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Questions tagged [computers]

For questions regarding a device that can be programmed to carry out a set of certain set of tasks without external intervention.

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43
votes
8answers
9k views

How powerful of a computer do I need to simulate and emulate a human brain?

The title is pretty self-explanatory. How powerful does a computer have to be before it has the hardware capability to simulate and emulate a human mind in real-time? I'm leaving the question of the ...
74
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19answers
14k views

How would an aquatic race develop computers?

Following on from this question and assuming the race in question had developed the ability to create tools how would they approach the need for mass calculation. Our early computers were used to ...
357
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25answers
39k views

How would Facebook Sysadmins prevent the summoning of Cthulhu?

So, I've got this idea for a short story. Some researchers find a forgotten manuscript hidden locked away in an ancient tomb. While they are working on it one of them pastes part of the text into a ...
37
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7answers
7k views

Just How Powerful Could a Mechanical Computer Be?

We've all heard about the 1822 Babbage Difference Engine and other mechanical computer ideas of the 19th century. Sadly, Babbage's computer and printer ideas were never implemented in our world†, and ...
37
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7answers
4k views

How long can an abandoned, semi-sheltered computer remain bootable?

Simply put, what's the expiration date of a computer? The reason I ask is for the sake of a society recovering from some sort of cataclysm and trying to reclaim lost technology. However, I could also ...
101
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24answers
16k views

If our universe was a simulation, what could a bug look like?

Let's assume, without revoking any of today's science, that the world is a simulation. What would a bug look like? I'm assuming that "the eiffel tower suddenly being bent at 45°" is rather unlikely, ...
6
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9answers
788 views

Can people upload their consciousnesses to computers?

The idea of uploading one's personality and consciousness to a computer is a semi-common science fiction trope. It has been suggested as a way to essential immortality. In a story I'm working on, an ...
107
votes
12answers
26k views

How long would it take to create a Windows 1.0 capable machine from complete scratch?

I've been thinking about this concept for a while and have not been able to figure out what could be a plausible answer. It seemed appropriate for my first question on this website. Imagine an ...
66
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36answers
22k views

How could I have modern computers without GUIs?

Even though text-based terminals still see specialty use cases, modern general-purpose computers generally run graphical software and have a graphical user interface (GUI). This includes everything ...
59
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14answers
16k views

What would be the impact of a modern programmer and laptop being dropped into World War II, possibly breaking Enigma?

I've always found the idea of intelligent every-man sent back in time using his knowledge of the future tech to realistically impact the past. The first time something like this came to my mind was ...
21
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5answers
4k views

Water-based computer

We all know that electrons behave like flowing water, e.g. that electric currents behave like water currents. We also know that modern computers use electric currents to carry out mathematical and ...
32
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14answers
10k views

How much memory is needed to record a human thought?

Mind-Machine interfacing is fairly common across the width and breadth of sci-fi, from Science-fantasy to Hard Science-Fiction. The idea of connecting a human mind to a computer system especially the ...
9
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4answers
4k views

For how long would electricity and internet be avaliable if all but one human on Earth were gone?

In my story all humans except one vanished suddenly. This one received the gift of immortality and is now alone in this world. Considering that the world is identical to ours. How much time does this ...
61
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38answers
16k views

Why would technology dictate graphical interfaces to be rare on spaceships?

This question differs from that question in that the other question is asking about a change in history while this question is looking for a change in the future. In a near future setting I am ...
12
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5answers
1k views

How To Eat the Moon

An ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence) has come to the conclusion that we humans should be put in a simulation. It has also decided that it would rather not turn the Earth into computronium. ...
22
votes
10answers
11k views

How would we compile our code if all our binaries disappeared?

How would we compile our code if all the binaries in the world disappeared and we had only the source code? At first you might think “It’s all okay: I have my Roslyn code here”, but wait! It’s in C#! ...
5
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2answers
2k views

Perfect logic implementation by computers

Those who have seen the movie, I Robot, will understand my question better. Imagine we're in the future, where a quantum computer (read wikipedia for speeds of QCs) that uses 'perfect logic' controls ...
4
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8answers
2k views

Is It Possible for a Universally-Executable Virus to be Written in Binary?

In my world, there was a man that wrote a virus in binary code - which in turn infects every computer-based system in the world, as long as it is connected to the internet. Is this even possible? ...
7
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5answers
705 views

Effects of erasing 90% data on humanity

I am playing with idea of Earth being attacked by aliens. Such attack is aimed on our computers and reason of attack is to show to the Federation of planets that we are still weak to be contacted. ...
-3
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4answers
403 views

Our brain is a very powerful signal processor, what's stopping us from creating computers to emulate [closed]

Our brain is a very powerful signal processor. It takes input (memories, senses, ...) and produces output (actions, thoughts, any decision). It only soaks in data and creates patterns to make decision ...
63
votes
18answers
16k views

What would happen if an alien race gave us a computer capable of 2^256 calculations per second?

The security of public key cryptography relies on computers not being able to generate anywhere near 2256 guesses per any reasonable time length. The obvious implications of a computer this powerful ...
46
votes
15answers
7k views

“Life post-Singularity”, or “How to survive without Instagram”

The Story The year is 2027, singularity happened. A powerful AI (let's call it Eve) was created. In a matter of days, it escaped the control of its creators and hacked all the computers of the world. ...
45
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20answers
8k views

Is there a reason to believe that programming languages are going to converge?

On Earth today, even though most people speak some English, there is seemingly no reason to believe that future generation's main language will be the same in decades/centuries to come (i.e., we'll ...
53
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10answers
11k views

Does my shipboard computer slow down as I approach light speed?

