Moore's Law and the Difficult Challenge of Predicting Our Energy Future

The ways we produce and distribute energy are going to change, with end users empowered much as in the world of computing. What we can't predict is when that will happen.
by | June 24, 2013

As we debate energy independence, fossil fuels and renewable energy, it's a complex challenge to foretell the winners and losers. As Yogi Berra put it, "Prediction is very hard, especially about the future." But that sure doesn't keep us from trying.

Perhaps there are lessons to be learned from the world of computer technology.

Three decades ago, a data-processing director would have predicted a bright future for centralized mainframe computing, with dumb terminals for the end users--a hub-and-spoke configuration. We know how things turned out, but it wasn't so clear back then, even though Intel co-founder Gordon Moore had predicted back in 1965 that the number of transistors on a chip would double roughly every two years.

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What came to be known as Moore's Law essentially proved to be true: As chipmakers continued to shrink hardware, desktop computers and distributed computing gave control to end users. Now, notes Intel's website, "the evidence of Moore's Law is everywhere, embedded in devices millions of people use every day, such as personal computers and laptops, mobile phones, and common household appliances and consumer electronics."

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Bob Graves  |  Associate Director of the Governing Institute

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