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Alan Kay's ECOOP 2011 Banquet Speech

Alan Kay's ECOOP 2011 Banquet Speech

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  • Preface These are the slides and commentary from a talk given to the Research Board. As an experiment, I decided to try to write a coherent essay using the slides as a sequence of topics. The essay form is quite a bit more efficient than talking, so there is considerably more content in the narrative than in the talk – and the narrative also covers more than the talk. Many of the observations in the narrative did not appear at all in the talk. The result is kind of a hybrid – it's not what I would say in a talk (or did say), but it is also not what I would write in an essay (because tying the narrative to the slides precluded using a number of examples that would not work at all in a talk, but would be perfectly amenable in an essay). I hope that the hybrid will be of some use – and in particular will provide motivation for downloading and reading several of the essays we have written about this and related subjects. Alan Kay is one of the earliest pioneers of object-oriented programming, personal computing, and graphical user interfaces. This work was done in the rich context of ARPA and Xerox PARC with many talented colleagues, and has been recognized with the: Charles Stark Draper Prize * of the National Academy of Engineering “for the vision, conception, and development of the first practical networked personal computers” Alan M. Turing Award from the Association of Computing Machinery “for pioneering many of the ideas at the root of contemporary object-oriented programming languages, leading the team that developed Smalltalk, and for fundamental contributions to personal computing” Kyoto Prize from the Inamori Foundation “for creation of the concept of modern personal computing and contribution to its realization ” *with Butler Lampson, Robert Taylor, and Chuck Thacker
  • If we take a limited view on “now”, it seems to be not too different than the near past. Our minds are well set up to think of changes as either not happening at all, or happening incrementally on a pretty smooth slope. In the 20 th century especially – but really since the industrial revolution was fueled by the synergies between the new sciences and the older engineering skills – most changes have not been gradual. McLuhan quipped that the 19 th century was when “change changed”. The result is that what appears to be gradual using a narrow view is very often a tiny part of growth that is exponential.
  • “ Point of view”, “perspective”, “context”, “outlook”, etc., provide a kind of extra nervous system to the biological abilities of our all too human minds. Enormous amounts of effort can be (and have been) expended on weak points of view – basically trying to continue forward against great difficulties rather than looking around for better paths, and especially looking in another dimension (for example, “up” rather than just “around”). The metaphor of the “blind spot” appears here. If not enough care is taken, many useful paths, ideas, phenomena, methods, etc., (a) will simply be invisible, and (b) the “blank” will be filled in with weaker perspectives that will cover up even the awareness that there is a blank. Both IQ and Knowledge can be enormous barriers to progress here. There's nothing worse than feeling smart when you are looking at the wrong things – almost as bad is thinking you know something (you might very well), if you need to invent new knowledge . Conversely, spending a fair amount of time just on context and “problem finding” rather than blind problem solving, is often the key to both great results, and being able to get those results with a lot less effort. This another one of those “Science and Math Wins!” exhortations.
  • “ Point of view”, “perspective”, “context”, “outlook”, etc., provide a kind of extra nervous system to the biological abilities of our all too human minds. Enormous amounts of effort can be (and have been) expended on weak points of view – basically trying to continue forward against great difficulties rather than looking around for better paths, and especially looking in another dimension (for example, “up” rather than just “around”). The metaphor of the “blind spot” appears here. If not enough care is taken, many useful paths, ideas, phenomena, methods, etc., (a) will simply be invisible, and (b) the “blank” will be filled in with weaker perspectives that will cover up even the awareness that there is a blank. Both IQ and Knowledge can be enormous barriers to progress here. There's nothing worse than feeling smart when you are looking at the wrong things – almost as bad is thinking you know something (you might very well), if you need to invent new knowledge . Conversely, spending a fair amount of time just on context and “problem finding” rather than blind problem solving, is often the key to both great results, and being able to get those results with a lot less effort. This another one of those “Science and Math Wins!” exhortations.
