The 9th of December 2018 will be the 50th anniversary of Doug Engelbart’s seminal ‘Mother of all Demos’ and in anticipation of celebrating this day, we ask the question:
“What can it mean to augment human intellect in the 21st Century?” to which the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, adds; “could we even resurrect the capabilities he demonstrated back then?”
The Web Science Institute (WSI) at the University of Southampton will be hosting weekly chats to determine how we should celebrate the day.
On the 9th of December 2017 we will complete our Goal Description and spend the next 365 days working to implement.
Until the weekly chats are up and running we are posting on this site and you are welcome to link to this site for a ping back and we’ll be very happy to provide blogging accounts for this site as well.
Doug’s vision, and what we are inspired to follow, was to ‘augment our ability to solve urgent, complex problems collectively’. How can we make a massive contribution to this vision today, with all the new technological capabilities available to us, in an environment of deeply entrenched legacy systems?
About Doug Engelbart
Vint Cerf writes: Douglas Engelbart believed that computers could be used to augment human intellect and J.C.R. Licklider agreed with him. Doug and his team manifested this belief with his oNLine System, NLS. This was a document production and sharing environment intended to enhance collaborative work expressed in document form. There were many features of the system that shaped document production to enhance the structure and style of the documents and to facilitate cross-referencing through hyperlinking. Licklider’s primary contribution, among others, was to pursue computer interconnection through the ARPANET project which led to the design and development of the Internet initially designed by Robert Kahn and Vinton Cerf. Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau invented the World Wide Web protocols (Hypertext Transport Protocol, HTTP and Hypertext Markup Language, HTML and servers and browsers to implement them).
In the 21st Century, we have cloud computing that offers far more computing capacity to billions of users and we are developing new artificial intelligence tools including hardware-based machine learning, multi-level neural networks, machine translation tools, pattern recognition mechanisms and a host of other capabilities. The question is how to apply these new and powerful tools in a cooperative partnership with human users to augment our intellectual capabilities. We have already seen the effects of social media in the Internet and the power of search tools to sift through the vast and growing content of the Internet/WWW. Will these tools enhance the creation and curation of human knowledge? Can they be applied to developing better models of the way the world works so as to manage scarce resources better, to distribute knowledge and capabilities more uniformly and to generally improve the human condition on a global scale? I am confident that, were he alive today, Douglas Engelbart would have answered these questions in the positive and gone on to seek ways of finding and applying those answers.
It is up to us to follow in his footsteps to seek those answers and to put them to work for the benefit of all who inhabit this precious planet, Earth. It is that vision that we will celebrate December 9, 2018.
Consider Joining Us
If you are also awed by Doug’s contribution but also concerned that we still have a lot to do to fulfil more of his vision, please get in touch. We are eager to build this collaboratively, just email the webmaster for this blog, Frode Hegland at firstname.lastname@example.org
EVERYTHING is up for discussion, but please look into why we are taking the direction we are taking and the reasons we are doing it the way we are first – we are trying to change the world, help us get there, with thoughtful dialog – we are looking forward to interacting with you.