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Smithson Thus Far... ·


It took forever to assemble all the supercomputer performance terminology for this strip, and it's probably all laughably outdated now. At least "petaflop" remains a funny word.

Dave is wearing sneakers with his suit. That's...just sad, Dave.

There aren't many times in Narbonic you see Dave with a big goony smile on his face, but this is one of them. It is a pretty cool computer.

I like it when Helen wears a lab coat over a cocktail dress. It's so classy.

I don't have much to say here except that the heart came from a font because I'm really bad at drawing hearts. Also, whenever I needed to make Dave look totally freaked out, I had to draw him in profile because it's the only way you can see his damn eyes.

Dave looks very cute in this strip, though. At least he met Lovelace with his hair looking nice.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time thinking up ways Dave could disembowel himself using items found in a hotel room. I should have gone with "complementary copy of USA Today."

This whole scene in Madblood's hotel room probably goes on longer than it should, but what the hell. At least I got in a lot of drawings of Dave looking cute.

Madblood's thing for Jennifer Connelly never stops being funny, I don't care what you say. Anyway, I've now successfully gotten Dave out of the hotel room so the ladies can talk. Man, was that hard.

Grant McCormick (grantcmccormick) says:

She really sparcs his interested.

Valerie Kaplan (shinyhappygoth) says:

Sneakers with a suit isn't sad, it's Doctor chic!

Of course, this was before that, so I suppose it still counted as sad at that point.

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says:

A petaflop is still pretty dang impressive today. The current world's fastest supercomputer runs at around 8.16 petaflops, and takes quite a lot more space than a single hotel room.

Daniel Barkalow (iabervon) says:

Actually, she was only surpased (as a publically-announced single system) in the past 7 months by a Japanese computer that hit 8162 and 8 petaflops. And that computer has 68000 CPUs (that's a quantity, not a Motorola part number) and probably doesn't get out much. On the other hand, there are now a bunch of ~1 petaflops systems, but they don't do that well on LINPACK. Watson, incidentally, has 8% of her floating point speed and 5% of her LINPACK score.

Johnn Reynolds (sleepyjohn) says:

@Grant: He's about to release all his pentium emotions.

Wayne (wayne) says:

I accidentally walked in to the supercomputer center at Los Alamos in 1992, it was pretty awesome, full of Connection Machines.  (Their sign to the museum was unclear)

Diane Castle (deecee) says:

@Johnn: Cray me a river.

Mark Temple (mithril) says:

i love the comic-book-tech implication that mad sceince can perform quantum computing using just sufficently fast computers...instead of dedicated physical processing units like are available in real life now. more signs that daves innate maddness is manifesting?

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "You Are Woman, I Am Man", Jule Styne & Bob Merrill)

She's machine, and he is man!
He's organic, she's mechanics in a can!
Do their feelings give them fits?
Do they want 'em?  Quantum bits or naughty bits?
Dave thinks her design is tops!
Such computing,
Executing petaflops!
Now, to sapience, the threshold she's crossed ...
Tell the cupcake in the coat,
"Get lost!"

fluffy <3 (fluffy) says:

@Mark Temple: Strictly-speaking, any computer can handle quantum computations; it's just a matter of how long it takes them to resolve the possibilities. A sufficiently-fast and highly-parallel computer like Lovelace actually could make a pretty good dent into emulating qubits computationally, although of course it would still take a while to handle any single 64-qubit operation (which is pretty much the lower end of what quantum computation is useful for).

Someday I want to see a Monte Carlo simulation of quantum electrodynamics used to do do ultra-realistic photorealistic rendering. Then I want to pit it against a quantum simulation used to make the same scene. (The latter is a fancy way to say "build a model and photograph it.")

Mark Temple (mithril) says:

yes you can run quantum computation emulation using convetional computers of sufficent power..but the best way to do it is to use actual quantum mechanical processors. they produce the same results faster, and with much more compact hardware. for example, the 128 qubit D-wave system recently sold to lockheed martin: ,

but dave talks about handling qubits in a fashion that implies the computer would not be just running an emulation. something you need actual quantum processors to do.

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Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "I'm looking through you," John Lennon & Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Rubber Soul, 1965)

Jump to conclusions
That's what I'll do
Keep my illusions
That you're human, too
I think you're Madblood, so I'm depressed
And now I'm failing
The Turing test

I was just hugging
Your shining face
But I can't admit that
You're my Lovelace
Won't recognize you
Won't let myself see
You're a real AI, not
My fantasy

Why can't you be Jennifer Connelly?
If you're not her, you're Madblood, playing some mean prank on me

Two women love me
Here in this room
I can only think of
Mr. Von Boom
Caught up in the hominid paradigm
Jumping to conclusions
What a doofus I'm!

Leon Arnott (l) says: Wednesday:

Is... Lovelace emoting with her antenna? Is that her equivalent to a raised eyebrow?
fluffy <3 (fluffy) says:

I think you're reading a lot more into the statement "it's this far from handling quantum bits!" than I am.

Also, wow, I didn't realize there were stable 128-qubit processors out there yet! The last time I looked into this stuff they were still having trouble keeping two qubits from collapsing. Although those articles indicate that this is a much weaker use of the term "quantum computing" than what is implied by such, in that it's using quantum states for conventional bit storage, as opposed to superpositional qubits to do the more traditional let-observation-of-the-wave-function-solve-the-NP-hard-problem problem-solving.

Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "I Need A Lover", John Mellencamp)

I found my lover and though it was Madblood!
I found my lover and though it was Madblood!
I found my lover and though it was Madblood!
My fantasy's a travesty, and
I'm feeling sad, bud!

Well, I've been talking to Lovelace online,
And now I'm closer than ever before!
Her voice is smooth, her mind is oh-so-fine,
Now she's on this floor, right behind this door!

I see the luggage, there's only one set,
And I'm feeling a sense of confusion ...
Then all at once, a funny feeling I get,
And I make a jump to the completely wrong conclusion!

I found my lover and though it was Madblood!
I came here looking for my love, Lovelace!
I found my lover and though it was Madblood,
Don't know she's staring me
Right in the face!

hu Gubgu22 (gubgu22) says:

It 's good!


Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Help!," John Lennon & Paul McCartney (The Beatles, Help!, 1965)

Help! Restore my honor
Help! Because I'm a goner
Help! And I'm an organ donor

When I thought Lovelace was a smart and sexy girl
You helped me sneak into her room, to give romance a whirl
But she's just Madblood, and I feel like such an ass
So grab a towel, I'll disembowel
Me with this water glass

Help, I can't go on, I feel like s**t
And it's now hara kiri I must commit
Lop my head off, then write my obit
My online girlfriend's a he!
Help me, help me (Arrgh!)

Leon Arnott (l) says: Thursday:

This is a pretty good episode, especially since it's one character talking to the right panel border. In some sense, being off-panel only makes Dave appear even more pathetic in this situation.
Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

These days all you get is a plastic wrapped paper cup, so the "complimentary copy of USA Today" isn't that far off the mark....

David Harmon (mental_mouse) says:

Kay Gilber:  Hey, anyone who dies in Helen's vicinity is gonna be an organ donor! "Waste not, want not!"

So It Begins (soitbegins) says: Earth to Lovelace: SAY SOMETHING ALREADY!
il biggo (biggo) says:

KISS HIM DAMMIT! Oh, right, you can't. Sorry.

Frank (pokefan_frank) says:

And he's wearing a tie!

Kay Gilbert (kaygilbert) says:

tune: "Man smart (woman smarter)," Norman Span (Harry Belafonte, Calypso, 1956)

Dave feels dirty, 'cause he thinks that Lovelace
Is that nemesis guy
Helen isn't such a fool
She sees through the ruse, talks to the AI

Let Dave sulk
Helen knows the score
Sen-ti-ent computer is Dave's paramour
Sees the truth before her, plain as day
She's smarter than Dave in every way

That's right! Helen is smarter
That's right! Helen is smarter
That's right! Helen is smarter
Helen is smarter
That's right!

Jon Stout (brasswatchman) says: Wonder what Madblood thought of "requiem for a dream," then.
Leon Arnott (l) says: Saturday:

They're always geniuses, Lovelace. That's what makes them so infuriating to work with.

The only thing I have left to say is that Dave is definitely shelving the Gerbil Hypothesis too early. He hasn't even searched Madblood's luggage for stray alfalfa shreds.
Ed Gedeon (eddurd) says:

(TUNE: "The Crying Game", Geoff Stephens, 1964)

Dave believes that he's found out about his Lovelace love!
He's gonna pout ... 'bout his Lovelace love!
First there was romance ... then there was hope ...
Found she was fake,
A shower he'll take
With plenty of soap!

Jumping to conclusions who had faked his Lovelace love ...
He never knew ... who he's in front of!
But Helen sees her ... yes, she can tell!
Knew in her heart,
'Cause she's really smart
And evil as well!

JP Chabot (speedball) says:

So why did Lovelace never decide to just speak up while Dave was ranting?

Sam Daniel (samhdaniel) says:

@speedball: Maybe she can't speak unless spoken to first....

Paul Anderson (pmanderson) says: @SamDaniel. Wouldn't surprize me; Madblood would put a lock on his AI (which is what he has to show the other geniuses) until the presentation.

But I think she was being silent before because Helen was listening; the last thing she wanted was to attract a mad genius's attention.

Then the GIGO hit the shredder in about a panel, and Lovelace was too shy, and too uncertain about her model of Dave, to know what to say. She only had about a minute before Dave stalked out, and he kept giving her more data to deal with.

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The education bestowed on Shaenon K. Garrity by her parents had been expensive, athletic and prolonged. ... full profile