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Where’s the giant leap?

August 30, 2012

Neil Armstrong died Saturday at 82. The man walked on the moon. First. Well, the first that we know of. It’s at this point I’d usually work in how people, process and technology made it possible, with obligatory links to training, optimization services, and um… I can’t think of the third one, but I’ve already done that, anyway.

Instead, I’m stuck on this little fact from a three year old popular Science article:

“The Apollo computers had less processing power than a cellphone.”

Now we all walk around with lunar exploration processing power in our pockets. Why haven’t we done more with it? In the aftermath of his Apollo experience, Mr. Armstrong reflected on its meaning:

“The important achievement of Apollo was demonstrating that humanity is not forever chained to this planet and our visions go rather further than that and our opportunities are unlimited.” – Neil Armstrong

Unlimited? Considering Moore’s Law, it seems we’re quite limited, especially now.

For example, instead of driving fuel-cell powered cars (Apollo was powered with fuel cells), we drive SUV’s that get 12 MPG of a fossil fuel. (I rented one last weekend.)

We have this immense computing power, but most people use it only to call mom, text, tweet and yelp for food. I realize there’s immense power for good in our technologies, but we can and need to do more. One example is desalination to provide drinking water where it’s badly needed. What are the others?

“I fully expected that, by the end of the century, we would have achieved substantially more than we actually did.” – Neil Armstrong

Me too.

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