My name is Professor David J. Malan,
I teach computer science at Harvard,
and I’m here today to answer your questions from Twitter.
This is Computer Science Support.
First up from tadproletarian,
How do search engines work so fast?
Well, the short answer really is distributed computing,
which is to say that Google and Bing,
and other such search engines,
they don’t just have one server
and they don’t even have just one really big server,
rather they have hundreds, thousands,
probably hundreds of thousands or more servers nowadays
around the world.
And so when you and I go in and to Google or Bing
and maybe type in a word to search for like, cats,
it’s quite possible that when you hit enter
and that keyword like cats is sent over the internet
to Google or to Bing, it’s actually spread out ultimately
across multiple servers,
some of which are grabbing the first 10 results,
some of which are grabbing the next 10 results,
the next 10 results,
so that you see just one collection of results,
but a lot of those ideas,
a lot of those search results came from different places.
And this eliminates
what could potentially be a bottleneck of sorts
if all of the information you needed
had to come from one specific server
that might very well be busy when you have that question.
Nick asks, Will computer programming jobs be taken
over by AI within the next 5 to 10 years?
This is such a frequently asked question nowadays
and I don’t think the answer will be yes.
And I think we’ve seen evidence of this already
in that early on when people were creating websites,
they were literally writing out code
in a language called HTML by hand.
But then of course, software came along,
tools like Dreamweaver that you could download
on your own computer
that would generate some of that same code for you.
More recently though, now you can just sign up for websites
like Squarespace, and Wix, and others
whereby click, click, click
and the website is generated for you.
So I dare say certainly in some domains,
that AI is really just an evolution of that trend
and it hasn’t put humans out of business
as much as it has made you and AI much more productive.
AI, I think, and the ability soon to be able
to program with natural language
is just going to enhance what you and I
can already do logically, but much more mechanically.
And I think too it’s worth considering
that there’s just so many bugs
or mistakes in software in the world
and there’s so many features
that humans wish existed in products present and future
that are to-do list, so to speak,
is way longer than we’ll ever have time
to finish in our lifetimes.
And so I think the prospect
of having an artificial intelligence boost our productivity
and work alongside us, so to