Documenting the Coming Singularity

Friday, December 31, 2010

The Next 25 Years (Ray Kurzweil)

NYT - 12.28.2010 by Ray Kurzweil)

Thirty years ago, I realized that timing was the key to success as an inventor. Most inventions fail because the timing is wrong — the innovation needs to make sense for the world that will exist when the project is finished.

Consider how quickly the world changes; just a few years ago, most people didn’t use social networks, wikis or blogs. As an engineer, I gathered a lot of data to try to make sense of technology trends, and found a significant exception to the notion that “you can’t predict the future.”

If you plot the basic measures of the price to performance and capacity of information technologies (for example, computer instructions per second per constant dollar, bits of memory per dollar, or the total number of bits being moved around over the Internet), they follow remarkably smooth — and foreseeable — trajectories. This observation goes well beyond Moore’s Law (which says you can place twice as many transistors on an integrated circuit every two years); in the case of computation, it goes back to the 1890 American census, long before Gordon Moore was even born.

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