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Oct 03, 2016 | Post by: regangossett 2 Comments

Just Another Over-Achiever

RDML Grace Hopper 1906 - 1992

RDML Grace Hopper
1906 – 1992

Reading time – 39 seconds; Viewing time – 2:09  .  .  .

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper:

  • Graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College; then Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale University
  • Enlisted in the Navy Reserve (WAVES) in WW II
  • Pioneered the computer revolution with special emphasis on Department of Defense operations
  • Was so good that Congress wouldn’t let her retire
  • Awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat decoration awarded by the Department of Defense

The list of superlatives about Grace Hopper goes on and on – you can read about her here.

She’s been gone a while, but Admiral Hopper still speaks to us, especially in today’s virtual reality existence, where things have to be seen on a computer screen to be experienced as real and where we sit in a restaurant jabbing thumbs at our smart phones instead of engaging with the person across the table.

Today we have more information available to us in an instant than was known throughout the entire history of civilization through 1950. I made up the date, but you get the idea. Is all that information enough? Here’s what Admiral Hopper said about that:

“We’re flooding people with information. We need to feed it through a processor. A human must turn information into intelligence or knowledge. We’ve tended to forget that no computer will ever ask a new question.”

I don’t know about that new question. Perhaps some AI silicon-brain computer does ask new questions. No matter. At our level as leaders, it’s up to us to use our human, carbon-based brains to “turn information into intelligence or knowledge” and ask the new question. That’s your job.

Oh, and BTW – Admiral Hopper also said, “You manage things, you lead people”  (see here and here). She was an extraordinary leader and we are much the better for her having passed our way.


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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler and Fully Alive Leadership. All rights reserved. Reproduction and sharing are encouraged, providing proper attribution is given.

2 Comments to Just Another Over-Achiever

  1. John Calia
    October 3, 2016 9:02 am

    She also discovered the computer “bug” which, back in the days of vacuum tubes, was literally a bug whose misfortune it was to get caught between the positive and negative poles of an early computer. That misfortune shorted out a circuit and the term “bug” was born.

    BTW, can you think of a new question that an AI driven process has asked?

  2. Jim Altschuler
    October 3, 2016 11:14 am

    WOW!! Un-FREAK-ing believable!!! 39 seconds my left eye! You can’t just read the teaser. You can’t read just the teaser and the blog. You HAVE to read the back-up, which is so incredible you actually have to read parts of it 2 or 3 TIMES. A lifetime career, called back to active duty repeatedly, continuing as a consultant until the ravages of time finally caught up with her and “made her stop”. WOW! Admiral Hopper defined career service, and she gave it all!

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