IEEE Computer Volume 11 Number 10 -- The Open Channel
Original Publication Date: 1978-Oct-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Nov-10
Software Patent Institute
IEEE Computer Society: OWNER [+2]
The Open Channel
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Microproceasors and the Emulation Approach to Machine Intelligence
A.J. Cots, Jr.
Those who view microprocessors as small, inexpensive computers are perhaps correct in a technical sense but I'd like to suggest that this is an inhibiting view. While there are clearly many applications where it is appropriate to define the microprocessor as a type of computer, more revolutionary opportunities materialize if we accept the following premise:
(Image Omitted: A microprocessor is a universal active device having a transfer function which can be almost arbitrarily defined.)
In particular, appropriate software will permit a microprocessor to provide complex analog transfer functions. Thus, even though internal processing is digital, the externally observed function of the chip would be that of an analog e-port. The concept is not unlike one exploited by the nervous system. Analog signals flow 'within the nervous system as digital pulse trains propagated via active transmission lines, i.e., the axons, where the pulse rate reflects the analog level. The active digital lines are apparently a convenient mechanism for getting data from one place to another without suffering the losses that would be encountered in a passive wire of the same diameter. In the same sense, the microprocessor is a convenience; it
permits realization of analog functions in quantities that were previously impractical.
When one contemplates microprocessors from this alternate perspective, it becomes evident that most existing applications do not contribute significantly to the evolution toward such an analog function scenario. Lacking sufficient motivation, such an evolution is not likely to occur.
The motivation, however, does exist and is the rationale for most machine intelligence and pattern analysis research funding. Unfortunately, that research has been under the hypnotic influence of the large-scale digital computer for a number of years now. For example, a participant at a recent workshop observed that the various machine intelligence approaches reflect the e...