Friday, March 4, 2011

Babbage located Intelligence in the Mind not the attentive crafting body

Charles Babbage, FRS (26 December 1791 – 18 October 1871) was an English mathematician, philosopher, inventor, and mechanical engineer who originated the concept of a programmable computer. Considered a "father of the computer”, Babbage is credited with inventing the first mechanical computer that eventually led to more complex designs.
Parts of his uncompleted mechanisms are on display in the London Science Museum. In 1991, a perfectly functioning difference engine was constructed from Babbage's original plans. Soon after the attempt at making the difference engine crumbled, Babbage started designing a different, more complex machine called the Analytical Engine. The engine is not a single physical machine but a succession of designs that he tinkered with until his death in 1871. The main difference between the two engines is that the Analytical Engine could be programmed using punched cards. He realized that programs could be put on these cards so the person had only to create the program initially, and then put the cards in the machine and let it run. The analytical engine would have used loops of Jacquard's punched cards to control a mechanical calculator, which could formulate results based on the results of preceding computations.
Referring to Zimmerman's article we understand that Babbage had a mechanistic idea of the whole universe, according to him everything is governed by some set of “laws assigned by the Almighty for the government of matter and of mind"
Babbage’s definition of intelligence is the combination of memory and foresight. According to Babbage the owner of an article is the person who designs rather than a person who crafts it. It can be seen when Babbage laid claims to owning the means of production, while his engineer thought he could make more calculating engines if they went into production. In Babbage own words on the 'Calculating engine':
'My right to dispose, as I will, of such inventions cannot be contested; it is more sacred in its nature than any hereditary or acquired property, for they are the absolute creations of my own mind'
We can clearly understand his idea of separation of mind and body from his text 'On the Economy of Machine and Manufacture'. Babbage described what is now called the Babbage principle, which describes certain advantages with division of labour. If the labour process can be divided among several workers, it is possible to assign only high-skill tasks to high-skill (mind) and leave other working tasks to less-skilled (body), thereby cutting labour costs. According the Babbage the machines in a factory will help to keep a check on the workers and increase their productivity. In Babbage' words:
"One great advantage which we may derive from machinery is from the check which it affords against the inattention, the idleness, or the dishonesty of human agents"
Therefore, we can say that "Babbage located Intelligence in the Mind not the attentive crafting body."


Schaffer, Simon - "Babbage's Intelligence: Calculating Engines and the Factory System." 

Zimmerman, Andrew - “The Ideology of the Machine and the Spirit of the Factory: Remarx on Babbage and Ure.” 

Sai Prashanth

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