  • “ Point of view”, “perspective”, “context”, “outlook”, etc., provide a kind of extra nervous system to the biological abilities of our all too human minds. Enormous amounts of effort can be (and have been) expended on weak points of view – basically trying to continue forward against great difficulties rather than looking around for better paths, and especially looking in another dimension (for example, “up” rather than just “around”). The metaphor of the “blind spot” appears here. If not enough care is taken, many useful paths, ideas, phenomena, methods, etc., (a) will simply be invisible, and (b) the “blank” will be filled in with weaker perspectives that will cover up even the awareness that there is a blank. Both IQ and Knowledge can be enormous barriers to progress here. There's nothing worse than feeling smart when you are looking at the wrong things – almost as bad is thinking you know something (you might very well), if you need to invent new knowledge . Conversely, spending a fair amount of time just on context and “problem finding” rather than blind problem solving, is often the key to both great results, and being able to get those results with a lot less effort. This another one of those “Science and Math Wins!” exhortations.
  • If we take a limited view on “now”, it seems to be not too different than the near past. Our minds are well set up to think of changes as either not happening at all, or happening incrementally on a pretty smooth slope. In the 20 th century especially – but really since the industrial revolution was fueled by the synergies between the new sciences and the older engineering skills – most changes have not been gradual. McLuhan quipped that the 19 th century was when “change changed”. The result is that what appears to be gradual using a narrow view is very often a tiny part of growth that is exponential.
  • If we take a limited view on “now”, it seems to be not too different than the near past. Our minds are well set up to think of changes as either not happening at all, or happening incrementally on a pretty smooth slope. In the 20 th century especially – but really since the industrial revolution was fueled by the synergies between the new sciences and the older engineering skills – most changes have not been gradual. McLuhan quipped that the 19 th century was when “change changed”. The result is that what appears to be gradual using a narrow view is very often a tiny part of growth that is exponential.

Normal Considered Harmful Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Lancaster, July 28th, 2011 Alan Kay Viewpoints Research Institute Normal Considered Harmful ECOOP 1968 2008
  • 2. 50 th Anniversary of Objects?
  • 3. Bob Barton - 1961 “ Systems programmers are high priests of a low cult”
  • 4. 50 th Anniversary of Objects? Future ˆ 50 th Anniversary of Objects?
  • 5. Ivan Sutherland - 1962
  • 6. “ News” can be told in a few minutes “ New” = learning, longer & change New s
  • 7. Most people can only experience the present in terms of the past Which means they can only conceive the future in terms of the present
  • 8. Human Learning & Memory
  • 9. Paradigmatically Challenged? What we learn first, we might learn too well!
  • 10. 3. A NY SUFFICIENTLY ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY IS INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM MAGIC What did we think we were doing? But ... So ...
  • 11. Which is more important? Outlook? IQ? Knowledge?
  • 12. Point of View = 80 IQ Points! Outlook? IQ? c Knowledge?
  • 13. Outlook? IQ? Knowledge? Our Field From The Peanut Gallery # of Outlooks 1971 Today General K 1971 Today Abs amount of K 1971 Today Rel # 1971 Today Abs # of 4 σs 1971 Today General Outlook Today 1971
  • 14. FORTRAN LISP ALGOL PLANNER SIMULA SMALLTALK PROLOG VISICALC EURISKO LLL HLL VHLL UHLL 1950 LLL 1956 1950 1950 1961 1967 1972 1978 1983 ??? ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE (Facetious) Sunspot Theory Of Programming Language Improvement (Scientific American 1984)
  • 15. Present Past Future The Present is the least important time we live in!
  • 16. “ Normal” Means “ Almost Asleep”
  • 17. Coping Social Language Culture Fantasies Stories Tools, Art, Technologies Goals, Plans ... Play & Games Fixed Rules, Flexible Strategies Case based learning Case based reasoning Superstition Religion/Magic Theater Differences over Similarities Quick Reactions To Patterns "The Other" Supernormal Responses Vendetta Value Shortages **Loud Noises & Snakes Human Universals About 300 of these have been identified
  • 18. Coping Social Language Culture Fantasies Stories Tools, Art, Technologies Goals, Plans ... Play & Games Fixed Rules, Flexible Strategies Case based learning Case based reasoning Superstition Religion/Magic Theater Differences over Similarities Quick Reactions To Patterns "The Other" Supernormal Responses Vendetta Value Shortages **Loud Noises & Snakes Progress Writing & Reading Deductive Abstract Math Model Based Science Thought, Thought, Thought Equal Rights Democracy Similarities over Differences Slow Deep Thinking Legal System vs Vendetta Perspective Drawing Theory of Harmony Agriculture .... Human Universals And Non-Universals About 300 of these have been identified
  • 19. Dealing with the “New” as “News” is just “ Automating The Pleistocene”!
  • 20. Technology The “Arts” Tinkering Engineering Mathematics Science
  • 21. Yikes! The “Arts” Tinkering Engineering Mathematics Science Computer Software
  • 22. ? What is Science?
  • 23. ? Computer Science?
  • 24. ? ?
  • 25. Present Past Future The Present is the least important time we live in!
  • 26. Present Past Future
  • 27. “ The destiny of computers is to become interactive intellectual amplifiers for all people universally networked worldwide” 60s: Romantic Vision J.C.R. Licklider ADVANCED RESEARCH PROJECTS AGENCY Washington 25, D.C. April 23, 1963 MEMORANDUM FOR: Members and Affiliates of the Intergalactic Computer Network FROM: J. C. R. Licklider SUBJECT: Topics for Discussion at the Forthcoming Meeting If we succeed in making an Inter- galactic Network, then our main problem will be learning to com- municate with Aliens.
  • 28. 70s : Models, Views & Controllers with “Aliens” “ Disney multiplane animation 'in 2s' ” Can “Ants” Be “Induced” To Do More Interesting Things? Ted Kaehler, Yoshiki Ohshima, Alan Kay Viewpoints Research Institute Glendale, CA 91201 Ants are a “distributed hive animal” whose “cells” communicate by a variety of means including laying down trails of chemicals which can help ants without food to get to discovered food sources. We want to investigate whether the “particles and fields” style of distributing messages as intrinsic parts of environments can work well for some programming problems. Figure 1: Ants swarming around food Figure 2: Simulation showing diffusion If we ask 5 th graders to help us think about this and act it out by wearing letters on their T-shirts, they quickly discover a good way to do this. For example, could we program a text layout and editing system just using a “field of messages” that individual text characters can sense and respond to? Laying out a “paragraph” of “ants” seems like a good place to start because it will have to work continuously while the editor is being used. It's really just “follow your leader” (and if you have no leader, then just go to the upper left hand corner. This works until the right margin is exceeded, so all the characters have to notice when this happens and pass this knowledge along to their leader. This happens until a leader's leader can be separated (for example, it might be a space). Then the leader can start a new line. We can make this look fast by doing it in between frame times – but it's also fun to watch!
  • 29. 80s: Distributed Self-Balancing Virtual Machine Computing Heterogenous Physical Computers on Physical Network ... … act as caches for Virtual Computers on Virtual Network Gerry Popek
  • 30. 90s: Migrating Computer Processes are Integrated Via User Interface Physical Computers on Physical Network ... … act as caches for Virtual Computers on Virtual Network Physical Computers on Physical Network ... … X-Windows Almost Did This ... What About Scaling Across The Internet? W W W
  • 31. 20 Years Later: This is still a good idea and still needed Physical Computers on Physical Network ... … act as caches for Virtual Computers on Virtual Network Physical Computers on Physical Network ... “ Applications” Become Mashups The Web can be simple, much more useful, and scale … If only we could communicate with Aliens!
  • 32. Functionality Service Interface ? Objects are “Aliens”!
  • 33. Functionality Service Interface Functionality Service Interface ? And to each other!
  • 34. We are “Aliens”!
  • 35. Functionality Service Interface Functionality Service Interface Exact term agreement doesn't scale
  • 36. Normal + ∆ Normal Won't Do It! Keyword: Intergalactic!
  • 37. Eurisko-Heuretics — Lenat CYC — Lenat HEURETICS THEORETICAL AND EXPERIMENTAL STUDY OF HEURISTIC RULES Represented in: • First Order Logic • Higher Order Logic • Context Logic • Micro-theories GameMaster — Genesereth Simulator Problem Specs & Rules Simulation Environment Agents Maker Agents Maker
  • 38. If Normal is considered “ Sane Reality” Then what is Normal ?
  • 39. Major Technical Contributors To This Work iewpoints Research Institute
  • 40. iewpoints Research Institute www.vpri.org www.vpri.org/writings STEPS Project