If you’re a tech optimist (like me) you will like this exciting list of sci-tech advances from last year. If you’re not a tech optimist then you should read it anyway to make sure you’re up to date on the counter-arguments to your position :-).
My favourite is:
(#9) Google’s Quantum Computer Is 100 Million Times Faster Than a Normal Computer
For those that don’t know, quantum computing is probably our best bet for continued exponential improvements in compute efficiency when we reach the limits of what’s possible in silicon. It’s an entirely different and new way of performing operations on data that uses quantum mechanical phenomena like superposition and entanglement. A simpler but less accurate way of expressing the same point is to say that quantum computing might allow Moore’s law to hold for another few decades.
I’m excited about this because more than any other thing the exponential decreases in the cost of compute power gave rise to the IT revolution and the startup ecosystem that’s so important today. Silicon chip companies, then software companies, then the internet and now smartphone and social media businesses are all only possible because compute power has gotten so cheap. Declining costs of storage and bandwidth have also played a part, but declining costs of compute power helped both and is at the core.
Given the above, imagine what a further 100 million times increase in compute efficiency might produce.
My second favourite on the list is battery power, which saw a number of important improvements last year. Battery technology is currently a limiting factor on the deployment of solar technology and electric cars, both key developments for protecting the environment, and in the case of solar getting us to cheap and abundant energy.
There’s 15 advances on the list altogether. It’s well worth reading.