Gates Says Geeks Have Been Spoiled by Moore's Law

Paul Lilly

Despite arguments over the technicalities of Moore's Law, the bottom line is we've seen fairly consistent performance increases throughout the years in the microprocessor industry. The problem with this, says Bill Gates, is that the same expectations can't be applied to other tech sectors.

"We've all been spoiled and deeply confused by the IT model," Gates said in response to a question from the audience during last week's Techonomy conference. "Exponential improvement -- that is rare."

That isn't to say that certain tech segments never see that kind of growth, and according to Gates, you can "see it in hard disk storage, fiber capacity, gene-sequencing rates, biological databases, [and] improvements in modeling software," to name a few. But in other areas, like battery development, exponential growth just isn't a reality.

"They [batteries] haven't improved hardly at all," Gates said. "There are deep physical limits. I am funding five battery start-ups and there are probably 50 out there. [But] that is a very tough problem. It may not be solvable in any sort of economic way."

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