Say it ain’t so

(OK, this has nothing to do with travel, but it’s such a big deal to me I had to write about it. We’ll return to our regular programming in the next post.)

I read something today that has left me stunned. Amazed. I was reading an article on deep learning networks and AI by a brilliant guy named Jeffrey Dean, from Google Research. In that article he highlighted a fact that I was unaware of. A big, surprising fact, at least for me.

I should digress. I’ve spent my entire professional life working with a few truths in mind. For example, your reputation is everything, so don’t do anything to mess it up. That’s a truth. But the one I’m focused on today is called Moore’s Law. In the early 1980s Gordon Moore of Intel observed that computing power and efficiency was doubling every couple of years. At the time he made that observation, it was interesting but not earthshaking. But as the years went by and Moore’s Law was observed to be true for 10, then 20, then 30 years, it became one of the only constants in an ever-changing technology world. I can’t tell you how many times I quoted or took Moore’s Law into account as we were planning the technology future of one company or another.

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So, to see this chart in Dean’s paper highlighting the end of Moore’s Law was a real shock to me. How is this not in all the newspapers? Dean is saying (showing, based on evidence in his paper) that it will now take twenty years for the next doubling of CPU/GPU speed instead of two. That’s…amazing. And amazingly bad, from my point of view.

Moore’s Law has driven the technology companies and economies to gigantic heights over the last 40 years. If it’s now over, what does that mean for tech companies in general? It will take a while for the effects to be noticed, but this will have an effect. It’s truly the end of an era.


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