Alan Kay Squeak Demo at ACM1 (2001)

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good morning good to see you welcome
back to ACM 1 I hope you don't own too
many of the wrong stocks today and I
hope they go back up real soon I hope your um yes right so are you
ready for a big day tell you what let's take attendance let's put up the seating
chart let's get get the wands the paddles and try to find yourself on the
seating chart just to be sure you know where you are
and now please if you have been to the expo to the ACM 1 Expo next door would
you please show green to the front show us green if you've been and excellent
and those of you who have not been to the XO Expo I urge you to do so it's
right outside it'll be open till 4:00 o'clock today and I guess your big opportunity to do that is not to walk
out on the upcoming speech but rather to go during the two-hour lunch break
from 12:00 to 2:00 now many too many of
us still tend to think of computers as data processing machines or we tend to
think of the internet as an email box of some kind but at 8 cm 97 bran Ferren
expressed an entirely different view
every time a significant storytelling
technology has been introduced to the world it changed the course of
civilization or rather we change the course of civilization with it and this
can be language it can be writing it can be printing that can be radio television
it can be poetry it can be animation and
now it's getting to be computers now no
person that I know understands what bran is talking about better than Alan Kay I
first met Alan in 1972 at the Xerox Palo
Alto Research Center where he was busy down the hall inventing personal
computers he had he had previously graduated in mathematics and molecular
biology from the University of Colorado and received his PhD in 1969 from the
University of Utah Allen is best known for his ideas about personal computing
and the intimate laptop computer and his inventions of overlapping window
interface modern object-oriented inventions of overlapping window
interface and modern object-oriented do not want to get into a fight about who
invented modern object-oriented programming his interest in children of
course and children and education were the catalyst for his many many
ideas today Alan is the vice president research is vice president research and
development of Walt Disney Imagineering where he is a Disney fellow a former
professional jazz guitarist composer and theatrical designer he is now an amateur
classical pipe organist today Alan will
attempt a lifetime first he's told me that he has never given a talk in less
than 30 minutes please join me in welcoming Alan Kay
thank you so here are looking at the
future and many people have pointed out that some decades ago nobody knew what
the future is going to be but of course that wasn't so there was a very good
road map of the future back in the 60s in the ARPA community a dream going all
the way back to the late 50s about a worldwide information utility and the
start of interactive graphical computing with ivan sutherland in the early 60s
1962 in that very same year the machine i think of as the first personal
computer which is wes clark slink on 65 was when Gordon Moore's first article
and data mayshen appeared putting forth Moore's law and so by the time sharing
it happen by then and people were starting to do interactive computing and
so there are a lot of components there that made it very easy to predict that
personal computing was going to happen year or two later flatscreen displays
started to show up in laboratories and
and so on and so forth and the I think the difficult thing for most of the
people back then was that they're trying to be practical reason they missed
predicting the future is that they are trying to be incremental on the
infrastructure that existed rather than being romantic about what it would be
really neat to have and what would be especially good for children to have so
I'm going to talk a little bit about why the computer revolution hasn't happened
yet but first if we could have the computers screen
one of the things that always happens in talks is the people behind all of these
ideas never get their due so I just made this complicated panoply of influences
on us of cognitive influences computer influences here's our group
here's some of the people we work with here's our interns and in the background
we have a an open-source community courtesy of the internet and so I guess
the the right title for this slide is
that science is a great open source process it was one of the original open
source processes and you actually make progress by giving your ideas away we
wouldn't be where we were if science was a closed process business people have
not learned this yet they want to make
money there has to be Bob Noyce used to say engineers make wealth and everybody
else just moves it around so to me the
way I think of the future is I don't even worry about the technology and
there's a nice suggestion here by Marshall McLuhan that children are the
messages we send the future but not exactly they really are the future we're
sending to the future there isn't anything else that's much interesting
about the future except the people who are going to be there and so helping
children grow into the next several generations of adults is the most
important thing we can do and if we go
to graduation at one of the nation's
greatest universities Harvard University about ten years ago right after the
seniors flipped their tassels NSF took a camera around and interviewed a number
of them about a few simple ideas about
the about the world and so let's hear
that they test how a lifetime of education affects our understanding of science we ask these recent graduates
some simple questions in astronomy consider for example that the causes of
the seasons is a topic taught in every standard curriculum okay I think the seasons happens because as the earth
travels around the Sun it gets nearer to the Sun which produces warmer weather
and gets farther away which produces colder weather and thence and hence the
seasons how hot it is or how cold it is in any given time of the year has to do
with the the closeness of the earth to the Sun during the seasonal periods the
earth goes around the Sun and and it
gets hotter when we get closer to the Sun and it gets colder when we get further away from the Sun these
graduates like many of us think of the Earth's orbit as a highly exaggerated
ellipse even though the Earth's orbit is very nearly circular with distance
producing virtually no effect on the seasons we carry with us the strong
incorrect belief that changing distance is responsible for the seasons I took
physics planetary motion and relativity
