ray’s digital organisms, self-reproducing numbers that had enraptured their creator by evolving new species and new patterns of behavior overnight.

We either inhabit a largely computable world or have gravitated toward a computable frame of mind. The big questions—Is human intelligence a computable function? Are there algorithms for life?—may never be answered. But computable functions appear to be doing most of the work. “Non-computable functions may be the most common type of function in theory, but in practice they hardly ever come up,” Danny Hillis has explained. “In fact, it is difficult to find a well-defined example of a non-computable function that anybody wants to compute. This suggests that there is some deep connection between computability and the physical world and/or the human mind.”7 “On Computable Numbers” secured a Proctor Fellowship for its author, who went to Princeton University in 1937 to complete his doctoral thesis under Alonzo Church.

“During the battle of Champagne in April 1917,” wrote Richardson in the preface to his Weather Prediction by Numerical Process (1922), “the working copy was sent to the rear, where it became lost, to be rediscovered some months later under a heap of coal.”26 Richardson imagined partitioning the earth’s surface into several thousand meteorological cells, relaying current observations to the arched galleries and sunken amphitheater of a great hall, where some 64,000 human computers would continuously evaluate the equations governing each cell’s relations with its immediate neighbors, constructing a numerical model of the earth’s weather in real time. “Perhaps some day in the dim future, it will be possible to advance the computations faster than the weather advances,” hoped Richardson, “and at a cost less than the saving to mankind due to the information gained.”27 Richardson thereby anticipated massively parallel computing, his 64,000 mathematicians reincarnated seventy years later as the multiple processors of Danny Hillis’s Connection Machine. “We had decided to simplify things by starting out with only 64,000 processors,” explained Hillis, recalling how Richard Feynman helped him bring Lewis Richardson’s fantasy to life.28 Even without the Connection Machine, Richardson’s approach to cellular modeling would be widely adopted once it became possible to assign one high-speed digital computer rather than 64,000 human beings to keep track of numerical values and relations among individual cells.

 

pages: 339 words: 57,031

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner

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1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, bioinformatics, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, game design, George Gilder, global village, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, theory of mind, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yom Kippur War

Now, in the late 1980s, as the cold war wound to a close, Brand, de Geus, and Schwartz melded countercultural and cybernetic rhetoric, practice, and social theory to help corporate executives model and manage their work lives in a post-Fordist economy. In keeping with Brand and de Geus’s first discussions, the six semiannual Learning Conferences were designed to explore the dynamics of group learning. Brand staged the events in environments that he considered to be “learning systems” in their own right. One meeting took place at Biosphere 2 in the Arizona desert; another involved a visit to Danny Hillis’s Thinking Machines Corporation in Cambridge, Massachusetts; a third brought participants to the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Like the Media Lab, these sites were meant to be both material and metaphorical. That is, they would allow participants to simultaneously study and engage with a “system” as it learned. They would also allow new interpersonal networks to form. The conferences were jointly sponsored by Shell, AT&T, and Volvo.

“One language Networking the New Economy [ 183 ] that we found in common— even amongst our different disciplines—was the idea of distributed learning,” Brand later remembered. The notion of distributed learning, in which individuals learn together as elements in a system, was simultaneously congenial to Shell executives (“because that’s pretty much how they do their administration”), to cyberneticians such as Francisco Varela (because it seemed to describe his notion of “awakening systems”), to computer engineers like Danny Hillis (because it was a conceptual element of massively parallel computing), and to Brand’s own “‘access to tools’ approach to life.”11 Gradually, Brand later remembered, this rhetoric of distributed learning appeared to offer the answer to the questions that the founders of the conferences had first hoped to address: “We came to feel that the question of how you accelerate learning or adaptivity has already become answered—by distributed adaptivity or learning.

These members had been brought together over a number of years through the entrepreneurial bridging of structural holes by the principals, particularly by Stewart Brand. Early members, such as Douglas Engelbart, Mary Catherine Bateson, biologist Lynn Margulis, and ecologist Peter Warshall, represented Brand’s time at the Whole Earth Catalog and CoEvolution Quarterly and his journeys to SRI and Xerox PARC. Others, such as computer scientist Danny Hillis and sociologist Sherry Turkle, suggested Brand’s links to MIT. Together, the network members represented a handful of groups: computer technologists, economists and financial analysts, corporate executives, natural scientists, journalists, and technology-oriented artists. They also had a distinctly male and, as journalist Joel Garreau put it with consummate tact, “Anglo-American cast.” Of the 90 network members in place in 1994, only 15 were women, and only 3 were non-Caucasian.29 Although a few network members quietly complained about the lack of diversity at GBN, Brand later suggested that it was both a product and a productive feature of the network organizational form.

 

pages: 380 words: 118,675

The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon by Brad Stone

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3D printing, airport security, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, bank run, Bernie Madoff, big-box store, Black Swan, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, call centre, centre right, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collapse of Lehman Brothers, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, Douglas Hofstadter, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, game design, housing crisis, invention of movable type, inventory management, James Dyson, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kodak vs Instagram, late fees, loose coupling, low skilled workers, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, optical character recognition, pets.com, Ponzi scheme, quantitative hedge fund, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Rodney Brooks, search inside the book, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, skunkworks, Skype, statistical arbitrage, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Thomas L Friedman, Tony Hsieh, Whole Earth Catalog, why are manhole covers round?

Shaw felt strongly that if DESCO was going to be a firm that pioneered new approaches to investing, the only way to maintain its lead was to keep its insights secret and avoid teaching competitors how to think about these new computer-guided frontiers. David Shaw came of age in the dawning era of powerful new supercomputers. He earned a PhD in computer science from Stanford in 1980 and then moved to New York to teach in Columbia’s computer science department. Throughout the early eighties, high-tech companies tried to lure him to the private sector. Inventor Danny Hillis, founder of the supercomputer manufacturer Thinking Machines Corporation and later one of Jeff Bezos’s closest friends, almost convinced Shaw to come work for him designing parallel computers. Shaw tentatively accepted the job and then changed his mind, telling Hillis he wanted to do something more lucrative and could always return to the supercomputer field after he got wealthy. Hillis argued that even if Shaw did get rich—which seemed unlikely—he’d never return to computer science.

