We are marking the 50th anniversary of the publication of Moore’s Law. This op-ed http://www.wsj.com/articles/the-promise-at-technologys-powerful-heart-1429310535 commemorating the event suggests that we have only experienced the early impacts and that the really profound changes are only just beginning if the Law continues its path. Some may react to the vision pessimistically because it guarantees more creative destruction and dislocation. But for optimists – which includes BuddeComm – the best is yet to come and the future of today’s millenials is (apparently) bright under the optimistic view.
If some of the recent breakthroughs in atomic-level transistors, nanotechnology and biological computers prove fruitful, Moore’s Law could again accelerate, or at least continue to rule, for decades to come. It now seems more likely than ever that a thousand years from now, what will be remembered most about our time will be its stunning efflorescence of innovation and entrepreneurship. By then Moore’s Law will have become Moore’s Era.
But because the usual graphic presentation of the law is tamed by the format into a nice shallow line, we don’t get to see the awesome power of the raw curve—which, like all exponential lines stays shallow seemingly for a long time, then suddenly curves almost straight upward in a vertiginous climb. It is the curve of a rocket’s acceleration, of a pandemic, of the cells born from a fertilized egg.
The great turning took place a decade ago, while we were all distracted by social networking, smartphones and the emerging banking crisis. Its breathtaking climb since tells us that everything of the previous 40 years—that is, the multi-trillion-dollar revolution in semiconductors, computers, communications and the Internet—was likely nothing but a prelude, a warm-up, for what is to come. It will be upon this wall that millennials will climb their careers against almost-unimaginably quick, complex and ever-changing competition.
Moore’s Law has always induced de-massification: giant mainframe computers become smartwatches, giant vertically-integrated organizations are defeated by what Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds has dubbed an “Army of Davids.”
Rigid command-and-control structures in every walk of life, from corporations to governments to education, become vulnerable to competition by adaptive and short-lived alliances and confederacies. Now that process is going to attack every corner of society.
Everything is now in play. Millennials face one of the greatest opportunities any generation has ever known: to completely remake the world through boundless digital technology.
The good news is that this generation seems to be already, often unconsciously, preparing for this adventure—through robotics competitions, gatherings of tech enthusiasts, engineers and tinkerers at Maker Faires and other do-it-yourself events, and playing with new applications for their drones and 3D printers. Having lived their entire lives at the pace of Moore’s Law, they seem to sense that the time has come to hit the accelerator. If millennials don’t entirely get it yet, they soon will.
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