Technology

"The computer used to guide the Apollo 11 moon mission was less powerful than a modern calculator."

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Buzzfeed

Via Buzzfeed.

Seems worth remembering on a semi-regular basis.

Despite legitimate worries about a "Great Stagnation," the pace of technological and social change proceeds pretty amazingly apace.

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    1. I learned something from a quick scan of that.

      I knew that change in acceleration was “jerk” but now I know what change in jerk is.

      And the next two derivatives.

      Snap (crackle and pop) for those who arent going to read it themselves.

      1. At what point is it just an oscillation?

    2. Thanks for posting that, fascinating stuff.

    3. Um, yeah it was glitchy. But it got them there and back.

      Also worth noting that the RAM for that computer was 8K and weighed 56 lbs. So you’d think that with the power each of us now commands, our lives would be some pretty amazing things, right?

  1. Oh good! My Facebook feed is on Reason now!

    1. Reason is dumbing it down for the horde of Millenials coming any day now for the libertarian moment.

    2. And citing BUZZFEED, no less?? The Jacket has lost touch with reality. Buzzfeed is one of the worst, if not THE worst “news and pop culture” sites to use as a source because they do not cite their OWN sources, or site incorrect sources. Come on, Reason, you can do better than this!

      http://www.thebestpageintheuni…..u=buzzfeed

  2. Isn’t the real trick coming up with adequate protection for the astronauts from all that solar radiation out in space?

    It’s fine if you’re doing a 10 day round trip to the Moon but 18 months to and from Mars is something else entirely.

    1. I’m no particle engineer, but I would think the solution is to generate a field around the ship to deflect bad shit away, rather than lead lined hulls.

      1. If you are staying on Mars, you need to take soil and stuff for your greenhouse, so you hide behind it.

        And, yes, I stole that from Kim Stanley Robinson.

        1. From what I’ve gathered from watching the space shows on THC, it would require quite a bit.

          1. I watched a lot of shows on THC, before I moved to a state where it was illegal.

          2. Are space shows better on THC?

            1. I hear, watching THC on THC is the only way to go.

              BTW, how you feelin this AM?

              1. I’m fine. Slightly groggy.

                Did have to pour out a glass of gin/melted ice, and forgot to turn the amplifier off.

                1. Did it get worse after I left?

                  1. All I can remember was a lot of Flash Gordon singing and stuff. Oh, and Herc.

    2. all that solar radiation out in space?

      This how you become the Fantastic Four!

      1. No thanks, those movies were terrible.

    3. Just find some people who are willing to get cancer for the change to go to Mars.

  3. I guess we’ll see what $60T in unfunded liabilities does to the pace of technological and social change?

    1. Necessity being the mother of invention, adverse circumstances should accelerate innovation. Like maybe new ways to trade sans govt interference – Bitcoin, Uber, etc.

      1. Yes, but imagine the nightmare created if some Occupy retard arises from the Democratic party and puts all industrial laboratories and research facilities firmly under the control of a centralized planning bureaucracy to prevent the fruits of science and innovation being sucked up by the evil corporations and 1%.

        1. Yes. Like how they fucking hate MONSANTO for feeding billions of people and providing us with miraculous new crop breeds.

        2. You discovered Elizabeth Warren’s campaign platform, eh?

      2. Innovation requires the freedom to innovate.

        I’ve posted this before (p7), but the US businessman spends $1.8T EVERY YEAR complying with federal (yes, JUST federal) regulation. That’s equivalent to 13% of GDP. Think about that and what it does to an economy and then look around at how anemic the economy has been for the last 14 years. Correlation or causation?

        1. I’ve posted this before (p7), but the US businessman spends $1.8T EVERY YEAR complying with federal (yes, JUST federal) regulation. That’s equivalent to 13% of GDP. Think about that and what it does to an economy and then look around at how anemic the economy has been for the last 14 years. Correlation or causation?

          Don’t worry. A few new regulations and a new federal agency will fix that.

          1. Just pass a law that mandates the economy be unaffected by such spending. Boom, instant economic surge.

            I’ll take my Nobel Prize now, thanks.

        2. but the US businessman spends $1.8T EVERY YEAR complying with federal (yes, JUST federal) regulation.

          Teabagger, it’s a job programn.

          / krugnuts

      3. new ways to trade sans govt interference

        That’s crazy talk.

    2. The same thing that happens to people in a bank run: Some people will get what they were promised, while others get screwed because they’re at the bottom of the pile of political beneficiaries.

      And life will go on, and when it happens again in 100 years and then 100 years after that everyone will be just as stunned and find some hobgoblin to blame it on. And it’ll continue until some society somewhere erects a law separating political authority from money.

  4. Modern Calculator? Is that the name of an app?

    1. It’s super boring..

      1. Enter 58008.

        If you turn it upside down, it’ll say BOOBS.

        What’s boring about that?

  5. That my be true, but math was simpler* in ye olden tymes.

    Equations had a single correct answer; how crazy is that?

    1. That isnt remotely true.

      Equations as simple as x^2=1 has two correct answers.

      1. Next you’ll start imagining that negative numbers can have square roots.

          1. see what you did there.

  6. imagine the nightmare created if some Occupy retard arises from the Democratic party and puts all industrial laboratories and research facilities firmly under the control of a centralized planning bureaucracy to prevent the fruits of science and innovation being sucked up by the evil corporations and 1%.

    Your lack of faith in the Ministry of Plenty has been duly noted by the Ministry of Love.

  7. Huh? You don’t need calculators to do Muslim outreach.

  8. “Despite legitimate worries about a “Great Stagnation,” the pace of technological and social change proceeds pretty amazingly apace.”

    Totally.

    I heard yesterday, a guy fucked a snake. And *shared it with the whole planet*

    1. Meh… Snake impregnation has been going on for “6000 years”.

      1. Its the sharing that is the important thing

    2. David Icke has been on that story for years.

    3. You see this bar? I built it with my bare hands. But do they call me Seamus the bar builder? No.

      You see that church? I built it with my tools. But do they call me Seamus the church builder? No.

      But you fuck one snake…

  9. Despite legitimate worries about a “Great Stagnation,” the pace of technological and social change proceeds pretty amazingly apace.

    It is not the machines who have regressed, it’s the men. Particularly with space travel, the obsessive focus on safety as the first goal, as opposed to accomplishing the mission, has led to a loss of progress.

    1. And the obsessive focus on creating government jobs in many different congressional districts.

  10. “Despite legitimate worries about a “Great Stagnation,” the pace of technological and social change proceeds pretty amazingly apace.”

    It’s going in the wrong direction.

    They didn’t use climate data to justify the government imposing on us before because they couldn’t even pretend to calculate climate data before.

    That’s just one example. Every time the utilitarians gain the ability to measure the total effect of something they couldn’t measure before, they use it to argue against letting free individuals make choices for themselves without regard for the “common good”.

    They’ll use similar arguments to try to force vaccines on the unwilling, make people stop using driverless cars, or whatever they think up next.

    Meanwhile, every advance in interconnectedness or communications seems to bring with it a new invitation for government surveillance and intimidation. They didn’t do things like the NSA before–because they couldn’t do things like the NSA before.

    Even during the Arab Spring, sure, the protestors were using social media to organize their protests–but the vicious dictators were using social media to track down dissidents, too.

    Everywhere I look, I see the free choices of individuals becoming a decreasing concern for policy makers–even as technology makes the list of things people can do continue to grow. If that trend continues, we should bet on the authoritarians. We better hope libertarianism becomes instinctive or like a religious belief.

    1. “They’ll use similar arguments to try to force vaccines on the unwilling, make people stop using driverless cars, or whatever they think up next.”

      I was thinking it would be more forcing all cars to be driverless, but I realized it could be both. Driverless car bans until a sudden shift to requiring them.

      1. Not that the govt should have any say at all in the matter, but I can’t imagine enough people wanting to drive manually to sustain a market for driven cars once the car will do it for me.

        1. I imagine the fight would be between the money and power provided by the existing auto industry and unions vs the opportunity for control provided by computer systems doing the driving.

          A real dilemma.

          1. It will be a fight between ordinary people. It’ll be like the Drug War, the fight for school choice, the fight against things like Social Security…

            You’d rather be free to drive your own car than save umpty-ump thousand children and moms from dying in car accidents every year, you sick bastard, you?!

            Utilitarianism always has and always will have a problem accounting for people’s qualitative tastes. In fact, preferring more of something or less of something is actually a qualitative consideration–and me even saying that makes some people denounce me as hateful human being.

            If you prefer fewer children die in accidents–and you imagine that’s a universal value that has no qualification, then how can you turn around and say it’s more important than my qualitative desire to ride my motorcycle at excessive speed?

            Anyway, they’ll accuse me of denying the science. And some people will do that–just like they do with climate change. But I won’t be! I’ll be standing there in the middle of it telling them that I have a qualitative preference for freedom.

            1. That’s what I mean by instinctive or religious libertarianism. It’s a rational libertarianism, too; it’s just that utilitarians–despite their best efforts–have no legitimate way to account for people’s qualitative considerations. Libertarians do have a way to do that–where everybody gets to make (qualitative) choices for themselves in a market, etc.

              But ultimately our freedom in a technologically advanced future does depend on making the libertarian impulse a more important part of the culture. The “common good” isn’t as mysterious as it was just a couple of decades ago.

        2. I’d like to think there will be a niche, but there’s a huge number of millennials and younger who would love to never have to drive, I think.

          Of course, the key is the “car, take me home from the bar” — and I bet they’ll still call that DUI for a long time. Probably until there isn’t a steering wheel at all.

          1. Didn’t someone recently post that they are already testing one without a steering wheel/pedals?

            If it happens, I’b buyin a bar.

            1. Here.

              Oh, but wait, this just in. Yesterday:

              Google has been forced to add a steering wheel and pedals to its driverless cars because of new rules on testing which demand that a human can take control in the event of a software mishap.

              A new directive from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles on testing autonomous cars states that drivers need to be able to take “immediate physical control” of the car if needed. Now the search giant will have to fit its fleet of cars with manual controls before they can be taken on public roads.

              Once again, thank you, California. What an innovation squashing shithole.

              1. Well, the guy in charge of that at the DMV must be worried about his job. If that Google car crashed and somebody died, goodness knows no employee at the California DMV wants to be hauled up in front of the legislature and held accountable. Losing their job would be the last thing they’re worried about.

                Yeah, I’m just kidding! That ain’t never gonna happen.

                The guy at the DMV is just showing everybody how big his dick is. Look, Ma, I can even screw Google, and nobody can do anything about it!

                California is so screwed up.

              2. I may get a point against my libertarian license, but if Google is out testing in regular California traffic, I don’t see a problem with a backup system.

                1. I think you should get points on your libertarian card (plus an updated decoder ring!) for… I’m tryin’ to think of a way to put it.

                  The statists believe that the government and their experts are better at doing things for people than people are at doing things for themselves.

                  You seem to be mistrustful of that.

                  You seem to think that individual drivers will be better at driving themselves than some large corporation and their government overlords will be at driving for other people.

                  And you deserve some brownie points for that.

              3. Irrespective of what California bureaucrats think, I wouldn’t ride in an automated car that I couldn’t take control of in the event of an internal glitch or unanticipated external situation.

                  1. And a hatch with explosive bolts.

                1. GM could probably save a lot of money and prestige on driverless cars that take themselves back to the dealer for recalls at night.

                  They could have a massive recall, and no one would even know about it!

      2. I mistyped.

        That should have read, “…make people [start] using driverless cars”.

        1. I’d think that insurance companies would make people use driverless cars more than the state. The state has a vested interest in continuing to collect fines and fees from people who are directly responsible for what their automobiles do.

          That model of income generation is wrecked by the innovation of driverless cars.

          1. “The state has a vested interest in continuing to collect fines and fees from people who are directly responsible for what their automobiles do.”

            They had an interest in collecting taxes from cigarette smokers, too. Still, everywhere you go, they’re banning smoking here, banning smoking there…

            Come to think of it, the way they crushed that revenue stream was in part by taxing the hell out of it. They wouldn’t have to stop putting the financial hurt on people who drive themselves–they’d probably just tax the hell out of us until we stopped.

            I don’t give a fuck if other people think it’s dangerous. I don’t give a shit if people think I’m stupid. My motorcycle is where I draw my line. They’ll have to take my motorcycle from my cold, dead hands.

            1. Friedman was always talking about how the state was pulling in diametrically opposed directions (e.g., subsidizing tobacco farmers and then trying to stamp out smoking). That’s because what we call the state isn’t some monolith, but many tribes and individuals who operate in pockets of political power, and each of them wants to achieve something different.

              Anyway, insurance companies would be a whole lot more monolithic in their motivations to discourage human-driven cars by charging high rates than would the state, as one makes money from bad decisions while the other pays for them, though there’s a lot of political interplay there, as in the case with seat-belt laws or laws mandating helmets for motorcyclists.

              But I suspect that bikers will as usual be the first people that legislators will try to screw when the auto becomes a real & common thing.

  11. Sorry Nick, but a comparison between today’s computer technology and that of 1969 misses the point entirely. I don’t think anyone’s claiming that stagnation started in 1970. There has been progress, to be sure, but it’s very limited and mostly very confined to military contractors and suppliers (with some exceptions since 1969). The economic infrastructure that would have driven the tech boom for a 100 years at least (yes, I am saying that it the transformation to a bubble wasn’t theoretically inevitable) was destroyed – intentionally. The motivation was stupidity and greed. Big Power (government and big companies) didn’t want Joe Citizen to profit. Government didn’t want to pay Joe Citizen because he doesn’t ordinarily give kick-backs, and big companies didn’t want to share profits with him. If you want to find the core of the story, look at Microsoft (but as indicated, there are other major players).

