Claasen's law

Weekly I/O#56

Claasen's law: Usefulness = log(Technology)

Article: It’s elementary

Theo A. C. M. Claasen, CTO of Philips Semiconductors in 1999, quoted this Logarithmic Law of Usefulness, where usefulness is defined as the perceived value of a new technology compared to its alternatives, measured by its daily-life importance, ease of use, and entertainment value.

Classen argues that a linear improvement in technology's usefulness requires an exponential amount of technological advancements. He gives examples like system performance improves noticeably only if we add memory in increments of 10 or 100 and the bandwidth required for video calls compared with audio calls.

This law is a useful heuristic for evaluating new technology. No matter how magical a new technology is (said self-driving car, AR/VR, LLM), it takes exponential advancement to translate the magic into something useful.

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