Latest By
Category:


Armor
Artificial Intelligence
Biology
Clothing
Communication
Computers
Culture
Data Storage
Displays
Engineering
Entertainment
Food
Input Devices
Lifestyle
Living Space
Manufacturing
Material
Media
Medical
Miscellaneous
Robotics
Security
Space Tech
Spacecraft
Surveillance
Transportation
Travel
Vehicle
Virtual Person
Warfare
Weapon
Work

"I was wholly addicted to watching Kojack, for as long as it was on television."
- Frederik Pohl

Thorsen Memory Tube  
  Computer component that allows a machine to learn through experience.  

Here is where the Thorsen memory tubes came in. The intercontinental missiles we had struck back with "thought" with Thorsen tubes, and traffic-control systems in places like Los Angeles used an idiot form of them. No need to go into theory of an electronic tube that even Bell Labs doesn't understand too well, the point is that you can hook a Thorsen tube into a control circuit, direct the machine through an operation by manual control, and the tube will "remember" what was done and can direct the operation without a human supervisor a second time, or any number of times.

For an automated machine tool this is enough; for guided missiles and for Flexible Frank you add side circuits that give the machine "judgment." Actually it isn't judgment (in my opinion a machine can never have judgment); the side circuit is a hunting circuit, the programming of which says "look for so-and-so within such-and-such limits; when you find it, carry out your basic instruction." The basic instruction can be as complicated as you can crowd into one Thorsen memory tube-which is a very wide limit indeed!-and you can program so that your "judgment" circuits (moronic back-seat drivers, they are) can interrupt the basic instructions any time the cycle does not match that originally impressed into the Thorsen tube. This meant that you need cause Flexible Frank to clear the table and scrape the dishes and load them into the dishwasher only once, and from then on he could cope with any dirty dishes he ever encountered.

Better still, he could have an electronically duplicated Thorsen tube stuck into his head and could handle dirty dishes the first time he ever encountered them . . - and never break a dish. Stick another "memorized" tube alongside the first one and he could change a wet baby first time, and never, never, never stick a pin in the baby. Frank's square head could easily hold a hundred Thorsen tubes, each with an electronic "memory" of a different household task. Then throw a guard circuit around all the "judgment" circuits, a circuit which required him to hold still and squawl for help if he ran into something not covered by his instructions-that way you wouldn't use up babies or dishes.

From The Door Into Summer, by Robert Heinlein.
Published by Unknown in 1956
Additional resources -

This is an extension of Heinlein's idea expressed in his 1941 short story Waldo. In the story, the main character teaches other people to use waldoes on a lathe by taking control of the waldo glove worn by the craftsman. The craftsman being taught experiences what the main character is doing.

Compare to the Laminated Mouse Brain Computer from Think Blue, Count Two (1962) by Cordwainer Smith, the neuristor from The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (1966) by Heinlein and the artificial brain from The Metal Giants (1926) by Edmond Hamilton.

See also usuform robot learning from Q.U.R. (1943) by Anthony Boucher.

Comment/Join this discussion ( 0 ) | RSS/XML | Blog This |

Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from The Door Into Summer
  More Ideas and Technology by Robert Heinlein
  Tech news articles related to The Door Into Summer
  Tech news articles related to works by Robert Heinlein

Thorsen Memory Tube-related news articles:
  - Toyota Robot Maid Learns From Mistakes
  - Dish Washing Robot Arm
  - Loihi Chip Mimics Human Brain's Neurons And Synapses

Articles related to Computer
Tetraplegics Dominate Avatar Races
IBM's Grain Of Sand Computer
Can An Entire Brain Be Simulated In A Computer?
Illustris: The Next Generation Of Universe Simulation

Want to Contribute an Item? It's easy:
Get the name of the item, a quote, the book's name and the author's name, and Add it here.

<Previous
Next>

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

 

 

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

More News

Sleeep PRO Earplug For Maximum Rest
'Merton... placed the electrodes of the sleep-inducer on his forehead.'

Inspired By Japan, Nap Pods For Hajj
It's always a good time for a nap.

Amphibio 3D Printed Gill Shirt
'... we can descend and live down there at one of those year-round aquatic resorts.'

How Do You Put An Asteroid Into Earth Orbit? Carefully!
'...she would have to be coaxed by another series of pats into a circular orbit.'

PD Aerospace Space Plane By 2023
'The sleek, tapered space shuttle lay immobile upon the private landing field...'

Foldimate Folds Your Clothes Perfectly
Look ma, my room is clean! I can hear you now.

Robots Help People Get Dressed, As Predicted In 1931
Yes, people of the future, robots will dress you.

International Space Station Leak Plugged - With Finger
'These tag-alongs search out stray leaks.'

Robot Snake Flies, Fights Fires
Just a prototype, but still amazing.

IPAL Chinese Robot Babysitter
'But Nanny is different...'

More SF in the News

More Beyond Technovelgy

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.