A web log, a test of my web design software, stories about the absurd, the dumb & interesting stuff.
Can machines think? Claude Shannon, the pioneer of information theory, was asked ‘Can machines think?’. His answer was; “Yes. I am a machine and you are a machine and you can think, can’t you?” That quote has been attributed to both Claude Shannon and Alan Turing. Both were pioneer scientists at the dawn of the computer age. Both geniuses. I can’t find a definitive answer as to whether this is an actual quote from either of them. But I can imagine both of them might have said it. So I thought I would ask ChatGPT whether it knew the answer. It said I was wrong and the quote is from Alan Turing. But hang on a sec… I’m asking a machine what it thinks about a question to a human about whether he thinks machines can think. This is all a bit meta. For the record, I think machines can think. I also think we’re just (biological) machines. I see no reason why a computer emulation of the way the brain works should not produce the same thinking result. The full question and answer from ChatGPT 4: Charles: Claude Shannon was once asked ‘Can machines think’, his answer was: ‘Yes. I’m a machine and I can think can’t I?’. What did he mean by this? ChatGPT: It seems that there is a slight misquote or confusion in the question. The statement in question is not attributed to Claude Shannon, but rather to Alan Turing, a British mathematician and computer scientist. Turing is often considered the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. In a famous 1950 paper, Turing proposed the “Imitation Game” (now known as the Turing Test) as a way to determine if machines can think. He was once asked, “Can machines think?” To which he replied, “Yes. I’m a machine and I can think, can’t I?” In this context, Turing was playfully pointing out that humans are also biological machines, composed of complex systems and processes. By suggesting that he himself was a machine that could think, Turing was highlighting the idea that if biological machines (humans) can think, then it is conceivable that artificial machines could also be designed to think. Turing’s comment should be understood more as a provocative statement that invites further exploration of the question, rather than as a definitive answer. That’s a bit spooky. The continued progress of ARM (and destruction of Intel) Six months ago I wrote about the incredible story of ARM (see below). We now have details of the first ‘desktop class’ ARM processor from Apple. They call it the Apple M1. And it’s absolutely stonking. I think Apple threw everything and the kitchen sink at this first Apple-designed CPU for their mainstream laptops and desktops. It’s a technical tour-de-force.  On top of that they have included another astonishing bit of software technology they call Rosetta 2. This enables the new Apple machines to run Intel x86 code, so these new computers can run software designed for older Intel machines. Unlike Microsoft’s attempt at doing this (for their ARM based Windows tablets), which does an interpreted emulation of x86 instruction set, the Apple does a one-time cross compile of x86 code into ARM code. This is brilliant and ‘just works’ to use that hackneyed phrase. Combined with the shear speed of the Apple ARM M1 chip, there are benchmarks showing the M1 is faster running some x86 code than actual x86 processors.  Truly astounding. For the hardcode geek there’s a great in-depth article - and I mean really in-depth at AnandTech. If you want to understand why Apple had no choice but to move to their own ARM CPU, there’s one graph from the AnandTech review that shows the progress of Apple’s ARM CPU over the last 6 generations, compared to Intel’s: I took the liberty of drawing the lines on AnandTech's chart.  Original here. The purple line is the increase in Apple CPU performance, and blue line is the increase in Intel CPUs over the last 5 years or so (and it doesn't include the new M1 in that either!) It’s simple: Intel is simply not progressing as fast as Apple’s CPU.  That’s utterly damning for Intel.  This marks the clearest indication yet, in my opinion, of the end-of-days for the Intel architecture. This is not just the ‘beginning of the end’ of Intel. That was the first iPhone ten years ago (Intel completely missed that one), but this is the near the end-of-the end for Intel. And the reason why this is so goes right back to the architecture. As my original article said - the ARM was designed from day one to be simple, but fast.  As anyone who has written assembly language for both processors will know the Intel (and AMD) x86 architecture is a nightmare of complexity. Less is more. Again. The incredible story of ARM A picture of the 1986 ARM evaluation circuit board. The story of how ARM took over the world without anyone realising, is an amazing tale. The fact that most people don’t even know who or what ARM is, is surprising, maybe a bit depressing. It’s a story of a tiny group of geeky engineers in a small company in Cambridge in the UK doing the impossible, taking on the largest silicon-valley computer chip designers, and over a period of 40 years, slowly, by stealth, becoming the world’s dominant microprocessor. More. Birds of Prey in the UK Twenty years ago there were no birds of prey around my house. Now I’m surrounded by them. Yesterday I counted 16 Red Kites in the sky above my house. Are they waiting for something? More. Electric Cars Ten years ago in this blog, I wrote that electric cars were the future. That in 10 years they would common, and in another 10 they’d be the only type of car you could get. That prediction seems to be working out pretty well. But, wow, look how far we have come. More here. Most of the rest of this blog is old. Very old. Like 10 13 years old. It’s interesting to see how my predictions panned out - most were pretty accurate it turns out. Dolphin Bubble Rings It would be a seriously difficult task to create a machine that made rings of bubbles, more accurately hoops of air, as you can see in these pictures. These are a continuous rolling cylinder of air that does not float to the surface. Presumably the rolling, moving nature overcomes the buoyancy. The physics of these things must be pretty complex. The fact that dolphins can produce these bubble hoops is just astounding. They seem to make them for fun, as a toy to play with. The fact they can teach other dolphins the trick is even more amazing. How do they do this? Check out the original video here.
From 1986 This chip would take over the world
September 2010
More More
September 2019
October 2019
June 2020
November 2020
March 2023