1968: When the World Began – RETURN TO A SQUARE

50 years later, both creators and keepers of the flame for the ‘Mother of All Demos’ reflect on how 1968 changed the world — for all of us.

On 9 December 1968, Doug Engelbart gave the ‘Mother of All Demos’ – and the world changed.

On 9 December 2018, some of the luminaries of the Internet gathered to commemorate the Golden Anniversary of the Mother of All Demos.

We had a chance to talk with some of them, weaving their stories together into one of our own…

Elizabeth ‘Jake’ Feinler ran the Network Information Center for SRI.

Marc Weber is a curator at the Computer History Museum.

Charles Irby walked into the Demo by accident – and it changed his life.

Jeff Rulifson was lead software architect for the oNLine System.

Bob Taylor was head of the IPTO at ARPA – taking over from Ivan Sutherland, who took over from JCR Licklider. The Demo was his idea.

Andy van Dam is a professor at Brown, and a luminary in the field of computer graphics.

Vint Cerf is the father of the Internet.

Howard Rheingold was so impressed by NLS that he talked his way into Doug’s Human Augmentation Research Center at SRI.

Sir Tim-Berners Lee is the father of the Web.

Tony Parisi is the Global Head of VR/AR Brand Solutions at Unity – and co-creator (with Mark Pesce) of the Virtual Reality Modelling Language (VRML).

1968: When the World Began – THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS

9 December 1968.

Modern computing begins with a ‘Big Bang’ — visionary Douglas Engelbart’s demo of a system designed to make everyone smarter.

Read Vannevar Bush’s article “As We May Think” on the Atlantic Monthly’s website.

Read Douglas Engelbart’s mind-bending 1962 research proposal, “Augmenting Human Intellect”.  Augmenting Human Intellect PDF

Here, in its full hundred-minute glory, is THE MOTHER OF ALL DEMOS:

1968: When the World Began – SWORD OF DAMOCLES

Ivan Sutherland – the Albert Einstein of interactivity – created SKETCHPAD, the first application that let users ‘draw’ onto a computer display. Five years later he followed that up with his ‘ultimate display’ – inventing virtual and augmented reality with a device nicknamed the SWORD OF DAMOCLES.

JCR Licklider‘s 1960 paper “Man-Computer Symbiosis” touched off a new wave of thinking of the computer as aid and amplifier of human capacity.
Read the PDF:  Licklider – Man-Computer Symbiosis

A video from Lincoln Labs, demonstrating some of the features of Ivan Sutherland’s SKETCHPAD, the first program that allowed you to draw to a computer display of an interactive computer, the TX-2:

And here’s the PDF of his 1965 paper: Sutherland – The Ultimate Display

By 1968, Sutherland was ready to show his ultimate display at the Fall Joint Computing Conference in San Francisco. Here’s what his ‘Sword of Damocles’ looked like in operation:

The proceedings for the 1968 Fall Joint Computer Conference paint the picture of computing at its pivot from arcane to mainstream, growing into greater interactivity. Here’s the stellar list of papers – featuring two by Sutherland, both foundational to VR and 3D graphics: FJCC Proceedings

1968: When the World Began – Part One: THE PIVOT

In ‘Cybernetic Serendipity’, the first exhibition of computer art, curator Jasia Reichardt presented a world where computers create with us.

Jasia introducing works in the Cybernetic Serendipity show:

Jasia’s 2014 retrospective of Cybernetic Serendipity:

In 2018, Jasia gave an hour-long public lecture on the 50th anniversary of Cybernetic Serendipity:

The book accompanying the Cybernetic Serendipity was recently republished to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the exhibition – read all about it (and maybe buy yourself a copy) here.

What can you say about Norbert Wiener?  Norbert invented whole branches of mathematics and computer science – and gave us the prefix ‘cyber-‘.

Rowland Emett‘s Forget-Me-Not with Peripheral Pachyderm

John Whitney‘s Permutations is among the very first computer animations:

Running Cola is Africa is one of the pieces from the IBM Computer Technics Group in Tokyo – and a very early piece of computer art:

Both Genevieve and I have a real soft spot for another work, Return to a Square:

In 1962, IBM taught a computer to sing ‘Daisy’ — which became the core scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey.  

 

Episode 2.13 Peer to Peer Planet with Michel Bauwens

Michel Bauwen’s P2P Foundation helps humanity share the best ideas at global scale, giving us a leg up through some tight years ahead.


 

(Over the next days we’ll be linking to all of the great projects Michel mentioned in his wide-ranging chat. Please stand by.)

