Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Come Celebrate the 40th anniversary of Engelbart's "Mother of All Demos"

On December 9 1968, Doug Engelbart and his team from SRI International Augmentation Research Center performed "the mother of all demos" in front of a gaping audience of one thousand computer engineers. The demo let the cat out of the bag in a monumental way; Doug's big idea that the big thing about computers was not automation, but augmenting human intelligence was demonstrated in real life. The demo featured the first computer mouse the public had ever seen, as well as introducing interactive text, video conferencing, teleconferencing, email and hypertext. The audience could do nothing but cheer.

The demo has come back to life again on Google video (can anyone think of a better fit?). Here it is:

The Program for the Future Conference
will be celebrating the event on Dec 8 and 9 together with Doug and his friends, among the speakers are
  • Professor Thomas Malone, Founding Director, MIT Center for Collective Intelligence
  • Professor Hiroshi Ishii, Associate Director, MIT Media Laboratory
  • Peter Norvig, Director of Research, Google
  • Andries van Dam, Professor, Brown University
  • Alan Kay, President, Viewpoints Research Institute
  • Steve Wozniak, co-founder, Apple Computer, Inc.
Click here for the program. The conference is organized and sponsored by the Tech Museum in San Jose, The MIT Museum, our colleagues at Media-X at Stanford, Adobe, Visual Insight, NMC, SDForum and Creative Commons.

On Dec 9, the birthday of the demo, the Innovation Journalism program will be contributing a panel of journalists and bloggers, discussing the future of technology and collective intelligence. In the panel are three trigger-happy intellectuals: Gregg Pascal Zachary, Peter S. Magnusson and Michael Kanellos. I will be facilitating the discussion, which will be taking place at the Wallenberg Hall at Stanford.

We will be focusing on the big issue of 'collective intelligence'. This is a core issue for Doug Engelbart. He believes that humanity needs to develop its collective intelligence in order to solve the increasingly complex threats against it, such as environmental catastrophes, nuclear wars and pandemics. The combination of information technology and human society can bootstrap the collective IQ we need to encounter these threats.

Doug keynoted IJ-4, the Fourth Conference on Innovation Journalism here at Stanford in May 2007. He talked about the "human system" and the "tool system", combining in a bootstrapped collective system, where both systems co-evolve, increasing the collective intelligence of the system. He pointed out that journalism is a part of the perceptory system of the collective intelligence. "Not the sensory system," he said. "The perceptory system". Very wise and visionary.

In March this year, Innovation Journalism Fellow Phyza Jameel did an interview with Doug on the need for collective intelligence. This short interview is a real gem, Doug's picture of the future is fascinating, scary and powerful - here it is:

The conference is a collective effort. Doug and his friends welcome you to be part of the Program for the Future team organizing the conference. If you want to get more involved with the Program for the Future Global Challenge for Collective Intelligence tools, contact Mei Lin Fung

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