A colleague of mine will have the good fortune of a RAM upgrade in her computer today, bringing the device up to a respectable 16GB in total. However, given the number of phones that are starting to ship with as much as 12GB right from the factory, it seems bizarre that the digital devices that we use at the day job continue to be hindered by a lack of relatively inexpensive upgrades. Given the complexity of the tasks we ask from our computers, everybody should have at least 32GB in their notebook or desktop machines1.
The reasoning behind this is pretty simple, but I'm going to over-simplify it: the more RAM a device has, the faster it is.
Before using my current notebook, I was using one of two devices with 8GB of memory. While these machines had enough processing power to do a good bit of what I was asking, the lack of RAM made working with large sets of data rather time consuming. Often times I would find myself sending several gigabytes of data to the upstairs server, with its 32GB of RAM and really fast SSDs, in order to process the results without negatively impacting the performance of the main work notebook. The new machine with its 32GB of RAM has never run out of capacity regardless of how much I've thrown at it. More than this, memory is rarely flushed back to disk for later retrieval, making the system performant in every metric that counts. Is there a large Excel file to work with? Does an 80GB database need to be restored and processed? Will there be a series of videos to convert for use as a web-embedded resource? It really shouldn't matter. People deserve to have a machine that can keep up with them.
Generally the argument that comes up when I make statements like this is along the lines of "Well, not everyone is working with a lot of data. Some people just like to use Facebook and watch YouTube.". Fair enough. But why should anyone want to keep their machines limited if they're going to be used for any sort of work? Yes, there will be "wasted" memory sitting in machines if everyone has 32GB (or more), but it's better than the alternative.
I say this fully understanding that a lot of modern motherboards simply cannot handle more than 16GB for various reasons. The fact remains that people should have ample RAM.