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There’s a difference between things being theoretically unlimited and virtually unlimited. The universe is infinite. It goes on forever. Most things, however, are not unlimited but might feel virtually unlimited.
If you live in a relatively modern society, then access to water is practically unlimited. When you move into a house, your question won’t be ‘how much water is available through the faucet?’ because the honest answer would be ‘more than you have use for, so virtually unlimited.’
My phone comes with an unlimited data plan. Not really though, because it’s actually capped at 75GB. But even in my busiest months, when I’m running around and using my data like crazy, I haven’t even been able to use 30% of that. So I stopped looking at my usage and now consider it virtually unlimited.
My phone and iPad come with plenty of gigabytes of storage. I paid attention to it when I bought them, but I know I’ve never used more than 50% of it… and then I promptly forgot how much it actually was. Effectively I have unlimited storage on my mobile devices, as I never fill them, but also because most of my data now exists in the cloud.
On particularly busy days I might work up to 10 to 12 hours a day. The new laptops from Apple promise 14-hour battery life, so effectively, they have an unlimited battery if you manage to charge them overnight, as I have a habit of doing.
This age of technological abundance makes me think back to when I was graduating from art school. Back then, I liked to generate black and white images on my computer. Doesn’t sound that fancy or too ambitious of an undertaking, but just rotating an image would take my Macintosh Plus more than an hour to calculate.
A friend of mine joked that we were living in the era of waiting for our computers. Looking back to the incredible amount of time I wasted staring at the loading icon, it’s obvious we’ve long passed that era. In fact, I think we’re about to cross over into a new era; the one of unlimited storage and speed.
Although there are always some specialists that need computers to be faster, most of us are casual users, and for us, this is the dawn of a new era.
Computer specs will start mattering less until, finally, they become irrelevant. A computer will either work, or it won’t. New ones will be faster and more efficient, but the impact of that will be negligent on your daily life. Computers will be ever-present, always connected, have unlimited storage, and everything you do will be instantaneous.
I once had to wait an hour to rotate a black and white image, but today I can rotate, edit, and share a high definition movie, on my iPhone, in real-time — and even in color!
We’ve waited a while for computers to stop making us wait, but that wait is now over. Welcome to the era of instant and (virtually) limitless computational power.
Published November 26, 2020 — 16:05 UTC