Thursday, March 07, 2013

The World Is No Longer Just Changing, It's Changed.

      My 13 1/2-year-old daughter is not amazed.  She was born in 1999 when technology was suddenly changing very rapidly.  The internet was born 10 years earlier out of the ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency).  The ARPAnet came into being during the 1960's when the Cold War was at its peak.  It was not only a way to link computers at laboratories across the country for the purposes of sharing computing resources, but also decentralized potential wartime command and control to various places throughout the country in the event of a nuclear attack.  It went public in 1989.  Trying to prevent an explosion of one thing had caused what was going to lead to an explosion of another sort.  It would not even be until she was four years old that Web 2.0 would come into being and blogging would be born. That makes my daughter old (I am happy to inform her) -- even older than blogging.

      Some of us in middle age and late middle aged (40-65) are amazed more-so than others.  We have seen much more change in this world (three and a half channels of fuzzy black and white t.v.). Many of us never imagined the machinery of technology would take us so far so quickly.  Some of us are amazed.

       My daughter, today, is not amazed.  Partly because she is only an early teenager, and partly because she has never known anything different.  But what she is discovering is that she is also subject to becoming outdated very quickly. She can already know what it feels like to be me (53-years-old). Things are developing exponentially every two years.  In other words, consider this horseshoer's pricing schedule. 

      The farmer asks the horseshoer how much he will charge him to put four new shoes on his horse?  The horseshoer responds, "How about if I charge you 2 cents for the first nail, 4 cents for the second, and keep on doubling the cost of each nail until I have finished all four shoes with eight nails per shoe?"  That sounded fair enough to the farmer, who had long since gotten pretty rusty at his math.  After putting eight nails in four shoes each, you wouldn't think the farmer would owe the horseshoer $4,294,967,296.00?  That is what technology has been doing, Ray Kurzweil would argue, since the beginning of time, and continues to do every two years.  It doubles, which results in very rapid exponential growth.  Even since my daughter has been born, technology has changed unimaginably fast, and will continue to do so.

-Here is a 2005 lecture by inventor Ray Kurzweil:

    - And then another from 2009:


-And finally an interesting piece by Kevin Kelly:

       Kevin Kelly: The next 5,000 days of the web.  Executive editor of WIRED Magazine. Filmed Dec 2007 
(The "5000 days" is the 13 1/2 years before 2007 - since then we are half-way through the next 5000)
 “It is amazing and we’re not amazed” - Kevin Kelly

The date of the most recent video link above (which is more than several years old) is probably where most of us are now in our present "datedness".  Since then we have progressed exponentially quite a ways farther than that in both the advancements of technology, and in our perspective of it as well.  Below is another batch of slightly more guarded forecasts of the technological impact on both our present and our future.

Here is a recent link to an NPR story (3/16/2013) containing the most recent TEDtalks. which is current.

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