Speed of Light, Span of Life Govern New Economy

VENICE, ITALY (03/21/2000) - In an age of material plenty, only two factors can limit the growth of the new economy: the speed of light and the span of human life.

"Every era is marked by a specific set of abundances and scarcities," said George Gilder, president of Gilder Technology Group, speaking at the International Data Corp. (IDC) European Telecoms Forum 2000 here today.

"In an age of material abundance, what's scarce is time: the two boundaries of the information economy are the speed of light and the span of life."

Rapid advances in microprocessor clock rates mean that "this is the last generation when a single clock pulse can propagate across an entire chip in the time of a single gate delay," Gilder said. There is no longer time for the signal to make its way off the chip.

This means that, in the future, the smallest computers will be the fastest, he said. This was good news for Europe, as the smallest computer in common use is the digital mobile phone -- and in Europe, he noted, they are everywhere.

The other scarcity is the span of human life, a biological limit translated in business as the customer's time, Gilder said.

"The current rule in many businesses is to waste a customer's time: It is treated as an externality, like air and water," he said.

IDC's European Telecoms Forum 2000, in Venice, Italy, finishes today.

IDC is a subsidiary of International Data Group, the parent company of the IDG News Service.

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