Monday, March 09, 2009

Wrap Your Head Around This

"To see a world in a grain of sand,And a heaven in a wild flower,Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,And eternity in an hour"

from Auguries of Innocence
by William Blake

I spent a little time trying to figure out how much computers have changed since I was born in 1950. That was right about when the first commercial version of an electronic computer was developed.

It was roughly the size of a cargo container and cost about $10 million in today's dollars..

Today, all the circuits in that 1950 computer would fit into something roughly the size of a grain of rice which can be produced for around one penny.

Of course, the speed at which the circuits operated would be different. The grain of rice would do math approximately 1 million times faster.

Can computers keep getting faster? Most people think so. In fact, many people think they will get faster faster:

The Law of Accelerating Returns
Ray Kurzweil

An analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense "intuitive linear" view. So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century -- it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate).
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