Internet ; MultiVac

[From this weeks readings: “We Are The Web” @ Wired ]

Three thousand years from now, when keen minds review the past, I believe that our ancient time, here at the cusp of the third millennium, will be seen as another such era. In the years roughly coincidental with the Netscape IPO, humans began animating inert objects with tiny slivers of intelligence, connecting them into a global field, and linking their own minds into a single thing. This will be recognized as the largest, most complex, and most surprising event on the planet. Weaving nerves out of glass and radio waves, our species began wiring up all regions, all processes, all facts and notions into a grand network. From this embryonic neural net was born a collaborative interface for our civilization, a sensing, cognitive device with power that exceeded any previous invention. The Machine provided a new way of thinking (perfect search, total recall) and a new mind for an old species. It was the Beginning.

I was reminded while I was reading this of an old school SF story I read once about a supercomputer called MultiVac. The story is interesting in it gives a insight into views of technological advance from the 50’s, but there are still some interesting parallels with the internet and what people say it will become in the future, specifically Google.

The Last Question by Isaac Asimov © 1956

The last question was asked for the first time, half in jest, on May 21, 2061, at a time when humanity first stepped into the light. The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way……(continue)

This talk of a global Machine, connected to everything and everyone also makes me think of the possibility of artificial consciousness within massive global networks. While this is obviously far, far off into the future, and any ideas we have about it now will seem as dated as that 50’s story, it makes you wonder what the ultimate “end point” to our networked technology is. AI seems like an interesting possibility, and actually IBM has apparently begun such a project….

Its name is Blue Brain. Its job is to simulate, at the cellular level, the interaction of neurons. Launched as a collaboration with IBM in 2005, its makers have taken it as far as simulating a basic computational unit of a two-week-old rat’s brain. This single neocortical column – around 10,000 neurons locked into 30 million synaptic handshakes – has been doing what they had hoped it would do, which is act much like a real bundle of neurons. What’s especially remarkable is that it accomplishes this feat from the bottom-up, with the complexity emerging from the behaviors of the individually modeled parts alone.


~ by hieronymusix on August 13, 2008.

5 Responses to “Internet ; MultiVac”

  1. That’s some wicked science right there.
    I think whole brain emulation is still far off, 10,000 neurons maybe enough for a 2 week old rat but human brains have trillions upon trillions of neurons. Apparently what they’re really aiming for is partial brain modeling, specifically the hippocampus, the part of the brain that handles memory. So brain implants which enhance/assist neural activity are what we have to look forward to.
    Sortof like this:

    So instead of robotic AI’s it’s more likely that we’ll see humans integrated into machine interfaces, i.e. cyborgs. Which, by the by, Microsoft has already patented, US Patent 6754472 “Method and apparatus for transmitting power and data using the human body”.Patent storm

  2. […] Published August 10, 2008 Uncategorized I was reading a post by fellow co-NMPer Hieronymusix the other day […]

  3. That reminds me of William Gibson. Memory implants in the brain figure largely in his short story “Jonnhy Nuemonic” which is about a date courier who traffics data in his head via some sort of implant like you described.

    I think you are right, full brain emulation is pretty far off, which may or may not be a good think. Hopefully the anglo-american economic empire will have lost its dominance on our lives by that time and all those Patents will be meaningless.

  4. or maybe it was just get worse

  5. […] other nominated post is this one, which I nominate partly because its responsible for the only real contact I had with a fellow NMP […]

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