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  • WALTER ISAACSON: You know, we're very, very lucky here.

  • I mean, when I wrote this block, I

  • thought, who are the great heroes of it,

  • and Dr. Khan and Vint Cerf are among them,

  • and I hope you appreciate how cool it is, especially

  • for somebody like me who loves history,

  • to be able to talk the internet with you all.

  • VINT CERF: Well, it's a real pleasure to have you here

  • and to have the rest of you here in our new offices.

  • For those of you who came in more on time,

  • we kind of started just informally.

  • This man sitting next to me has had

  • quite an interesting history, so I'll

  • repeat a little bit of that.

  • He's currently the chairman of the Aspen Institute

  • and was formerly the chairman of CNN.

  • He was also managing editor of Time Magazine

  • and has written a whole bunch of books, the most recent of which

  • you have before you, "The Innovators."

  • The most recent before that was Steve Jobs's biography

  • and many others before that, all of which

  • are well worth reading, so we welcome you to our presence

  • and to an opportunity to ask you some questions about this book.

  • Sitting over on my right is Bob Kahn.

  • I was going to say the late Bob Kahn, that would be bad taste,

  • so I won't do that.

  • BOB KAHN: Wasn't that late.

  • Your problem is your garage says it closes at 7 o'clock,

  • so we were about to go find some other garage to park in.

  • VINT CERF: Well, since we're all here,

  • I can make the door open for you.

  • How's that?

  • WALTER ISAACSON: All you have to do is say, OK, glass,

  • open the door.

  • VINT CERF: That's it.

  • I'm wearing one right there.

  • BOB KAHN: Is the audience all from Google?

  • VINT CERF: No, no, no.

  • These are people from all over the place.

  • WALTER ISAACSON: Who's from Google?

  • VINT CERF: Fair number but not everybody.

  • So what I thought we would do, Bob,

  • is start out with a couple of questions about the book itself

  • and what Walter has discovered.

  • This thing covers quite a broad range

  • of topics about things that were highly innovative

  • and made huge changes in our history.

  • So what is it that you would distill

  • from what you've already discovered

  • in writing the book that you would like us to take away?

  • WALTER ISAACSON: Thank you, and let

  • me say that when we get further along

  • and we're discussing the internet,

  • I'm going to turn the tables because to be

  • able to ask questions of the two of you

  • about both the ARPANET, the RFCs, and then

  • the internet protocols.

  • So watch out because that's going to be a two way street.

  • VINT CERF: Fair deal.

  • WALTER ISAACSON: The main thing I discovered.

  • I've written biographies a lot-- Steve Jobs,

  • Einstein, Franklin-- and those of us

  • who write biographies kind of know in the back of our minds

  • that we distort history with the great man theory of history.

  • We make it sound like there's a guy or a gal in a garage

  • or a garret who has a light bulb moment and innovation happens.

  • True innovation, and there's no better example of it

  • then the ARPANET RFC process and then the TCP/IP process,

  • really comes from pairs of people, teams of people,

  • and from collaboration, bouncing ideas off against each other,

  • finishing each other's sentences,

  • and the internet age in particular

  • allows such teamwork and collaboration.

  • The other thing was I started this book when I said,

  • way earlier before we started, we

  • were talking about when I ran digital media for Time Inc

  • in the early 1990s, and I first met Vint when he was at MCI,

  • and I was trying to convince Time Inc to do things

  • with the internet.

  • And so the president of Time Inc says to me, well,

  • who owns the internet?

  • So first of all, I think to myself

  • because I don't want to get fired,

  • that's a clueless question.

  • I say, nobody owns it.

  • He says, well, who built it?

  • Who created it?

  • And I realized after thinking how

  • clueless that question was that I did not really now.

  • And if you feel detached from the history of the things you

  • use, there's sort of a detachment that leads to you

  • not feeling comfortable with it.

  • So I wanted to know, how did computers happen?

  • How did the PC happen?

  • How did the transistor become the microchip,

  • and then how did the internet or digital packet switch networks

  • come into being?

  • So that's why I did this book, and in doing so, as I said,

  • you learn about the importance of collaboration,

  • but you also learn that there wasn't

  • one person who invented the computer.

  • And certainly, even after doing this book,

  • you and I have been discussing some of the,

  • no, I should get more credit type feelings,

  • but it was done creatively and collaboratively.

  • VINT CERF: This notion of collaboration

  • resonates very well with all of us

  • at Google because a lot of the tools that we make and use

  • are exactly collaborative elements,

  • things like Shared Documents, things like the Google

  • Hangouts, things like that where multiple parties can

  • communicate all at the same time.

  • WALTER ISAACSON: That was the original intention

  • of the internet or ARPANET was time

  • sharing research computers, and then collaborating.

  • I even did that with this book.

  • When I was writing that, I said, wait,

  • this is how we collaborate, and I put parts of this book

  • online, like on a medium with Google Docs, whatever,

  • and said, everybody share.

  • Help me collaborate.

  • Help put stuff in.

  • And people like Stewart Brand, who I knew,

  • started rewriting the demise of the Whole Earth Catalog,

  • and exactly what drugs were being served at the demise

  • partly because I got the drugs wrong.

  • But people like Dan Bricklin were explaining,

  • no, VisiCalc was done this way.

  • And so they're in the book from having been crowd sourced.

  • BOB KAHN: Walter, I'd like to ask you a question.

  • Vint and I were both on a panel at the National Academy

  • about a week ago, and one of the questions that came up was,

  • what is the internet?

  • One of the panelists took the position

  • that the internet is what people think it is.

  • So if you think the web is the internet,

  • then that's the internet.

  • If you think the web is this.

  • I just wondered, do you care much

  • in writing a book like that of clarifying that example.

  • Because a lot of places in the book, you say,

  • the ARPANET morphed into internet, and not

  • exactly clear what the internet is from reading your book.

  • Are you comfortable with that definition?

  • WALTER ISAACSON: I see the internet,

  • and I'm going to turn it to you, because you should answer

  • it better, but I see it as the TCP/IP protocols.

  • Now, the question is when Tim Berners-Lee

  • puts a layer of that [INAUDIBLE] that have hypertext protocols

  • and markup languages, to me, that's still the internet.

  • Now, the question then becomes, if I'm using Twitter,

  • is that the internet?

  • And the answer technically is no.

  • I mean, that's not--

  • VINT CERF: Well, actually, we could argue that because--

  • WALTER ISAACSON: Oh, we could argue it,

  • so let me turn it back to you all.

  • VINT CERF: Wait, wait, wait.

  • You're right in the middle of chapter six,

  • and I wanted to at least point out to you--

  • WALTER ISAACSON: Start at chapter one?

  • VINT CERF: Well, we don't have to go through every chapter

  • but this starts out with Ada Lovelace, who

  • was Lord Byron's daughter.

  • And I wanted to start out by just asking, what

  • was it that drew you to that story first,

  • because it's in the 1850s in England,

  • and it's the earliest manifestations

  • of mechanical computing?

  • What made you decide to start there?

  • WALTER ISAACSON: To be honest, what

  • drew it to me first was my daughter had not written

  • her college entrance essay, and my wife, who we've talked

  • about, was going nuts the way Yuppie wives do, and saying,

  • get it done.

  • And one day, Betsy said, I did it.

  • I said, what was it on?

  • She said, Ada Lovelace because she's

  • a computer geek and stuff.

  • And I paused.

  • I kind of knew the name Ada Lovelace,

  • but I didn't know exactly what she did.

  • VINT CERF: You didn't mix it up with Linda Lovelace?

  • WALTER ISAACSON: No, I did not.

  • I'm surprised that people all remember who she is.

  • So I became much more interested in Ada Lovelace.

  • Now, Ada Lovelace is partly a symbol in this book,

  • because as a person, she's kind of controversial,

  • but what she does as Lord Byron's daughter is

  • her mother, Lady Byron, was optically fond of Lord Byron

  • by the time Ada was growing up, for reasons that Byron

  • fans will understand, and so had her tutored mainly

  • in mathematics as if that were an antidote for her becoming

  • a romantic poet, which Lady Byron did not want her to be.

  • So she embraces what she calls poetical science.

  • It's the ability to link the poetic and the beauty

  • of humanities with the technology of science.

  • She loves, for example, traveling the Midlands

  • and looking at the punch cards that

  • are being used in the mechanical looms of the Industrial

  • Revolution in the 1830s.

  • VINT CERF: The Jacquard looms, yes.

  • WALTER ISAACSON: The Jacquard loom,

  • and showing how they weave patterns.

  • Her father, Lord Byron, was a Luddite,

  • and I don't mean that figuratively.

  • His only speech in the House of Lords

  • was defending the followers of Ned Ludd, who

  • were smashing these looms because they

  • were putting people out of work.

  • And he also is there with Mary Shelley

  • when they do Frankenstein's monster.

  • This notion that technology can destroy us

  • was ingrained in Lord Byron.

  • Ada felt the opposite.

  • She had this friend, Charles Babbage,

  • who had made a pretty good calculator called

  • the difference engine, was trying

  • to conceive one which he never got

  • built called the analytical engine, which

  • uses punch cards to do the processing of the numbers.

  • Ada writes a set of notes that are totally fascinating.

  • You've got to read them.

  • And among the notes to this thing

  • is how if you use punch cards, the machine

  • will be able to weave patterns like Jacquard's loom,

  • as she puts it.

  • In other words, the machine will not only do numbers, she says.

  • You can make it do words, or even music.

  • I can feel her father rolling over in the grave.

  • Patterns, anything that can be notated in symbols, she said.

  • So to me, that is the core notion

  • of what a computer is, anything that can be notated in symbols.

  • She has many other things, but I'll

  • only mention one, which is her final note is

  • that they'll do anything but think.

  • Machines will never be creative.

  • Machines will never think.

  • And 100 years later, assuming you're

  • going to jump there, Alan Turing, who really comes up

  • with the concept of the universal computing machine,

  • and then works at Bletchley Park to break the German ENIGMA

  • code with some people.

  • They build the Bombe and then Colossus.

  • He writes a wonderful paper.

  • The movie's about to come out called "The Imitation Game."

  • He called it the imitation game.

  • We now call the Turing test to address

  • what he calls Lady Lovelace's objection,

  • because Turing was fascinated by Lovelace.

  • And he says, well, you say machines will never think.

  • How would we know that?

  • If you had a machine in a different room and a person,