Here's a fun one for all you computer geeks out there:

20 Petaflops

Well, if you've been following the development of computer calculating ability, this is...well, as Art Bell used to say, "gimungous", and of course, this latest "electronic brain" will be replaced in world-record calculating ability by another, and yet another... It was all a process that began in World War Two, with the calculating devices of British engineer Turing, and his German counterpart, Hans Zuse, inventors of the first recognizably modern computers (though we might mention Babbage and his "difference engine" in the nineteenth century as well). The race for bigger and better calculating machine began, in earnest, with Eniac after the war and it has been proceeding non-stop since then.

What interests me here is the need for such a conputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratories. One can speculate on all sorts of reasons for the need for such computational power at a premier national defense laboratory and I imagine that one person's speculation would be as good as another's here. But it raises questions about the next level of computing advance: quantum computing. When that nutshell - when, not if - is ever finally cracked, it will lead inevitably to a different architecture for computers, and then the game will really be afoot.

Imagine, right now, you and I have more computing power on our desks than all of NASA had during the Apollo program, that the DOD had during the Vietnam war, that the Atomic Energy Commission had during the heady and dangerous days of H-bomb atmospheric testing in the 1950s. That's not only a lot of computational power, it's a measure of how far we've come in so short a time. Quantum computing opens the possibility of something else. By using the various states of particles as a component of an architecture of information storage, retrieval, and processing, there are some disturbing possibilities that open up, for as many physicists have begun to point out, there appear to be direct links between quantum physics and consciousness itself. In a nutshell, quantum computing may open that door not only to artificial intelligence, but to the ability of that intelligence to interface - quite literally - with the physical medium itself in a way now only being written and dreamed about in obscure literature on "quantum consciousness."

In short, we are in my opinion, on the cusp of a brave new world, to borrow a phrase, on the cusp of a whole new civilization, so....brace yourselves.

See you on the flip side.

Joseph P. Farrell

Joseph P. Farrell has a doctorate in patristics from the University of Oxford, and pursues research in physics, alternative history and science, and "strange stuff". His book The Giza DeathStar, for which the Giza Community is named, was published in the spring of 2002, and was his first venture into "alternative history and science".


  1. Tim Fonseca on April 2, 2011 at 8:53 pm

    First, a big “Thank You” Joseph P. Farrell for your thought provoking series of books.
    The bottom line of all this A.I. fetishism is the naive, and idiotic, belief that science/technology will be our ultimate saviour, the genuine Holy Grail, the goal of all our questing.
    Hogwash, balderdash, baloney, and flatulence.
    Will computers/machines ever become conciously aware? No. That A.I. idea must now be placed in the Science/Fantasy genre. There is no hidden HAL in Area 51 or anywhere else.
    Read a book titled, “Why Computers Still Can’t Think”
    If you are interested in the ultimate loonyness on these topics, in the largest pile of rubbish available on these issues, then you must read,
    “The Physics of Immortality” by Frank J. Tipler.
    That book is the quack bible of the Transhumanists and Emerging Technologies groupies.
    Do I hate technology? Of course not, but we must be sensible about it and not treat it as another in the endless series of “ideologies” that have all ended up on the rubbish heap of history as Gods that Failed.

    I fear that the Transhumanist movement may be the beginning embryo of the next Nazi style movement. The Cyborg Superhumans versus the human rabble. Upgrade or die!

    • Joseph P. Farrell on April 2, 2011 at 9:07 pm

      I am not so sure. I have and have read Tipler’s book and don’t see it as the transhumanist bible that you do. As for AI, again, I am not so optimistic… cross-over technologies might actually make it possible. What they are missing is, in my opinion, something much more profound

      • Tim Fonseca on April 3, 2011 at 10:38 pm

        “What they are missing is, in my opinion, something much more profound”

        Which is, please explain.

        As for me, I am Gnostically-toned, as Stephen A. Hoeller would state it, so conciousness and awareness to me are not just digital binary numbers as atheist technologists would have it.
        The whole idea of uploading our personal awareness and conciousness into computers is absurd. The acceptance of that idea requires a very scary dehumanization of what it means to be human, a wholesale cheapening of the very definition of humankind.
        Are we just numbers, is love a number, is compassion just an algorithm?

        Then again….

        Are there consciously aware silicon based lifeforms in our galaxy. If so, then think tank exploration of that idea may lead to conscious computers on Earth.
        Fred Hoyle speculated that carbon based life was created by silicon based life many billions of years ago,
        The archons are very tricky fellows.

        • Tim Fonseca THE FONSECA on May 23, 2011 at 10:48 pm

          Well, if not the transhumanist Bible maybe the, “Digital Maifesto”, instead…
          Hmmm…. then again maybe we can call it the, “Opiate of the Transhumanists”
          ….the tome is just utopian nonsense than will look very silly in 50 years.
          As tipsy Tipler states at the beginning of his manifesto, you must accept his computational reductionism…no soul, no spirit, no non-material God in fact, …. just numbers to be manipulated.

          “I am not a number, I am a free man” Ha, Ha, Ha

  2. Michael on March 31, 2011 at 11:22 pm

    Here is an interesting speech, I think it fits quite nicely with all that has been sited so far. It is a PDF of a speech given by Edward Teller circa 1990.

  3. Jon on March 31, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    The kind of massive simulations carried out by such machines include complex events like nuclear explosions, but can also be used for social modeling and other such things. They are obvious failures at climate simulations, so one wonders how well the programmers do with other complex problems.

    On a slightly different topic, saw this article about a truck driver who back -engineered an atom bomb from researching government documentation:

    He didn’t need no petaflops……

    • Christine on March 31, 2011 at 10:55 pm

      atom bombs are pretty easy, you can get the info from a library. Some
      high school student did some paper on making one from such info.
      The real problem is getting ahold of bomb grade material. and the
      means to put the critical mass together without blowing yourself up
      also. A really crude device would just be a pile up, with a small
      nuclear explosion wasting most of the material that gets flung around,
      explosives slam it all together so nothing is wasted or not much, and
      the pieces that together make critical mass are assembled somewhere
      away from the bomber.

  4. Christine on March 31, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    “there are some disturbing possibilities that open up, for as many physicists have begun to point out, there appear to be direct links between quantum physics and consciousness itself.”

    Here comes Colossus The Forbin Project. or Hal.

    • Mike M on March 31, 2011 at 5:57 pm

      I personally think we already have him, HAL that is.

      • Bill on April 3, 2011 at 8:22 am

        “Open the pod-bay door, HAL.”

        • Mike M on April 3, 2011 at 5:12 pm

          ” I can’t let you do that Dave “

  5. Mike M on March 31, 2011 at 8:05 am

    That certainly is fast, but hmmm, who had the first petaflop?

  6. sj smith on March 31, 2011 at 5:37 am

    Advance of the Archons? see John Lash
    Ahriman enters into terrestrial 3d through A.I.? see Rudolf Steiner

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