Tuesday, November 23, 2004

peace at last

I was doing a Masters in Philosophy of Science at Cambridge. I studied
with Stephen Hawking and people like that, and I had an old cosmology
text. I realized that I can estimate the amount of energy that's
available in the universe, and I know that if I look in this book it
will tell me how to count the number of bits that could be registered,
so I thought I would look and see. If you wanted to build the most
powerful computer you could, you can't do better than including
everything in the universe that's potentially available. In particular,
if you want to know when Moore's Law, this fantastic exponential
doubling of the power of computers every couple of years, must end, it
would have to be before every single piece of energy and matter in the
universe is used to perform a computation. Actually, just to telegraph
the answer, Moore's Law has to end in about 600 years, without doubt.
Sadly, by that time the whole universe will be running Windows 2540, or
something like that. 99.99% of the energy of the universe will have been
listed by Microsoft by that point, and they'll want more! They really
will have to start writing efficient software, by gum. They can't rely
on Moore's Law to save their butts any longer.


No comments: