Let’s all “stare into the abyss and chew on glass!” That’s how Elon Musk depicts the distress of people faced with threats to the survival of their paradigms, their companies, and even our precious planet. But don’t fear cutting-edge technology. Profit from it, advises George Gilder, editor of Gilder’s Technology Report.
Today, the abyss-staring and glass-chewing focuses on artificial intelligence (AI) and climate change angst. The cowering titans fear ghosts and even aliens: Computer programs gaining consciousness and stabbing us in the virtual backplane. Bad weather stampeding beyond human ken or control as a result of humans eating, heating, procreating, and breathing out CO2.
Widely invoked is the “precautionary principle” of emergency socialism: “Better safe than sorry.”
For investors, the precautionary rule can be interpreted as, “Buy the stocks of the goliaths that rule the summits of the prevailing markets.” That’s the leaders of the Dow and the S&P. Their lobbyists and bureaucracies say they can save you from all dangerous and disruptive surprises hatching from irresponsible entrepreneurs below. Those new guys are out-of-control. ‘Fear them,” we are told.
By contrast, our rule is to invest in those wild and crazy guys. “Creativity always comes as a surprise to us. If it didn’t,” as Princeton’s Albert Hirschman wrote, “we wouldn’t need it and government planning would work.” In our view, out-of-control beats bureaucracy every time.
Leaving the elites and their experts chewing on glass, we are moving on to a new carbon age, required by the coming end of the copper and silicon age. The providential rise of graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, will revitalize all industries and create a new carbon economy.
Craig Mundie, then Microsoft’s Chief Technology Officer, outlined the problem at my COSM conference in 2019: The heat barrier at the end of Moore’s Law: “We have now run into a brick wall. What brought all of us faster computing was raising the CPU’s clock rate.”
“A faster clock increased power consumption. We could only increase the clock rate without consuming more power because we could lower the voltage. But we can’t do that anymore because we’re down into electron volts where quantum uncertainty takes over. If you can’t lower the voltage, you can’t raise the clock rate without using a lot more power.”
That’s amps times volts, which equals watts, which means heat. Not global warming; that’s cool compared to most of human history. I’m old enough to recall the “Medieval Climate Optimum” in the 15th century. What we should worry about is electrical warming. At a certain point, everything gets red hot. And then white hot.
It’s already happening. Your cloudy data center, besieged by massive demand for Artificial Intelligence—hey, it’s better than no intelligence at all—is already experiencing multi-million-dollar equipment failures as it generates more heat than light.
Readers of my newsletter will recognize the providential properties of graphene. It is as stiff as diamond, far thinner than paper, as flexible as rubber, and commands a million times more current density than copper. Of all elements, it has the largest area for its weight.
My “Moonshots” guide John Schroeter summed up the promise of graphene to revolutionize electronics with 100 times better internet speeds, a thousandfold better cameras, better earphones, better foldable touchscreens, cooler mobile and even nano-ribbon antennas, cheap printable Wi-Fi systems, and supercapacitor instant chargers.
And this is just the beginning of the saga of graphene, pioneering a new carbon age.