Alan Kay at the Internet 50th event in London

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English (auto-generated) Click for settings
thanks for coming
everybody I'm Jim we're
very lucky that we've got four fantastic speakers I feel
so privileged and and been so lucky one of the reasons
Leonard said that we should put on an event in London is because
London played a key part that the in the early days of
the internet and particularly this next gentleman peter
kirsten CBE notice and
Peter's still a professor of computer science at
UCL who of course got departments based
here and Peter was the first person to
put a computer on the ARPANET outside of
the u.s. in 1973 as
well as other claims to fame he was is a key part
of creating if the Internet Protocol suite along
with Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn and implementing
it in the mid 70s so we're going to show a short interview
that Peter and I did together last month and
then we're going to sit down with Peter and get some of his observations
got a friend of mine an inspiration a
the Pasco serial digital entrepreneur
who set up the first internet cafe in London
in 94 I think it was supper digital think
tank cyber salon 97 really early in to ecommerce
she's going to be talking to us about the difference the web made
when it when the web became part of the internet
landscape and a broader set of people came on board
we're finishing
with plexus very own sage hug he's
the program director of lorca which is a cybersecurity
research team here at here
at plex all he's going to be talking about the opportunities
and challenges that total connectivity
bring along especially in the age of mistrust so really
looking forward to that but
starting off with Alan Cain he was a personal
computing pioneer and a bit of a legend
he's he's best known for creating the
Dynabook which was a carry-all device
a personal computer for kids of all ages but it's
kind of familiar and he came up with this concept
this idea in the late 60s while he was at the University of
Utah and he was
actually there when Utah became the fourth node on the ARPANET
after the University of
Utah I believe he went to work at Xerox
a huge amount of pioneering breakthroughs
the Dynabook came to life in the form of the alto but
hey created the ethernet they created laser printing
graphical user interface object orientated programming
modern computing as we know it
what thing people don't necessarily realize is
the overlap between the our community and Xerox PARC a lot
graduate students that were were sponsored by the
ARPA project ended up finding jobs at at
Xerox PARC and indeed the leader of up
to the information processing techniques office at
ARPA Bob Taylor ended up running Xerox
PARC so there's a big crossover and it's almost like
one one community so Allen's
going to be talking about the culture at Xerox PARC and
in the oppor community that led to such fantastic
breakthroughs in such a short period of time
the other thing people might not know as well is that
Alan is Tron and after
that kind of visit to Xerox
PARC bonnie mcbride the scriptwriter of of
tron basically made
alan the the the main character and here he is in
action and actually if you watched ron for the you
know the people are familiar with the film it's actually a metaphor
object orientated programming so what should again with that
with that in mind and the main character Tron is
actually user name is Alan one which was Alan's user
name at Xerox PARC I believe we're
not talking we're not a so much Tron and although
I'd like to we're here to talk about the culture at
Xerox PARC and and the ARPA community
that led to such a huge amount of innovation in a short period of time and
what we can learn from it and on that note I'm
gonna pass you over to our keynote speaker Alan
Jim asked
me if I could talk about the internet and also
about our current Park as he as he mentioned and could
o in just a couple of minutes please and of
course my reaction was well okay so
here it is in one
because I actually like history
and this is the minimal just for an exercise I put down the
minimal number of things that
need to be talked about too that got us to
the Internet and personal
computing and of course that's way
too much and this leads us to two ideas which
is this whole fortune teller
says I tell the future nothing easier it hasn't
happened yet so you can say anything you want and
by the way if you're feeling creative that's a good way to start just
tell a future you'd like to see happen and
you can make it happen but she also asked
who can tell the past and the reason
the past is hard to tell is it happened
in real time across an entire world and
what it means is any kind of compression
of that past is almost certainly
going to leave out something important including
as Goethe pointed out most
of the people who actually participated
in making something happen and this
is why we don't in in
my research community we have superheroes
or like most valuable players in sports but
in fact it's all of
the stuff that we did was done by teams
of various size and so
we try not to claim
this got invented first and that got invented
first it actually doesn't work very well
for instance most people here may not know because in
both television both America and the United States
to have invented television most
people don't know that the first image
television image ever put on a CRT was
actually done in Japan in the early
20s by a Japanese guy he understood
what a CRT could be and made
one that could show a television image
so having said that we
can start isolating different parts of
this thing for instance this is the radar part of it and
British radar is on the left hand side and American radar
is on the right-hand side the key idea here is
there are a couple of really important people Henry
Tizard was the most important person if
you want to know who was most directly
responsible for this country
not being lost in the Battle of Britain it was
Henry Tizard because in the early
30s he started worrying about Germany
when Hitler came to power he was a physicist
and he started poking
at people first looking for a death ray or
a directed-energy weapon and
the people he talked to said well that's too much power
but we might be able to detect planes coming and
so the
result of that was long before while
chamberlain was still appeasing and all of that where
a series of coastal stations all around the
eastern part of this island from the tip-top
of scotland all the way down the
bottom and when the german planes came over
they were detected and they could scramble the
raf to take care of them and
britain wound up winning
those battles and radar also
was the key technology for deep defeating
submarines and night bombing
so it was the key technology
that won the war for the Allies
and a lot of it happened here the
bosses of these two physicists let them do
what they wanted and they wound up inventing the cavity
magnetron which was the first electronic
device that could actually put out enough power at
a small enough wavelength to make
very even the
the detection of a periscope of submarine possible
and Tizard again
got together with Vannevar Bush in the United
States and Tizard convinced
the British government that the secrets
that Britain had instead of being barded
with the Americans they should just give them all to us and
expect that
goodwill and trustworthiness
would take care of everything else and he was completely right
so it just cuts through an enormous amount of
that you would see in almost any other
time and the magnetron was bought brought
to the United States and that set up this
enormous research and development effort at MIT
that made almost all of the radars that were
used in world war ii which were manufactured by
American companies and distributed and this was
set up in part by having British
scientists come over there and there's
one other little benefit at the very end
of the the war that Bush had been thinking about how
do you organize all of this stuff and he thought everybody
who dealt with knowledge should have a desk
like this a desk that holds
the equivalent of maybe
10,000 books worth of stuff that has scanners
as pointing devices
has hyperlinks this was called mimics this
look familiar today okay so this
is 1945 and many of the inventors
of the stuff that we have today read
what Bush wrote in 1945
so this is a direct this is an image
of something that everybody wanted to have
and people started looking to find out about it
okay British computing Turing
of course going all the way up to
Babbage and ADA at the top Bletchley Park which
they couldn't talk about but in fact the people at Bletchley
Park remembered what they did and that led
to a number of computers particularly the
Manchester computers and
the Brits were way ahead of the mayor during
the late 50s in the early 60s and unfortunately you
let IBM in and they kind of bought
out all the good stuff that was being done over
here and for as part of our story we
could just as well in 1969
and should be celebrating
Don Davies the National Physical Laboratory
Network because that started
working in 1969 also
and the
people working on network being were friendly
the u.s. got more of the credit than it deserved
in a way because there
are the resources to develop the stuff it into
the internet and make it larger but
intellectually it was kind of an even-steven thing and
there was a wonderful character by the name Louie
Azam in France who was also
instrumental and this here's Peter
we'll hear from him a little bit later he had a lot
do and I'm hoping he will tell the v80 story
what Jim calls ARPA
is basically open-ended
government research in the public domain most
of which was ARPA so this is a little bit
too complicated to
talk about and here's Xerox PARC he said he said a few words about that dark
spark was really an integral part of
this community everybody at Xerox PARC have gotten
their PhDs paid for by ARP and we'll talk about
that in a little bit and this whole
thing started out because this one guy Licklider said
early on computers are destined to become interactive
intellectual amplifiers for
everyone universally networked worldwide
so he said that in 1962 and
he got money
from the government because they liked him and he
started all of these things happening now if we
look at just the network aspects here and
combine the British and the American we
get something that's a bit like this that in the 50s
there were air defense systems
done in the u.s. that had displays
and pointing devices on them Lickliter saw
those and said what he just said
he decided to fund MIT to
make a computing utility because
this wartime system
was the kind of thing that pretty much everybody could
make use of it was networked together there are 25
different places and
that led like to say well we need an
intergalactic Network we want to connect up
everything and that got the romance that turned
into the internet started and Len Kleinrock never
been called Leonard in his life from
New York so Lenny
and California's called
Len he did some
important early work showing that you
could cue messages without congestion
he did not invent packets
but his messages were
were like what packets
eventually came to be and packets were
invented more or less independently by
Paul Baran and Don Davies one in the
US and one in the UK and this
led to two networks the ARPANET and NPL
net and as was mentioned oh
then in a wonderful
network called Aloha net which dealt with
the problem of how do you have the University of Hawaii
work over all the islands back
in the days when telephones were incredibly expensive and
the idea as broadcasts it into the air and
Xerox PARC took that idea and made the
ethernet because a coax cable is actually
like what you broadcast rate
if you broadcast radio inside of a of a
cable you can do something like Aloha
net and then as was mentioned these
networks were connected for the first time in
1973 that Peter had a lot to do with
and then there are a lot of work
on internet working what we're celebrating not
internetworking we're celebrating
packet networking
in both places and
we can celebrate internet
working in a few years but
why not celebrate it now also
so they're Park it had its own
internet little-known fact and worked
on it and many people worked on it and then
there was the SR I bread truck what
doing here and I'll show you right
now so in 1976 this
is an outdoor beer garden near the Stanford
campus out in the woods still they're
called Zots rose Oddie's and in
this red
truck which inside had
a couple of pdp-11 s and radio
transmitters and it had a Mickey Mouse phone
and reason they had this is so they could prove
to the people in Washington that was using a standard telephone
so this is the maybe the first voice
over IP and the connection
was radio net linked into
the Bay Area packet radio network going
to s RI and then across the country on
the ARPANET to the to the East Coast and
why were they at this beer garden well of course
so they could drink beer while doing
their monthly report so here
they are with a teletype machine quaffing
the golden liquid trying to figure
it is that they should tell to the government sponsors that
the other and I happen to be there for
this and everybody had a very Merry time
that day because it all worked
so this is an early
example of internet working because it had to go
through a bunch of different networks in order to get to
Washington and maybe the the
date we really celebrate as the start of the internet
was the next year in 1977 which also
involved the bridge bread truck and it also involved
things that Peter did
over here to connect up several networks together
by satellite well there were these sponsors
so in the u.s. we have a Congress and we
have the Pentagon and Russians
gave us a gift in 1957
which is to get Americans
to do things for the only reason they do them which
is they were scared by
the way that's what happens over here so if you are
interested in why all this stuff happens at some
times and not others it's because regular people
don't want to do anything with boffins
unless they're terribly scared
because they really don't want to deal with
unusual people it's only when there's
a real threat of war that they start looking for unusual
people to try and find more ways
out of the dilemma so the Sputnik caused
ARPA to be created and in
the 60s the for our protectors were these guys
the first one of those funded
Licklider over here and
then a line of one guy
every year every two years through
the 60s and of course Congress wasn't
as bad as our Congress is now but you
can route how is this relevant tell me why this work
you're doing at ARPA is relevant to the Department of Defense
why are you spending this money and
what these guys would say these guys are
all scientists they weren't administrators these
were all scientists so what they would say is oh that's not
the right question to ask the right question to ask
is this going to help the United States or
this technology or our society or our culture generally
that's the question well if you
ask us those questions will tell you and Bob Taylor who
was a bystander there said
these are projectors would stand up to these guys in
a polite civilized way attack their
myopia because these are
per directors were scientific statesmen and he says
we have had too few of these people in that job since
then and an example it's
relevant to our story today is that in 66
Charlie Hertzfeld to ask Bob
well what do you want and Bob said well this
network is what I want to do and here's why and
Hertzfeld said okay you got it and that
conversation was a 15-minute conversation
and then Hurstville said well how much money do
this thing going and Bob
so about a million dollars which is about six
