What’s A Computer?

An image from Apple’s “What’s A Computer” iPad advertisement

While desktops and laptops still dominate computational tasks, I have recently become interested in thinking about what the future form of a computer will be. Last year, Apple released the advertisement shown above where the main character is asked “What are you doing on your computer?” and responds with “What’s a computer?” Apple was trying to show the versatility of its new iPad, but this led to outrage on the internet about the disrespect and bratty insolence of that character. (Some of the negative comments are shown here: https://www.businessinsider.com/apple-whats-a-computer-ad-sparks-anger-2018-1). However, the character did make a good point that the definition of a computer in today’s world is evolving every day.

Since then, many companies have attempted to design new iterations of the computer, whether based on science fiction of the past or innovative visions of the future.

Microsoft’s more familiar Surface Neo is a dual-screened laptop designed for greater versatility than current devices seems visually appealing, but not revolutionary.

Microsoft Surface Neo

Magic Leap is a company trying to create augmented reality glasses that seamlessly mesh the virtual world with the physical world. This seems like a step in the right direction, but reviewers have found that this iteration’s field of view of the virtual world is overly limited, making it hard to use effectively.

Magic Leap One, the startup’s claimed “next era of computing”

Elon Musk’s Neuralink is working on embedding wires into people’s brains to read and write information at a much higher rate than is possible with current smartphones and technology. This is the most ambitious of recent projects I have seen, meaning it may be a while before it catches on, but it has seemingly the most future potential to dramatically change the world.

Neuralink’s First Prototype

Dieter Bohn of The Verge also has an interesting and visually appealing YouTube series where he discusses many of these ideas and others, which you can find here (https://www.theverge.com/processor-show-dieter-bohn).


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