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[TED] 【TED】乐趣也能创造发明

发表于 2017-12-6 13:49:18 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式


Roughly 43,000 years ago, a young cave bear died in the rolling hills on the northwest border of modern day Slovenia. A thousand years later, a mammoth died in southern Germany. A few centuries after that, a griffon vulture also died in the same vicinity. And we know almost nothing about how these animals met their deaths, but these different creatures dispersed across both time and space did share one remarkable fate. After their deaths, a bone from each of their skeletons was crafted by human hands into a flute.

大概在43000年以前, 一只年轻的洞熊 死于起伏的山峦之中, 位于现在的斯洛文尼亚的西北边界。 又过了一千年, 一头猛犸象死于德国南部。 几个世纪过后,一只兀鹫 也在附近死去。 我们对于这些动物的 死亡原因几乎一无所知, 但是跨越时空的不同物种 分享了同一个惊人命运。 在它们死后,他们身上各有一块骨头 被人类手工制作成了 长笛。


Think about that for a second. Imagine you're a caveman, 40,000 years ago. You've mastered fire. You've built simple tools for hunting. You've learned how to craft garments from animal skins to keep yourself warm in the winter. What would you choose to invent next? It seems preposterous that you would invent the flute, a tool that created useless vibrations in air molecules. But that is exactly what our ancestors did.

想一下这件事。 想像自己是一个 40000年前的洞穴人。 你掌握了火的使用。 你制造了狩猎的简易工具。 你学会了如何用动物皮毛制作衣服 在冬天为自己保暖。 下一步你会选择发明什么? 选择发明笛子会看起来很荒谬, 一种能够产生无用的 空气分子震动的工具。 但事实上,这就是我们的祖先做的。


Now this turns out to be surprisingly common in the history of innovation. Sometimes people invent things because they want to stay alive or feed their children or conquer the village next door. But just as often, new ideas come into the world simply because they're fun. And here's the really strange thing: many of those playful but seemingly frivolous inventions ended up sparking momentous transformations in science, in politics and society.

但是,在发明创造史当中, 这却出乎意料的常见。 有时人们发明工具, 是因为他们想要存活下来, 或者喂养他们的孩子们, 或者是攻占隔壁村庄。 但是很多情况下, 新想法之所以会产生, 仅仅是因为它们很有趣。 更加奇怪的是: 很多用于玩乐的, 看似琐碎的发明, 最后却在科学,政治和社会界 引起了重大变革。


Take what may be the most important invention of modern times: programmable computers. Now, the standard story is that computers descend from military technology, since many of the early computers were designed specifically to crack wartime codes or calculate rocket trajectories. But in fact, the origins of the modern computer are much more playful, even musical, than you might imagine. The idea behind the flute, of just pushing air through tubes to make a sound, was eventually modified to create the first organ more than 2,000 years ago. Someone came up with the brilliant idea of triggering sounds by pressing small levers with our fingers, inventing the first musical keyboard. Now, keyboards evolved from organs to clavichords to harpsichords to the piano, until the middle of the 19th century, when a bunch of inventors finally hit on the idea of using a keyboard to trigger not sounds but letters. In fact, the very first typewriter was originally called "the writing harpsichord."

举一个当今时代 最重要的发明的例子: 编程计算机。 标准的故事版本是这样的: 计算机起源于军用科技, 因为很多早期电脑都是专用于 攻克战时密码 或计算火箭运载轨道。 但是事实上,现代电脑的起源 和你想象中相比 更具娱乐性, 甚至更具音乐性。 长笛背后的想法, 那种推动空气通过管道发声的想法, 最终被修改并制成了两千多年前的 第一套管风琴。 有人想出了一个制造声音的绝妙主意, 即通过我们的手指按动小杆发声, 从此发明了我们的第一样按键乐器。 现在,按键乐器已经从风琴 发展到敲弦古钢琴,再到拨弦古钢琴, 再到钢琴。 直到19世纪中期, 一群发明家终于想到 用按键去触发字母而非声音。 事实上,第一台打字机 原名就是“写字敲弦琴”。


Flutes and music led to even more powerful breakthroughs. About a thousand years ago, at the height of the Islamic Renaissance, three brothers in Baghdad designed a device that was an automated organ. They called it "the instrument that plays itself." Now, the instrument was basically a giant music box. The organ could be trained to play various songs by using instructions encoded by placing pins on a rotating cylinder. And if you wanted the machine to play a different song, you just swapped a new cylinder in with a different code on it. This instrument was the first of its kind. It was programmable.

长笛和音乐还带来了 更强大的突破。 大约一千年以前, 在伊斯兰复兴运动的高潮期间, 在巴格达的三兄弟设计了一个 自动发声的风琴。 他们把它称为“自己奏乐的乐器”。 在当时,那个乐器 基本上就是一个巨型音箱。 那个乐器可根据旋转筒柱上的 突起所组成的乐谱 来播放不同的曲目。 如果你想让机器换一首曲子, 你只需要换上一个 有着不同突起的筒柱就行了。 这个乐器是同类型中的第一个, 它是可编码的。


Now, conceptually, this was a massive leap forward. The whole idea of hardware and software becomes thinkable for the first time with this invention. And that incredibly powerful concept didn't come to us as an instrument of war or of conquest, or necessity at all. It came from the strange delight of watching a machine play music.