In the atrium of the building, there is a full-scale steampunk model of a Victorian-era spaceship as it might have been described in the fiction of Jules Verne, complete with a cockpit, brass controls, and nineteenth-century furnishings. Visitors can venture inside, sit on the velvet-covered seats, and imagine themselves as intrepid explorers in the time of Captain Nemo and Phileas Fogg. “To an imaginative child, it would look like an artifact,” says Bezos’s friend Danny Hillis. Like other great entrepreneurs, including Walt Disney, Henry Ford, and Steve Jobs, Bezos was turning imagination into reality, the fancies of his youth into actual physical things. “Space for Jeff is not a year 2000 or a year 2010 opportunity,” says Hillis. “It’s been a dream of humanity’s for centuries and it will continue to be one for centuries. Jeff sees himself and Blue Origin as part of that bigger story.

Like the late Steve Jobs, Bezos has gradually worn down employees, investors, and a skeptical public and turned them toward his way of thinking. Any process can be improved. Defects that are invisible to the knowledgeable may be obvious to newcomers. The simplest solutions are the best. Repeating all these anecdotes isn’t rote monotony—it’s calculated strategy. “The rest of us try to muddle around with complicated contradictory goals and it makes it harder for people to help us,” says his friend Danny Hillis. “Jeff is very clear and simple about his goals, and the way he articulates them makes it easy for others, because it’s consistent. “If you look at why Amazon is so different than almost any other company that started early on the Internet, it’s because Jeff approached it from the very beginning with that long-term vision,” Hillis continues. “It was a multidecade project. The notion that he can accomplish a huge amount with a larger time frame, if he is steady about it, is fundamentally his philosophy

 

pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

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3D printing, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight

As the Red Queen said to Alice in Through the Looking Glass, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.” In this view, organisms are in a perpetual arms race with parasites, and sex helps keep the population varied, so that no single germ can infect all of it. If this is the answer, then sex is irrelevant to machine learning, at least until learned programs have to vie with computer viruses for processor time and memory. (Intriguingly, Danny Hillis claims that deliberately introducing coevolving parasites into a genetic algorithm can help it escape local maxima by gradually ratcheting up the difficulty, but no one has followed up on this yet.) Christos Papadimitriou and colleagues have shown that sex optimizes not fitness but what they call mixability: a gene’s ability to do well on average when combined with other genes. This can be useful when the fitness function is either not known or not constant, as in natural selection, but in machine learning and optimization, hill climbing tends to do better.

Nils Nilsson’s The Quest for Artificial Intelligence (Cambridge University Press, 2010) tells the story of AI from its earliest days. Chapter One Nine Algorithms That Changed the Future, by John MacCormick (Princeton University Press, 2012), describes some of the most important algorithms in computer science, with a chapter on machine learning. Algorithms,* by Sanjoy Dasgupta, Christos Papadimitriou, and Umesh Vazirani (McGraw-Hill, 2008), is a concise introductory textbook on the subject. The Pattern on the Stone, by Danny Hillis (Basic Books, 1998), explains how computers work. Walter Isaacson recounts the lively history of computer science in The Innovators (Simon & Schuster, 2014). “Spreadsheet data manipulation using examples,”* by Sumit Gulwani, William Harris, and Rishabh Singh (Communications of the ACM, 2012), is an example of how computers can program themselves by observing users. Competing on Analytics, by Tom Davenport and Jeanne Harris (HBS Press, 2007), is an introduction to the use of predictive analytics in business.

John Koza’s Genetic Programming* (MIT Press, 1992) is the key reference on this paradigm. An evolved robot soccer team is described in “Evolving team Darwin United,”* by David Andre and Astro Teller, in RoboCup-98: Robot Soccer World Cup II, edited by Minoru Asada and Hiroaki Kitano (Springer, 1999). Genetic Programming III,* by John Koza, Forrest Bennett III, David Andre, and Martin Keane (Morgan Kaufmann, 1999), includes many examples of evolved electronic circuits. Danny Hillis argues that parasites are good for evolution in “Co-evolving parasites improve simulated evolution as an optimization procedure”* (Physica D, 1990). Adi Livnat, Christos Papadimitriou, Jonathan Dushoff, and Marcus Feldman propose that sex optimizes mixability in “A mixability theory of the role of sex in evolution”* (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2008). Kevin Lang’s paper comparing genetic programming and hill climbing is “Hill climbing beats genetic search on a Boolean circuit synthesis problem of Koza’s”* (Proceedings of the Twelfth International Conference on Machine Learning, 1995).

 

pages: 331 words: 60,536

The Sovereign Individual: How to Survive and Thrive During the Collapse of the Welfare State by James Dale Davidson, Rees Mogg

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affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, bank run, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, borderless world, British Empire, California gold rush, clean water, colonial rule, Columbine, compound rate of return, Danny Hillis, debt deflation, ending welfare as we know it, epigenetics, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, George Gilder, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Isaac Newton, Kevin Kelly, market clearing, Martin Wolf, Menlo Park, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, Parkinson's law, pattern recognition, phenotype, price mechanism, profit maximization, rent-seeking, reserve currency, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, school vouchers, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, spice trade, statistical model, telepresence, The Nature of the Firm, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transaction costs, Turing machine, union organizing, very high income

They all soar up to an asymptote just beyond the turn of the century: The Singularity. The end of everything we know. The beginning of something we may never understand"1 -Danny Hillis PREMONITIONS The coming of the year 2000 has haunted the Western imagination for the past thousand years. Ever since the world failed to end at the turn of the first millennium after Christ, theologians, evangelists, poets, and seers have looked to the end of this decade with an expectation that it would bring something momentous. No less an authority than Isaac Newton speculated that the world would end with the year 2000. Michel de Nostradamus, whose prophecies have been read by every generation since they were first 1 Danny Hillis, "The Millennium Clock," Wired, Special Edition, Fall 1995, p.48. 1 published in 1568, forecast the coming of the Third Antichrist in July 1999.2 Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, connoisseur of the "collective unconscious," envisioned the birth of a New Age in 1997.

Because incomes for the very rich will rise faster than for others in advanced economies, an area of growing demand will be services and products that cater to the needs of the very rich. The growing danger of crime, particularly embezzlement and undetectable theft, will make morality and honor among associates more crucial and highly valued than it was during the Industrial Era, particularly in its waning years. 312 Footnotes Chapter 1. The Transition of the Year 2000: The Fourth Stage of Human Society 1. Danny Hillis, "The Millennium Clock," Wired, Special Edition, Fall 1995,p.48. 2. Ericka Cheetham, The Final Prophecies of Nostradamus (New York: Putnam,1989), p.424. 3. Johan Huizinga, The Waning of the Middle Ages, trans. E Hopman (London:Penguin Books, 1990), p.172. 4. James George Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion (New York: Macmillan, 1951), p.105. 5. For more detail about fragmented sovereignties as a precursor and alternative to the nation-state, see Charles Tilly, Coercion, Capital and European States AD 990-1992 (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993). 6.

 

pages: 379 words: 109,612

Is the Internet Changing the Way You Think?: The Net's Impact on Our Minds and Future by John Brockman

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asperger Syndrome, availability heuristic, Benoit Mandelbrot, biofilm, Black Swan, British Empire, conceptual framework, corporate governance, Danny Hillis, Douglas Engelbart, Emanuel Derman, epigenetics, Flynn Effect, Frank Gehry, Google Earth, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, information retrieval, Internet Archive, invention of writing, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, out of africa, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, social graph, social software, social web, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, Ted Nelson, telepresence, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, theory of mind, trade route, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

The art of a good question is to find a balance between the abstract and the personal, to ask a question that has many answers—or at least a question to which you don’t know the answer. A good question encourages answers that are grounded in experience but bigger than any experience alone. I wanted Edge’s contributors to think about the Internet, which includes but is a much bigger subject than the Web or an application on the Internet (or searching, browsing, and so forth, which are apps on the Web). Back in 1996, computer scientist and visionary Danny Hillis pointed out: “A lot of people think the Web is the Internet, and they’re missing something. The Web is the old media incorporated into the new medium.” He enlarges on that thought in the introduction. This year, I enlisted the aid of Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator of the Serpentine Gallery in London, and the artist April Gornik, one of the early members of the Reality Club, to help broaden the Edge conversation—or, rather, to bring it back to where it was in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when April gave a talk at a Reality Club meeting and discussed the influence of chaos theory on her work, and Benoit Mandelbrot showed up to discuss fractal theory.

The members of my guild run their own operations, and none of us reports to any other. All we do is keep close track of what the others are thinking and doing. Often we collaborate directly, but most of the time we don’t. Everyone in my guild has his or her own guild, each of which is largely different from mine. I’m probably not considered a member of some of them. My guild nowadays consists of Danny Hillis, Brian Eno, Peter Schwartz, Kevin Kelly, John Brockman, Alexander Rose, and Ryan Phelan. Occasionally we intersect institutionally via the Long Now Foundation, Global Business Network, or Edge.org. One’s guild is a conversation extending over years and decades. I hearken to my gang because we have overlapping interests, and my gang keeps surprising me. Familiar as I am with them, I can’t finish their sentences.

 

pages: 385 words: 101,761

Creative Intelligence: Harnessing the Power to Create, Connect, and Inspire by Bruce Nussbaum

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3D printing, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, clean water, collapse of Lehman Brothers, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, declining real wages, demographic dividend, Elon Musk, en.wikipedia.org, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, follow your passion, game design, housing crisis, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, invisible hand, James Dyson, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, John Gruber, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, lone genius, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, Martin Wolf, new economy, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, race to the bottom, reshoring, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, Tesla Model S, The Chicago School, The Design of Experiments, the High Line, The Myth of the Rational Market, thinkpad, Tim Cook: Apple, too big to fail, tulip mania, We are the 99%, Y Combinator, young professional, Zipcar

but also “What aren’t we measuring?” CRACKING THE CODE OF CREATIVITY I wasn’t the only one asking these kinds of questions. By the middle of the first decade of the twenty-first century, design thinking had become wildly popular. Ironically, it was during a discussion about design thinking and innovation that some of us came to see the limits of focusing on design alone. I had joined Danny Hillis at his Applied Minds studio in Glendale, California, on October 30, 2007, along with the big guns in design, design thinking, and innovation—Larry Keeley from Doblin, Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, and Patrick Whitney at the IIT Institute of Design in Chicago. Hillis, a world-class innovator who invented parallel computers and worked for both Disney and the US military (secret stuff), wanted to talk more about the process of innovation.

CHAPTER 2 11 In 1992 BusinessWeek began supporting: Bruce Nussbaum, “The Best Product Designs of the Year,” BusinessWeek, June 7, 1992, http://www.businessweek.com/stories/1992-06-07/ winners-the-best-product-designs-of-the-year. 11 What is now called the International: The IDEA was originally called the Industrial Design Excellence Awards and changed in the late nineties to be more global. 11 In April 2006, the magazine teamed up with: Bruce Nussbaum, “The World’s Most Innovative Companies,” BusinessWeek, April 23, 2006, http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-04-23/ the-worlds-most-innovative-companies. 11 Then, in 2008, my team: Bruce Nussbaum, “S&P/BusinessWeek Global Innovation Index,” BusinessWeek, May 1, 2008, http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-05-01/ s-and-p-businessweek-global-innovation-indexbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice. 11 Between our many lists, the index: Bruce Nussbaum, “BusinessWeek Is Launching INside Innovation,” BusinessWeek, May 13, 2006, http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2006-05-13/ business-week-is-launching-inside-innovation-dot; http://www.designing-media.com/interviews/BruceNussbaum, accessed October 15, 2012. 13 Frustrated, I began asking around: personal record. 13 from Kaiser Permanente’s shift: Bruce Nussbaum, “The Power of Design,” BusinessWeek, May 17, 2004. 13 to P&G’s development of the Swiffer: Bruce Nussbaum, “Get Creative! How to Build Innovative Companies,” BusinessWeek, August 1, 2005. 13 Years after I initially began these conversations: personal record. 14 I had joined Danny Hillis: I’d been covering design for more than a decade by the time of this meeting and was on a first-name basis with most of those attending it. They were what management consultants called “thought leaders” in innovation and design. They were, in fact, among the leading thought leaders of the field in the world. I’ve spoken at conferences organized by Patrick Whitney and have been onstage with Roger Martin and Larry Keeley. 15 While most Fortune 500s were no longer: Davis Dyer, Frederick Dalzell, and Rowena Olegario, Rising Tide: Lessons from 165 Years of Brand Building at Procter & Gamble (Boston: Harvard Business Review Press, 2004). 15 With products like the Swiffer mop: Henry W.

 

pages: 100 words: 28,911

A Short Guide to a Long Life by David B. Agus

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Danny Hillis, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, personalized medicine, placebo effect, risk tolerance, the scientific method

I also have to thank those who continue to support and inspire me on a regular basis, including Jeff Fager, Sandy Gleysteen, Gayle King, Jonathan LaPook, Chris Licht, Norah O’Donnell, Karolyn Pearson, David Rhodes, and Charlie Rose at CBS News, who empower me to be able to educate and inform. To Dominick Anfuso, Marc Benioff, Gerald Breslauer, Eli Broad, Bill Campbell, Michael Dell, Larry Ellison, Robert Evans, Murray Gell-Mann, Al Gore, Brad Grey, Davis Guggenheim, Danny Hillis, Walter Isaacson, Peter Jacobs, Clifton Leaf, Max Nikias, Fabian Oberfeld, Howard Owens, Shimon Peres, Maury Povich, Carmen Puliafito, Bruce Ramer, Sumner Redstone, Joe Schoendorf, Dov Seidman, Bonnie Solow, Steven Spielberg, Elle Stephens, Yossi Vardi, Jay Walker, David Weissman, and Neil Young: your mentorship, friendship, and advice are truly appreciated. Thanks to Steve Bennett and his team at AuthorBytes for their creative and dynamic website management, as well as Josh Greenstein, Amy Powell, and Karen Hermelin of Paramount Pictures for their fantastic guidance in getting people to listen to the “health” message.

 

pages: 846 words: 232,630

Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life by Daniel C. Dennett

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Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, buy low sell high, cellular automata, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Conway's Game of Life, Danny Hillis, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, finite state, Gödel, Escher, Bach, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, John von Neumann, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, non-fiction novel, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, QWERTY keyboard, random walk, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Schrödinger's Cat, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thomas Malthus, Turing machine, Turing test

(And if you can't write a good book about evolution witii the help of this sterling group of editors, you should give up!) Many others answered crucial questions, and clarified my thinking in {14} dozens of conversations: Ron Amundsen, Robert Axelrod, Jonathan Bennett, Robert Brandon, Madeline Caviness, Tim Clutton-Brock, Leda Cosmides, Helena Cronin, Arthur Danto, Mark De Voto, Marc Feldman, Murray Gell-Mann, Peter Godfrey-Smith, Steve Gould, Danny Hillis, John Holland, Alastair Houston, David Hoy, Bredo Johnsen, Stu Kauffman, Chris Langton, Dick Lewontin, John Maynard Smith, Jim Moore, Roger Penrose, Joanne Phillips, Robert Richards, Mark and Matt (the Ridley conspecifics), Dick Schacht, Jeff Schank, Elliot Sober, John Tooby, Robert Trivers, Peter Van Inwagen, George Williams, David Sloan Wilson, Edward O. Wilson, and BUI Wimsatt. I want to thank my agent, John Brockman, for steering this big project past many shoals, and helping me see ways of making it a better book.

To them, this gift from outer space will exhibit an utterly mysterious regularity, totally beyond all analytic probes, unless they hit upon the idea that each box contains a description of a world, and that the descriptions are of the same world. It is the fact that each box bears multifarious semantic relationships to the same things, though expressed in different "terminology" and differently axiomatized, that grounds the regularity. When I tried this thought experiment out on Danny Hillis, creator of the Connection Machine, he thought immediately of a cryptographic "solution" to the puzzle, and then granted that my solution could be profitably viewed as a special case of his solution: "Al and Bo were using the world as a 'one-time pad!'" — an apt allusion to a standard technique of encryption. You can see the point by imagining a variation. You and your best friend are about to be captured by hostile forces, who may know English but not much about your world.

Molecular chaperones were named by analogy to the functions of chaperones at a debutante ball: their role was to encourage some interactions and to discourage others." For recent details, see Martin et al. 1993, Ellis and van der Vies 1991. 4. Eigen suggests that there is a reason why there are four letters, not two, but I am not going to pass it on. Perhaps you can figure out for yourself what it might be before seeing what Eigen says. You already have at your fingertips the relevant principles of engineering to give it a good shot. 5. Danny Hillis, the creator of the Connection Machine, once told me a story about some computer scientists who designed an electronic component for a military application (I think it was part of a guidance system in airplanes). Their prototype had two circuit boards, and the top one kept sagging, so, casting about for a quick fix, they spotted a brass doorknob in the lab which had just the right thickness.

 

pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

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3D printing, agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Following this logic, we might conclude that there’s a primitive global brain, consisting not just of all connected devices but also of the connected humans using those devices. The senses of that global brain are the cameras, microphones, keyboards, location sensors of every computer, smartphone, and “Internet of Things” device. The thoughts of that global brain are the collective output of millions of individual contributing cells. Danny Hillis is said to have remarked, “Global consciousness is that thing responsible for deciding that decaffeinated coffeepots should be orange.” The meme spread—not universally, to be sure, but sufficiently that the pattern propagates. News, ideas, and images now propagate across the global brain in seconds rather than years via search engines and social media. And it isn’t just ideas and sensations (news of current events) that spread across the network.

The foreseeable danger comes not from AIs but from those humans in which predatory programs for dominance have been triggered, and who are deploying ever-growing arsenals of technological (including computational) tools for winning conflicts by inflicting destruction. THOUGHT-STEALING MACHINES MAXIMILIAN SCHICH Art historian; associate professor for art and technology, University of Texas, Dallas Machines increasingly do things we previously considered thinking, but that we don’t do anymore because now machines do them. I stole this thought more or less accurately from Danny Hillis, father of the Connection Machine and the Knowledge Graph. Stealing thoughts is a common activity in the thought processes of both humans and machines. Indeed, when we humans think, much of the content of our thoughts comes from past experience or the documented experience of others. Very rarely do we come up with something completely new. Our machines aren’t much different. What is called cognitive computing is in essence nothing but a sophisticated thought-stealing mechanism, driven by a vast amount of knowledge and a complicated set of algorithmic processes.

 

pages: 200 words: 60,987

The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson

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Albert Einstein, Chance favours the prepared mind, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, Danny Hillis, discovery of DNA, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kevin Kelly, planetary scale, side project, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I’m grateful to several institutions for their willingness to let me work through the major themes of this book in public. First, NYU’s School of Journalism, for letting me teach a graduate seminar on Cultural Ecosystems, and my students there who contributed so many helpful ideas (and who, I’m thankful to report, shot down more than a few of my less helpful ones). My friends at the Long Now Foundation—Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly, Brian Eno, Danny Hillis, and Alexander Rose—were kind enough to invite me to discuss the “long zoom” approach to cultural history at one of their seminars in long-term thinking in 2007. I was also lucky enough to be invited to discuss these issues onstage with Brian at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London. I’m also indebted to Larry Lessig for the Jefferson quote at the beginning of this book, an early link that led me to one of the book’s major themes.

 

pages: 274 words: 75,846

The Filter Bubble: What the Internet Is Hiding From You by Eli Pariser

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, A Pattern Language, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, Black Swan, borderless world, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, citizen journalism, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, disintermediation, don't be evil, Filter Bubble, Flash crash, fundamental attribution error, global village, Haight Ashbury, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, Netflix Prize, new economy, PageRank, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, recommendation engine, RFID, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, social software, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the scientific method, urban planning, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y Combinator

He quotes Peter Norvig, Google’s research director: “All models are wrong, and increasingly you can succeed without them.” There’s plenty to be said for this approach, but it’s worth remembering the downside: Machines may be able to see results without models, but humans can’t understand without them. There’s value in making the processes that run our lives comprehensible to the humans who, at least in theory, are their beneficiaries. Supercomputer inventor Danny Hillis once said that the greatest achievement of human technology is tools that allow us to create more than we understand. That’s true, but the same trait is also the source of our greatest disasters. The more the code driving personalization comes to resemble the complexity of human cognition, the harder it’ll be to understand why or how it’s making the decisions it makes. A simple coded rule that bars people from one group or class from certain kinds of access is easy to spot, but when the same action is the result of a swirling mass of correlations in a global supercomputer, it’s a trickier problem.

 

pages: 369 words: 80,355

Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room by David Weinberger

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airport security, Alfred Russel Wallace, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Berlin Wall, Black Swan, book scanning, Cass Sunstein, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, David Brooks, Debian, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, en.wikipedia.org, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, future of journalism, Galaxy Zoo, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telegraph, jimmy wales, John Harrison: Longitude, Kevin Kelly, linked data, Netflix Prize, New Journalism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, openstreetmap, P = NP, Pluto: dwarf planet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, slashdot, social graph, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

The truth is that all I knew about Louis IX was that he very likely came after Louis VIII and before Louis X. Some facts and ideas in Carr’s book inevitably came from similar sorts of interchanges. Thought is never private. Nor should it be. When Carr’s initial article came out in The Atlantic, there was some wonderful discussion of it among the elite set of thinkers—including Carr—who converse at Edge.org.14 Danny Hillis, a computing pioneer, agrees that something is making us stupid, but thinks that the “the flood of information” is the culprit. He also points to the role of politics. The writer Kevin Kelly wonders whether Nietzsche’s prose “changed from arguments to aphorisms” because he started using a typewriter, as Carr says, or if it was because “Nietzsche was ill and dying.” Larry Sanger, co-founder (and then critic) of Wikipedia, agrees that we’re becoming less able to string together thoughts, but thinks we should be blaming ourselves, not our technology.

