Supercomputers: Designed for humans(?!)
Ever heard of Manjit Singh? Also known as the ‘Strongman’, Manjit Singh holds more than 30 world records including pulling an empty double decker bus with his hair, pulling a double decker bus with 54 passengers with his teeth, and wait for this... pulling a Jet with his ears! His potential to do this stuff went on increasing with age, so let’s say, two years ago he was pulling a double decker bus and come today he is pulling a Jet. One may wonder what’s next? The Strongman will probably be able to pull two Jets at the same time and be officially known as the Hulk :) However, Manjit Singh is now older and human limitation to age is invincible.
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if Manjit Singh’s potential kept on growing with his age? But wait, isn’t that what our computers are doing? Moore’s law states that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. Gordon Moore, by the way, was the founder of chip company Intel which religiously follows this principle. So basically we are producing twice as powerful computers in every two years. Now this gets us thinking, when did this start? Where are we right now and where does this all lead to?
It has already been more than half a century when the computing power started getting doubled every two years and at the ‘32nd doubling’ came IBM’s super computer – Watson. In 2011, Watson defeated two of its human rivals in an American quiz show named Jeopardy. Watson is also being termed as Dr. Watson due to its involvement in treatment of lung cancer. It can do all this because of its extremely fast processing and data search.
Now don’t you wish we had a Watson instead of that old chap at the railway station inquiry counter, I am sure we won’t have that big of a queue every time. How about you enter a super market and instead of all those sales people we had a Watson that could easily tell where exactly is your favorite brand’s Chocolate Syrup and if there are any discounts on it. How about having the intelligent supercomputers plan and regulate the city traffic? Where else would you love to see such supercomputers appear? But wait, do you think supercomputers are a threat to human labor and jobs? Can Manjit Singh lift a Watson? Okay that wasn’t a question :). Most importantly, if 32nd doubling was Watson, what can we expect in the 64th doubling?