It’s Going to Be a Colorful Century
David Gelernter is professor of computer science at Yale, chief scientist at Mirror Worlds Technologies, contributing editor at the Weekly Standard, and member of the National Council of the Arts. He is the author of several books and many technical articles, as well as essays, art criticism, and fiction. The "tuple spaces" introduced in Carriero and Gelernter's Linda system (1983) are the basis of many computer-communication and distributed programming systems worldwide. According to Reuters, his book "Mirror Worlds" (Oxford University Press, 1991) "foresaw" the World Wide Web and was "one of the inspirations for Java"; the "lifestreams" system (first implemented by Eric Freeman at Yale) is the basis for Mirror Worlds Technologies' software. Gelernter is also the author of "The Muse in the Machine" (Free Press, 1994), the novel "1939" (Harper Perennial, 1995), "Machine Beauty" (Basic Books, 1998), and most recently, "Judaism: A Way of Being" (Yale University Press, 2010).
Question: What makes you\r\noptimistic about the century ahead?\r\n\r\n
David Gelernter:\r\nWe’re looking at—in one word maybe I should say, graphics. \r\n Not only computer graphics or\r\nanimation, but the enormously increased scope for pictures; for showing\r\npictures, for seeing pictures, for seeing things. Seeing\r\n is a source of wisdom and pleasure in a lot of\r\nways. Mankind really has no\r\nvocabulary to discuss color because if you look at art history, until \r\ntwo\r\ngenerations ago, nobody knew what paintings looked like, they could be\r\nreproduced in black and white going back to the 19th century, before \r\nthen they\r\ncouldn’t be reproduced in any way at all, but until, say the 1930’s, \r\n‘40’s,\r\n‘50’s in the 20th century, there was no way to, you could say Titian is a\r\n great\r\ncolorist, or Velazquez has extraordinary subtle browns, or the reason \r\nthe 13th\r\ncentury glass at Chartres is unique is because of the blue. The special blue. But you could\r\n see it. You had to travel to France or to you\r\nknow, Venice to see—wherever. And\r\nnot only that, once you were there, unless you stayed, you’re not going \r\nto stay\r\nplanted in front of a picture in a museum and nor are you going to camp \r\nout in\r\na cathedral. But computers have\r\nnot only made printing—has not only made displaying on their screens, \r\nbut they\r\nmade printing on paper—color printing—vastly better and inexpensive.\r\n\r\n
The possibility that we have now of seeing what \r\nmankind has\r\ndone, the art that has been done, the cities that have been built, the\r\nlandscapes that have drawn on people is a tremendously exciting—and to \r\nsee each\r\nother, because ultimately that is what people want to see most of all is\r\n other\r\npeople. That’s exciting. It\r\n opens up a new world that mankind\r\nhas longed for ever since he’s seen... "Colors are good, and I want to \r\nmake my world\r\ncolorful, and I want to see my fellow human beings and I want to build \r\nthings\r\nand I want the horizons to be further than what I can see from my front \r\ndoor."
Recorded on April 1, 2010.
What excites the legendary computer scientist about the future? In a word: graphics.
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