electromagnetic seasons and waves I've never really had a scientific background
whatsoever and I and I got through school without having it I've gotten very far without having it I had quite a
bit of science in high school yeah through physics want first year in two
years of chemistry regardless of their science education 21 of the 23 randomly
selected students faculty and alumni of Harvard University revealed
misconceptions when asked to explain either the scenes or the phases of the
Moon when it's further away from the Sun then it gets colder the earth position
interferes with the reflection of the Sun against the moon so we can see that
the main curriculum at Harvard must be confidence 101
but of course it's not just restricted to Ivy League colleges I was waiting for
NSF to ask the next logical questions but they didn't in this wonderful video
you can get it over the internet called the private universe and but a couple of
weeks later is at UCLA and found that the audience before the talk I was
giving there we're mostly graduating seniors so I asked them to come outside with me and I one by one I asked them
the same two questions and got about the same results about ninety-five percent
of them had serious misconceptions about
one or either and then I got to ask the the next question which is well tell me
this if the proximity of the earth to the Sun has something to do with the seasons then tell me do you know what
when it's summer up here in the northern hemisphere what season it is in the
southern hemisphere and every single one of them knew that it was winter they
didn't know why obviously
but it was odd so they'd remembered it and I think I'm justified by induction
to claim that the Harvard students and this professor here all knew that then
there was about a 30-second pause while I watched each of these people
struggling with this fact that they'd had in their head conflicted completely
with their proximity theory that was one of those sort of hmm and for this
professor the question for those who are confused about the phases of the Moon
I'd ask them well have you ever seen the Sun and the moon in the sky at the same
time and actually anybody who walked out the fairmount this morning anybody do
that moon is right there was it in phase anybody see it this is
my favorite thing as people have seen this zillions of times and the moon was
visible in the sky and so was the Sun and the moon was in phase and therefore
it is very hard to imagine how anything could be between the Sun and the moon if
you can see them both in the sky so now
what's going on here variety of things but most important thing for this talk
is that these Harvard kids were just thinking normally they're doing
absolutely normal human thinking which is to compartmentalize the knowledge II
make each one into a little story and so forth and this is basically the future
we're sending to the future and mostly have been for the last 80,000 years
basically cave people now they have atomic weapons and if you take this
common-sense way of looking at the world that has been around for many tens of
thousands of years let's pick on Yale this time give this guy a Yale diploma
and dress them up a little bit
he could he can go very far in most
people's estimation and sure enough a
couple of weeks after Bush took office he started bombing Iraq just to show
them that he had a spear it's in this
case is a missile and this is basically what's going on so it's very easy to
predict the next 50 years and that is for most people it's going to be just
the way it is right now it's going to be more glittery things around more distractions
but as Neil postman pointed out that
people in the 20th century accept more things on faith than they did in the
Middle Ages because most people accept all the things on faith that were
accepted on faith in the Middle Ages plus there's all that new science stuff
that most people accept on faith and all the new medicine that they accept on
faith so for most people very little has
changed except things in the environment
and of course I really was looking for modern uses of Spears today and I was
going to go on the internet to find it but the LA Times last weekend blessed me
with a front page article on the revival
of headhunting in Borneo and here are these guys around motorcycles but they
have their Spears and they actually have beheaded at least 500 people now as it
says here they are using traditional
weapons to defend themselves and send away evil because it disturbs the harmony of life and they eat their
hearts to subdue their victims spirits
and absorb their magic this is perfectly normal behavior it's been going on for
tens of thousands of of years just let
me go let me go back here for a second
and the thing that struck me is worse was another article in The New York
Times which reminded me that slavery still exists many places in the world
including this recent thing that came up that these little paper clips that all
of us use are made by slaves that were purchased
from a woman's prison this is going on today and there are many aspects of
slavery going on all over the world as I speak here so pretty frightening
sorry so one way of looking at this is
McLuhan's way of the goldfish in the bowl I set out and who discovered water
but it wasn't a fish we are the fish and the pink water that the fish can't see
are our underlying assumptions about the world our deep beliefs and you get a
model of thinking that Arthur Kessler came up with is if you take the pink
water in the bowl and make it a plane you're the aunt crawling along is like
human thought having the illusion of making progress being able to set goals
get around obstacles and so forth but never being aware that it's doing a flat
instead of pink ideas of course every time once in a while a little blue idea
comes along but we've all gone to school
many people go to church we all have parents so there are powerful forces to
ker-splat those little outlaw ideas but
every once in a while you're taking a shower out for a run and one of these
epiphanies comes how many people have had one of these big epiphanies feels
like it comes from the heavens because it was in our subconscious not in our
conscious and the old days when people had these they'd go out and start a new religion because it does appear to come
from the heavens but we know today that most ideas wherever they come from are
mediocre down to bad and so it's very
important to be careful about these ones that seem to come from heaven because
they're likely to be bad ideas as well and Kessler pointed out that you get a
mixture of emotional reactions when this happens if it's a joke you start
laughing and in science it's an aha which
