Re: eeyore and tigger

From: Spike Jones (
Date: Wed Jun 14 2000 - 22:56:13 MDT

Friends this one is kinda long, but may be one of the
more worthwhile things I have posted in a while.

Allow me to turn this NMD debate by asking a question.

If the argument is over the current non-feasibility of a national missile
defense, what future technologies can we imagine that would make
such a thing possible? What are we still missing? Note I am not
arguing if such a thing *should* be done, I am asking what do
we need to make it happen?

Heres a personal experience. In 1971, a young Stanford PhD
came to work at Lockheed in Sunnyvale. His doctorate was
in the then-new field of digital feedback and control theory. He
was assigned to a feasibility study group on reentry body
interceptors, not because the U.S. wanted to build such a thing,
but wanted to make sure the commies couldnt do it.

He came up with a feedback control diagram that showed
what would be needed. The rocket hardware technology,
the valves, the actuators, the nozzles, all that stuff wasnt
too out-of-reach at the time. The thing that was in the
science fiction realm was the computer needed to make
it all work. It required that the computer be carried on-board,
which was understandably a radical concept at the time. This
young engineer with the freshly minted PhD mapped out, way
back in 1971, the system that would eventually become the
THAAD missile. It is the stuff of legend today.

Now of course, what he proposed at the time would have
sounded like "...if we had a computer with the power of
100 crays in a package the size of a marble..." The audience
politely thanked him and NEXT! But the miracles of miniaturization
kept coming and kept coming. And coming and coming until
by the late 80s it didnt look crazy at all to carry an on-board
computer capable enough to run a feedback loop fast enough
to hit a bullet with a bullet. Last Saturday was the first anniversary
of the first successful THAAD hit.

Nowthen, my friend who did this study in 1971 still works
at Lockheed. He is kind of an honorary godlike character,
a visionary, an advisor. But he saw 30 years into the future.

I propose we look into the future, with the knowledge that
in 30 years, we will likely have 100-cray computers in
packages the size of a marble. Then what can we do?

What about Rosie the maid from the Jetsons? Given sufficiently
high power computers and feedback loops, could we not build
droids that could do all the things Rosie did, carrying on witty
conversation at the same time? It is all doable, with just
superfast computers and sufficiently sophisticated digital
feedback control systems!

Let us think like Dr. THAAD, not simply dismissing a
way-out idea, but rather estimating what would actually
be needed to carry out your fondest dreams. Then let us
work to make that happen. Wooo hoooo! spike

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