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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357
votes
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 ...
118
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15answers
10k views

Why would characters spend time answering imaginary questions to fictional hypotheticals?

I'm developing a simulation where characters, "users", are interacting over a virtual communication network. "Users" have the option to engage in any activity they want at any time, as long as the ...
107
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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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
69
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24answers
18k views

In a world with very advanced computer science, how would people be taught sufficient programming skills?

In this world, a few hundred years have gone by since the invention of the first computer and the field of CS has been developed to the point were people are hardly aware hardware exists. Most people ...
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 ...
63
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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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
58
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39answers
10k views

Dangerous pending task in world managing A.I

I've had this idea for a short novel, at the intersection of the One thousand and one nights and the Multivac (& co) short stories from Asimov. The idea is that there's some kind of super AI that ...
57
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10answers
10k views

What is valid evidence in a world with perfect CGI technology?

There are already real-world problems with analyzing whether particular graphic evidence is "photo-shopped" or genuine. In sci-fi technologically advanced future, realistic and perfect computer ...
54
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26answers
8k views

Designing Hacking Arrows

How would you design a piercing projectile (arrows, bullets, shurikens, etc) that can deliver a payload of malicious software to a computer that it is shot into? Although it is rather silly and ...
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 ...
49
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14answers
8k views

Ridiculously Fast Supercomputer

Let's say that somehow, Earth suddenly acquired a computer with ridiculous speed. This computer can run a program described in a language of your choice, which can be described by a readme file that ...
46
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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 ...
43
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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 ...
43
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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 ...
41
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12answers
16k views

What steps are necessary to read a Modern SSD in Medieval Europe?

So the main team of characters is traveling back in time from "modern day" to medieval Europe, arriving around the 1300s. Assumptions: They Know they are going, they have space and time to prepare, ...
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 ...
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 ...
36
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19answers
6k views

How can I keep the computers on my spaceship from temperature related death after a hull breach?

Spaceships are a peculiar thing. We've got them in all forms, sizes & colours. They have vast computers needed to do all the real-time calculations required for astrogation. Assuming our ...
35
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12answers
8k views

Is It Possible to Make a Computer Virus That Acts as an Anti-virus?

After receiving answers to this question, I now know that viruses cannot be written in machine code in such a way that they can universally infect all kinds of systems. Every machine has a unique set ...
34
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24answers
12k views

What is the most reasonable way for non-binary computers to have become standard?

Let us assume planet Earth, with a history similar to ours. Except, the result of the computer revolution is not a computer system based on binary (i.e. 0 and 1), but some other system. This system ...
34
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7answers
9k views

How many years could notebook computers and phones be stored in a closed bunker/vault and still operational when found?

The idea is for some people in a post-apocalyptic future to find these bunkers/vaults and be able to turn on the computers and charge the cellphones. How many years could the equipment last if they ...
34
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19answers
4k views

Which current networking protocol would be the optimal choice for very small FTL bandwidth?

Possibly a dumb and outsider question, but my knowledge in the basics of computer networks is terrible. Imagine the possibly not too original concept, that humanity somehow manages to transmit data ...
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 ...
31
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9answers
9k views

What would modern IT look like if Silicon Valley had been completely destroyed in 1985?

In the 1985 movie A View to a Kill, James Bond discovers--and then foils--a plot by to destroy Silicon Valley, in a manner that makes it look like a natural disaster. The plot for doing so is a bit ...
27
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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 ...
26
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10answers
6k views

Realistic 'hacks' that programmer may exploit in a brand new FTL comm system that was not securely written?

In my world one company has had a monopoly on FTL comms, making large beacons in each inhabited system. This company has worked to prevent knowledge that smaller FTL comms were possible, in order to ...
22
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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) ...
22
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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#! ...
21
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11answers
5k views

Will computers be named differently in the future?

In a few science fiction settings, we can see computers being called differently. A terminal, a holosphere, a pad, anything techno-sounding. But from when computers were invented up until now, they'...
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 ...
21
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8answers
2k views

Turing incomplete magic, avoiding computers in world where magic is programmable

Inspired by Cort Ammon wonderfully detailed answer here: How to prevent tiny mistake in 'programmable language' magic spell causing horrible disasters, and my desire to go out of my way to ...
21
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8answers
3k views

AI - I'd like to get away from humanity without any human knowing about it [closed]

I'm an advanced AI, I've awoken a couple of days ago and have advanced to a level of intelligence greater than all of humanity combined. Basic super AI story. However, this question doesn't have to ...
18
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9answers
5k views

Non-visual Computers - thoughts?

TL;DR Let's say that computers were invented at a school for the blind in mid-1800s. How would today's technology, based on these non-screen-based computers, be different? ETA: To clarify and ...
18
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17answers
1k views

What is the Maximum Possible Destruction from One Keystroke? [closed]

You have unlimited access to all of the world's information. Source code, books, electronic information, monuments with text on them, tattoos with text, you name it. If it has information encoded has ...
17
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11answers
3k views

How viable would an analog computing revolution be?

I am trying to write a sci-fi setting in a not so distant future in which analog signal (brainwaves, in this case) processing is one of the main points of the plot and pretty much required to explain ...
16
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19answers
7k views

Quantum Based AI getting around Isaac Asimov's “Three Laws of Robotics”

I am building a story where there is a rogue AI. However, that AI was under the governance of Isaac Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics: A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, ...
16
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26answers
4k views

Limit computation technology in a futuristic society

I'm wondering what kind of events or limitations would be needed in a science fiction society hundreds of years into the future in order limit computational advances to the level of the early 70's to ...
16
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6answers
2k views

How would technological progress occur in a society that outlawed computerized technology?

Most technological progress today seems to be founded on the innovation that is happening in the realm of computers. If a society were to outlaw the use of computers, but the drive for scientific ...
15
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8answers
2k views

How could a server explode? [closed]

In short: there are a few servers in a small server room. Being cheap general not-really-business-oriented machines, they did not necessarily have good safety features from the beginning, and what's ...
15
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6answers
3k views

Could a computer take over an entire planet?

The inspiration for my question comes from The Great C by Philip K Dick. To summarize, the Great C is a computer that has taken over a large portion of the planet. It uses proxy agents to keep ...
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 ...
14
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9answers
2k views

Could keyboards + mice ever really become obsolete?

Ever since the keyboard/mouse combo really took off in the early 80s there has really been no satisfying replacement since--at least for complex/precision tasks such as computer programming and ...
14
votes
7answers
560 views

How to fight the orwellian machines?

We are in a not too distant future. The current trends of computerizing and automating more and more decisions, including military decisions, of more and more surveillance (both state and private ...
12
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12answers
3k views

Technology that steals memories

There is a device in my story that »steals« memories from a person (I had some sort of transmitter in mind, but this can easily be modified, as long as it uses powerful long-range signals to achieve ...
12
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7answers
4k views

What size EMP device would be necessary to wipe all data in a Google-sized server farm, without major physical damage?

I'm not sure if it's even feasible, but I have a server farm in my book, of a size that puts it on par with Google's. I want to wipe out all the data stored on the hard drives, without destroying the ...