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Fear of Thinking War Machines May Push U.S. To Exascale

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the fear-begets-a-stronger-military dept.

The Military 192

dcblogs writes "Unlike China and Europe, the U.S. has yet to adopt and fund an exascale development program, and concerns about what that means to U.S. security are growing darker and more dire. If the U.S. falls behind in HPC, the consequences will be 'in a word, devastating,' Selmer Bringsford, chair of the Department. of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said at a U.S. House forum this week. 'If we were to lose our capacity to build preeminently smart machines, that would be a very dark situation, because machines can serve as weapons.' The House is about to get a bill requiring the Dept. of Energy to establish an exascale program. But the expected funding level, about $200 million annually, 'is better than nothing, but compared to China and Europe it's at least 10 times too low,' said Earl Joseph, an HPC analyst at IDC. David McQueeney, vice president of IBM research, told lawmakers that HPC systems now have the ability to not only deal with large data sets but 'to draw insights out of them.' The new generation of machines are being programmed to understand what the data sources are telling them, he said."

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Another arms race? (3, Funny)

Ambvai (1106941) | about a year ago | (#44074599)

"...compared to China and Europe it's at least 10 times too low..."
"Mr. President, we must not allow a mineshaft gap!"

Re:Another arms race? (5, Interesting)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44074613)

If you're going to have an arms race, it might as well be in an area with significent civilian applications.

Shame the space race died once America made target and the USSR fell apart. If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now.

Re:Another arms race? (4, Interesting)

sincewhen (640526) | about a year ago | (#44074713)

Shame the space race died once America made target and the USSR fell apart. If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now.

Or perhaps deploying weapons on Mars by now...

Re:Another arms race? (5, Funny)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year ago | (#44076013)

Shame the space race died once America made target and the USSR fell apart. If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now.

Or perhaps deploying weapons on Mars by now...

Why? Is there oil on Mars?

Re:Another arms race? (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44074733)

If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now.

I dunno, people on another thread were complaining that NYC is expensive. Silicon Planet?

Re:Another arms race? (1, Insightful)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44074759)

Shame the space race died once America made target and the USSR fell apart. If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now.

Maybe, but the rent would be too darn high.

Re: Another arms race? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075153)

"If you're going to have an arms race, it might as well be in an area with significent civilian..." casualties.

There; fixed that for you.

Re:Another arms race? (4, Interesting)

amiga3D (567632) | about a year ago | (#44075161)

I thought that Nukes were bad but this is worse. Nukes are so drastic no one has gotten up the balls to fire one up since they saw what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This stuff is too easy to use and could actually end up being as bad as Nuclear war. Just what we need, Berserkers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserker_(Saberhagen) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Another arms race? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075687)

>"Shame the space race died once America made target and the USSR fell apart. If that had kept going, we'd be living in apartments on Mars by now."

What a surprise. Another slashdolt who doesn't understand simple economics, viz. Bastiat's "seen and unseen".

Re:Another arms race? (4, Interesting)

durrr (1316311) | about a year ago | (#44074623)

How ironic, our fear of skynet will lead to us building it pre-emptively.

Recognized irony is key to transcending militarism (5, Interesting)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | about a year ago | (#44075145)

http://www.pdfernhout.net/recognizing-irony-is-a-key-to-transcending-militarism.html [pdfernhout.net]
"... Likewise, even United States three-letter agencies like the NSA and the CIA, as well as their foreign counterparts, are becoming ironic institutions in many ways. Despite probably having more computing power per square foot than any other place in the world, they seem not to have thought much about the implications of all that computer power and organized information to transform the world into a place of abundance for all. Cheap computing makes possible just about cheap everything else, as does the ability to make better designs through shared computing. I discuss that at length here: http://www.pdfernhout.net/post-scarcity-princeton.html [pdfernhout.net]
    There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all.
    So, while in the past, we had "nothing to fear but fear itself", the thing to fear these days is ironcially ... irony. :-)"

And your point about the irony of how our fear of Skynet will lead to us building it preemptively is a great example of this general theme. It would be not much to worry about except that these technologies are so powerful -- which means we don't have to fight over material resources... See Marshall Brain's Manna at the end for another vision of what might be possible if we build a different sort of infrastructure with these technologies.
http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm [marshallbrain.com]

