Thursday, June 16, 2005

Once upon a time ...

It is easy to be cynical in this age of outsourcing, impossible schedules and managers who think the only valid motivational technique is fear.  It is hard to remember the sense of wonder of software and computers that initially lured us into this field.  In working on Research for another task I came across an article by Allen Newell, "Fairy Tales," AI Magazine, WInter 1992. Note that you have to find the article in the table of contents, the first click on the title provides the abstract and clicking on the title within the abstract provides the article. It is a short, 3 page article and I highly recommend it to give yourself a boost and get back to viewing the big picture of why you do what you do.

The article discusses computer science and the promise it provides.  Rather than summarize it, I urge you to read it.

A bit on Allen Newell.  Allen, along with Herb Simon, Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy are known as the Fathers of AI in the United States. He was a great guy and had a great sense of humor.   He also was very direct and got right to the point.   For my Human Computer Interaction courses I have a clip of him struggling with a photocopier.  His personalty shows through perfectly. He died over a decade ago but the ripples he started will continue for a long time.

To close this off I would like to quote the last sentence of his article:

Finally, I wish to express my feeling of childlike wonder that my time to be awake on this earth has placed me in the middle of this particular fairy story.


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