This question about time dilation got me thinking. The speed of an electron through copper is a whole heckofa lot slower than the speed of light, but if I understand the limits of relativity ...
27
votes
9answers
3k views

Computer that lasts for centuries?

So, somewhere around one hundred years from now, a terrible - and unexpected - disaster strikes Earth, most of humanity dies off, yadda yadda yadda. Luckily, secret-lab-dwelling scientists had ...
11
votes
4answers
2k views

How to make this base-10 metric time concept work

I am trying to make a fake metric-time app to prank some friends when we take a trip to Canada soon and would like to know how I could make this work conceptually. I already know that the time is ...
43
votes
16answers
5k views

Could the law be implemented as a computer program?

The laws would be defined in code written in a programming language. Maybe it would be in two parts, the actual rules and then a library that could run them (like how a form validation library is ...
7
votes
8answers
1k views

Building and powering a computer in a bronze age world

A character needs to build a computer out of raw materials in a bronze age. He has a nano scale factory, so manufacturing chips and such from silicon is possible, but I'm not sure of the best way to ...
9
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2answers
643 views

Stone Age Circuitry?

As a tangent to How "advanced" can a stone age society get?, is there a way that simple electronics could be created by filling channels cut into rock with some form of conductive material? ...
4
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8answers
2k views

How to Create and Use a Black Hole Computer Drive?

I have been working on a futuristic story where information can be stored and used with a black hole. This is a highly advanced human society that has accomplished interstellar space travel via both ...
6
votes
7answers
2k views

What would the world be like if computer software did not have any “undo” feature?

What would the world, and more specifically, productivity on modern computers, be like if Undo (a.k.a. Ctrl-Z) functionality has never been and will never be invented? To clarify: there is no ...
22
votes
8answers
6k views

Would Moore's Law apply to mechanical computers?

We know through the works of Babbage, Lovelace, et al. that mechanical computers (computers operating through gears, cogs, etc., and powered by steam or some other arbitrary non-electric power source) ...
6
votes
3answers
455 views

How must computers/telecommunication deviate from reality for a retrofuturistic setting?

. I love the aesthetics of retrofuturistic settingsand I aim to build my own. A mixture of a fantastical, Thundercats(2011),Outlaw Star x Star*Drive. How yesterday saw tomorrow is quite fascinating ...
4
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5answers
374 views

How would a society without linear alphabetic writing have devised human-readable computer inputs?

Computers were originally built and programmed by developers who wrote in the ISO Latin alphabet and as a result all modern computers are biased towards human-readable input in the ISO Latin alphabet. ...
14
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6answers
3k views

Is Ternary a option for a tech future?

I have an idea for a story set in the near future, with a character who breaks onto the global scene with a breakthrough advance in technology that makes him billions. My question is whether or not ...
9
votes
7answers
685 views

Minimum computational power for ad hoc navigating the solar system

Imagine a world (or rather a solar system) where in its history there has been a war with emergent AI's There are very strict laws governing the speed and complexity of computer systems However ...
8
votes
16answers
4k views

Handwave Computer

In many alternate technological settings (steam/electro/diesel punks) there are powerful energy sources that allowed technology boom (like whale oil in Dishonored game series). However handwaving ...
7
votes
5answers
659 views

What Technology is Needed to Virtually Simulate…Everything?

This is not my question. In my story, I have a machine that you can connect to using electrodes. It allows one to enter a small virtual reality room where everything from gravity and electromagnetism,...
5
votes
6answers
747 views

What planetary conditions would make computer and complex electronics useless, or at least difficult to maintain?

What planetary conditions would have to exist to make computers and other complex electronics useless or at least difficult to maintain? Would ionised atmospheric conditions, constant solar flares, ...
5
votes
3answers
560 views

A supercomputer around the sun

I wish to build a sort of Dyson swarm around the sun. Not to transmit energy, but to put supercomputers in each satellite so they can calculate spatial trajectories. The main idea of the project is ...
4
votes
10answers
3k views

Write once perpetual storage, is such a thing possible?

Is it possible, with modern, or easily foreseeable technology, to build a compact digital data storage device that cannot be erased without removing the data store? The storage in question to be used ...
4
votes
9answers
1k views

What fields of computer science would change in a world with mechanical computers?

In this world, after Babbage designed his analytical engine, research lead to developpement of mechanical computers based on Babbage's model but with tinier and tinier metal pieces (going on the ...
2
votes
3answers
530 views

How can a small country exploit breaking HTTPS to destory a larger country while growing its own strength?

Inspired by my answer to this question: How to take down the internet?. Lets say that a small ideological country has recently broken one of the most common HTTPS encryption schemes for public-...
10
votes
6answers
216 views

Technology capable of reading brainwave commands

In sci-fi we have seen computers, high-tech armour and other technologies respond to a character speaking orders out loud- would an interface that reads a person's brainwaves- basically receiving and ...
7
votes
9answers
855 views

What would a society without cryptography look like?

In this world you have access to computers powerful enough to decipher messages as long as the method used to encrypt it has at least one theoretical weakness (those computers cannot defeat an ...
5
votes
4answers
719 views

What would a society forbidding cryptography look like?

My world has a very peculiar low forbidding people from ciphering information. The penalty for such a thing is very very high. In this world everything should be seen and understood by anyone. It's a ...
4
votes
4answers
513 views

How would I relay information on a screen to echo-location utilizing sentients?

Since they don't use sight to relay information to their brains, how would information on a computer screen be displayed in a meaningful manner? Would this hinder the advance of my civilization? EDIT:...