million pounds today you give it give us six
million pounds which will get it organized and
off the ground in Hertz
field said okay and Bob
said there was no ARPA order
anything for months maybe even a year they just started
doing it and started spending this money that is
how the internet got started
imagine trying to do that today imagine
how many reasonable people would be
put in the path of progress
and when the
Vietnam War started shutting this
funding down Taylor went to
find other funding which he found at
Xerox and he set up Xerox PARC and so this is
the lineage of the people who made our technologies
today possible not just the internet but also personal
computing and
if you want to read about this there's a website
the website of this meeting
that we have and you can just go to Internet at
50 comm and there's a link to
the Alan Kay references so
I have downloadable stuff and references to
read about this nobody should
escape the next
without reading about the Tizard mission of radar
in this country this is the book
about ARPA and Xerox PARC and
and there are some documents
also on the website that are written
at the time for instance one
of the great books of all time is this book written in 1953
about British computer so
if you want to know what was going on in 1953
this book has papers by everybody
who is important it has a paper by Turing
as a paper by Christopher stray key
it has papers by the Manchester people
it's got a paper in there by Maurice Wilkes my
old hero just a great thing
have to promise myself not to digress
so if you're interested
in this stuff go there and read this ok
now I want to talk about
the problem that most people have today in
dealing with the past it's not just the old
fortune-teller problem the problem
is is that the words that we use today
we're used in different ways in the
past and so when we
something in the past when we see something in the past we
tend to evaluate it in terms
of the present and a
good example of this and a great complaint
what happened when angle Bart who's
known as the inventor of the mouse and other
things died the
modern day Englebart wrote a great obituaries
and here's the most telling
when I read tech writers interviews with Engelbart
I imagine these writers interviewing George
Orwell and asking in-depth probing
questions about his typewriter that's the
problem the mouse was nothing
it just happens to be visible
it's the invisible stuff
you have to look at similarly the shopping list
thing well yeah it had hypertext
shared screen collaboration blue Globa and as
brett victor says the flaws you
don't want to treat the past as like
today except cruder that assumes
that today is some refinement of the past in
fact in many many cases what we have is
a much cruder present from
uch more refined past and if we
had more time I would demonstrate this to you in ways that
would astonish you and the reason this is true is
because angle Bart was special and almost
nobody who followed him was as special so we
got these special ideas early on from this genius
and Engelbart himself said hey
the mouse that's just a button on the radio we
invented a whole car
you're spending all this time worrying about some knob
on the radio
okay so the problem
with invention and even innovation
which is just
something incremental on something that's already known is
people don't
even reinvent the wheel they reinvent the flat tire and
if you don't know about wheels
this sort of works right have you ever had a flat and had
rive on it anybody sorry
works and if you don't know about something better
you might think that's what a wheel is similarly
full glass of water holds
a half glass
and so
for the creature that's comfortable in the half glass the creature
can swim in that but also has the opportunity to go up to the
top there but if you give only
give the half-full glass out that
creature has no opportunity to explore the top and might
start thinking that that's reality
so a very important thing
to understand about today is that a many important
respects normal has
been redefined downward
so the things we take to be normal
today in many ways are just shadows
of better ideas
in the past and of
course people are curious about went
on the net to see if people were curious about Orwell's typewriter
and boy they are here it is and because
it's so much easier to talk about a typewriter than it is
to wonder what he meant by this so we really
to ask what was he trying to accomplish how did he go about it
and eventually we'd get down to his typewriter it
actually is important printing is important
but we have to go for the top
ideas and similarly in the
mid-50s we had these
there were 25 centers in the US
each one of which had about a hundred and fifty of these interactive
terminals with pointing devices but
you didn't realize that and
they were all networked together
what this turned into by the way was
our air traffic control system
developed directly from
this back then it was the air traffic control system
for Russian bombers
and we want to
do the same kind of thing what were these people actually thinking
about because that's the typewriter we
know what were they trying to accomplish how
are they able to make it happen and eventually you can get down
to some questions about the technology so
