About This Blog
Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.
- Artificial Invention
- Design & Engineering
- Evolutionary Computation
- Genie in the Machine
- History of Computing
- Human Creativity
- Intellectual Property Law
- Philosophy of Computing
- Software Patents
- Technology Industry
- Videos of Talk on Invention Automation Available
- Twitter on the Brain
- The Pursuit of Thinking Machines
- Easing the Patent Processing Bottleneck
- Automating the Work of Scientists
- Simulating Auto Assembly
- Robert Plotkin Interview in MIT Technology Review
- Nerd Culture Lives On
- Web Cubed: Everything will be Connected
- Combating Common Diseases with Large-Scale Sequencing Technology
- Leaders of the Digital Revolution Discuss the Future of Technology
- Meet Adam, the Robotic Junior Lab Assistant
August 23, 2005
Automation and Innovation
Hillel Levin at PrawfsBlog comments on the decreasing extent to which computer users need to understand how computers work. He asks whether "it follow[s] that the pool of potential programming innovators is likely to dwindle, since there are going to be fewer school-age kids who have a basic understanding" of how computers work.
I think the answer is "no" if we understand a "programming innovator" to be someone who uses a computer to create innovative computer programs. As genetic programming and other techniques for automating the creation of computer programs improve, we will likely see an increase in computer innovations even as the need for old-fashioned programming skills -- such as the ability to hand-code the individual instructions that make up an algorithm -- decreases.
Remember that in the early days of computing, the term "assembler" referred to a person (usually a lowly graduate student) who hand-translated instructions in an assembly language into binary instructions in a computer machine language. Now that software "assemblers" automate the process of assembly, few humans know how to perform this function. Rather than reduce innovation, this increased ignorance of low-level technical details has spurred innovation by enabling computer programmers to focus their efforts on high-level problem solving rather than low-level implementation details.
Posted by Robert at August 23, 2005 6:00 PM
Post a comment
Thanks for signing in, . Now you can comment. (sign out)(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)