Get your tinfoils on!—or, the future of computers

25.02.2016 |

Episode #10 of the course Brief history of computers by Sudeshna Das

 

Congratulations on making it the end of A Brief History of Computers! Before we part, I will leave you with some really exciting stuff that might just be a part of our daily lives in the next decade or so.

DNA is often said to be the building blocks of life. These are molecules that store biological informationthat is, information on what color your eyes are, that resistance to losing weight that you are fighting against, and maybe even how you sneeze.

All this information and more is coded into our DNA, with just six grams of DNA containing more than 3,221,225,000 terabytes of data. Phew! Imagine what we could do with the ability to store so much data!

Other than DNA computing, augmented reality is another field to watch out for. Augmented reality is when a computer-generated image is added to what we observe in real life, enhancing our experience of reality.

Imagine being able to “see” what that red dress you added to your wishlist on Amazon would actually look like on you before you bought it. Or visualizing the inside of your heart in a biology class in accurate detail. That’s augmented reality for you.

The most exciting field right now, however, is brain-inspired computing. This is essentially teaching computers to function just as humans do, with the ultimate goal of building an electronic human brain. Think JARVIS from the Iron Man movies.

Speed, efficient use of energy, performance, and storagethese are the things we most desire in a computer. Interestingly enough, these are the exact features that the human brain possesses. Essentially, each of us is carrying a supercomputer inside our head, which, if recreated using electronic components, will change the entire world as we know it.

According to Dharmendra Modha, the founder of IBM’s Cognitive Computing group, we are adapting ourselves to use technology. We got used to clicking a mouse, and now to swiping screens, but brain-inspired computing will reverse that. Computers will adapt to us.

Remember the first lesson in this course that talked about humans being computers? It is ironic that after thousands of years, computers are going back to being human again. The life of a computer is perhaps destined to be a full circle after all.

Thank you so much for staying with me for these ten days. I had a blast, and I hope you enjoyed the lessons as well. It was a pleasure to take you on this journey.

Have an amazing day!

Sudeshna Das

 

Recommended book

“The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology” by Ray Kurzweil

 

Recommended video

“What Will Happen After the Technological Singularity?” by Ray Kurzweil

 

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