(JARON LANIER): There was a breathtaking moment at the birth of computer science and information theory in the mid-20th century when the whole field was small enough that it could be kept in one's head all at once. There also just happened to be an extraordinary generation of brilliant people who, in part because of the legacy of their importance to the military in World War II, were given a lot of latitude to play with these ideas. People like Shannon, Turing, von Neumann, Wiener, and a few others had an astonishing combination of breadth and depth that's humbling to us today-practically to the point of disorientation. It's almost inconceivable that people like Wiener and von Neumann could have written the books of philosophy that they did while at the same time achieving their technical heights. This is something that we can aspire to but will probably never achieve again.
What's even more humbling, and in a way terrifying, is that despite this stellar beginning and the amazing virtuosity of these people, something hasn't gone right. We clearly have proven that we know how to make faster and faster computers (as described by Moore's Law), but that isn't the whole story, alas. Software remains disappointing as we try to make it grow to match the capability of hardware.