 

pages: 468 words: 233,091

Founders at Work: Stories of Startups' Early Days by Jessica Livingston

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8-hour work day, affirmative action, AltaVista, Apple II, Brewster Kahle, business process, Byte Shop, Danny Hillis, don't be evil, fear of failure, financial independence, Firefox, full text search, game design, Googley, HyperCard, illegal immigration, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, nuclear winter, Paul Buchheit, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Sand Hill Road, side project, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, software patent, South of Market, San Francisco, Startup school, stealth mode startup, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, web application, Y Combinator

The Alexa toolbar tracked user browsing behavior and suggested related links using collaborative filtering. Once captured, pages visited by users would then be “donated” to the related nonprofit Internet Archive, to help build a history of the Web. Alexa was acquired by Amazon in 1999. Kahle continues to run the Internet Archive. Livingston: You were one of the first members of the Thinking Machines team. What number employee were you? Kahle: I was not one of the two founders—they were Danny Hillis and Sheryl Handler. I was on the project team at MIT, so when we started the company, anybody from that team that wanted to come came. There were three or four of us. We had been working on it for a couple years before there was a company. Livingston: Tell me about some big things back in the Thinking Machines days that helped pave the way for WAIS. Kahle: Thinking Machines was not my doing, but I was on the project team beforehand and then helped start the company.

Otherwise, a couple years go by, and you say, “What really happened?” Livingston: Who were your mentors? 278 Founders at Work Kahle: I’ve had two. Most people don’t have mentors. They say, “Well, I’ve had influential teachers. I’ve learned a lot from this person.” But they don’t think of it as a mentor. A mentor is a life guide, somebody that you might work with, but somebody who is helpful toward watching bigger issues about things that guide your life. Danny Hillis, who was 4 years older and whom I worked for at MIT and Thinking Machines, has been a guide and a help ever since. The other was Bill Dunn. I found those two men, both being very kind and smart, had the ability to know what was going to happen—even though they had way too little information. I’d always sort of note down their wild ideas and think, “Did they come about?” A few years later you find out they were right.

 

pages: 292 words: 81,699

More Joel on Software by Joel Spolsky

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barriers to entry, Black Swan, Build a better mousetrap, business process, call centre, Danny Hillis, failed state, Firefox, George Gilder, low cost carrier, Mars Rover, Network effects, Paul Graham, performance metric, place-making, price discrimination, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Oldenburg, Sand Hill Road, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social software, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Superbowl ad, The Great Good Place, type inference, unpaid internship, wage slave, web application, Y Combinator

And in fact, five years down the line, people will still remember their first impression of 1.0, and it will be almost impossible to get them to reevaluate. Think about what happened to poor Marimba. They launched their company with infinite VC in the days of hyper-Java hype, having lured the key developers from the Java team at Sun. They had a 260 More from Joel on Software CEO, Kim Polese, who was brilliant at public relations; when she was marketing Java, she had Danny Hillis making speeches about how Java was the next step in human evolution; George Gilder wrote these breathless articles about how Java was going to completely upturn the very nature of human civilization. Compared to Java, we were to believe, monotheism, for example, was just a wee blip. Polese is that good. So when Marimba Castanet launched, it probably had more unearned hype than any product in history, but the developers had only been working on it for a total of . . . four months.

 

pages: 294 words: 81,292

Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era by James Barrat

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3D printing, AI winter, Amazon Web Services, artificial general intelligence, Automated Insights, Bernie Madoff, Bill Joy: nanobots, brain emulation, cellular automata, cloud computing, cognitive bias, computer vision, cuban missile crisis, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Danny Hillis, data acquisition, don't be evil, Extropian, finite state, Flash crash, friendly AI, friendly fire, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Loebner Prize, lone genius, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Nicholas Carr, optical character recognition, PageRank, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, prisoner's dilemma, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, Skype, smart grid, speech recognition, statistical model, stealth mode startup, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, traveling salesman, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, zero day

Yet we don’t quite understand the process—it’s getting ahead of us. We’re now using programs to make much faster computers so the process can run much faster. That’s what’s so confusing—technologies are feeding back on themselves; we’re taking off. We’re at that point analogous to when single-celled organisms were turning into multi-celled organisms. We are amoebas and we can’t figure out what the hell this thing is that we’re creating. —Danny Hillis, founder of Thinking Machines, Inc. You and I live at an interesting and sensitive time in human history. By about 2030, less than a generation from now, it could be our challenge to cohabit Earth with superintelligent machines, and to survive. AI theorists return again and again to a handful of themes, none more urgent than this one: we need a science for understanding them. So far we’ve explored a disaster scenario called the Busy Child.

 

pages: 323 words: 95,939

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now by Douglas Rushkoff

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algorithmic trading, Andrew Keen, bank run, Benoit Mandelbrot, big-box store, Black Swan, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, cashless society, citizen journalism, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, disintermediation, Donald Trump, double helix, East Village, Elliott wave, European colonialism, Extropian, facts on the ground, Flash crash, game design, global supply chain, global village, Howard Rheingold, hypertext link, Inbox Zero, invention of agriculture, invention of hypertext, invisible hand, iterative process, John Nash: game theory, Kevin Kelly, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, loss aversion, mandelbrot fractal, Marshall McLuhan, Merlin Mann, Milgram experiment, mutually assured destruction, Network effects, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, passive investing, pattern recognition, peak oil, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, Ralph Nelson Elliott, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, South Sea Bubble, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks, Y2K

For the environment, it is fixing our focus on where to find the cheapest gallon of gasoline, with little awareness of the hundreds of thousands of years it took for the energy within it to be accumulated and compressed. Or throwing a plastic bottle into the trash because the recycle bin is thirty seconds out of our way—even though the plastic will become part of the planet’s landfill for hundreds of years until it decomposes into toxic chemicals for hundreds or thousands more. For Brand, the solution is to expand our awareness of the larger, slower cycles. He is working with inventor Danny Hillis to build a 10,000-year clock—a clock of the “long now” that changes our orientation to time. His hope is that by beholding this tremendous time-keeping structure in the desert (itself the product of a multigenerational effort), we will be able to experience or at least perceive the bigger cycles that evade us in our daily schedules. In addition, instead of writing our years with four digits, Brand encourages us to use five, as in 02020 instead of 2020, keeping us aware of the much larger timescales on which important activity is still occurring.

