The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Moore’s Law Won’t Be Law For Much Longer …

Moore’s law – created by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and Intel – states that computer power will double every two years at the same cost.

Since he said this in the later 60’s, he’s been proven right, but having listened to a professor of computer engineering on the radio last night, it appears it’s coming to an end.

The reason I am saying this is because to prove his point, the Professor said 3 things that have blown my mind.

1. The iPhone has 4 billion transistors in it. FOUR BILLION.

2. There are now more transistors in the World than their are leaves on all the trees across the entire planet.

3. Some transistors are so small – separated by a distance of just 14 nanometres (nm) – that they are invisible. And when I say invisible, I mean it because they are smaller than the wavelengths of light human eyes and microscopes use.

What I loved about the talk the Professor gave wasn’t just his ability to articulate the incredible journey of innovation that the tech industry has been on for almost 50 years … nor was it his view that this rate of innovation was going to be impossible to maintain given the micro scale the industry is already operating at … it was that he felt this obsession with precision was stopping craftsmanship to flourish.

Now I must admit, my initial view was getting 4 billion transistors into an iPhone would be the ultimate demonstration of craftsmanship, but no … this Professor was saying that in our quest to automate our lives, we are doing it at the expense of celebrating and expanding human skills.

For him, craftsmanship is when a human manufactures a product by hand … they use dedicated human reasoning to work out the kinks during production to make a high-quality, functioning piece.

These pieces attract and inspire those around them, attracting more people to both value the products and want to create the products, helping humanity both evolve and appreciate what we are capable of creating and becoming.

Now of course we could say computers have done a similar thing, but this Professor was saying ‘perfect precision’ was overshadowing ‘human precision’ and while there will always be a need for technology to do heavy lifting for us, humanity is at its best when it is can satisfy and appreciate what we as a species can do and right now, we are outsourcing that to technology.

It’s an interesting argument – especially when you think of what so much of this new era of tech is being used to do from a human interaction perspective – but ultimately I believe the argument is that if we don’t get back to teaching tech what to value, then tech will start teaching us.

It already is.

In their quest to get AI accepted in households, many companies are building applications to cater for the lowest common denominator of needs. The low hanging fruit, as it were. Now that would be fine if they then evolved their offering, but as this is a fierce, commercial race, I am pretty sure most companies will end up focusing on trying to automate as many simple tasks as possible in a bid to show their ‘usefulness’ which means over time, they are educating us to value speed over quality, convenience over experiences, virtual over reality and information over understanding.

Some might think that is OK, but as Andy said in a comment a few weeks ago, the implication are frightening …

“The fucked thing about all this tech assistance isnt that its making us lazy, its that its making us selfish and dismissing anyone or anything that doesnt do what we want immediately. The arts are going to be fucked over by this shit till people work it out and by then it will be too late or they just wont care.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love tech.

I love what it does and I love what it has allowed us to do.

And it goes without saying I love that it has helped me satisfy my love of gadgetry.

But if this is all at the cost of humanities appreciation of humanity, that’s quite a price to pay which is why if the end of Moore’s law means we get to teach values to tech rather than have tech teach us our values, then I for one am all for it.

31 Comments so far
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quoting me without paying me. youll be hearing from my fucking lawyers.

Comment by andy@cynic

I thought you hated lawyers?

Comment by DH

i do, but ex #1 lawyer took me for a fucking fortune so if it gets me some cash from campbell, ill hire her and sit back and count the pot of gold coming in.

Comment by andy@cynic

Silver linings.

Comment by DH

I’ll send the 25 cents value [based on viewership] to you by cheque today.

Comment by Rob

i dont give a fuck about viewership, its about the value of my fucking brains and so you owe me about $25,000,000. ill only accept bankers draft.

Comment by andy@cynic

is that transistors versus leaves right? what the fuck. whoever worked that shit out wastes even more time than you.

Comment by andy@cynic

Yes … I thought that too. But what a stat.

[Acknowledging it’s a guesstimate more than a stat … before John Dodds points that out to me]

Comment by Rob

Fantastic post Robert. I’m going to send this to a few of the engineers at work to gauge their reaction. I’m fascinated to know what they think.

Comment by Pete

if the nerdy fucks have any brains theyll like my quote best.

Comment by andy@cynic

this would be so much better if it wasnt written by a prick that owns a fucking zoo of robot animals.

Comment by andy@cynic

And a wifi cup that tells him what he’s drinking.

Comment by DH

You’re doing this on purpose aren’t you.


Yes, I ordered one and even paid for it, but it never arrived, so I’m only half stupid.

[Or double stupid, given I paid and never got it]

UPDATE: The company has gone bust. What a surprise.

Comment by Rob

It’s nice to know I’m not the only stupid fool out there:

Comment by Rob

I believe I heard that interview as well. NPR? Those stats are incredible as was his perspective that you have added to here. Great post Robert with a real question about who are we giving the power to teach how society interacts and operates.

Comment by George

Fascinating read. Thank you for educating and making me think.

Comment by Lee Hill

I’m thinking the Terminator movies were real.

Comment by DH

Those stats would make a great as for an optician.

Comment by DH

“I went to specsavers and look what I can do now”

Comment by Rob

Should have gone to specsavers

Comment by John

I’ve noticed you’re not obsessed with perfect precision.

Comment by John

Not precise. Not perfect. He’s the absolute opposite of German engineering. Good post though.

Comment by Bazza

And only iPhone’s with the A11 chip have 4 billion transistors in them. So iPhone 8 and X.

Comment by Bazza

you fucking nerdy twat.

Comment by andy@cynic

Did the ghost-writing agency give you the idea of using a true thought-leader’s quote to anchor the post?

Comment by John

double fucking royalty fee.

Comment by andy@cynic

They wrote the whole post. That’s why people are actually saying they like it … a bit. For once.

Comment by Rob

Reblogged this on A Paradise Of Expressions.. and commented:
This is very important people. Try and reach out to everyone you can with this post.

Comment by adreamy1

It is absolutely ridiculous to see the lengths companies in tech sector have to go to be in business. Actually promoting virtual over reality. WTF.

Comment by adreamy1

[…] Except it does, because it’s bollocks, especially where technology is concerned even though Moore’s Law is coming to an end. […]

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Thank you for sharing this. It resonates with my ongoing internal discussion and reminds me of Jaron Lanier’s “You are not a gadget,” another excellent read. Strong case for being an agent of creation, not consumption. Hope you are well!

Comment by Carmen

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