现在,从概念上来说, 这是一个巨大的飞跃。 整个硬件和软件的想法, 因为这个发明, 第一次变成了可能。 那个难以置信的强大概念, 并没有作为一种 战争或征服武器出现, 也不是作为必需品出现。 它来自观看机器 播放音乐时异样的乐趣。


In fact, the idea of programmable machines was exclusively kept alive by music for about 700 years. In the 1700s, music-making machines became the playthings of the Parisian elite. Showmen used the same coded cylinders to control the physical movements of what were called automata, an early kind of robot. One of the most famous of those robots was, you guessed it, an automated flute player designed by a brilliant French inventor named Jacques de Vaucanson.

事实上,可编码机器的理念 在700年间,都是完全 存在于音乐世界中的。 在18世纪,各种乐器 成为了巴黎精英们的玩物。 杂耍艺人使用相同的编码筒柱, 去控制一种名叫 自动机的东西的运动, 那就是机器人的早期雏形。 这些机器中最著名的, 你猜是什么,是一个自动发声长笛, 由杰出的法国发明家 Jacques de Vaucanson 所设计。


And as de Vaucanson was designing his robot musician, he had another idea. If you could program a machine to make pleasing sounds, why not program it to weave delightful patterns of color out of cloth? Instead of using the pins of the cylinder to represent musical notes, they would represent threads with different colors. If you wanted a new pattern for your fabric, you just programmed a new cylinder. This was the first programmable loom.

当de Vaucanson 设计他的机器人音乐家时, 他萌生了另一个想法。 如果你可以通过编码 使一个机器产生悠扬的音乐, 为什么不能通过编码使它 在布料上编织出色彩斑斓的图案呢? 用筒柱突起,代表各色的线, 而非乐符。 如果你需要编织一种新的图案, 你只需要编码一个新的筒柱。 这就是第一台可编码式的织布机。


Now, the cylinders were too expensive and time-consuming to make, but a half century later, another French inventor named Jacquard hit upon the brilliant idea of using paper-punched cards instead of metal cylinders. Paper turned out to be much cheaper and more flexible as a way of programming the device. That punch card system inspired Victorian inventor Charles Babbage to create his analytical engine, the first true programmable computer ever designed. And punch cards were used by computer programmers as late as the 1970s.

不过这种筒柱价格高昂, 制造过程很耗时, 但半个世纪之后, 另一个名叫Jacquard的 法国发明家 想到了一个极妙的点子, 那就是用穿孔的纸张, 代替金属筒柱。 结果表明, 纸张作为一种编程装置, 更便宜,更灵活。 那种穿孔卡片系统启发了 维多利亚时期的发明家查尔斯•巴贝奇 建造出他的分析引擎(差分机), 历史上第一台真正的 可编程计算机。 直到20世纪70年代末, 这些穿孔卡片 仍被计算机程序员所使用。


So ask yourself this question: what really made the modern computer possible? Yes, the military involvement is an important part of the story, but inventing a computer also required other building blocks: music boxes, toy robot flute players, harpsichord keyboards, colorful patterns woven into fabric, and that's just a small part of the story. There's a long list of world-changing ideas and technologies that came out of play: public museums, rubber, probability theory, the insurance business and many more.

所以,问自己这个问题: 究竟是什么动力 使现代计算机成为可能? 是的,军事介入的确 是故事的一个重要组成部分, 但发明一台电脑 还需要其他必备要素: 音乐箱, 玩具长笛演奏器, 按键式古琴, 彩色图案编织, 这只是故事的一小部分。 有一大批的改变世界的想法和技术 都来自于娱乐: 公共博物馆,橡胶, 概率论,保险业务, 还有很多。


Necessity isn't always the mother of invention. The playful state of mind is fundamentally exploratory, seeking out new possibilities in the world around us. And that seeking is why so many experiences that started with simple delight and amusement eventually led us to profound breakthroughs.

所以必要需求并非总是发明之母。 娱乐的思想状态 在根本上是探索性的, 我们在周围的世界里, 追寻那些新的可能性。 而那种追寻就是为什么 在那么多经历中, 开始时简单的快乐和娱乐, 最终却导致我们成就深度突破。


Now, I think this has implications for how we teach kids in school and how we encourage innovation in our workspaces, but thinking about play and delight this way also helps us detect what's coming next. Think about it: if you were sitting there in 1750 trying to figure out the big changes coming to society in the 19th, the 20th centuries, automated machines, computers, artificial intelligence, a programmable flute entertaining the Parisian elite would have been as powerful a clue as anything else at the time. It seemed like an amusement at best, not useful in any serious way, but it turned out to be the beginning of a tech revolution that would change the world.

我认为,这会告诉我们 如何在学校教育孩子, 如何在我们的办公场所鼓励创新, 但是,当我们这样 认识娱乐和愉悦的时候, 也会帮助我们预测 接下来会发生的事。 想象一下:如果你 正坐在1750年的时空里, 尝试去猜想未来社会的巨大变革, 猜想19世纪,20世纪, 那些自动机器,计算机, 人工智能, 一个用于娱乐巴黎上等社会的 可编码的长笛, 就会成为一个在当时 十分强有力的线索。 它看上去只适用于娱乐, 没有什么正经的用处, 但它确实成为了改变世界的 技术革命的开端。


You'll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

你会在人类 最具娱乐性的地方预见未来的。

[发帖际遇]: Candy_hao 乐于助人,奖励 4 元 家元. 幸运榜 / 衰神榜
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