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Stevens Institute of Technology: Valerie Aurora - Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos

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    >> Tonight's lecture is part of a published lecture series on women in leadership.
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    This is an ongoing program, as you know,
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    and it was designed to showcase
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    prominent and successful women in leadership.
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    And in leadership positions, actually.
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    In an effort to motivate
    the next generation of women leaders.
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    We launched this last year,
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    and the series aims to bring
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    distinguished women researchers,
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    scholars and leaders
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    in science, engineering, and business,
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    to share their experiences
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    to the Stevens community,
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    and since we're videotaping this,
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    beyond the Stevens community.
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    The thought is to inspire community.
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    To inspire not only our female faculty and students,
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    but the entire community.
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    It is important, because if you --
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    see, these are the things
    I'm going to be mentioning --
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    we're not doing such a great job
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    in having women in STEM positions.
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    It is relevant today, this topic of STEM.
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    Despite our awareness of how important STEM fields are for our future,
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    and we can call upon numbers,
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    such as 80% to 85%, depending on who you listen to,
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    of our GDP depends directly --
    directly -- is related to technology.
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    And if you look at the number of people that produce the technology, it's less than 4%
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    of the workforce in the United States.
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    So the importance of technology and STEM education is extremely important.
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    But if you've seen, a couple weeks ago,
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    the New York Times Magazine published an article,
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    where the title was:
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    Why Are There Still So Few Women In Science?
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    I don't know if you've seen it.
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    >> Yes.
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    >> There's a very dramatic picture in front.
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    The picture -- which essentially -- a 1927 picture,
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    that was taken on the occasion of a Solvay Conference on physics,
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    which brought up 29 prominent scientists,
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    physicists, 17 of whom either had
    or were about to get -- I think it was -- a Nobel Prize.
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    and only one out of the 29 was a woman.
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    And those of you that read the article, probably --
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    who do you think it was?
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    Anybody?
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    >> Marie Curie.
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    >> Right.
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    So...
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    Today, current data
    do not paint any better a picture.
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    A recent study by the
    National Science And Math Initiative
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    revealed that only 30% of Bachelor degrees
    in engineering are held by women.
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    23% of workers in STEM-related jobs are women,
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    despite the fact that they make up
    48% of the workforce.
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    And the higher you go up the corporate ladder,
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    the less and the lower those percentages become.
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    According to another report by the National Center
    of Women In information Technology,
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    women hold just 9% of the IT management positions,
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    and account for only 14% of the senior management positions in Silicon Valley, the startup world.
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    All told, it's more imperative than ever now
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    that we provide a forum to showcase the accomplishments of women leaders in this field,
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    and we hope that others will inspire us
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    and will inspire the next generation.
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    I'm confident that it is because of the efforts
    of women like Valerie Aurora,
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    that we have with us today,
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    that this goal will be achieved.
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    So as many of you know,
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    Valerie is with us today as a keynote speaker
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    for the daylong conference organized by
    the College of Arts and Letters,
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    that was devoted to celebrating
    the accomplishments of Ada Lovelace,
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    a truly remarkable woman of her own right.
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    Ada is considered to be the very first
    computer programmer,
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    and said to be the inspiration behind
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    much of the computer technology that has
    become a routine for us today.
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    Ms. Aurora has drawn inspiration
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    from the life and works of Ada Lovelace,
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    in founding The Ada Initiative,
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    a not-for-profit organization that seeks
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    to increase the participation of women in open technology and to advance women's literacy
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    in the technology sector.
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    Today, The Ada Initiative reaches 2 million leaders
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    and emerging professionals in the tech sector and related fields, through various outreach efforts,
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    that have been supported in part by Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Bloomberg,
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    the Linux Foundation, and Twitter.
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    In addition to serving as the Executive Director
    of the Ada initiative,
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    Valerie has also invented
    several new file system concepts,
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    including relative datetime and power saving features in file systems widely used in Linux, Mac OS X,
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    Solaris, and OpenBSD.
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    She served as senior software engineer at IBM, Intel...
    IBM, Intel, and Sun Microsystems,
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    that were in California for some time.
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    And currently serves as a consultant and
    senior software engineer at Red Hat,
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    the leading global provider
    of Open Source solutions.
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    In 2011, Feminomics listed Aurora as number three amongst the top 50 women to watch in technology,
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    and in 2012, SC Magazine named her one of the most influential people in computer security.
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    She holds a double degree in computer science and mathematics from the New Mexico Institute
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    of Mining and Technology,
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    and continues to inspire women across the globe
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    to study these disciplines and apply them
    in a creative and impactful way.
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    So I'm really thankful for the organizers of the conference for having captured Valerie
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    and brought her here today,
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    and I'm thankful to her for being willing to spend some time with us this evening.
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    To give us a flavor of what it is
    to be a woman in leadership,
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    and what it is to inspire others
    to go into STEM fields.
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    So with that, Valerie, thank you.
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    (applause)
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    >> Thank you so much for the very
    flattering introduction.
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    I forgot I used to do those things.
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    I want to make one quick correction.
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    This was amazingly correct for an introduction.
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    I don't currently work at Red Hat anymore.
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    Ada Initiative is my full-time job.
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    But Red Hat -- great company.
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    So yes, I am super excited to be here.
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    It was not at all difficult to capture me.
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    Ada Lovelace has been a long time interest of mine,
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    and I was just so excited to even get to attend
    this conference, much less get to speak at it.
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    So thank you, Robin Hammerman,
    and everyone who made this possible.
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    So I'm going to talk today
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    about rebooting the Ada Lovelace mythos.
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    I'll talk quickly about my non-profit first.
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    We -- The Ada Initiative, named after Ada Lovelace,
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    is a non-profit dedicated to supporting
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    and increasing the participation
    of women in open technology and culture.
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    So that includes Open Source software,
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    which is what's behind most of the internet.
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    Most of Google, most of Facebook.
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    If you've ever used Firefox,
    that's all Open Source software.
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    So I co-founded The Ada Initiative in 2011,
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    after a friend of mine was groped for the third time in one year at an Open Source software conference.
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    I just had it, and that's what I needed to do
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    to change things and make the industry
    better for women.
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    The Ada Initiative has several lead projects.
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    Probably the most famous is the conference antiharassment policy.
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    This is my solution to this kind of
    physical assault, but also, like, pornography
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    and sexist jokes that were common in our field,
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    which many people just react to and say --
    that's unthinkable,
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    but that was how things were in 2011,
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    and still are in many other fields.
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    We've also done the AdaCamp unconference,
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    for women in open technology and culture.
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    It's incredibly fun.
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    We get women together from
    the Open Library Technology Movement,
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    from Wikipedia, from open hardware,
    building little blinking lights into your jackets,
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    and things like that.
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    It's really fun.
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    And we do training as well.
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    We're supported almost entirely
    by individual donations.
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    The conference sponsorships
    only go so far.
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    And you can support us yourself,
    if you'd like.
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    All right. I've done that.
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    Now I get to talk about Ada Lovelace.
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    So the very short version --
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    this is a little ironic,
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    because half of you have spent the day
    learning all about Ada Lovelace,
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    and half of you may have never heard of her before.
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    So there will be a lot of review,
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    but I'll try to make it interesting.
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    So she wrote the world's first
    computer program in 1843.
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    Yes, that's 1843.
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    That's 160 years ago?
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    It was written for a computer that didn't exist
    and was not built,
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    but it was still a computer program.
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    She was known during her lifetime,
    and even today,
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    mostly as the only legitimate daughter
    of the poet Lord Byron,
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    and she died at age 36,
    after a very painful illness,
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    cutting off a promising career.
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    So there's a lot of people who like to imagine --
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    if she had lived, perhaps the computer age
    would have started in 1850,
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    instead of 1950.
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    So it's sort of -- you can see why a myth built up around this amazing person.
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    So the questions I wanted to explore for this talk
    were to first talk about what are the stories we tell,
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    what is the mythos today, about Ada Lovelace,
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    what are the effects of those stories
    on our society today,
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    and the people around us and our technology,
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    and what new stories could we tell,
    that had better effects?
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    So here's what to expect in the talk.
