Human reasoning better than machine

Where are computers headed? What technologies are most important for humans? – these and other questions are answered in an interview with INTERIA.PL by Ryszard Malinowski of Intel, vice president of the Mobility Group and general manager of the Client Components Group, responsible for developing Intel Architecture client platform components and managing the client chipset division at Intel Corporation.

He was born in Szczecin, Poland, in 1958. In 1994, he joined Intel in Folsom, California, as design director for the Intel 430FX (Triton) chipset. In 2005, he was promoted to general manager of the Intel Chipset Group (now Client Component Group), responsible for the company’s client chipset business, and became vice president of the Mobility Group. In his free time from work duties, Ryszard Malinowski likes to be with his family, travel and read. He collects good wines.

INTERIA.PL: How high should the level of investment in research and development be in such hard times as these?

Ryszard Malinowski: Investment in R&D in these tough economic times really depends on the company’s business model and strategy. Under standard conditions, progress in the IT industry is driven by rapid changes in technology, supported by investments in R&D. When economic conditions get tougher, companies start to be more cautious about spending. This is undoubtedly necessary as they realize that the market situation can change overnight. Many weaker companies, with poor business models and limited access to financial resources, may find themselves out of the game, unable to allocate funds to the most technologically advanced projects that will guarantee them a chance for further development.

Every company must decide how much to invest in development, but also – and more importantly – which projects to develop and which to stop. These are sometimes very difficult decisions and require big changes in company strategy. For example, Intel recently announced an investment of 7 billion in 32nm processor technology. However, in order to do that, today, at the time of crisis, we have to make decisions about investments, so that when the situation improves or the recession ends, we are technologically one step ahead of others. This is one example of the company’s strategy to be more invested in the business model in these times.

What are the major projects Intel is working on?


In the first area, we will continue to invest in technology, the 32nm technology mentioned, and we will continue to develop the Intel Core and Intel Atom family of processors for netbooks and nettops. Along with these processor families, other solutions are being developed, focusing on segments such as security, graphics, communications or wireless technology (Wimax).

In the second area, the focus is on embedded computer systems, consumer electronics, and Mobile Internet Devices. These systems require a completely new approach to technology, with the greatest emphasis on low power consumption. That’s why we’re working on a number of projects to create advanced infrastructure that uses a System-on-a-Chip solution – an integrated circuit containing a complete electronic system that consumes very little power.

The average Kowalski doesn’t follow technological innovations, and yet technology affects his life every day. If you were to tell the aforementioned Kowalski what was the biggest technological innovation of his life, what would you name?

Of course my answer will be biased because I have spent my entire professional life in the IT industry. For me, the answer is tied to the age of Kowalski. For 60- to 80-year-old users, such an invention was the computer. For 40- and 50-year-olds, it will be the integrated circuit and the microprocessor, which actually accelerated the development of human civilization. It is difficult to imagine today’s world without microprocessors – practically every device has a microprocessor inside, often more powerful than the “supercomputers” of the past.

One of the recently presented novelties is a notebook that uses ULV technology, thanks to which the computer consumes less power and works longer. Is this the beginning of a new trend?

Definitely yes. Customers who are provided with elegant, good-looking notebooks will not want to return to old, heavy and power-consuming devices. History teaches us that. Just look at the first portable computer produced by Compaq in the mid 80’s. It looked more like a suitcase than a computer. People would never go back to that type of “suitcase” or the massive notebooks of the 90’s. Now they want something lightweight, good looking and multifunctional – this is where ULV comes into play.

It is ULV processor technology that has made it possible to produce notebooks that are lightweight and compact, with battery life of over 8 hours.

You have witnessed how computers have become an integral part of everyone’s life. Has this synergy of sorts gone too far?

You can’t say that. Computers play only a supporting role, but an important one. They are a creation of the collective work of the human mind – millions of people worked on them. Computers can only help to unleash the power of humanity by becoming a necessary element in working on issues that the brain cannot grasp. One such arena is algorithms. A good example is the game of chess: 20-30 years ago, a computer playing chess was no match for a skilled chess player. Today it looks different.

Indeed, the computer performs better in repetitive, computationally intensive operations. However, imagine a chess game in which the rules change every move, in which our current situation requires constant analysis of dynamic, unpredictable factors. We humans are able to react instantly, to adapt to the existing environment, to win, to survive and finally to create. Therefore, the human mind beats any machine we have invented and will invent. Computers can only help us solve humanity’s problems.

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