I know little about electronics, but I know (some of) this.
Let's start with a resistor. We all know what a resistor does. It provides resistance to current. Generally, it gets warm by doing so.
An incandescent lightbulb makes a passable resistor.
The thing is, materials tend to have different resistances when cold, (say, 22c,) and when hot, (say, 30c.)
So, the resistor only behaves in a certain way when it's at a certain temperature.
Then we have semiconductors.
There is a point where a semiconductor "breaks down" and turns from an insulator to a conductor.
Diodes and transistors exploit this, along with a few other properties, to do what they do.
All Diodes leak.
Zener Diodes are even designed to break down and conduct in the "wrong" way, given a sufficient current.
But all Diodes let a little current "backwards", at a given point in time. If memory serves, these many years since I learned this, they leak when they're first turned on. Like a check valve that doesn't have a spring in it, letting a tiny splash of water through the pipe before the water pressure holds the valve closed.
Components are built to a spec. That spec acknowledges that the components aren't going to be "perfect". Sometimes "perfect" would even be a detriment.
Even the broken oscillator that comprises the basic RAM address depends on the fact that, of the four resistors that are part of it, at least one of them will be just a little stronger, or weaker, so that the memory "falls" to 1 or 0, like a coin "falls" to heads or tails, and doesn't stay perfectly balanced with neither transistor high..., like a coin that consistently lands on its edge.
Edit. Links to a couple pictures.
Ideal diode http://www.hazardousphysics.com/main/ap ... _diode.png
Real diode https://cdn.sparkfun.com/assets/4/4/a/5 ... 000000.png
A third image.
The oscillator I know as the basis of one bit of RAM. https://i.stack.imgur.com/6Z1sa.gifFor 1 bit, two of those lines would be flipped.
Whoops, the bistable IS the basis of RAM. No flipped connections needed.
So Ennesby runs in a virtual machine? I expect a joke about Ennesby, or humans, "running on Java" pretty soon.
So, we recently got a refresher on all the ships that the Toughs have had. Does someone with a better memory / indexing ability / search-foo than me want to provide a list of the AI's that the Toughs have had and the ships they go with?
On the evolving circuit thing: This is the bit that I never understood from this whole thing:
There was also evidence that the circuit was not relying solely on the transistors’ absolute ON and OFF positions like a typical chip; it was capitalizing upon analogue shades of gray along with the digital black and white.
While I can understand an isolated section with no data inputs using hardware quirks to send / receive data with the main section (barely -- what would happen if there was a connection between the two sections, would the hardware-quirk signal conflict with the wire signal?), how in the heck can analog behavior be there? If the gates are working correctly, then a normal binary signal behavior would be seen, and any divergence from the binary signal would mean that the hardware was faulty/broken. Yet that's exactly what this says.