Here’s a link to a story that has been reported everywhere on the net today: IBM announced that it has made the first nanoscale integrated circuit from a single carbon nanotube molecule. Oooh! Ahhh!…Eh, so what?
It means that the Moore’s Law of creating faster, smaller, cheaper electronic circuits that are at the heart of every communications system we have will continue to get faster, smaller and cheaper for another decade at least. I’d add another quality to that: broader, as in broader bandwidth transmitted per penny. That means that the little buggers that have transformed our lives, jobs, and trans-national connections the past couple of decades will just keep on getting more intense.
Another way to look at it is that Kurzweil’s "Law of Accelerating Returns" will hold up for electronics, nanotech, and probably biology. The rate of change will continue to increase. The ubiquity of interconnectedness through communication of information will just grow greater. Our lives and jobs will be reshuffled, again. After all, the premise behind Thomas Friedman’s The Earth Is Flat is that it’s electronics and broadband that has opened the world up to unprecedented competition. So, to my mind it’s the sociological and economic effects and the awkward way that people go about adjusting to them that are most interesting consequences of single molecule circuits.