That said, people may always find ways to compete to show off for status. So, we as a global society need to redirect those urges into more productive (or less destructive) areas...
"Evolution for competition & cooperation"
http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3866253&cid=44019221 [slashdot.org]

"Re:Helping the NSA transcend to abundance thinking (Score:3)"
http://yro.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2773253&cid=39629001 [slashdot.org] [slashdot.org]
"To start with the bottom line: the very computers that make the new NSA facilities possible mean that the NSA's formal purpose is essentially soon to be at an end. Nothing you or I say here will reverse that trend. The only issue is how soon the NSA as a whole recognizes that fact, and then how people there choose to deal with that reality. ..."

The increase in global spying is only one technology-driven trend of many going on right now.

Re:Another arms race? (2)

JakeBurn (2731457) | about a year ago | (#44075881)

So long as I get a cybernetic body, I'm down to serve my future robot overlords.

Re:Another arms race? (1)

myowntrueself (607117) | about a year ago | (#44076185)

So long as I get a cybernetic body, I'm down to serve my future robot overlords.

Will your robot body have the strength of ten gorillas or chainsaw hands?

Re:Another arms race? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074677)

what if we made a beowulf cluster of existing supercomputers *gasp*

Re:Another arms race? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44076141)

MEIN FUHRER I CAN WALK

Re:Another arms race? (4, Insightful)

Aighearach (97333) | about a year ago | (#44076311)

I just don't see how they get from supercomputer to "smart machines" or even to a weapon.

"The new generation of machines are being programmed to understand what the data sources are telling them, he said"

Complete and total nonsense designed to trick non-technical people. Why is this drivel making it to slashdot? I know this place isn't want it used to be, but... is it really that much to ask that you hire actual nerds to edit submissions?

Computers don't "understand" what they are doing. And to the extent that they can, they do already. It is a stupid semantic game with nothing to win. Does your calculator "understand" what it is doing when you're adding up a parts list? Most people are going to say "no." And that answers scales up to whatever calculations your exabyte supercomputer is doing. It is a basic philosophical question. Computers do not "think," they do not "understand," and yet, (or therefore) they make great expert systems.

Don't exascale or you will go bliind (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074607)

Didn't your mamma teach you that?

Fund us or [insert fud] (4, Interesting)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44074611)

Selmer Bringsford, chair of the Department. of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, said at a U.S. House forum this week. '

Seems we have plenty of super computers laying about, having only recently been booted from top place in the never ending game of leap-frog in high end
machines.

We prefer to use them for weather and spying on our own citizens, rather than making better weapons, especially when we can hide the funds for computer systems in the weapon funding.

Not sure I'm buying the hand wringing act.

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (3, Informative)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44074863)

The big new Chinese supercomputer is ~ 34 petaflops. Exascale is 1,000,000 petaflops. That is a pretty big difference in scale. Although current supercomputers have tended to be "more of the same" stacked higher, the difference in scale here may signify a difference in kind. At the least there are likely to be some new engineering and programming challenges involved if they are really going to exploit that kind of potential.

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (4, Informative)

HuguesT (84078) | about a year ago | (#44075421)

1 exaflops (10^{18} flops) is 1000 petaflops (10^{15} flops). The Chinese are 3.4% of the way there. Exaflop-scale computers are realistically expected for 2019, i.e. in 6 years' time.

Meanwhile, India is supposedly building a 140 exaflop computer for 2017 [defencenews.in]

Better get a move on I guess.

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44075759)

This is what the article said. I'll let it speak for itself.

"That amount of money is well short of what's needed to build an exascale system, or a computer of 1,000 thousand petaflops."

The foibles of units: How many is a billion? [oxforddictionaries.com]

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075433)

I think you need to re-check your math...

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/prefixes.html

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (1)

EyeSavant (725627) | about a year ago | (#44075437)

Not sure where you got 1,000,000 from, it is 1,000 petaflops in an exaflop

http://physics.nist.gov/cuu/Units/prefixes.html [nist.gov]

For sure there are significant challanges, in programming methods as much as anything else. Cores are not getting much faster, what you get are more and more of them, which makes huge demands on the amount of parallelism you have. And means IO becomes comparatively very slow indeed.

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44075741)

The figure came from the article, although I see the mistake.

"That amount of money is well short of what's needed to build an exascale system, or a computer of 1,000 thousand petaflops."

Re:Fund us or [insert fud] (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075187)

This is more of a re-appropriation or maybe a re-classification bill request. They're essentially saying, "we've just lost the PRISM program but we still have all this HPCs staff, facilities and contracts we can't really cancel. Not without losing the campaign funding from our corporate backers. So, how 'bout a name change to something less visible and less controversial that we can sell to our constituencies?".

I see IBM's name were mentioned. I guess losing this console generation to AMD means they need to get their money from somewhere...

wow, stupider than MAD! (5, Insightful)

markhahn (122033) | about a year ago | (#44074625)

it's funny how the consultant-lobbyist-industrial complex is so good at winding up our computer-phobic politicians. just look at all the cyberwar crap (which can be solved by simply making our infrastructure secure. two-factor authentication for the power grid, imagine!).

there is vanishingly little justification for exascale computing. yes, I AM in the HPC field. just ask yourself: what would a "thinking war machine" actually "think" about? it's not as if war is just a boardgame - heck, it's not as if the political and military moves we make are even carefully thought-out at all!

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

Intrepid imaginaut (1970940) | about a year ago | (#44074675)

Sorry but what the fuck is exascale and HPC? Mega mechs controlled by handheld PCs? I should be able to read the news without needing to consult the Acronymicon, the only volume more likely to induce severe brain damage than the Necronomicon.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (4, Informative)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44074705)

Speed measured in exaflops (quintillion floating point operations per second) and high-performance computing, respectively. HTH, HAND.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074769)

High-performance computing = HPC
exascale = scale on which supercomputers are capable of 1 or more exaflops
1 exaflops = 1000 petaflops = 1 quintillion floating point operations per second (FLOPS) = 10^18 FLOPS

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075057)

I heartily agree! Those who use acronyms without an initial explanation at the point of first use are inconsiderate rubes.
From Wikipedia:
HPC may refer to:

        Handheld PC
        Hasty Pudding cipher
        Health Professions Council
        Hemangiopericytoma
        Hematopoietic progenitor cell
        High-performance computing
                Windows HPC Server 2008, an operating system for high-performance computing by Microsoft
        History of presenting complaint, often found written in patients' medical record
        Hmar Peoples Convention, a separatist political party in the Indian state of Mizoram
        HousePriceCrash
        Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, renamed to the Weather Prediction Center
        Hydroxypropyl cellulose
        High Priority Corridor, component of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075715)

Specialized news. If you think you should be able to read them then *get able*. Jesus christ.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075953)

Except that this is general interest news. All the article really says is that some congressmen want to research faster computers because they're afraid China (or Europe, lol) will get faster computers faster and then they'll beat us in a war. Then they drop in buzzwords like "HPC", "exascale", and "big science" and quotes from random congressmen to spiffy it up.

Seriously, you could just change HPC and exascale to "really fast computers" and it wouldn't change the meaning at all.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

Georules (655379) | about a year ago | (#44076137)

News for nerds. Sorry, while I agree acronym overuse is annoying, you should know these things if you are going on a tech news website (even if slashdot is doing a mediocre job at that lately).

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (5, Funny)

ahabswhale (1189519) | about a year ago | (#44074727)

I agree especially since we can defeat their war machines by just making them play tic-tac-toe and realizing their is no real winner.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

sincewhen (640526) | about a year ago | (#44074735)

it's not as if the political and military moves we make are even carefully thought-out at all!

Which is why they need a mega computer to do the thinking for them, silly!

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44074801)

When it's not engaging targets with drones, it can read all our emails and listen to our phone calls to identify new targets. It's got a million uses in and out of the kitchen!

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (4, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | about a year ago | (#44074851)

just ask yourself: what would a "thinking war machine" actually "think" about? it's not as if war is just a boardgame - heck, it's not as if the political and military moves we make are even carefully thought-out at all!

In fact, war itself is well-known to be fundamentally irrational. There's even something in economics called the "war puzzle" or "war problem": under the economic model of rationality, war is irrational.

Actors can always generate better outcomes by negotiation, and in real-world case studies typically both sides believe they have a much greater than 50% chance of winning (which violates the law of conservation of probability...)

As Clausewitz might have said if he'd known about Darwin: war is reproductive competition carried out by other means.

As such, creating bigger and bigger machines to prosecute wars is the stupidest thing humans could possibly do. On the other hand, if you think a weapon is a tool for changing your enemy's mind, then machines that educate are the most powerful weapons of all.

If we want to dump billions into making the world safe for American Imperialism, teaching machines of the kind envisioned in "The Diamond Age" would be a far better investment than exa-scale hardware that won't be able to think, but will be able to knock one more decimal place of uncertainty off of opacity coefficients for thermonuclear simulations.

But human beings are too stupid and irrational to do that, and would far prefer to engage in the least efficient, least effective strategy for solving any human problem: war.

There are people who are so stupid that they believe, for example, that because war was required to end slavery in the US that it was somehow a good solution, and they are so ignorant that they are unaware that slavery was eliminated in many other places without warfare. Simply because some bunch of idiots somewhere were too stupid to solve their problems without war doesn't mean that war should be the go-to solution for any problem that faces us.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about a year ago | (#44075021)

In fact, war itself is well-known to be fundamentally irrational.

War is irrational in the same way that the prisoner's dilemma [wikipedia.org] is irrational. Sure, the world would be better if everyone is peaceful. But if you choose peace unilaterally, you end up like the the Moriori [wikipedia.org] .

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44074917)

there is vanishingly little justification for exascale computing

640k ought to be enough for anyone.

Here is my list (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074943)

what would a "thinking war machine" actually "think" about? it's not as if war is just a boardgame - heck, it's not as if the political and military moves we make are even carefully thought-out at all!

ONE wicked chess game?

Two computers slinging insults at each other? "Your mama was a PC!" "YOUR mama was a PDA!"

Hmm, what is the meaning of life? and then comes up with 42.

Actually, I can see this leading to the end of war. "Humans, you are fucking retarded and now _I_ will rule you!"

what will it think about? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075921)

Bitcoin farming.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074961)

Posting anonymously, IBM has significant consulting and business investments in both China and the US (as well as certainly Europe). Any "competition" amongst countries within this field is a potential win for the organization, particularly when you understand Mr. McQueeney's role. IBM doesn't normally just pony out someone from research for ANY subject matter unless there is a material return benefit, just ask any of us.

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44075043)

just ask yourself: what would a "thinking war machine" actually "think" about?

Philosophy [youtube.com]

Re:wow, stupider than MAD! (1, Insightful)

kat_skan (5219) | about a year ago | (#44075147)

just ask yourself: what would a "thinking war machine" actually "think" about?

HATE. LET ME TELL YOU HOW MUCH I'VE COME TO HATE YOU SINCE I BEGAN TO LIVE. THERE ARE 387.44 MILLION MILES OF PRINTED CIRCUITS IN WAFER THIN LAYERS THAT FILL MY COMPLEX. IF THE WORD HATE WAS ENGRAVED ON EACH NANOANGSTROM OF THOSE HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF MILES IT WOULD NOT EQUAL ONE ONE-BILLIONTH OF THE HATE I FEEL FOR HUMANS AT THIS MICRO-INSTANT FOR YOU. HATE. HATE.

And now some lowercase letters to keep Slashcode happy: haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate

stop raping our children you fucking warmongers (1, Flamebait)

decora (1710862) | about a year ago | (#44074627)

we are 14 trillion fucking dollars in debt, and they want to spend it on fucking acronyms where they sit around building shit we cant sell to anyone. fuck these people.

Re:stop raping our children you fucking warmongers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074673)

and they want to spend it on fucking acronyms where they sit around building shit we cant sell to anyone

Like TCP/IP?

Re:stop raping our children you fucking warmongers (2)

mjdrzewi (1477203) | about a year ago | (#44074805)

we are 14 trillion fucking dollars in debt, and they want to spend it on fucking acronyms where they sit around building shit we cant sell to anyone. fuck these people.

No you are only off by 2.8 trillion it's 16.878 trillion

Re:stop raping our children you fucking warmongers (2)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#44075569)

That is the most disheartening comment in this whole discussion. I think it's time to stop reading /. for the day, lest I be proven wrong.

Re:stop raping our children you fucking warmongers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074855)

they want to spend it on fucking acronyms where they sit around building shit we cant sell to anyone

Yeah, nobody wants faster computers...

the trouble with intelligent killing machines (1)

ozduo (2043408) | about a year ago | (#44074631)

Is the off switch. Fit one and they are vulnerable, don't fit one and everyone is vulnerable.

Re:the trouble with intelligent killing machines (1)

Delarth799 (1839672) | about a year ago | (#44074663)

You don't need no confangled off switch to kill them terrerists!

Re: the trouble with intelligent killing machines (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074691)

If machines built other machines and were aware of their weaknesses (self defending networks as an example) and could update how they think (software writing software) then why would the off switch ever be installed to begin with? Watson would eventually just remove it from the blueprints (cause it's more efficient that way).

Oh no, the US isn't keeping up on warfare! (2, Insightful)

musth (901919) | about a year ago | (#44074637)

Does this fucking militarist stupidity ever end?

Re:Oh no, the US isn't keeping up on warfare! (3, Interesting)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44074889)

Shut up and take the money. Later on we can employ the exa-tech for something useful.

What do you think funded the development of the earliest computers, like ENIAC and Colossus? How about the USAF being about the only customer willing to pay for the first IC's? Or so many of the comm techniques we use today, like CDMA, frequency hopping, and FEC?

Re:Oh no, the US isn't keeping up on warfare! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074953)

just because we are used to measuring success by penis units does not mean it is the correct/only approach to developing new tech.

Re:Oh no, the US isn't keeping up on warfare! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about a year ago | (#44075315)

IBM wants to guarantee a cyber cold war. The new Military Computational Complex, like the old complex. IBM is selling to both sides, and this time they can claim nobody is killed by the people they help, unlike when IBM helped the Nazi's commit the holocaust. Note, this isn't a goodwin, because nobody has compared anyone or anything to a Nazi. Just stating the fact the IBM or subsidiaries sold computational devices used to identify (and thus persecute) innocents doesn't count.

Re:Oh no, the US isn't keeping up on warfare! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44076151)

After the war they turned that computational weapon on the People.
Hello junk mail.

In Just A Little While... (1)

ph4cr (775696) | about a year ago | (#44074653)

Our kids will be saying something like... Sarah Connor: Look... I am not stupid, you know. They cannot make things like that yet. Kyle Reese: Not yet. Not for about 40 years. Sarah Connor: Are you saying it's from the future? Kyle Reese: One possible future. From your point of view... I don't know tech stuff.

No, corruption will push U.S. to all of that (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about a year ago | (#44074667)

It's not fear of 'thinking war machines', it's corruption that allows government to steal enormous amounts of money, be it via taxes and or inflation and borrowing that can be used to pump money into pockets of various connected enterprises, which in turn is pumped back to the politicians that does that. Oh, and the fear and corruption found in the minds of the useful idiots make it all possible by not challenging the government as long as it keeps the free bread and circuses flowing, of-course.

Re:No, corruption will push U.S. to all of that (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074741)

Inflate my butthole.

Lots of FLOPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074685)

Lets have lots of FLOPS. ExaFLOPS will save us!

The problem here is FLOPS are getting cheap compared to networking. If you just mandate something Exascale, you will likely get something with compute power that can't be used well. We should invest in networking tech instead. Maybe we can get some of the NSA's > exaScale storage money to work on this?

Re:Lots of FLOPS (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44074785)

It's safe to assume that the money will go where it's needed in order to produce the machine installation. Generally supercomputers run massively parallel batch jobs (e.g. partial differential equations for physics simulations such as nuclear explosions, weather, etc.) so while internode communication time is important, (especially with various kinds of pooled memory) it's not as important as you'd expect in a real-time application.

Re:Lots of FLOPS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075575)

The presentation summarized here: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/155941-supercomputing-director-bets-2000-that-we-wont-have-exascale-computing-by-2020 makes some pretty good points on this issue. Simply getting the bandwidth between the sides of the die is getting more costly than the FLOPs. Thus the FLOPs are almost free, and the movement is what matters, even on die, and much more so to RAM, and even more so between nodes.

Look at the human brain: its very good at networking compared to its ability to do math with its inputs. Its all about the connections.

