I’ve been spending a lot of time on Borderline and its got me thinking. There is something magic about floating in a solar powered boat, even if it isn’t actually running on solar power yet. Yes, I know, it’s still attached to the shore. Ok, yes it still sits in the mud most of the time. I doing my best to get her moving but these things take time plus it’s cold and wet out there just now.
The whole idea of the ESPcat project is to get people thinking about technology and how technology can improve our environment. Part of building ESPcat’s lithium battery monitoring system involves a bit of computer programming so I have had to dust off my semi-senile brain and get it working again. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about electric cars and lithium batteries and even a bit about driver-less cars which everyone seems to be talking about.
I don’t claim to be the world’s greatest computer programmer but I try my best and there is something that is bothering me. We are talking about building driver-less cars which are controlled by computers that in turn, are programmed by guys like me (only younger). The problem I am running into is that I don’t believe that artificially intelligent computers are actually intelligent at all and they certainly aren’t conscious. I do a lot of joking around in this blog but I’m completely serious about this one. Do we really want to be driven around by unconscious machines? I have a bad feeling that this driver-less car thing is going to generate many tears until we accept the fact that we are heading down the wrong track.
The reason I still can program computers is that today’s computers use exactly the same von Neumann Architecture as the IBM 1620 that I learned to program on at the University of Maine in 1966! The IBM1620 had 16k of memory. The multiple computers on ESPcat are far more powerful than that IBM1620 was. The computer I am typing on right now has 4 GB of memory. It is immensely more powerful but it still isn’t really thinking; only calculating. It’s not intelligent and it’s completely unconscious, unfeeling and un-worrying. That’s why I’m worried!
Sir Roger Penrose is an 85 year old physicist and mathematician who got me thinking along these lines. Roger claims that our brains are really quantum computers. Roger thinks that quantum vibrations inside the microtubules of our brains, are what gives us consciousness. If we want conscious computers then we need abandon the old von Neumnn Archetecture and replace it with a completely new computer design. Listen to the the words of Roger and see what you think:
So there you have it. ESPcat is already doing her job as a floating, educational platform that is helping people to think about how technology will improve our environment.
Are you blog-buddies thinking yet? If not it’s time you got your microtubules vibrating.