Resistance is Futile

Posted on February 22nd, by Michael Rosenblum in Journalism. No Comments

A single grain of rice.

Today, I am responding to one of those ‘Carinval of Journalism’ questions.

This months’ question is “What emerging technology or digital trend will upend journalism next? (#jcarn)”

To this, I answer with a single grain of rice.

What does that mean, and what does it have to do with the future of journalism or emerging technologies.

Take a chess board.

Put a grain of rice on the first square. Then double it on the second. Double it again on the third, and so on.

The numbers of grains of rice start to multiply.

One becomes two becomes four becomes eight becomes sixteen and so on.

Take a look at the numbers.

1, 2, 4, 8, 16. 32, 64, 128. 256. 512….

By the time the 64th square is reached it would take 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 grains of rice for the 64th square. That is 9 quintillian or 9 billion billion grains of rice. That is a lot of rice.

If you are something of a computer geek, these numbers will have a familiarity to you that goes beyond rice.  They are also processor speeds for computer chips.  If you’re old enough, you’ll remember when barriers like 64K or `128K or 256K were broken.  As each speed barrier was reached, computers became capable doing increasingly more complex tasks fast and cheaper.

First came hand held calculators, then the Apple II and word processing.  Soon they were able to process photographs. Then music. Then video. Then the web. It just kept getting faster and faster and the devices got cheaper and more powerful and ever smaller.

And the trend just keeps continuing.

This is all based on something called Moore’s Law.

Moore’s Law was coined by Gordon Moore, one of the founders of Intel, in 1965.  Moore predicted that computer microprocessor power would double and the cost would halve every 18 months. He has been right ever since.

But is there a limit to Moore’s Law?  Some people thought so, as we began to reach the edges of the number of channels a laser’s width could etch in a piece of silicon.

But now, word comes from IBM of an entirely new breakthrough in computer speed processing – quantum processing.

The labs at IBM have succeeded in buiding a single atom transistor – the on/off switch of binary computing.

This means an entirely new kind of processor and processor speed – one divorced from the physical limits of silicon.

Here’s a lift from another article”

Researchers at the University of New South Wales, Australia and Purdue University say they have successfully created a transistor using a phosphorus atom inside of a silicon crystal. The development creates the basis for the development of a working quantum computer that can work at nano scale. Sounds like something out of Star Trek, right? The possibilities for these types of mini-computers are endless and possibly game-changing, and manufacturing and medicine are just some of the fields that may benefit from nanotechnology.

As the physicist Richard Feynman said a long time ago ‘there’s plenty of room at the bottom’ or in the nano world.

What does this mean for journalism?

Well, it probably means, among lots of other things, the the ability to record and process video and films will be so cheap that it will be free. It probably means that you will have wall sized video screens that are pretty much just film painted on any surface.  It probably means that you will be able to transmit (if that is the world) 3D video images globally instantly for free to 7 billion people at any time at no cost.

It probably means that there will be more and more people making this content for lower and lower budgets. The whole idea of a $200 million budget for a Hollywood movie will seem completely insane.  And the whole idea that a tiny handful of people, fewer than .01% of the global population once created the content that the other 99.99% watched passively will seem as crazy as the idea that the only books you could have were bibles and they were handwritten by a few monks over years in a monestary.

The world changes.

And technology is the greatest and most irresisitable driver of change there is.

As the Borg once said ‘resistance if futile’.

And it is.

So think of that the next time you see a grain of rice.


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Every day Michael Rosenblum blogs about the latest developments in the world of video and the media as well as future trends in technology and equipment.

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