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Design007-Jan2020

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94 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JANUARY 2020 that the event was bound to happen. It con- forms well to the adage "Hindsight is 20/20." Thus, while such events are rare, in general, they often play a larger role in reshaping or redirecting the arc of progress than routine or normal evolutionary events. Consider the following events in our world of electronics. Switches were always mechani- cal until they were electrical, and they were then based on vacuum tube technology un- til they were based on transistor technology. What might be next? People are working with photonics now, for example. Electrical connections were originally made point to point using wires, and then they made using printing technology and conductive inks, followed by them being etched; now, they are increasingly being printed again. Things cycle. But what might be next? With the continuous re- duction of semiconduc- tor devices and the rise of wireless communica- tions and IoT, the spac- es that surround us in everyday life could rep- resent the next genera- tion of connection. Further, through-hole component technolo- gy was overtaken and replaced by surface- mount component tech- nology. Peripheral lead- ed components are be- ing supplanted by area array components that use board area more ef- ficiently. Then came stacking and 2.5D and 3D package structures. Again, what might be next? Chiplets is the latest topic of high interest. It is a concept I have a personal interest in hav- ing proposed "disintegrating circuits" almost a decade ago to fit into the Occam process con- cept. Positing the prospective benefit of en- abling designers to execute their designs using the least number of transistors possible, and even using early nodes of semiconductor tech- nology, helped to make electronics much more Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It is a topic I have explored in the past, but it is also one that needs to be revisited from time to time so that the lessons of history are not for- gotten. The term "black swan" is a reference that has been traced to the Roman poet Juvenal who wrote, "A good person is as rare as a black swan." While not necessarily a misanthrope, it is evident that he was at least a reasonably well-studied observer of human nature and would likely have taken the current political situation in Washington D.C. as predictable. Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and the use of the black swan analogy as a refer- ence to something exceedingly rare surfaces in 16th century London, at which time the term was used to describe an occurrence or event deemed impossible. This can be attributed to the fact that the common- ly held perception at the time was that all swans were white and that black swans did not ex- ist. However, that per- ception was eventually proved wrong. There are indeed black swans, just not all that many. The Black Swan ex- plores and examines the disproportionate effect of rare and largely un- predictable events that have ultimately wound up redirecting and even fundamentally reshap- ing science, technology, and history itself. Ta- leb also discusses the various human psycho- logical biases that blind us to the very exis- tence of uncertainty and even conspire to make us sleepily unaware of the impact of such rare events even as they are occurring right under our noses. Interestingly, when they are finally recog- nized for what they are, the events are then typically viewed retrospectively as predictable, with many suggesting that they knew all along

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