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    So you aren't wondering where things are going.
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    I'm going to start out with a cast of characters.
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    The people who are important
    in the Ada Lovelace myth.
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    I'm going to give a --
    hopefully a rather brief biography of Ada,
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    but covering the important points that come out
    in the various versions of the stories.
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    And I'm going to talk about how Ada was viewed
    through history.
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    Not just the different ways she's viewed today,
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    but how her reputation changed and evolved,
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    as time went by.
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    And then I'm going to talk about my ideas
    for new stories to tell.
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    And hopefully you can bring your own.
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    So, to start out with the obvious person,
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    the most famous person in this story
    is Ada's father,
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    the poet, Lord Byron, George Gordon.
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    He was wildly famous in his lifetime.
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    Often considered to be the most famous person
    in Europe, up to that point in time.
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    Sort of like a rock star, basically.
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    The flip side -- and I'm going to make
    some Byron fans angry, possibly --
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    is that, even by the standards of his time,
    Lord Byron was a violent, abusive,
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    serial sexual predator.
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    And he came from a long line of people
    similar to him.
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    His father was called Mad Jack.
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    His great uncle was called The Wicked Lord.
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    Unfortunately, I couldn't find a picture of him.
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    For doing things like shooting his coachman,
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    and throwing the body on his wife in the carriage,
    and driving home.
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    And because, at the time, he was a nobleman,
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    he wasn't actually punished for this.
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    So Byron himself was famously described as
    "mad, bad, and dangerous to know".
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    And I just want to note --
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    you can appreciate his poetry,
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    while also acknowledging
    that he was kind of a terrible human.
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    So he died at age 36,
    of illness, far from home,
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    and cut off an amazing career.
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    He was only partway through
    many fantastic works of poetry,
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    and we are all the worse for this.
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    Ada's mother is an interesting person as well.
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    A little less famous,
    but just as strong a personality, I believe.
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    Her name is Anne Isabella Milbanke,
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    often known as Annabella.
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    She was minor nobility,
    and the strong, independent daughter
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    of a strong, independent mother.
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    Byron used to call her
    the Princess of Parallelograms, here.
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    She was very interested in mathematics,
    and had that sort of rational, logical mind,
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    or at least expressed herself that way.
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    I don't think this was a compliment, personally.
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    You can read some of his poetry and find out.
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    So Byron left after only a month
    into their marriage,
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    and Annabella got really tired
    of all the abuse, and separated.
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    So Byron didn't see Ada again
    after she was about a month old,
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    and Annabella put a lot of effort into raising Ada,
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    in order to try to reduce these
    poetical tendencies,
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    which is what they called it.
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    You look at the family history.
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    It's -- yeah, you can see
    why she was so nervous.
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    So our final character is Charles Babbage,
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    who was a really famous inventor,
    mathematician, engineer.
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    That just covers a few of his careers.
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    Who was famous in his own time,
    but also was famous for a number --
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    he was a character.
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    He was known for his hatred of street music.
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    Which -- I don't know if you've ever heard the joke
    about paying the violinist to go away from your table.
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    That's what street music was in London.
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    In Victorian London.
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    He designed but never built
    the world's first general purpose computer,
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    that conforms to our modern definition
    of a general purpose computer,
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    that can do anything any other computer can do.
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    These are models of parts of this computer,
    called the Analytical Engine.
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    He designed it in the 1830s.
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    So Ada and Babbage met
    when she was 17 and he was 41.
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    And they continued as good, close personal friends
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    and scientific collaborators
    for nearly 20 years, until her death.
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    I do not...
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    Yes, that does make sense.
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    So Ada.
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    We get to talk about Ada.
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    So her full name was Augusta Ada Byron,
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    when she married William King,
    she became Augusta Ada Byron King,
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    and later became the Countess of Lovelace.
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    But strangely, we have this modern construction
    of her name as Ada Lovelace.
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    I'm not quite sure how that came about,
    but that's who people are talking about.
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    During her lifetime,
    she was known primarily
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    as Lord Byron's daughter.
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    This is how I like to give an idea
    of what her life was like.
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    So Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love,
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    both famous, famous rock stars,
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    have one daughter, Frances Bean Cobain.
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    He kills himself very early on.
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    So the interesting thing
    about Frances Bean
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    is that Frances Bean --
    I was trying to find a picture of her,
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    and she has succeeded --
    good for her --
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    in not having a single photograph of her
    in the public domain.
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    She's trying really hard to protect
    her privacy.
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    And you can see why.
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    She's trying to define her own life,
    and her own personality as an artist.
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    So she recently did a display
    of her visual art.
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    She's a visual artist.
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    Under a pseudonym,
    and it was later on discovered.
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    So this has an interesting parallel with Ada,
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    in that she published --
    she was very concerned about putting her name
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    on any of her scientific work or publications,
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    and you can see why.
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    So here's a panel from Sydney Padua's
    Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage.
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    Sydney, raise your hand.
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    It's a fantastic comic
    about Ada Lovelace's --
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    a fictionalized version
    of Lovelace and Babbage's collaboration.
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    But this is a really perfect summary
    of Lady Byron's plan
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    to keep Ada from going nuts
    and shooting her way across Europe.
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    So she decided she would teach her mathematics,
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    to counteract the poetical influences,
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    which is how Byron referred to his tendency
    to be a terrible person.
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    So the interesting thing about this is that,
    at the same time she fulfilled
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    all of the normal standards for women of her time
    and her position,
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    she had many, many, many other interests,
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    including music, and specifically playing the harp.
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    She wanted to build a flying machine,
    using steam engines,
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    and studying birds to do so.
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    And an interesting thing I love --
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    she loved horseback riding,
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    and it was considered good for her health.
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    This is a picture of her daughter,
    Lady Anne Blunt,
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    who dressed up as a Bedouin
    and traveled across Northern Africa
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    with her husband, and it was, you know,
    the late 19th century,
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    and ended up founding the most influential
    Arabian horse stud,
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    outside of Saudi Arabia.
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    So she's a very, very interesting person.
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    Along with Ada.
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    So luckily for Ada,
    having such a scientific and curious mind,
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    amateur science was very in, at the time,
    in her society.
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    And so she went to a lot of salons and parties,
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    where she met people like Charles Babbage,
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    Mary Somerville,
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    and many other of these amateur scientists,
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    whose names are in the history books these days.
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    So she followed the proper path,
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    got married at age 19,
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    had three children.
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    Her husband became the Earl of Lovelace,
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    which made her the Countess of Lovelace.
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    So she -- during the time she was having
    three children in about three years,
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    she wasn't able to follow her studies much,
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    but kept them up.
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    Once she was an adult,
  • 19:37 - 19:39
    and able to decide what she wanted to study,
  • 19:39 - 19:41
    she continued with mathematics,
  • 19:41 - 19:43
    and found some really good tutors.
  • 19:43 - 19:45
    In particular, Augustus De Morgan,
  • 19:45 - 19:52
    who you may be familiar, from your logic and algebra classes, as the namesake of De Morgan's law.
  • 19:52 - 19:54
    He was an incredible mathematician,
  • 19:54 - 19:56
    and he had an extraordinarily high,
  • 19:56 - 20:00
    and probably justified opinion
    of Ada Lovelace's potential.
  • 20:00 - 20:05
    So Ada is looking for something to do,
  • 20:05 - 20:08
    and at the suggestion of another scientist --
  • 20:08 - 20:10
    what's Wheatstone's first name?
  • 20:10 - 20:11
    >> Charles.
  • 20:11 - 20:13
    >> Charles Wheatstone.
  • 20:13 - 20:16
    Decides to translate
    a paper someone else has written,
  • 20:16 - 20:18
    about Babbage's Analytical Engine.
  • 20:18 - 20:19
    I think this is interesting.
  • 20:19 - 20:23
    She was too humble to actually write
    her own paper, so --
  • 20:23 - 20:25
    oh, I know, I'll translate.
  • 20:25 - 20:28
    This is a very common thing
    for women in science at the time.
  • 20:28 - 20:31
    There's an interesting note on the man
    who wrote the paper,
  • 20:31 - 20:33
    Luigi Menabrea.
