Licklider’s research was similar in spirit to his DARPA contemporary and protégé Douglas Engelbart. Both had a view of how computers could be used that was both at odds with the then-prevalent views (which saw them as devices principally useful for computations), and key proponents of the way in which computers are now used (as generic adjuncts to humans).
Engelbart reasoned that the state of our current technology controls our ability to manipulate information, and that fact in turn will control our ability to develop new, improved technologies. He thus set himself to the revolutionary task of developing computer-based technologies for manipulating information directly, and also to improve individual and group processes for knowledge-work. Engelbart’s philosophy and research agenda is most clearly and directly expressed in the 1962 research report: Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework The concept of network augmented intelligence is attributed to Engelbart based on this pioneering work, which included grandiose peacock terms like “powerful concepts” and dramatic phrases, such as “problems that before seemed insolvable” and “for twenty minutes or twenty years”:
“Increasing the capability of a man to approach a complex problem situation, to gain comprehension to suit his particular needs, and to derive solutions to problems. Increased capability in this respect is taken to mean a mixture of the following: more-rapid comprehension, better comprehension, the possibility of gaining a useful degree of comprehension in a situation that previously was too complex, speedier solutions, better solutions, and the possibility of finding solutions to problems that before seemed insolvable. And by complex situations we include the professional problems of diplomats, executives, social scientists, life scientists, physical scientists, attorneys, designers–whether the problem situation exists for twenty minutes or twenty years. We do not speak of isolated clever tricks that help in particular situations. We refer to a way of life in an integrated domain where hunches, cut-and-try, intangibles, and the human feel for a situation usefully co-exist with powerful concepts, streamlined terminology and notation, sophisticated methods, and high-powered electronic aids.”
Engelbart, D.C., Augmenting Human Intellect: A Conceptual Framework, Summary Report AFOSR-3233, Stanford Research Institute, Menlo Park, CA, October 1962.
Engelbart subsequently implemented these concepts in his Augmented Human Intellect Research Center at SRI International, developing essentially an intelligence amplifying system of tools (NLS) and co-evolving organizational methods, in full operational use by the mid-1960s within the lab. As intended, his R&D team experienced increasing degrees of intelligence amplification, as both rigorous users and rapid-prototype developers of the system. For a sampling of research results, see their 1968 Mother of All Demos.
Conceptual framwork for what I call “search fu”-is today’s internet the vision Engelbart originally started out with?