Ever since the GPU up-ended the FLOPS curve and pointed it skyward we’ve been measuring ourselves by how we’re moving erlative to Moore’s law
GPU technology is moving faster than the development of process technology that fuels the products that accelerate us ahead. But what’s accelerating faster than semiconductor technology? Social networks and bandwidth (notice I did not mention software development, which can’t seem to keep up with Moore’s law). What’s running almost at the speed-of-light is information and even faster than that, the speed of thought.
You can find several metrics for it—the number of emails, the number of SMS messages, the pings from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and even LinkedIn. Phone calls haven’t abated, the only thing that has slowed is letters and memos—unless you work for a law firm, the single largest paper user group in the universe.
But our brains haven’t sped up. Well, that’s not completely true, our brains have speed up a bit, but not enough to match the torrent of information flowing through them. Speech hasn’t sped up so we use acronyms and abbreviations to convey our thoughts.
We use microwaves to cook, high-pressure coffee machines, and we long for fast battery recharges, fast high-pressure gasoline pumps, and oh my spaghettiimonster do we wish for faster I/O at the airport.
The world, our world, is speeding up in so many parameters simultaneously that not only can we no longer keep up with everything that’s going on, it’s damn tough just keeping up your game on your own esoteric specialty.
And it’s a total binary deal, you’re in or you’re out—there’s no middle ground, no time out, no recess, no breaks, and ha, forget about vacation. Even if you do take your spouse and kids to Disneyland, you’ve got your Blackberry, laptop, mobile phone, and tablet with you almost all of the time.
Read a book, watch TV, play a game, go to the movies, all these electronic media deliver systems we’re building, not for us, that’s for the consumers.
How about a nice dinner and some drinks? Sure, what’s the meeting agenda?
Wanta go to a play or the concert? OK, do they have WiFi?
We went to a high-school graduation the other night. Some of the 300 people in the audience actually saw the presentations, the rest were on their iPads, or scrolling their phones—those that stayed seated that is.
There’s no way out. You can’t just give up the cheese. You’re with us or you’re out—got a problem with that?
When I was a kid (just before they invented dirt) I remember hearing my parents and their friends talk about the rat-race. They’d comment about the poor people who owed their souls to the company store, the nine to fivers who worked seven to seven plus commute time. They smoked, drank two martini lunches, pinched the secretaries (yes, Mad Men is true), and died of heart attacks, cancer, or ulcers before they were 65. That was the big trick in the US Social Security system; no one would live long enough to collect it.
Well now just like the folks that go into the military, who do their 20 years, get the retirement pay and go on to another career, the folks who qualify for Social Security are doing the same thing today. We eat better, some of us get some exercise, most of us have stopped smoking (it seems to be a teenage thing now) and we live longer so we can work longer and harder.
And the information flow never lets up. You can’t shut it off; it’s a narcotic, we can’t handle not being in the loop, not knowing what’s going on, and not commenting on it (like this).
We read, blog, read, text, read, take a call, post, and even make phone calls. We order everything on line, hotel, restaurant and airplane reservations. We meet new and sometimes significant new friends online, and most of all, and maybe best of all we learn. We learn about things we never could imagine, about places we’ll probably never go, or want to go, but we know about them, their people, their customs, as repugnant as some of them are to us—we know about them. It’s like having National Geographic in your face 24/7.
And when we’re not learning about the world we’re learning about supply channels, transistor gates, PE ratios, and the IMF.
Almost everyone I speak to about this tells me I’m the junkie, how they have it under control, how they manage their life, see their kids, and play sports. And yet, almost every time I ask them to dinner or some event, they can’t make it. They’re out of town, or leaving town, or have a meeting, or a project to wrap up, or, or, or. I’ve only been turned down a few, very few, times because someone had to go to a, graduation, a school play, a basketball game, or to visit the in-laws. Got it under control, no problem. WAIT! My battery is low.
So we’re it—we’re Moore’s law. We’re the comet, the neutrino, the ray cast.
The only bad part of it is, we’ll never know when we’re finished.