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The Decline of Computers as a General Purpose Technology

January 10, 2023

The general-purposeness of today’s computers comes from technical achievements, but also from a mutually-reinforcing economic cycle, where product improvement and market growth fuel each other.

This article argues that technological and economic forces are now pushing computing away from being general purpose and towards specialization. This fragmentation process, driven by the breakdowns in Moore’s Law and Dennard Scaling, has already begun and threatens to divide computing into ‘fast lane’ applications that get powerful specialized processors and ‘slow lane’ applications that get stuck using general purpose processors whose progress fades.