    1. Since Nick ‘missed the point’…

      …could you make your point a *simple statement* rather than a mush of unrelated assertions involving vague amorphous forces?

    2. Well Nick did kind of miss the point. Tyler Cowen’s book to which Nick was referring says that certain segments of the economy have fallen far behind.

      “Specifically, Cowen makes persuasive arguments that productivity in the government sector, public education, and health care have stagnated or fallen since the 1970s, dragging down the average performance of the whole economy.”

  12. It should be no problem getting back to the moon now then, much less getting people into space? Or wait….

    1. Funny how everyone else missed that. Actually much of our progress is just in implementation and fabrication. I can tell you that much of our “innovation” today relies on physics discovered in the real golden age: the 50’s and 60’s. In space that’s even more so. Musk’s rockets burn LOX and kerosene just like we used to in the 60’s. Sure, the Merlin is a well designed and efficient engine, but it’s hardly revolutionary. The DRAM used today uses the same physics that it used 45 years ago, we’ve just gotten much better at miniaturizing it, i.e. manufacturing. It’s really only in biology that we’ve continued to make really large progress in fundamental understanding.

      I’m of the opinion that the advances in computing power have created nearly as many problems as they’ve solved. Development times on new projects are significantly longer and more expensive now because everything must be simulated perfectly with zero risk before any prototypes are built.

  13. The talk of stagnation is a result of people not understanding the difference between money and wealth. They look at incomes in term of dollars instead of what the dollars can buy. As a result they feel that someone with a cellular phone, internet access and cable television is poorer than someone with a land line and three channels. Because the latter’s inflation adjusted income is lower than the former’s.

  14. Well just for fun. I’m picking the parts for my first 3D cnc additive printer. Which I will then use to make more precise parts for my 2nd cnc 3D additive printer. Which I will then use to make my 1st cnc subtractive router. Which will then be used to make more precise and durable parts for my 2nd subtractive router. Which will then be used to make my 3rd more precise and durable multiple material 3D cnc additive printer.

    I always wanted a customized Winchester. With pony’s and Indians gamboling on the stock.

    After that.. Not sure If I’ll go for 3D scanner or 5 axis mill..

    1. (looks at his sketches)

      “uh. I’m not sure that’s what ‘Gamboling’ means.”

  15. Thats downright scary when you think about it. Wow.

    http://www.AnonCrypt.tk

  16. Well one of the problems with the space program was that it was funded primarily for Cold War Propaganda. Once Apollo 11 happened NASA had served its purpose and there was little desire to land on Mars or build moon colonies since the Soviets weren’t going to try those anytime soon. Not to mention political infighting since Mondale, Proxmire and Nixon didn’t like Apollo and along with safety concerns and the whole “provide government jobs” things.

    1. Yeah, apart from Tourism, I don’t think there’s much of any kind commercial application up there. Is there even anything to mine?

      Might as well colonize Antarctica. Antarctica has breathable air, and there’s access to potable water, too.

      1. There have always been splinter groups who’ve been fed up with their governments who’ve sought to put geographical distance between themselves and the old, repressive state.

        I suspect that politics will again be the main impetus in colonizing the moon and eventually other planets, as sheer distance will discourage and hamper manipulation by whatever state the colonists are trying to get away from.

      2. There’s plenty to mine. The question is whether you can get it back down affordably. Take any few hundred meter to 1km sized NiFe asteroid floating close by and there’s more relatively refined platinum in there than has been mined in all of human history. If you could instantly transport it back to Earth, and if markets didn’t equilibrate around the newfound abundance, then it would be worth trillions.

        Even the iron and nickel would be a significant fraction because it’s so pure. But it costs ~$10k/kg to get something into orbit and a healthy chunk of that is incurred getting it back, which is why they usually pack up the automated supply vehicles with garbage and let them burn up.

  17. Even anonbot gets weirded out when he hears “gamboling”…

  18. This is actually kind of old now. It can probably be amended to say:

    “The computer used to guide the Apollo 11 moon mission was less powerful than a modern toaster.”

  19. Point being, with the power of a calculator, we put people on the moon.

    With the comparative power of all the supercomputing in the world, we watch porn, post selfies on facebook and tweet shitty comments while waiting for our triple grande pumpkin spice latte.

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