Humanity is currently doubling its data consumption every 18 months or so in an exponential trend that looks similar to Moore’s Law.
Gordon Moore was a chip designer at Intel who first noticed that the number of transistors you could fit on a wafer of silicon was doubling every 18 months. Using his empirical observation, he estimated that computers ten years in the future could be a thousand times more powerful than the ones available to him in the early 1960s.
Moore thought that the trend would continue for a few years and then peter out as technology hit physical boundaries. Incredibly, though, the process continued until around 2020 when fabricators reached quantum limits on how small they could make transistors.
What Moore didn’t realize, though, was that his observation was a single instance of the doubling capacity of information technologies. It wasn’t just transistors on a chip that was growing exponentially, but practically every aspect of information processing.
The amount of data that humanity produces, for instance, has been on a similar doubling trajectory. Businesses and individuals are churning out unfathomable quantities of information every day and collecting it. Firms want to migrate to AWS because of the sheer amount of data that they want to store.
The implications of this doubling are almost as profound as they were for the number of transistors on a chip.
Deeper Insights Into Everything
The doubling of data every 18 months is going to make a massive difference to the insights that we can derive about the world around us. We now have the cognitive computing tools that we need to inspect data in a way that simply wasn’t possible before, getting machines to do the heavy lifting, so we don’t have to.
Artificial intelligence means that we don’t have to crunch the numbers. Instead, we just have to feed them into a neural network and out pops a probability or an outcome of interest. Fundamentally, it doesn’t matter how the system arrives at its conclusion. What matters is the useful information we can derive from it.
Companies, for instance, will be able to better predict surges in demand. Scientists will be able to gain better insights into their data. And consumers will get better recommendations and even smart advice on what choice they should make next.
Better Distribution Systems
Currently, the world’s distribution systems rely heavily on paperwork and have relatively little oversight. With the advent of more sensors, however, all that is going to change. By the end of the decade, ubiquitous satellite internet will track every node in the system, ensuring that everything links up the way that companies want. It is going to make ferrying things across the planet far more straightforward than it is today and slash the costs associated with it. Ultimately, the changes will result in cheaper, higher quality products, freeing up resources for other applications.
Data doubling, therefore, isn’t just a topic of conversation for geeks. It is something that is going to impact the real world in ways that affect our lives materially.