- George Gilder - So when all these material resources become increasingly abundant, what is scarce? I believe the pressure of scarcity in an age of material abundance devolves increasingly on the residual resource. And that residual resource is time: Time to market, turnaround time, network delay time, memory latency time, time to retirement, time to metastasis -- all these dimensions to time. But I think that time essentially resolves to two key dimensions: the speed of light and the span of life.
Just contemplating the speed of light, you can gauge a lot about the future of computer technologies. For example, electrons go nine inches a nanosecond. This essentially means that in the future, the smallest computers will be the fastest. If you have nine inches a nanosecond for the propagation of electromagnetic radiation, the computer that runs at 500MHz is going to have to be compressed to centimeters. This means that the speed of light dictates a world of pocket supercomputers, probably in the form of something like digital cellular phones that are as mobile as a watch, as personal as a wallet, that recognize speech, that navigate streets, that collect your paycheck, your mail. I think this kind of device will be the most common personal computer of the next era. It will connect to displays that are deployed around offices, public spaces and homes through infrared links.
It will be the key personal appliance. And this is really dictated by the speed of light. You can also tell by contemplating the speed of light that this will be a cellular system, not a centralized one. It takes 30 milliseconds to cross the country, 250 milliseconds to reach a geosynchronous satellite. The speed of light that once was considered the ultimate velocity has become the bottleneck for information technologies as they move up into your microwave domain that increasingly prevail in technology in a world moving from essentially electronics to spectronics. So, the speed of light dictates a cellular, supercomputer, distributed system, probably some kind of mesh resembling the Internet. And I think this is the destiny of the computer industry.
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