just a quick sample here we saw what Bush was interested
in with something like
a super version of Wikipedia the head
of ARPA wanted to keep track
of everything Lickliter was more lofty
he saw that the combination of humans
and computers would think together as no humans have ever thought
before McCarthy looked at it
and said every home will have one one of
these every home will have one because
they thought of this as an information utility like
our power utility or our water utility
or gas utility Ivan invented
computer graphics which is used today
and Engelbart wanted to deal
with humans capabilities for
dealing with complex urgent problems like the climate problem
like education
like energy like water
inkelaar is a very serious guy and this is what
he wanted to do and in the short talk I'll just look
things so here's
Lickliter memo in 1963 to
members in Affiliate of the intergalactic
computer network they
asked him why do you call it intergalactic and he said well engineers
always give you the minimum and
I want a worldwide network
so I'm asking for an intergalactic one
and he said if we make
an intergalactic net Network then our main problem will
be learning to communicate with aliens and this
important idea it's an idea that hasn't been grappled
with in today's commercialization of the technology
that once you scale up the
most points in
a scaled-up network are going to be alien
to you in a variety of ways and
one of the papers I put online for you to
is this paper called the computer as a communications
device you'll find it very interesting because it is almost
absent from the communication
devices you're using at this very moment
almost no good ideas are in
the mobile phones that you have
so the key thing is
if you can't share context
it's hard to agree on something so if
the subject is a vein and hooves and
tail one person could be thinking of a horse and another of
a zebra they might agree on a hamburger
if you're trying to communicate with
computer what shared context could you possibly have
what could you do with its thought cloud to get
it to intersect with yours if it's an AI these are
all illustrations by the way from this paper
back then and I've added a
couple to them in the same style so
the salesman wants money the computer is not
about what humans are but knows to protect
the boss there's the problem of the chocolate
and the Apple even inside our own heads so
we have this problem of humans
and groups communicating with themselves to
each other individually in groups as one
example of alien problems
once we add computers in we've got the
problems of human communicating with computers that's the
user in Faye's problem we've got the problem of different
computers communicating with each other both in hardware
and software that's half of what the
internet tried to work on and then we have real aliens
that we should think about every once in a while what does that mean
now important idea here is that one
of the ways we help to communicate with ourselves and
others is through media and so we can
put me on the computer but as soon as we do the biggest
sin would be just to imitate the
physical media that we've been using that is the number
one problem with these devices that you have they
are all conveniences for media that happened
before you know they're all about
movies they're all about recordings they're all about
photographs they're all about text
all the things that people have gotten used to
that you can sell without a learning curve are
in the normal of today almost
hat's important about computers has been left out
of the normal and so if you think that what you're doing
is just normal reality you're missing
entirely what the computer is all about and in fact
what these guys we're all about so
here they are collaborating on something important
like making a bridge designing it testing it
and this cartoon was taken from an actual
meeting of the Engelbart group because
their system was so important to them and the
sharing was so deep in their system for
instance no matter what you did in the Engelbart system
any number of people could
get in there and they each had their cursors so
it wasn't a sharing cursor it wasn't just seeing a
picture you were actually all able to interact on
the same stuff and
to communicate about it they thought about what are tools
so here's a simple tool that goes right to
something that's genetic in humans if
it doesn't work bash it
so you her goal this
is what angle Bart called an a process and
the B process is improving her
a process she's getting better at hitting these
things and an important thing too and
about tools is they actually trained
us while we're using them she's thinking
more and more hammer like thoughts as an adult she might think
of using a nuclear weapon on somebody it's a natural
thing if people don't do what we want hammer
them the favorite hammer of today is starting to be AI
dangerous this is to
have a place to seem brain with
nuclear weapons
well most people don't worry about this today
but these guys did
there are also inward tools
so here's a tool that actually
changes her perceptions and
again we can use an agent a servant to
do things for us that gives us a view of the
can also use an agent to help our internal growth
use a teacher we can hammer people affect
people through teaming but
we can also put teams together to grow so
all of these things I'm telling you here were things that
were thought about back then and of
course what they thought about is what with these modes of
use what if we replace parts of it with computers
now and what does that mean in terms of
communication what does that mean in terms of agencies
so if we take that idea and this
angle Bart meeting here's what they thought of
is that this diagram which is
the one that we have today humans controlling
powerful agencies is not what you want
you have to include education
the thing that doesn't happen today and with that
can use new methods you can use use new languages
and you've created a system that includes
the human this is what Engelbart meant by augmentation
didn't mean just adding a tool and
that system is kind of
a thinking unit and if you put together a group
you're putting together groups of these so
this is a big idea almost nobody who
reads about Engelbart reads far enough to
driving I think this
might help some of the discussions
later on in this in this meeting
okay so I hate bullet
lists so I'll just
mention a couple here so why did this stuff work well the
funders funded visions not goals they
think they were wise enough to pick goals
what they wanted to do is to put
out a vision and let people different people
find different ways of realizing the vision they
didn't want to fund just problem-solving because if
you make up a problem from the current context it's probably
not the problem you should put your work into you
need to find problems they pay money for that
fund people not projects
the top people the ones are going to make a difference
only fund the very best people because they're
qualitatively different than the next levels down
and this is a
long-term venture so part of our research
ave to be the next generation researchers and
our Pro was one of the few groups ever to
build in a very
large amount of money to
create the next generation of researchers every researcher
at Xerox PARC have been created
by ARPA I was the oldest one there and I was
30 Butler Lampson who was the
Oppenheimer of Park was only 27
and Taylor at Park was only 38
so you need unusual people but this
least thing to worry about because they're just way
out in the bell curve and if you have a couple hundred million to
to choose from if
you want a championship football team get Beckham
Juwan Xerox PARC get Butler Butler
Lampson in this case and who knows
how rare they are but if you need one in a million
there's going to be 200 if you need one in 10 million there's
going to be 20 you can find
these people Xerox PARC was only 25 researchers
only 25 you
can find them the problems you can't find the funders
so what did these guys look
for well they were just trying to get the best people
who are interested in this and let them do their
thing the people you want to get also want to choose
own problems and methods sure because they're artists you
want to work on their own conceptions of the
problems Taylor said my job is to organize things so
that when the lone wolves need to cooperate they will and
he was very successful at that
this man right here is my great-grandfather he's
the first cat herder in our family's
burden cats don't
let anybody tell you it's easy
anybody can hurt cattle hold them together
10,000 1/2 mile short hairs that's another
thing all together being a cat herders probably about
the toughest thing I think I've ever done I got
this in this morning right here and
if you look at his face they just
ripped to shreds you know to see the movies yet
here the story is I'm
living a dream so
thing about this is this is the way management
thinks about dealing with these top
researchers it's completely wrong
100% wrong couldn't be more wrong
if you tried but the only thing they think
their job is actually to manage to control
and you can't control cats
but here's a much
younger set of research funders who really understand
come ajar fellows all the names
of the toys we have sitting right next to us they're gonna take
me to her one by one open up these toys would
you like to go first picking something funky John alright
what an ounce on his spring
here so this is this little mouse on
and is gonna up and down a cat so we're gonna try to catch it I'll
catch really like having Mouse's but they keep on
tearing apart cuz they have ambitious everyone
okay I got and this is it
what does this mysterious item
so easy if
you actually understand who you're dealing with
here's why this stuff work this is the number one
reason here
because a great vision is not a set of goals a
vision has to be nonspecific enough it
has to be romantic but it has to be something
that can be filled in by the people who hear the vision
and lick lighters as I mentioned was computers
our destiny become interactive intellectual amplifiers
for everyone universally network worldwide he
tied that to a magnet and he hit it over the
horizon and it attracted hundreds of iron
particles in different places they
all pointed to north they
what North was and neither did look lighter
but they all got to north so
ne principle here is the goodness of the results
correlates most strongly with the goodness of the funders
thank you