 

Episode 2.12 Strategic Amplification with Danah Boyd

Social media promised a voice for the marginalised and powerless. Danah Boyd shows us how our voices – amplified – redefined power.

Wonderful links from points mentioned in our conversation, courtesy of Danah:

Here is Danah’s incredible RE:PUBLICA talk from May 2018.  Trust me, you will not regret taking the 50 minutes to watch this.


And Richard Metzger’s funny, poignant and farseeing opening of DISINFOCON, back in February 2000:

Episode 2.11 News from the Future with Jay Rosen

NYU Journalism professor Jay Rosen opens a window onto a world where the next billion seconds of journalism grows from a foundation of trust and relationships.

Jay writes and teaches extensively on journalism and it’s future. Here’s an essay “Optimising Journalism for Trust” about the Dutch publication De Correspondent that Jay refers to in our interview as one future for journalism.

Jay takes a deeper look at De Correspondent in “This is what a News Organisation built on Reader Trust Looks Like“.



(apologies for the rough sound quality in this episode – we recorded it remotely from Jay’s office in Berlin where he’s working with German journalists.)

Jay writes extensively at pressthink.org – have a look at what he’s thinking now.

The granddaddy of all alternative newspapers, the Village Voice closed down after 63 years in operation. Read all about it.

This is not great news, as Bloomberg reports: “Local News is Dying and It’s Taking Small Town America With It” — because without local news there can be no local politics.

From the Columbia Journalism Review – “A Civil Primer: The Benefits and Pitfalls of a New Media Ecosystem“.

Here’s a recent interview with De Correspondent CEO Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Episode 2.10 Vaporised Media with Rob Tercek

Returning guest Rob Tercek shows how software turned newspaper into web pages – vaporising business models that kept us well informed.

In his 2016 tour-de-force Vaporized: Solid Strategies for Success in a Dematerialized World, Rob looked at how software replaces hardware.

Printing presses are hardware. Newspapers – they’re hardware too.

So what happens when something vaporises? Here’s Rob:

We’re living in a time of vaporised media – and we got here suddenly, with no preparation, or any clear plan on how to make this work for us.

How do we stay well informed as news organisations find their dollars taken instead by search engine giants Google and Facebook?

Rob talks about “the Gerasimov Doctrine” – using the collapse in the media to wage a sort of covert war against a government – and here’s an article Rob recommends in this episode, exploring that whole topic.

Also highly recommended is the Peter Pomerantsev book Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, about how this has become the new reality for Putin’s Russia.  Read more in this article from The Guardian

 

 

 

 

Listen here — or on iTunes.

Episode 2.09 Quantum Questions

In our world, you flip a coin and it comes up either heads or tails. But in the spooky quantum world – that’s everything from a single atom all the way up to a small virus – that coin can come up both heads _and_ tails, depending on how you read it. So which is it? Heads? Tails? Both? Neither?

Resonant Doubler
One of the experimental setups used to read qbits

Welcome to the strange world of quantum computing where this both-true-and-false ‘superposition’ allows quantum computers to vastly outperform their ‘classical’ peers (such as the one in your smartphone).

entangled qbits
A string of ‘entangled’ qbits

At least, that’s the theory.

Quantum computers are so unstable they tend to self-destruct before we can get them to run a program!

Claire Edmunds

Researchers Claire Edmunds and Virginia Frey from the University of Sydney’s Quantum Control Laboratory join us to explore this new quantum frontier: The deeper you go, the weirder it gets over the next billion seconds.

Or listen on iTunes

If quantum computing fascinates you as much as it fascinates me, you may find these resources interesting:

IBM scientists explains quantum computing at 5 different levels (video good for beginners to experts)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWJCfOvochA

IBM Institute for Business Value Report on Quantum Cybersecurity – what happens after quantum computing breaks all the encryption we use on the Web to keep our information secure and private?

https://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/gbs/thoughtleadership/quantumsecurity/

Here’s a tutorial – in the very easy to learn Python programming language – that allows you to generate random numbers using a quantum computer.

http://dataespresso.com/en/2018/07/22/Tutorial-Generating-random-numbers-with-a-quantum-computer-Python/

And since you’re going to need a quantum computer to run this program, here’s the IBM Q Quantum Experience (5 qubit device available publicly on the cloud) – a REAL quantum computer you can run your own experiments on!

https://quantumexperience.ng.bluemix.net/qx/experience

Episode 2.08 The Last Days of Reality (Part Two)

Back in July 2016, Pokémon Go opened the doors to the brave new world of augmented reality – an overnight success fifty years in the making. With companies like Magic Leap and Facebook working hard to create augmented reality ‘spectacles’, the next billion seconds will see us put our smartphones down — instead placing the screen over our eyes. We’ll like what we see in our new, “improved” reality – but who’s creating and controlling that reality? That’s a question confronting all of us at the dawn of “The Last Days of Reality”.

