The Innovators and the Imitation Game

The innovators: how a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution

In October 2011, Walter Isaacson published Steve Jobs, an authorized biography based on over forty interviews with Jobs over two-year period right up until shortly before his death. The book became an international best-seller, thus it was added into the NUS Libraries collection and became a short term loan book (popular book) in 2011.

Once again, Walter Isaacson published another best seller book in October 2014 “The innovators: how a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution”. Instead of biographies, he explores the history of the key technological innovations that are prominent in the 21st century.

The book started with the story of Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter. She was often referred to as “the first programmer” as she published a set of extensive notes, simply called Notes which describe on a stepwise sequence of operations for solving certain mathematical problems. Also, she explicitly articulated her vision in having a machine that could go beyond mere calculation or number-crunching. Therefore, she was referred to as “prophet of the computer age” as well. The notion of using mathematical codes to instruct the machine to perform tasks beyond calculation derived from her “poetical science” mind-set. It was inherited from both her parents the mathematician Annabella Milbanke and the poet Lord Byron.

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The innovators: how a group of hackers, geniuses, and geeks created the digital revolution by Walter Isaacson is available at the Central Library (QA76.2 Isa 2014).

The Imitation Game

During the interview with Walter Isaacson in Episode 131 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast, Isaacson mentioned that making people like Alan Turing to be famous was one of the reasons he wrote “The Innovator” book. However, the movie, “The imitation game”, starring Benedict Cumberbatch has done a better job than he ever could.

The movie was based on the real life story of Alan Turing who was a computer technology pioneer and breaker of the Nazi Enigma code during World War II (the first hacker as well?). In the movie, Alan Turing was interrogated by a detective and being questioned on a recent paper describing the “imitation game” which was known as the “Turing Test”.  The “Turing Test”, defined by Alan Turing in 1950 as the foundation of the philosophy of artificial intelligence which makes us think of the question, ‘Can machines think?’

Turing predicted that in 50 years there would be machines that could fool a human questioner 30% of the time for five minutes. Indeed, after more than 60 years, iPhone Siri could fool a human questioner most of the time longer than five minutes. iPhone Siri works as an intelligent personal assistant and knowledge navigator as it understands our natural speech and asks questions if it needs more information to complete a task. If you want to know how Turing has demonstrated to the power of linking human creativity to computer processing power, come to the NUS library!

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The imitation game [videorecording] directed by Teddy Schwarzman; Benedict Cumberbatch is available at the Central Library CL Multimedia (Loans Desk 2 Stack# CMR5734).

 

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