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Welcome to the age of pervasive supercomputing

Richard Adler | Oct. 1, 2014
The emergence of supercomputing in everyday life will require a new kind of literacy that will allow us to appreciate what the technology can — and can’t — do.

Bringing supercomputing into our daily lives will require the wide availability of networks that provide high bandwidth and reliably low latency times. Ensuring that network operators are able to provide users with such capabilities when they need them should be taken into account in both the current debate over "network neutrality" and longer-term legislative efforts to modernize the regulation of telecommunications. It will also require a major investment in network infrastructure. Industry is already putting tens of billions of dollars each year into network upgrades, and we need to get public policies right to support these efforts.

And, given that exponential change is likely to continue, what might lie beyond the rapidly emerging world of supercomputing? In the more distant future looms the prospect that the power of computers will eventually outstrip human cognition. In his provocative new book, Superintelligence, Oxford philosophy professorNick Bostrom suggests than when machine brains surpass human brains, we may become dependent on them in ways that we do not altogether like. But for now, he concludes, we remain in control of the machines, and we still have the power to use them for our own benefit.

It's our move.


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