IBM recently announced that it has developed a new supercomputer capable of performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second. It is a little hard to wrap your brain around such mind-boggling numbers, but last year I wrote an article discussing an IBM supercomputer that was capable of performing 70 trillion calculations per second. In the piece, I noted that if you had to perform a similar number of calculations (and assuming you could work 365/7/24) it would take you roughly 60 million years to perform what that supercomputer could do in one second.

Well, with this latest advance, it would now take you—theoretically speaking—about 800 million years. Of course, such a comparison is slightly ridiculous. What is not ridiculous, however, is what these supercomputers are doing and learning. With their immense electronic brains they are now designing new materials and products; creating new drugs; and helping us better understand everything from the human body and brain to how mankind is impacting the environment.

One implication of these new findings is that all of us will need to unlearn at a faster rate.