  • 20:33 - 20:36
    He ended up becoming
    the Prime Minister of Italy.
  • 20:36 - 20:39
    so the connection between computers
    and wealth and power, I think,
  • 20:39 - 20:41
    was already in effect.
  • 20:41 - 20:46
    So yeah,
    when she sent the paper to Babbage
  • 20:46 - 20:48
    for his approval, he said --
  • 20:48 - 20:50
    why didn't you write your own paper?
  • 20:50 - 20:52
    Would you like to add some notes?
  • 20:52 - 20:56
    Ada said sure, and thus was born
    the world's first computer program.
  • 20:56 - 20:59
    It's hard to read, because it's very small writing,
  • 20:59 - 21:01
    because it's very large and complicated.
  • 21:01 - 21:07
    So she ended up writing a program
    to calculate something called the Bernoulli numbers,
  • 21:07 - 21:09
    which are an extremely complex, difficult series,
  • 21:09 - 21:12
    with great implications for science and mathematics.
  • 21:12 - 21:17
    It was the first published computer program.
  • 21:17 - 21:24
    So I just want to give a brief summary of the controversy over the first programmer title.
  • 21:24 - 21:28
    We'll go over the change in public opinion
    about whether she was the first
  • 21:28 - 21:30
    computer programmer in more detail,
  • 21:30 - 21:34
    but here's sort of the base facts behind it,
  • 21:34 - 21:37
    as filtered through my feminist consciousness.
  • 21:37 - 21:41
    So Babbage did obviously write
    simple programs first,
  • 21:41 - 21:45
    because he was designing this machine,
    and needed to figure out what it would do.
  • 21:45 - 21:49
    He wasn't actually super interested
    in doing stuff with the machine.
  • 21:49 - 21:51
    he was more interested in the machine itself,
  • 21:51 - 21:53
    so there are a number of very simple
    programs in his notes.
  • 21:53 - 21:56
    The Bernoulli numbers program
    was definitely the most complicated program
  • 21:56 - 21:59
    written at that time.
  • 21:59 - 22:02
    And we're calling a computer program
    a series of instructions
  • 22:02 - 22:04
    for a machine to carry out.
  • 22:04 - 22:09
    The evidence is -- the contemporary evidence
    is very strong that Ada actually wrote this.
  • 22:09 - 22:11
    There's a bunch of letters.
  • 22:11 - 22:14
    Babbage makes a comment in his autobiography
  • 22:14 - 22:17
    that's often misinterpreted
    to mean he wrote it,
  • 22:17 - 22:19
    but it really says that she wrote it.
  • 22:19 - 22:25
    And then there's the fact that's normally
    very important in science,
  • 22:25 - 22:26
    which is that Ada published it first.
  • 22:26 - 22:29
    That's usually how you establish priority.
  • 22:29 - 22:34
    And in addition to that,
    both Babbage and everyone who knew them
  • 22:34 - 22:38
    and everyone who reads their papers
    agrees that Ada had a much deeper
  • 22:38 - 22:42
    and more complex understanding of the potential
    of computer programming.
  • 22:42 - 22:43
    So as far as I'm concerned,
  • 22:43 - 22:46
    Ada is definitely for sure
    the first computer programmer.
  • 22:46 - 22:49
    Unfortunately, about this time,
  • 22:49 - 22:52
    Ada also started to become
    mentally and physically ill.
  • 22:52 - 22:57
    She -- retroactive historical diagnoses,
    for what they're worth,
  • 22:57 - 22:59
    she probably had uterine cancer.
  • 22:59 - 23:03
    She probably was bipolar,
    also known as manic depressive.
  • 23:03 - 23:07
    She began taking laudanum
    and pot, and using Mesmerists,
  • 23:07 - 23:10
    hypnotism, to control the pain and the mania.
  • 23:10 - 23:18
    It's around this time as well
    she began gambling,
  • 23:18 - 23:19
    which actually meant betting on the horses.
  • 23:19 - 23:20
    Not super unusual.
  • 23:20 - 23:24
    And was probably unfaithful to her husband,
    although a lot of the letters
  • 23:24 - 23:27
    from that time are destroyed.
  • 23:27 - 23:30
    What I can say for sure is that,
    when she told her husband what she had done
  • 23:30 - 23:32
    on her deathbed,
    he refused to speak to her again,
  • 23:32 - 23:33
    until her death.
  • 23:33 - 23:38
    So I think it was probably pretty bad, for the time.
  • 23:38 - 23:41
    This is a portrait taken of her
    shortly before her death.
  • 23:41 - 23:44
    The full size one
    you can see pretty clearly --
  • 23:44 - 23:45
    she's dying.
  • 23:45 - 23:48
    It was pretty heartbreaking.
  • 23:48 - 23:51
    She died at age 36,
    the same age at her father,
  • 23:51 - 23:54
    and oh, when you read her letters,
  • 23:54 - 23:57
    she's constantly writing about how
    she needs to take it carefully,
  • 23:57 - 24:02
    develop her genius slowly,
    build up a body of work piece by piece,
  • 24:02 - 24:05
    when really she was this incredible intuitive thinker
  • 24:05 - 24:10
    who came up with groundbreaking ideas
    while writing footnotes,
  • 24:10 - 24:13
    literal footnotes, to somebody else's paper.
  • 24:13 - 24:13
    Right?
  • 24:13 - 24:16
    And you want to go back in time
    and just say -- just write it.
  • 24:16 - 24:17
    Just write it.
  • 24:17 - 24:19
    Forget about what everyone else thinks.
  • 24:19 - 24:20
    Just do your work.
  • 24:20 - 24:24
    Carpe diem, everyone here.
  • 24:24 - 24:26
    Do it now.
  • 24:26 - 24:29
    I wrote my first published paper
    when I was 24,
  • 24:29 - 24:30
    and not in grad school or anything,
  • 24:30 - 24:33
    because I didn't know you weren't supposed to.
  • 24:33 - 24:37
    Just go ahead and do it,
    is my view.
  • 24:37 - 24:40
    Okay. So that's the basic sort of
    attempting to be pretty objective
  • 24:40 - 24:42
    Ada Lovelace story.
  • 24:42 - 24:45
    So how was Ada Lovelace viewed
    throughout history?
  • 24:45 - 24:47
    We can start with the obvious.
  • 24:47 - 24:49
    Byron's daughter.
  • 24:49 - 24:51
    Like, here's Ada down here.
  • 24:51 - 24:53
    That was, like, basically her whole life.
  • 24:53 - 24:57
    This famous rock star person.
  • 24:57 - 24:58
    So...
  • 24:58 - 25:02
    Even in the initial call for papers for this conference,
  • 25:02 - 25:03
    Robin, I hope you don't mind me calling this out --
  • 25:03 - 25:09
    she was described as --
    the conference about the achievements and legacies
  • 25:09 - 25:13
    of the poet Lord Byron's only known
    legitimate child, Ada Lovelace.
  • 25:13 - 25:17
    So it's definitely the thing that hung over her,
    her entire life.
  • 25:17 - 25:23
    In 1833, she started to get
    a little bit of a different reputation,
  • 25:23 - 25:26
    which was part of this amateur science scene
    that was going on.
  • 25:26 - 25:29
    People noticed that she understood
    what Babbage was saying,
  • 25:29 - 25:31
    because nobody else did.
  • 25:31 - 25:34
    But they were still --
    when they would write letters,
  • 25:34 - 25:37
    when they got home,
    they would talk about how much Ada
  • 25:37 - 25:38
    did or didn't resemble Byron.
  • 25:38 - 25:40
    So that was...
  • 25:40 - 25:43
    She was smart Byron's daughter,
    at that point.
  • 25:43 - 25:47
    1838, she got a different --
    a little extra addition.
  • 25:47 - 25:48
    The Countess of Lovelace,
  • 25:48 - 25:51
    rather than Lady King.
  • 25:51 - 25:55
    1843, the notes to the translation,
    this first computer program,
  • 25:55 - 26:00
    were published under just her initials, actually.
  • 26:00 - 26:02
    Even her misspelled initials.
