Recently, for some unknown reason, Iâ€™ve been thinking about the ideal, long haul computer.
What would it be like?
It would be very different from the computers we use â€“ which, cast adrift from the power, contextual and semantic life support systems of our civilization, would be pointless (imagine youâ€™re transported to the 14th century, or survive some future catastrophe, with your laptop intact â€“ while the battery held out itâ€™d be a curiosity â€“ after the battery died itâ€™d be junk â€“ connectivity makes our logic devices valuable).
So a perfect computer would be able to connect to networks and inter networks, of course, but it would also have other capabilities that made it self sufficient, a stand alone resource.
The perfect computer (or maybe, instead of writing â€œperfectâ€ I should write â€œuseful anywhere and everywhereâ€) would have the following characteristics:
* Astoundingly durable â€“ so mind bogglingly durable you could toss it over the side of the Grand Canyon (or, if this continental American reference is un-usable, imagine the perilous gorge of your choice), climb down after it, and boot the tough little bastard up.
* Self powered
* Store all human knowledge and media (or, a reasonable amount of it) so you could look up how to do anything, watch movies, listen to music and read any one of millions of books.
* Incorporate sensors that allowed it to determine environmental conditions, detect toxins, perform radar sweeps and just generally be able to interact with the real world, crunch data and produce information based upon whatâ€™s going on in 3D.
* Employ both voice and touch interfaces (not exclusively, thereâ€™s still room for a keyboard)
* Employ some level of whatâ€™s called artificial intelligence
* Be able to perform instantaneous language trasnslation (perhaps through an earpiece transmission so my lack of fluency in, say, Farsi, is hidden).
Of course, a universally useful robot would have all of the above but also be mobile and capable of lending a hand (enforcement of Asimovâ€™s 3 Laws of Robotics
would be good too).