Re: The Spike, nanotech, and a future scenario
Tue, 7 Oct 1997 12:15:13 -0400 (EDT)

In a message dated 10/7/97 4:57:40 AM, (Eliezer S.
Yudkowsky) wrote:

> wrote:
>> Moore himself is quite upfront that it's an empirical observation and has
>> varied over the time period. In Wired recently he said that the law will
>> probably hold for another 10-12 years but doubts that it will hold beyond
>> that. Beyond that, we will have to move to a radically different system
>> wiring and transistors photographically etched on silicon. There's no
>> particular reason that this other technology (which might not exist then)
>> will have the same emergent phenomena as current chip technology.
>Very true. Quantum computation, for example, should have doubling qubits
>instead of doubling transistors. So after 10-12 years, the size of the RSA
>key crackable by a computer will double every two years (or something like

No. Halving the size of a quantum bit does not improve its computation.
Quantum computers will probably be most limited by the difficulty of
isolating them from any outside influences that could collapse their wave
functions. It's a wholly different problem. Generally very small
improvements will make very big differences, but even those very small
improvements seem very difficult.

>Nanotech should make a huge leap, followed by a few more huge leaps,
>and finally bottom out at something like a quadrillion times current speed.
>Combine the two and you have enough computing power to do, well, pretty much
>anything you damn well feel like. You could simulate a centillion humans on
>chip the size of a dust speck, and do a thousand aeons of subjective time
>every second.

Yes, quantum nanotech would be incredibly powerful. But it's not imminent.
Quantum computers can't yet multiply 3 by 5 to get 15. We can't even make
one individual gear for a nanotech device. If Moore's law hits the wall in
five more doublings, as he anticipates, neither quantum computing nor
nanotech will be available to bail us out, barring a miracle.