Monday, June 27, 2011

The Singularity is Near

How many more doubles until the singularity?

If you don't know what the singularity is - and you have some time - read the following article by Ray Kurzweil,
The Law of Accelerating Returns. It's one of my favorite articles and informs much of my thinking of the future of technology.

Processing speed is growing exponentially. While the first few doubles may not be noticed, or seem exciting to outside observers, it can soon grow to game-changing proportions.

Year Name Transistors
1971 4004 2,300
1972 8008 2,500
1974 8080 4,500
1978 8086 29,000
1982 286 134,000
1985 386 275,000
1989 486 1,200,000
1993 Pentium 3,100,000
1997 Pentium II 7,500,000
1999 Pentium III 9,500,000
2000 Pentium 4 42,000,000
2002 Itanium 2 220,000,000
2004 Itanium 2 592,000,000

I got the above table from Intel, published in 2005. Six years later the Core i7 (Sandy Bridge E) has 2270 million transistors (2,270,000,000).

Where will we be in 20 years? Assuming computing power (equivalent but not equal to transistors) continues to double every 18 months we will go through 13 more doubles, 2.27 billion will become 4.5 billion in 18 months and become 9000 billion in 20 years. Imagine that if you can.

Twenty years ago we had clunky "portable phones" with huge batteries, today we carry around TVs in our pocket. Tomorrow will it carry all our books, medical records, photos? Of course. We need to imagine what new things could be there. Could it be a portable "pensieve?" A place to store and review memories?

No comments:

Post a Comment