Tuesday, April 1, 2014


When Time Magazine spends its cover on a scientific subject, I pay attention -- the magazine reaches millions of people -- it's got to be something that's going affect us or in some way change our lives.

The issue is loaded with math, numbers, scientific jargon -- I had to boil it down to figure out what the "Infinity Machine" is, but you can click this link and read the eight pages yourself.

Apparently, big minds, big corporations, are currently working on a new computer machine that could unlock the power to solve our most difficult problems. Major companies and major government agencies, supporting the development of this, are convinced it will change how we "cure disease, explore the heavens, and do the business of the earth."

I borrowed those zinging words from the author of the article, Lev Grossman,  (Should we trust Grossman -- age 44, American novelist, journalist; author of the novels "Warp," "Codex," "The Magicians," and "The Magician King;" senior writer and book critic for Time?) Well, he's Harvard and Yale educated; and he reveals that major critics question where this may be heading.

This article tells us that on classic computers, information is stored in bits. On a quantum computer, information is stored in qubits -- therefore faster calculations are possible because it can process (perform) multiple functions simultaneously.

So the quantum computer will be able to: "design safer planes, discover distant planets, cure cancer, win elections, help cars drive themselves, reduce weather deaths, develop more effective drugs, cut back on travel time."

Grossman includes a lot of technical details, but without more knowledge of quantum physics, I think we civilians have to read the list, and more or less be impressed with how this could change the world.

The article, like a mystery story, digs deeply into where this is happening and reveals the largely secret background. There's a small company of 115 employees, in Vancouver, B.C.  There are five "D Wave" computers that they've built, thus far; each cost "10 million a pop." Each "D Wave"  is a black box 10 ft. high. Inside each box is a cylindrical cooling apparatus containing a "chip" that's been chilled to around  "20 millikelvins," which is about 459.6°F." 

The guys backing this venture are a scary list: In-Q-Tel, (high-tech investment arm of the CIA); defense contractor Lockheed Martin; a computing lab that's hosted by NASA, and largely funded by Google; and a U.S. intelligence agency that D-Wave executives decline to name.

Is this where we are really heading?

I read a similar article in Time, February 2011,  "SINGULARITY." It's scientific proof that the day is coming, in about 30 years, when artificial intelligence will be greater than human intelligence. In this 2011 article, different authors and different scientific proof that machines will be running the world in 2045 was supported by the same scary guys -- Google, Lockheed, NASA, CIA, etc.

What are we supposed to feel or do about this? Hide? Disbelieve? I can't fucntion on a day-to-day basis feeling that the end of the world that I live in is going to turn me into a plant.

If you are brave, curious, amazed, scared, or in the mood to know more, click and read Singularity, fact or fiction.

All I know, for sure, is that I fear what the picture on that cover predicts.


Carola said...

It's not scary to me. Just very interesting.

Poet_Carl_Watts said...

Never forget that man thought up and builds computers and the answers are only as good as the information provided. Computers will never be as good as a man regardless of the math/science implications. Man can create new ideas. Machines can not create anything. #EverythinWill_B_OK! #AwesomeTeam♥#Odycy☮:-)

Aquileana said...

What is scary is the second article as it predicts the worst end... But Grossman´s article is really interesting... Even when I didn't read the whole article I follow your explanation and it is really intriguing... As to the quantum computer, I think it is a certain possibility... And it would help really help humanity, judging for the tasks it would be able to accomplish.. The technological advances are remarkable, aren´t they... And they keep on increasing achievements... Excellent share dear Emily...
I´ll be back to check out the links with more time. Best wishes, Aquileana ;)