Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Lisp and Robotics at JPL

One of my robotics students found this great personal account on the web:

http://www.flownet.com/gat/jpl-lisp.html

He probably sent it to me because he thought, "Hey look what you can do with a 68HC11!" True enough. But I read the article for what it said about Lisp. I saw management give similar short shrift to Lisp at BBN, BAE Systems, SPAWAR and SFA. The stories are all too familiar.

The good news is that eventually the limited solutions that get foisted on developers (or managers) eventually die out, and the good ideas from long ago keep re-emerging. If you live long enough, you realize it's an endless cycle, like those old diagrams showing rainfall, oceans and streams, evaporation and clouds. It's up to you to decide whether developers or managers are the oceans or the clouds; both positions could be argued.

In the meantime, my hope for computer science grows when I see the brightest of the new generation pick up the torch.

2 comments:

Andy said...

Thanks, Geoffrey. I sent a link to this blog entry to the LispNYC group.

Joanna said...

I knew Gat's AI work, but I didn't know he worked at Google on AdWords. Too bad he got there before Peter Norvig took over research (although he started at the company in 2001.) Here's a document he wrote about lisp and AI, updated in 2002. The searches are even more depressing now...

http://norvig.com/Lisp-retro.html