Published on: 07 April 2014 Author: Glyn Taylor
Many predictions of the future are based on exponential trends. A reason most people fail to understand that revolutionary technological advances are right on our doorstep, is because they instinctively don’t see growth as being exponential. We are on the ‘knee of the curve’, and exponential growth is about to sky-rocket our technological advances.
First, let’s establish the basics: The rate that our technological advances are achieved, is increasing. Many studies have tracked the advances of many different measures of information technology, and have identified that performance (in relation to price) doubles on average every 18 months. As the rate of our advances continues to accelerate, the future continues to come faster than we traditionally expect.
When graphing exponential growth, we eventually reach a point where growth seems ‘vertical’. This stage of growth is often refereed to as the Technological Singularity. It is a time that seems incomprehensible, and will be possible through our creating sentient Artificial Intelligence, which will have intelligence level far superior to our own.
Once this is possible, and if it advances in our favour – all of mankind’s most intractable problems will be conquered – We are talking about immortality; curing cancer and all current diseases; correcting global warming; efficiently harnessing the power of the sun for free energy; mind uploading – which will allow us to live in virtual realities, travel deep space, and transfer our minds into alternate bodies/robots (all solving the overpopulation problem).
A perfect future is painted above, and technologically, that future is possible by 2045, as we will explain in this article. But be aware, we have many obstacles to encounter before we get there. To get an idea of those obstacles, read our article, 5 Emerging Technologies that could Destroy the World, and Anti-Technology Terrorism: An Upcoming Global Threat?
How to think exponentially
The way we think, is defined by our traditional, inherent survival instincts. For the need of survival, we have only ever needed to think of growth as being linear. For example, if we build 1 house per day, then in 30 days we will have 30 houses; we eat 1 chicken per day, then we need 30 for a months supply.
So, when it comes to thinking about how our technology will advance, we inherently think linearly. We think that, (hypothetically) if a computer held 1GB of memory in the year 2001, and in 2010 it held 512GB, then in 2020 it will hold about 1,000GB. That is incorrect. By the year 2020, with memory capacity having grown exponentially, a computer would hold 524,288GB of memory. And when we reach the year 2030, memory capacity would be over a billion GB – 1,073,741,824GB.
Example – The Evolution of Mobile Technology
Let’s think with those exponential numbers in mind and relate them to our mobile technologies – the technology we generally all carry on our persons at all times. We know how primitive mobile technology was in the year 2001:
In 2001, the tech we always carried was as good as that 1 number: Most of us didn’t even have a mobile phone. They had no cameras and were only used for calls, SMS and Snake. Being able to view web pages on them was unthinkable.
In 2010, it was as good as that 512 number: Smartphones with touchscreens were now popular, with ‘amazing’ 5 megapixel cameras, 1GHz processors, and 3G data connections.
Now, in 2015, they have 20 megapixel cameras, 2.2 GHz processors, far superior UHD screens, and 4G data connections. Not only that, they now have a new friend, in the smartwatch. Imagine what sort of tech we will be carrying around at all times by the year 2020. It should be equal to that 524,288 number, with the augmentation of wearable technologies, and apps massively improved by the Internet of Things and Big Data.
Of course though, not all technologies advance at an exponential rate – batteries, for example. The technologies that are improving exponentially though, such as the power/size/price of computer chips, will aid in the research for other advances – such as nanotechnologies, which will contribute to the improvement of other technologies, including batteries.
Take a look at Ray Kurzweil’s overview of our technological exponential growth.
Another great video about exponential growth is below. It has racked up more than 5,000,000 views and is described as “the most important video you will ever see.
Moore’s Law / Quantum Computing
Currently, the growth in the rate of our technological advance is spearheaded by advances in computer chip technology. Through the tracking of this growth, it has been pronounced ‘Moore’s Law’. At some point in the next decade, the computer chip will reach the maximum level it can advance. But that does not mean that the exponential growth of technological advances will end. Another technology will simply take over the role of spearheading the growth. At around the year 2020, Quantum Computing will take over from the computer chip, and will be far far more advanced. Quantum Computing could even rise the rate of growth higher than the exponential rate.
When will we notice exponential growth?
Although you don’t yet notice exponential growth, soon we will hit a rate of advance that will begin to shock people. It means that we will begin to see the possibilities that are on the horizon and speeding towards us. We will begin to rethink our ideologies and religions. Some will be scared. Some will be excited. All will be panicking. The panic will spark the rapid deployment of new security measures, while others scramble to be the first to acquire the next big weapon technology. It will divide opinion, but hopefully unite governments in a combined effort to fight crime and terrorism. We need to understand this future, or risk being caught off guard by possible future threats.
We will show you what is possible
With the understanding of exponential growth, people tend to look at future possibilities with much more of an open mind. Predictions of the future that were made in the 20th century, were largely made without consideration of trends and what society will want and need as their priority. Flying cars are not needed, and will not be needed for a very long time, if ever. It is not a priority to build them. When people were predicting flying cars, they didn’t even know what would make them fly, or what would even power them.
I would much prefer to have my smartphone, rather than a hover board; a smartphone of which was not even predicted in the Back to the Future Movie. The point is, the latest generation of futurists, should not be prejudged by what previous generations failed to predict. The predictions of the future that are being made now, are far more educated, and based on evidence based trends.
This website displays what is possible, and what dates in the future those possibilities will most likely become reality. Nothing is certain. But if exponential growth continues, everything will be possible.
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