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Saturday, May 06, 2006


May I respond to David Smith's article (23rd April) on the astonishing 5% rate of world average growth (& our own mediocre one of 2.2%). He says "the biggest puzzle about this question is why it is happening at all". I suggest that this is probably the result of what is known as Moore's Law. Technically it isn't a law at all, since it has no theoretical underpinnings, but is "only" an observed fact that, since at least the end of WW2 - for a fixed real cost, computer capacity has doubled every 18 months. Computer designers think that, with understood future possibilities, this is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.

It is generally accepted that technological progress is the ultimate driver of growth. As computerisation plays a far greater part in our lives & economy than it did 50 years ago we should expect it to exercise an increasing effect on growth. If so the future is indeed rosy. This would suggest that the astonishing thing, bearing in mind that we have a computer growth rate of 50% per annum, may not be that the world growth, at 5% is so high, but that it is so low.
The original article by David Smith If the world never had it so good why isn't Britain Doing Better is on a subject I have discussed before - how poor by world standards our growth is. I am very pleased to see my letter published. I guess I am not the first to draw this conclusion (Google has 31,700 items to the words Moore's Law & economic growth but it was original to me & this may well be the first UK newspaper publication. As a theory it is important because it is in complete opposition to the polically accepted Limits to Growth scenario. I will be on my opinion over 5 or 50 years & with good odds on longer. (5% growth over 50 years would be 1,100%)

I am also pleased in that this is my first in the Sunday Times. Having run the gamut from the Morning Star to this is rather fun. It seems as if I am collecting letters the way some people collect train numbers. Unfortunately, though I was rung up (a common precaution to ensure the letter is really written by the name given) I thought it hadn't been used. It turns out that it had only been printed in the English edition - the Scots one, which used many English letters, had ommitted it. I trust they will be more careful in future if only because it is good business to have local letters.

Now (sept 09) there are 203,000 hits on the title of this thread & this at the head so it looks like the idea is getting round.
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