We have witnessed and participated in great advances, in transportation, in computation, in communication, and in biotechnology. But the advances that look like giant steps to us will pale into insignificance by contrast to the even bigger steps in the future. Sometimes I try to imagine what we, the technologists of the second half of the 20th century, will be remembered for, if anything, hundreds of years from now.
I contend that at this moment in history we are at the beginning of an intellectual revolution based on the assimilation of computational ideas into our culture. We have been programming universal computers for about 50 years. The practice of computation arose from military, scientific, business, and accounting applications. Just as the early Egyptian surveyors probably thought of themselves as experts in the development and application of surveying instruments, we have developed a priestly cult of computer scientists. But, as I have pointed out: Computer Science is not a science, and its ultimate significance has little to do with computers. The computer revolution is a revolution in the way we think and in the way we express what we think.
I will defend this viewpoint with examples and demonstrations.
About the Speaker
Gerald Jay Sussman is the Matsushita Professor of Electrical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He received the S.B. and the Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 and 1973, respectively. He has been involved in artificial intelligence research at M.I.T. since 1964. His research has centered on understanding the problem-solving strategies used by scientists and engineers, with the goals of automating parts of the process and formalizing it to provide more effective methods of science and engineering education. Sussman has also worked in computer languages, in computer architecture and in VLSI design.
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