Thursday, April 23, 2015

Alan Kay - Why the Future Will Not be Incremental

It has been a while since my last blogpost. But this video, I saw online recently made me want to write a blog post about it. It was a lecture by Alan Kay, one of the inventors of the computer age. This post includes notes from his talk at the Founder School Session of the demo conference.

1) Alan Kay on why to Keep Implementing Wild Ideas - "every time you have a little idea start a company. you will make a gazillion dollars because most people can deal with little ideas only….you will be rejected - the way we built computers was rejected by intel and motorolla. the way we built programming languages was rejected by the programming community."

2) Alan Kay on Innovation and Invention - "what xerox did was invention. what apple did with the repackaging and final product was innovation. xerox created a whole new field of wealth. apple converted this wealth into money."

3) Alan Kay on Why a Caveman must understand your idea - "people hate learning curves! and marketing people really hate learning curves. any product today that requires a substantial learning curve is not what people are looking for. marketers want a product that would appeal to any cave person a 100,000 years ago. something that actually fit us into what our genes set us up to be interested in."

4) Alan Kay on Patterns in Human Cultures - "Alan quoted Robert brown an anthropologist. The anthropologist wrote a book, where he spoke about a study of cultures on this planet for over 3000 years to find patterns of similarity in their behavior. They found 300 patterns. The products and services that are most widely accepted have aspects of these patterns. Language, Culture, Stories, Play, Games, Goals, News, Fantasies are all part of this."

5) Alan Kay on why we must pay attention to Invention - If you had Da Vinci's intelligence and were born in 10,000 BC, nobody would understand you. Henry Ford was an innovator, he took Da Vinci's models and used current technology to build the car. But the real invention was by a man named Isaac Newton. With his work, he created a context for people to think in a new way. Every entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, owes a ton of the money they have made to Newton. He gave us a language to discuss transformative ideas.

6) Alan Kay on Why the Future is not Incremental - "The present is built from a small part of the past. It is so overwhelming. The tyranny of the present is that it makes it very difficult to think, beyond what already exists. We must understand that the present is the least important time we live in. It is not reality, just a construction, done by our particular beliefs. But this is a vital insight, because now we know that we can create a new future, a new construction, that may not be similar to the present."

7) Alan Kay on being Good and Being Great - "Quoted Wayne Gretsky (hockey player) who once said that, 'A good hockey player goes to where the puck is, a great hockey player goes to where the puck is going to be. Think 50 years into the future and ask yourself, 'It would be ridiculous if this did not exist 10-20-30 years from now'

8) Alan Kay on Investing in People and the tools they will need - "Our work at Xerox was all done by 2 dozen people in like five years. It was really cheap. 10 million dollars a year. I was paid 22,000 dollars a year at that time. But what we did differently was we spent about 2-3 times the amount we were paid to invest in the technology that our people used. We knew we could not create the future of our field by using laptops and pc's. We needed computing power of the future and we needed to invest in it."

hmm... quite a bit to think about now. Thank you Alan Kay. Another nugget of wisdom to end this post. Thank you Demo Conference for making this information available to the world.

'Give yourself the permission to dream about things that have no connection to the present.'  - Alan Kay

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