When I and Stanford Engineering posted on Twitter last night regarding the death of Stanford professor John McCarthy – Appropriately known as the father of artificial intelligence, after he pumped so much skill into the project and even coined the actual term “AI” – I found it all too familiar that whilst Computer Scientists, Engineers and fans of his work knew about the technology innovators, the media still went on to compare him to Apple Inc’s co-founder Steve Jobs, and this caused the media to fail its promotion of more-advanced & life-changing programmers such as UNIX co-developer Dennis Ritchie’s, whose death was reported earlier this month.
One of my “most popular works” on the overrated-ness of Steve Jobs referenced my resentment of the media during its failure to know that Steve Jobs was not in fact as important to the world of technology as people thought.
McCarthy wrote the 2001 short story “The Robot and the Baby” which light-heartedly explored the question of whether robots should have (or simulate having) emotions, and with this he predicted aspects of Internet culture and Social Networking and its effects on the coming decade if it were a success (and look at it now).
Then you have Dennis Ritchie who to Computer Science graduates (such as my-boast-soundingly-but-humble-self) is taught to be the god of Unix and The C Programming Language (and there are VERY few computer architectures for which C does not exist.) and of course anyone who has used or researched Software engineering, mobile device ‘hacking’ or even read about how software works may know the beginning of it all, “hello, world”- which prominently became the traditional first program that many people learn. All related courses through College, University and even High school teach the fundamentals of such a simple, yet mind-blowing introduction to the Computer we all know and love. In fact, it is so simple that those who have no experience with computer programming can easily understand it, especially with the guidance of a teacher or a written guide (such as the “…For Dummies” series and any institutionalized study guide).
When Dennis Ritchie invented Unix, he unknowingly had coded the prequel to the Intel Mac OS X and the Apple OS Servers. Google’s Android, Apple’s iOS Mobile Platform and even Microsoft Windows runs under the “Unix-like” structure which is deemed as an adaptation or non-conforming version of Unix. Ritchie as one of the developers of Unix, had expressed his opinion that Unix-like systems such as Linux are de-facto Operating Systems to his Unix design. Further experts and researchers have even come forward and said that if it weren’t for Unix we would not have MAC OS, Windows or anything similar (which includes the vast collection of Linux distributions that are available today).
So I ask you, (especially if you don’t consider yourself computer literate) had you ever heard of McCarthy or Ritchie? Did you hear about their deaths? and furthermore, Did you hear about Steve Jobs and his death? I rest my case.