To read this content please select one of the options below:

Fast adders: complexity and computer consequences

Tom Abeles (President of Sagacity Inc. Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA and is also the Editor of On the Horizon)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 2 February 2010




Biological evolution in humans, as in other living things on earth, is slow. Human intellectual capacity to transform the earth and its inhabitants can move readily. The purpose of this paper is to ask whether such advances may actually change humans themselves or human/computer hybrids, and what this implies as humans inevitably advance the capabilities of their digital “off‐spring”, ranging from autonomous digital devices to human/computer hybrids. Is “consciousness” an accidental consequence of ratiocination or must such capabilities by intentionally addressed?


Outlines the mixed relationship between humans and computers or “artificial intelligence” and how it may become necessary for the two to interact more closely.


The paper finds that humans will need to work closely with computerized intelligence to enhance their complexipacty and to address the growing complexity of decision‐making environments.

Social implications

Following the thoughts of Wallach and Allen in their book, Moral Machines (reviewed elsewhere in this issue), the need for heuristics will require the addition of an ethical judgment component – often considered subjective – to computer decision algorithms. The possibility that this would involve endowing computers with “consciousness” opens potentials for both utopian and dystopian manifestations.


Provides a possible insight into the reliance that may be placed upon computerized intelligence in the future.



Abeles, T. (2010), "Fast adders: complexity and computer consequences", On the Horizon, Vol. 18 No. 1, pp. 95-98.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles