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Half a century of microchips

The impact of these devices on our civilisation has been immense, whatever certain Luddites might claim. Wired magazine has a nice item about the 50th anniversary of the first microchip to be patented.

10 comments to Half a century of microchips

  • David Gillies

    Here is an arresting statistic, whose provenance I cannot, sadly, ascertain: every year, more transistors are fabricated in the form of integrated circuits than raindrops fall in California. We are, as of 2011, talking about quintillions of gates.

  • John B

    In the early 1970s I was fascinated and excited by the technology of the pocket calculator – its smallness, usefulness and simplicity – and I did think: this is going to change the world for better and for worse.
    That the ability to process data ever more efficiently would enable all sorts of stuff, and it certainly has.
    The way that human nature will direct it is, and probably will be awful, but to realise that is not unrealistic.
    The microchip is indeed a (the?) most significant invention.
    I repeat this(Link)

  • John, the printing press did not create Mein Kampf – Hitler did.

  • John B

    Absolutely, Alisa.
    But we do operate on a competetive basis. For resources, jobs, favours, pleasures.
    So when the technology for ultimate control comes along, what is going to happen?
    We are not angels nor devoid of human appetites for power or for pleasure.
    And we all know that Big Brother is not, either.
    So what does one do?
    Give our rights for dominion to mother Earth ?!(Link)

  • Oh dear, the lunatics have truly taken over the asylum.

    John, there is no such thing possible as ‘the technology for ultimate control': technology doesn’t just ‘come along’, it is created by humans – as is counter-technology.

    But we do operate on a competetive basis. For resources, jobs, favours, pleasures.

    Exactly. It is an endless race, which is life itself, really.

  • Smiten. Please check later, John.

  • Tedd

    What we normally call history is just noise written on top of the arc of technological progress.

  • John B

    My point being, Alisa, that when you have competetive humans (as we all are, even those that pretend to abhor competition) who manage to accrue to themselves the levers of power, that these days are becoming increasingly efficient and effective primarily as a result of microchip technology, we can expect to see dystopian fantasies becoming reality.
    This is not to despise the excellence of technology and those brilliant people who developed it, but is a common sense (I hope) observation of human nature.

  • John, your perception of human nature is quite correct, but that of the nature of technology – isn’t, at least as far as I can judge from your comments.

    we can expect to see dystopian fantasies becoming reality.

    I don’t think so. Mind you, I am not necessarily more optimistic than you are, it’s just that things are more complex than that. Technology can be, and is always used for both good and evil, its the nature of the beast. There is this constant struggle between these two forces, which eventually always leads to some kind of a balance – as is the case with everything else in nature. Also note that when either side (temporarily) wins, it is ultimately not through the use of sophisticated technology (although that helps a lot), but through the use of crude and brute force of very basic physics.

  • “…the printing press did not create Mein Kampf – Hitler did.”

    SQOTD!

    “What we normally call history is just noise written on top of the arc of technological progress.”

    Unspeakably naive!