@HPCpodcast: Exascale in China and a Philosophical Turn on Riding Advanced Tech to Super-wealth and Media Power

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The mystery shrouded in a riddle that is the state of exascale supercomputing in China is the main topic of this week’s @HPCpodcast episode. Setting off a re-focus on the recurring topic: the release of a research paper from PRC university scientists on the use of the Sunway TaihuLight system, the no. 4-ranked supercomputer on the Top500 list,  in “quantum many-body problems,” which are problems of extreme complexity and scale.

A staggering 40 million heterogeneous Sunway cores were used in the work, leading Hyperion Research HPC industry analyst Steve Conway to comment that the disclosure “…adds credibility to the notion that China may have deliberately not reported exascale Linpack results for the November 2021 Top500 list in order to avoid attracting more U.S. Government restrictions.”

Yes indeed.

Shahin and Doug also wax philosophical on a more general-interest bit of news: Elon Musk’s Twitter acquisition. We draw parallels between another phennomenally successful business leader, Jeff Bezos, who, along with Musk, has held the distinction of being the world’s richest person. Both he and Musk have ridden HPC-AI and other advanced technologies to the uppermost reaches of global wealth. For more than a century, visionary — not to say messianic — entrepreneurs who hit it big are drawn to power media outlets with outsized impact on the shaping of public perceptions, a particularly potent form of power.

Musk-Twitter=Bezos-Washington Post.

We also discuss the potential dystopic impacts of AI, a topic not as much in circulation of late, though we remember how hot a topic it was in the summer of 2017. Musk himself weighed in that year with a famous quote, calling an AI-dominated future with super-intelligent, super-skilled robots that make people superfluous “the scariest problem.”

That said, robots do much of the assembly at Tesla car factories, and the autonomous cars, aka “data centers on wheels,” Tesla’s developing will be robotically driven. Oh, the irony!

You can find our podcasts at insideHPC’s @HPCpodcast page, on Twitter and at the OrionX.net blog. Here’s the RSS feed.

We welcome your ideas for special topics and guest commentators. Feel free to contact Doug Black or Shahin Khan with your suggestions.