Pretty soon we will hear Matt talking about the knee-of-the-exponential
The point of this, in terms of technological progress, is that we’ve gotten so accustomed to Moore’s Law that we sometimes overlook the implication that the deeper we get into the chessboard, the bigger the changes. We all know that computers advanced a lot between 1991 and 2011, but we should expect the scale of change over the next 20 years to dwarf those changes. This is a straightforward application of a well-known principle and some pretty basic math, but it’s usually not discussed in quite the right way. We think we’re used to the idea of rapid improvements in information technology, but we’re actually standing on the precipice of changes that are much larger in scale than what we’ve seen thus far.
All ribbing aside, I think the – you ain’t seen nothing yet – point is in fact underappreciated.
One of the things that I feel almost everyday is just how slow it seems like the future is coming. When we project out the current trends we can see really revolutionary stuff is possible in the 20 year horizon. But, as an individual human 20 years is actually a really long time to wait.
It also underscores why long term thinking in general shouldn’t be taken too seriously. And, why long term budget projects are junk.
Almost all of this stuff assumes that technological progress will continue to grow at an exponential rate. If you look under-the-hood then almost all of it implicitly assumes that Moore’s law will continue that whole time, since they are expecting the type of changes associated with faster computer processing to continue.
However, if you believe that then you believe that the long term will be radically different from the current world in terms of actual human experience.
Arguing that we ought to get all exercised now about trade-offs that are going to occur then is just silly. Who even knows what the human scale tradeoffs will be.
Plus, by then any budget proposal you set in place will be subject to political whims of parties whose constituents are really interested in cultural issues like whether or not parents should be allowed to have children without genetically modifying them and the War on Virtual Reality Addiction.