I was dressed up in a bunny suit yesterday, touring IBM's state-of-the-art semiconductor fab in Fishkill, NY. Machines do everything. Humans, who can't be trusted to work at such levels of precision, only monitor. It's a delicate process, and my mind was full of thoughts of molecular research, DNA and cloning. It occurred to me that the meticulous work in the fab is akin to those biological processes, because it too marks a magical transition. Knowledge is being turned into matter. Bits into atoms. And those hard chips, of course, traffic in bits again, creating more knowledge. It's circular. But a crucial step takes place in the fab.
I was there, incidentally, as a guest of the French software company, Ilog, a leader in optimization programs. One of Ilog's systems choreographs the immensely complex movements and schedules that all those machines carry out. After taking off the bunny suits, we drove up the Hudson and lunched at the Culinary Institute of America, just down the road from Franklin Roosevelt's house at Hyde Park. Nice place to stop if you're up river and looking for chow.