Space and time combine to overpower the human brain

A VP from Synopsys said today that by the middle of this century, computing power will exceed the thinking capacity of all the humans beings on the planet.

Rich Goldman made some compelling comparisons between the development of the microprocessor and space exploration, and showed how computing power had assisted the ability for everyone to go boldly forwards.

By 2050, Goldman said, computing power would have the capability to match the thinking power of all the human beings there are in the world, while right now it only represents one percent of the power of a human brain.

These slides from his presentation sum up the thread of his argument and show what we can continue to expect in the future, provided we don’t all blow ourselves up or we’re all laid waste by global warming.

For example, Goldman said, a 1982 Intel 80286 was 28 times more powerful than computers on the Voyagers 1 and 2, launched in 1977.   Sputnik computers were capable of only 2,000 instructions per second.  And a 2010 Apple iPad is 689 times more powerful than the onboard computers on the Columbia space shuttle, first launched in 1981.  

The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990 and the first CCD based commercial digital camera arrived in 1991. “CCDs are a big reason for later developments in astronomy,” said Goldman. They’ve made extremely powerful telescopes at a fraction of the cost.