Saturday, November 27, 2004
The Computer will soon be smarter than the brightest minds who build them.
Since 1965, the computer chip, embedded with intelligence, has doubled in power roughly every 2 years. As we slept to the implications of compounding intelligence, computers quickly evolved from calculators to communications devices and from word processors to global idea processors. Only short decades later, we awaken to an accelerating world, the heart of which now beats with this growing intelligence.
Computers double in cost effectiveness with each new generation, evolving exponentially because they can be enlisted in huge numbers to propogate their own next generation. Whatever they can do today, they'll do it twice as fast, efficiently, and detailed or half the size and cost tomorrow. One billion instructions per second becomes 2 billion, then 4 billion and so on.
Within our lifetime, $1000 will buy unlimited access to computational power equivalent to a human brain. And that computational power will continue to compound again and again with no end in sight.
The exponential growth of computational intelligence is what allows you to carry around (and afford) vastly more computing power than was used in the entire Apollo space program. The laptop tucked under the student's arm can contain a searchable library of electronic textbooks that would weigh several tons in hardcover.
The computer is driving the convergence between Nanotechnology, Biotechnology and the Cognitive Sciences and Itself. It's the reason knowledge in these fields is doubling roughly every year now, causing the rate of discovery to speed up in lockstep with the evolution of computing intelligence.
While we wrestle with the imminent implications of curing all diseases, a vastly extended "quality of life" span, a new world order of increasing complexity, awesome weapons being manufactured in basements, and personal computers with more computational power than our brains, computing will continue to accelerate in power until we are building them atom by atom.