Re: Blue Gene

Dan Hook (
Mon, 6 Dec 1999 11:23:25 -0500 (EST)

On Mon, 6 Dec 1999, John Clark wrote:
> To achieve these blistering speeds a radically new computer architecture
> must be used that has 1,048,576 processors. IBM will develop a new chip
> that contains 32 processors as well as lots of on chip memory but has
> only 57 machine level instructions compared with about 200 for most RISC
> machines.

According to the Reuters article on the subject, this computer will run at 10^15 ops per second, which is only two orders of magnitude below the 10^17 ops per second that various people project as the computational equivalent of the brain.

It seems that we are heading towards a situation where the hardware is willing, but the software is weak. Considering how disturbingly close the protein folding problem is to nanomachine design, and how quickly STM technology is developing, those of us hoping for a seed SI before nanotech seem to be in a bit of a bind.

The chances of developing a seed AI before military nanotech seem increasingly dismal. The best hope now would appear to be completion of a nanotech design for a terrestrial evacuation system before we have actual assemblers. This is still an enormously complex project, but it appears to be simpler than creating a mind. The problem is that it requires skills less prevalent than computer programming, requires more expensive equipment, and is not likely to produce profitable spinoffs in the mean time. Perhaps I just don't have enough imagination for the last one. Ideas would be helpful.

Dan Hook
"Whatever you say Jack, you're the master race." -- Connor McLeod