  • 26:02 - 26:06
    But Babbage couldn't keep the secret entirely,
  • 26:06 - 26:08
    and let Menabrea know
    that actually it was Ada Lovelace.
  • 26:08 - 26:11
    So a few people knew.
  • 26:11 - 26:16
    In 1845, she discovered
    that she was too immoral for the library.
  • 26:16 - 26:20
    So this was a picture of the Royal Society Library.
  • 26:20 - 26:22
    She wanted to get in,
    so she could read books on mathematics,
  • 26:22 - 26:24
    and things like that,
    and she was advised
  • 26:24 - 26:27
    that the word of her infidelity had gotten out,
  • 26:27 - 26:31
    and she was not suited
    to go read books in this building.
  • 26:31 - 26:32
    Very much a thing.
  • 26:32 - 26:35
    So that's one way to find out.
  • 26:35 - 26:37
    Hey, I'd like to check out this book.
  • 26:37 - 26:39
    No, sorry, we know you're having --
    you're sleeping with so and so.
  • 26:39 - 26:41
    What?
  • 26:41 - 26:42
    So...
  • 26:42 - 26:45
    1848, she was publicly acknowledged
    as the author of the notes.
  • 26:45 - 26:48
    No one really cared.
  • 26:48 - 26:51
    1852, she dies,
    and now she is Byron's dead daughter.
  • 26:51 - 26:57
    Yes.
  • 26:57 - 27:04
    She was in with -- yeah,
    the second sentence, after saying where she died.
  • 27:04 - 27:06
    She was the only daughter of Lord Byron.
  • 27:06 - 27:07
    There you go.
  • 27:07 - 27:09
    Blah-blah-blah, and then she was married
    to some people and stuff,
  • 27:09 - 27:12
    and they had babies,
    and then it says she was distinguished
  • 27:12 - 27:14
    for the strength of her intellect.
  • 27:14 - 27:16
    So people noticed she was smart, at least.
  • 27:16 - 27:17
    And that's kind of what she gets.
  • 27:17 - 27:19
    That's all she gets in her biography.
  • 27:19 - 27:24
    Lady Byron was kind of a mean person,
  • 27:24 - 27:29
    and spent a lot of time making sure
    everyone knew about Ada's faults and mistakes,
  • 27:29 - 27:31
    starting around the time of her death.
  • 27:31 - 27:36
    I'm not sure what her deal was,
    but there you go.
  • 27:36 - 27:39
    1864, Babbage wrote his autobiography,
  • 27:39 - 27:42
    and in it, he has a very few mentions of her.
  • 27:42 - 27:47
    I mean, there's this sense
    that proper women shouldn't appear in public at all.
  • 27:47 - 27:51
    Appear in the papers when you're born,
    when you're married, and when you died.
  • 27:51 - 27:52
    And for the most part,
    she succeeded in that.
  • 27:52 - 27:56
    So Babbage mentions her,
    praises her,
  • 27:56 - 27:57
    talks about some of the work she's done.
  • 27:57 - 28:01
    I'm not sure how many people
    read all the way through his autobiography.
  • 28:01 - 28:03
    But there you go.
  • 28:03 - 28:08
    So there's -- then we have about a century
    of crickets, you know.
  • 28:08 - 28:09
    Not much going on.
  • 28:09 - 28:13
    These are a few of the minor mentions
    I could find here and there.
  • 28:13 - 28:15
    In 1889, the notes were reprinted.
  • 28:15 - 28:20
    1905, she has a literal footnote
    in the history of calculating machines,
  • 28:20 - 28:23
    by Maurice d'Ocagne.
  • 28:23 - 28:26
    I kept meaning to look up
    how to say that, but I never did.
  • 28:26 - 28:30
    1932, she's mentioned in
    the MIT Technology Review.
  • 28:30 - 28:32
    I was unable to find out what they said,
  • 28:32 - 28:36
    because the MIT Technology Review's paywall
    was not functioning,
  • 28:36 - 28:40
    and I could not give them $9.99 to read this paper.
  • 28:40 - 28:41
    So...
  • 28:41 - 28:43
    Common.
  • 28:43 - 28:48
    So 1950 is where the general public
    begins to learn about Lovelace again,
  • 28:48 - 28:52
    through Alan Turing,
    who is a famous computer science pioneer,
  • 28:52 - 28:57
    and worked -- was a key part
    of winning World War II.
  • 28:57 - 29:03
    So Alan is very interested in machine intelligence,
    artificial intelligence,
  • 29:03 - 29:05
    and he writes about the objections to this.
  • 29:05 - 29:08
    And he calls one of them Lady Lovelace's objection.
  • 29:08 - 29:11
    Which I think is totally unfair,
    because he completely misinterprets
  • 29:11 - 29:14
    what she's trying to say,
    on purpose, to make a point.
  • 29:14 - 29:20
    In her notes, Lovelace is trying to counteract
    this idea at the time --
  • 29:20 - 29:25
    people were like -- whoa, this thing
    just calculated the answer to 3 + 2.
  • 29:25 - 29:26
    It must be living!
  • 29:26 - 29:28
    You know, there was a famous question.
  • 29:28 - 29:31
    What if I tell it the wrong question?
  • 29:31 - 29:32
    Will it still give me the right answer?
  • 29:32 - 29:34
    You know, people had no idea.
  • 29:34 - 29:35
    So she was trying to explain --
  • 29:35 - 29:38
    these machines can only do
    what you tell them to do.
  • 29:38 - 29:41
    Somebody still has to come up
    with the problem, encode it,
  • 29:41 - 29:42
    and stick it in the machine.
  • 29:42 - 29:45
    Turing interpreted this as --
    machines can never surprise you.
  • 29:45 - 29:47
    It's like, well, no,
    that's not what she was saying.
  • 29:47 - 29:52
    But the question of artificial intelligence
    is still alive today, of course.
  • 29:52 - 29:55
    But yeah, at least Turing got her name
    back in circulation.
  • 29:55 - 29:57
    I have no idea
    how he became aware of her.
  • 29:57 - 29:59
    If it was a thing,
    and everyone passed around the notes
  • 29:59 - 30:01
    at Cambridge or something.
  • 30:01 - 30:03
    I'd love to find that out.
  • 30:03 - 30:07
    So in 1953,
    somebody finally uses the words
  • 30:07 - 30:09
    "first computer program".
  • 30:09 - 30:12
    This is Bertram Bowden,
    in Faster Than Thought,
  • 30:12 - 30:15
    which is this hilarious attempt
    to write a history of computing machines
  • 30:15 - 30:18
    in 1953,
    and he makes this comment of --
  • 30:18 - 30:23
    thank you so much to my printers
    for the fact that things are changing so quickly,
  • 30:23 - 30:26
    I have to make corrections
    between each proof,
  • 30:26 - 30:31
    because stuff was being updated so quickly.
  • 30:31 - 30:34
    So in this, he says:
    "Lady Lovelace had undoubtedly
  • 30:34 - 30:39
    a profound understanding of the principles of the machine," et cetera, and then wrote:
  • 30:39 - 30:44
    "Including what we should now call a program
    for computing the Bernoulli numbers,
  • 30:44 - 30:46
    by a very sophisticated method."
  • 30:46 - 30:48
    So that's the first time I can really say --
    find someone who's not calling her
  • 30:48 - 30:54
    Babbage's interpreter,
    or explaining that stuff real good now.
  • 30:54 - 30:56
    It's -- she wrote a computer program.
  • 30:56 - 31:02
    So 1972, Isaac Azimov,
    you know, famous science fiction writer,
  • 31:02 - 31:04
    and science writer,
    calls her the Mother of Computers.
  • 31:04 - 31:05
    Which is interesting.
  • 31:05 - 31:07
    I would call it the Mother of Programming.
  • 31:07 - 31:10
    But, you know, these things
    are not terribly well distinguished at the time.
  • 31:10 - 31:13
    In 1976, the first book-length biography comes out,
  • 31:13 - 31:17
    by a historian and fashion model,
    Dorothy Langley Moore,
  • 31:17 - 31:18
    which I think is a cool combination.