 

pages: 391 words: 105,382

Utopia Is Creepy: And Other Provocations by Nicholas Carr

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Air France Flight 447, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Mechanical Turk, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, centralized clearinghouse, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, computer age, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, deskilling, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, factory automation, failed state, feminist movement, Frederick Winslow Taylor, friendly fire, game design, global village, Google bus, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Googley, hive mind, impulse control, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, job automation, Kevin Kelly, low skilled workers, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, mental accounting, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, oil shale / tar sands, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, robot derives from the Czech word robota Czech, meaning slave, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, SETI@home, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Singularitarianism, Snapchat, social graph, social web, speech recognition, Startup school, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, technoutopianism, the medium is the message, theory of mind, Turing test, Whole Earth Catalog, Y Combinator

“Every bathroom stall on the company campus holds a Japanese high-tech commode with a heated seat,” the paper reports. “If a flush is not enough, a wireless button on the door activates a bidet and drying.” Tacked up beside that button, apparently for entertainment purposes, is a sheet of paper with “a geek quiz that changes every few weeks and asks technical questions about testing programming code for bugs.” I’m reminded of what Danny Hillis, the distinguished computer scientist whose work on parallel processing paved the way for Google’s computer system, once said about the human race: We’re the metabolic thing, which is the monkey that walks around, and we’re the intelligent thing, which is a set of ideas and culture. And those two things have coevolved together, because they helped each other. But they’re fundamentally different things.

 

pages: 346 words: 92,984

The Lucky Years: How to Thrive in the Brave New World of Health by David B. Agus

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3D printing, active transport: walking or cycling, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Albert Einstein, butterfly effect, clean water, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, Drosophila, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, en.wikipedia.org, epigenetics, Kickstarter, medical residency, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, microcredit, mouse model, Murray Gell-Mann, New Journalism, pattern recognition, personalized medicine, phenotype, placebo effect, publish or perish, randomized controlled trial, risk tolerance, statistical model, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Thomas Malthus, wikimedia commons

To the research team including lab chief Shannon Mumenthaler, Jonathan Katz, Dan Ruderman, Paul Macklin, Kian Kani, and Yvonne Suarez, and the rest of the dedicated scientists. Thank you for pushing my thinking forward and your work in figuring out better ways to understand and treat disease. To my science mentors, collaborators, and friends Andrea Armani, Anthony Atala, Anna Barker, Paul Davies, Scott Fraser, Sam Gambhir, Murray Gell-Mann, Inderbir Gill, Dana Goldman, Danny Hillis, Cliff Hudis, Carl Kesselman, Parag Mallick, Franziska Michor, Vincent Miller, Larry Norton, Carmen Puliafito, Michael Quick, Chris Rose, Howard Scher, P. K. Shah, Jeff Trent, and Yannis Yortsos. I have the privilege of seeing the breaking health and technology information daily through my involvement with CBS News. Many of the ideas discussed in The Lucky Years originated from stories I initially did with CBS This Morning.

 

pages: 696 words: 143,736

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

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

BUT IF I THINK OF ANYTHING ELSE INTERESTING TO TELL YOU, I’LL HAVE MY VIRTUAL ASSISTANT CONTACT YOURS. Hey, I don’t have one, remember I’m stuck in 1999. TOO BAD. I GUESS I’LL JUST HAVE TO VISIT YOU MYSELF THEN. “Smaller, more powerful chips allow me to have a smaller head.” CHAPTER ELEVEN 2029 I’m as fond of my body as anyone else, but if I can be 200 with a body of silicon, I’ll take it. —Danny Hillis The Computer Itself A $1,000 unit of computation (in circa-1999 dollars) has the computing capacity of approximately 1,000 human brains (1,000 times 20 million billion—that is, 2 times 1019—calculations per second). Of the total computing capacity of the human species (that is, all human brains) combined with the computing technology humans initiated the creation of, more than 99 percent is nonhuman.1 The vast majority of “computes” of nonhuman computing is now conducted on massively parallel neural nets, much of which is based on the reverse engineering of the human brain.

 

pages: 402 words: 110,972

Nerds on Wall Street: Math, Machines and Wired Markets by David J. Leinweber

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AI winter, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, butterfly effect, buttonwood tree, buy low sell high, capital asset pricing model, citizen journalism, collateralized debt obligation, corporate governance, Craig Reynolds: boids flock, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, Danny Hillis, demand response, disintermediation, distributed generation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Emanuel Derman, en.wikipedia.org, experimental economics, financial innovation, Gordon Gekko, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, information retrieval, Internet Archive, John Nash: game theory, Khan Academy, load shedding, Long Term Capital Management, Machine translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." to Russian and back, market fragmentation, market microstructure, Mars Rover, moral hazard, mutually assured destruction, natural language processing, Network effects, optical character recognition, paper trading, passive investing, pez dispenser, phenotype, prediction markets, quantitative hedge fund, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, QWERTY keyboard, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Renaissance Technologies, Richard Stallman, risk tolerance, risk-adjusted returns, risk/return, Ronald Reagan, semantic web, Sharpe ratio, short selling, Silicon Valley, Small Order Execution System, smart grid, smart meter, social web, South Sea Bubble, statistical arbitrage, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, time value of money, too big to fail, transaction costs, Turing machine, Upton Sinclair, value at risk, Vernor Vinge, yield curve, Yogi Berra

Birds do it, bees do it, even monkeys in the trees do it. But they all do it using wetware that we understand well enough to appreciate the crucial lessons for the next generation of AI paradigms. There is massive parallelism. Computation is going on all over the place, not in one instruction stream. Brains do not have accumulators. AI went parallel. Thinking Machines, founded by computational superstar Danny Hillis (son-in-law of Marvin Minsky, the pope of symbolic AI), gathered some of the leading lights to build and program massive machines with up to 64K (65,536) processors. That is a lot more than one, but still a lot less than the 100 billion neurons in the brain. You don’t need a machine with a billion processors to try out solutions that would use them. A simulator will do fine, if not as fast. For theory buffs, this is an example of the idea of a universal computation; a Turing machine or its equivalent can emulate anything you want.

