Posts Tagged ‘Computer’

Brain Download 95% Complete, Time Remaining: 39 years.

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

While skeptics still speak out, more and more leading scientists are beginning to believe that it will one day actually be possible to download the human brain onto an external hard-drive. While computers are becoming incredibly intelligent and powerful(The IBM BlueGene computer can perform 72 trillion calculations per second), there has still been to date no match for the human brain. Billions of years of evolution have seemed to hone this natural organ to incredible ability. But soon, researchers predict that we will be able to read the neural networks within the brain and convert them into readable code. As Ian Pearson, head of the Futurology unit at British Technology says “‘If you draw the timelines, realistically by 2050 we would expect to be able to download your mind into a machine, so when you die it’s not a major career problem.”

Although this concept seems impossible, the truth is that we are not as far away as we think. The entire basis of computing relies on many of the same principles that are utilized by the human brain. Arrangements of wires, currents, and processors all currently exist in one form or another in the human brain. But this begs some lofty philosophical questions. If we can completely analyze and translate every neural interaction in the human brain, would what exists on that external hard drive actually be the individual consciousness, the person that that brain inhabited? This questions draws heavily on Rudy Rucker’s Software in which many of them were analyzed in novel form. In my opinion, the answer to this question is yes. I believe that the consciousness is the result of the placement an interactions of the neurons in the brain, nothing more and nothing less. But what does this mean? Well possibly the most exciting application is the fabled concept of immortality. If you could accurately download all of the existing thoughts, memories, and workings of the human brain onto a hard-drive, then you could upload the same information into another human brain in another body(possible a genetic copy), and you would be the same person. Continuing to do this might mean that humans could live for hundreds or even thousands of years. While technology is not yet at this level, we are rapidly approaching this ability and the question is an important one, both in philosophical and scientific terms.


The Twit-Worm Exists

April 24, 2011 Leave a comment

We laughed during the Futurama episode “Attack of the Killer App” as millions of people became infected with Mom’s “Twit-worm” and lumbered like zombies to the apple store. In this episode, Matt Groening satirizes the control that corporate marketing machines like Facebook and Twitter have over us. He shows how they can turn us into mindless consumers through a constant barrage of targeted advertising. As Hermes remarks in one scene after an advertisement for a pizza shows up on his computer: “This thing always knows what I want!” This kind of marketing interaction is actually occurring constantly even as I sit here to type this post. What hasn’t happened yet is the mind control that Futurama jokingly suggests. But is it a joke? Could that actually happen? While the answer might seem to be an obvious “no,” the possibility of this might be more realistic than one would think.

As technology continues to advance, we begin to incorporate it more into our bodies. Artificial hearts and cochlear implants are just a few examples of the invasive application of technology. Therefore, it is not a huge leap to say that in the future it is possible that our communication devices might be integrated with our bodies and possibly our minds. This is where things begin to get scary. Why exactly? Well I’ll tell you. If every person’s body is connected to an interconnected network, the the same technology that helps them can also be used to break them down. If you question the power of a malevolent entity to spread to the users of a network, just consider the “Mikeyy” worm that invaded Twitter in 2009. Users would be prompted to click on a harmless looking advertisement and as soon as they did their twitter account began immediately sending out thousands of links unwillingly to every follower that the individual had. If the follower clicked on the link then the link would again be sent to their followers and so on. One could also catch the worm by simply viewing the profile of an infected member.

As Mikko Hypphen of the F-Secure cybersecurity firm commented “It would have been a simple trick for malware authors to modify the worm to infect a user’s computer, where more serious offenses like identity theft could have occurred.” Now imagine that instead of just your external twitter account being linked to the network, technology that regulated your bodily functions was connected to the same network. It could be a disaster. Cyberspace has taken years of work and billions of dollars to construct. But in nature, it is often easier to tear something down than it is to build it. It seems that it might be inevitable that the body of the internet could be invaded by a super-virus that tears it down. Let’s just hope that we’re not a part of it when that day comes.

Happy 30th Birthday!

This weekend marks the 30-year anniversary of the portable computer unveiling. Adam Osborne released the Osborne 1 April 3, 1981. The revolutionary portable computer was announced at the West Coast Computer Faire at San Francisco’s Brooks Hall. Although today he is not as famous as the legendary CEO of apple Steve Jobs, or Microsoft founder Bill Gates, his portable computer changed the world of technology, as we know it.

Before his Osborne 1 no one could even fathom a computer that could move from desk to desk, now portable computer laptops are so standard most students could not imagine life without them. Even now as I type this blog I cannot think of college without the convenience of my laptop to take notes, stalk on Facebook, or and write the endless research papers.Unfortunately for Osborne, his company went bankrupt after trying to introduce his computers before they were consumer ready. Now if any product has any manufacturing issue at all, take the iPhone 2, corporations immediately work to fix the apparent problem. After the iPhone 2 showed issues with the antennae, Apple sent customers free cases to help with the reception and prevent dropped calls. Osborne’s early exposure of his products led to the demise of Osborne Computer Company. Now, the premature release of products causing consumers to reject them is known as the “Osborne effect”. Companies spend millions to keep their products a secret until they are ready to announce the finalized product. Despite his lack of failure now, back in the day Adam Osborne was seen as a god in tech communities. David Bunnell, a managing editor of Osborne’s publishing company who later founded PC Magazine, PC World, Macworld, and other publications. “I tell people that in those days there were three major people in the industry: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Adam Osborne, and not necessarily in that order. He had a huge following.”

Thanks to Adam Osborne’s creation of the Osborne 1, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates followed in his footsteps to create, and continue to perfect the portable computer. After 30 years and millions and millions of models, it is only fitting we put our hands together for the father of the portable computer. Happy Birthday PC!