cross pond high tech
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Predicting the Future and Exponential Growth

Predicting the Future and Exponential Growth | cross pond high tech | Scoop.it
“How many times would I have to fold a sheet of paper for the height of the folded paper to reach the moon?”

Human beings have terrible intuition for exponential growth. If I asked you how many times you would have to fold a single sheet of US Letter paper to reach the moon, it would be difficult to intuitively comprehend that it only takes twenty folds to reach Mount Everest, forty-two folds to the moon, and fifty to reach the sun.

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it … he who doesn’t … pays it.” –Albert Einstein
Often times when looking at the future, we use the projection of the past to predict the outcome of the future. This suggestion is generally not understood properly as due to the natural linearity of time, people are more likely to look at the next five years assuming the growth will march linearly like the past five years.

The truth is that even from the last five years to now, growth particularly technological growth is never linear and is always exponential.

The Apollo Guidance Computer, for example, was built of 4100 integrated circuits, each of which was a 3 input gate for a total of approximately 12,300 transistors – having its performance clocking in at 41.6 instructions per second.

An iPhone 6 has 3.36 billion instructions per second meaning an iPhone 6 is 80 million times faster than Apollo on just instructions per second and around 120 million times faster than the guidance computer that put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. A single iPhone 6 could theoretically guide 120 million Apollo rockets at the same time (an iPhone 6S is 70% faster than an iPhone 6). This also doesn’t include the fact that a 64 bit processor can use less operations to process more complex computations - so 120 million times faster is definitely an understatement.

So how can we explain this type of growth?
Philippe J DEWOST's insight:

We humans are desperately linear when it comes to aiming at the future. It took our societies thousands of years to switch from Mircea Eliades "myth of eternal return" way of looking at the world (after all, nature is mostly cyclical in its immediate perception) and unfold towards the "time arrow" paradigm we are currently living in.


Except that for the past decades, something different has been emerging, that involves exponential thinking as per illustrated in Ray Kurzweil "second half of the chessboard" metaphor (echoing a legend that has its local version in almost chess playing culture).


This post explains very well what exponential thinking is about, and why we humans are so often wrong in the way we try to define the future on 10-15 years time frames. Must read especially if you feel uncomfortable with all this tech popping out and surprising us (and our governments) for the past few years. AirBnB and Uber were indeed unforeseeable and here is why...

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Top Neuroscientist Says the Brain Is Not Computable

Top Neuroscientist Says the Brain Is Not Computable | cross pond high tech | Scoop.it

Miguel Nicolelis, a top neuroscientist at Duke University, says computers will never replicate the human brain and that the technological Singularity is “a bunch of hot air.”

 

“The brain is not computable and no engineering can reproduce it,” says Nicolelis, author of several pioneering papers on brain-machine interfaces.

The Singularity, of course, is that moment when a computer super-intelligence emerges and changes the world in ways beyond our comprehension.

Among the idea’s promoters are futurist Ray Kurzweil, recently hired on at Google as a director of engineering, who has been predicting that not only will machine intelligence exceed our own, but people will be able to download their thoughts and memories into computers (see “Ray Kurzweil Plans to Create a Mind at Google—and Have It Serve You”).

 

Nicolelis calls that idea sheer bunk. “Downloads will never happen,” he said during remarks made at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Sunday. “There are a lot of people selling the idea that you can mimic the brain with a computer.”

Philippe J DEWOST's insight:

Ray Kurzweil's brain might not be downloadable after all

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A Computer Program Finally Passed the Turing Test? Not So Fast.

A Computer Program Finally Passed the Turing Test? Not So Fast. | cross pond high tech | Scoop.it

Last week at Reading University, 30 judges text-chatted with a bunch of humans and a bunch of computer programs pretending to be human, and the judges tried to figure out who was who. That is the setup behind the famous Turing test—in which a computer program tries to convince an interlocutor, through free conversation on any subject whatsoever, that it is human—posited by legendary computer scientist Alan Turing in 1950 as a measure of artificial intelligence. The results out of Reading claim that one particular program, “Eugene Goostman,” has passed the Turing test, successfully tricking 10 out of 30 judges in five-minute conversations into thinking it was human. On closer inspection, though, the first question to ask is whether computers are getting smarter or people are getting dumber.

Philippe J DEWOST's insight:

Looks like the selfiesphere, ponderingsphere, likosphere have been unleashing early enthusiasm whithout further thinking, evidencing in a way that we are indeed getting dumber... 

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