[iDC] The 50-Year Computer

Simon Biggs s.biggs at eca.ac.uk
Tue Sep 30 07:15:09 UTC 2008

Hi Pat

I would never suggest you are a luddite. I am arguing that technology is a
social thing, that societies change and technology has to be (will inately
be) responsive to that. Technologies that do not evolve become redundant.
Your 50 year computer proposal looks attractive but how would you ensure it
remains adaptable to unknown developments? I appreciate the argument that
any system that is software based (as your system is) is more easily adapted
to circumstances. However, software can only adapt in so far as the hardware
platform it is based on enables it. Hardware independent computing is a nice
idea ­ but I doubt it is realistic (ironically) at this juncture in the
development of computing hardware.

Are you drunk? ;)



On 29/9/08 21:59, "Patrick Lichty" <voyd at voyd.com> wrote:

> I find it interesting that introducing such a polemic consistently creates
> this sort of response.
> Please read closer; note that I say that I have no real expectation of
> destroying Intel, but perhaps to create another class of computing, and
> shifting the crux of innovation to software craft.
> In addition, I also understand that technodeterminism will remain.  I merely
> polemically question the real value of what we have done, and whether other
> models could be useful.
> I also argue that in many ways (not all), much of computer use since the
> 1980's has NOT fundamentally changed, given certain constraints.
> Ned Ludd has not channeled through me, lads. I'm thinking about
> sustainability, reduction of toxic production, streamlining of ubiquitous
> computation, futurism vs. 30-year old evolitionary trends, etc. I am not
> necessarily calling for my slide rule, but perhaps for my Gibsonian
> "Sandbenders" computer.   While some are thinking that I am being regressive,
> I feel that this could be very forward thinking, if executed in the proper
> way.
> On another list, someone asked if I were drunk...
> Good, good!
>> Simon Biggs <s.biggs at eca.ac.uk> wrote:
>> 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...
>> Regards
>> Simon
>> 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
>> www.eca.ac.uk
>> simon at littlepig.org.uk
>> www.littlepig.org.uk
>> AIM/Skype: simonbiggsuk
>> Edinburgh College of Art (eca) is a charity registered in Scotland, number
>> SC009201

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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