Judgement day: the rise of the machines

the rise of the machinesWhen I think back to when I started in engineering my first PC had 512k of RAM and no hard drive at all but two 360k floppy drives. Incredibly when the machine was built there was obviously no requirement envisaged for a hard drive. Shortly after I bought a 20Mb “hard card” and so started on a never-ending path of upgrades. My most recent installation is a 500Gb SSD in my laptop. The lightning fast swap times has made me think that it would be a great upgrade for our CAD and CAE workstations which in the course of their work write large files to the hard drive.

The commoditisation of very useable capacity SSDs and storage devices to 3Tb has made me realise how unthinkable this was only a few years ago. It seems to support the notion that technology just keeps being driven forwards with no apparent end, fuelled by our vision of what can be and our desires for it. What is seemingly impossible today is likely not to be so tomorrow – imagine it and the chances are that one day it can be a reality.

An article in the November issue of First News newspaper reports that top scientists have predicted that it will be possible for us to have Invisibility cloaks (Harry Potter) by 2030, teleportation (The Tomorrow People) by 2080 and time travel (The Time Tunnel, Dr Who) by 2100.

Were the filmmakers of yesteryear brilliant visionaries or was it inevitable that anything envisioned would one day become a reality? Since the birth of widespread TV we have been wowed by Kirk’s phaser (stun gun), we’ve seen self-driving cars (Total Recall) and plenty of examples of Artificial Intelligence gone mad (Terminator).  These things are now no longer science fiction but science fact.

The latter is perhaps the most significant, with some eminent scientists going as far as saying that AI is perhaps the biggest threat to the human race. None other than professor Stephen Hawking has spoken.

Is “Judgement day” (Terminator) now more than just a possibility?  We have been warned.


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