The phone in your pocket has 100,000 times the processing power of the Apollo 11 guidance computer that landed us on the moon. That’s thanks largely to the 1965 prediction now known as Moore’s Law, or the dependable principle that processor speeds will double every two years.
As a result, this $200,000 computer from the ’60s is vastly outperformed by the cheapest smartphone you can buy today. And whole industries can project the future of their business by depending on this ever-increasing computer power.
But what about everything else? Is there any way to predict the improvements coming to other technologies, ranging from displays, to electric motors, to farming equipment?
[Screenshot: MIT]Now there is, thanks to researchers at MIT. They’ve built the equivalent of a Google search for innovation. Using their online search engine, you can type in one of 1,757 different technologies, and get one sharp number, which is its expected rate of improvement each year.
Mechanical hair removal sees a 2% improvement each year. Glass offers an 11.4% rate of improvement. Batteries offer a 13.3% rate of improvement. Semiconductors (like processors) offer a 42.6% rate of improvement (that’s the rate of Moore’s Law). Whatever you want to look up, you can literally type it in and get a snapshot of how quickly this technology is expected to improve.
But why do researchers think they have these predictions right?
The system was developed by an MIT team that studies a surprisingly…