The Art of Abstraction – Computerphile

The Art of Abstraction – Computerphile

Any concept in computing is inevitably an abstraction of a more complicated concept underneath. And if you think about using a computer- you’re clicking around on the screen and the things that you are clicking on the screen are widgets. So, if we look at the title bar like this then there’s three buttons up here those are widgets on the computer screen. For most people, I think, that’s where… their understanding of computers begins and ends. But, obviously when I push that button that prompts the computer to go away and do something. How does it turn that input into some electronic stimuli? If everytime we wanted to describe how the click button on the screen worked I’d have to talk to you in terms of electrons bouncing around inside a wire and explain the quantum mechanics of a transistor. Then it would take an enormous amount of time and so… instead of talking about quantum mechanics in a transistor Iabstract that idea and I say, “Look, the transistor is just a switch…” “and that switch can be opened or closed.” And the electrons traveling down the wire They’re either there…or they’re not there which is a 1 or a 0 in numphile we talk about 1’s and 0’s a lot so um..(laughing) we won’t get back into that. but it’s just numbers traveling down wire. Most computers are 32-bit and 64-bit these days. We have a series of wires -parallel wires- which run together; and we give those a fancy name, called bus. And so those 1’s and 0’s… are traveling down the bus and they represent numbers. And then it’s a question of, “Well what do those numbers mean?” Well those numbers….they come back to be a computer program. Which is… A series of very specific instructions. It’s still quite a big thing. To ask somebody to start with a bunch of switches and 1’s and 0’s and turn those into something which takes two numbers and it adds them together. Alright? That is a difficult question. And, so… We take the switches and the 1’s and 0’s and we turn those into… things with logic gates. Things which do… simple… human understandable instructions. So… and-ing two numbers together or or-ing two numbers together Really, actually, quite simple concepts. But the point is that that you take the switches and you abstract those into a gate. You take the gate and you abstract that into an instruction like… add, or subtract, or muiltiply. At the very end of all of this what we have is a script; a computer program which is human readable… which… can execute on the processor… and draw a window, draw a button on the screen. We’ve gone from a switch and a series of 1’s and 0’s: Electrons, transistors, quantum mechanics all the way to… having pixels drawn on a screen in – what? 5? 10 steps? and, its simple layers of abstraction and, it allows us to talk about computers. at an appropriate level. So, that we don’t have to understand all of quantum mechanics every time
I want to draw a button on the screen because it would just be unwieldy. I have an iPhone, right? I don’t think that’s going to be a surprise to anybody. Although, by the way, I much prefer the windows phone. And I know that my nephew’s have got smart phones and, I see a lot of kids using game’s consoles and smart phones. These things… [exhales in frustration] don’t encourage you to understand what’s going on under the hood. I mean here is a really slick piece of engineering, and it’s completely closed. It’s a black box. What we’ve done is we’ve abstracted the concept of a computer to the point where it’s one single black box, and I don’t need to understand how any of this works. All I need to know, and this is amazing, I mean… plaudits to Apple for this All I need to know is that this one button does everything. I press this button … and it does everything. Which is a remarkable achievement. That is what abstraction can do for you That… it worries me as an engineer and as a scientist that, if this is what kids are growing up with, what is it that’s encouraging them to ask the question, “How does this work?” Where’s the new generation of engineers and scientists and people who want to take this apart. There’s not even a screw I can take out. Where are the people who want to take this apart and see how this works going to come from if there’s not a screw that I can take out the back and have a really good fiddle around inside? I remember my Acorn Electron, its appeared in other videos – “Isn’t that satisfying” – the biggest blocky-est piece of computer you could possibly imagine, it had a terribly non-ergonomic keyboard crucially, it had screws in the back And I could take them out and I could open it up and I could see how this thing worked or I could begin to imagine how this thing worked and that’s what fired the imagination on an eleven year old James. Today, I know, it’s a really difficult thing to say, “How do you take a child and you introduce them to the concept of the 1’s and 0’s which are underlying the computer?” I am a computerphile. I can’t wait to do these videos but we can’t talk about anything without first of all defining our terms, right?


