computing the value of computing
The use of the analogy of flying to the progress in computing is a false analogy. It presupposes that the value of faster calculation is equivalent to moving objects faster through space. Computers have helped in tracking and determining an efficient way to move a greater volume of objects through space but that is a support function. Computers have also assisted in modeling how objects move through space in order to get better fuel efficiency. But that is in the past and past performance is not an indicator of future performance. The question is has the law of diminishing returns set in for supercomputing ?
Underlying all this is the presumption that the problems that need solving are technical problems which is hardly the case. The problems that need solving are human interaction problems. They are the problems of fear, mistrust, hatred, greed, suspicion, competition, repression. Our technology enhances the ability of some to leverage these impulses at the expense of others.
Enhanced computing power is not something that will result in benefits to all people. All technology is ultimately used in the service of exercising and projecting power.
Atomic research resulted in a host of other problems that we are still dealing with and despite the end of the cold war have not gone away. We are only beginning to see the issues that are side effects of all the computing research that has been done.
I am always skeptical when those whose livelihood and reason for being is dependent upon government funding run around telling us that the sky will fall if they don't get what they want.