Saturday, May 31, 2008

Three concepts which are shaking my foundations

1. HP's announcement of having made a memristor. I trained as an electrical engineer. The memristor is the 4th passive component (the others being the resistor, the capacitor and the inductor). One quarter of the fundamentals of electrical engineering was announced last week! A memristor can function as a memory cell but it's passive (i.e. no power to maintain state, no refresh cycles etc.). And to make matters worse the theory to explain how HP's memristor works requires a complete change in how electricity is understood (flux not voltage). It's been compared to Newton's discovery of F=ma.

2. Louis Savain's positing of a Universal Behaviour Machine rather than a Universal Computing Machine being the basis of computing theory. Parallelism is inherent in the UBM and serial processing has to be added as a constraint. Whereas for Turing's UCM, serialisation is inherent and parallelism is the constraint. Savain posits that we've got the whole theory of computing wrong. Thirty years as a programmer and now he tells me I don't know nuthin'. To make matters worse my training as an electrical engineer forces me to agree with him.

3. John Macmurray's positing that human beings are persons, not machines or animals but we don't have the philosophical apparatus to understand what a person is yet. Thinking is a by-product of what persons do. Blows the theoretical foundation out of most attempts at AI. A "thinking machine" is by definition an oxymoron.

This is God's/Allah's/Flying Spaghetti Monster's revenge for my complaint last week that there is nothing exciting happening in IT these days.

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