  • Mr.Aptronym says:

    Abstraction is great for using devices, but I started with computers by building a desktop, seeing all the circuitry and fixing it when something went wrong. When I started seriously with video games I just wanted to know how they could get from the hardware I saw to the polygons on screen.

    I worry that today when something breaks its a system on a chip and you just send it in. When I work with younger students, a lot of them get frustrated by programming, they just want things to work.

  • MineCraftFish1 says:

    i think u are so right

  • 8bitpineapple says:

    Action games, while noneducational they have been shown to provide benefits to: central and peripheral vision, a persons ability to track multiple objects, improved contrast sensitivity, etc ("Enumeration versus multiple object tracking: the case of action video game players" C.S. Green* and D. Bavelier).

    I think all video games provide some form of challenge for the player, the skills required to complete such challenges in most, if not all cases are transferable to the real world.

  • King of Sparta says:

    Brady's camera skill are better

  • Benjamin says:

    The answer to your question is video games. Kids love to play video games, and for many of them, this love turns into wanting to make their OWN video games. They want to make Halo, or CoD, or Minecraft, or whatever comes to their mind, and so they seek out how to make these games on the Internet or by high school classes.

  • mathscirocks says:

    minecraft redstone doesnt behave like electricity but with redstone torches it behaves like a NOT gate can be made with a few transistors. afrotechmods explains electronics really well and that should explain to you how the electrons and transistors work

  • Evan Stoddard says:

    Actually two screws on the bottom ;). In currently 16 years old. The technology today is amazing! While there is so much it can do and so many ways it betters our lives, I honestly wish I was born into an era where it was just starting off. I would have loved to have been this age at the time of the commodore and small computers that have less power than an arduino. The fact that computers were something you had to actually program is something that inspired people like Steve Jobs, and Gates

  • Evan Stoddard says:

    I got cut off lol. People like gates and jobs were inspired by the start of something great. The book 'Outliers: The Story of Success" outlines this perfectly. They were born a just the right time. Things like the arduino and the RPi excite me because I can customize it, not with a wallpaper

  • Requime says:

    im one of the new generations who grewup with people who didnt care how things worked and if it didnt they didnt want to know but ever since i was little if i could get a hold of it i would want to take it apart see how it works and reassemble which has lead me to computing and engernering im my whole school im the only student who really cares about this kinda stuff (my school is full of sporty people) but i hope more people who think like me 😛

  • Complementary Contrast says:

    If they put screws on iPods then people will inevitably take then apart and invalidate the warranty. If people want to take stuff apart then there are things like the Raspberry Pi.

  • astalabandi says:

    I am a psychology engineer, and I absolutely agree with the problem that technology has become too abstract, it has become somewhat magical. I believe in tangible design, where it is more obvious what a gadget is made out of. I believe that a design-paradigme where transparency is more in focus will arrive soon, since too much things around us have become "magical"…

  • Adamant3Run says:

    I'm a part of a generation growing up with technology and I see the problem you have mentioned among my peers. People have taken technology for granted and not many of us really care. But fear not! Due to wonders like Youtube and Wikipedia the seed of curiosity will be planted and a new generation of engineers will rise. Hopefully me among them. 🙂

  • Adamant3Run says:

    Thanks for making an hour of my life a wonderful pursuit of knowledge I yearned for.

  • George Schroepfer says:

    I learned logic gates from little big planet 2. it was the game that started me building and tinkering with computers and pretty much all the things…

  • SparklezMinecraft says:

    good video and logic

  • Nahuel Méndez Diodati says:

    You just helped me solve one of the things that kept me awake at night. (I'm not being sarcastic, I'm serious) THANK YOU, so much.

  • TheSlimyDog says:

    I think students should spend at least a solid year of classes in school learning how to build a computer (or at least learn what makes up a computer) from scratch just like they would learn math or anything else. The concepts that go into it are a little complicated but if you're interested and you have the right teachers then even a fifth grader could learn.

  • 5ilver42 says:

    The basics of computers, how these things we all use, how they work. I grew up with DOS and had an avenue to question and figure out how simple coding works. I have basics understandings of code. More the logic behind it than any languages used. I have some of that, but nothing deeper. I still don't know how they really work. It makes me wonder, when there are so many that use computers and don't even know anything close to even just the little bit that I know. Which is not a lot at all.