  • 31:18 - 31:23
    I couldn't actually get a copy,
    but there's a couple of articles
  • 31:23 - 31:26
    written for a women's mathematics newsletter,
  • 31:26 - 31:29
    which used the words "first computer programmer".
  • 31:29 - 31:32
    It also talked about her gambling,
    and things like that.
  • 31:32 - 31:33
    So as far as I can tell,
  • 31:33 - 31:37
    1976 is the time when people said
    "first computer programmer",
  • 31:37 - 31:39
    and not just the first computer program.
  • 31:39 - 31:41
    So yeah, it only took...
  • 31:41 - 31:47
    133 years
    for people to come to this point.
  • 31:47 - 31:52
    So there's 133 years of Lovelace not being
    the first computer programmer.
  • 31:52 - 31:55
    Being Byron's daughter,
    being someone who explained Babbage pretty well.
  • 31:55 - 31:58
    And then that's when that finally happened.
  • 31:58 - 32:03
    So 1980 is when the Department of Defense
    issued a new language standard,
  • 32:03 - 32:06
    and named it Ada,
    in honor of Ada Lovelace.
  • 32:06 - 32:09
    This is an Ada language computer program.
  • 32:09 - 32:13
    One of the parts they skipped
    in my resume for the introduction
  • 32:13 - 32:18
    is that I wrote Ada programs for a living,
    for six months, straight out of college.
  • 32:18 - 32:19
    I don't recommend it.
  • 32:19 - 32:21
    It's a really unpleasant language.
  • 32:21 - 32:27
    But naming her -- naming the language after her
    shows the regard she was held in at that time.
  • 32:27 - 32:31
    At least by the United States
    Department of Defense.
  • 32:31 - 32:36
    so in 1985, Dorothy Stein --
    you can barely see this.
  • 32:36 - 32:40
    The cover is deathly black,
    and I think that reflects the opinions of the author.
  • 32:40 - 32:45
    In 1995, Dorothy Stein published
    the second book-length biography
  • 32:45 - 32:47
    of Ada Lovelace, that I'm aware of.
  • 32:47 - 32:52
    Which -- she presents her
    as mad, bad, and moderately smart.
  • 32:52 - 33:00
    So Dorothy Stein really had some kind of issues
    with Ada Lovelace.
  • 33:00 - 33:01
    I'm not sure what.
  • 33:01 - 33:07
    But even Dorothy Stein still acknowledged
    that Ada wrote that first computer program.
  • 33:07 - 33:09
    She just thought that she was a terrible person.
  • 33:09 - 33:10
    So...
  • 33:10 - 33:16
    1986, there's a very short book
    about Ada Lovelace,
  • 33:16 - 33:18
    and mostly her work, which is nice.
  • 33:18 - 33:22
    I think it must have been a response
    to Stein, based on the forward.
  • 33:22 - 33:25
    Like "Recently,
    some people have said..."
  • 33:25 - 33:28
    It's actually a pretty nice work,
    especially if you're interested
  • 33:28 - 33:30
    in computer programming.
  • 33:30 - 33:33
    And she's portrayed
    as a complex, whole, flawed person,
  • 33:33 - 33:35
    who did some good work as well.
  • 33:35 - 33:37
    So... Unfortunately, it's not very popular.
  • 33:37 - 33:39
    I really enjoyed reading it, but...
  • 33:39 - 33:42
    All right, so now we get into the wars.
  • 33:42 - 33:43
    The full wars.
  • 33:43 - 33:45
    I mean, Stein was not that great, but wow.
  • 33:45 - 33:49
    1990, Alan G. Bromley,
    a respected computer historian,
  • 33:49 - 33:50
    wrote an article in...
  • 33:50 - 33:54
    In which he outright denies
    that she's the first computer programmer,
  • 33:54 - 33:57
    besides saying, of course,
    she's arrogant and deluded,
  • 33:57 - 33:58
    and all these things.
  • 33:58 - 34:02
    While, at the same time,
    because their letters are so clear,
  • 34:02 - 34:04
    even he couldn't deny this.
  • 34:04 - 34:08
    He says that she caught a bug
    in the program that Babbage wrote.
  • 34:08 - 34:11
    So there's this saying that's common
    among computer scientists.
  • 34:11 - 34:18
    That, if you write a computer program,
    that's the very most complicated one you can write.
  • 34:18 - 34:20
    You aren't smart enough to debug it.
  • 34:20 - 34:25
    It's more difficult to debug a computer program
    than it is to write it in the first place.
  • 34:25 - 34:29
    So that a historian of computing
    could make that claim
  • 34:29 - 34:32
    I think kind of speaks
    for that bias there.
  • 34:32 - 34:37
    Also in 1990,
    Bruce Collier's PhD thesis.
  • 34:37 - 34:40
    Calls her mad as a hatter.
  • 34:40 - 34:42
    That's real scholarly language there,
  • 34:42 - 34:46
    and says she contributed little
    or nothing to the notes.
  • 34:46 - 34:50
    So yeah, that's kind of awesome as well.
  • 34:50 - 34:56
    Actually, Sydney pointed out to me
    an interesting point,
  • 34:56 - 34:59
    which is that many of these people
    who are so passionately against
  • 34:59 - 35:03
    Lovelace having any involvement
    in the first computer program
  • 35:03 - 35:06
    are also very passionate
    pro-Babbage people.
  • 35:06 - 35:07
    Charles Babbage --
  • 35:07 - 35:11
    they're really trying to reclaim
    his place in computing history.
  • 35:11 - 35:12
    Sure, his machine never got built,
  • 35:12 - 35:14
    but he's still really important,
    and they're tired of people
  • 35:14 - 35:16
    taking away his credit.
  • 35:16 - 35:20
    So that could definitely be an issue
    with the whole taking away Lovelace's credit,
  • 35:20 - 35:22
    because there's only so much credit to go around.
  • 35:22 - 35:28
    So in 1990,
    we also get our first major fictional depiction
  • 35:28 - 35:32
    of Ada Lovelace,
    as a minor character in The Difference Engine,
  • 35:32 - 35:37
    which is sort of the novel
    that popularized the steampunk movement,
  • 35:37 - 35:42
    which you're probably all more familiar
    than you want to be with.
  • 35:42 - 35:46
    So in the book,
    Ada is portrayed
  • 35:46 - 35:49
    as a mathematical genius.
  • 35:49 - 35:52
    She's also kind of not that bright
    when it comes to the ways of the world,
  • 35:52 - 35:55
    and is busy trying to gamble,
    and all that kind of stuff.
  • 35:55 - 35:59
    So it's sort of an absent-minded
    professor stereotype.
  • 35:59 - 36:02
    When you read Ada's letters,
    she's probably not that practical,
  • 36:02 - 36:07
    so part of what I like about this
    is that they show her deriving
  • 36:07 - 36:11
    and discovering mathematical theorems
    that didn't come until the '30s,
  • 36:11 - 36:13
    that are foundational.
  • 36:13 - 36:15
    So it's a neat portrayal.
  • 36:15 - 36:21
    1992 is the longest,
    most sympathetic biography,
  • 36:21 - 36:25
    called Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers,
    by Betty Alexandra Toole.
  • 36:25 - 36:30
    It's mostly the letters Ada sent,
    and some sent to her.
  • 36:30 - 36:33
    And she presents her --
    she's very sympathetic.
  • 36:33 - 36:37
    Presents her as ambitious,
    complex, flawed, and brilliant.
  • 36:37 - 36:42
    It unfortunately also tries to draw
    a number of analogies
  • 36:42 - 36:45
    between the Ada programming language
    and Ada's thought process,
  • 36:45 - 36:48
    which don't make a ton of sense,
    as a computer programmer.
  • 36:48 - 36:51
    But it's especially great
    as a primary source
  • 36:51 - 36:54
    for understanding who Ada was as a person.
  • 36:54 - 36:58
    So I'll try to go a little more quickly
    on the rest of these.
  • 36:58 - 37:01
    1993, Tom Stoppard's Arcadia.
  • 37:01 - 37:04
    He says that Ada Lovelace
    was an inspiration
  • 37:04 - 37:08
    for one of the characters,
    a young girl who's working with a math tutor,
  • 37:08 - 37:11
    and continually comes up with
    mathematical ideas
  • 37:11 - 37:14
    so ahead of her time
    that he always dismisses them
  • 37:14 - 37:17
    as nonsense,
    and they're later rediscovered,
  • 37:17 - 37:20
    and hailed as the first
    understanding of fractals,
  • 37:20 - 37:21
    so I thought that was a neat portrayal.
  • 37:21 - 37:24
    Very accurate to her life.
  • 37:24 - 37:26
    In 1997,
    I have not been able
  • 37:26 - 37:28
    to bring myself to watch this movie.
  • 37:28 - 37:29
    There's a movie called Conceiving Ada,
  • 37:29 - 37:32
    which is sort of loosely inspired
    by something or other.
  • 37:32 - 37:37
    In it, Ada Lovelace
    figures out how to communicate
  • 37:37 - 37:40
    back and forth with the future,
    by the means of undying information waves,
  • 37:40 - 37:43
    and the people in the future
    think she's so important,
  • 37:43 - 37:45
    they're trying to bring her back to life
    by genetic engineering,
  • 37:45 - 37:47
    or so Wikipedia tells me.
  • 37:47 - 37:50
    So clearly -- pretty sure
    it was a positive portrayal,
  • 37:50 - 37:51
    or at least intended to be.
  • 37:51 - 37:52
    So...
  • 37:52 - 37:55
    1998, the British Computing Society
  • 37:55 - 37:57
    creates the Lovelace Medal in her honor.
  • 37:57 - 38:00
    This is the 2007 Lovelace Medal winner,
  • 38:00 - 38:01
    Karen Sparck Jones.
  • 38:01 - 38:04
    The Ada Initiative considered
    naming ourselves after her,
  • 38:04 - 38:07
    but Sparck Jones
    just wasn't quite as good as Ada.
  • 38:07 - 38:08
    Sparck would have been awesome.
  • 38:08 - 38:10
    The Sparck Initiative.
  • 38:10 - 38:13
    So 2000, Doron Swade
    comes up with a history
  • 38:13 - 38:16
    of Charles Babbage's computing machines,
  • 38:16 - 38:20
    in which he describes Ada
    as deluded, bossy,
  • 38:20 - 38:22
    coquettish, and demanding,
  • 38:22 - 38:24
    which are all, like,
    wonderfully gendered insults.
  • 38:24 - 38:30
    I took a photo of the index --
    entry in the index for Lovelace,
  • 38:30 - 38:32
    because I just thought it was so
    representative.
  • 38:32 - 38:38
    He says "exaggeration of contribution
    to Babbage's engines, 166-9"
  • 38:38 - 38:43
    "Self-regard and conviction of own genius, 158-9".
  • 38:43 - 38:45
    Babbage didn't think
    he was a genius, no.
  • 38:45 - 38:49
    No, Babbage thought he was a genius,
    just in case you weren't sure.
  • 38:49 - 38:53
    Again, another Babbage-ist, right?
  • 38:53 - 39:00
    2001, I mean, this is supposedly
    a book about Ada and her achievements,
  • 39:00 - 39:02
    by Benjamin Woolley,
    the Bride of Science,
  • 39:02 - 39:05
    but it focuses mostly
    on her emotions,
  • 39:05 - 39:07
    and her life, and her personal life,
    and all that stuff,
  • 39:07 - 39:12
    and it's not that...
    It's only a part of her life,
  • 39:12 - 39:14
    shall we say.
  • 39:14 - 39:17
    So 2009,
    Suw Charman-Anderson,
  • 39:17 - 39:21
    who is in some way, perhaps,
    responsible for all of this happening,
  • 39:21 - 39:23
    founded Ada Lovelace Day,
  • 39:23 - 39:28
    which is now --
    to raise the profile
  • 39:28 - 39:30
    of women in science,
    technology, engineering, and mathematics.
  • 39:30 - 39:32
    That's the STEM we keep talking about.
  • 39:32 - 39:34
    It's grown and grown.
  • 39:34 - 39:40
    This conference was actually scheduled
    to go with Ada Lovelace Day.
  • 39:40 - 39:45
    It's just a fantastic time,
    where people write blog posts
  • 39:45 - 39:47
    and update Wikipedia pages
  • 39:47 - 39:48
    about women scientists.
  • 39:48 - 39:49
    They're just the greatest stories.
  • 39:49 - 39:52
    All the stories we know are so boring.
  • 39:52 - 39:56
    I think you can say at this point in time
    Ada Lovelace is definitely a feminist icon
  • 39:56 - 39:59
    in the popular imagination,
    if she wasn't already.
  • 39:59 - 40:05
    2009, by no coincidence,
    because they were friends,
  • 40:05 - 40:11
    Sydney Padua put together the first
    and assumed to be last issue
  • 40:11 - 40:15
    of the comic, the Origin of Ada Lovelace,
  • 40:15 - 40:18
    which became this wonderful series
    called Lovelace and Babbage.
  • 40:18 - 40:23
    In it, she and Babbage
    team up to fight crime.
  • 40:23 - 40:26
    They just have different definitions of crime.
  • 40:26 - 40:28
    She thinks it's poetry.
  • 40:28 - 40:29
    He thinks it's music.
  • 40:29 - 40:30
    You can see why.
  • 40:30 - 40:35
    She's not just, like,
    sort of the more practical person,
  • 40:35 - 40:37
    which is what she was in their lifetime.
  • 40:37 - 40:40
    She's also shown as, like, brooding and brilliant,
    and occasionally unhinged.
  • 40:40 - 40:45
    It's a really fun, full-featured person.
  • 40:45 - 40:49
    It's not Ada herself,
    but it's a great person who could exist,
  • 40:49 - 40:50
    and you want to get to know better,
  • 40:50 - 40:53
    and has all sorts of hilarious gags.
  • 40:53 - 40:54
    So check it out.
  • 40:54 - 40:56
    I can't leave out The Ada Initiative.
  • 40:56 - 41:01
    2011,
    we use Ada as our --
  • 41:01 - 41:06
    we did a new modern portrait of her.
  • 41:06 - 41:11
    The Ada Initiative is focused more
    on Open Source software
  • 41:11 - 41:12
    than software in general.
  • 41:12 - 41:14
    We try to keep our scope.
  • 41:14 - 41:16
    So the thing we brought to the Ada Lovelace story
  • 41:16 - 41:19
    is that she's the world's first
    Open Source software programmer,
  • 41:19 - 41:21
    because she published the source code
    to her program,
  • 41:21 - 41:24
    and whether or not she meant it
    to be under any kind of license,
  • 41:24 - 41:28
    it went into the public domain
    some time in the 19th century.
  • 41:28 - 41:31
    So anybody can take this code,
    alter it, and reuse it.
  • 41:31 - 41:32
    It's Open Source software.
  • 41:32 - 41:33
    So...
  • 41:33 - 41:36
    The world's first computer programmer
    was also a woman,
  • 41:36 - 41:38
    who was also an Open Source programmer.
  • 41:38 - 41:44
    So there's been some more
    recent fictional depictions,
  • 41:44 - 41:48
    which I only learned about
    thanks to Vicky's talk earlier today.
  • 41:48 - 41:51
    And here's a book
    that came out in 2011,
  • 41:51 - 41:53
    All Men of Genius.
  • 41:53 - 41:56
    She's a character who's in her 60s,
  • 41:56 - 41:59
    and is successful, respected,
    influential, a bit naughty.
  • 41:59 - 42:03
    I am so excited this book exists.
  • 42:03 - 42:05
    The Lazarus Machine.
  • 42:05 - 42:09
    In it, she co-founds a computer company
    with Babbage.
  • 42:09 - 42:11
    This is great, because it's a direct --
  • 42:11 - 42:15
    it's great for many reasons,
    but she proposed this to Babbage
  • 42:15 - 42:16
    in one of her letters.
  • 42:16 - 42:17
    We have a letter that says --
    hey, Babbage.
  • 42:17 - 42:20
    Why don't you let me take care
    of the business and the PR,
  • 42:20 - 42:22
    and then we could actually get these
    engines built?
