The woman who could see into the future

Ada lovelace wrote the first program code

Time and again, the world has stood at important crossroads that have determined the further course of history: be it columbus’ discovery of mainland on 12. October 1492, the push of the button on board the "enola gay" on 6. August 1945 – or buzz aldrin’s weightless hopping onto the earth’s satellite on july 20. July 1969. All these events led to a change in the development of mankind, the true effects of which became apparent only later.

Such a date could have been the 27th. November 1852: the anniversary of the death of ada lovelace, the first computer visionary and programmer. Lovelace. The daughter of the english poet lord byron, she was interested in natural sciences, especially mathematics and mechanics, contrary to the customs of her time.

In this context, she became friends with charles babbage, an inventor who had developed the mechanical predecessors of today’s computers with his two calculating machines, the difference engine and the analytical engine. However, it was his assistant ada who, in contrast to babbage, who saw in his machines only tools for computing, recognized the true potential of these machines. She became aware of this when she wrote a manual for calculating bernoulli numbers – which in retrospect is considered the first program code in history.

Inspired by the jacquard loom, which used punched cards to weave different patterns into carpets, ada developed the idea that the variables of the program could be filled not only with numeric numbers, but also with other information. Her ideas and calculations that calculating machines could be able to generate graphics or music testify to her rough visionary imagination, which unfortunately disappeared with her when she died at the young age of 36. Before that, however, she was deeply involved in experimental field research on electricity and the structure of the human brain.

Her dream of one day converting the complex thought processes into mathematical formulas can certainly be considered as one of the early theories for the creation of artificial intelligence. It is only now, 150 years later, that we really realize how much ada was ahead of her time with her visions – and that she could have ushered in our computer age decades earlier if she had not been the only sighted person among the blind.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *