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Using information processing and by that I mean being able to take input in and being able to treat it as information in some kind of automated way and be able to have some memory to manage it, I think that combination of things allows things to have behaviours and allows things to have much more complex behaviours than we were capable of before. What I mean by that is that we can now make it much more easy to create reactive systems that react in a much more sophisticated way than before.
One example that I give is between all the electronics that's in a modern car versus pre-electronic cars. Pre-electronic cars, which is a very recent technology, but pre-electronic cars had to embody all of the knowledge of thermodynamics that the engineers had within these really elaborate and very clever but very difficult to create and kind of rigid metal structures. The carburettor is this beautiful example of like forty little hacks around the idea of how to put fuel and air together in just the right way in just the right circumstances. It's essentially a set of algorithms around people’s understanding of the kind of thermodynamics and the kind of fluid dynamics of air and fuel put into these little pieces of metal that move around. No we can actually embody that kind of knowledge much more directly. We can now essentially say, okay, we have a sensor, and the sensor says when the temperature is this, this is how much fuel we need to add to this much air, and we have these specific actuators that have sensor feedback, so we can now put those things together. And if we want to change that behaviour, we now have the ability to essentially change the programming without having to reengineer the whole thing.
I think those kinds of behaviours we're already seeing. We're already seeing those kinds of things in the world around us. You wave your transit card and it beeps in the tram. There's a very sophisticated set of behaviours that are happening there. Because it can also not be working and give some kind of information to something else, or do all kind of things that would have been virtually impossible to do before. People have done all kinds of amazing things without this technology, but it's just so much easier to do a lot of this kind of information-based stuff with it.

Added on 07 May 2017

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