[iDC] The 50-Year Computer

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Mon Sep 29 13:43:22 UTC 2008

John is right. Turing¹s idea of the universal machine works (as an idea) in
so many contexts because it is both simple and low-tech.

It could be argued that any socially relevant technology needs to change
constantly, just like the society that produces (and is enabled by) it. I
would cite language as a technology which is an exemplar of this. It is
important that it is fixed enough that we can share a degree of
understanding in its use. However, it is equally important that it is fluid
and motile, allowing for new formations of signification and community. If
it sometimes get broken or abused as a result of this ­ well, that¹s not so
bad. It is part of change.

Bill Gates may have argued that operating systems should be like the
interfaces we employ to drive cars (all the same) but one can just look at
this idea in practice (Windows) to see how wrong he was.

One could argue that it is cars and traffic systems that are unsustainable
in their fixity. I accept that without clear shared rules, that change with
due preparation, our transport systems would cease to function (one outcome
of this would be the use of less carbon and thus enhanced sustainability)
however we have only had cars and roads, in their current high
density/performance form, for less than one hundred years. That is not a
long enough period of time to evaluate the sustainability of such a fixed
system. In fact, it looks like as a system it will be redundant before we
have that opportunity.

The 2nd law of thermodynamics may be relevant here...



On 29/9/08 04:38, "John Hopkins" <jhopkins at tech-no-mad.net> wrote:

>> >The 50-year Computer
>> >Manifestos for Computational Sustainability, I
>> >
>> >I have a proposition to make - when I am ready for my first mind/body
>> >transplant in 2058, at age 95, I want to be using the same computer I am
>> >today.  Upon first look, both may seem outlandish by today's standards, but
> but this IS techno-determinism in the form of a
> 'sustainable-user-centered-design' exercise...
> fingers and toes and perhaps an abacus on the side should do nicely, or
> perhaps consider a slip-stick.
> jh
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Simon Biggs
Research Professor
edinburgh college of art
s.biggs at eca.ac.uk

simon at littlepig.org.uk
AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk

Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number SC009201

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