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The Repeal of Moore's Law

Here’s an interesting item:

Technology Review has an article declaring we are reaching the limit of Moore’s Law (the number of transistors on a chip doubles every two years) which has been driving computer processor development for the last few decades:

Parallel Universe

Apparently we’re reaching the ceiling on how fast our microprocessors can go. They go so fast now that they’re threatening to spontaneously combust, so the microchip industry needs to figure something else out. It needs a new strategy, a chip that does parallel processing, in order to continue this breakneck pace to higher and higher computing speeds and the yearly obsoleting of our pet imacs and dells.

Steve Wosniak, the Apple guy, says this: “The repeal of Moore’s Law would create a renaissance for software development. Only then will we finally be able to create software that will run on a stable and enduring platform.” There is that. Of course there’s no money to be made on stability. There is that.

Regardless of all that, this is what I find interesting: I thought all along the difference between a computer brain and a human brain was that humans do their thinking in a parallel way and that computers can only think linearly. That the only thing preventing us from developing true artificial intelligence was the fact that we can’t figure out how to make computers think in parallel. Are you telling me that we can and that we’ve been knowing how to do this for a while? It’s actually an old idea? Will this push us to the brink of the Singularity?

There are things that stand in the way, of course. Things being, as always, the economics of the situation. Apparently software developers, hardware developers, software sellers, even the cell phone makers, need to all get behind this. It’s the chicken and egg thing. Player A won’t develop it, because Player B won’t install it in their product, because Player C says their customers won’t buy it, because it won’t work in Player D’s device. Player D won’t buy the new device because nothing’s developed for it yet. Player D wants to wait until the tech gets sorted out so he or she will not buy something that is obsolete by tomorrow. Okay, so that’s more than one chicken and one egg, but you get the idea.

Considering we don’t have electric cars even though the technology has been around for a hundred years, because no one wants to install recharging units in their gas stations, I’d say this might be a stumbling block. As with all things, if there’s a market, they’ll make it. But if there’s nothing to buy, the market isn’t there. The market can not see into the future and then gel itself into existence. The market doesn’t put money into something that will eventually become available. That’s for venture capitalists to do. The market exists once “it” exists. “It” being something for the market to buy.

Anyway, this whole parallel processing thing doesn’t seem so unattainable anymore. Another myth dashed all to hell. There must be something else holding up the Singularity.

According to the article there will be limits to the speeds achieved even with parallel processing. The next hope is for spintronics (which uses the spin of electrons, positive or negative, to encode your digital data) or quantum transistors (whatever they are) to get us back on Moore’s track. The development of these technologies will take a mere ten years or so. Let’s assume it’s not parallel processing, just plain ol’ processing speed that we need for this Singularity thing.

See you in 2019. Or so.


P.S. In other news: The Virtual Book Tour has hit Dark Wolf’s Fantasy Reviews and Broad Universe.

Also, for New Year’s, I plan a movie watching marathon with the following flicks:
Clash of the Titans
The Thing (John Carpenter)
Cool Hand Luke
Down By Law
Sling Blade
Easy Rider
The Seduction of Mimi (Lina Wertmueller)
Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House
Pink Flamingo (singing sphincter scene only; queued up for guests that will be stopping by)
Spinal Tap
The City of Lost Children
The Pink Panther
The Big Lebowski
Raising Arizona
Take the Money and Run (Woody Allen)
Candian Bacon
Ace Ventura when Nature Calls
Titus (Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus)
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf
Doctor Zhivago
Lawrence of Arabia
Zorba the Greek
Romeo and Juliet (Zeferelli)
Macbeth (with Judi Dench and Ian McKellen)
Nova Genius series on Einstein, Newton, Darwin, and Galileo

I know, I know this is about 3 days worth of movies. We will have a pot of all day baked beans and champagne available for our guests. Maybe some biscuits and cheese as well. Happy New Year.


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