  • Nukepositive says:

    From what I've seen, the next generation of computer scientists will not come from hardware, and will not be needed there. Hardware development will come from materials science engineers and quantum mechanics, while the software side comes from code junkies who make a java app of a farting sound or a stick figure fight. Hardware development in the old sense is dead. Also one reason why I changed out of computer engineering. I wanted that hardware development career, but it was years too late.

  • Andrew Breckenridge says:

    You're generalizing that a generation of scientists and engineers are going to come from Android users? From what I've seen, the ease of use that iPhone's provide doesn't detract from the curiosity it creates. Most of the people in my compsi classes have iPhones, they all are either majoring or minoring in computer science next year.
    Just because you can't see the hardware doesn't make something 'closed'. You look at the underlying software, or (for the more hardware oriented) design schematics.

  • Andrew Breckenridge says:

    I've grown up on apple. And it's only augmented my curiosity. Sure, I don't have all the openness that android provides, but frankly, I don't need it all the time. When I write a program or test it out, I use my linux desktop. When I surf the web, or do homework, I'm going to use a mac. The ease of use taught me how I should design things. For other people. Because thats what they're going to use.
    There is no way you can honestly think that only android users are going to become scientists.

  • L Tischmann says:

    ha Maybe you can tell me whether this 'new wave' of things like the iWatch (as a concept) is more than just a veritable shitestorm in terms of End-User Convienience of Access; would those users become more the stuffy businessman, or the Social Media poster child? (and a pause for rumination on the devs for these little Apps – god save them). I think it's overcomplicated as it is. It's really vital to know why this man (in the video) prefers windows-phone over the iPhone's springboard and 64-bit

  • SwootySwagity says:

    I love that guy!

  • Qbabxtra says:

    Man i used to love numberphile, then computerphile came along, so i started loving that as well, then i did that for a while and now im a white furred sheep. Strange ways of the internet.

  • peanutaxis says:

    This is completely hypocritical, as there is no way he understands the entirety even of his Acorn. "Where are the people who want to understand an entire Acorn?"

    There is nothing to worry about. Plenty of people are interested in these things, and even market forces will ensure that there will be!

  • Steinar says:

    It is of course possible to be curious of something that you can not take apart and experiment upon yourself. If you really wanted to find out how something works you can look it up in a book or online, but this is not as rewarding as figuring it out for yourself. Comparing the children of today to the stories Feynman tells of his youth (repairing radios etc.) makes me a little worried. Where Feynman's activities explored nature, today's children explore human made software interfaces.

  • pacrat90 says:

    Study computer engineering (Y)

  • pacrat90 says:

    Fundamentally, Androids are just as closed off as any other serious mobile platform. I hope you're joking….

  • John Ellmaker says:

    I'm digging computerphile but seriously iPhones are really easy to teardown, much easier than most other smartphones

  • Redhotsmasher says:

    Basically, to a degree, I think he's right. Can't really speak for oldschool Mac as I grew up on DOS/Windows, to my brain an oldschool Mac is to a degree a black box in that it either works or it doesn't, in which case you're SOL, but as for DOS/Windows, every so often shit broke and needed fixing so you basically had to either know how to fix shit or know somebody who did. And if you think about it, up unttil quite recently, even to play a game on DOS/windows, you needed to know stuff.

  • Redhotsmasher says:

    Like, either you needed to know the details of your soundcard (unless your BLASTER variables were set up straight and the game in question supported them) or you had to know whether you wanted DirectX or OpenGL, or what version of DirectX you had, or, well, you get the idea, while these days you tell Steam what. Game you want, pay for it and steam installs it automagically and the first time you run the game it does benchmark and sets up somewhat sensible graphics settings automagically.

  • Redhotsmasher says:

    And it really annoys me how Apple are trying to abstract things another layer what with OSX these days, iPhoto etc. I mean, having a piece of software that catalogs music/photos/whatever neatly is nice and all, but I just like the robustness and simplicity of putting files in folders. And yes, in theory it's easier to just have your computer sort your pictures/ music based on ID3/EXIF-tags. If all your files are perfectly tagged, which isn't all that common in practice.

