[LINK] Death of Moore's Law Will Cause Economic Crisis

Steven Clark steven.clark at internode.on.net
Wed Mar 23 10:41:28 AEDT 2011

On 23/03/11 05:28, fernando cassia wrote:
> Gordon Moore's famous law about the doubling of transistor density and 
> power every two years will not only end it could bring economic disaster 
> in its wake, respected scientist Michio Kaku has predicted in a new 
> book. [ Link http://ho.io/n3nt ]
> Kaku sets out the crunch moment as being the point at which ultraviolet 
> light can no longer tuned to etch ever smaller circuits on to silicon 
> wafers, which on current trends will kick in less than a decade from 
> now. From that moment on, Moore's Law will gradually diminish, and the 
> effects will not only be technological but economic.

this has more to do with the foundational assumptions embedded in
economics - and the reliance upon those assumptions being made to be
true -  than technology per se. one of the reasons for so much research
into other means of embodying digital computation is to sidestep this
physical limitation. but even if we do, another will be there waiting
for us.

i'll have to have a look at kaku's work - but i suspect i have a good
sense of it from the title :)


nothing can 'grow' forever. cyclical 'corrections' for are as natural as
extinctions when resources are overrun* (or withdrawn**) or booms# when
resources are in abundance. we (as societies) refuse/struggle to accept
that we live in reality, which is bounded, rather than our imagination,
which is far less so; thus we keep getting surprised whenever we hit an
upper bound of what we can take from reality and suddenly our houses of
cards come crashing down.

most of our 'economic' systems are generative; they are expected to make
*more* stuff - cars, clothes, food, representations of units of exchange
(aka money). the last is the most pernicious. it's imaginary, so so long
as we can justify to ourselves *how* we do so, we can make more and more
of it. but we discover, time and again, that even money is subject to
the laws of the reality in which is is imagined. entropy, and so on,
cannot be avoided indefinitely - indeed, it requires 'work' to hold it
at bay at all.

our economics is founded upon the assumption that growth is good; worse,
that growth is *necessary*. that is not true, and it cannot be sustained
without either sacrificing other things, or being forced back to a lower
state when the system cannot sustain the current rate of growth. even
money, though imaginary, is subject to reality because it is represented
in the real world. (there are only so many electrons one can devote to
the futures market before it detracts from other local effects - but
more pragmatically, human attention directed towards creating new ways
to make more is human attention distracted from other
concerns/interests. there is only so much the futures market can *do* of

anyway, in short: the inevitable tailing off of the slope of moore's
graph is only a disaster-in-waiting if we refuse to accept that this is
natural, normal. and even if scientists and technologists find a way to
side-step the top of the curve, it'll be lurking again in the next approach.

sustainability ought to me more than just reducing kJs and kTs. it ought
to be a whole-of-system approach to *what* and *why*, not just *how*.

i have argued since my second year as an undergraduate, (some decades
ago now o.O) that economists and accountants ought to spend at least
half a year of their basic training learning fundamentals of ecology and
studying at least a basic ecosystem. they talk a good game, but most
really don't relate /viscerally/ to the concepts of growth and decay,
resource limits, renewal and interconnectedness [not the spiritual kind,
although that awareness-of-other would be a good thing(tm)].

they don't understand how parasites fit in, nor how immune systems
attempt to detect and destroy them, and how both try to adapt to evade
one another. nor how those very processes have *built into them* the
foundations of their own failures. everything is mathematical models,
which are fine so far as they go. ecologists and other biologists use
them too. but when you confuse the model for the reality, you're
delusional. sadly, to quote alan cooper "the inmates are running the

sustainability, aka awareness of environment ('environmental awareness'
has been captured with a narrower meaning), is a good foundation - not
an/the end point one would hope - for thinking about almost anything.

</rant> :D


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