  • 42:22 - 42:23
    And he's like -- well, no, of course not.
  • 42:23 - 42:25
    I don't want to let go of all that control.
  • 42:25 - 42:28
    But this is kind of a neat idea
    of what could have happened.
  • 42:28 - 42:31
    And this is a new biography
    that just came out on Tuesday,
  • 42:31 - 42:32
    so I haven't read it.
  • 42:32 - 42:34
    Called A Female Genius.
  • 42:34 - 42:40
    All I can tell from the blurb
    is that he believes
  • 42:40 - 42:43
    that she wrote the computer program,
    she was hampered by sexism,
  • 42:43 - 42:45
    and that she and Babbage became lovers.
  • 42:45 - 42:50
    Which I see no hints of,
    but that's another story we can tell.
  • 42:50 - 42:54
    So here's what I think
    are the top four stories that we tell
  • 42:54 - 42:55
    about Ada Lovelace today.
  • 42:55 - 43:00
    And I'll talk about each one of them,
    and what's the effect it has on society.
  • 43:00 - 43:04
    So the first computer programmer --
  • 43:04 - 43:06
    just, like, this really one-dimensional story.
  • 43:06 - 43:10
    And it ignores all the rest of her life,
  • 43:10 - 43:14
    and perpetuates this horrible stereotype
    that computer programmers
  • 43:14 - 43:17
    have to only be interested in computing.
  • 43:17 - 43:19
    I was definitely considered
    a very strange person in college,
  • 43:19 - 43:21
    studying computer science,
  • 43:21 - 43:24
    because I liked my English literature class.
  • 43:24 - 43:26
    "What's wrong with you?"
  • 43:26 - 43:30
    Ada rode horses and played music.
  • 43:30 - 43:32
    She was much more like a complex fractal,
  • 43:32 - 43:33
    and I really want people --
  • 43:33 - 43:36
    besides the good interests,
  • 43:36 - 43:39
    she gambled, and cheated on her husband,
  • 43:39 - 43:42
    and had children,
    and had mixed feelings about her children,
  • 43:42 - 43:43
    and was trying to be a good daughter.
  • 43:43 - 43:44
    All that stuff.
  • 43:44 - 43:49
    And she was able to come up with
    these amazing advances in computing.
  • 43:49 - 43:52
    So you just don't have to be this single-minded,
    nose-down kind of person.
  • 43:52 - 43:55
    So as an icon for women in STEM,
    this is limiting,
  • 43:55 - 43:57
    and I'm guilty of this, obviously.
  • 43:57 - 44:01
    For several reasons,
    but one is that it erases
  • 44:01 - 44:03
    the other people,
    other women who were working in STEM,
  • 44:03 - 44:04
    at that time.
  • 44:04 - 44:07
    It makes her seem like
    an exceptional, strange person.
  • 44:07 - 44:08
    You know, Lord Byron's daughter.
  • 44:08 - 44:10
    Her incredible mental gifts.
  • 44:10 - 44:11
    Which she had.
  • 44:11 - 44:15
    But she also had the ability
    to have a mathematics education,
  • 44:15 - 44:18
    and if more women had
    had the same mathematics education,
  • 44:18 - 44:21
    they could have also accomplished
    similar things.
  • 44:21 - 44:23
    Here are a few of her contemporaries.
  • 44:23 - 44:26
    Marie Sophie Germain
    was a physicist.
  • 44:26 - 44:29
    Mary Somerville
    was one of her good friends,
  • 44:29 - 44:30
    and a mathematician and scientist.
  • 44:30 - 44:34
    And Maria Mitchell was an astronomer.
  • 44:34 - 44:37
    And these are all just women
    whose names were variations on Mary.
  • 44:37 - 44:39
    So many, many women.
  • 44:39 - 44:42
    The problem with the delusional --
    the Stein take.
  • 44:42 - 44:44
    She's delusional, immoral,
    a terrible person.
  • 44:44 - 44:46
    Oh yeah,
    she wrote the first computer program.
  • 44:46 - 44:50
    That's not the focus we give
    to male scientists.
  • 44:50 - 44:54
    These are just three --
    these are the first three male scientists I thought of,
  • 44:54 - 44:57
    and they all --
    Nicola Tesla, John Nash --
  • 44:57 - 45:00
    a mathematician, but --
    and Isaac Newton.
  • 45:00 - 45:04
    They all had terrible mental problems,
    and terrible personal problems,
  • 45:04 - 45:07
    but nobody diminishes their science
    as a result of it.
  • 45:07 - 45:14
    Focusing on her personality and life
    and putting down her accomplishments,
  • 45:14 - 45:15
    as a result, I mean,
    people do say --
  • 45:15 - 45:16
    well, she was so arrogant.
  • 45:16 - 45:18
    She was clearly manic depressive.
  • 45:18 - 45:20
    Therefore, she could not have written
    the computer program.
  • 45:20 - 45:24
    Well, let's talk schizophrenic.
  • 45:24 - 45:25
    Let's talk manic depressive.
  • 45:25 - 45:27
    Let's talk --
    I don't know what was going on
  • 45:27 - 45:28
    with Isaac Newton.
  • 45:28 - 45:30
    But I'm glad it happened,
    because it furthered science.
  • 45:30 - 45:33
    But that's only a claim people make
    for women, and not men.
  • 45:33 - 45:37
    And then this is the 100%
    all bad, all across the way,
  • 45:37 - 45:39
    total fraud point of view.
  • 45:39 - 45:41
    There's this great book --
    if you haven't read it,
  • 45:41 - 45:42
    you need to go buy it right away.
  • 45:42 - 45:45
    Unfortunately, I think it's out of print,
    but it's easy to get used.
  • 45:45 - 45:47
    Yeah, hm, wonder why it's out of print.
  • 45:47 - 45:49
    It's called How to Suppress Women's Writing,
  • 45:49 - 45:51
    by Joanna Russ.
  • 45:51 - 45:52
    It's a Bible.
  • 45:52 - 45:55
    And you can replace all of, like,
    writing with programming,
  • 45:55 - 45:57
    or any kind of science in here,
    and it's all the same.
  • 45:57 - 45:59
    So the general attacks are --
  • 45:59 - 46:00
    she didn't write it.
  • 46:00 - 46:03
    That's a claim people make about Ada.
  • 46:03 - 46:05
    She wrote it,
    but she only wrote one of it.
  • 46:05 - 46:07
    She only wrote one paper, you guys.
  • 46:07 - 46:08
    Clearly.
  • 46:08 - 46:10
    She wrote it,
    but she had help.
  • 46:10 - 46:12
    Look, she and Babbage corresponded,
  • 46:12 - 46:15
    because he was the only --
    he wouldn't write down
  • 46:15 - 46:17
    his own -- the description of his own machine.
  • 46:17 - 46:18
    Yeah.
  • 46:18 - 46:22
    And then there's sort of a final one,
  • 46:22 - 46:24
    which is she wrote it,
    but it's not art,
  • 46:24 - 46:25
    and she's not an artist.
  • 46:25 - 46:26
    And that's one of the arguments.
  • 46:26 - 46:27
    Well, that wasn't...
  • 46:27 - 46:29
    She wrote it,
    but it wasn't a computer program.
  • 46:29 - 46:32
    And she was not a computer programmer.
  • 46:32 - 46:33
    How could she be?
  • 46:33 - 46:34
    Blah-blah-blah.
  • 46:34 - 46:35
    She had no compiler.
  • 46:35 - 46:37
    So that's just --
  • 46:37 - 46:40
    when you're telling that story,
    that's what you're subscribing to.
  • 46:40 - 46:43
    So here are a few of my ideas
  • 46:43 - 46:44
    for new stories we can tell.
  • 46:44 - 46:49
    So there's this --
    we'll start out kind of tame.
  • 46:49 - 46:53
    Somebody should write a history
    of women Victorian mathematicians and scientists,
  • 46:53 - 46:56
    and their influence on modern day
    science and computing,
  • 46:56 - 46:58
    and include Ada Lovelace, Mary Somerville,
    all the rest,
  • 46:58 - 47:02
    and things like the women's magazines
    that had algebra puzzles in them.
