Posted by: Jack Santos
Occasionally I gain insight into where things are going such that it really excites me about the direction of our profession, and of the human race. That happened today, with a briefing from IBM research.
We live in a world where heart transplants, ear implants, hip replacements are all routine. Often the recipient is better for it coming out of the procedure than they were going in.
IBM didn’t say this, but what I gleamed was that within my children’s lifetime, we may not only be looking at our traditional organic transplants, but we’ll achieve stand alone compute capacities that will enable us to mimic the human brain. Think brain replacements. By 2020 we may see the mechanics in place, so sometime beyond that could see that kind of breakthrough. Compute capacity today is already equivalent to cat-brain capacity (the IBM Dawn effort at Lawrence Livermore Labs).
Head trauma, Alzheimer's disease, memory enhancement, brain augmentation – all are areas that could see significant research benefit. On a separate but related track are efforts like Google’s where access to information ubiquitously will only make this vision even more likely (or Frankenstein-ingly threatening). I sometimes feel like an extension of the internet: answers to obscure questions come to me within 10 seconds by speakingto my iPhone. The result is that I already mentally compartmentalize what I need to remember, and what I can conveniently forget, because of the ease of this access. I am, as a biological entity, already being enhanced by compute technology – and the trend is accelerating.
2020…the new 2012, at least for IT. But not the end of the world, the beginning of a new one…