‘As We May Think’ – part 10

Many ideas that Vannevar Bush envisioned came into existence in some form or other since 1945. First of all the way records are recorded changed massively with the advent of speech technology and Google glasses and other optical head-mounted displays. The second part of this essay discussed the evolution in storing information from the improved microfilm Bush suggested for his memex to CDs and DVD and other memory formats in modern day computers. However storage evolved from personal libraries and folders to servers anyone could access through their web browsers using an internet connection. The improvements regarding the consultation of records started when hypertext and hyperlinks were invented and formed the basics for the HyperText Transfer Protocol based on the client-server architecture of the World Wide Web. Even though every domain has a specific name, sometimes search engines are needed in order to find websites. Another prediction Bush made quite explicitly were new forms of encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia. In the final chapter of “As We May Think” he asks himself “must we always transform to mechanical movements in order to proceed from one electrical phenomenon to another?”[1]

Leading computer scientists and technologists agree that the definition of “computer” is changing. Ultimately scientists want to build a computer similar to the human brain. “Which means focusing on capabilities like pattern recognition and juiced-up processing power –building machines that can perceive their surroundings by using sensors, as well as distill meaning from deep oceans of data”. However, the way the human brain works remains unclear although scientists know “that talking about the brain as a computer is more than just a useful metaphor”. The founder of IBM’s Cognitive Computing group predicts “So far, we have learned to adapt to computers … but given the advent of the brain-inspired computing and how it’s going to integrate into modern computing infrastructure, computers will begin to adapt more and more to human beings.”[2]

[1] Bush. As We May Think. Chapter 8.

[2] Adrienne Lafrance. What Is a ‘Computer’ Anymore? The Atlantic. July 20 2015. Consulted 7 march 2016.


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