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Before and After Science
December 11, 2011 5:25 AM   Subscribe

The History and Future of Computing an interactive timeline from the New York Times which crowdsources predictions.

See also: Amdahl's Law, Metcalfe's Law, Moore's Law, Grosch's Law, Haitz's Law, Kryder's Law, Koomey's Law, Nielsen's Law, Rock's Law, Wirth's Law, and Hofstadter's Law.
posted by gwint (22 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
makes as much sense as trusting professional futurists i suppose

which is to say that, if you can accurately predict progress, that's a very useful talent and why aren't you using it to help plan your zillion-dollar projects

which is to say it does not make sense at all

savvy?
posted by LogicalDash at 5:40 AM on December 11, 2011


Hmm... looks like singularity is predicted by the crowd.

Very cool btw
posted by zia at 6:18 AM on December 11, 2011


Nobody predicted the earth running out of petroleum, World War IV, and the reinvention of the wheel in 200000AD (by mutated beavers!)
posted by Renoroc at 6:22 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, if the current proliferation of smartphones show's anything it's that Grosch's Law is wrong.

Further, it puts forward the belief that computing is a commodity. Although this is somewhat true on the backend (server farms) it is definitely not true for consumer devices. Also, unless a more complex heuristic is being used for "computing power" the truth is that factors other than just CPU affect cost.

Also, Google server farms.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:41 AM on December 11, 2011


So basically, by 2183, we'll be Borg? Cool. Whatever. We'll embrace it anyway.
posted by CarlRossi at 6:54 AM on December 11, 2011


I want to know why people moved things earlier and later, indexed by when they moved it from... so if I see a lot of people moving Quantum comping later than 2018, I know why, etc.

Example: I believe that it's entirely feasible for Amazon QC2 (Quantum Computing Cluster) to arrive by 2018.

Assuming a $10,000,000 DWave machine, and 5 years to amortize across, that's $228 per hour. I'd divide it into about 10 "QC2 medium" hosts, and charge $50/hour for each. That would get you about 360 qubit problems with 1000 answers each.

If they wanted to charge per problem, it would be about $0.20 each. Heck, even college students could afford that.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:01 AM on December 11, 2011


Any timeline that misses out both the telegraph and the Manchester Baby isn't worth the pixels it's printed on.
posted by scruss at 7:02 AM on December 11, 2011


Clarification, that should be 360 (128 qubit) computations, with 1000 rounds of answers (to get the probabilistic answers right), per hour.

If the Quantum hype is correct, that would be one heck of a deal.
posted by MikeWarot at 7:10 AM on December 11, 2011


I predict that this article isn't worth finding all the right domains to enable NoScript for.

What? It's a prediction. It's about computers. Well, my computer, yeah. But it's valid.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2011


That timeline could be extended back a bit:
~3000 BC Dice
2500 BC Sumerian Abacus
150 BC Astrolabe
150-100 BC Antikythera Mechanism
200-265 South Pointing Chariot
~60 BC Odometer
1206 Al-Jazari's Castle Clock
How soon we forget (after a few updates and revisions along the way).
posted by cenoxo at 7:26 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


MikeWarot: "I want to know why people moved things earlier and later, indexed by when they moved it from... so if I see a lot of people moving Quantum comping later than 2018, I know why, etc."

As a data point, I kept moving things that involved primarily human biology or psychology to much later (i.e. "Cure for Cancer", end of learning) and things involving pure computing earlier (since we tend to, still, underestimate the rate of innovation).

I basically am crapping my pants about the upcoming singularity. I think what's needed first, more than anything, is a profound changes in the way humans think about and treat one another. Otherwise we will have an upper layer of society that is living in the Singularity, and a larger, lower layer of society that basically works in slave-like conditions to support it. Considering that that's basically what's happening already, I don't see how a society that values technology even more than we currently do is going to be better.

Also, if computers get much smarter than they already are I'll be out of a job.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:30 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I tried to favorite benito.strauss's comment but Metafilter requires javascript enabled in order to favorite. And I found out the New York Times pages load in about one-fiftieth the time with javascript shut off.

(These computers ain't nearly what they are hyped up to be.)
posted by bukvich at 7:38 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks, bukvich. I appreciate a handcrafted favorite like yours much more than those mass produced identical javascript ones.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:46 AM on December 11, 2011


2200
Post-Scarcity World

Abundance happens. Digital and physical sciences produce abundance so great that wealth becomes meaningless as a difference between people.

Submitted by Mitch Ratcliffe ยท Tacoma, Wash.


*snick*

*snork*

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:08 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, where's "Disgruntled biology grad student looses genetically-modified H5N1 virus on humanity, killing 20% of the world's population?"
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:10 AM on December 11, 2011


I basically am crapping my pants about the upcoming singularity. I think what's needed first, more than anything, is a profound changes in the way humans think about and treat one another. Otherwise we will have an upper layer of society that is living in the Singularity, and a larger, lower layer of society that basically works in slave-like conditions to support it. Considering that that's basically what's happening already, I don't see how a society that values technology even more than we currently do is going to be better.

My understanding of the Singularity (and I could be wrong about this) is that it is such a fundamental change to EVERYTHING that the reason we call it the Singularity is that we cannot possibly envision what lies on the other side of it.

It's that point when computers and the machines they run are not only able to make copies of themselves, but are able to design improvements for the new computers and machines they're building. They'll be able to take raw materials from the environment and spit out improved selves on their own.

At that point, our technology will have left our hands. The machines and computers themselves will embark on a massive upgrade project with every new generation that is produced. As the improvements take hold with each successive "generation" of machines and computers, their power to improve themselves will increase.

Eventually, our ability to grok them and what is happening will cease. And the Singularity will have arrived.

Whether humans play an integrative, supporting, or even ANY role in that new world remains to be seen.
posted by hippybear at 8:42 AM on December 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Anyway, crowdsourced predictions of the future should have the name they were given by John Brunner back in 1975: Delphi Pools.
posted by hippybear at 8:45 AM on December 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting futures approach. Would be fun to compare with real-time Delphi.
posted by doctornemo at 9:30 AM on December 11, 2011


The only useful arena for discussion of The Singularity might be in that branch of abnormal psychology that also deals with religion and other symptoms of thanatophobia.
posted by fredludd at 11:49 AM on December 11, 2011


Amusingly, the list of candidate predictions to be voted on contains some things that already exist.
posted by troublesome at 4:54 PM on December 11, 2011


...The machines and computers themselves will embark on a massive upgrade project with every new generation that is produced. As the improvements take hold with each successive "generation" of machines and computers, their power to improve themselves will increase. Eventually, our ability to grok them and what is happening will cease. And the Singularity will have arrived. Whether humans play an integrative, supporting, or even ANY role in that new world remains to be seen.

4000 AD Magnus, Robot Fighter

Or sooner, perhaps. In spite of every new technology we can come up with, those neolithic Luddites keep rearing their ugly little heads.
posted by cenoxo at 6:53 PM on December 11, 2011


One of the interesting things about lists like these is how big-city centric they are. I don't have a smart phone because I live about four miles from a largish town and get NO bars of cell signal.
posted by maxwelton at 7:24 PM on December 11, 2011


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