In 1973, Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn invented the TCP/IP protocol so computers could talk to one another.
The Internet was born.
In 1991, physicist Tim Berners Lee invented the Hyper Text Machine Language (HTML) so that computers could share a common language and become open to search engines.
The World Wide Web was born.
In June 2012, or thereabouts, HTML version 5 will be launched: many features of HTML5 have been built to run on low-powered devices such as smartphones and tablets.
Internet2, the next generation Internet that works for US research and education community, has a 100Gbps backbone.
As you can see, human beings have taught machines to
- talk to one another
- have a common language and
- share ‘machine thoughts’ faster and faster.
All inside 40 years.
Which makes me wish humanity worked as hard on communicating with each other without misunderstanding...and created a Hyper Text Human Language!
Sunrise, we call it sunrise.
400 years after Galileo faced house-arrest for suggesting that the sun does not rise.
‘Oh come on, Kiran,’ I hear you say, ‘it’s just out of habit that we call it sunrise. No one believes that the sun goes around the earth.’
While I was a teacher, a famous thinker made me read a book called ‘Language in Thought and Action’ by S I Hayakawa.
Hayakawa said, “....everyone needs to have a habitually critical attitude towards language — his own as well as that of others — both for the sake of his personal well being and for his adequate functioning as a citizen.”
Hayakawa was reacting to Hitler’s propaganda, but it is very clear that in day-to-day life our beliefs reflect in our language and our behaviour is shaped by it.
Why did the scheduled castes and tribes reject Mahatma Gandhi’s description of them as ‘Harijans’ (Children of God) and accept Jyotiba Phule’s description as ‘Dalits’?
Probably because they wished to reject the God that created their caste in the first place.
Forget the common man, what about professional practitioners of communication?
The National Geographic, whose motto is “Inspiring people to care about the planet since 1888” runs a TV programme named ‘Africa’s Deadliest.’
Confirming a 12th century image of animals as deadly; while as far as I know, unlike us human beings, animals only kill to eat.
Discovery Channel’s most famous show is, ‘Man vs Wild.’
Really? So the language confirms that man is ‘Not Wild’?
Watched any YouTube videos lately...of genocides in Ahmedabad or Rwanda? Animal sacrifices in Nepal? Caste wars all over India?
What about communication in advertising?
The Petroleum Conservation Research Association, whose motto is, “Where conservation stops pollution starts’ spends crores advertising a slogan, “A little oil saving boils down to a lot of profit.”
The only oil the common Indian (at whom this mass media campaign was targetted) knows is cooking oil used for making bharta, or oil for making her hair glossy.
So while we cannot communicate using one language called English, the Index of Language Diversity (ILD) confirms there are 7,000 languages spoken in the world, and half are in danger of disappearing before the century ends.
Whatever happens, I hope we human beings find a language that all of us can understand...well before the machines do!