Byte Me Article 161 – Power doesn’t mean intelligence

Power Doesn’t Mean Intelligence

Last week we were looking at the workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU) – the very brain of a computer.  We showed that if buying a new desktop PC or laptop the power rating of its brain is not easily compared against other marketplace alternatives unless you look it up yourself on a site like .  We also saw that current desktop offerings in the marketplace can vary in power by a factor of 10 times.

So what effect does this have on the end users experience in real terms?  If you went and purchased a PC with an Intel Atom CPU the resulting experience would be far different to taking home a PC with an Intel i5 CPU.  In the first place Intel has only ever intended the Atom to be used in netbooks and portable devices because of its low power consumption (good battery life in the device).  Unfortunately some of the PC manufacturers have seen this as an opportunity to make more money out of a budget PC and an unwary purchaser.

2014-02-15 Byte Me Article 161 - More about the CPU

The difference in use between the two examples above would be profound.  The lower power model taking 5 to 10 times longer to boot up and the user waiting on most every command.  Some might say this is fine – however in fact it is not.  When you have a poorly performing PC problems other than just wasted time creep in.  When using a slow PC the operator often double clicks twice to start or run a program because they think the first double click has not worked.  When installing software users of a low power PC often start a second instance of the installer running – again because of the periods of no response.  Either of the above can lead to Windows operating system corruptions.

A low power PC can also have trouble effectively running a modern virus scanner and the general delays in response of the PC when on the Internet can again result in the user mistakenly clicking on a link that is dangerous.  The health of a slow PC can also be severely compromised through the user punching the screen or throwing it from an upper storey window in frustration!  When purchasing a new PC sometimes spending just an extra $50 can result in a doubling of the CPU power.

Because of the leaps and bounds in computing power some readers have asked the question – will they eventually rebel and take over the world as depicted in many futuristic movies?  They will take over many of our jobs but – NO – they will never take over the world.  There is a huge difference between POWER and INTELLIGENCE!  CPU’s are becoming more powerful – however they have zero intelligence.  A CPU does not have feelings, desires, empathy, reason, contemplation or greed (the last being an essential ingredient for even wanting to take over the world).

A CPU only ‘processes’ a software program but it is humans that ‘invent’ or write these programs.  For example – a PC can’t play chess unless a smart programmer (who is brilliant at chess) writes a program for the PC to follow.  The PC can never then be any smarter at chess than the programmer however it can run through a thousand potential moves in a few seconds and win on the strength of having more ‘processing power’ than a human component.  The PC will also not be ‘happy’ about its win or ‘sad’ about its loss – so it won’t try any harder next time.

Keep in mind – you can’t program a PC to have a personality so ‘it’ will never ‘want’ to do anything – ‘it’ just follows commands – albeit quite quickly, in the case of a powerful PC. 

Future Byte Me topics can be emailed to [email protected] and Bruce is contactable at Kerr Solutions, 205 Musgrave Street or on 49 222 400.

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