Most of us are familiar with multiplayer gaming environments online, and can remember when artificial environments like "Second Life" were all the rage. Virtual realities have been a science-fiction hot button for at least a century. But when you put these ideas in the hopper with the capabilities of supercomputing right around the corner, gaming and role-playing environments become useful for a lot more than entertainment.
While there will no doubt be awe-inspiring development along the lines of "Second Life" and "The Matrix" -- and the cultural and societal changes that come with it -- the concept of data overlay in our daily lives is an even more exciting and useful application of all this power. Guided historical tours, dynamic GPS directions and online restaurant reviews already show this technology in its infancy. But imagine speeding up those weather-pattern simulations, putting in chaotic elements like human minds and behavior, and you can test theories of civil engineering, city planning and even food and resource inequalities.
Supercomputers won't have to guess at that information, although they'd be great at it: They can take in information from every possible source -- from the latest trending tweets to traffic patterns to energy grid usage -- and create real time models from them to regulate not only ongoing factors, but plan for the future. Rolling blackouts, gas shortages, even the gridlock around high-population events like the Olympics will be a thing of the past.
With pervasive WiFi Internet poised to take over the country and the world, providing the next generations past 4G connectivity, the truly powerful simulated world will one day soon be no different from the world that we already live in, only better. It will be more informed, more personalized and above all, empowering us as individuals and as a civilization to put that information to its best use. And all of this information and dynamic possibility will be brought to you by the performance power of the supercomputers we're only now bringing to life.
Author's Note: 5 Futuristic Trends in Supercomputing
As a dedicated user of the cloud, I prefer to travel light. I personally only use about a gigabyte of my computer's hard drive, so that I can access my media and work projects from whichever device is most convenient. But in learning about how supercomputers are shifting the focus of computing power even further away from my phone and tablet, I was astonished to see just how many truly futuristic opportunities for the betterment of our lives are just within our grasp.
More Great Links
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- Graham, Susan L., Snir, Marc, and Patterson, Cynthia A. "Getting Up To Speed: The Future Of Supercomputing." National Research Council of the National Academies Committee On The Future Of Supercomputing, National Academies Press. 2005. (Aug 8, 2012) http://research.microsoft.com/en-us/um/people/blampson/72-cstb-supercomputing/72-cstb-supercomputing.pdf
- IBM. "Roadrunner." White paper. June 2008. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.ibm.com/ibm/ideasfromibm/us/roadrunner/20080609/index.shtml
- Jana, Reena. "Green IT: Corporate Strategies." Business Week. February 2011. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.businessweek.com/stories/2008-02-11/green-it-corporate-strategiesbusinessweek-business-news-stock-market-and-financial-advice
- McMillan, Robert. "Intel Sees Exabucks in Supercomputing's Future." Wired. January 2012. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.wired.com/wiredenterprise/2012/01/supercomputings-future
- Museum Of American Heritage. "Technology." Last updated May 2010. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.moah.org/exhibits/archives/brains/technology.html
- Peckham, Matt. "The Collapse of Moore's Law: Physicist Says It's Already Happening." Time. May 2012. (Aug 8, 2012) http://techland.time.com/2012/05/01/the-collapse-of-moores-law-physicist-says-its-already-happening
- Perry, Douglas. "You'd Need a 1 Petaflop to Score #20 Rank in Top 500 List." Tom's Hardware Technology Blog. July 2012. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.tomshardware.com/news/supercomputer-top500-petaflop-servers-DOE,16042.html
- Yonck, Richard. "The Supercomputer Race, Revisited." World Future Society Blogs. June 2011. (Aug 8, 2012) http://www.wfs.org/content/supercomputer-race-revisited
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