I’m fascinated by the way that digital devices are still developing alongside ‘Moore’s Law’ - a 1965 hypothesis about computer hardware which predicted that the number of transistors per integrated circuit would double every year and the speed would double every 18 months.
Now – what Moore was talking about was relative to the technology of the day, but is surprisingly, still accurate today. In fact – this theory has been adopted in virtually every facet of digital manufacture and provision, including bandwidth, mobile phones and computing.
And with these increases in speed, capacity and functionality across the devices which we are bound to every day, I have been found asking myself whether we too are increasing our capacity to manage multiple tasks and handle broader levels of data at an accordingly accelerating pace?
There was a time which doesn’t seem that long ago, when most of us had one job, with a finite amount of associated responsibilities. We had no smartphones, limited channels of tv and available broadcasting hours, and a reduced urgency of response to virtually all external demands on our time.
And I’m not aiming to hark back to a different era, thinking that we had it better back then etc. We certainly didn’t in many respects, but I want to reflect from my position as one of those who grew up without the Internet and mobile phones and saw those changes arrive. Many of today’s business leaders after all, have always known the Internet and have always owned a mobile phone.
So it’s fair to say that the levels of change within society as a result of this increased pace of technological growth are indisputable. Most people check their phone for the latest across the news channels, social media and SMS interfaces before they even boil the kettle each day – and it’s done subconsciously, but that doesn’t mean it’s done unconsciously.
Fundamentally, and in a slight conflict with my reason for writing this blog, I see this to a greater extent as natural progression and recognise that it takes a concerted effort to break these cycles, to create a measurable gulf between you and your technology (even when you’re on holiday), simply because it has become an entrenched pattern of behaviour necessary to respond to Moore’s Law.
We rarely stop working nowadays because the mind is so attuned to respond that it seems unnatural to postpone an email over the weekend for example, when it’s possible to tick it off there and then.
Public Relations involves a lot of news so I’m fully aware of how much of that stuff gets pushed out to the world. Social media is a fast-stream of information which is all about the moment. Step out of the conversation for a day or two and see how far behind you feel – the demand is to engage with it as it happens.
So it makes me look at the future generations and ask how vastly different their ability to interact or function without technology will be in say 50 years’ time. If the technology is moving at Moore’s Law pace – then the ability to keep up will also be moving with similar rapidity and this will mean an even faster rate of response to every platform, and the number of platforms is on the increase too.
And while on one hand, this gives huge amounts of credit to the human ability to expand its confines and to learn a seemingly immeasurable amount, on the other hand it makes me recognise that I was fortunate to know and enjoy a life from those heady days before technology became so essential and consuming. And because I had this – I can still stop, walk out and leave the technology behind periodically, knowing that it makes the world come alive.
And so my advice is as follows. Keep an eye on Moore’s Law, it’s served us well for 40 odd years and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Respect what it observes and consider this. Once in a while, switch off the PC, leave the smartphone at home and allow your mind to wind down - because Moore’s Law is about the technology, not about the people...