Why technology is NOT accelerating. Well at least not as Mr. Diamandis thinks. It’s nice to look at the micro chip and think that all technologies work that way. But in order to understand the microchip, you have to understand that the microchip is a product technology not a production technology.
Micro chips require a huge infrastructure to manufacture and each exponential decrease in size has had a corresponding increase, exponentially in size and cost of the production technologies required to manufacture the chips. Every reduction in transistor size is the result of tremendous efforts in optical and manipulator technologies to get the accuracy required. Much of that technology work happened literally little more than a stone’s throw from where I’m writing this right now. The fact is that Silicon Valley wouldn’t exist without Norwalk Valley technologies.
I’ve posted about some of that here on the blog and I will have more as things go forward. Suffice to say that in order for a product technology to exist the producer technology has to come first. Producer technologies that have their own development and investment paths. It’s nice to talk about the future in nanotechnology, but the production tools for those technologies don’t exist. Getting those tools is going take investment and engineering, most likely being done for other things than making nanomachines. Just as the IC circuit is a result of the optical technology developed for the Norden bombsight.
The problem is that the production technologies for IC’s have reached the point of diminishing returns. The First Perkin Elmer stepper was the size of a desk and cost maybe 1 million in today’s dollars. The steppers that ASML, Perkin Elmer’s successor are the size of small buildings and cost assembled and running in the billions. It’s likely that beyond 14nm isn’t going to happen simply because nobody would be able to afford the optics that are needed to do the job. That is if the optics can be done at all.
Technology is not biology. It doesn’t happen because of a random series of chemical processes. Technology is the result of a growing knowledge base, creative people and access to funding. If you look at the history of the industrial revolution, for instance, it’s pretty obvious that it’s all about people doing stuff. People Brunel, Maudsley and Boulton for machine tools. This kind of thing happens time after time in technology.
When looking at technologies it’s important to look at the producer tech and the people that develop it. and to understand the limitations of that tech. Producer technologies whether it’s a machine tool, stepper, casting technology or 3d printer is going to have limitations and those limitations are going to drive how people develop the products.
Which is the important thing to remember. Technology is a people activity. Technologies do not just evolve by themselves, they are created by people to serve needs and improve some aspect of people’s lives.
January 23, 2016
No doubt you’ve heard of Moore’s Law.
What you might not realize is that Moore’s Law only refers to the exponential price-performance improvements of integrated circuits (over the last 50 years).
Did you know that exponential growth has been going on for a much longer period? Or that such growth is occurring in other fields outside of computing, such as communication and genomics?
Such exponential growth is actually described by “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” a term coined by my friend and Singularity University Chancellor/Co-founder Ray Kurzweil.
This blog aims to explain the difference between Moore’s Law and the Law of Accelerating Returns – an important distinction to understand for the exponentially minded.
What is Moore’s Law?
In 1965, Gordon Moore (a founder of Intel) published a paper observing that between 1958 and 1965, the number of transistors on an integrated circuit have been doubling…
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