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Intel now says that the technological “cadence” of Moore’s Law is “now closer to 2.5 years than two.” Irving Wladawsky thinks that a semiconductor stutter-step could be signaling a new era approaching:
The Cambrian geological period marked a profound change in life on Earth. Before it, most organisms were very simple, composed of individual cells and simple multi-cell organisms sometimes organized into colonies, such as sponges. After a couple of billion years, evolution deemed the cell to be good-enough, that is, it’s continued refinement did not translate into an evolutionary advantage.
Then around 550 million years ago a dramatic change took place, which is known as the Cambrian Explosion. Evolution essentially took off in a different direction, leading to the development of all kinds of complex life forms. “Over the following 70 to 80 million years, the rate of diversification accelerated by an order of magnitude and the diversity of life began to resemble that of today.”
The IT industry is now going through something similar. Over the past several decades, we’ve been perfecting our digital components – microprocessors, memory chips, disks, networking and the like, and we used them to develop families of computers – mainframes, minicomputers, servers, PCs, laptops and so on.
But around ten years ago or so, the digital components started to become powerful, reliable, inexpensive, ubiquitous … and good-enough to start moving to a new phase. The acceptance of the Internet introduced a whole new set of technologies and standards for interconnecting all these components. Today, digital components are becoming embedded into just everything – smartphones, IoT devices, robots, consumer electronics, medical equipment, airplanes, cars, buildings, clothes and on and on and on.
Technology continues to be very important to IT, but after 50 years it’s no longer the key driver of innovation, and computers are no longer its preponderant families. The digital world has now entered its own Cambrian age. Innovation has now shifted to the creation of all kinds of digital life forms, and to the data-driven analytic algorithms and cognitive designs that infuse intelligence into these artificial life forms.