Sunday, November 11, 2007

Tech Marches. And Marches. Where Does It Go To?

As the article says, 60 years ago we only had vacuum tubes, which would make a computer such as this laptop I'm typing this on, around about the size of half the CBD of Perth. Considering that the image to the left contains vacuum tubes about as high as a lipstick and not quite twice the diameter (so you can imagine the scale) and is probably less than 1k of memory...

In just over fifty years we've gone from technology that barely managed to amplify whispers, to machines that we now take for commonplace, such as my laptop, and supercomputers in a case the size of an old PC tower.
Fifty years ago when I was a baby, my grandparents, going to the city of Vienna for the first time to visit their daughter, my mother, made the sign of the cross each time mum turned on an electric light. A few years later they were watching black & white TV, and a few years after that, colour TV.
Thirty-eight years ago I was avidly hooking together vacuum tube radios and tape decks and getting electric shocks and wishing I had some of those new fangled solid state devices, those transistors. They were well beyond the pocketmoney of a kid, but a few years later I worked with aircraft avionics and built a 4bit computer with 1024 BITS (not bytes!) of memory from a kit.
Thirty-and-some years ago, I bought a ZX-80 computer that was twenty to fifty times faster and more powerful, in a quarter of the size. Since then, progressivley better and better machines, to the point where a PDA which is one tenth to one twentieth the size of my first homebrew computer packs quite a few orders of magnitude more processing power and millions of times more memory.
Current designs will allow the processing power of a supercomputer cluster, in a device the size of a PDA or small tablet PC. And beyond that?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

In Times To Come

I know I haven't been blogging to this blog for a while, and I've taken the old arachnet version offline, but this will all change soon, as soon as I have time between contracts again. I promise I'll be adding the old articles to this blog soon.

For now, I want to heark back to my favourite issue, transhumanity. I am still of the opinion that the first decent robot won't be developed until after we've managed to duplicate most of the cells of the human body - and then remove the cells and leave the duplicating structure. I similarly think that once nanotechnology can do that, i.e. create a second, more durable brain and a second more durable set of nerves and muscles and skin and bone - in the spaces between the cells - then we will also have enough of a handle on these things to download a mind and personality, store it, restore it.

It's been one of my tenets - first they will figure out a fairly simple thing like replacing a strand of nerve by "growing" nanoparticles that attach to specific places along the nerve cell, in effect paralleling the nerve. Because nanoparticles work at a very fine scale, the two sets of atoms will pretty much inter-exist, and take up hardly any more space than the original nerve did.

Once you do that, you have a man-built part intimately grown into the human cells it replaces. A man-built part that, having built, you can attach an input/output (I/O) connection toif you wanted to. But nerves is small change, do this at the level of brain neurons and synapses and you have aimulacrum of the brain, intimately grown into and among it. Here, you can begin to attach I/O of a serious order. Enough to grow a wireless network connection, for example...

And then you have download/upload capability for EVERYTHING inside. It becomes just a matter of how many petabytes it will take for a complete schematic and program. And whenmy body dies, of building the artificial body first then growing biological bits back into it, then finally hitting the upload switch.

Of course you could also clone using this, in a much more efficient and speedy way than natural biological cloning. And enhance... And add new functionality, stuff thst might comein handy. Using metallic materials for nerves results in faster signalling, i.e. faster perception and faster reflexes. Different material in the eyeball retina and lens will let us see UV and IR light. Rewire some of those cilia in the inner ear and you could hear electricity.

So when an article gets all het up about robot rights, remember that this robot could very well have started life as a nan-cy-clone of a human. They will have rights alright...

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

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