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  • Kirk Hartley

Exponential Change in Computing Power – Lawyers Beware

How much faster and smaller is a 2014 supercomputer when compared to a 2011 supercomputer? The quick answer is:  24x faster, and 90% smaller.

Want proof? Consider the following excerpt from an American Lawyer article by Susan Beck regarding the extent to which computers will replace lawyers; the relevant part of the article focuses on Watson, the IBM supercomputer that played and won Jeopardy in 2011:

“Scott Ferrauiola is the lead lawyer for IBM’s 
Watson project and Stephen Gold is the company’s vice president of marketing and sales operations for Watson Solutions. In a discussion about Watson, they point out that the technology has made huge advances since it was displayed on “Jeopardy” in 2011. “On ‘Jeopardy’ it read 200 million pages of data in three seconds,” says Gold. “Now [the machine] is 90 percent smaller and 24 times faster.” Ferrauiola adds, “One way to think about it is that the machine used on ‘Jeopardy’ filled a room. Now it would fill three pizza boxes.”

Think about the exponential scale of some of  that change. 24x faster, in 3 years.  Are you 24x faster at anything you do today compared to three years ago? Are you 2x faster at anything you do? 5X?

Also not so bad is 90 percent smaller, in 3 years.

The scale and impact of exponential change is hard for humans to grasp. But it is happening.

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About Kirk

Since becoming a lawyer in 1983, Kirk’s over 30 years of practice have focused on advising a wide range of corporations, associations, and individuals (as both plaintiffs and defendants) on both tort and commercial law issues centered around “mass torts.”

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