I recently read The Next Wave: A Conversation with John Markoff in Edge.org. Markoff has been a science and technology writer at the NY Times since 1988, as well as author and co-author of several books, including the just published Machines of Loving Grace: The Quest for Common Ground Between Humans and Robots. I can personally attest to his deep understanding of technology and the IT industry, given the many discussions we’ve had over the years.
In The Next Wave, Markoff talks about a wide variety of topics, but I’d like to focus my attention on what I think is the main thread throughout the report, the state of Moore’s Law, - the observation that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit has been doubling approximately every two years.
He believes that Silicon Valley, - where he grew up and has long lived, - has been fundamentally about Moore’s Law. And Moore’s Law has played a central role in his career since becoming a technology reporter in 1977. But then, “I suddenly discovered it was over.”
As a result of Moore’s Law, the costs of computing have been falling at an exponentially accelerating rate for almost five decades. But for the past two years, we seem to be at a plateau as the price per transistor has stopped falling. “I see evidence of that slowdown everywhere. The belief system of Silicon Valley doesn’t take that into account.”