A survey. Please send responses to me, rather than this forum.

Cliff Pickover cliff at WATSON.IBM.COM
Fri Mar 29 13:36:44 EST 1991


WHAT IF ALL SCIENTISTS HAD A WALLET-SIZED GRAPHICS SUPERCOMPUTER?

I am conducting a survey, the results of which will be published in
Computer Graphics World, and I look forward to receiving your responses.
Send your responses to CLIFF at WATSON.IBM.COM or CLIFF at YKTVMV.  So that I
may describe the types of people who are responding to this survey,
please tell me where you work, your job title and field, and if you have
a college, masters, or graduate degree (M.D., Ph.D.).

Over the last few years, I've conducted a number of "non-traditional
surveys" regarding technology and science.  For those not familiar with
these past surveys, they have included "What is the social and scientific
impact of a soda-can-sized computer with near infinite memory and
speed?"(1,4), "Who are the ten most influential scientist in
history?"(2,4), and "What if scientists found a computer in 1900?"(3,4).

In the present survey, I would like to concentrate on computer graphics
and scientific visualization.  Here I will collect your opinions on the
following question, and will publish an article summarizing the results
of the survey and including excerpts of your opinions.  Please
concentrate your responses on the graphics aspects of this question.

  If humankind were given a wallet-sized graphics computer with
  near-infinite computational power and memory -- free of charge to all
  individuals who requested such a device -- how would humanity be
  affected from both a scientific and sociological standpoint?  The time
  required to render the most complicated of scenes would be
  instantaneous.  For example, rendering rates much greater than a
  trillion shaded triangles per second would be attainable with the
  device.  Ray tracing the most complicated of graphics scenes would be
  instantaneous as would be the manipulation of huge volume (voxel) data.
  The wallet device proposed here, then, is the "ultimate scientific
  visualization" device.

QUESTIONS and COMMENTS
1. Feel free to add any comments and speculations you wish.  If you
do not whish to answer the specific questions below, you do not have to.

2. Yes or No:
Would there be tremendous scientific gains within a year of distributing
this computer?  (Or perhaps you think science would plod along at its
current rate)?

3. What fields would benefit most?

4. Overall, would this device be good or bad for humankind?

5. How would humankind and science change?

6. Where do you work?  What is your job title and field?  What
level of education do you have (B.A., M.A, PhD, M.D.)?

7. Which country in the world would be most affected by the device?

8. Which country would achieve the greatest gains and discoveries?

9. Who would be affected to the greatest degree:
a) Scientists, technologists, inventors
b) Political and military leaders
c) Secular philosophers
d) Religious leaders
e) Artists and writers
f) other

REFERENCES

1. Pickover, C. (1991) The social and scientific impact of a
soda-can-sized super-super computer.  Computers in Physics, May/June 5:
3, in press.

2. Pickover, C. (1990) Who are the ten most influential scientists in
history?  The History and Social Science Teacher.  25(3):  158-161.

3. Pickover, C. (1991) The social and scientific impact of a personal
computer placed in the year 1900. IEEE Computer, May 24(5), in press.

4. All of these surveys reprinted in greater detail in:  Pickover, C.
(1991) Computers and the Imagination.  St. Martin's Press:  New York.
(September)



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