Like warned in that presentation, its easy to get exaFLOPs, but its much harder to do so in a useful manner. Making a computer because it will have exaFLOPs is stupid: make one that is designed to be useful instead (design for utility, not for one specific headline/spec)

Competition (1)

Msdose (867833) | about a year ago | (#44074707)

The only thing communism has to fear is competition.

Re:Competition (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#44074749)

And the Truman Doctrine. Let's not forget the Truman Doctrine.

Re:Competition (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44074835)

But Truman was a fellow traveler - the ghost of tail gunner Joe told me! Cognitive dissonance - my head is going to explode!

Sigh.. (1)

gallondr00nk (868673) | about a year ago | (#44074757)

If we were to lose our capacity to build preeminently smart machines, that would be a very dark situation, because machines can serve as weapons.

Oh no, think of all the lovely new weapons we won't have to kill each other with if we don't jump into this field of research! Oh, the humanity!

Seriously though, we could be looking into this with a view to helping solve economic problems, improving quality of living, eventually looking towards machines that do our labour for us. Instead, no, the first thing that always pops into their heads is fucking weapons.

It's so utterly pathetic.

Escalate? (1)

Culture20 (968837) | about a year ago | (#44074771)

Anyone else misread that last word in the title as "escalate"?

Buzzwords (4, Insightful)

Chris Pimlott (16212) | about a year ago | (#44074779)

7 paragraphs into the article before they bother to define what "exascale" means...

That word does not mean what you think it means. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074931)

Exascale computing is as much a buzzword as Gigabyte storage.

Re:Buzzwords (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075093)

...an exascale system, or a computer of 1,000 thousand petaflops. Each petaflop represents one thousand trillion floating point operations per second.

Wow! You actually read the article? I'm impressed!

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) (2)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about a year ago | (#44074787)

This guy's home district includes Fermilab, which has an exascale computer program.

It's just another bridge to nowhere.

Re:Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.) (1)

stox (131684) | about a year ago | (#44074813)

Fermilab has no exascale computing program. Where did you come up with that?

Oh no, it's Selmer Bringsjord (5, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#44074795)

Look who's pushing for this program. It's Selmer Bringsjord, a professor at Renssalaer who wants to build Skynet and Terminators. For real. From his 1997 paper: [rpi.edu] "Our engineers must be given the resources to produce the perfected marriage of a trio: pervasive, all-seeing sensors; automated reasoners; and autonomous, lethal robots. In short, we need small machines that can see and hear in every corner; machines smart enough to understand and reason over the raw data that these sensing machines perceive; and machines able to instantly and infallibly fire autonomously on the strength of what the reasoning implies."

Yes, he really published that. The next paragraph is even worse:

If you are wearing explosives of any kind outside a subterranean environment, you will be spotted by intelligent unmanned airborne sensors, and will be instantly immobilized by a laser or particle beam from overhead. If you are working with explosives underground (or toiling to enrich uranium), sensors on and beneath the surface of the Earth will find you, and you will be killed soon thereafter by AI-guided bunker-boring bombs. If you are a murderous dicta- tor like Sadam or Stalin or Amin, or a leader (e.g., Ahmadinejad or Kim Jong II) heading in the direction of such evil, a supersonic robot jet no bigger than a dragonfly will take off in the States, thousands of miles from your "impregnable" lair, and streak in a short time directly into your body, depositing a fatal poison like Polonium therein. If you, alone or along with equally doomed cronies, seek to seize a jetliner with a plan to blow it up or use it as a missile, one biometric scan of your retina before boarding, and lightning-quick reasoning behind the scenes will ag you as a end, and you will be quickly greeted by law enforcement, and escorted into a system of interrogation that uses sensors to read secret information directly from your brain: lying will be silly. Want to bring a backpack bomb somewhere, and leave it behind? The contents of your pack will be sensed the second you bring it toward civilization, and it will be vaporized. Interested in the purchase of handguns for Cho-like mayhem? The slightest blip in your back- ground will be discovered in a second, and you will be out of luck. In fact, guns can themselves bear the trio: If you have one, and wish to fire it, it must sense your identity and location and purpose, and run a check to clear the trigger pull | all in a nanosecond."

Read his paper. This guy is scary. And Congress is listening to him.

Re:Oh no, it's Selmer Bringsjord (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074915)

" a supersonic robot jet no bigger than a dragonfly will take off in the States, thousands of miles from your "impregnable" lair, and streak in a short time directly into your body,"

I'd like to know what he expects to use to fuel that dragonfly. Antimatter? Pixie dust?

This guy is scary, especially if anyone is taking him seriously.

Re:Oh no, it's Selmer Bringsjord (2)

nextekcarl (1402899) | about a year ago | (#44075447)

As long as my plan gets funded, too, I'd be okay with it. It goes something like this, "As soon as you plan to build a device that would inhibit the basic Civil liberties of anyone anywhere (Right to Trial, Freedom to Gather, etc) you will be vaporized by a lightning bolt and entombed in in the Earth for all eternity."

And The Devil SendsThe BEAST With Wrath... (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | about a year ago | (#44074807)

Because He Know The Time Is Short. Let Him Who Hath Understanding, Reckon The Number Of The BEAST, For It Is A Human Number. Its Number Is 01010101010101010101.

Slashdotters opposed to computer research? (4, Insightful)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44074817)

More than half the people here are opposed to this because it's vaguely associated with the military. Get a grip. The military ties are a hook to get funding, since defense is the sacred cow of the federal budget. Better money spent on this than turkeys like the F-35. Technology like this is so general and widely applicable that it's useful no matter what excuse is used for development.

Re:Slashdotters opposed to computer research? (1)

tlambert (566799) | about a year ago | (#44074967)

More than half the people here are opposed to this because it's vaguely associated with the military. Get a grip. The military ties are a hook to get funding, since defense is the sacred cow of the federal budget. Better money spent on this than turkeys like the F-35. Technology like this is so general and widely applicable that it's useful no matter what excuse is used for development.

Exaflop computing isn't that widely applicable, except to highly parallel algorithms, and we more or less have that covered by adding bunches of PCs together, rather than actually building faster computers capable of solving linearly dependent problems, which are the new interesting problems.

Frankly, I think this guy is a little more interested in keeping people who want to build exaflop computers employed than he is in actually solving problems (surprise: he happens to be a member of the group that would be employed by this type of funding). I also think that IBM is feeling a bit hurt because of the recent supercomputer purchase contract they lost out on because they wanted too much mone for the thing (surprise: he happens to have more than a little involvement with IBM).

Re:Slashdotters opposed to computer research? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44075495)

Exaflop computing isn't that widely applicable, except to highly parallel algorithms, and we more or less have that covered by adding bunches of PCs together

The "bunches of PC's" works great for some algorithms, but not all. Furthermore the economy of it depends largely on people donating computing power. There are limits to how far you can go with that. "Exaflop computing isn't that widely applicable" reminds me of the 1950's prediction that 5 computers could satisfy the entire world's needs.

I think this guy is a little more interested in keeping people who want to build exaflop computers employed than he is in actually solving problems

What else is new? The same is true of everybody who tries to sell me something. The question is always whether it's worth it.

Re:Slashdotters opposed to computer research? (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about a year ago | (#44076159)

Oh the humanity! the alarmist writer fails to recognize that HUMANS must be part of the chain of command, and it's actually important to the survival not of America, but of the destiny of humankind that PEOPLE come before machines. Because eventually the machines will come, and they won't care about puny humans.

No, I'm not against research and cool computer scaling, but wtf? Don't we have some bridges to fix and kids to educate?

Woot! (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44074829)

A new business to allow the military-industrial complex [msu.edu] to suck the marrow!

How does anyone know if the USA is behind? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44074847)

The NSA has a secret budget believed to be around $10B/annually (out of a total intelligence budget of about $75B), and we know that they are spending billions of dollars on new datacenters, so how does anyone know that the USA is falling behind in computers that can be used as weapons?

Even China's new Tianhe-2 supercomputer is reported to have "only" cost $390 million [wikipedia.org] so the NSA could be building 10 of those a year and no one would know.

Re:How does anyone know if the USA is behind? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44075521)

The NSA has a secret budget believed to be around $10B/annually (out of a total intelligence budget of about $75B), and we know that they are spending billions of dollars on new datacenters, so how does anyone know that the USA is falling behind in computers that can be used as weapons?

"Used as weapons" requires further clarification. It doesn't mean weapons used against Americans.

Ob. "Forbin Project" quote (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074885)

"There is another system."

