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Perspective: End Of An Era

Johnell Pannell

The holiday shopping is over and everyone is busy playing with their new toys. But what was remarkable about Christmas 2019 might have been the conspicuous absence of such toys.

Previous holiday seasons saw the introduction of impressive technological wonders -- tablet computers, the iPhone, Nintendo Wii and the X-box. But this year, there was no stand-out, got-to-have technological object.


On the one hand, this may actually be a good thing. The amount of waste generated by discarded consumer electronics is a massive global problem that we are not even close to managing responsibly. On the other hand however, this may be an indication of the beginning of the end of an era -- the era of Moore’s Law.

In 1965, Gordon Moore, then CEO of Intel, predicted that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years, meaning that computer chip performance would develop at an almost exponential rate. But even Moore knew there was a physical limit to this dramatic escalation in computer power, and we are beginning to see it top out. That may be one reason why there were no new, got-to-have technological gizmos and gadgets this holiday season.

Sure, quantum computing is already being positioned as the next big thing. But it will be years, if not decades, before it finds its way into consumer products. So for now, do not ask Santa to fill your stocking with a brand-new quantum device. It will, for now at least, continue to be lumps of increasingly disappointing silicon.

I’m David Gunkel, and that’s my perspective.

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