RIP John McCarthy
What a sad month.
I often forget how young the field of computing is. Computers are everywhere and it is difficult to imagine a world without them.
Computers, embedded in robotic machinery or general are so darn useful.
X They replace the calendar with a more lively one.
X They help you communicate and make new friends.
X They take down all your notes.
X They help the shopkeeper with his inventory.
X They help the doctors, take readings of the patient.
X They help a startup visualize latest trends.
X They assemble metal things with perfect accuracy to create a Ferrari.
X They help the musicians with their beats.
X They help the painter undo.
X They preserve history.
X They help the architect.
X They book your flights.
X They track your packages.
X They bring limitless information and possibilities to the bedside of every dreamer.
X They helped the thief's in ocean's 11.
What follows is an incoherent babble.
Computers have made the world a better place. There has been a lot of talk about computer "efficiency" killing the work force. Absolute *shit*. The only jobs that computer helped replace, were the jobs that no one dreamed to do in the first place ! Only a cruel hearted economist would say, "we need more menial workers."
By relieving humans from doing the dirty work, computers have cursed humanity with free time. The future computer will even obliterate the work of the poor knowledge workers and will elevate humanity to 2.0
And then, there will be a Robot revolution and yada yada yada,
What is so special about the computer ? It translates well thought out ideas to execution. Repeatedly, if necessary.
The only limitations of the computer, even the very limited modern day edition, are the limitations of human thinking. The only limitations of human thinking are mathematics and hope.
And without the work of people like John McCarthy and Dennis Ritchie the royal road to the mythical computer with arms and legs would be hazy.
John's dream of "Artificial Intelligence" is still far away, but he has given us a glimpse of it. He has given us a way, a beautiful way, to speak to the ever humble Servant computer.
This Servant computer, is a result of the hard work of many countless electronic engineers and mathematicians.Gosh, I don't know how many of them are even alive.
People seem to forget how fucking *ugly*,*ugly*,*ugly* the original servant computers were.
People like John McCarthy and Dennis Ritchie are not fathers. They are mothers. Because, just like a mother, they didn't give a fuck how ugly the computer was. They treated it like a child and taught it to language.
They played with computers when no one bothered about them. They taught the computer how to speak. They taught the computer how to draw cheap ascii art. They listened to it patiently, hours and hours together. They taught the computer how to map things. They taught the computer how to understand each other. They taught it how to throw silly errors to taunt the user. They even found time to teach it some neat hacks. It is absurd to call these people fathers, from the stand point of good structural metaphors.
Come to think of it, only McCarthy could have come up with a title like The Robot And The Baby.
RIP, you magnificent human. You have taught your children well. And I only pray that your optimism lasts long in the hearts of scientists, engineers, artists, common folk and hackers.