 

pages: 413 words: 119,587

Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots by John Markoff

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A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, airport security, Apple II, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, Bill Duvall, bioinformatics, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, call centre, cellular automata, Chris Urmson, Claude Shannon: information theory, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Dean Kamen, deskilling, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Hofstadter, Dynabook, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, factory automation, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Hacker Ethic, haute couture, hive mind, hypertext link, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of the wheel, Jacques de Vaucanson, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, labor-force participation, loose coupling, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, medical residency, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, natural language processing, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, pre–internet, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Stallman, Robert Gordon, Rodney Brooks, Sand Hill Road, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, semantic web, shareholder value, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, skunkworks, Skype, social software, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, superintelligent machines, technological singularity, Ted Nelson, telemarketer, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tenerife airport disaster, The Coming Technological Singularity, the medium is the message, Thorstein Veblen, Turing test, Vannevar Bush, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Catalog, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

In contrast, Moravec built on his lifelong romance with robots. Though he has tempered his optimism, his overall faith never wavered. During the 1990s, in addition to writing his second book, he took two sabbaticals in an effort to hurry the process of perfecting the ability to permit machines to see and understand their environments so they could navigate and move freely. The first sabbatical he spent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, at Danny Hillis’s Thinking Machines Corporation, where Moravec hoped to take advantage of a supercomputer. But the new supercomputer, the CM-5, wasn’t ready. So he contented himself with refining his code on a workstation while waiting for the machine. By the end of his stay, he realized that he only needed to wait for the power of a supercomputer to come to his desktop rather than struggle to restructure his code so it would run on a special-purpose machine.

 

pages: 523 words: 143,139

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

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

So there’s a lot to look forward to in being that late-afternoon restaurant regular, savoring the fruits of a life’s explorations. 3 Sorting Making Order Nowe if the word, which thou art desirous to finde, begin with (a) then looke in the beginning of this Table, but if with (v) looke towards the end. Againe, if thy word beginne with (ca) looke in the beginning of the letter (c) but if with (cu) then looke toward the end of that letter. And so of all the rest. &c. —ROBERT CAWDREY, A TABLE ALPHABETICALL (1604) Before Danny Hillis founded the Thinking Machines corporation, before he invented the famous Connection Machine parallel supercomputer, he was an MIT undergraduate, living in the student dormitory, and horrified by his roommate’s socks. What horrified Hillis, unlike many a college undergraduate, wasn’t his roommate’s hygiene. It wasn’t that the roommate didn’t wash the socks; he did. The problem was what came next.

 

pages: 1,087 words: 325,295

Anathem by Neal Stephenson

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anthropic principle, cellular automata, Danny Hillis, double helix, interchangeable parts, nuclear winter, pattern recognition, phenotype, Stewart Brand, trade route

“It makes you wonder about the Cousins,” I said, thinking back to a wild notion that Arsibalt had raised last night: that the Cousins might have come, not just from another solar system, but from another cosmos. “Yes,” Criscan said, “it makes you wonder about the Cousins.” ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ANATHEM COULD NOT HAVE been written had the following not come first: the Millennium Clock project being carried out by Danny Hillis and his collaborators at the Long Now Foundation, including Stewart Brand and Alexander Rose. a philosophical lineage that can be traced from Thales through Plato, Leibniz, Kant, Gödel, and Husserl. the Orion project of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The author is, therefore, indebted to many more people than can comfortably be listed on a traditional acknowledgments page. The premise of the story, as well as the simple fact that it is a work of fiction, rule out the use of footnotes.

 

pages: 945 words: 292,893

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson

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clean water, Colonization of Mars, Danny Hillis, double helix, epigenetics, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Filipino sailors, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, kremlinology, Kuiper Belt, microbiome, phenotype, Potemkin village, pre–internet, random walk, remote working, side project, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, the scientific method, Tunguska event, zero day, éminence grise

During the same period I had also become aware of the immense amount of usable matter present in near-Earth asteroids. Thus by late 2006 I had come up with the basic premise of Seveneves. So the first acknowledgment goes to Blue Origin, which was founded circa 2000 by Jeff Bezos under the name Blue Operations LLC and where I had many interesting early conversations with him and other people involved with the company, including Jaime Taaffe, Maria Kaldis, Danny Hillis, George Dyson, and Keith Rosema. It was from Keith that I first heard the idea for the multilayered emergency shelter bubble that appears in this book under the name of Luk. Some of the Baikonur material is very freely adapted from the reminiscences and photographs of George Dyson, Esther Dyson, and Charles Simonyi. Hugh and Heather Matheson provided background on mining—the industry, the culture, and the lifestyle—which helped me in creating Dinah.

 

pages: 1,178 words: 388,227

Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson

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Danny Hillis, dark matter, en.wikipedia.org, Eratosthenes, Fellow of the Royal Society, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, retrograde motion, short selling, the scientific method, trade route, urban planning

We don’t know how it will come out. It’s an experiment. Why put the information on such a complicated system, when a simple FAQ is easier? Because we are hoping that the annotations of the book on this site will seed a body of knowledge called the Metaweb, which will eventually be something more generally useful than a list of FAQs about one and only one novel. The idea of the Metaweb was originated by Danny Hillis. My own view of the Metaweb is pretty straightforward: I don’t think that the Internet, as it currently exists, does a very good job of explaining things to people. It is great for selling stuff, distributing news and dirty pictures, and a few other things. But when you need to get a good explanation of something, whether it is a scientific principle, a bit of gardening advice, or how to change a tire, you have to sift through a vast number of pages to find the one that gives you the explanation that is right for you.