(This is what happened)

From “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly:

Listen to the technology, Carver Mead says. What do the curves say? Imagine it is 1965. You’ve seen the curves Gordon Moore discovered. What if you believed the story they were trying to tell us: that each year, as sure as winter follows summer and as day follows night, computers would get half again better, and half again smaller, and half again cheaper, year after year, and that in 5 decades they would be 30 million times more powerful than they were then. (This is what happened.) If you were sure of that in 1965, or even mostly persuaded, what good fortune you could have harvested! You would have needed no other prophecies, no other predictions, no other details to optimize the coming benefits. As a society, if we just believed that single trajectory of Moore’s, and none other, we would have educated differently, invested differently, prepared more wisely to grasp the amazing powers it would sprout.

30 million times more capable. This is what happened. Worth remembering.

2 comments
  1. john thackara said:

    Well, yes, marvelous – but Moore’s Law is not cost-free. It’s all very well to celebrate the ‘amazing powers’ computing has brought us – but those powers do not include empathy or simple curiosity about its downsides. We have failed totally to think about, let alone act against, the devastation to people and ecosystems caused by conflict minerals, and the extraction of the 1.8 tonnes of materials needed to manufacture one desktop computer. The technological sublime makes perfect sense in Kelly’s Silicon Valley – but look up for those screens for a second and in many other valleys the picture is far less rosy.

  2. Agree things are less rosy, John, but doesn’t that underline the idea that we could have educated differently, invested differently and begun to grasp some sprouting powers?

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