Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

20.000 Years Crammed Into A Century

Although one century lasts for a 100 years, we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century, but if you believe Ray Kurzweil, it’s closer to 20.000 years of progress

And that’s because technology changes exponentially, not linearly. Which is why we’re so bad at predicting the future.

Our ancestors expected the future to be like the present.

If you could go back in time to tell your great-grandfather he could soon sit in a box that soared through the air, he would have called you mad.

And for good reason. Back then progress happened too slowly for people to notice.

It took four and a half years after the Wright’s first flight before reporters wrote about the discovery of air travel. Before then, people were so convinced flight was impossible, that those who saw the brothers fly above their hometown thought it was a trick—similar to how we look at spoonbending.

But today’s technologies disrupt our world far more frequently and aggressively. So we expect technological progress to upheaval our lives.

Although we’re now more open to change than in the past, our predictions of what’s to come are still off target.

Linear thinking leads us to think progress is steady. Regular. Predictable.

But thanks to exponential growth, change is wildly explosive and unpredictable.

If thought of as a line, progress may leap from a steady climb to a sudden vertical.

And so the future could be far more shocking than we imagine.

How shocking depends on who you listen to.

Technophiles like Kurzweil believe we will become immortal by 2045. Effectively making us a new species.

While technophobes believe the modern world will be closer to wonderbread 2.0—different times, same life. 

So who’s right?

Tough question.

Because each generation of technology builds on the last, the pace of technological progress is indeed speeding up. 

Consider the advancement of hand tools.

First we invented the screwdriver. Then we beefed it up with electricity to get the power drill. And we finally plugged in artificial intelligence to get the automatic assembly line.

Technology gets faster with every step. Plus it needs increasingly less human assistance.

In short, exponential growth is a fact.

So the real question is not who’s right, but: How long will exponential growth last?

Until someone figures that out, expect to be sucker punched by progress.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach