I was reading this blog post on the expanding notion of what computing is, over at Broader perspective. I like the inclusion of ideas from the biological realm, because it’s one of those areas which proves once and for all that the universe is one giant computation, with smaller computations piggybacking off of bigger (or perhaps I should say deeper) ones.
We are too used to the idea of computation as something that a machine has to be built specifically for, and dedicated to doing. The fact of even walking over to such a machine and switching it on is itself an intricately complex computation… one that we’re not really responsible for (thank God).
Adjusting to the idea that, some computations have been going on long before we ever got here and will probably be churning out results for some unknowable process long after we’ve vanished, is one that will help every technology discipline on earth. We only need to seed our environment with processing capacity: give the things around us energy, memory and time (or some simulacrum thereof), and we might eventually be able to look back at the risibly-named ‘information age’ and see the nonsensical tautology at its core: all ages have been about, and been created from, and are destined for, the processing of information.
I look forward to the day when we don’t have to fire up a laptop or netbook and write software components.
I’d like to be able to instantiate a ‘solution space’ wherever I happen to be standing, whether it’s in the kitchen or an office or a green field, and call the elements forth.
I’d like to lie back on a lazy sunny day on an intelligent lawn, shielding my squinting eyes from the sun, and be able to say, “you, blade of grass. Can you ask all your friends to re-allocate .0001 percent of their photosynthesing apparatus and help me solve this equation? I own shares in the sprinkler botnet since I live in the nearby building and I’ll get you more nutrients this afternoon. Promise. Here. I’ll have my endocrines send you the algorithms in a drop of sweat. Is there a co-opted ladybug nearby that could walk across my finger and pick it up? Lemme know… I’m waiting..”