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Hector, University of Edinburgh’s new toy

I was reading an article in the paper during the week about a new superduper computer that The University of Edinburgh has recently finished and how shiny and powerful it is and how it ranks internationally to other machines (apparently it comes 17th in the world). The article also talked about the possible uses of such a machine and what new modelling could be achieved which led me to look up a website mentioned (www.top500.org incredibly geeky let me tell you)

Here there were all kinds of ideas about how you can make your own supercomputer with off the shelf products like Playstations if only you had them time. Also mentioned was the truly interdependent method that was used to crack the humane genome where thousands of people registered their computers on-line and downloaded a bit of software that allowed the Cambridge University people to access their machine and use it as part of a massive network of computers simultaneously. This allowed them to get massive amounts of processing power to work for them just by using the internet.

Apparently a similar but illegal technique is used by the Russian mafia to make money from online companies. They harness innocent computers in the same way but without permission by use of Trojan viruses that are stealth downloads from ‘dodgy’ sites. They then use their new multi-nodal supercomputer to hack a company website or repeatedly log on and off to make it crash and then demand a pay-off to make them stop. Allegedly this was down to online betting companies over the World Cup period.

All this seems so similar to Douglas Adams’ vision of a computer so complex that even people were part of its analytical process as life itself was the subject of the calculation. So not a huge amount to do with buildings, architecture, urban space or even mapping really, but very interdependent nonetheless.

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