Google Inc, the uncontested leader in Internet services
announced it has shipped its 5 millionth “free” computer, only 14
months after starting up the “Free Computer Program”. The Google
Product Manager, Pierre Lindsely, stated he is overwhelmed by the
success of his project and they are trying very hard to keep up
People now have to wait more than three weeks to get their
“G-Tops”, as they have become known as, instead of the three days
when the program started. Pierre Lindsely: “People will wait for
anything if it’s free, so I am not worried that this will impact
the enthusiasm for this product. We are attracting some new
suppliers and we will see the waiting time decrease gradually.” The
free Google computers come with a free broadband connection that
connects only to Google WI-FI hubs (aka as G-Spots). (cont.)
A couple of newsworthy piece have gotten me to thinking about
the Beatles’ hit song, “It’s getting better all the time.”
The two articles that triggered the connection to the
songs’ lyrics are both related to rapidly emerging field of
artificial intelligence and I think the saying “getting better all
the time” is a phrase we all need to keep in mind as we move into
At a minimum this suggests that artifical intelligence will
become an even more integral component in a host of daily
activities, including customer service, computer games and
educational software, than it already is. Imagine, for instance, if
an educational computer system could tell if a child was confused
about a certain concept in biology and then reexplain it to him or
her in a way that the child could understand. This compelling
future is on the way because such computers are, in fact, “getting
better all the time.” (cont.)
The future of computing has many different aspects and it is not
my intention with this post to provide a detailed explanation of
each. Rather, I merely want to share with readers who are
interested in the future of computing some interesting and
For those looking for a broad-based overview of how computers
will change our lives, I highly recommend this detailed report by
Microsoft Research entitled “Being
Human: Human-Computer Interaction in the Year 2020.” The second
chapter, in particular, is very insightful and documents five major
transformations: 1) The End of Interface Stability; 2) The Growth
of Techno-Dependancy; 3) The Growth of Hyper-Connectivity; 4) The
End of Ephemeral; and 5) the Growth of Creative Engagement.
For readers seeking a slightly more technical understanding of
where computers are headed, I’d recommend this press release by
Gartner, Inc. It covers a number of “grand challenges” which will dramatically
alter how future computers operate and are used.
Succinctly, the major changes are:
1. Never having to manually recharge devices.
2. Parallel Programming.
3. Non-tactile, Natural Computing Interfaces. (This corresponds
with the Microsoft report.)
4. Automated Speech Translation
5. Persistent and Reliable Long-Term Storage; and
6. Increasing Programmer Productivity 100-fold.
What Happened? Scientists at Harvard University and IBM have an idea to create cheap, solar energy: by using the power from countless computers that are left on.
IBM's World Community Grid allows materials science researchers to use volunteers' computers for calculations testing new solar compounds. Researchers expect to get the research done faster- calculations that takes usually twenty years to collect would only take two.
Why is this important? By gathering information from idle computers, researchers are hoping to find organic materials to manufacture solar cells. This solar energy would be cheaper and more flexible. In turn, it would be used in a wide array of situations-such as to coat windows and rooftops.
A method of clean, cheap solar energy could help to reduce our dependency on coal for electricity generation.
What to Watch The range of potential materials used in renewable energy systems could be vastly expanded by tapping the computational power of networked personal computers. Earlier we wrote a post on a simliar computer-based discovery around solid state hydrogen storage system.
If you would like to volunteer your computer to the World Community Grid, please visit the Clean Energy Project.