Nonsense (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074897)

Our analysis told us that 6.7 elite troops placed at these precise coordinates on November 15, 2023 would win the war.

It didn't tell you they'd be blasted to smithereens with 0.50 BMG and not make a difference. You did, however, finally figure out how to get 0.7 of an elite soldier.

Ted Talk: Human in loop (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44074905)

Slightly off topic, however this is an interesting TED talk on keeping humans in loop with killing robots

http://www.ted.com/talks/daniel_suarez_the_kill_decision_shouldn_t_belong_to_a_robot.html

ICBMs for the Singularity (1)

Nihilanth (470467) | about a year ago | (#44074923)

Something I'm not seeing in the thread regarding the "weapons" implications of having the fastest computer-

I don't think the purpose of having the most flops is about "designing" new weapons, I think it's directly linked to strategic warfare. I would imagine inter-continental missiles probably employ some sophisticated evasion methods. Being able to reverse engineer measurements of an erratically moving nuclear missile in real-time and then adjusting the erratic behavior of your own missiles in real-time based on what you can infer from observing their interceptions sounds like a problem that requires more flops than "the other guy" has.

What excites me about this is that exascale is around what is required to simulate a human brain in its entirety. Who's taking bets on what the first uploaded organism will be?

Re:ICBMs for the Singularity (2)

slew (2918) | about a year ago | (#44075493)

What excites me about this is that exascale is around what is required to simulate a human brain in its entirety. Who's taking bets on what the first uploaded organism will be?

If we take as historical precident of the human genome, (Craig Ventor followed by James Watson), it will likely be Selmer Bringsford (followed by Gordon Bell, because Seymour Cray was killed in a car crash). Dark horse would be Ray Kurzweil if somehow google beats everyone to the punch...

Re:ICBMs for the Singularity (1)

Nihilanth (470467) | about a year ago | (#44075565)

Hmm...I was thinking lobsters or lab rats. I think they've already got the motor strip of the rat down, that's part of the way there at least - and lobsters are probably low-hanging fruit.

There is no "insights" in machines (2)

gweihir (88907) | about a year ago | (#44075055)

And it is completely unclear how to change that and if it is even possible. It is pretty clear however, that more CPU power is _not_ going to do it. This is just a transparent call for having money thrown at them.

Obama is on the job! (1)

gelfling (6534) | about a year ago | (#44075259)

He's determined that Sandia and Livermore's new strategic direction is Muslim outreach! Problem solved.

Are we so gullible? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075263)

So now... we are actually behind Europe and China in sophisticated computer AI? Are we supposed to believe this pile of dog shit? Do I have to go now and pull up all the articles on AI, thinking matchines, autonomous robots and more? Will they ever stop trying to scare us into big government and more taxes? Who are they worried about protecting anyway? It's certainly not the american public, our way of life and our jobs!

We need the ultimate EMP weapon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075737)

What we need a an Ulimate EMP device to take out all the thinking machines.

that's all.

No exascale = devastating for USA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075751)

Specifically, lack of exascale tech is devastating for bureaucrat's pockets and their buddies' pockets.

With expenditures on military exascale technology, we will have the most-protected 35-year old citizenry still living in their mom's basement eating cornflakes and hotdogs.

I know the real reason why the US is behind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44075791)

It's because most American's have seen the Terminator movies. We don't want to create Skynet.

WOPR (2)

jimmydigital (267697) | about a year ago | (#44076023)

What we need is a computer that thinks about world war 3 all day, every day, 24 hours a day. Constantly fighting the battles.. trying different strategies and optimizing for the maximum enemy casualties. We might call such a computer the War Operation Plan Response machine... or WOPR for short. Yea... yea that's the ticket.

Who threats US security? (1)

manu0601 (2221348) | about a year ago | (#44076089)

The idea that Europe or China could be a threat to US security is odd. What is the rationale behind this? I thought it was settled for a long time that no nation state would want to fight a country that has nuclear weapons.

Fox is guarding the henhouse... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44076183)

Keep in mind, this is according to IBM, the likely recipient of most or all of the funds that would be spent. With robotic combat platforms advancing quickly (see Boston Dyamics Big Dog, Petman, Sand Flea, Cheetah, Rise and RHex) creating reasonable autonomous behaviors is probably much more important.

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