Tool Time

Day 146 Week 21 Q2 Saturday, May 27, 2023

Are the importance of tools. The right tools can make a job so much easier. And the tools are changing every day. What may turn out to be one of the greatest tools in history, artificial intelligence, it’s not even well enough understood to be able to predict exactly how useful it will be, nor how dangerous it will be.  But leaving aside AI for the time being, there is a trend for tools to become less and less expensive and better and better. Perhaps this is because of the flattening of the world drastically lowering the costs of producing manufactured goods, and no total contributor is the ability to model something before making it. It is a lot easier to fix something before it is physically manifested.

Many creative outliers are not only expert tool users but also toolmakers. Creating the ability to create is extremely satisfying, making the act of being a tool-maker extremely seductive. In many dimensions, the tremendous improvements in batteries have radically changed things.  For example, there are now battery, operated recording studios, lawnmowers, and chainsaws, and, of course, cars and even airplanes.

You may be shocked if you have been using the same tools for years and not looking at what is available. Much of what used to require a laboratory or studio cannot be done anywhere you want. No longer are extremely expensive microphones and cameras necessary to produce extremely high-quality work. And the tool that has changed the most for me is the computer.

My thousand-dollar laptop is 1 million times more powerful than my million-dollar mini computer in grad school. It used to take me 20 minutes to analyze a 20 ms sound wave, and now it can be done in real-time. Hmm, 60,000 times faster and a thousand times cheaper! This is already 60 million times better, which does not include the cost and speed of storage. When I was at Bose in the 1980s, I had to appear before a capital committee to get approval for a 64-kB expansion for $25,000.  Today you can buy 64 GB memory sticks for under $15. This is 1 million times the memory for less than 1000th the cost. They’re not that many things that have a factor of 1 billion improvement that we experience. 

So pay attention to the available tools because they might make your job not just twice as fast but 200 times as fast or 2000 times as fast. And if this is true, and you are not paying attention to these improvements while others are, you will not be able to compete in the market for much longer. Many friends tell themselves they don’t need to pay attention to these things, as they don’t affect me. They are wrong!

It is truly tool time now because the tools are now available to change the world every moment.