What’s Next in Computing?
Chris Dixon

It reminds me of my broader theory about the industrial revolution , which I call (out of pure vanity) Denny’s Law — that technology tends to go in ’ living memory’ cycles of around 70 years. This is when the fixed modes of thinking of a previous generations revolution dies out.

For example, the gun & warfare was refined in the early 17th, leading to new colonisation, new societies in lands previously too hostile to settlers.

Then about 1700, starting in England, along comes mill mass-manufacturing, coal mining & furnace technology, driven by early steam engines (which could pump water out of mines & blow air in).

Then in the 1770s comes canal mania (allowing you to get your raw materials in to the factory & your goods to market. Early canals in the UK acted almost like conveyor belts between factories, seen strikingly (even today) in Birmingham, England. Impossible to underestimate the impact the canals had on the rise of the industrial revolution in Britain.

In the 1840 along come the railways, driven by the perfection of the steam engine.

70 years later, and we have the rise of air & road transport.

Another 70 years takes us to 1980 and the computer/Internet revolution has taken off.

If my ‘living memory’ theory is correct, expect another major shift around 2050 — maybe The Singularity finally arrives? A little later than some expected, but hey, it’s got to fit in with Denny’s Law.

Andrew Denny