Technological growth is exponential. It may soon be near-vertical.
First off, let’s get things straight for poor old Thomas Watson of IBM. Probably the most famously fallible quote, it has never actually been proven if he said it or not. But it’s true that around the same time, his peers and colleagues were cited making, what may seem to the modern day person, foolhardy predictions of the future. In truth, if he had made this statement in 1948 and had referred to computers the size of a building, he was correct for around a decade. So let’s give him due credit.
Exponential technology growth is proven. Known as Moore’s law, shows consistently that the number of transistors in an integrated circuit doubles every two years. Every two years! First made in 1975, Moore’s prediction held true for decades, but the limits of physical technology and manufacturing processes mean progress has slowed to a 2.5 year cycle according to Intel’s CEO. The limits of silicon technology are arguably the limiting factor – but as proven in the evolution of machines, a solution is more than likely to emerge. But until then, does this mean technology growth will slow down? Quite the opposite. Multi-threading with multiple core processors means continued exponential growth in computing power continues. An incredible force driving advancement across every modern day industry.
Futurists and even many realists predict a vastly different world in twenty years, let alone 100. Continued exponential growth would mean an almost vertical trajectory in technological evolution which is often referred to as Technological Singularity. A point at which evolution of science has progressed so quickly that we enter the realms of artificial intelligence and interstellar travel. Whilst the latter may seem far fetched to many earth dwellers like me, the sheer advancement in more domestic technologies such as mobile communications, the internet and the combustion engine (or electric motor!) proves that exceeding technological expectations is happening day in, day out.
Ray Kurzweil, renowned computer scientist, inventor, author and futurist, is an advocate of exponential advance, theorising hundreds of optimistic predictions in this regard. His work to expand Moore’s law into numerous other computer metrics has served to reinforce the potential for the technological singularity. He believes that by 2029 we will have fully reverse-engineered, modelled and simulated the human brain – allowing the future computers to harness artificial intelligence whilst retaining and applying the world’s knowledge in an instant. It’s worth watching his video here.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. For now, at UtilityClick, we’ll continue to reverse engineer the utility procurement sector before moving onto nano technology and time travel!