I’m going to attempt to stay on the topic of something that isn’t particularly divisive to see if I can cast a net of relatability any further and avoid scaring people away. So this should hopefully not come out as a criticism of humanity itself much less any group or specific person and just an attempt at an observation of our achievement or lack thereof as a whole.
It’s great to be able to borrow these achievements and that’s why ‘we’ can say ‘we built western civilisation while “they” hadn’t built a two-storey structure yet’ while we ourselves don’t personally know how to build a mud hut. Or to borrow the inverse in some sense of generational grievance and the opportunities ‘our people’ never had and all the while we’ve all had branches of our family trees pruned by some psychotic gardeners through wars and division.
But at least something we can all borrow as a whole and be happy about is that ‘we’ built computers, right?
We, if by we I mean Mike Judge, also created the film Idiocracy and let this stand as what is most likely to date the most well-known if light hearted examination of the idea of humanity becoming stupider. I’d be so sure this film is tailored to framing the concept in a specific light, examining one particular side of the coin so to speak, but I don’t really want to dwell on it because I didn’t really like the film.
I wouldn’t want to say people are becoming less intelligent as a whole. I don’t really want to make distinctions regarding the intelligence of one person as opposed to another. By all account, the amount of mathematic calculation that goes into throwing a basketball into a hoop, within the subconscious, is likely more than the world’s premiere mathematician could consciously compute in that time. So who knows, really?
People, computers — right, so -
I may have a ratio of spending time with computers as opposed to people that’s a little alarming, but I suppose it’s just how I deal with life — to compare people to computers to try to understand them. Nothing is about anyone or any group or even humanity as a whole with a computer. It’s just doing exactly what it’s been told to do, because that’s all it knows how to do. The more I look at this comparison the less the difference seems. It doesn’t help that computers appear to be advancing so much, either, does it.
Well, that’s the centre of it really. Computers certainly appear to be becoming more advanced.
To split hairs over the definition advancement, you could say they have. What is the core of being a person, though? The core of a computer is in (or rather, is) the processor — it’s a fairly complex piece of architecture. To be grandiose about it you could call it the eighth wonder of the world if you wanted to. Could we possibly create something greater than that — what eventually became an entity we have no objective measurement to show us we ourselves are more intelligent than?
What does it take to formulate a thought? What is the weight of a thought? How would you measure it? In the case of a computer, you can — insofar as it explains this relative to some other computer. I’ll skip straight to the answer. It’s about seven gigahertz. The question was, what is the current cap on this intelligence in a single unit if we measured it that way.
If we wanted to break that down, there are 8 binary digits to a byte. 1 hertz is one alternating current wave per second. If thought is binary, that is seven billion units of binary thought per second. We’d either be very pleased with ourselves, or extremely embarrassed if we could definitively say our human thought process worked this way and then measured it.
Our computer systems as they appear to the end user generally consist of foundations built upon foundations built upon foundations. It’s possible to boot a Mac in such a way as that it will show credence to the Mach kernel the system is built upon which dates back to the 1960s. Because roots reaching back to the very inception of a computer system as we know it are based around a single ‘core’ processor, we have far from fully adapted to the multiple core systems commonplace since years ago — and quantum computing won’t likely be commonplace in our lifetimes.
It’s been seven gigahertz since a long time ago. The improvements in graphical technology relate to strong and consistent improvement in dedicated graphical units, simply responsive to the processor, and consisting internally of a similar architecture to the computer they are housed within — with processors of their own, and core speeds not close to exceeding this figure. We’ve made computers a lot smaller too, we’ve put computers in everything including other computers. But what this ‘core’ could achieve was seven gigahertz in dry ice as early as 2006.
I don’t really want to labour the point too much. A 100 megahertz processor was good in 1995. 600 megahertz was good in late 1999. Over two thousand was within the reach of an average person by 2003. The core clock speeds we expect to power a functional machine for most tasks don’t exceed that today. It’s been nearly twenty years. The core really hasn’t fundamentally changed that much. We appear to have found a ceiling in either what is physically possible, or our collective intelligence — which has always pushed past perceived physical limitations until now.
We found the power to create something that mimics life, breaking through all perceivable boundaries to come crashing into another. But is this common knowledge? I’m sure millions of people have these two pieces of some puzzle and almost as many have never put them together. Did our ‘Idiocracy’ moment come half a lifetime ago? We are so proud of our computers…
What does it say about our gods when we can’t prove we’re more intelligent than the intelligence we created? What does it mean to see a computer come back to life, in the sense of the most analogous likeliness of life we’ve harnessed, after we’ve killed it? The power leaves, the energy that gave it being outside of as an object is gone, and when that analogous life energy returns, that analogous life is exactly as you left it.
The electricity that is in them is the same electricity that is in us, the same electricity that strikes from the sky, the same electricity that fills an object with a consumable power source and makes it more than what other objects are until that source is depleted.
I don’t know where I was going with that. I’ve been thinking that eastern narratives don’t retain the same rigidity in believing a creative medium needs to spell out a message for you. Are tragedies more irresponsible than the stories with happy endings if we’re led to believe our suffering is the price we pay for some purpose and meaning when there might just be no good reason at all? We could be the experiment of some other beings who found their own intelligence cap. If that’s the case I hope they’re as proud of us as we are of our computers.