History and Philosophy of Computing Symposium at ICHST2017

Symposium 002. The Ubiquity of Computing: historical and philosophical issues

Monday, 24 July,

9:00-10:30 a.m- Session Chair: Alberto de Lima
9:00 – 9:30 Henrique Cukierman A racing car without tires
9:30 – 10:00 Lucas Pereira Between taxes and innovations: The Role of Federal Data Processing Service (SERPRO) in the growth of Brazilian computer Market (1964-1970)
10:00 – 10:30 Alberto de Lima Control, freedom, informatics and society: a review of informatics histories in Brazil

10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m. – Session Chair: Marcelo Vianna
10:45 – 11:15 Marcelo Vianna Information Technology in Brazil and the National Information Service (SNI): exploring an ambivalent relationship (1976-1984)
11:15 – 11:45 Márcia Barros The Brazilian computer in the Journal “Dados e Ideéias”: ‘in search of its soul’
11:45 – 12:15 Ivan Marques A new look at an old devil: the computer market reserve in Brazil

3:30-5:00 p.m. – Session Chair: Fernando Severo
3:30 – 4:00 Fernando Severo Ubiquity so that I want you!
4:00 – 4:30 Luiz Arthur Faria Free software and solidarity economy in Brazil: licenses, practices and worldviews in debate
4:30 – 5:00 All participants Evaluation of the day – Discussion about Proceedings

Tuesday, 25 July,

10:45a.m.- 12:15 p.m. – Session Chair: Fabio Bertato
10:45 – 11:15 Lorenzo Spezia Some philosophical considerations about the possibility of mind uploading
11:15 – 11:45 Giuseppe Primiero Computational Correctness: from type-correctness to error-handling.
11:45 – 12:15 All participants Questions and Discussion

3:30- 5:00 p.m. – Session Chair: Fabio Bertato
3:30 – 4:40 Maria E. Gonzales & Itala D’Ottaviano Complexity, ubiquitous computing and autonomy: An inquiry into the human radical enhancement project
4:40 – 5:00 All participants Questions and Discussion

5:15- 6:45 p.m – Session Chair: Fabio Bertato
5:15 – 5:45 Fabio Bertato Peano, Universal Languages and the “Mechanization” of the Mathematical Thinking
5:45 – 6:15 Christoph Benzmüller Computational Metaphysics: The Virtues of Formal Computer Proofs Beyond Maths and Computer Science
6:15 – 6:45 All participants Questions and Discussion – Closing

2nd CLE Colloquium for Philosophy and History of Formal Sciences: “Logic and Computing”

2nd CLE Colloquium for Philosophy and History of Formal Sciences
“Logic and Computing”
CLE4Science-Colloquia — JULY 19-21, 2017

At Centre for Logic, Epistemology and the History of Science (CLE-Unicamp)

Invited Speakers:

  • Christoph BENZMÜLLER (Freie Universität Berlin, Dep. of Mathematics and Computer Science)
  • Giuseppe PRIMIERO (Middlesex University, Computer Science)
  • Gianfranco BASTI (Pontifical Lateran University, Faculty
    of Philosophy).

CLE Speakers:

  • Marcelo CONIGLIO
  • Maria Eunice GONZALEZ

Contributions in the main areas of research of CLE are welcome. Please send one-page abstracts to fmbertato@cle.unicamp.br. Deadline: July, 04.

