Say Uncle wrote about our exobrains this morning then I went to work today and worked on the operating system for one. I fired off a build of the software and I happily noted that the CPU usage on the eight 3 GHz processors went to 98%. It pretty much stayed there for most of the two to three hours it took to do a build. The CPUs get some rest when it’s writing a bunch of stuff to disk but still it’s an impressive amount of CPU cycles being burned.
Then I wondered just how impressive is it? What does it really mean?
That computer can add 20 numbers together in the time it takes for light to travel one foot.
Eight 3 GHz processors are doing something on the order of 20 billion operations per second. And those “operations” aren’t exactly trivial. Each operation is something like an addition, subtraction, multiplication, reading or writing a number. And those aren’t just numbers like 0 through 10. The CPU can handle any number in the range from -2147483648 to +2147483647 just as easily as it can from -10 to +10. And while it is doing that it can keep up a running commentary telling me what it is doing at a rate that is far to fast for me to keep up.
Imagine you have every man, woman and child on this planet (about six billion) working on the same task they couldn’t even do the raw arithmetic let along the communication and coordination at a rate that is even 1/100th of what the little box under my desk can do. I have the brain power (for some tasks) exceeding the capacity of several earth-like planets complete sentient population at my disposal.
The exobrain of today is only about one 1/3 of a planets worth–but that isn’t a bad start on a budding cyborg.
Did I also tell you we are working on project SkyNet?
Also closely related.