they also laugh about because of course the world didn't change just because we got to see it a little better so all of
these things we found out about the world are lurking beyond our ability to
see them and then the most important one
is this long drawn-out ah of art because one of art's main purposes is to remind
us that there's more to be thought about than is currently in our little pink
context and a lot of the way of getting
from the mundane world to better
different ideas is through artistic
thinking I think bill Buxton will say a few words about that as well as to me is
the number one important thing to think about when you're trying to send
children into the future in a more enlightened way and that is to develop
every child's initial aesthetic approach to the world and then the kicker for
modern education of invented ideas is
that it takes almost as much creativity to learn one of these ideas as it did to
invent it in the first place and this is where school is completely wrong because school is basically set up to teach
stuff that's fairly easy for kids to learn and the problem is most of the
important ideas to learn now are not easy to learn and so we have to find a
way of allowing getting the kids to be creative enough to break out of their
little pink planes is our friend Betty
Edwards who teaches drawing to people and one of the things she does in the
very first day of her class is say that
you know the problem with drawing is not that you can't move your hand but you're already interpreting what you see too
much so she shows them these two tables and she says you know this table shape
top shape is exactly the same as this table shot top shape and everybody says
no that can't possibly be true and she says well look I'm gonna take this guy
off here and I'll rotate it and I'll
just pick it up and take a look at that it's even
amazing if you just bring it over here it is very hard to see that this length was exactly the same as that length
that's another way of thinking about what our problem with the world is and
the Talmud points out we've seen see things not as they are but as we are and
I'm often wondered what happened to the person who came up with that idea in an
Orthodox faith because if you take it to its logical conclusion it's not where
the timid really wanted to go so
Montessori had this great idea she pointed out the children are set up to
learn in a village culture through play imitation and the problem with 20th
century now 21st century knowledge is that most of it is opaque to children
unlike the knowledge in a traditional culture and so her idea is we have to
give the kids modern environments and
modern toys where the kids accept these toys as play toys but they have
interesting side effects and she spent many years of her life designing toys
designed to be pleasurable for the kids and to have worthwhile side effects on
their common sense and one of the the
main tasks we have is to ask ourselves what are the 21st century thinker toys
going to have to be in order to get this
uncommon sense as Montessori put it that she was trying to shape and again the
the route there is through art and this haha combination of breaking through the
pink plane to the blue plane well it's a little background for what we might
choose as some goals for making a future and I I got involved in this stuff
through no fault of my own I believe ed
Sheila and I are working on this desktop machine back at Utah in the 60s 1968 i
visited seymour papert and kids were doing programs like this too they would
make a circle with their body then seem over to ask them what are you doing and heeds they'd say
well I'm going a little and turning a little over and over type that into logo
forward five right five repeated over and over again execute it and you get
this perfect circle no x squared plus y squared equals R squared the reason is
is that the turtle is a vector and this is a differential equation in inertial
coordinates which is the language of differential geometry which is the main
language of most hard sciences today and
here were these kids treating this as a toy logo is a toy and Seymour was not
trying to teach them calculus he was trying to do what Montessori said we
should do for young kids what you want to do is to teach them the intuitive background for modern knowledge give
them a big tree with lots of branches to hand to hang these more crisp ideas on
later but build that uncommon sense tree
while the children are Leong so I thought this is the best idea that ever
seen for what a computer might be good for which is to help children grow up
thinking better than most adults do today but of course I realized there was
a Zen problem here even in 1968 programmers were kind of
the the least unenlightened people I knew they could take this beautiful silk
purse of a computer with all of its possibilities and turn it into the sow's
ear of most software and if anything
that has gotten worse today rather than better so that made me think of the
computer being kind of like a piano you can put pianos in every classroom but
the music is not in it it's an amplifier of musical impulse in a person and you
can develop that musical impulse in a person without a piano or any other
musical instrument because we already are musical instruments and then the
these wonderful instruments that have been invented are amplifiers of these
musical impulses so the Zen is something it's like there's a Zen in music the Zen
is not in the piano the Zen has to be developed in humans has to be developed
and then can I it with various kinds of technology so coming back in the plane
from Utah from that visit I started thinking about a kitty computer and
realized it could not be a desktop computer like the Flex machine because
kids are mobile I had this image of them being taking it out like we take out
books books are nice because you can take them out and think your own
thoughts with them and so this image of two kids learning science by programming
a collaborative space board game was kind of the first image I had and taking
the Dynabook to the tidepools and these
this notion of an instrument whose music is ideas and of course music is an idea
so music had to be part of this and so
forth then I was wondering whether we'd ever get done before we died because if
we look back in history there was a great technology invented around the middle of the fifth 15th century here
called printing but the real printing
revolution really happened in the 1600s so it lagged by about 150 years the
biggest change is from the printing press happened here when people start
gradually had learned how to argue in a very different way and think about what
knowledge meant in a very different way in both science and the social argument
that led to various Democratic revolutions happened in this period of
time and so the mainframe was kind of
the manuscript book only ownable by an institution and so we had these ideas of
desktop computing and then these intimate laptop computers we call them
today and I was wondering how much of a
lag is there actually going to be before the real computer revolution happens
because if you look at this as being the real printing revolution required a
rather large number of people to learn how to read and write and to be
conversant with the powerful ideas that could be best expressed in a book so it's not a
question of making the possibility of it here the Gutenberg Bible was set up to
look as much like old manuscript books as possible so as not to scare anybody
one of the major uses of the printing
press besides printing Bibles back then was printing indulgences for the
Catholic Church so as a early form of paper money actually because indulgences
were traded back and forth as currency so they're many mundane uses of printing
back then before the real stuff kicked in and I would claim that what's been
going on especially since 1980 could hardly have been more mundane it could
hardly have been more of a caricature of what people were thinking about in the
60s and 70s so short talk can't go
through all of the goals you'd like to have here but one way of thinking about
this stuff is that because of the way our our minds work minds are a little
language machines everything comes to us
filtered and it's kind of like a shadow show for instance gravity let's say is
the real bunny out here cast this shadow and Newton's theory of gravitation is
expressed in mathematics was kind of like making a shadow out of your hands
and we try and get it to cast a similar a shadow to the bunny shadow as possible
and it worked for a long time until somebody noticed that the real bunny had
a little round tail on it and it was hard to make a little round tail with
your arm being in the way and so Einstein in order to get that little
round tail on there had to go to a completely different way of looking at
gravity and a different set of mathematics which if you only looked at this part of it gave you a nice
Newtonian bunny and then it had this extra stuff on here as well and it's
important to realize that you can put on a fun shadow show without making anything representational language is
about language not about the real world and Einstein really realized that and he said a number of
wonderful things one of my favorites is you must learn to distinguish between what is true and what is real what is
true is what you can do in mathematics and what is real is out there and as he
said as far as mathematics refers to reality it is not certain and as far as
math is certain it does not refer to reality and so this I believe is the
modern view of science which is that science is a negotiation between
the limitations of our representations and what our brain can make of things
and the kinds of probings we can do out there and the important thing about this is
this is one of the greatest heuristics for making progress in all areas that
has ever been invented it's just the knowledge that all you're only dealing
in maps and therefore in order for the map to work the map has to have
criticisms about how well it is doing it it has to be scaffolded and Krzyzewski
fifty or sixty years ago said that one
measure of sanity is the comparison between what's in here and what's out
there and by that measure all humans are at least unsane and some of us are quite
dangerously so and so an interesting global goal for sending children into
the future might be to send them into the future a little less unsane than the
adults that are occupy our world today
so these are all thoughts from back then and a few years before I had gotten my
particular slant on what I called objects which were a biological approach
to computing and the simplest way of
thinking about is the idea is computers all the way down was influenced quite a
bit by some of the thinking that was going on about the ARPANET having
networks of computers many many computers and at some point I realized
that if you only had little software computers that were made out of only
little software computers you'd have this great way of always retaining full
power on all of your representations you'd never degenerate to a data structure that had to be interpreted
from the outside that these objects when you sent them over a network would take
their main interpreters along with them rather than being these raw packets of
bits that somebody would have to write an interpreter for at the other end and so forth this is because my background
was in molecular biology and sketchpad
had already started using ideas like that and sketchpad 3 had already had
multiple windows multiple windows go all the way back into the early 60s so there
a lot of ideas about using this and if we come up to the present and take a
look at modern objects here 2001 a lot
of different things here so you know a movie is a as an object in this system I
love her but I have to move this talk along little game is completely made of
everything in here is made out of objects there's a little pong game we
can move the paddle and so forth this 3d
bunny is sitting on what looks like a 2d
desktop here so if I said the bunny Luce
see it actually comes out in front it's
a little hard to see exactly what's going on until the bunny actually starts
going behind now you get a better idea of the relationship of 2d and 3d space
in this system is that they're actually intermingled if you think about it why
not you don't want to be slaves of a
desk top another interesting way of
looking at it is this thing we're all familiar with it which is word wrap
but what is going on back there in this
biological way of looking at things these letters are actually little
objects that are like little animals and
one of the things we've taught them is to follow the leader in a couple of different ways so this way when I say do
your thing only the letter capital H knows what to do everybody else has to
follow kind of cute it's nice because
this is a program that kids can figure out because it's basically holding the hands and falling you notice that these
guys are active it's going to bounce them around with the margin here now
more direct way of programming this is to not move until somebody has called to
you that I'm in my right place so the H will go there and now everybody's
stopped until they know that they can go and they go so that's kind of cute and
if we do it all behind the scenes we get
this fiction of instant thing and this
is just typical distributed algorithm in a real dynamic OOP system okay so
