[ExI] Serious topic

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Mon Feb 28 23:40:54 UTC 2011

Eugen Leitl wrote:
> The only way to give Moore second wind is to leap into 3d, and
> I'm very leery expecting just-in-time new technologies.
The real Moore's law is flops per dollar rather than transistors, 
anyway. Right now it runs on increasing cores, it seems.

I think *Sahal's law* is strong enough: given the still remaining 
enormous demand for processors of all sizes, we will see continued 
exponential improvement for at least two more decades.

>> Just like Bass technology diffusion curves they fit data very well in  
>> retrospect. But when used to extrapolate the future they seem too  
>> unstable: the predicted peaks or sigmoids jump all over the place due to  
>> noise in the data.
> I see little magic in graphs, but in fundamental processes giving
> rise to the graphs.

Exactly. But that rarely gives insight enough to make the quantitative 
predictions we care about. The fact that there is a finite amount of oil 
(modulo slow abiogenesis) doesn't tell us whether we should be heading 
for the hills, investing in solar power or form a bike gang. That Bass 
curve dynamics is well understood will not help you predict how many 
gizmos you will eventually sell.

> Markets are chronically poor long-term predictors.

Maybe. But they seem to be extremely quick at changing when there is a 
constraint. Remember what happened to the energy use per capita vs gdp 
per capita post WWII?
A very strong linear relation from 1949 to 1970, followed by what has 
essentially been a horizontal curve (growing GDP with no more energy 
use). The reason was the oil crisis. It induced a surprisingly quick 
shift of a long-term, heavily invested infrastructure.

Anders Sandberg,
Future of Humanity Institute 
James Martin 21st Century School 
Philosophy Faculty 
Oxford University 

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