CfP: Unix in Europe: between innovation, diffusion and heritage, October 19, CNAM, Paris

Call for contributions
International symposium
Unix in Europe: between innovation, diffusion and heritage
Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, Paris, France – October 19 2017
The Unix system was born in the 1970s at the crossroads between two interacting worlds: industry (the Bell Labs at AT&T) and academia (the University of Berkeley computer science network). Its fast adoption throughout computer research and engineering networks across the world signaled the future success of the new system, fostering software experiments within its open, multi-user and multi-tasking system running on mini-computers – and later compatible with a larger part of computer hardware. In the European context, how was this American innovation propagated, adopted and adapted? Why was Unix of so much interest in this context, then and now? A solid culture of Unix users might also explain this success, as well as subsequent processes of appropriation and inheritance, due to the long and complex history of Unix versioning. The memory of Unix users is vivid indeed, fed by early accounts within the computer world (Salus, 1994) as well as preservation initiatives (Toomey, 2010). Moreover, the Unix system is a crucial reference in the history of computing, in particular in the field of free and open source software (Kelty, 2008), computer networks (Paloque-Berges, 2017), as well as in programming language philosophy (Mélès, 2013).
In order to explore the variety of these interrogations, this symposium encourages contributions from historians as well as philosophers, social science researchers, and heritage professionals interested in the history of computer open systems and software with a focus on Unix or who have a wider perspective. It will also welcome protagonists and witnesses of Unix culture and carriers of its memory. We wish to discuss and shed light on several aspects of the development of Unix in Europe (including in comparison or relation with the rest of the world) along three main lines: historical and sociological, philosophical and epistemological, and heritage- and preservation-oriented.

1/ Historical and sociological perspectives
Historically, the Unix system is linked to the promotion and development in research on open systems and computer networks. How does this fit in the context of industrial, scientific and technological policies defined at the national and European level? The history of Unix thus reaches at least three levels of interrogations: 1/ the forms, places and practices of innovation around Unix in R&D labs and computing centers in companies, schools and universities; 2/ planning, promoting and negotiating open systems (norms and standards) from the perspective of science and/or politics; 3/ international geopolitical relations, whether economical or geopolitical and even geostrategic (for example between Unix users, with users of other computer equipment or other hardware and software companies, the role of embargos in the shipping of mini-computers, of code, and military uses of Unix).
In parallel, how has the world of computer research welcomed, encouraged, negotiated and propagated uses and innovations related to Unix systems? This begs the question of how Unix-related research and development was legitimized – or played a part in the legitimization of computer science experimentalism in the scientific field and beyond. We would also like to highlight practices of resistance, the failure to acknowledge, ignorance of or even the limits of the Unix system, its software tools and hardware environment (beginning with the famous PDP and Vax machines from Digital Equipment where the first Unix versions were implemented). With a focus on occupational computer uses, we call for analysis which aims to explore and clarify:
– the role of developers, users, and user associations – from the point of view of pioneers as well as helpers, maintainers and other witnesses of the implementation of Unix;
– the context, process, and people who determined its propagation, appropriation, and development over time;
– the meaning of concepts of Unix philosophy and ethics such as “openness” and “autonomy”, from a social, political or economic point of view.

2. Philosophical and epistemological perspectives
We will foster research and reflection at the crossroad of the theoretical foundations of computer systems and engineering pragmatism, between the philosophy of computer systems and Unixian practices.

Protagonists in the conception and diffusion of Unix often claim to have a ‘Unix philosophy’ . But beyond statement of principle, what was the real influence of this idea on the technical choices underlying the system’s developments? What are the ethical, moral, and philosophical motivations – alongside the social, political or economic dimensions discussed earlier – underpinning the adoption of Unix or pretending to extend it (for instance in relation to the notions of sharing, modularity or freedom)? How is the idea of ‘openness’ attached to Unix practices and heritage (free software, open source) conceived? What are the theoretical developments to be drawn from it (for instance with the idea of open software)?

The logical and mathematical foundations of Unix should be readdressed. Do the fundamental concepts of Unix have an ontological or metaphysical significance beyond the sole research aim of technical efficiency? What role do aesthetics play in the formulation of general principles and technical choices? How can we analyze programming languages such as C and its successors, scripts, software, and generally speaking, the proliferating source codes of Unix? How do we consider the system, the software environment, as well as the hardware in which Unix is implemented and executed?

Such philosophical questions also cover the modalities of the transmission of Unix, extending to the investigation of the respective roles of theory and practice in the teaching of the system, the teaching of knowledge and tools underlying the system or supporting the system.
3. Unix heritage and ‘heritagization’
France is now the home to multiple initiatives taking place to build and preserve a material and immaterial heritage of computer science and technology – such as ‘Software Heritage’ at INRIA, a global software archive in progress. The Museum of Arts et Métiers gave impetus to the MINF initiative (‘Pour un Musée de l’informatique et du numérique’) and coordinates the ‘Patstec Mission’ dealing with contemporary scientific and technological heritage preservation, including computer science. At an international scale and with a grassroots perspective carried by the community of Unix users, the TUHS (The Unix Heritage Society) demonstrates the current interest in the specific heritage linked to Unix. We encourage reflections on this heritage and its specific features:

– What is the place of Unix in the construction of computer science heritage? Is it possible to map Unix systems and their heritage, from the standpoint of machines, languages and software? What has already been collected? What corpus, data bases, and/or platforms with a patrimonial mission are concerned with Unix and to what purpose?
– How are the questions of training, constitution and diffusion of a Unix culture incorporated in the effort to collect heritage? How do we evaluate and put forward the importance of immaterial heritage attached to Unix, considering the effects of community and memory in its history and for the writing of its history?
– What are the practices and modalities advocated by the unixian heritage itself? What has been its influence on the field of computer engineering and research as well as diverse fields such as: popularization of science and technology, ‘hacker’ movements and many ‘maker’ practices today (Lallement, 2016)?
Communications and discussions will be held in French or English.

Please send a one-page abstract (maximum 500 words) with a short biography by June 30, 2017 to: camille.paloque-berges@cnam.fr; loic.petitgirard@cnam.fr. Accepted contributions and speakers will be notified by July 15, 2017.

*Organizing committee*
Isabelle Astic (Musée des arts et métiers)
Raphaël Fournier-S’niehotta (Cédric, Cnam)
Pierre-Eric Mounier-Kuhn (CRM, Paris 1)
Camille Paloque-Berges (HT2S, Cnam)
Loïc Petitgirard (HT2S, Cnam)

*Scientific committee*
François Anceau (UMPC-LIP6)
Pierre Cubaud (Cédric, Cnam)
Liesbeth de Mol (STL, Lille 3)
Claudine Fontanon (CAK, EHESS)
Gérald Kembellec (DICEN, Cnam)
Baptiste Mélès (Archives Henri Poincaré, CNRS)
Giuseppe Primiero (Middlesex University)
Lionel Tabourier (LIP6, Paris 6)

– Project « Hist.Pat.info.Cnam », HT2S, Cnam – Research program supported by the Excellence laboratory History and Anthropology of Knoweldge, Technics and Beliefs (HASTEC), and in partnership with the laboratories CEDRIC (Cnam), DICEN (Cnam), and the Center Alexandre Koyré (EHESS).
– Musée des arts et métiers and « Histoire de l’informatique » (« History of computing » seminar) seminar.
– « Source code » seminar (CNRS, Cnam, Université Paris 6).
With support from the DHST/DLMPST Commission for the History and Philosophy of Computing (HAPOC)
Kelty, Christopher M. 2008. Two Bits: The Cultural Significance of Free Software. Durham: Duke University Press Books.

Lallement, Michel. 2016. L’âge du faire, Seuil.

Mélès, Baptiste. 2003. « Unix selon l’ordre des raisons : la philosophie de la pratique informatique ». Philosophia Scientiæ 17 (3): 181‑98.

Salus, Peter H. 1994. A quarter century of UNIX. Addison-Wesley. Reading.

Toomey, Warren. 2010. « First Edition Unix: Its Creation and Restoration ». IEEE Annals of the History of Computing 32 (3): 74‑82.

LEO plaque unveiling in London

Professor Frank Land and Dame Stephanie Shirley. Photo: LEO Computers Society

On November 29th 2016 we attended the unveiling of a commemorative plaque for LEO – Lyons Electronic Office. The plaque is located in Lyons Walk, W14 0QH, former location of Cadby Hall, the factory complex and the headquarters of J. Lyons & Co and LEO I’s home in Hammersmith.

The engraved stone has been generously funded by Tony Morgan, who was Commissioning Manager at LEO Computers Ltd. and is now Technical Consultant to the LEO Computers Society.

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Middlesex University Donors Events

Middlesex University London held a Donors Event on 16 November 2016 to celebrate the students awarded with Scholarships and the Donors behind them.

On this occasion, Ms. Elisabetta Mori has been formally awarded with the David Tresman Caminer Scholarship in the History of Computing funded by the Association for Information Technology Trust.

The award certificate has been presented to Elisabetta by Mrs. Hilary Caminer and Mr. Peter Byford from the LEO Computer Society.

img_20161116_190208 img_20161116_190217

Celebration of LEO I’s first routine job

LEO I (Lyons Electronic Office). Source: Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick

On November 29th, 2016 LEO Computer Society will unveil a plaque commemorating LEO I on the 65th anniversary of its first business routine run in Lyons Walk, Olympia, London. The location is close to the former location of Cadby Hall, the major office and factory complex in Hammersmith, London, which was the headquarters of J. Lyons & Co and LEO’s first home.

Eric Schmidt and LEO computers at LSE


On Friday October 14th, 2016 the London School of Economics hosted Eric Schmidt in a public conversation with Chrisanthi Avgerou, with title: From LEO to DeepMind: Britain’s computing pioneers.

Eric Schmidt, American software engineer and businessman, is the executive chairman of Alphabet, Inc., American multinational conglomerate founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin and parent company of Google, among others. As an intern at Bell Labs, Schmidt did a complete re-write of Lex, a software program to generate lexical analysers for the UNIX computer operating system. From 1997 to 2001, he was CEO of Novell. In 2001 Eric Schmidt joined Google, where he served as CEO until 2011 and helped grow the company from a Silicon Valley startup to a global leader in technology.

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Personal Computing: Olivetti P101 and Apple I in Pisa


On October 8th, 2016, the Museum of Computing Machinery of Pisa University, during next Internet Festival (October 6-9, 2016) will host an event about the evolution of personal computing: “from Olivetti Programma 101 to Apple products”. Among the guests: Gastone Garziera and Giovanni De Sandre, part of the team of designers of P101, directed by Pier Giorgio Perotto. After the conference the newly restored P101 machines – property of the Museum – and an Apple I will be at work in a showcase open to the public.
Info: Dalla O alla A

From LEO to DeepMind @ London School of Economics

LEO II/1 – Peter Wood at the tabulator and Kate Keen at the control desk. Source: Leo Computers Society

On Friday October 14th, 2016, 6.30-7.30 PM the London School of Economics is hosting the event:
From LEO to DeepMind: Britain’s computing pioneers, organized by the Department of Management LSE and LEO Computers Society.
Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt will discuss progress in CS education and digital skills, and the opportunities that flow from the next wave of British computing innovation in machine learning. Join Eric in conversation with Professor Chrisanthi Avgerou, Professor of Information Systems at LSE’s Department of Management and Programme Director of LSE’s MSc Management, Information Systems and Digital Innovation.

This event is free and open to all however a ticket is required: more info available on LSE website.

The Story of LEO Computers @ London Metropolitan Archives

LEO II/2 – W.D. & H.O. Wills. Source: Leo Computers Society

On Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 2-3 PM, at the London Metropolitan Archives Neville Lyons will give a talk about LEO Computers series. LEO 1 is the very first business computer, designed and manufactured by Lyons & Co. The speaker, a relative of the company’s co-founder Joseph Lyons will depict the profiles of some key individuals involved and how some leading industrial companies and government departments seized upon the invention and purchased models of this new ‘electronic brain’. Moreover, a video will be shown featuring programmers and designers who were involved in the early days of LEO.
Tickets and info available on Eventbrite