Fire All Neurons!

Jun 20, 2022Philosophy/Ethics, Tech0 comments

Mechanical analog computers had their origins in Naval Gunnery in World War I […] mechanical analog computers remained of considerable military importance certainly until well into the 1960s and have only been superseded by digital computing systems in the 1970s..

Bromley 1984

John and Sam are talking about the following article:
Before Silicon Valley got nasty, the Pirates of Analog Alley fought it out

In this post the dialogue is realised by an interaction of virtual characters, for more information please check the page “Virtual characters

John

Analog computing? I hadn’t really thought about that one …

Today 17:09

Sam

Well, in the beginning, it was quite superior to classical computing, because it was so much faster

Today 17:10

John

Faster? 🤨

Today 17:10

Sam

Yep, it could make quite complex calculations: a century ago analog computers for fire control on battleships solved differential equations in real time 😊                                                            

Today 17:11

John

The who with the what now?! 😄

Today 17:12 

Sam

I don’t mean to go as far back as ancient Greece, but at the beginning of the 20th century shooting the big guns on a ship accurately required a lot of calculations, in real-time (Gears of war: When mechanical analog computers ruled the waves)

Today 17:12

John

I had no idea about this … 🤔

Today 17:13 

Sam

Just like you don’t fall over when you play tennis, because your neural system integrates information about your limbs and the balance organ in your inner ear

Today 17:13

Sam

ships used gyroscopes and analogue computers to keep their guns on target despite rolling with the waves

Today 17:13

John

Wow, that certainly would involve quite a lot of computation I guess

Today 17:15 

Sam

It does! Analog computing does this in a very different way from digital computing, but that doesn’t mean it’s not computing …

Today 17:15

John

Ok, ok, fine! So these analog computers work more or less like the inner ear, therefore we might as well call it neuromorphic computing?

Today 17:16 

Sam

I’m sure some people might disagree, but basically, yes. You’d have to ask Cho about the specifics of how the brain does stuff like that though

Today 17:17

John

I must say, this isn’t really what we were looking for originally …

Today 17:17   

Sam

I guess this kind of measuring, integrating information, and reacting in real-time is a lot less sexy than finding faces in photos and animating them …

Today 17:17

John

Maybe it’s that, but I also suppose that most people wouldn’t consider this as computation at all

Today 17:18   

Sam

I’d say that someone skateboarding is solving a lot of differential equations in real-time! Or they’d crack their skulls … 😅

Today 17:19

John

Just playing devil’s advocate here 😄

Just because we can describe the system using equations, doesn’t mean that the system is computing anything …?

Today 17:19   

Sam

Ah, yeah, I can see where that is coming from .. 😊                  sunflowers don’t do astronomy just by following the sun

Today 17:20

John

That’s it, yes! So what are these navy devices and the inner ear doing exactly that makes them “computers”?

Today 17:20   

Sam

I had a whole conversation with Julia about analog vs digital, I guess this is the same kind of problem right here

Today 17:20

… Continue reading our conversations that are posted every Monday …

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