George Dyson gave a great exposure of the history of computing up through the last of the Von Neuman collaborators, drawing conclusions about how in the current age we are finally achieving the goals of Turing and von Neuman and the others in creating what is an intelligent set of machines – is Google alive?
The notes I took until I just couldn’t keep up:
“Intellectual activity consists mainly of different kinds of search” – Turing
One of the arguments against artificial intelligence is that it can’t be intelligent if it has ads – Butler thought in 1901 that intelligence would arrive from advertising.
The basic premise is that machines are both dumb and intelligent.
HG Wells thought of the World Brain, which is basically the Web, in 1938. He wanted it to be uncensored to prevent tyrrany.
Alfred Semee – Tried to figure out how the human mind worked electrically, in the mid 1800s. Wanted to build a search engine, but it would’ve been larger than the whole city of London.
Turing;s 1936 paper proposing a thinking machine was just as out there as Smee at the time – Godel argued that it couldn’t doe things that the mind could, but Turing thought differently.
The real founder of the whole digital thing was Hobbes, who invented the idea of recursive functions. The bigger question is not whether the machine can think, but is it alive? Liebniz invented the binary calculus, and invented the idea of a shift register. Von Neumann took off from Liebniz and built the adders. Back then they let physicists build things – they didn’t have Homeland Security and let Hungarians play with plutonium.
Exactly 50 years ago was the Von Neuman’s first status report.
The machine was built at IAS at Princeton – On the first floor was Einstein, Veblen, and von Newuman. Godel was upstairs above von Neuman.
Up till then mathematics had been used to mean things, now numbers are used to do things.
Bringing engineers with soldering guns into the Institute was considered very odd. Von Neuman was interested in how to construct reliable machines from unreliable parts.
The real origin of the digital universe are tied up in the development of bombs, and much of the history is classified. Klara Von Neuman came over and learned to program the computer. Just a few weeks ago a filing cabinet turned up that has all of the letters between Klara and John.
Nils Baricelli created simulated organisms when the bomb guys went home at night
Ulam was working with Turing on multicellular processes – Von Neuman died in ’57. His last book, the Computer and the Brain.