"Soon, Summit will be as average as an arcade game in comparison with the new stuff coming out."
How about a nice liquid cooled Summit. The famous beer in Minnesota? Not hardly. No, this summit has nothing to do with beer, nor the upcoming US-NK summit in Singapore. This Summit recently made headlines in many of the tech blogs. For the first time in a long time, the United States is back on top. Of what? Building the world's fastest computer.
Summit was built by my former company, IBM. At a cost of $200,000,000, it sits on 1/8 acre in Oak Ridge, TN. It has been touted as being able to do more "thinking" in one second than a human could do in billions of years. This super computer sits as a monument to how we have taken Moore's Law, and once again, stood it on its head. As fast as this computer is, as the saying goes, "we ain't done yet".
Just for review, a petaflop is a quadrillion calculation per second. That is a whole bunch of zeros behind a one - like fifteen or so. In any event, Summit can do 200 petaflops per second. That is a 2 with eighteen zeros behind it. The good news is this can be used (like many other super computers are) to calculate DNA and health, to weather, to astrophysics, to much more.
That is the good news. The questionable news is this computer was built from the ground up with AI in mind. Why is that questionable? Many still wonder if Artificial Intelligence will end up helping us, controlling us, or consuming us. Some futurists are concerned about this for one basic reason - AI "thinks" differently than humans do. When we create machines who "think" differently than us, and give them the ability to be a billion times or so smarter than us, there is an inherent risk in doing so.
Where do we go from here? Everyone knows that China is out to retake the speed record. Soon, Summit will be as average as an arcade game in comparison with the new stuff coming out. But is not the petaflop as fast as we can get? According to a computer scientist when asked that question, the answer was a resounding "no". After peta comes exa, then zetta, then yotta. Then after yotta, who knows?
I have addressed this before. Some scientists believe we are closing in on a singularity. And that time is close - real close. Like 2025 close. That is when all the recent discoveries in robotics, nanotechnology, new energies, space exploration, transportation, medical technology, and of course - AI will come crashing together. We better get ready for it. To say this will be a game changer in how we live is an understatement. Everything will change.
As we trod forth, we must be wary of the unseen pitfalls in our future. Things could be very, very good for us - or not. Going forward, it is good to remember a poem about Aldous Huxley's Brave New World:
The essence of humanity starts to rot
As the human mind becomes a vacant lot
The metallic scent hits hard on the nose
A familiar olfactory sense for those
Trapped in the monstrous cage which grows
Whats outside, almost nobody knows.