Sunday, February 08, 2015

Future-shock, accelerated?

Is the pace of technology suddenly accelerating? A case can be made for it:

The Acceleration of Acceleration: How The Future Is Arriving Far Faster Than Expected
One of the things that happens when you write books about the future is you get to watch your predictions fail. This is nothing new, of course, but what’s different this time around is the direction of those failures.

Used to be, folks were way too bullish about technology and way too optimistic with their predictions. Flying cars and Mars missions being two classic—they should be here by now—examples. The Jetsons being another.

But today, the exact opposite is happening.

Take Abundance. In 2011, when Peter Diamandis and I were writing that book, we were somewhat cautious with our vision for robotics, arguing that we were still ten to fifteen years away a major shift.

And we were wrong.

Just three years later, Google went on a buying spree, purchasing eight different robotics companies in less than six months, Amazon decided it was time to get into the drone delivery (aka flying robots) business, and Rethink Robotics released Baxter (a story explored in my new release Bold), the first user-friendly industrial robot to hit the market.

Baxter was the final straw. With a price tag of just $22,000 and a user-friendly interface a child could operate, this robot is already making the type of impact we were certain would show up around 2025.

And we’re not the only ones having this experience.

Earlier this year, Ken Goffman—aka RU Sirius—the founder of that original cyberpunk journal Mondo 2000 and longtime science, technology and culture author—published Transcendence, a fantastic compendium on transformative technology. Goffman has spent nearly 40 years working on the cutting edge of the cutting edge and is arguably one of a handful of people on the planet whose futurist credentials are truly unassailable—yet he too found himself way too conservative with his futurism.

You really have to stop and think about this for a moment. For the first time in history, the world’s leading experts on accelerating technology are consistently finding themselves too conservative in their predictions about the future of technology.

This is more than a little peculiar. It tells us that the accelerating change we’re seeing in the world is itself accelerating. And this tells us something deep and wild and important about the future that’s coming for us.

So important, in fact, that I asked Ken to write up his experience with this phenomenon. In his always lucid and always funny own words, here’s his take on the dizzying vertigo that is tomorrow showing up today:


Read the whole thing, for embedded links and more examples of this phenomena, and what it means for the future.

It a way, this also relates to this article: Welcome to the Failure Age!, that I blogged about recently. It's about the relationship between technological advancement and the evolution of economics and the ways both shape our societies. About how technological advancements cause failures of older technologies, and how that causes massive disruptions in the workforce and economies, locally and globally.

Our societies are struggling with ways to deal with that, and now that the pace of change is accelerating (according to both of these articles) it's more important than ever to understand this technological/economic relationship, and how we may cope with the many possibilities it's creating in the near future.

I really recommend this article; it's not pessimistic! I think it identifies the dynamics involved very well, and is optimistic that we can find ways to adapt, if we remain flexible and adaptable, and able to change with the changes. If we can, many good things may become possible.


No comments: