Intel #IDF13: Should computing change the world, or make electronic coffee cups?

There’s some thought provoking discussion going on at Intel Developer Forum this week.

Intel is rolling out a bunch of new processors and developer suites and you can read about those items in the product blogs…

… but it is the futurists and the microprocessor evangelists who have some of the most interesting material up their sleeves.

NOTE: Never be afraid to read content proposed by a so-called “tech evangelist”, while 5% of disreputable tech companies use this role as glorified marketing officer, 95% (OK, maybe 90%) of firms including Intel give this position to truly worthy people who have technical backgrounds but also have a strategic eye on social science and technical usability etc.

As previously noted on Computer Weekly, joint co-chief evangelist for Intel is Steve Brown – he’s British, but he’s lived in American long enough to start saying “awesome!”… let’s forgive him for now, please stay with me.

From 1500 nanometre to 22

Painting a picture of where technological advancement is now, Brown reminded us that the big old chunky Motorola carphones that we started out with in the 1980s were based upon 1500 nanometre technology.

By comparison, today’s smartphones feature 22 nanometre technology.

NOTE: It is important to remember that Intel is working on nanometre level technology engineering where we should think about one nanometre in these terms — if the diameter of a marble was one nanometre, then the diameter of the Earth would be roughly one metre.

We might also like to remind ourselves that smartphones today now have more performance that a Pentium 4 did when it arrived back in 2000.

So now we come to the point of our story… i.e. should we use computing power to change the world, or make electronic coffee cups?

In a breakout “cookies and coffee” session with Intel’s Steve Brown we discussed the following issue — when we have enough computing power to do anything we want to, what we need to decide is exactly what DO WE DO with it.

For example, if we have enough intelligence to be able to automate a coffee cup to tell us whether it is too hot to hold or not, should we REALLY be doing that anyway when there are children starving in Africa that could do with their country’s food supply infrastructures being automated instead so that they do not starve?

Never knowingly underevangelised, Intel’s Brown immediately reminded us that he has already provided us with a TED talk on exactly this type of subject which you can view below.

VIDEO — Why machines must make us better humans – Steve Brown at [email protected]: