The promise of computers has always been that they unlock potential—that they can make things happen that would otherwise be impossible or at least insurmountably difficult performed by human hand. The common dilemma of their first decades—before the recent advent of advanced system-on-a-chips and processors integrated with additional dedicated components—was that computers had a latency period between a task and its fruition, as they perform the computations requested of them or recall the necessary information from its memory. But with the Intel® Core™ i7+ processor featuring Intel® Optane™ memory, which create and load media 2.6 times faster than leading processors, it’s time to stretch the limits of our creativity and ask what our computers would truly capable of, given the most processing power.
Imagine, to begin, a computer that responds to an idea immediately: a director could re-cut her film to respond to the audience in the theater; an artist could sketch out a sculpture as it 3D prints in real-time; a writer could ideate on a notepad while personalized software turns each concept into a finely tuned sentence, written in the writer’s own voice. Now speculate even further by bringing a bit from each of these three ideas together. Picture a writer who begins the first words of her script: “Science fiction. Year 2500. We find our hero in the midst of a Martian sandstorm.” And, just like that, the picture appears on her screen: our hero, armed in a spacesuit, hides behind a rock as a red storm descends. As the idea literally takes form, the next scene comes straight to our writer’s mind.
We’re accelerating toward such a reality more quickly than it may seem. Intel® Core i7+ processors come armed with Optane memory, which intelligently caches the data necessary to perform high-level tasks, meaning the processor no longer needs to dedicate time and power to pulling that data itself. It’s a bit like having a photographic memory—it amounts to a massive boon in productivity. So it’s absolutely in the realm of possibility that a computer could one day very soon be capable of running all the processes necessary to make our writer’s dream happen, simultaneously: A computer could “remember” a writer’s voice and turn a note into a stylized sentence, use artificial intelligence to identify the elements of the sentence (its characters, setting, and action), create visual models of those elements and place them into a scene, and render and display this scene on your monitor—all in the blink of an eye.
The truth is, with this example we’re still thinking pretty small. Maximizing the memory capacity and processing power of computers could dramatically overhaul the way society gets things done. They could minimize inefficiencies in the tax code, audit a country’s infrastructure, propose a plan to rebuild the most threatened bridges, and draft contracts for architectural firms and construction companies, all in an afternoon. They could more effectively map genes and treat illness, pairing with nanobots to identify early signs of disease and a course of treatment.
The speculation never ends. The reality is that answering the question of what are computers could be capable of, given the most processing power, means looking at all the advancements society has made over the last 70 years, and multiplying that by degrees of magnitude. One of the great hidden achievements to upgrading the memory of our computers is that our interactions with screens will be more efficient—think, less time spending waiting for processes to run—and even reduced entirely—more time spent thinking, working through problems, and interacting with people around us. With such limitless capabilities, the real question, then, isn’t what can you do—it’s what will you do?