Intel, who at some point in the not-too-distant future will show socket 1366 owners some love with a 6-core processor, just got through demonstrating a 48-core processor it hopes will usher in a new era of computing with PCs powerful enough to emulate human traits. Did we really say 48 cores? Excuse us while we change our underpants.
Before you soil yours as well, it's important to understand that the cores aren't barn burners likes today's desktop Core i7 chips are. Instead, the 1.3 billion transistor processor, called Single-chip Cloud Computer (SCC) is the successor generation to the 80-core "Polaris" processor and has more in common with a low end Atom part than a desktop Nehalem.
Unlike Polaris, however, Intel's 48-core chip can run the same standard software as Intel's x86 CPUs. And while each core doesn't pack a punch by itself, combining 48 of them makes it a pretty powerful chip.
"The machine will be capable of understanding the world around them much as humans do," Justin Rattner, Intel CTO, said at a press event. "They will see and hear and probably speak and do a number of other things that resemble human-like capabilities, and will demand as a result very (powerful) computing capability."
This isn't something you'll see on the desktop, but for you Folding fanatics, could you imagine pairing this chip with an upcoming Fermi graphics card or three? Oops, there goes another pair of briefs.
A machine’s ability to think is something that’s been questioned for nearly half a century, thanks to mathematician Alan Turing. Turing, who helped decipher German military codes during WWII, created a test that is designed to find out if a machine can think on its own. The test consists of a machine attempting to fool a judge into believing that it could be a human by having a text-based conversation on any subject. If the computer’s responses convince the judge that they are speaking with a human, then it has passed the Turing test, and is believed to be capable of thought.
This Sunday, six computer programs will be put through the Turing test in an attempt to win their creator not only an 18-carat gold medal and $100,000, but to prove that computers are capable of thought. The programs competing for the prize go by the names Alice, Brother Jerome, Elbot, Eugene Goostman, Jabberwacky and Ultra Hal. While the names sound like those of rejected VH1 reality show contestant names, they’re far more intelligent, and won’t be spitting on any of their opponents anytime soon.
Should the computers be found to have the ability to think, it’ll raise ethical questions as to how conscious a computer is, and if humans have the “right” to switch them off.
But the Turing test isn’t for everyone. "The test is misguided. Everyone thinks it's you pitting yourself against a computer and a human, but it's you pitting yourself against a computer and computer programmer,” criticizes Professor AC Grayling of Birkbeck College, “AI is an exciting subject, but the Turing test is pretty crude."
Do you think you’ve got what it takes to decipher whether or not you’re talking to a computer? Test your mental mettle after the jump.