The Super Computer Race is a Sad Scam

Ever few weeks, or months, we hear about how some new super-computer has claimed the crown of the ‘fastest’ computer in the world. We are then bombarded with many numbers that document its impressive CPU count, RAM size, x gazillion operations per second, bus speed etc. But have you ever wondered-

What are these machines being used for anyway?

While running benchmarking programs to showcase the capabilities of your new toy is certainly satisfying, I cannot help but wonder what happens next. The conventional line fed to journalists who cover such events goes something like this-

“These new machines will help us model the universe/ weather systems/ climate change/ protein folding or any fashionable cause that attracts more funding.”

But haven’t we been doing those things since the beginning of the computer age? What have we achieved so far? How far has simulation of complex natural systems been helpful in understanding them? Can we make better predictions using faster computers or more refined algorithms? So far, computer simulations have not helped us understand or find dark matter- if something like that even exists. Our ability to predict the weather is still shit, and our climate models require “correction” factors to even approach observed values. Our ability to model protein folding and bio-molecular interactions is still pretty pathetic. This state of affairs has persisted in the face of colossal increases in available computational power. So what is going on? Why haven’t the computer gods delivered? Why would throwing more computational power at a problem solve it if previous attempts to do so have proved futile?

I believe that the problem lies elsewhere. Maybe our paradigms, assumptions, theories and algorithms are defective. While accepting this premise might be hard, it explains why the almost exponential increase in available computational power has failed to produce even a linear increase in our ability to accurately model complex systems.

I have long believed the science today is closer to a mystery-based religion than an objective methodology to understand the surrounding world. How many scientists and “experts” really understand what they are talking about in their jargon laden dialects? How much nonsense and bullshit is accepted and canonized because it sounds smart or knowledgeable. Aren’t their jargon-laden explanations rather similar to priests and witches communicating with deities, demons and spirits? How many scientists have even thought through the multitude of theories and paradigms they enthusiastically profess and promote?

Isn’t the search for dark matter a lot like the search for ‘celestial ether’ in the late 1800s, or the holy grail in a previous era? Aren’t most theories of the universe which can be proved only by self-referential mathematical manipulations a bit too much like religions beliefs based on misleadingly complex and sophistic arguments? Isn’t modeling climate with algorithms that require significant correction factors reminiscent of astrology, palm reading or reading animal entrails? While there are many reasons for this sad state of the so-called “cutting edge” of science- one factor stands out by its sheer obviousness and impact.

The need to show evidence for high metrics driven productivity in a system riddled with bureaucracy, bloated egos, stupidity and callousness.

Much of scientific research has long ceased to be an endeavor to expand the frontiers of human knowledge and benefit mankind- if that was ever the case. Today, it is mainly an exercise in hand-waving driven by the need to give the appearance of hard work to ensure continued funding. It is now a giant con game that preys on the hopes and fears of other people and repeatedly promises them things that they simply cannot deliver- kinda like religion promising salvation, heaven or an eternal afterlife.

I believe that using super-computers to create, store and distribute porn is a far better and more appropriate use of such machines.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. June 20, 2012 at 9:36 pm

    advipoops,

    y’know all this increase in cpu speed and memory hasn’t actually improved the “power” so much, just think how you could use an old system and it would be virtually the same speed for many tasks…

    I remember seeing an article about using an old mcintosh against a newer computer and for several tasks it was just as fast….

    the more power the new machines have, it seems the heavier the apps so your really not getting so much more bang for your buck….

  2. Chris
    June 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm

    Interesting observation: The initial research into general purpose computing machines was financed by the NSA (check ‘Betting on the Future – The 1946 Pendergrass Report Cryptanalysis and the Digital Computer’).
    Perhaps the architecture of modern computers was chosen because it was capable for cryptanalysis but this created problems down the road when other functions where needed.
    Just an idea.

  3. P Ray
    June 20, 2012 at 11:45 pm

    Nah.
    Those new machines are to spy on citizens. With the wide availability of different encryption programmes on the same platform, people are using the “defense in depth”/”multi-pass” strategy to keep information private.
    That just doesn’t sit well with those who like to be right when it comes to making predictions which have national ramifications.
    Hence, the need to break the encryption. Hence, supercomputers. But say “it’s for the children” and all is forgiven.

  4. Chris
    June 21, 2012 at 4:14 am

    I was referring to the von Neumann architecture not ‘new machines to spy on citizens’

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_von_Neumann

  5. InT
    June 21, 2012 at 8:50 am

    From what I can tell, large amounts of computing power do help, but progress is glacially slow, probably because many of the problems out there are intractably complex (NP-complete). No modern computer, no matter how powerful, can accurately solve such problems in a reasonable amount of time. The solutions can only be approximated, which obviously isn’t working out for things like weather.

    I don’t think supercomputers are useless, though. Supercomputer architectures and bus technologies do trickle down into mainstream devices, much like technology developed in racecars trickles down into ordinary cars.

  6. A. Hourani
    June 21, 2012 at 9:28 am
  7. anon
    June 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    Jesus Christ, Hourani, you need to get back on your meds. Or get off of what you’ve been smoking. Or both.

    Back on topic, commissioning a super-computer has other benefits for its commissioner besides its actual computations. Like sponsoring a stadium or a hospital, it creates positive press for the commissioner and establishes his legitimacy.

    • Nestor (A. Hourani)
      June 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      So anon, you’re a Mason yourself? Should we ignore self evident stuff just because you said so?

  8. Nestor (A. Hourani)
    June 22, 2012 at 12:26 am

    creepy, disturbing, yet awesome cartoon (“Bimbo’s Initiation”)

  9. Eriothenoi - Foreman South West - 18th Degree
    June 22, 2012 at 12:38 am

    I am a Mason.

    You have only identified some of the visible manifestations of our activities, our puppets, what we like to call our ‘building blocks’. Analyze them at your own risk.

    We have invisible agents in very diverse settings, with exact plans, exerting influences on even the smallest, most apparently insignificant things. You will not see these agents.

    As for ‘scientists’ and their theories, they are utterly clueless about the real nature of the things that they investigate; how then can more powerful tools achieve anything important, other than ensuring that our plans are sooner manifested?

    Our work is for the good. We watch you.

    Troll!

    • Nestor (A. Hourani)
      June 22, 2012 at 1:54 am

      “We watch you.”

      Did you notice that the internet is filled with sites and articles exposing you? If you are omnipotent, how come those sites and articles are still on the net?
      —-

      Because they are impotent, let alone omnipotent.

  10. Eriothenoi - Foreman South West - 18th Degree
    June 22, 2012 at 2:46 am

    Do not fear.

    The apparent ‘exposures’ to which you refer are what we like to call our ‘fishing nets’. They exaggerate the necessary maleficence that is sometimes an element of our activity. We do not actually create this material; rather, those who are most sensitive to our ‘demolition activities’, yet are outside of the elite for want of qualifications, must be disabled – for nothing can be allowed to retard the Great Plan. And such is our power that they disable themselves, paying so much attention to the most discernible portion of our enterprise, the work of our ‘laborers’ and ‘building blocks’, that they never comprehend the more important work of our ‘structural engineers’. And the ‘fishing nets’ that they build similarly snare others who might willingly throw a ‘spanner in our works’, such as yourself.

    And when the net full of fish is taken up by the crane, it resembles the wrecking ball, no? We use it thus.

    Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.

    All is well. The hour will arrive.

    • Nestor (A. Hourani)
      June 22, 2012 at 3:19 am

      So do you consider Advocatus Diaboli’s blog a ‘fishing net’?

  11. Nestor (A. Hourani)
    June 22, 2012 at 10:15 am

    AD,
    Regardless whether Freemasons are potent or impotent, there is plenty of evidence of their destructive effects. Not to mention that they can be classified as sociopaths. Since many of the elite are confirmed Freemasons (as I know from Lebanon for example, and I got some names), their destructive effect can’t be dismissed. Not to forget about their secrecy.
    I don’t follow conspiracy theories but when I notice a clear pattern, things become clearer. Look at the list of participants of the Bilderberg Meetings (http://www.bilderbergmeetings.org/participants2012.html) and judge by yourself.

  12. Matt Strictland
    June 23, 2012 at 12:23 am

    The main reason that supercomputers aren’t as useful as people might think are that the remaining problems are not amenable to technological solutions.

    The are social, ones of distribution, culture and self delusion. No programs can fix those.

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