In 2001, Stephen Spielberg released the motion picture A.I. Artificial Intelligence in honor of Stanley Kubrick. The story of a robot programmed with the ability to love, the movie is based on a short-story “Super-Toys Last All Summer Long” written by Brian Aldiss in 1969. Kubrick had been developing the film from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, until he handed the project over to Spielberg in 1995. The result is a bit of a Kubrick/Spielberg mashup. John Williams composed and conducted the score, which was critically acclaimed and nominated for an Academy Award. For this week’s listen up, we’d like to share a 3:07 selection from the score entitled “Abandoned in the Woods.” Please click on the youTube video below and enjoy.
Header image above: Advertisement for General Motor’s Firebird III self-driving car, 1958 at the Computer History Museum
The Computer History Museum in Mountain View, California houses a 25,000 square foot exhibit entitled Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing. Immediately upon walking into the exhibit, the Museum throws down the gauntlet, challenging the visitor to consider the birth of the computer in the form of an abacus, then follow the progression from Ada Lovelace’s mathematical genius and Charles Babbage’s analytical engineering through to punch cards, transistors, bytes and modern computing. Fascinating, stimulating and inspiring, the Computer History Museum was a stretch for both Steven and I, neophytes in the land of computer science. Excited that we had stopped in front of his favorite machine in the exhibition — the UNIVAC 1 mainframe from 1951 — a docent asked us to join his tour. How could we explain to him that we were lost beyond his comprehension? No, we were not ready for his tour, it would be better for us to slowly absorb the information and see if we could make some sense of it on our own. Three hours later, we emerged from the exhibit with a greater understanding of computing and an admiration for the minds that saw the future in a twirling helix, a bundle of wires, or a simple hole punch.
There is fun to be had in revisiting Furbies, Pong, Sony’s robotic dog AIBO, and, for me, the very first computer I ever used, the first IBM PC released in 1981. Discovering that in 1890 Edison invented a phonograph that allowed a child to carry their nursery rhymes with them in the form of a nearly 2- foot tall talking baby doll — quite a bit more cumbersome than an iPod – nevertheless led credence to the fact that perhaps there are no truly original ideas. Looking through a series of magnifying glasses set up over shiny gold and silver wafers left me wondering “Where’s Waldo?” but other viewers saw a completely different and exciting world. And therein lies the beauty of the Computer History Museum: whatever your level of knowledge and/or interest, the museum completely immerses you in computing. If you walk in thinking you can’t speak the language, take a deep breath, concentrate, and you’ll leave with at least a few new words in your vocabulary.
After the Computer History Museum, we stopped by the new Apple headquarters in nearby Cupertino, but unfortunately, the building was still swamped with construction crews and we were asked to “move along and quickly, you’re blocking progress.”