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Response to A HERETIC I AM (Original post)

Mon Jul 24, 2017, 05:01 PM

14. The Wright brothers were flying this in 1904:

wikipedia

It's amazing progress that this B-29 was built forty years later.

Despite being a tool of war, it is a lovely plane and I totally understand and applaud the motivations of those volunteers who got it flying again. It's one of the reasons our family cars have salvage titles. So much as I hate automobiles (and war machines...) I get some satisfaction bringing dead machines back to life, feeling in my hands what the original designers and builders were about. Reading history isn't enough. Sometimes you must touch it.

I think this progress in aeronautics is why people thought we'd be crawling all over the solar system by now, having landed men on the moon.

But we have made a whole lot of progress in computers and telecommunications.

In 1977 I thought I was hot stuff writing FORTRAN for a mainframe computer far less powerful than any smart phone today.

It still amazes me that I can find in the e-waste bin what would have been the world's most powerful supercomputer of the 'seventies. Or I can buy a Raspberry Pi 3 computer rated at 460 MFLOPS for $35 in 2017 compared to the Cray I supercomputer rated 160MFLOPS which cost $8.8 million in 1977.



(A couple of people, amused by this comparison have built miniature Cray-1 models with a credit card sized Raspberry Pi inside.)

One thing that surprises me is how all this modern computing power has been put to use. I'm sure a lot of it has been devoted to military uses that are not common knowledge yet, just as some aspects of the B-29's design were not common knowledge when it was built. The most obvious and big money use for all this computer power is movie making.

I get frustrated with myself because I haven't used the computer power I've been blessed with to make any great advances in science. I liked to think of myself as some kind of mad scientist after I quit high school for college. (Truth was, I was mostly mad. We've got meds for that now.) I think some of my better "supercomputer" use is posting words on Democratic Underground, and occasionally I've done more practical things with this immense computing power, but I've not created any AI's or opened any portals into other universes...

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A HERETIC I AM Jul 2017 OP
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