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Digital thinking tools for better decision making
Digital thinking tools for better decision making

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3.3 Speed

Speed refers to the rate at which information can be processed. Mechanisation often brings about huge increases in productivity. For example, in the 19th century, harvesting a ton of grain took 25 person-days. Someone driving a modern combine harvester takes six minutes to achieve the same (Norberg, 2016). This is a productivity increase by a factor of 2000.

The productivity increase in processing data is massively greater. It's hard to make direct comparisons, but the arithmometer mentioned earlier astonished people by its ability to multiply two eight-digit numbers in 18 seconds. Today, the processing unit in a typical smartphone can carry out the equivalent of 5 billion such operations per second.