  • 47:02 - 47:05
    So that would give you, like,
    the whole big picture,
  • 47:05 - 47:08
    instead of being like --
    oh, this freak who predicted computing.
  • 47:08 - 47:11
    I like this one.
  • 47:11 - 47:12
    I love Anne Hathaway.
  • 47:12 - 47:15
    In a moving and sensitive portrayal,
  • 47:15 - 47:19
    Anne Hathaway plays brilliant
    yet tortured Victorian scientist Ada Lovelace,
  • 47:19 - 47:22
    exploring the conflicting pull
    of her passions towards mathematics,
  • 47:22 - 47:25
    art, family, fame, and madness.
  • 47:25 - 47:28
    Won Oscars for best actress,
    best supporting actress,
  • 47:28 - 47:31
    so this is going to pass the Bechdel Test, baby.
  • 47:31 - 47:33
    And best picture.
  • 47:33 - 47:36
    Yeah, and I was kind of thinking
    of A Beautiful Mind,
  • 47:36 - 47:38
    when I wrote this.
  • 47:38 - 47:39
    Also Anne Hathaway.
  • 47:39 - 47:43
    Maybe you can figure out
    what I was thinking of here.
  • 47:43 - 47:47
    Ada Lovelace and Mary Somerville
    found an academy for young women,
  • 47:47 - 47:50
    where they teach harp, horseback riding,
    and computer programming.
  • 47:50 - 47:53
    The second computer program
    is a menstrual period tracker.
  • 47:53 - 47:58
    Alumnae instigate and lead
    the information revolution of 1852.
  • 47:58 - 48:02
    I imagine that they all wear, like,
    black PVC dresses,
  • 48:02 - 48:04
    and have big Xs on their chests.
  • 48:04 - 48:06
    So yeah, that would be super fun.
  • 48:06 - 48:09
    Ada Lovelace...
  • 48:09 - 48:10
    See if you can get this one.
  • 48:10 - 48:13
    Ada Lovelace,
    a mediocre poet at best...
  • 48:13 - 48:15
    Oh my gosh,
    she was a terrible poet, you guys...
  • 48:15 - 48:18
    Programs the Analytical Engine
    to help her write poetry,
  • 48:18 - 48:22
    which she publishes anonymously,
    under the name Equus Libros.
  • 48:22 - 48:25
    All London wonders --
    is the author man or machine?
  • 48:25 - 48:28
    No one suspects the truth,
    until she reveals all,
  • 48:28 - 48:29
    in a live performance.
  • 48:29 - 48:32
    And yes, I am talking about horse ebooks.
  • 48:32 - 48:35
    And if you don't know what horse ebooks is,
    it's too late.
  • 48:35 - 48:36
    It's over.
  • 48:36 - 48:37
    You missed it.
  • 48:37 - 48:39
    All right, so this is my last story.
  • 48:39 - 48:42
    Ada Lovelace
    becomes the first literal rock star,
  • 48:42 - 48:44
    rather than the figurative one
    her father was,
  • 48:44 - 48:46
    playing computer-generated music,
  • 48:46 - 48:48
    and inventing electronic amplification of instruments.
  • 48:48 - 48:50
    She makes millions,
    and blows it all
  • 48:50 - 48:52
    on harps, horses, and laudanum.
  • 48:52 - 48:55
    Babbage refuses to speak to her
    ever again.
  • 48:55 - 48:58
    That would be a freaking great story.
  • 48:58 - 48:59
    I mean, she had that mentality.
  • 48:59 - 49:00
    It would be great.
  • 49:00 - 49:04
    So yeah, this is sort of
    trying to look at...
  • 49:04 - 49:06
    Even the "positive" stories, unquote,
  • 49:06 - 49:07
    that we tell,
    and showing how limited they are,
  • 49:07 - 49:09
    and how they limit women in science,
  • 49:09 - 49:11
    and our society in general.
  • 49:11 - 49:12
    I didn't even get into the part where --
  • 49:12 - 49:16
    because Ada Lovelace was so
    multidimensional and complex,
  • 49:16 - 49:21
    I think computing founded by her
    would have been immediately connected
  • 49:21 - 49:25
    with the Arts and Humanities in a way
    modern computing,
  • 49:25 - 49:27
    which grew out of World War II, was not.
  • 49:27 - 49:30
    It would have been so interesting,
  • 49:30 - 49:33
    and so that's part of what I want to tell here,
    with these stories.
  • 49:33 - 49:37
    It's like --
    computing can be so much more,
  • 49:37 - 49:39
    and so much better connected
    with our society and ourselves,
  • 49:39 - 49:43
    and also, as a woman,
    you can be a whole person.
  • 49:43 - 49:45
    You can have a family.
  • 49:45 - 49:46
    You can sleep around.
  • 49:46 - 49:48
    You can do drugs,
    and you can still do
  • 49:48 - 49:50
    fantastic, amazing work.
  • 49:50 - 49:53
    So guys have been able to do this
    for a long, long time.
  • 49:53 - 49:54
    Just check it out.
  • 49:54 - 49:56
    But I think that would be really cool.
  • 49:56 - 49:59
    All right, so questions
    and answers.
  • 49:59 - 50:02
    If you have any great
    Ada Lovelace story ideas,
  • 50:02 - 50:03
    that would be wonderful to hear too.
  • 50:03 - 50:04
    Thank you.
  • 50:04 - 50:12
    (applause)
  • 50:12 - 50:13
    >> Okay, the question is --
  • 50:13 - 50:16
    if the students are inspired by this,
  • 50:16 - 50:20
    but they don't want to write
    an Ada Lovelace story,
  • 50:20 - 50:21
    what can they do?
  • 50:21 - 50:23
    And I really want people
    to write Ada Lovelace stories.
  • 50:23 - 50:26
    One of the things I'm doing
    as a hobby right now
  • 50:26 - 50:28
    is learning how to make zines.
  • 50:28 - 50:31
    Just little paper printouts
    of a few pages,
  • 50:31 - 50:32
    that you can, like --
  • 50:32 - 50:33
    are so cheap,
    you can just give them away.
  • 50:33 - 50:39
    I think learning more about
    the history of computing,
  • 50:39 - 50:42
    but also the general forms
    of sexism is, frankly,
  • 50:42 - 50:44
    a great idea,
    to learn how you're using it
  • 50:44 - 50:45
    in your everyday life.
  • 50:45 - 50:49
    One of the first things I learned
    from joining a women in computing group,
  • 50:49 - 50:53
    after I discovered I was the only
    Linux kernel programmer in the world
  • 50:53 - 50:55
    who was female, in 2002,
  • 50:55 - 50:57
    there are simple rules, like --
  • 50:57 - 51:00
    if you're trying to help a woman
    learn something on the computer,
  • 51:00 - 51:02
    never take away the keyboard.
  • 51:02 - 51:04
    Very simple rule.
  • 51:04 - 51:05
    Follow that.
  • 51:05 - 51:06
    You'll do a lot better.
  • 51:06 - 51:10
    Wait for women to speak
    and give the answers to questions.
  • 51:10 - 51:11
    Things like that.
  • 51:11 - 51:12
    So...
  • 51:12 - 51:14
    But I really think
    you should go out and draw,
  • 51:14 - 51:16
    or make a rap video,
    or something like that.
  • 51:16 - 51:17
    So...
  • 51:17 - 51:20
    >> Okay, wow.
  • 51:20 - 51:22
    What a wonderful story.
  • 51:22 - 51:24
    (laughter)
  • 51:24 - 51:27
    >> Said and expressed.
  • 51:27 - 51:28
    So thank you very much.
  • 51:28 - 51:32
    (applause)
Title:
Stevens Institute of Technology: Valerie Aurora - Rebooting the Ada Lovelace Mythos
Description:

Valerie Aurora (Executive Director and co-founder, the Ada Lovelace Initiative) delivers the Ada Lovelace conference keynote address and Provost's Lecture Series on Women in Leadership to highlight the contribution of women in STEM. Learn more here:

http://www.stevens.edu/calconference.

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Video Language:
English
Duration:
51:36

English subtitles

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