  • Chen Sun says:

    a simple solution is to encourage more youngster start using Linux platform.

  • Radon - House Music says:

    There are screws on the iPhone actually, they are at the bottom where the speaker is 😉

  • mumhustler says:

    Missed the point, person below.

  • Kawin P says:

    There are two screws underneath. Just saying…

  • johnderp says:

    shout out to the windows phone woot

  • tyler97 says:

    not trying to be a smartass but there are two small torque screws on the bottom of the iphone 4, so u can take it apart relativly easy.

  • tyler97 says:

    and also, people now adays are so technologically ignorant i had a 2 hour argument with one of my friends that he doesn't need computers and only needs his xbox, and still wont beleive that an xbox is a computer

  • Sataharu says:

    Older computers had big parts more non-static sensitive parts, were crudely assembled, and could be put back together. Today, everything is nanometric, full of tiny SMD, glued, has to be destroyed to be disassembled, and has high functional value. We also live in a sheltered society that is mostly affraid of mental exertion and anything that can be construed to be dangerous in any way. That isn't going to encourage absolute curiosity in some young people.

  • Sina Madani says:

    I agree that technology is "too user-friendly". It's not necessarily a bad thing, but I believe it is possible to encourage learning about how things work without NEEDING to know.  I guess the main problem is that over time everything gets more and more complex and so becomes more difficult to understand. However, as you say, abstraction is a powerful tool and we can use analogies, examples etc. to explain certain principles. Once you know the basics, you probably understand most of what actually matters. For example, someone that can appreciate the hardware and software of a device and knows some of the science that goes into it can have a more educated opinion and usage of it, even if they don't understand the physical processes.

    You've also got to bear in mind that not everyone is interested. Most people use technology, but those who actually care will investigate regardless of whether it is encouraged or not. It just depends on one's motives, personality, interests and desires.

  • Christopher Rucinski says:

    I graduated as a software engineer and completely understand the concept of abstraction; however, I don't think he explained it in a way where people that don't have a good grasp of it yet will understand what he was saying. I could follow along, but it was just talking after talking after talking. 

    I also understand his "screw" talking point at the end, but disagree with that. That is not how all computer literate people (or programmers, engineers, etc…) start to learn, and saying that you need to tinker with the inside of the machine to learn is just wrong. I actually here that a lot, but that is definitely not how I learned.

  • MrSaemichlaus says:

    You left out the ending tag of <abstraction> 😀

  • Lizard771 says:

    I want

  • ericcartmansh says:

    reminds me of the xkcd comic abstraction –

  • maxwell10206 says:

    I wanted to hear more!

  • jonathan lefebvre says:

    maybe is not so grey we have arduino and othe electronique building block to play with

  • Noface says:

    Are dreams an abstraction because they often symbolise things going on in your life? Allowing you to more easily understand what is going on.

  • The_Catman says:

    >What is it that's encouraging them to ask the question "How does this work?"

    Absolutely nothing, in fact it's telling them to do the exact opposite.

    However, that's exactly why they'll ask the question. The same kid who responds to an order to keep of the lawn by doing exactly the opposite, will respond to the implied "don't open me" of the black box by doing exactly the opposite.

  • GenericRubbishName says:

    I think it's easier than ever to get started programming. Decent C compilers and tutorials are available for free on the internet. Most of the scripting languages have friendly communities accommodating for beginners.

  • riskinhos says:

    project ARA!

  • Occams Razor says:

    "What's encouraging the kids to ask, 'How does this work?'"

    What makes you think they'd ask that question otherwise?

    The average person doesn't care how it work, no matter it's complexity or simplicity. It's learning curve isn't what determines curiosity.

    Kids like [this presenter when he was young] will still ask the question. And those like those that did, will not.

    His fears are warantless.

  • PaulIvanish says:

    This is the kind of thought that should be labeled as "philosophical engineering" applied to technology… and if recurred backwards into "philosophical reverse-engineering", the topic yields endless dividends in the realm of scientific curiosity. ;)

  • SquareKite says:

    There have always been people that didn't care to understand the abstraction of underlying technology, and there will always still be a small portion of the population interested in taking things apart. Most people might have a iphone, but there are still teenagers interested in rooting their android phone(like me!). 

  • Lachlan Perrier says:

    what makes me want to look inside an i phone is precisely it being a black box

  • RedSunRises says:

    Where are the people interested in how things work? Well, even i, a teenager am fascimated and mindblown that you could build a computer out of such limited parts and i want to know how. Those interested in how things work are right here, watching Computerphile 🙂

  • Skyfox says:

    That's what I love about my Commodore 64.  I can take it apart, remove and swap components, fix problems with some soldering, tinker and see what it's thinking with an oscilloscope, and turn it on to that lovely blue screen and talk to it with a computer program that can make it do anything I want.  Studying the schematic and seeing the waveforms on the oscilloscope is all incredibly fascinating.

  • enilenis says:

    That is where Minecraft comes in. I believe that it is much more than a game. It's a meta environment that helps young kids abstract machine logic. In fact, the game has computational logic blocks in it. Some engineers are building entire microchips, adders, registers, 7-segment display controllers etc. inside the game out of cubes.

    Kids who play with that stuff will grow up to be better engineers than the last generation, as they are not constrained by physical limitations when tinkering with possibilities.

    When I was learning electronics, I often fried parts and that was like losing keys on a calculator. I had to come up with longer chains of components to compensate for the missing ones. I couldn't do what I wanted to do because money was a factor. In games like Minecraft, the playground is infinite, it is social and it is user-friendly.

    What I do not like about virtual learning, however, is that it makes engineers economically illiterate. Sometimes learning the cost associated with failure is actually part of the encouragement mechanism. When mistakes cost nothing, successes aren't as rewarding either.

  • Corey Berman says:

    #4:24 Actually there are 2 screws at the bottom to take out. Our technology has gotten smaller and more amazing for inquiring minds to ponder

  • WarpRulez says:

    In the 80's and even the 90's, even the average computer user had a decent notion of things like files, file sizes, file types, the difference between files and directories, and so on. They could easily distinguish, for example, between a gif file and a jpeg file, and they had a good notion not only of the size of the file, but also whether it was a "big file" or a "small file" compared to other similar files. In other words, even the average user had a relatively decent understanding of the technical aspect of many things in the computer (such as files).

    Nowadays this is an almost non-existent concept, save for a very small minority of savvy users. Nowadays the average user might have an extremely vague concept of what a "file" is, but will have no good concept of file types or their size. In fact, most users will never even know or understand what "file size" is, what the size of a particular file is, or even if they see it, what it means, or whether it's a "big" file or a "small" file. They simply don't understand what the number means and what its significance is.

    This has all kinds of side-effects, such as people sending multi-megabyte images through email, even though the exact same information could be compressed into just some tens of kilobytes. The user at no point will have any kind of concept of what's happening, and may well be completely unaware of whether the email is "really big" or not. This is something that was less likely to happen in the 90's because the average user was a lot more aware and knowledgeable about these things.

    Modern operating systems, especially Windows and Mac OS, are the culprits here. For some reason they have gone to extreme lengths to hide everything from the user. File extensions and types, file sizes… everything. It seems that the less information the user is shown, the better. Nowadays the majority of users don't even know if a file is a gif, png or jpeg file, and have absolutely no concept or understanding about how "big" file might be (or even about the very concept of "file size"). It's just magic.

  • Kenny Rosas-Mondragon says:

    As 19 year old and second semester of college I think the problem is that kids are not being exposed to stuff like programming or working with logic gates, The only reason why I started is because I took a class called Digital Electronics back in the 9th grade I got 34% in that class but was really blown away, how complex PCs where compared to what they used to be and what drives them so i got into C# programming I've spent the Past 4-5 Years know programming random stuff for fun and it's great 🙂 Also my senior year i retook that class and got a 96% because I didn't fully understand Flip-Flops. :/

  • Andrew Taylor says:

    I've always wondered how the computer ACTUALLY worked – all the information behind the many layers of abstraction. What if digital technology died tomorrow and we had to rebuild it from scratch? I'd have no idea how and am simply dependent, standing on the shoulders of giants, but with no awareness of the details of their work. This video was awesome in providing some initial answers as to how digital technology works.

  • kindpotato says:

    This kind of video makes me proud to say I understand computers quite well.

  • Jay says:

    Games like Minecraft and The Powder Toy are great at developing these kinds of skills.

    I myself learned how to build a computer from the logic gate level by simply playing this one game. The Powder Toy community is full of teenagers that can literally build entire computers from the ground up. Where else on the planet are you going to find such a group of people? You start at the very bottom, and you see all of the layers of abstraction come together. Most people go up > down, ie. They start from a high level language, and then they have a lot of trouble understanding how everything actually works. When I studied Computer science at university, it all started from the top. 

    I think the right way to go about it is to start at the bottom. 

  • tastelesstouch says:

    It's interesting to note that the same people who made that acorn computer he shows at the end are the same people who created the ARM (Acorn RISC Machine) processor that's powering his iphone 🙂

  • Felix Degenaar says:

    It's a pity that many Computerphile clips end, just at the moment an intriguing question gets asked. That's a missed opportunity.

  • Does itMatter says:

    there is one way to open iPhone. 😀 think out side the box 😀

  • Canal do Toth says:

    Totally agree,,, that what happened to me with 8yr old when I first opened my TRS-80

  • Mckenna Cisler says:

    I'm really worried about that too. And it's only going to get worse, both with hardware black boxes and in software ones…

  • Rik Schaaf says:

    Funny, I just started a java project to simulate from transistors and gates all the way up to processors, memory and maybe even whole computers. Then this showed up in my youtube suggested videos. Coincidence? Magic? Spooky action at a distance, that can be abstracted to google going through my pc and stealing my stuff? 😛

  • amihart says:

    What first got me interested in computer science were those TI-84 calculators. With the TI-84 calculators, you can actually write machine code directly to it, or Assembly which is preferable, so you can get really close to the hardware and understand how the processor works. I became obsessed with it for awhile and one week I even wrote an audio driver where you could write out songs with music notes and duration in a PRGM file and then run the driver and it would play it through through speakers or headphones. The fact I could get so close to the hardware allowed me to interact directly with the hardware of other devices. I've always kind of been curious to how computers work internally as well as how the software works on top of it. It's a pain these days that getting close to the hardware is much more difficult than it has ever been. I loved the TI-84 because I could literally send controlled electrical pulses out the I/O put in Assembly and measure them on a voltmeter. Trying to do something on such a base level with a 64 bit computer these days out a USB port is nowhere near as comprehensible.

  • squiffyK7 says:

    I don't understand the worry here… I grew up curious of how computers worked without having old clunky equipment with screws that I could look inside of. I understood how electricity could make a light bulb function, but working electricity to make a computer function which seemed incomparable was enough to make me curious as to how computers work and eventually lead to me studying computer science. I would have been just as curious if I grew up with just a smart phone

  • waldsteiger says:

    im guessing itll be more than one whole lifetime for a highly intelligent person to understand what is really going on in a smartphone. thats because hundreds or thousands of highly intelligent persons put all their effort into it for years. but it should be possible to interface it, make an led blink and understand that the main chip works like blinking a led. just faster and in a pattern. it would be interesting to morse a sms into a phone as an input method. not practical but interesting.

  • EVDE KSP says:

    I hope to become a part from the new engineering generation.

    Learning C & ARM assembly!

  • Nullpointer says:

    I totally agree with some other commenters. Games like Minecraft a extremely awesome, in that you can learn how logic gates work. If one has understood that, they can easily extrapolate that knowlegde onto much bigger projects.

  • Usmar Padow says:

    the iphone does have 2 screws, although they are non standard….

  • PixelOutlaw says:

    I really appreciate what you said about phones.
    People go and spend $500 on a device that is a closed black box then go off and brag how tech savvy they are.
    Being able to operate a device designed as a closed appliance with the most non technical person as the target audience will never give deep understanding into the most basic building blocks of computing.

    A grandchild that is "good with computers" may not be educated about them. They are not tech savvy. They simply are not afraid to make mistakes and so they learn more about the user interface.

    Technology is not a phone, computer, or tablet.
    Technology is knowledge that makes it possible to make them.
    Computer science is the study and advancement of that knowledge.

    I'm certain the low level stuff is mostly lost in the sea of quickly written web apps, using flavor of the week frameworks rotting from within.

  • Mr Bangkockney says:

    I find it quite ironic that someone would worry that the current generation lacks a source of inspiration, in an educational video on a medium that every member of the current generation is fluent with.
    The times have changed, delivery vectors are different; natural inquisitiveness is still alive and well.

  • TehMonkey says:

    Pure curiosity. If you are not curious then you may not deserve to be a computer engineer. If, with all this abstraction taking place, you are still interested abou finding out what's going on under the hood, then you are gonna find it.

  • ColJamesBapworth says:

    This is why you buy your child all the components of a PC and you have them put it together themselves. It's as cheap as one of those game consoles or phones, and holds within it infinite learning potential both in the presence of the hardware as tangible stuff, and the ability and even necessity to manipulate and configure the operating system.

  • discorobotification says:

    I feel like things like Arduinos and Raspberry Pis and similar things will give kids excitement to get into computers and such.

  • David Richards says:

    we start off with software then transition to hardware. don't worry, their are plenty of future engineers!

  • Pablo Neirotti says:

    You forgot about the reason why we abstract by the end of the video! That's what abstraction does. We don't need to tinker with screws and physical logic gates because we are many layers of abstraction above. And still, many layers of abstraction below the future. This generation needs to uncover the next layers, not go back to building an Apple II.
    Good video btw.

  • SuperStewie says:

    It all starts with legos. And there-in lies the problem: Generally speaking, parents who don't understand the importance of engineers and scientists have children who don't understand the importance of engineering and science. That said, there will always be people who understand the importance of these things, or are otherwise drawn to them.

  • Grigory Glukhov says:

    You google "how does x work?"

  • Alper Sönmez says:

    As far as I know, the theoretical aspect of semiconductor based integrated circuits are dependent on "atomic models" rather than quantum mechanics. Correct me if I'm wrong!?

  • Hex iD says:

    4:10 You worry way to much. Trust me there are loads of kids and adults too, who take things apart and find out how things tick. Great video though, ty!

  • Steffen Smolka says:

    Great video, very well explained. I think abstraction is the single most important concept in computer science.

  • Jigar Thakkar says:


  • Grubiantoll says:

    what you are saying is- Apple killed engineering and science ?
    Seems legit.
    You can still unscrew and meddle with PCs, take that apple fanboys

  • Jeremy Heminger says:

    I think for the right sort of personality type, the black box would be more of an inspiration for them to ask, "how can I change this? How can I make it do what I want it to do"? Engineers and indeed inspired people will always ask that question of things. I dare say, I don't think they can help it.

  • Oziriz says:

    I liked it up until the point where he questions younger generations' intellect by not being "able" to take apart modern engineered machines. If you look around on youtube, there are many people opening these devices and looking at how they work. In fact there are channels that specifically talk about it whilst taking them apart. I think the complete opposite is true. There is an explosion of people who can now be interested in these kind of things, without having to fiddle around themselves.

  • Mike Seal says:

    I believe that the absence of access is exactly what makes it interesting . Having a black box in our hands that allows us to connect to everyone and everything and not being able to decifer it is a matter of choice these days because everything is explained to a point where no one that doesn't care about it will ever understand (not that anyone Fully understands it).
    It's like figuring out a magic trick (:

  • Alois Mahdal says:

    Where are the people? Don't worry, they are here. And they have hammers. (The morale: don't give iPhone to a curious kid.)

  • goaspiritoflove says:

    Nice explanation and is there maybe an opposite to abstraction in computing ? Thank you very much

  • Matas says:

    4:26 Because if you do that, you'll void your warranty.

  • Sivaram Karanam says:

    I dont think there will ever be a shortage of engineers…these Iphones and computers still made me curious about how they work and I started learning about computers from the hardware level to high level languages, curiosity is built into human brains…It doesnt matter how many layers of abstractions are there, we always wanna go to the deepest level possible

  • William says:

    To be fair, if they re interested they can go on wikipedia and read it all, in the past you maybe weren't on the internet and had to go look up a book, much slower.

  • hassan sakr says:

    Thanks a lot.

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