[SIGCIS-Members] Origin of 'language'?
bjornw at gmail.com
Thu Nov 6 07:32:33 PST 2014
As Marx pointed out: when human labor-power and machinery become substitutable factors of production, there is a tendency for those employing them to try to subsume them under a common theory. And so we end up with a view of humans as machine-like (von Neumann's discussion of neurons carrying "signals") and machines as human-like ("the scanned symbol is the only one which the machine is, so to speak, directly aware" - Turing). Where humans had once been the only "instrumentum vocale" (Marx quoting Varro), computing and telecomm machinery held out the promise of substituting for brains, not just muscles.
Hopper surely had in mind the people who translated program descriptions into machine code, just as Stibitz and Babbage would have had as their point of reference the work of human computing groups.
Sent from my iPhone
> On Nov 6, 2014, at 3:17 AM, Mark Priestley <m.priestley at gmail.com> wrote:
> Menabrea wrote, concerning the Analytical Engine:
> "the cards are merely a translation of algebraical formulae, or, to express it better, another fom of analytical notation" (quoted on p. 60 of my book "The Science of Operations").
> which maybe counts as an early explicit connection between "programming notations" and "language" (scare quotes emphasized). Even the cards of the AE are being described here as language-like.
> Once you've got mechanical agency, real or envisaged, it seems to have been very natural for people - eg Babbage, Stibitz, Hopper - to think in terms of communication, and the language metaphor seems to enter as a way of categorizing to the kind of communication going on between humans and calculating machines.
>> On 6 Nov 2014 01:04, "David Alan Grier" <grier at gwu.edu> wrote:
>> If we are going to Lovelace, then we need to go to the Memoirs of the Analytical Society. "It is the spirit of this symbolic language, by that mechanical fact, which carries the eye at one glance through the most intricate modifications of quantity, to condense pages into lines and volumes into pages; shortening the road to discovery, and preserving the mind unfatigued by the continued efforts of attention to the minor parts that it may exert its whole vigor on those which are important". Babbage and Herschel wrote it. Babbage referenced it in his later writings. Lovelace would have certainly known it.
>> David Alan Grier
>> Past President, IEEE Computer Society
>> Associate Professor, International Science & Technology Policy
>> Elliott School of International Affairs
>> George Washington University
>> grier at gwu.edu
>> On Nov 5, 2014, at 2:07 PM, McMillan, William W <william.mcmillan at cuaa.edu> wrote:
>> > Do these notes by Ada Lovelace count"
>> > 'The bounds of arithmetic were however outstepped the moment the idea of applying the cards had occurred; and the Analytical Engine does not occupy common ground with mere “calculating machines.” It holds a position wholly its own; and the considerations it suggests are most interesting in their nature. In enabling mechanism to combine together general symbols in successions of unlimited variety and extent, a uniting link is established between the operations of matter and the abstract mental processes of the most abstract branch of mathematical science. A new, a vast, and a powerful language is developed for the future use of analysis, in which to wield its truths so that these may become of more speedy and accurate practical application for the purposes of mankind than the means hitherto in our possession have rendered possible. Thus not only the mental and the material, but the theoretical and the practical in the mathematical world, are brought into more intimate and effective connexion with each other. We are not aware of its being on record that anything partaking in the nature of what is so well designated the Analytical Engine has been hitherto proposed, or even thought of, as a practical possibility, any more than the idea of a thinking or of a reasoning machine'
>> > [emphasis added]
>> > https://www.fourmilab.ch/babbage/sketch.html
>> > Her use of "language" here seems to be specific to the expression of computation and reasoning.
>> > - Bill
>> > ________________________________
>> > From: members-bounces at sigcis.org [members-bounces at sigcis.org] on behalf of Marie Gevers [marie.gevers at unamur.be]
>> > Sent: Wednesday, November 05, 2014 4:13 AM
>> > To: members
>> > Subject: [SIGCIS-Members] Origin of 'language'?
>> > I wonder by whom and when the word 'language' was used for the first time in the framework of computer sciences.
>> > Can anybody enlighten me?
>> > Thanks in advance.
>> > Marie
>> > --
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>> > marie.gevers at unamur.be<mailto:marie.gevers at unamur.be>
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> This email is relayed from members at sigcis.org, the email discussion list of SHOT SIGCIS. Opinions expressed here are those of the member posting and are not reviewed, edited, or endorsed by SIGCIS. The list archives are at http://sigcis.org/pipermail/members/ and you can change your subscription options at http://sigcis.org/mailman/listinfo/members
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