Speed, I am Speed

Is it just me, or have you noticed that things are moving much faster than they used to? Of course I’m getting older (we all are by the way), and everyone knows the older you get the faster time seems to pass. But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the velocity at which technology and computing are advancing, and how that will have significant implications on medicine, media and culture. Time has not been altered. There are still 24 hours in each day and the seasons seem to be turning at their normal pace. But there are now so many people working and collaborating to solve problems that technology now has it’s own time, and it’s highly accelerated. The web has been a big factor here. It is easy to post out projects or problems, and when you do you get hundreds of people responding. Scientists are and have always been the leaders in collaboration, after all the web was created by and for them. The rest of us just got an incredible benefit.

Earlier this year I was at an Interwoven conference in San Francisco. Interwoven is a global organization and a leader in providing firms with solutions to effectively leverage their content to drive business results and improve the customer experience. I have recently begun to work with them and so was invited to attend their leadership conference. On the second day Ray Kurzweil gave an amazing presentation called Early in the Twenty-First Century, Knowledge and Content will Underlie Everything of Value. Ray is an inventor, futurist, business man, many more things, and overall I would say a genius.I was so relieved to see his presentation because it validated what I had suspected along. Things are increasing in speed. He said so many things like, “Information technologies (of all kinds) double their power (price performance, capacity, bandwidth) every year.” This slide of Mr. Kurzweil’s illustrates it nicely.


According to Kurzweil, “Every form of communications technology is doubling in price-performance, bandwidth, capacity every 12 months.” He spoke of the work going on to reverse engineer the brain with powerful computers, and by 2010, computers disappear into our bodies. And by 2029 there will be an intimate merger of man and machine. The human brain will be completely reverse engineered, and $1,000 of computation will equal 1,000 times the human brain, illustrated by this slide


Things are going faster. We can expect to see some exciting changes over the next 20 years or so, and we should prepare ourselves and our children for it. I will leave you with one last quote from Mr. Kurzweil, “If you understand something in just one way, you don’t understand it at all.”Link to Ray’s site here.