My review of Living With Moore’s Law

Living With Moore’s Law: Past, Present and Future by Dana Blankenhorn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was a fascinating book. I first started following Blankenhorn when he was a reporter covering technology, particularly Linux and Open Source software. Then I added his blog to my feed reader, and it remains there to this day. Moore’s Law is named for Gordon Moore of Intel, who once forecast that the number of transistors on a silicon chip would roughly double every two years, which is of course an exponential growth curve, and if you know anything about mathematics you know that exponential growth curves get insanely steep insanely quickly. In the real world, of course, that cannot persist. Some factor will step in to stop the exponential growth. But Blankenhorn expands on the notion and explores how something very much like Moore’s Law happens in other areas. And the implications are important. For example, with the role that computers play in our economy, this implies a deflationary bias to the economy, which very few people are even thinking about. (Most people are worried about inflation, which concerns me not the least.) But then look at biology. Our ability to sequence DNA and manipulate it meant that the first vaccines for Covid-19 started to appear in record time from when the virus was sequenced and described. The sequencing of the virus happened in record time, and then the vaccines came out in record time. And it is not a fluke or a one-time thing, advances build on what went before. So what this book does is explore how exponential growth in various ways will affect our future. As such, it is reminiscent of Ray Kurzweil’s work. I thoroughly enjoyed this book.

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