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Automating Invention is Robert Plotkin's blog on the impact of computer-automated inventing on the future of invention and patent law.

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May 7, 2009

Leaders of the Digital Revolution Discuss the Future of Technology

At a symposium sponsored by the American Academy for Arts and Sciences, discussions on the past, present and future of digital technologies took place between Microsoft technical fellow Butler Lampson, Google chief Internet evangelist Vinton Cerf, and Qualcomm chairman Irwin Jacobs. The discussions were chaired by Stanford President John Hennessy, another key player in the digital technology revolution.

In terms of the past, there was agreement that general acceptance of the Internet came as a surprise. In the present, privacy was cited as one of the main concerns of the current digital age. In terms of the future, ideas such as cameras capable of face recognition and automated cars were discussed. Most revolutionary of all, Vinton Cerf has hopes for the development of a direct brain-Internet connection.

The American Academy of Art and Sciences is an independent policy research center and international society. The American Academy was founded by John Adams during the Revolutionary War. Since then a total of 11,000 members have been inducted, including 243 current Stanford scholars. Read more about the American Academy of Art and Sciences on their website.

Posted by BlogAuthor1 at 2:42 AM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing | Technology Industry

October 2, 2008

Calculator Dates Back Two Millenia

The ancient Greek "Antikythera mechanism," dating back to 100 BC, "is thought to be a mechanical computer, which used sophisticated algorithms to calculate the motions of celestial bodies," reports Jo Marchant of New Scientist.

Posted by Robert at 7:46 PM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing

September 30, 2008

Relaunch of Automating Invention!

Automating Invention has been relaunched with a sparkling new design, updated links to related web sites, and a variety of new features including the ability to:

  • share blog postings via email and any of your favorite social networking sites, courtesy of ShareThis.
  • post comments (comment spam had caused me to turn off this feature in the past);
  • subscribe to blog postings by email, courtesy of Bot a Blog.
Stay tuned for more frequent blog postings on invention automating, and updates on my upcoming book from Stanford University Press, The Genie in the Machine.

Posted by Robert at 7:30 PM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing

May 27, 2006

Mark Twain Fails at Investing in Automation

There's a good piece in the New Scientist about Mark Twain's failed investments in "the Paige Compositor," a mechanical device that attempted mimic the movements of a human typesetter.

Posted by Robert at 10:00 AM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing

February 16, 2006

"New" Interviews with ENIAC Co-Inventor J. Presper Eckert

ComputerWorld has posted portions of previously-unreleased interviews held with J. Presper Eckerthttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ENIAC, co-inventor of ENIAC. In relation to automation, he discusses the shift from mechanical to electrical components in computers, and the shift from human "computers" to the electronic versions we have grown to know and love.

Posted by Robert at 9:27 AM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing

January 17, 2006

Book: When Computers Were Human

The following is from the publisher's web page for the book When Computers Were Human by David Alan Grier:

Before Palm Pilots and iPods, PCs and laptops, the term "computer" referred to the people who did scientific calculations by hand. These workers were neither calculating geniuses nor idiot savants but knowledgeable people who, in other circumstances, might have become scientists in their own right. When Computers Were Human represents the first in-depth account of this little-known, 200-year epoch in the history of science and technology.

It looks like a good read. And the topic certainly raises the question, if "computer," "compiler," and "assembler" once referred to people but now refer to computer hardware and software, will "programmer" be next?

Posted by Robert at 8:14 AM | Comments (0)
category: History of Computing