Saturday, October 22, 2005

Hold on for the ride!

The Speculist (via Instapundit) has a post that rather buoyed my mood in which he rounds up all sorts of positive developments that we can expect in the near future. Do read the whole thing. The one item that jumped out at me is about economic growth, in which this fascinating Arnold Kling column is quoted:
Technological innovation is what drives productivity growth. Kurzweil argues that the rate of technological innovation is doubling every decade, which to me would imply that the rate of productivity growth will double every decade. If annual productivity growth was 3.5 percent in the decade ending in 2005, then it will be 7 percent in the decade ending in 2015 and 14 percent in the decade ending in 2025. By that time, productivity would be more than 7 times what it is today. Thus, if average income per person is $35,000 today, then it will be over $250,000 per person (in today's purchasing power) in 2025.
At a growth rate of 14 percent, output per person "only" doubles at a rate of about every 5 years. Using a more elegant mathematical model of technological change, George Mason University economist Robin Hanson arrives at an even more striking forecast. He writes, "we might see yet another transition to a much faster mode, if such faster modes are possible. The suggestion is fantastic, namely of a transition to a doubling time of two weeks or less sometime within roughly the next century."
Well I certainly wouldn't mind that... The assumptions on which these numbers are based come from The Singularity Is Near, a rather unsettling and widely celebrated book by Ray Kurzweil, which is reviewed here.

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