Silicon Valley Seminar: Les Earnest

Time: February 1, 2011 - 4:30 PM - 5:50 PM

Location: via Adobe Acrobat Connect Pro


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CMU Silicon Valley presents Les Earnest, Senior Research Scientist Emeritus, Stanford University, and Executive Director, Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling (FIAC). His presentation is titled, "Visible Legacies for Y3K."

Start Time: 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time

Speaker: Les Earnest

Talk Abstract: The cost of keeping records has been greatly reduced in the modern world by the development of digital technology, but the resulting records are now disappearing about as fast as they are being created. This problem is illustrated by difficulties encountered in preserving digital records of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL). All such records from the 1960s have been lost due to technical difficulties and, while most records from the 1970s and 1980s have been preserved and are now accessible on a website, they will disappear within the next 30 years unless a more reliable way can be found to preserve those records and keep them accessible. This is a worldwide problem and needs a worldwide solution. It appears that a solution can be found by augmenting the services of an existing international organization, so as to provide redundant storage, maintenance and translation services that will keep records accessible for thousands of years.
Speaker Bio: Les Earnest got an FBI record at age 12 as a result of dabbling in cryptography. He somehow got a BSEE from Caltech in 1953 then spent a dozen years in the increasingly corrupt military-industrial complex. After a year at CIA Headquarters and two years in the Pentagon doing systems engineering for the Joint Chiefs of Staff he escaped to Stanford, moving from military intelligence to artificial intelligence. By 1975, he had created the following firsts: spelling checker, search engine, and social networking system with a blogging service and was a member of the small committee that started the Internet. Les left SAIL in 1980 to create a start-up called Imagen, then returned to Stanford for a few years as associate chair of the Computer Science Department. Concurrently he has officiated at thousands of bicycle races, including Olympics, and continues as executive director of the Federation of Independent Associations for Cycling. (FIAC).