Top 25 Alan Kay Quotes of 2020

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“Computer science inverts the normal. In normal science, you’re given a world, and your job is to find out the rules. In computer science, you give the computer the rules, and it creates the world.”

― Alan Kay

“Some people worry that artificial intelligence will make us feel inferior, but then, anybody in his right mind should have an inferiority complex every time he looks at a flower.”

― Alan Kay

“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”

― Alan Kay

“If you don’t fail at least 90 percent of the time, you’re not aiming high enough.”

― Alan Kay

“Because people don’t understand what computing is about, they think they have it in the iPhone, and that illusion is as bad as the illusion that ‘Guitar Hero’ is the same as a real guitar.”

― Alan Kay

“Perspective is worth 80 IQ points.”

― Alan Kay

“The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”

― Alan Kay

“There is the desire of a consumer society to have no learning curves. This tends to result in very dumbed-down products that are easy to get started on, but are generally worthless and/or debilitating.”

― Alan Kay

“Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.”

― Alan Kay

“Context is worth 80 IQ points.”

― Alan Kay

“Quite a few people have to believe something is normal before it becomes normal – a sort of ‘voting’ situation. But once the threshold is reached, then everyone demands to do whatever it is.”

― Alan Kay

“I’ve been a Fellow in a number of companies: Xerox, Apple, Disney, HP. There are certain similarities because all the Fellows programs were derived from IBM’s, which itself was derived from the MIT ‘Institute Professor’ program.”

― Alan Kay

“Steve was perfectly aware of the Dynabook. That was one of the reasons he wanted me to come to Apple.”

― Alan Kay

“In the old days, you would chastise people for reinventing the wheel. Now we beg, ‘Oh, please, please reinvent the wheel.’”

― Alan Kay

“The protean nature of the computer is such that it can act like a machine or like a language to be shaped and exploited.”

― Alan Kay

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born.”

― Alan Kay

“Social thinking requires very exacting thresholds to be powerful. For example, we’ve had social thinking for 200,000 years, and hardly anything happened that could be considered progress over most of that time. This is because what is most pervasive about social thinking is ‘how to get along and mutually cope.’”

― Alan Kay

“Science requires a society because even people who are trying to be good thinkers love their own thoughts and theories – much of the debugging has to be done by others.”

― Alan Kay

“Having an intelligent secretary does not get rid of the need to read, write, and draw, etc. In a well functioning world, tools and agents are complementary.”

― Alan Kay

“I had the fortune or misfortune to learn how to read fluently starting at the age of three. So I had read maybe 150 books by the time I hit 1st grade. And I already knew that the teachers were lying to me.”

― Alan Kay

“As far as Apple goes, it was a different company every few years from the time I joined in 1984.”

― Alan Kay

“All the companies I’ve worked for have this deep problem of devolving to something like the hunting and gathering cultures of 100,000 years ago. If businesses could find a way to invent ‘agriculture,’ we could put the world back together and all would prosper.”

― Alan Kay

“When I first got to Apple, which was in ’84, the Mac was already out, and ‘Newsweek’ contacted me and asked me what I thought of the Mac. I said, ‘Well, the Mac is the first personal computer good enough to be criticized.’”

― Alan Kay

“It’s hard to change information in books, but if we have everything online, then a somewhat untrustworthy group of people controlling the thing – which I think is what we have – gives us ‘1984.’”

― Alan Kay

“In the commercial world, you have this problem that the amount of research you can do in a company is based on how well your current business is going, whereas there actually should be an inverse relationship: when things are going worse, you should do more research.”

― Alan Kay
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