SRI International Celebrates 50th Anniversary of “The Mother of All Demos” – and Looks Toward the Future of Breakthrough Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction | SRI International

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SRI International Celebrates 50th Anniversary of “The Mother of All Demos” – and Looks Toward the Future of Breakthrough Innovation in Human-Computer Interaction

MENLO PARK, Calif.—December 9, 2018—SRI International today celebrates the 50th anniversary of the “Mother of All Demos” -- the world debut of personal and interactive computing. On December 9, 1968, at the Fall Joint Computer Conference in San Francisco, SRI engineer Doug Engelbart was met with a standing ovation when he gave the first public demonstration of the computer mouse and many key fundamentals of modern computing that ushered in the Information Age.

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Engelbart and his SRI team debuted numerous—and now ubiquitous—technology innovations, including hypertext linking, multiple windows with flexible view control, real-time on-screen text editing, shared-screen teleconferencing, and the computer mouse. Engelbart envisioned harnessing the power of computers as tools for collaboration and the augmentation of our collective intelligence to work on humanity’s most important problems.

The demonstration was the first to show how a computer could be used as a tool to capture and share knowledge on a vast scale, a new and revolutionary idea at the time. The computer mouse was an important part of a much larger system to facilitate organizational learning and collaboration. It was the first public demonstration of a real-time collaborative environment between two computer users.

Looking Forward to the Next 50 Years

“The best way to celebrate the 50th anniversary of such a groundbreaking event is to draw inspiration and focus on delivering solutions that will improve the world,” said Bill Jeffrey, Ph.D., CEO of SRI International.  “In many ways, Doug Engelbart was ahead of his time, and parts of his vision have yet to be realized. The problems we’re addressing today are certainly different from the ones faced by Engelbart and team, but we must approach them with the same concerted effort that includes creativity, curiosity, and collaborative spirit.”

Today, projects across SRI build on the “Mother of All Demos” themes of augmenting human capabilities. Researchers are focused on developing technology that can improve human sensing, learning, and collaboration. Projects include:

  • An artificial intelligence system that continuously learns and applies that learning to become better and more reliable. [Lifelong Learning Machines (L2M)]
  • A speech-processing system that solves noise robustness, speed and edge processing in a multitude of languages. [Open Language Interface for Voice Exploitation (OLIVE)]  
  • Human-machine interaction software to help people make snap decisions in time-critical situations when faced with an overwhelming amount of information. [bRight]
  • Visual storytelling platform for conversational AI that enables 3D spatial and temporal reasoning to support research in language, vision, and planning. [Aesop]