The Profound Implication of Moore’s Law
To be sure, Ray Kurzweil has built an entire career riding the leading edge of Moore’s Law. He does a better job than I ever could of expounding on it’s significance.
However, let me add my two cent’s worth.
It has been hypothesized that there is a direct relationship between our civilization energy consumption, and continued population growth. In short, energy, not food, fuels our population growth. (Aside: low cost energy makes it easier to produce food cheaply.) http://www.resilience.org/stories/2009-04-20/peak-people-interrelationship-between-population-growth-and-energy-resources
There is concern that once we pass “peak energy” that we will see massive depopulation as our energy supply dwindles. (Now that can’t be good.)
I’d like to propose that Moore’s law may come to our rescue… at least for a while. You see, not only do computers become more efficient as a byproduct of their increasing capacity – but this increased efficiency spreads into the rest of our environment. As a minor example, cars are more efficient in part because of the computers they now contain. However the current best example is how smart phones make all of us more efficient in countless ways.
However, the tend of every faster, smaller, cheaper computers making us more efficient is just getting started. The next few years will see an explosion of the “Internet of things.” (IoT) The IoT means that or things will gradually become more and more interconneted and intelligent.
What’s the driving force for this trend? Efficiency and/or convenience – of course! As our environment becomes more responsive to us (because it is intelligent) it will further make us efficient, which will save time, money, and most importantly, energy.
This increased energy efficiency will delay the day that “peak energy” exerts a downward pressure on economies and population. Thus, Moore’s Law may delay the day this civilization runs out of energy and with that, the ability to feed ourselves.
P.S. Yes, I can hear the naysayers asking, “What about super intelligent machines taking over everything?” Let me just add that to my list of subjects for a further blog post.