Hardware

At various points in Social Techs, as in the earlier Green Family Chronicles, hardware devices are mentioned.  Perhaps most memorable are those invented by Ken Green’s granddaughter Nancy, who decided it was essential to pack and entire System Computer into a small thing like a watch or necklass pendant costing one dollar.  But what was meant by a System Computer?

Those this was not made adequately clear, Beth Green had designed a computer which would run her system, called The System.  This was a poorly described piece of software, whose primary purpose was social networking, but which was explicitly intended to replace much other existing software, becoming an operating system as well.  Someone running Beth’s system would need no other.

We are told that as early as age 12, Beth was persuading her loving billionnaire father to buy her a chip fabrication plant, for the purpose of fabricating chips to run her system.

In the new revision of Social Techs, coming out later this year, some of this hardware will be described explicitly.  The basic chip will contain a great deal of on-chip memory which is completely inaccessible to programs running on the system.  A single op-code in microcode will save a lot of state in this memory, then switch to a different process. The op-codes for many different machines will be accessible to the processor in a lookup table, and the single op-code in each emulated machine which does this state save and process switch will be mapped to some micro-code sequence, including the one which does that at the lower level.

The use of an op-code to microcode table will allow different processes running on the machine to think they are running on different hardware.  Similarly, on-chip hardware and software will support more than one software kernal, so that different processes can think they are running on different operating systems.  In this sense, The System can be the one and only system needed.  But as well as such very low level support, the chip will support dedicated operations useful for social technology.  Specifically, it will support (almost) bipartite matching and subset selection problems.

All of this will have been written by Beth in software then translated into hardware for chips in that fabrication facility Beth wanted so badly.  Later versions of these chips will be quite small, consume little power, and be cheap to reproduce.  They would be the core of Nancy Green’s dollar system computers.

 

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