What is a computer? Some more!

A recent posting pointed to some lack of clarity about what a computer is.  Is a computer anything that carries out automated, logical or arithmetical operations?  Or, is it a particular kind of good, e.g., a PC and not an iPad?

What is a computer?

What is a computer?  Wikipedia currently gives the following definition:

A computer is a device that can be instructed to carry out an arbitrary set of arithmetic or logical operations automatically.

This definition is one that might be expected from a computer scientist.  It is very broad and entirely functional, that is, it describes a computer strictly in terms of what it does.

DNN: 16 Aug 2016

A recent edition of The Economist has two articles that make mention of drones.  Semi-autonomous vehicles will certainly change things.  But, will they change everything that their promoters claim?

The Cyborgian games?

One of the most salient technology-society issues in Olympic sport is that of  enhancement.  Consider my recent post on gene doping, for example.  In general, the question is: When is the use of technology in a sport appropriate or acceptable?

CRISPR will give us wings!

CRISPR refers to short repetitions in DNA, the study of which has produced technology to edit DNA with great precision.  The prospect of being able to edit DNA nearly at will has led to a lot of breathless commentary about how we may change the world—for better or worse—through employing it.

A video recently posted on a YouTube channel called "Kurzgesagt" (German for "In a nutshell") falls into this category:

E-bike style and safety

An electronic bike (or "e-bike") is more-or-less what it sounds like: a bike with an electric motor integrated into it.  E-bikes have become quite popular in Europe and in China, especially as a substitute for cars for short distance commuting.

Should gene doping in sport be accepted?

I noted in an earlier post that the Rio Olympics marks the first time that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has proactively tested for cheating, specifically for gene doping.  

A recent article in New Scientist rehearses some arguments for why gene doping should simply be accepted, rather than banned and policed.  I want to briefly go over those arguments here.

Gender and the Rio Summer Olympics

One of the most fundamental distinctions made in Olympic sports (and others) is the division between men's and women's events.  Most sports on offer at the Games feature events that are divided into exclusively male or female categories.

(Some exceptions come to mind: rhythmic gymnastics and synchronized swimming are for women only, whereas Greco-Roman wrestling is for men only.  Men's and women's gymnastics involve some different equipment for men versus women.  Equestrian events are integrated.)

When is colored food good?

Increasingly, food companies seem to manipulate food coloration as a marketing ploy.  In 2000, Heinz marketed green ketchup as a way of attracting interest in a humdrum condiment.  This was followed by increasingly odd colors such as purple, pink, orange, teal and blue.

Although the campaign had a good run, Heinz reverted to the traditional red after a few years.

Where are we now?

One of the casualties of the advent of rapid and ubiquitous, electronic communications was supposed to be place.  That is, when you can virtually be anywhere at any time, then it would hardly matter where you actually are.

This reduction has occurred to some extent.  Consider the recent Pokémon Go phenomenon.  Players of the augmented reality game can collect a Rattata, for example, almost anywhere.  Whether the virtual creature is encountered in Canada or Brazil, say, makes no difference.


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