SAN JOSE – I wish an engineer would develop a mobile force field. You could carry it in your pocket like a key fob, press a button and an impenetrable shield forms around your body.
It should cost just a couple dollars so everyone could have one. I would give one to all the people I love.
I wish an engineer could develop heart X-ray glasses, like Google Glasses for emotions. They let you see into the feelings of the people around you, so you know if they are hurting and need help.
I’d like to see a movie, full of amazing effects, about how people use these inventions and others to end violence. The story could be full of bravery, people learning how to stand up to their full potential and wonderful images that capture my imagination.
There would be no need for explosions or shattered glass.
There could be a loving man named Alfred who mentors and parents a handsome man named Bruce. There could be a love story. There could be moments of great excitement and acrobatics combined with music—like the moments I love in Cirque du Soleil.
There are so many things we can build. There are so many stories we can tell ourselves.
What would you like to build? What story do you want to tell?
Engineers build empowering tools. How tools are used is more a reflection on the values of the people using them than a reflection on engineers. Practically any technology can be used for both destructive and constructive purposes.
Yet we waste our time,as engineer, building the tools for the destruction of democracy, personal freedoms, and lives themselves. If engineers simply said "no", and we would simply foresee the consequences of the technologies we give to politicians and MBAs, the world would be a much better place. Instead, engineers mindlessly build UAVs, face recognition algorithms, smart munitions, and assault rifles, and then wish upon a star for even more technology to fix what stupid, head-in-the-sand, engineers broke in the first place. But, since most engineers are high functioning autistics, social implications don't bother them in the least bit.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.