How can OSS keep up with exponential progress?

We’ve all heard of Moore’s Law, which predicts the semiconductor industry’s ability to exponentially increase transistor density in an integrated circuit. “Moore’s prediction proved accurate for several decades, and has been used in the semiconductor industry to guide long-term planning and to set targets for research and development. Advancements in digital electronics are strongly linked to Moore’s law: quality-adjusted microprocessor prices, memory capacity, sensors and even the number and size of pixels in digital cameras… Moore’s law describes a driving force of technological and social change, productivity, and economic growth.”

It’s exponentiality has also proven to be helpful for long-term planning in many industries that rely on electronics / computing and that includes the communications industry. By nature, we tend to think in linear terms and exponentiality is harder for us to comprehend (as shown with the old anecdote about the number of grains of wheat on a chessboard).

The problem, as described in a great article on SingularityHub is that the exponentiality of technological progress tends to surprise us as change initially creeps up on us, then overwhelms us in situations like this:
Singularity Hub's power law diagram

The level of complexity that has hit OSS in the last decade has been profound and to be honest, has probably overwhelmed the linear thinking models we’ve applied to OSS. The continued growth from technologies such as network virtualisation, Internet of Things, etc is going to lead to a touchpoint explosion that will make the next few years even more difficult for our current OSS models (especially for the many tools that exist today that have evolved from decade-old frameworks).

Countering exponential growth requires exponential thinking. We know we’re going to deal with vastly greater touch-points and vastly greater variants and vastly greater complexity (see more in the triple-constraint of OSS). Too many OSS projects are already buckling under the weight of this complexity.

Small-grid OSS is my great hope, as well as widespread machine-learning to augment our linear thinking. But these are just a starting-point that I’ll continue to explore and report on here on PAOSS.

I’d love to hear your exponential thoughts on our industry and what our OSS need to do to keep pace.

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