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Thirty Years Later, the Influence of the Macintosh Can Still Be Felt
SSPL/Getty Images

Famously introduced by a Super Bowl TV ad directed by Ridley Scott, the first Macintosh went on sale in January 1984. Drawing on development efforts for the Xerox Alto and Apple’s own ill-fated Lisa computer, the Macintosh offered the first commercially successful graphical user interface. But that’s not the only innovation packed into the case.

This article originally appeared in print as “30 Years of the Mac.”

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The Future of Deep Learning Is Photonic

Computing with light could slash the energy needs of neural networks

10 min read
Image of a computer rendering.

This computer rendering depicts the pattern on a photonic chip that the author and his colleagues have devised for performing neural-network calculations using light.

Alexander Sludds
DarkBlue1

Think of the many tasks to which computers are being applied that in the not-so-distant past required human intuition. Computers routinely identify objects in images, transcribe speech, translate between languages, diagnose medical conditions, play complex games, and drive cars.

The technique that has empowered these stunning developments is called deep learning, a term that refers to mathematical models known as artificial neural networks. Deep learning is a subfield of machine learning, a branch of computer science based on fitting complex models to data.

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