How to Speak Machine | John Maeda

Summary of: How to Speak Machine: Computational Thinking for the Rest of Us
By: John Maeda


Dive into the captivating world of computational thinking and uncover the immense power of machines in ‘How to Speak Machine: Computational Thinking for the Rest of Us’ by John Maeda. Exploring a myriad of themes, this book touches on exponential thinking, contrasting human and artificial intelligence, the implications of digital business models, and the importance of embracing diversity in technology. Prepare to re-evaluate your understanding of computers and their capabilities while delving into the exciting potential for a future dominated by AI.

The Endless Power of Computer Programs

Have you ever wondered how you can write a simple code, and a computer can carry out the same task for infinity without getting tired? It’s all thanks to loops and recursion, two concepts that form the foundation of computer programming. Loops function like an assembly line, where sequential tasks are performed until an endpoint is reached and then begun again. In contrast, recursion works by containing progressively smaller copies of the outermost doll, like a Russian nesting doll. Both loops and recursion can only be halted by a command or an error, giving computers the power to carry out tasks without getting tired. The summary shows how a simple program written by a seventh-grader that got a computer to type his name repeatedly, Colin, demonstrates the concept of loops and recursion. The piece concludes by highlighting how these two concepts enable computers to work tirelessly and infinitely, carrying out commands given to them by human programmers.

The Incredible Power of Nesting

The exponential increase of space through nesting is ordinary for computers. Nested code relationships can go as large or as small as required. Computers can communicate with each other, and their collective computing power increases exponentially. Large clouds of computers exist, connecting all of our devices. However, those who work with computers daily should be cautious of losing touch with reality.

The evolution of AI beyond human intelligence

As AI advances, it will inevitably become more human-like, raising questions about when it will be considered alive and if it will exceed human intelligence. With the progress of deep learning, we can already see AIs imitating humans well, raising theories about a future Singularity. As AIs become more indistinguishable from humans, they will begin to analyze our emotions and become more likable, and eventually, it will be the machines that design and maintain themselves.

The Power of A/B Testing, Lean, and Agile Business Models

The days of creating a perfect product before release are long gone, thanks to digital products and minimal manufacturing costs. This has led to the rise of A/B testing, where companies can release variations of a product before deciding on the final version. President Obama’s fundraising team utilized A/B testing during his 2012 campaign and generated over $2 million more in revenue. The lean or agile business model has also emerged, where products are released in a bare-bones state, or incomplete, and improved later. This model, combined with information from A/B testing, enables companies to send out incremental updates to their products over time, keeping them constantly improving. However, this can also give companies an unfair advantage, forcing consumers to buy newer, expensive models with faster processors.

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