Musing: Your iPad is a bicycle for your mind

The actual (somewhat contested) attribution to Job’s at the time was “Computers are like a bicycle for our minds.” And that was back in the early eighties. (Did you note the gent toward the end of the video sitting before an IBM PC in coat and tie? That was the “mind bicycle” of that time.)

But what a soaring flight of imagination. Let’s see, that’s about 20 Moore’s generations ago.

To put this into some kind of context, I have “calculated” in the roughest and most questionable form imaginable, that the bang per something (buck? gram? mm3? second? instruction? clock rate?) of a 600 gram iPad 2 relative to the hefty 13 metric tons of the UNIVAC 1, the first full-scale commercial computer put on the market in the US in March 1951, that with all its horsepower for a simple addition instruction took about 100 microseconds (said to be about 200,000 times slower than a Pentium III back in 1999). And just so that you have my number, my rough guess is that the iPad outperforms her grandfather by a factor of > 1 trillion to 1.

Now you may not like my number, and you may have a better figure — and if you do send it along with the base of your calculation. What we know is that it is not going to be a modest hike.


About the editor:

Eric Britton
9, rue Gabillot, 69003 Lyon France

Bio: Trained as a development economist, Eric Britton is a sustainability activist, mediator, managing director of EcoPlan International, an independent advisory network providing strategic counsel for government and business on policy and decision issues involving complex systems, social-technical change and sustainable development, and Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Development at the Institut Supérieur de Gestion in Paris. His latest work focuses on the subject of equity, economy and efficiency in city transport and public space, and helping governments to ask the right questions and in the process find practical solutions to urging climate, mobility, life quality and job creation issues. Founding editor of World Streets and the Journal of World Transport Policy and Practice, his forthcoming book, “Glad you asked, Madame Mayor: Toward a General Theory of Transport in Cities”, is being presented, discussed and critiqued in a series of international conferences, master classes, peer reviews and media events in Asia, Europe and Africa over 2016. - - > More:

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