Here’s a taste:

Listen on iTunes

Or listen to the whole episode here:


(May not work outside of Australia and New Zealand)

Here’s all of the media and links mentioned in the episode:

First, video of Pokémon Go players in Ryde – as the situation was tipping out of control:

The article from the Sydney Morning Herald about Niantic removing the ‘Pokestops’ from Ryde in a game update – pleasing the local residents.

Here’s some early footage of the ‘Sword of Damocles’ – the very first augmented reality system:

Sega’s VirtuaVR system – which I helped design:

Which led to the Magic Leap One AR spectacles – being released in September 2018. Here’s an video about that:

Mark Zuckerberg’s 2017 keynote at Facebook’s F8 Developer Conference, where he talks about how important augmented reality is to the future of Facebook:

Here’s that 2014 article from The Guardian about that infamous experiment where Facebook manipulated the emotions of 689,000 of its users – without telling them.

Finally, here’s HYPER-REALITY. You really want to watch all six minutes. It’s gold.

HYPER-REALITY from Keiichi Matsuda on Vimeo.

 

Episode 2.07: The Last Days of Reality (Part One)

 

Why is it so hard to tear ourselves away from Facebook’s feed? What is it feeding us that makes it so addictive?

The power of artificial intelligence combined with the eternal surveillance of the smartphone made a monster out of Zuck’s social network – but has it divided us more than it united us? How are people using this social network to spread fake news? How is fake news being weaponised to change the way we vote?  

All of these questions – and much more – are answered in our special two-part episode, “The Last Days of Reality”.

Part one tells the tale of how we ended up where we are – addicted to Facebook and in the thrall of shadowy firms like Cambridge Analytica. Here’s a taste:

Listen on iTunes


(ANZ listeners only)

And because this isn’t fake news, here’s the links to the stories referenced in the episode:

Buzzfeed reports on Macedonian content farms
 
https://www.buzzfeed.com/craigsilverman/how-macedonia-became-a-global-hub-for-pro-trump-misinfo

Facebook exploits ‘insecure’ to sell ads, Darren Davidson, The Australian 1 May 2017
 
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/digital/facebook-targets-insecure-young-people-to-sell-ads/news-story/a89949ad016eee7d7a61c3c30c909fa6
 
https://www.forbes.com/sites/paularmstrongtech/2017/05/01/facebook-is-helping-brands-target-teens-who-feel-worthless/

Facebook’s formula for winning with AI
 
https://www.fastcompany.com/3060570/facebooks-formula-for-winning-at-ai

Experiment shows how to talk women into lower maths scores
 
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/314/5798/435
 
May 2017 Observer exposé on links between Cambridge Analytica and Brexit
 
https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/may/07/the-great-british-brexit-robbery-hijacked-democracy

Cambridge Analytica becomes Emerdata

https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/05/02/cambridge_analytica_shutdown/

Jimmy Wales founds WikiTRIBUNE

https://www.wired.co.uk/article/jimmy-wales-wikitribune

And, finally, a link to WikiTRIBUNE

https://www.wikitribune.com/

Episode 2.06: Virtually Real with Tony Parisi

Like artificial intelligence, virtual reality is one of those twenty-year ‘overnight success’ stories. For longer than that, VR pioneer Tony Parisi has been probing the boundaries of computer graphics, interactivity and illusion to create the next generation of technologies that immerse us in experiences of new worlds.

Tony tells us why VR has finally come of age – and what’s coming next, as ‘augmented reality’ integrates ‘consensual hallucinations’ into our daily lives – influencing everything from entertainment to business to the design of our kitchens:

The show opens with a nod to Beyonce’s amazing performance at Coachella 2018 – which featured the largest livestream audience in history, nearly half a million viewers:

There’s a new technology – videogrammetry – that allows full performance capture in 3D. Videogrammetry was used to create a video by former Smashing Pumpkin’s frontman Billy Corigan, with amazing VR landscapes created by Tilt Brush virtuoso Danny Bitman (@DannyBittman on Twitter):

My own journey into VR began when a friend lent me his copy of issue #2 of MONDO 2000. The entire collection of MONDO 2000 is available on the Internet Archive, so here’s a link to the interview with Jaron Lanier that changed my life…

Listen on iTunes

Listen on PodcastOne.com.au