I had read an article about Classen’s law ages ago (1999?) and remember being hugely impressed. At a time when I was a student of microelectronics overwhelmed by the technology of shrinking geometries, it made complete sense to me.

Thanks for keeping this alive.

Arun ]]>

I think the key problem when using power laws in this way is determining when a mathematical trend to infinity will actually hit something imovable in the real world. Semiconductor design is already struggling with quantum effects at feature sizes you can buy today (45nm). The big guys have roadmaps out to 16nm, but that doesn’t take us very much further, and may really be the end of the road. For the ‘computer more powerful than the human brain’ we’re going to have to jump S curves (which is where I think the real excitment happens – just look at what’s going on with SSD vs HDD right now).

It was Bill Gates that said “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” From his book, “The Road Ahead,” published in 1996. (http://www.infoworld.com/article/08/06/20/The_quotable_Bill_Gates_1.html)

]]>Also, having spent some time and energy delving into the singularity literature a couple years back, I feel sheepish saying my strong opinion is a cautious not sure/agnostic… however one lesson that I did take away that very clearly helped me understand the world around me (in particular the corporate world) and in particular the inability of 99% of people to think about possible future outcomes in a non-linear fashion.

The number of times over the past 20 years I was told that my idea or scenario was preposterous frankly was starting to get me down. Not that I was always right – of course I was often wrong – but I feel confident that what I suggested was never preposterous (and indeed most of these same people would admit as much when the future arrived – ie that even where I was wrong, the prediction had turned out to be plausible.) So when Kurzweil articulated the linear vs exponential thinking thesis I was relieved as it seemed to accurately describe the world and reaffirmed my confidence in my own lucidity.

I can’t remember to whom it should be attributed, but the old expression – much less happens in the next year than we expect, much more in the next ten – is a fundamental truth that has its roots in the power law…

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