Category Archives: Musings

Moore’s law – Kurzweil vs. Thiel

Everyone knows what Moore’s law is – processors become cheaper, exponentially. There are a multitude of more precise formulations. Moore’s original formulation was very precise – it stated that the density of transistors achievable with the lowest cost transistor doubles every two years. A few years later he revised the doubling time to every 18 months. Personally, I prefer Ray Kurzweil’s formulation – the computational power (measured in calculations per second) available for $1000 doubles every ~2 years. The two versions are nearly identical, but using calculations per second per $1000 also takes into account how well the transistors are used (layout) and driven (clockspeed).
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Filed under computers, economics, Musings, singularity, technology

Crackpot Nobelists

I have mixed feelings about the Nobel Prize. To some degree, I sympathize with Feynman:

I agree with Feynman that the discoveries that people made about the nature of reality are more important than titles and distinctions. The true test of scientific work is what it tells us about reality.  Of course “importance” is subjective, but importance can be defined operationally in terms of how much implication a discovery has for the workings of the universe, as made manifest through the breadth of experimental results that it can help explain. The importance of a discovery can also be defined through the impact a discovery has on technology and society.  The later definition is actually closer to Nobel’s intent, although the former version of “importance” usually implies the later as well. The invention of the transistor, a singular event by a few people, surely passes the test. Scrolling through the Nobel prizes in physics, they all appear to pass these operational tests at the highest level. Still, more generally prizes and awards are often corrupted by human cognitive biases and by the insularity of certain social networks – ie winning the prize becomes more about ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you discovered’. Continue reading

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Filed under Musings, non-technical, pseudoscience

A Critique of the Institution of Football

This article was originally written in 2008, and edited somewhat in 2010. It originally appeared on my old website.

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Filed under Musings, society