MACHINE LANGUAGE – are we listening???
Is human language, a Gift from God or a Masterstroke of Evolution?
Theories abound, no one is even close to a believable theory, whether it was Divine Intervention or Evolutionary Grace, “Language” as we know forms the bedrock of all human communication. In his quest to create everything in his likeness, Man created the ‘Machine’ which will help him do the things which he does and more. Not being satisfied by just doing, he set out to create a ‘Thinking Machine’ and ‘Lo’ the computer was born.
Machine thought had to be communicated and “Machine/ Programming Language” was born. Programming languages were commands created specifically to adapt parts of human language in such a way as to make the machine components more accessible to humans.
THE MACHINE & ITS LANGUAGE – ORIGINS...
Though the exact origins of programming language is difficult to trace, the inspiration for the early design of programming language was found in the “Punch Cards/ Tickets” where train conductors would determine the appearance of the ticket holders on the train tickets using the position of punched holes on the tickets. In the beginning the ‘programs’ or ‘languages’ were defined by the hardware existing then and the first computer codes were designed for specific applications (Eg: Numerical Calculations…)
In the 1940s, the first generation computers came on to the scene and the initial programming languages were written in the 1950s. FORTRAN (1954) was the first widely used programming language to have a practical execution, which is still popular and is, used for programs that rank the world’s fastest supercomputers. Through the 60’s and 70’s a major blooming of programming languages took place and most of the major language concepts invented during this era are still in use.
Trivia – “In the 1950s, programming languages were fundamentally math and were called “Codes” and remained as such till people working on them tried to make them more accessible and started calling them “languages.”
HUMAN LANGUAGE VS MACHINE LANGUAGE – a brief argument...
Computer languages are formally defined and have a mathematical definition for their sentence structure and their meaning. No computer program ever has two meanings and the same cannot be claimed of human Language as it would be extremely difficult to find any human communication that doesn’t have more than one possible meaning.
The codes or language used by computers are essentially very simple, logical and direct, even the most advanced computer languages are far from achieving the intense complexity of human communication. Fundamentally all computer communication is free from any external or internal context.
Human language on the other hand is emotional, organic and highly perceptual and the depth of human communication is defined by the infinite array of experiential, contextual, sensory and historical references. Human language has evolved, while computer language has been engineered. Though both are used to communicate they are completely diverse in form, structure and use.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE???
The challenges to make computer languages “human like” are huge and despite the phenomenal growth in technology in the recent years, we are nowhere close to making computers communicate like humans.
Will new generations of programming languages evolve? Will the advent of Artificial Intelligence, Mobile & Web Apps, make the design & development of new software easier? Will programming languages evolve to challenge the dominance of natural human communication??? Only time will tell…