Daniel Lemire is a computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ) in Montreal. His research is focused on software performance and data engineering. He is a techno-optimist.
Science and Technology links (August 29th 2020)
In children, higher video game time is positively associated with cognition (i.e., kids who play more video games are smarter). Note that it does not follow that playing video games makes you smarter; it could be that smarter kids are more interested in video games.
Loeb discusses the effect of ever increasing longevity. He points out that, for the very old, there is no cake large enough to fit one candle per year on a birthday cake. Instead, he suggests, we should use a number of candle proportional to the logarithm of the age. So at year 2, you would get one candle, you might get 2 at year 4, 3 at year 8, 4 at year 16, 5 at year 32, 6 at year 64 and 6 at year 128. It scales much better.
Computer speed has historically increased due to Moore’s law: processors acquired more and more transitors and got faster clock speeds. Some people have been pessimistic about the future. In There’s plenty of room at the Top, Leiserson et al. point out that we can do much to keep improving the performance of our computers. They conjecture that it will require more specific techniques, such as a better integration of software and hardware. If true, this would be in contrast with historical trends where we have increasingly abstracted out the hardware within the software, and tended to rely on generic hardware designs. It may help vertically integrated vendors like Apple while hurting horizontal players like Intel.