In the 1940s and 1950s, a group of brilliant engineers led by John von Neumann gathered in Princeton, New Jersey with the joint goal of realizing Alan Turing’s theoretical universal machine-a thought experiment that scientists use to understand the limits of mechanical computation. As a result of their fervent work, the crucial advancements that dominated 20th century technology emerged. In Turing’s Cathedral, technology historian George Dyson recreates the scenes of focused experimentation, mathematical insight, and creative genius that broke the distinction between numbers that mean things and numbers that do things-giving us computers, digital television, modern genetics, and models of stellar evolution. Also a philosopher of science, Dyson’s previous books include Baidarka, Darwin Among the Machines, and Project Orion. (recorded 3/13/2012)
Tagged with “computers” (3)
TED Talks Kevin Slavin argues that we’re living in a world designed for — and increasingly controlled by — algorithms. In this riveting talk from TEDGlobal, he shows how these complex computer programs determine: espionage tactics, stock prices, movie scripts, and architecture. And he warns that we are writing code we can’t understand, with implications we can’t control.
“Will you donate your body to be stuffed and put on display (at the American Museum of Natural History)?” This is one of the many questions John Hodgman poses to Neil during their monumental meeting of minds. From the Mac vs. PC debate to ‘geeks versus jocks,’ John and Neil provide more information than you require on the questions and challenges that face our age. Astrophysicist Charles Liu sits in the co-host chair this week, and comments on areas far beyond his usual expertise.