Ontogenic Computer Science

[As discussed in my previous post, Ontogeny refers to the embryonic development of biological organisms.]

St John’s College in MD/NM takes what I’ve come to think of as the ontogenic approach to education- they start students in the ancient natural philosophers of the Western tradition and procede chronologically through Einstein.  See a list of the Great Books here.

In coming to understand computation and computer systems, it hit me today that the world is in desperate need of an ontogenic program in computers, computation, and artificial intelligence.  The interesting thing is that I think I know of many at Duke and UNC who would be qualified to teach in such a thing.

Such a system, though, would start with knowledge and calculation (for a motivation to compute), move through mechanical analog, electrical analog, electronic digital, into quantum computers; the etymology of major computer languages; the origin and economic/social/psychological impact of databases (especially the relational model); the origins, development, and explosion of networking; starting with Descartes or earlier, conceptions of the mind and the history of attempts to create minds, etc.

Essentially, a course of study in the history of computation.  I don’t know of any history of computation program.

See this article from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for an interesting discussion.  

This Wikipedia page has excellent resources.


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