Aug 08

Moore’s Law and Unemployment

15 years from now we will face 50% unemployment

For many people, the information that unemployment will reach 50% in 15 years seems implausible. It is even surprising and impossible to imagine.  Especially looking at the current difficulties in recruiting personnel to work. However, it will happen and I will prove why right now.

Exponential function

However, let us go back to unemployment – it will be the result of an exponential function – a function that most people do not understand because evolution has prepared us for a world where values grow linearly. In a linear world, successive values are 1, 2, 3, etc. In the exponential world we have 1, 2, 4 – seemingly a small difference, but at step 30, in the linear world we have the value 30, while in the exponential world we have the value 1,073,741,824 (one billion seventy-three million and some more). But what does an exponential function have to do with unemployment?

Moore’s law

In the 1960s, Gordon Moore – co-founder and longtime chairman of Intel Corporation – formulated a law that came to be known as Moore’s Law: “The packing density of transistors per square inch of processor doubles every two years.” What does this mean in practice? Because the transistors are more densely packed, the electric current flows between them faster, so the whole system works faster. What is more, the more elements a chip has, the more it can remember.  Thus, every 2 years or so (the period was eventually determined to be 18 months), electronic circuits double their capacity. This doubling just happens exponentially.

I have decided to check on the devices I used in my life, if this is true. I took my first computer – Atari 800 XL. I compared it to iPhone XS Max version. My Atari was equipped with 64 kilobytes of memory (this was enough to store 32 typewritten pages) and was equipped with an 8-bit motorola 6502 processor with a processing power of 0.5 MIPSA (500 thousand operations per second). Compare that to the iPhone – 512 gigabytes of memory (256 million printed pages) and an Apple Bionic A12 processor – 5,000,000 MIPS. Atari was launched in 1983. 36 years have passed since then – assuming a Moore cycle lasts 18 months – we have 23 Moore cycles since then. 2 to the power of 23 gives us 8,388,608 – that is how many times our memory and processor power should increase. Now note – divide 512 GB by 64 KB – you get EXACTLY the same value (!)

In the case of the processor, the difference is even greater than that implied by Moore’s law – 10 million times(!).

The Future of Computing and Unemployment…

Now let us consider what the iPhone of 2034 will look like? In 15 years – another 10 Moore cycles will have passed (so we’re talking about a 1000-fold increase). Memory will grow to 512 terabytes, and the processor will have a processing power of 5 billion MIPS. What can these numbers compare to? The human brain is estimated to have 128 terabytes of memory and a processing power of 2.25 x 1015 operations per second (2.25 billion MIPS). Yes, your iPhone will have a computing power that exceeds that of your brain….

So, imagine carrying a device with the computing power of the human brain in your pocket. A device that is able to perform every intellectual activity that you perform today. It could be your assistant, but it could also be an “entity” that will vicariously complete all of your work: perform a medical diagnosis, analyze legal documents, evaluate a loan application, handle and resolve any customer issues, and so on and so forth. Does the vision of 50% unemployment feel more real to you now? But also think about how you can harness this “power”… How do you turn it into action and make such power work for you?

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