quarta-feira, 18 de julho de 2012

The trouble with computers is you play with them

Feynman and Frankel were hooked. “Mr. Frankel, who started this program, began to suffer from the computer disease that anybody who works with computers now knows about,” Feynman later explained. “The trouble with computers is you play with them.” (p. 177)

Sixty years later, most primary computer memory is embodied, in silicon, as dynamically refreshed arrays of capacitors—the current implementation of Farnsworth’s, Zworykin’s, and Rajchman’s original translation between coded sequences in time and arrays of charge in space. Ten million capacitors now cost less than one cent. Memory locations are addressed directly by digital switching rather than indirectly by the deflection of an electron beam, but the underlying principle and logical architecture remain unchanged. Our ever-expanding digital universe is directly descended from the image tube that imploded in the back seat of Zworykin’s car. (p. 230)

“The importance of accelerating approximating and computing mathematics by factors like 10,000 or more, lies not only in that one might thereby do in 10,000 times less time problems which one is now doing, or say 100 times more of them in 100 times less time—but rather in that one will be able to handle problems which are considered completely unassailable at present.” (p. 241)

“The projected device, or rather the species of devices of which it is to be the first representative, is so radically new that many of its uses will become clear only after it has been put into operation,” von Neumann assured him. “These uses which are not, or not easily, predictable now, are likely to be the most important ones. Indeed they are by definition those which we do not recognize at present because they are farthest removed from … our present sphere.” (p. 241)

George Dyson (2012). Turing's Cathedral: The Origins Of The Digital Universe. Nova Iorque: Pantheon Books

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