Emergent & Disruptive Change

This page serves as the introduction to the course, our emergent and transitory environment and the Emergent Technology and Disruptive Change Discussion Board (DB) that comes later in the course. Note the Emergent Topics Blog will have more up to date material (i.e. specific instances and examples of these items). To set the table for the course and the rest of our professional lives consider the following:


Moore’s Law

In 1971, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore asserted that “computer processing power doubles every 18 months and this increased processing power only occupies half the previous space”.

It is incredible that this has held true the past 30-40 years  and researchers are presently investigating  techniques such as compound semiconductors (graphene)  to sustain Moore’s law.


Gilder’s Law

In the early 1990’s, Forbes ASAP founding editor and renowned technology author George Gilder, asserted “bandwidth grows at least three times faster than computer processing power.”

Consider backbone bandwidth on a single cable is now a thousand times greater than the average monthly traffic exchanged across the entire global communications infrastructure five years ago. Today, more information can be sent over a single cable in one second than a month’s worth of information sent over the entire Internet in 1997.

Now you will hear me state that interconnections are the major limiting factor in computing today.  Consider your phone, when you open an app what is the delay?  If no information is necessary from the cloud your app opens right away but if something is required from a server somewhere you are waiting.  This happens inside our traditional computers as well but most users aren’t aware of the difference in access speeds across the memory/storage hierarchy.


Metcalfe’s Law

3COM founder and Ethernet originator Robert Metcalfe asserts the value of a network is proportional to the square of the number of nodes; so, as a network grows, the value of being connected to it grows exponentially, while the cost per user remains the same or even reduces.  Consider a computer in isolation.  Next consider 2 or 3 office computers linked through a network that can now share files and communicate.  Now consider a globally networked and connected world.


Kryder’s law

The law is named after Mark Kryder, a Seagate Technology engineer who has been on the cutting edge of storage research.

In computingKryder’s law states that hard drives are benefiting from an exponential increase in the density (bits per unit area) of information they are able to store. Kryder’s Law is essentially Moore’s Law for storage. But the density of information on hard drives has been growing at an even faster rate, increasing by a factor of 1000 in 10.5 years, which corresponds to a doubling roughly every 13 months.

The ongoing increase in information density has resulted in an exponential decrease in the cost of computer disk drives. This has enabled such breakthrough products as the Apple iPod digital music player, Google’s Gmail web-based email program, the TiVo personal video recorder and Wikipedia. By bringing cheap storage to the masses, Kryder’s Law has the potential to transform industries. In that sense, it’s not so different from Moore’s Law, which helped bring computing to the masses.

The Future of Kryder’s law

If current rates of growth are maintained then within two decades, a consumer will be able to store all of the creative works produced by every member of the human species in a $100 storage device, including realtime video capture of one’s entire lifetime. The only current applications that may outstrip these storage requirements are physics systems such as weather simulations and high energy particle accelerators — and perhaps some very large video image databases.

Now having said this, several years ago, IBM stored a bit on 10 atoms rather than our present 1,000,000 atoms.  Putting this into perspective, consider a cell phone with 150 terabytes of data (or in layman’s terms ~ 100,000 movies on your cellphone).

Now if that wasn’t enough, Harvard University researchers just stored 80 billion books on 1 centimeter of DNA.  Harvard researchers postulate Humankinds total recorded knowledge could be stored on 4 grams of DNA. You may read more about this in the Emergent Topics Blog by searching the “Storage” tag.


Network effect (in a sense it is related to Metcalf’s Law)

Marketing and economic theory describe the network effect as an economic phenomenon in which a service becomes more valuable as more people use it. Consider the 1993 Internet with 2.5 million users, the 1997 Internet with 25 million users and the 2005 Internet with 888 million users.  What would a social networking site like Facebook be with 10 users… 100 users… 1,000,000 users?  Now to further illustrate today’s speed of change,  what happened to MySpace – :).


Business – Organization – IT is a triangle.

So it is established that we are riding a runaway technology train.  Business, Organization and Society or Culture is an integrated triangle.  Any change to one component drives changes in the other 2.  Let’s look at some changes induced by emergent technology but I ask you to remember that Business and Societal needs should always drive technology innovation and evolution.

To set the stage, 1st consider an automobile deposited in the middle of the rain forest.

The native inhabitants discover the automobile and immediately discern its utility.  This automobile can provide shelter from the elements.  The native inhabitants may look at the world through the car’s windows and even discover they are safe from their warring neighbors as arrows glance off and do not penetrate the windows. Maybe they even find out how to turn on the lights before the battery dies out.  The point is these native inhabitants are only aware of the vehicle’s benefits within the context of their previous experience.

The above example may just be fiction but as an analogy, consider the convergence of the cell phone and camera.

Emergent technology driving changes in society:

Fortunately almost everyone now carries a camera and can capture events previously unrecorded. As an example consider the Hudson River plane crash whose news broke far better and faster on Twitter than CNN which itself had revolutionized correspondence covering the Middle East wars.

Unfortunately,  people also started using the camera to surreptitiously take pictures where they shouldn’t (e.g. locker rooms,  children’s playgrounds, etc.).   This latter use drove the need for legislation to protect privacy and we will always see a lag in policy following technology innovation and appointment.

Emergent technology driving changes in business:

In summer 2013  the Chicago Tribune fired all of their staff photographers because they found the reporters could take pictures that were good enough using their iPhones.   Over the next 10 to 20 years and probably beyond we are going to observe changes in the workplace were jobs that exist today will not exist tomorrow.   Robotics will have a big impact on business and society will look at this in further detail later in the course.

Now consider that the Egyptian Revolution was sparked or fueled by Facebook which facilitated information recording and transmission.  Consider that it has recently been asserted that the 1st person to live to 200 years old has already been born.    The list goes on and on and changes each day and going back to our rain forest automobile example, do we or can we have any idea where we are heading?


Now consider these:

First, Shift Happens

And this is a good but lengthy watch from computer.org

It’s a new eye opening world. Are we ready…. and appropriately you have to close an ad at the bottom of the video as we live in an online ad-sponsored world.










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