8 Important Laws of Technology and Computing Explained

Certain laws define the way things work in every sphere of existence. The laws of physics, nature, mathematics, evolution, etc., all explain a range of phenomena in their respective fields.

These laws might not necessarily bind you like the legal framework of governments because they’re not policies. Instead, they can be defined as observable patterns that repeat in specific settings.

Tech and cyberspace are no different. They have laws and similar patterns. Some of them are entertaining, some are consequential, and the rest are an ironic combination of both.

1. Moore’s Law

Moore’s law was formulated in 1965 by the former CEO of Intel and co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor, Gordon Moore. It states that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit would double every year. It was more of an observation-based prediction than an empirically sound conclusion.

Moore’s law, however, held true for a decade before Moore revised it in 1975. The updated version states that the number of transistors would continue to double every two years instead of one. And half a century later, this still holds true.

Given the physical limitations of matter, time, and space, it won’t be long before Moore’s Law is rendered outdated and irrelevant unless a new way is invented. Even then, it would mean we’re either ditching the material chips or circumventing the circuits to save more space.

2. Kryder’s Law

Mark Kryder believed that the magnetic disk’s areal storage density would double every thirteen months. Kryder’s law came out and gained popularity in 2005.

Kryder was optimistic enough to believe that by the year 2020, we’d be able to have 40 terabytes of storage in a 2.5-inch disk drive, and it would only cost us $40. Since then, the rate of growth of disk storage was termed Kryder’s rate.

This law, however, has long gone obsolete in many industries. While the overall storage capacity continues to grow, Kryder’s predictions have failed to become a reality, and Kryder’s rate has declined significantly over the years leading up to 2020 and today.

3. Metcalfe’s Law

According to Metcalfe, the value of a network is directly proportional to the square of its members. He did his math! Metcalfe’s law is more about the worth of networks than technical advancements in IT.

Even though Metcalfe was talking about telecommunications, the law holds true in every network. Take social media, for example; if Reddit and Quora had only one user, they wouldn’t be anything of use.

Let’s look at it this way; if our schoolmates weren’t on Facebook, we probably would’ve never joined it. If LinkedIn had no users, it would be worthless to both job seekers and recruiters. If no one on earth used mobile phones except you, yours wouldn’t function or serve its purpose.

4. Wirth’s Law

A Swiss computer scientist named Niklaus Wirth gave us a reality check in 1995. He pointed out that the rate of software slowing down is more rapid than the rate of hardware getting faster.

In other words, the software is getting slower and cannot catch up with the hardware’s increasing speed. Due to the increasing complexity of software, we experience the same speed in computers as we did a few years ago despite the improved hardware and increased storage.

What do we get out of that complexity? Well, more options, more antimalware, higher security against evolved cybercriminals, a greater number of bugs in need of repair, and so on.

5. Murphy’s Law

American aerospace engineer Edward A. Murphy Jr. left us a myriad of laws. The key takeaway from all of Murphy’s laws is that he probably was a pessimistic ball of anxiety, or maybe a very unlucky man, or both.

Let’s look at a few examples:

  • “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.”
  • “It is impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.”
  • “Technology is dominated by those who manage what they do not understand.”
  • “If you can think of four ways that something can go wrong, it will go wrong in the fifth way.”
  • “A failure will not appear till a unit has passed final inspection.”
  • “The degree of technical competence is inversely proportional to the level of management.”
  • “Everything takes longer than you think.”
  • “Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.”
  • “The light at the end of the tunnel is only the light of an oncoming train.”

We don’t know what the deal with Murphy was, but he sure has some relatable insights for those who can’t afford to risk it. Speaking of risks, let’s move on to our next law.

6. Cunningham’s Law

If you have social anxiety or are very cautious about your reputation, Cunningham might look like that daredevil badass you secretly envy.

His advice? “The best way to get the right answer on the internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.”

Imagine going onto a thread with all the intellectuals discussing a topic you can’t quite follow and then dropping a ridiculously wrong idea only to have them misguide you out of sarcasm.

7. Fitt’s Law

Fitt’s law comes in handy to graphical user interface and user experience experts. According to this law, the time it takes for a pointer to move from its location to a target is proportional to the distance toward the target and the size of the target.

Distance is an obvious measure, but the size of the target relates to the probability of error. That means if an ad has a tiny “close” button, my fat thumb will likely touch something else in an attempt to close it.

Correcting or trying to avoid that error will increase the time I take to select the target. That’s why big buttons and icons are user-friendly.

8. Hypponen’s Law

A simple yet invaluable insight for the common users came out in 2016 as a tweet and became known as Hypponen’s Law: if it’s smart, it’s hackable. In other words, the intelligent technology we use is vulnerable to hackers.

This applies to the Internet of Things, phones, computers, laptops, networking systems, homes, cars, security systems, cleaning bots, and many more than we’d like to imagine.

Final Thoughts on Internet Laws

There are many more laws we could’ve talked about, but we’d run out of time and space if we did. But as you can see, some laws have a touch of humor, while others have deeper insights. Some of these laws will no longer be valid after a few years, so researchers will have to introduce new rules to predict the future of computing and the internet.

Faster, Thinner, Cheaper: Is Koomey’s Law the New Moore’s Law?

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About The Author

Fawad Ali
(32 Articles Published)

Fawad is an IT & Communication engineer, aspiring entrepreneur, and a writer. He entered the arena of content writing in 2017 and has worked with two digital marketing agencies and numerous B2B & B2C clients since then. He writes about Security and Tech at MUO, with the aim to educate, entertain, and engage the audience.

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Fawad Ali