another thing you can build out of these are overlapping object interfaces here's
a little recorder more here that's going
to so we can record demos and so forth
and I've just got it turning this guy back on again because I want to show you a way of thinking about the abstraction
of this if every object has the same DNA
then there really must be just wearing costumes and this little mouse up here
is a button if I click on the button I'll reveal what's actually here which
is each of these types here is actually made out of one type
and the abstraction here we're showing is just what their countries are and if
you have a dynamic object system you can also count the object so I'll execute
this program here and say please count all the objects there and it says they're about 750,000 objects in this
group of things part of which is this this demo
ok so Universal basically a universal
algebra if you like mathematics and the
way we divide it up is one language so
it's like if a kid learns English they're learning the language of Shakespeare but they might they might be
10 or 15 years away from being able to appreciate Shakespeare but there's a
continuity of using language for talking about a whole bunch of different things so in this system which is called squeak
which is a derive from the work that we did at Xerox PARC
there are basically three views of this
single language and single system and the operating system which this has its
own is written in the same language that the kids do their programming in that
brings us to kids we've been working with many thousands of children over
many many years this is the hard part of the research because the average
educational experiment doesn't go right
and whether it goes right or wrong is very very hard to tell why so
longitudinal experiments over many years are necessary to get even the simplest
amounts of information and basically
what I'm going to show you a little bit today in these examples are some of the
things that we do with nine ten and eleven year old children so we started
off with a blank slate if a kid is getting this on the internet they get a
set of hints but the learning here is
actually by doing construction and each one of these things is like a little
three or four minute project with lots
of reflection I'm just going to run through some of the things so I get
a little palette drop it in to get a
painting and the first thing I'll do is kind of the quintessential project here
which is a little car that you can learn
how to drive design a car is seen from
the top both boys and girls love putting
on big off-road tires when they do this
we don't give the kids clipart because it's very important for them to learn
how to draw this is more of this art and
play so the kid makes the car the way
they want it and it immediately is made into something that they can do things
with and they can look at another view
of it which is it's symbolic view and the Montessori game we're playing here is that here is where the kids main pay
off an interest is and what we're trying to do is show them builder an intuition
as to how powerful it is to be able to have some symbolic ways of expressing
behaviors of these things so if you look at sketches heading over there let's
call it car click on this little caret
so the number starts counting up the car starts rotating and again if I rotate it
with my hand the number goes positive and negative so these are two views of
the same thing here's a car Ford by five so I'll click on the exclamation point
car turn by five then things get fun
when you can just drag out these little
behaviors and it makes a script for you and you can just start the script going
and all of a sudden I've got a basically
Seymour's logo turtle circle we're the
costume on it and this costume is very important for many of the kids because
it enables them as bran Ferren was pointing out it enables them to get into
this stuff into their personal story about something they want to do like being able to drive an adult
car okay so then then what we want to do is
to make a steering wheel for this this
is like old time Lego and in that the system the system doesn't know that I'm
making a steering wheel I'm just making a drawing as far as its concerned let's
say keep same deal with a steering wheel I can look at its interface looks
exactly the same because the DNA is the same I'll call it steer and it has a
heading as well and now undo an
experiment with driving this car so let me click this number down here to zero
and I see the car is going straight and if I go negative the car is going the other way so if I can put positive and
negative numbers in here I should be able to steer this car around and steers
heading there is generating positive and negative numbers as I turn the steering
wheel so why can't I just pick up the name of those numbers and drop them
right into this little script and now
can I control the car by driving the steering wheel and I can the kids love
this for about 30 seconds and they complain they say wow this is - this is
great but it's too hard to steer and we say yes because you made a race car they
say what's a race car and we say well there's no gears between the steering wheel and the front wheels and kids say
well what's the gear we say look at this little triangle here press on it and you
can go and do a little arithmetic let's divide the number coming out of the
steering wheel by three and now the car
should be easier to control and it is so
just to pause for a second the kids have learned a few powerful ideas without
even giving a name to them including why divide might be useful it's useful for
scaling things you have to realize that in a fifth graders life they've never
had a use for division think about it
you don't need it for dividing up M&Ms you do that by parceling them out one
you do Pizza cutting by I so nowhere in the the
fifth-graders basic way of meeting the
world do they need any of this stuff until they start using a computer the
computer is actually allowing them to make their toys behave the way they want
them to okay so let's stop this guy and
let's paint ourselves a road get a brown
road here now one of the things the kids
do is to make a game to put their car on
the road and see if they can keep the car in the road and they can make noises if their car is getting off the road and
they actually get a in one of the classes that it's used at the open school in Los Angeles they get a little
driver's license if they can keep their car in the road so this is the ultimate
enfranchisement in adult type activities but the next phase is what I'm going to
show you here which is I want to make a little robot car explore another
powerful idea so I'll repaint this car and I'll just give it a little sensor
and the sensors are just paint so this
car has a little sensor and now I want to make this robot car so look at its
viewer and first thing I know I want the car to do is to go forward and I want to
test the road so I get a test guy here
I'll look at tests in here here's a nice
test so I'm looking at cars color blue
which I'm going to use as its sensor and looking to see if I can see the road
which is this brown color and I know
that I am going to do a couple of turns
here but I'm not sure which way so I'll just drop a couple of these guys in here and let's think about it for a
second so if I'm following a wall and I bump into the wall I should turn away
from it and if I'm away from the wall like I am here I should turn into it so
says the no version of the thing is right car turned by five turned o'clock
was into it and I should make this guy minus five so I'll turn away to it when
I from it when I hit it and let's start that going and so this is a simple one
of the simplest feedback programs and feedback is an incredibly powerful idea
because it's one of the main ways that both nature in general and humans in
particular make progress when they don't have complete information so this gives
you a search and there are many different parts of the curriculum that we do that involve these feedback ideas
okay so I'll stop this guy and move it aside
now let's take a look look at another use of stuff here I'll spare you my
drawing these ants so I draw these two
ants with their legs in different positions and I drop them into a thing
called a holder and now I want to
program an animation here so I want the
car to look like something starts off
with car looking like dot because I haven't said what it should actually look like and let's look at this holder
here and here's the ant holders player
at cursor here's the ant right here so
let me drag that guy out and drop it in here so now I've got car look like holders player at cursor and if I click
once the car now looks like this ant now
I want them to look like the other ant and here's the control of the cursor in
this older and I'm just gonna say increased by one over and over again and if I start that
going I get my aunt animating so as many
different things you can do just with animation there and of course he's still
this guy here and we might ask what would happen if we turn on our road
following script here so I'll turn this guy back on and now we've got an ant
following a scent trail or something we
can make into a fish swimming upstream and so forth
okay turn these guys off so what I'm
doing is just taking you through some of these sort of first stage powerful ideas
I'll get rid of this road here and drop
this down there and now what I want to do is to see this guy first I'm gonna
make a particle system here
drop the ant in it take this little
script out here so what I'm going to do is again I'm gonna read repaint this ant
but this time I'm going to get rid of everything except the little blue dot here that gives me a little blue dot and
now let's program this dot to do
something so forward let's make it
forward by 15 so it moves pretty quickly and let's make it bounce off the walls
now I'm gonna these bounce will make a sound when it hits the wall I'm gonna go
to the teachers favorite sound which is
silence and you'll see why in a minute
so if I start this guy going just going
to bounce around here and now what I
want to make is a zillion of these so I need a copy command here and copy if it
I just copy it I'm just going to get a stack of these guys on top of each other
it's not going to look all that exciting so what I'm going to do is actually turn
the guy each time before I copy it and what shall I turn it with but I'll turn
it with a random number here some number
between 1 and 180 and then if I just hit
the exclamation point here I'll spritz a
whole bunch of these guys out there and so I get a little particle system okay
now I'll get my Little Miss million
things you can do with the particle system and I'm going to show you a couple of them later this one's kind of
fun here which is a Fineman motor so I
turn these guys on so this ratchet guy
is going to go one way when a blue dot
hits the red it's going to go the other way when the blue dot hits the green and
on average that's getting hit you know
see it's sort of tipping around a little bit but if I turn one of these guys off
it's the equivalent of putting the pawl in the ratchet so I'll do that
and now the pawl present prevents it from going clockwise I'm only going to
get counterclockwise so this is a thing that Feynman put in a paper called
there's plenty of room at the bottom where he's trying to explain how
everything interesting in most phenomena
including biology and chemistry ultimately depend on there being kinetic
energy from from heat let's take a look
at some of the kids so those are kind of four powerful things you can do right
away now when you look at kids projects you notice that a little different they
almost always put idiosyncratic art they
don't copy our art so here's Lauren has
fixed this thing so it warns her by
making she's much better at driving this
than I am but basically her idea is if this was giving her sonic warnings then
it would help her learn to drive the car right down the very center of the road
now these two girls were less on fitting than many of the other kids in the class
and the challenge here was to figure out a way of getting a car to drive a robo
car to drive down the center of the road these two girls came up with a truly
elegant solution and the way we explain these things to people on the internet
because everything I'm showing you here is directly Internet able and is going
out on our website called squeak land dot org we use these transparent
membranes here to overlay the kids program so when a teacher is reading us
they can come in and say oh yeah here's the car here's an explanation of it we
explain to the teacher why the program is elegant if it is elegant this one is
truly elegant because the kids realize that instead of having nested
conditionals that could be just three separate cases and the car this thing is
actually running right now but this conditional says don't run unless you're
on the road you're supposed to run on so if I pick it up and put it on the road
and notice that when it gets off the road it will not run until it's made the
turn and the car will still do the right
thing if this sensor hits all three things at once because the two the four
and the minus 4 will cancel out and the thing will just go forward so this is
when you see a child derive a program like this from scratch it's worth the 30
