Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Future of the Computer (By Duncan Kelly)

Computer and artificial intelligence theorists and scientists have always "aimed for the brain" in their designs, trying to match it's computing power, simulate its reasoning capability and give their computers "intelligence." But it's always been a distant goal, hindered by practical limitations in the technology of the day. But that is now changing...

The university of Reading, in the UK, have developed a robot called Gordon which is controlled by brain tissue from a rat. The brain tissue is in a bath of special liquid in which electrodes are submerged, creating a biological - computer interface. Messages transmitted by the brain cells are received by the machine, and the machine sensors transmit messages back to the brain cells. It's fairly basic in capabilities, but the beginnings of cell driven computing are starting to take shape.

Scientists at Berkley and Massachusetts universities have found that a sapphire crystal cut at a certain angle and heated to around 1400 degrees celsius causes it's surface to arrange itself into the correct regularity to enable very high data storage densities of around 1250 Gigabytes per square inch. It'll be awhile before you get your new crystal hard drive, but it will sure hold a lot of information. Remember, this is only the beginning. Much higher data densities will be developed out of this technique.

It seems logical that computers will evolve into semi-living machines. Living cells have vast potential for development into storage and computing systems. One strand of DNA has a vast, mindboggling amount of stored data, the depths of which scientists are still plumbing. Crystals are only the first of many natural elements and chemicals that will find their way into computers of the future. Expect a name change as the "adding machine" type of computer fades out of the picture, and thinking biotech machines move into prominence.

Japanese researchers have the beginnings of technology to read people's dreams and display them on a screen. This could be nasty. But it shows how computing and bio-technology are mixing and making inroads into places we thought were safe from anybody's view.

So the computer of the future probably won't be a computer. It will be a remote biointerface which knows what we are thinking and what we want, and will do it for us.
Unless it decides to rebel...

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