Digitizing our minds, our thoughts, our lives
June 8, 2018
This subject reminds me of the old song line “every time we say goodbye I die a little,” simply because every time we think we understand digitization, some mind-boggling technology seems to appear out of nowhere and our old beliefs die a little, again and again and again.
Those of us who are old enough to remember when we used adding-machines and calculators to do computations can’t help but be overwhelmed by computer technology, which seems to advance at breakneck speed, in gigantic leaps instead of at one bit of data at a time. We who consider ourselves adept at utilizing computer technology to our advantage keep getting mesmerized as we seem to watch the old computer fly over our heads and out of the ballpark just when we think we have a grasp on automation and digitization.
When I graduated from college, computers were not even available. We used adding-machines, and calculators, and hand-written calculations to solve mathematical equations. Now a problem which would take minutes or hours to resolve, can be done in a second by entering simple data into a computer.
That was the old rate of speed for our computers. The world’s fastest computer now, they tell us, can compute 200 quadrillion calculations in one second, a task which would require 63 billion years for one person to calculate.
This machine built by IBM and Nvidia can do calculations in one second that would require 2 million laptops to complete. It has more than 9,000 processing chips, more than 27,000 graphics processors, and almost 200 miles of cables. The cost was a mere $200 million.
It is beyond the conception of most of us to imagine the commercial or scholastic value of such computational capacity, but it certainly speaks volumes in conceiving the unlimited technological advances and the opportunities for resolving some of humanities most pressing obstacles of survival.
And before we get all giddy about this potential expansion of life, I guess the next question may be whether Planet Earth, which now has more than 7 billion inhabitants, can support the number that may be required if the current rate of progression is multiplied by this amazing technology. We went from 1 billion to 7 billion in a couple of hundred years without this super computer. At that rate we will have more than 70 billion 200 years from now. It is unimaginable what the growth may become with the ability to solve life’s equations at the rate of 200 quadrillion calculations per second.
We may need many more wars to keep the population at a level that the planet will support.
Think about it!
(Computer and computational statistics came from Steve Lohr, New York Times, June 8, 2018)