We misunderstand the future. Our ancestors thought that it would be the same as now, and that, in turn, did not differ from the past.
Although technology is evolving exponentially (the value of the growth rate is proportional to the value of this variable), our brains are still thinking linearly. As a result, we have developed a vision for the future, similar to the way we present the stairs: climbing a few steps, we can assume that the more we expect the same step. We believe that every day is about the same as the previous one.
But as Kurzweil writes in his book, “The Singularity is near» ( of The Singularity’s Is in Near ), in a variety of areas of rapid development of technology is constantly accelerating. This led to such a leap in technology and the social sphere, that misunderstanding arises not only between generations, but also within a single generation .
Today, the future does not unfold linearly, but exponentially, so to predict what will happen and when it is now much more difficult. That is why the rate of technical progress we so surprised.
How to prepare for a new future, if we are accustomed to think very differently? To begin with a closer look at what is exponential growth.
What is exponential growth
In contrast to the linear growth, which is due to re-add the same values, the exponential growth – is repeated multiplication of this value. Therefore, a linear increase in the graph will look like a straight line rising up uniformly and exponentially – as a sharply soaring up the line.
Here’s another way to better understand what is exponential growth. Imagine that you are walking on the road with a step size of one meter. Having six steps, you move six meters (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). After another 24 steps you move away from the initial point of 30 meters. It is not difficult to predict where you will be more through the 30 steps. This is the essence of linear growth.
Now imagine that you can double the length of each of the next step. Having six steps, you move by 63 meters, and it is much more than the 6 meters, you would have been moving at a normal pace.
Taking 30 steps, you are now removed from the starting point of a billion meters (one million kilometers) – a distance equal to twenty-six orbits around the Earth. That is the amazing power of exponential growth.
Why do not you believe the predictions of exponential
Note that doubling the amount of your stride length, you will be the next step for each move a distance equal to the sum of all the previous steps. Before you pass the one billion meters (thirtieth step), you will find yourself at the level of 500 million meters (twenty-ninth step). This means that the first steps in comparison with the latter seem tiny. Most of the growth will have a relatively small period of time.
That is why we often do not notice the exponential growth in its early stages. The speed of this process is deceptive: it starts slowly and gradually, at first it is difficult to distinguish from a linear growth. Therefore, the prediction based on the exponential growth rate, seem so incredible.
When scientists do scan the human genome, many critics have noticed in 1990 that the speed with which it was possible then to carry out a study on the completion of the project will require millennia. However, scientists have kept even a little ahead of schedule by themselves term (15 years). The original version was ready in 2003.
Do stop once exponential growth
In practice, the exponential growth can not last forever, but it can last long enough. Robust exponential trend consists of a series of consecutive S-shaped curves of technological life cycle.
Each curve consists of three growth stages – an initial slow growth, a sharp rapid growth and alignment when the technology is already enough worked. These curves are superimposed on each other. When one technology is slowing development, accelerate the development of the other. And each time is required less and less time to reach higher levels of performance.
Kurzweil calls the five technological milestone in the twentieth century:
When one, is replaced by the following technique is exhausting its capabilities.
How to prepare for the future
Be prepared to be surprised.
How, for example, might look like the next five years? One of the conventional ways to predict the future – to recall the past five years and imagine what further developments will continue to grow at the same rate. But now this is not going to work, because she changes the speed of development. Most likely, then, that according to your assumptions, to happen, will happen in three years in the next five years.
For exponential thinking it is not as important any special skills planning (planning and so you know how), and ability to correctly calculate the time. And for this we must not forget that our brains tend to think linearly and adjust their plans for the future exponential.
Why is it important to learn to think exponentially
Our linear thinking brain can bring us a lot of trouble. Linear thinking leads to the fact that not only individuals but businesses and government overtaken by surprise factors, developing exponentially.
Large companies suffer losses due to unexpected competitors, and we are all worried that our future will get out of control. Exponential thinking will help get rid of these troubles and to meet the future head-on.