Stanford Seminar - Remembering Carl Hewitt | Summary and Q&A

February 4, 2023
Stanford Online
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Stanford Seminar - Remembering Carl Hewitt


This discussion revolves around the intellectual contributions of Carl and his unique perspective on actors in parallel and distributed computing.

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Questions & Answers

Q: Did Carl ever convince anyone of his proof on mathematics consistency?

While opinions varied, some participants were convinced by Carl's proof, emphasizing the importance of assumptions. Others remained skeptical, pointing out the need for further examination and refinement of definitions.

Q: Was Carl's work influenced by other philosophers or logicians?

Carl had interactions with the philosophy and logic communities, but his ideas often deviated from the mainstream. He enjoyed discussing and challenging established concepts, which made it challenging to categorize his work within existing frameworks.

Q: Did Carl have any impact on the field of parallel and distributed computing?

Yes, Carl's work on actors laid the foundation for understanding parallel and distributed computation. Some of his ideas have been integrated into contemporary systems and languages. Actors, which treat everything as an actor, continue to be seen as a valuable paradigm in the field.

Q: Were there any discussions on Carl's views on national security and government surveillance?

Carl expressed concerns about national security and surveillance, sharing stories that seemed vaguely sinister but often lacked concrete evidence. Some participants believed he was paranoid, while others felt he raised valid points about potential threats and backdoors in digital devices.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • This discussion is an informal reflection on Carl's contributions and invites participants to share their memories and thoughts about him.

  • There is a discussion about Carl's proof on mathematics consistency and its significance, as well as disagreements and alternative interpretations.

  • The conversation touches on Carl's communication style, patience, and willingness to engage with others despite differences in opinion.

  • Carl's interests in gadgets and his unconventional use of terminology are also mentioned.

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