Written by Paul Leacock, Co-founder & General Manager, Blacksmith
I don’t know about you but I feel like every year things are changing faster and faster. Turns out I’m not losing my mind. According to author, computer scientist and futurist, Ray Kurzwiel human progress is speeding up fast…real fast.
One of the many hats I wear at Blacksmith is ‘resident futurist’ and I do a lot of research and reading on the topic of the future to help our team and clients make sense of what’s happening not only now but in one, two or even ten years from now. It’s a part of my job I love and get very excited about.
After a few years of researching and reading you get a feel for who the people to watch are and I’ve long been an avid follower of Ray Kurzweil’s work. You know that game people play at dinner parties where you ask your guests who they would invite to dinner if they could invite anyone throughout human history – well Kurzweil would be on my ‘top five list’. He’s invented just about everything and as well as being an author, computer scientist and futurist and he’s currently the Director of Engineering at Google, helping them with new technology development.
One of the most interesting things about Kurzweil is that researchers have gone back and looked at his predictions about where technologies are going since the early 90’s and found he has an 86% accuracy rate…that’s an incredible achievement and means when Kurzweil talks, people listen.
One of Kurzweil’s big ideas is The Law of Accelerating Returns. The Law of Accelerating Returns describes a pattern of human progress moving quicker and quicker as time goes on. This happens because more advanced societies have the ability to progress at a faster rate than less advanced societies BECAUSE they are more advanced.
Kurzweil suggests that the progress of the entire 20th century would have been achieved in only 20 years at the rate of advancement in the year 2000.
Let me just repeat that as it’s a bit to get your head around…. Kurzweil suggests that the progress of the entire 20th century would have been achieved in only 20 years at the rate of advancement in the year 2000.
In other words, by the year 2000, the rate of progress was five times faster than the average rate of progress during the 20th century. He believes another 20th century worth of progress happened between 2000 and 2014 and that another 20th century worth of progress will happen by the year 2021.
In a couple of decades, he believes a 20th century worth of progress will happen multiple times a year. All in all, because of the law of accelerating returns, Kurzweil believes that the 21st Century will achieve 1000 times the progress of the 20th century.
Remember, this is from the guy who has 86% accuracy rate at predicting future trends.
If Kurzweil and other thought leaders who agree with him are correct, then 2050 will be a very different world than the one we all live in today. In fact, the next five years could see a very different world than the one we live in today.
So, I know what you’re asking yourself right now, who are the other four people I would invite to my imaginary dinner party? That’s the topic of another blog so keep an eye out for a future newsletter with my top five dinner party guests and why I would choose them.
Who would be on your list?