Don Marti

Sun 17 Apr 2005 08:33:50 PM PDT

It can't be bargained with. It can't be reasoned with.

It doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And it absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. That's from "The Terminator", but Michael S. Malone at Red Herring showed a similar level of dread about Moore's Law:

"But most of all, forget Moore's law because it has become dangerous. It is a runaway train, roaring down a path to disaster, picking up speed at every turn, and we are now going faster than human beings can endure. If we don't figure out how to get off this train soon, we may destroy an industry.


"A well-known rule about doing business in technology is that nobody ever bet against Moore's law and won."

"Forget Moore's Law" by Michael S. Malone.
Red Herring, February 10, 2003.

Moore's Law is still there, Red Herring or no Red Herring. And that's not bad, that's good. Because it's actually making stuff that's too slow "fast enough." Moore's Law is inexorably turning impractical, wasteful, stupidly impossible ideas into stuff that works. There isn't a "fine line between clever and stupid" -- there's a three-year lag that makes bad technology decisions into good ones.

At CodeCon we were treated to demos of software projects that would have been insanely slow or incredibly expensive just a few doublings ago. Want to save bandwidth? Blast many copies onto lots of people's hard drives every hour. Want to watch TV? Digitize the signal and decode it in software. Want to do crypto acceptably fast? Forget the bit twiddling, do it in Python. Want to see if numbers are random? Don't do hard math, just plot them in real-time, rotating 3D and look for lines. Computers get faster. Storage gets bigger. Waste what you couldn't have afforded to waste last year, but that you have too much of now.

If you want to think of a software category that will be a big "Duh" in a few years, just think of the stupidest, slowest, most wasteful thing you can do with a computer right now.

And "destroy an industry"? That's what technology is supposed to do! "Industry" is just a fancy word for "working hard" and "technology" is just a fancy word for "art" or "skill". Instead of saying that a technology destroys an industry, say that if you have skill you can get the same results with less work. That's a good thing.