Thursday, November 25, 2004

Riding The Exponential Wave...

I was having a very interesting conversation on MSN about mortality, technological progress, the end of the universe, etc., and the subject of exponential technological growth came up. I had never really thought about it before, but once I did, I thought it was pretty fascinating that technological progress maps out to orders of magnitude almost exactly. Essentially, this is what I came up with:

10,000,000 years to invent language
1,000,000 years to invent fire
100,000 years to invent social structures, homes, simple machines
10,000 years to invent cities and civilizations
1,000 years to invent gunpowder and the steam engine
100 years to invent airplanes, computers, and nuclear power

So, I ask, what will happen in the next ten years? And in the year after that? What about a month later? Three days more? It's kind of scary, and unless this curve does some serious levelling off... Well, suffice it to say that in 2020 we won't even recognize the place.


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