Lyle's Laws

Lyle Burkhead (
Wed, 01 Jan 1997 05:44:00 -0500 (EST)

The first sign of what's coming is the stock market. It continues to
forge ahead. This is the great Victory-of-Capitalism Bull Market.
As the market penetrates into all corners of the earth, the economy
becomes more stable. There will be no more recessions. That part of
history is over. There will be no more bear markets, at least not
for the market as a whole. Individual stocks, and individual countries,
will go up and down. But the aggregate will grow steadily, and in fact
the stock market will grow at increasing rates. In recent years it has
been in the 20 - 30% range. It will move into the 50 - 60% range in the
next couple of years, and then into the 100 - 200% range. And on up
from there.

As the economy grows exponentially, governments find themselves
with vastly increased tax revenues, and they find that they can pay off
their national debts, and then reduce taxes.

Education will become entirely privatized, and it will become the
new growth industry. It will be as innovative as the computer industry.
New curricula and improved teaching methods will be introduced
every year, and their effectiveness will increase by a factor of ten every
n years. This is Lyle's First Law, analogous to Moore's Law;
n remains to be determined.

In the last few years, large bookstores have been opening at an ever
increasing rate. Where we used to have a few little mom and pop
bookstores, we now have Borders, Bookstar, and Barnes & Noble.
These stores are appearing even in places that didn't used to have
bookstores at all -- I saw a Barnes & Noble in Amarillo last summer.
A generation ago, people in Amarillo only read books by Hal Lindsay
and Billy Graham. Now they are literate enough to support a new
Barnes & Noble store. This is only the beginning. As Lyle's Law
takes effect, the intelligence of the populace will grow so fast that
bookstores will be as common as supermarkets. Every town that has a
Walmart will also have a Borders. Most of the shelf space in these
stores will be devoted to computer books. Most of these books will be
attempts to explain how to use Windows 95.

The NeXT MacIntosh (you saw that expression first right here)
will appear in two or three years. It will be a dream machine, but
almost no one will buy it, because at that point Wintel owns the world.
By the turn of the century, Mac OS and Unix will be as almost as
defunct as Amiga.

Windows 95 will be replaced by Windows 2001, which will be
an order of magnitude bigger and more complex than Windows 95,
and which will require more supervision than a 1970s mainframe.
Even small businesses will have to have a systems programmer
to keep their software running properly and their hardware connected.
People who have computer-based home entertainment systems
connected to the internet -- which will be almost everybody -- will also
have to employ consultants to set up and maintain their computers.

In large corporations, MIS departments will reassert themselves, and
reclaim the turf they lost in the 1980s, when PCs appeared on desks
everywhere, and could not be controlled by a central authority. Now,
once again, a priesthood of systems programmers will be necessary
to run a corporation's computers. But it won't be a small priesthood,
it will be an ever-increasing part of the entire company.

Lyle's Second Law: system software will increase in size
and complexity by a factor of ten every m years, where m is to be

If, as seems probable, m < n, then future releases of Windows will
absorb whatever surplus intelligence is generated by the improved
educational system, so the net result is zero. More and more people
will get more and more education so they can spend more and more
time installing software and making it run with other software, and
sometimes using it.

Returning to our starting point, this is what the exponentially growing
economy consists of: more and more people maintaining software,
writing device drivers, answering phone calls from customers who
can't get things to work, and so forth -- and teaching other people
how to do these things. This is all economic activity. As these
activities increase exponentially, the economy expands with them.