There is an article in Computer World about the future of super computers. They are talking about Exaflop systems.
Rudy Rucker, in his Software/Wetware books, discussed the future of computation and he felt that Teraflop machines would be common in the 2020s. Currently the fastest machines are Petaflop supercomputers.
The next highest step, Exaflop or 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s 18 zeros) floating point calculations per second is due around 2018.
No matter who you ask, an Exaflop exceeds the computing power of a human brain. Of course these super computers won’t be programmed to emulate a human brain, but they will be given problems that human genius cannot solve just by thinking.
The article talks about the Energy Department using this computer for Grid control and possibly designing an Atomic Fusion power generator. (This on the day it was announced that we are running out of Uranium for fission reactors.)
The computers will be used for the very complicated systems computing used to predict weather, but I think that analysis of the human genome and the modeling of human biology with the idea of curing disease will be important. The computer will be capable of designing billions of possible drugs and then testing them on genetic models refining the results so that shortly after these Exaflop computers appear there will be cures for all diseases.
2018, by the way, is right in line with estimates for the Singularity. I want to believe!