years because this is wonderful when they do it and it changed their entire
attitude as you might guess about whether they could do this stuff here's
another kid that realized that curser increased by one was wrapping around and
therefore you should be able to have as many frames as you want in the animation
and why not put faces on them here's
another kid who realized you should be able to do the drive a car and the
animation at the same time so here's a Superman animation here and here's his
foreword and he decided to put in a speed control so forward in the in the
joystick controls velocity and side by
side so he's got something more like a video game here and made a maze that
you're not supposed to bump into okay
now these when I said we have a magic
new art algebra this is partly what I
meant because we have been doing increase by all along increased by is
how you move around the physical world the all of these guys are vectors and
you're adding a little vector to them and so they move we were doing increase
by when we were doing animation but we're jumping from one part to another
in this holder structure and here we
have another holder structure that is actually holding sound so just to show
you a little bit so if you take out this magnifying glass you can see each one of
these things is a little guy like the like one of the ants and it turns out
that that sound synthesis is just moving
a speaker cone according to the height
of these separate guys so this very same animation
should work if I am moving the speaker cone instead of changing costumes so if
I turn turn this on so here's the the
real speaker cone is actually doing this but of course it's going so slowly that all you're getting is a deep bass far
far too low so what I want to do here is go in here and speed everything up by a
factor of 10,000 and play it Tom and I
can ask the question what would happen if I put 0.5 in here so it goes down an
octave and what if I put another number
oh the kids now realize that this little
number which is the rate of progress through there is the magic number that
they need for every note on the keyboard and so by making a little button that
has these magic numbers in there which they find out for themselves they have
suddenly made themselves a sampling synthesizer that works just the way the
Roland synthesizers do and you can combine this
into a really neat musical thing look at
the trombone sliders here when I move this this player when it comes to the
bring the trumpet into prominence here
actually used to play in a Dixieland band and I like flugelhorns so I'll go
in here and I'll change the trumpet
make the clarinet sound more like a clarinet I'll explain what I'm doing is
real-time FM being controlled
I'll stop this for a second well you can't hear a C in our head we can go in
here and it will be played if I play in
the score here nearer note I'll get the
whole chord
well that sounds almost dixieland but I know that this wants to be a seventh
chord so I'll just change this note in the court get the seventh chord
I'll change the rest of these guys
[Music] so the progression is now like this
started up again [Music]
please note these synthetic convers that the kids make can be inserted into this
and if you want to see what the little toy program for doing all of this is
it's these scripts so these 9 scripts are all that has to be written in order
to do this play environment ok science
is more tricky on a computer because you can lie on a computer and business
people do all the time you can have
inverse cube laws of gravity and so forth so in order to do the real world
we take a fake picture of the real world like this sketch of the Imagineering
building and we superimpose a movie on it so if I here's a one of our cohorts
here dropping a water balloon and it's
kind of hard to see what's going on even
in playing the movie over and over again but if we look at every tenth frame we
can see that something nonlinear is going on and one thing is that's
beautiful about having these pictures is that we don't even need numbers to
figure out what is going on so there's the height there's the distance between
the two balloons between those two frames and I can see right away here
that I somehow have to make this higher by some amount in order to get to the
next balloon and I somehow have to make
it higher by what seems to be about the same amount to get to the next balloon and if I stack these up and if I've done
this carefully enough here's my little incremental amount that looks like it's
the same so it looks like what's happening is the velocity is increasing at a constant rate each time interval
that I've been looking at here so in order to check that out we build build
ourselves a little model and again I
won't go through building the whole thing I've just
prepared a little set and the little
model winds up saying I want to increase this thing called velocity by minus one
so that's the constant amount over and over and over again so velocity will go
up uniformly and I want to increase the balloons position by whatever this
velocity is each time so the balloons position is going to change nonlinearly
and I can test that out by trying them both at the same time and I see my time
constant is off a little bit but I believe you'll trust me that if we
monkey with that number we can get them to match up completely and that allows
us to put gravity on objects of pleasure like a spaceship so if I start this guy
off with just the gravity going and try
and land them on the moon I get an explosion so I have a motor in here I
have something that will show a flame when the motor is on and I have something that will crash me if I don't
land at the right speed so now let's see
if I can fly this ship down but I have
to be careful because my motor is powerful
it'll come back sorry
so idea carefully not well now if my
blood is up
there we go all right could still play a
video game at sixty ok so here's another
kind of a feedback idea of more profound idea which is following gradients so we
have gradients here and here's a salmon smelling its way upstream so what it's
doing is it's comparing the brightness
under it to where it was last time and unless it's in an upstream direction it
circles until it finds a favorable gradient then it follows the gradient
here's a clownfish which wants to find its sea anenome by the gradient of perfume given off by
the sea anenome so that this is a radial gradient so I'll start him going and see
you need another strap this is kind of
like business you know they're following gradients but they don't have a strategy when the gradient runs out same thing
with the Sam and he's gonna circle around he's actually gotten close enough
to switch over to another brain module that will get him to nest in the sea
anenome okay now a little more science
diffusion it's really great if I had time I would do it in this audience
because I love big audience so we have to turn off the air conditioner but if you open a fairly powerful perfume now
you're seeing it going 60 times real time and to ask people to raise their
hands and they can smell it you get this beautiful diffusion wave going back into
the audience it will go at a different
rate depending on how hot the water is in here and now we're using a sort of a
much more powerful built-in particle system that we derived from Mitch
Resnick starlogo stuff so here's the water particles and here's the dye
particles and this is a very very simple
little program for each guy which is to be bouncing randomly off these guys and
we see what happens as we get disorder the starts becoming quite uniform
and that's a very nice motivator for thinking about what might be going on
down there now if we combine gradient following we can do some really cool ant
stuff so we have about 50 ants here these guys are food and the ants go
about randomly until they find food they pav food they will go towards the nest
and leave a pheromone trail behind and
notice the pheromone trail organizes the other ants as they wander into it
because if an ant wanders into it and doesn't have food it goes upstream to find the food and then downstream to
find the nest and you can think of these
as fads so it's really quite interesting
to watch yeah so here we have quite a bit of activity and there's no food this
is kind of reminds me of investing the
excitement lingers long after the food
is gone so there are many beautiful
things you can do with these particle systems and fifth-graders have
difficulty with recursion like most of us and one of the interesting things you
can do with objects is you can do programs that would normally be done
recursively by making new objects that just do something once so to grow a tree
what you really need to do is just grow one branch and then make two buds and
tell them to do the same thing so if I tell this to happen a little bit of
randomness in there it's all done in parallel and over here we have it at a
much greater depth so it's actually putting out about 2,000 little particles
here a little randomness and you start
getting an idea that may nature though complicated is complicated
in a very special way it's not complicated the way we think most things
are complicated and therefore it can be understood in many important ways okay
now to end up look at our last particle
system example or lots of wonderful things you can do with kinetic theory of
heat and everything but suppose these are people and we're going to infect
just one of them and let the infection
spread get an epidemic people always
root for the last one there it is that's
life or death depending on how you look
at it hard to see what happened there so you want to get a little graph should
always do a few of those these things that have random behaviors
okay another graph here well so these
are characteristic curves of AIDS and it's quite interesting if we just change
the time constant by a little little bit here so the linear path along the side
is about half what it was if we started an infection here we see it happens
right away and we got something that looks more like typhoid with just a little change in the time constant and
the problem here is that unaided human
common-sense has a keyhole only about this big and if you look at aids with
normal human common sense it doesn't look like anything needs to be done
whereas if you come up here and look at typhoid you can see right away that
something needs to be done but science
can look at something like AIDS before it's truly dangerous and boosts our
common sense this uncommon sense of science is what allows us to imagine
things deeply enough to take action as though there was an actual epidemic and
that's important because actually 22 now
have died 35 million are infected in
some hair in Africa alone some people don't even still believe that AIDS might
be caused by a virus the politicians haven't taken action and
it's starting 70 percent of for instance
Botswana land is infected now 70 percent
so we're talking about to hala costs already and probably five or six more
hala costs to go before this gets controlled and yet it was controlled
very well in the countries that had science because they knew that no matter
how long the time constant is that when you have a deadly disease that is
contagious and incurable you're going to get an exponential curve that is going to be very very dangerous and
so I've ended where it began which is if we want to have a great future
let's send children to make that great
future that think a heck of a lot better than most of us do today thank you
a good night okay
Allen I'm sorry to say that you did not break your 30-minute record here today
so I have time for one question Kay's
first law that I've read about is that the best way to predict the future is to
invent it I've heard that yes and Kay
second law is as I understand it is that to win big you have to invent something
that creates a need and then fills it
what is Kay's third law and while you're at it what's your fourth fifth and sixth
was well I don't believe in laws because
that's the whole pink plain blue plain thing is the idea is to try and break
the ones that don't make any sense so principles I've just tell you that
Bob warned me that he was going to ask me this question but the answer popped
into my mind and I think it drives out of this this talk that when you have an
idea and it's not a great idea try
taking a nap rather than action because
as I look around where we are right now no vandalism is throwing a brick through
a window because you can and what I see in our society is inverse vandalism
which is making things just because you can so most of the things that are made
are if you go to a flea market you get a strong sense of this that it's
unbelievable to realize that almost everything in that everything in that
flea market some one or two or in people
had to desire it so much that they went through the labor of designing it and
building it and putting it out there and
so I think the I think the idea of especially in computer science where the
incremental change is kind of the black hole of every programmer I think much
more design before the programming and
much more elevated view of what's trying to be accomplished given that nobody's
figured out a way to put a half-life on code tends to stay around and I believe
that my friend Bill Buxton is going to talk quite a bit about the
importance of design in the next talk thanks so much