RE: Moravec's estimates?

From: Damien Broderick (
Date: Sat Apr 07 2001 - 05:46:16 MDT

At 09:19 PM 4/6/01 -0700, John Smart wrote [re Moore's Conjecture rate
upped to >12 months]:

>Could you ref that, Damien? Last I saw were 14 months, from Kurzweil's

Well < coff, coff >, to quote from the 2001 edition of THE SPIKE (and
you've all rushed to amazon and bought your copies haven't you? well,
haven't you?):


Personal computers, however, are still merely early exhibits from the slow
part of the computing curve. Today's cutting-edge components are not just
small, they are very, very small. Sooner or later, one is bound to run out
of profitably accessible space, down there on the etched circuits. Even if
there's ample unused room at the nano level, will we be able to push the
atoms around quickly enough, and cheaply enough, to continue our dizzying
plunge downward into micro- and nano-chip utopia, and upward toward the Spike?

Salvation from the labs

Certainly, Hans Moravec assured me. Relax. `The engineers directly involved
in making ICs [integrated circuits] tend to be pessimistic about future
progress, because they can see all the problems with the current
approaches, but are too busy to pay much attention to the far-out
alternatives in the research labs. As long as the conventional approaches
continue to be improved, the radical alternatives don't have a competitive
chance. But, as soon as progress in conventional techniques falters,
radical alternatives jump ahead, and start a new cycle of refinement. When
short wavelength ultraviolet is no longer good enough, there are X-ray
synchrotrons, electron-beams and even scanning tunneling microscopes.
Existing circuits are still so far from the 3D, quantum electronic
possibilities already demonstrated in the lab, and the economic incentives
to keep the race going are so huge, that I see no reason to expect things
to start to slow down for several decades--and then we have a whole new
regime, that will make our current time look like the Stone Age. (And if
chip plants cost ten billion dollars, well, that's partly because they have
to be so big to make the quantities that the market demands.)'
        The latest news from Moravec is even more astonishing. The Moore's Law
curve returned to its original doubling-every-year by 1997, according to
his analysis of computational bang for your buck, and has now swept onward
into even swifter acceleration.


Damien Broderick

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