Acceleration Novel Thesis

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Most technology forecasts ignore altogether this “historical exponential view” of technological progress.

That is why people tend to overestimate what can be achieved in the short term (because we tend to leave out necessary details), but underestimate what can be achieved in the long term (because the exponential growth is ignored).

What it clearly shows is that technology, particularly the pace of technological change, advances (at least) exponentially, not linearly, and has been doing so since the advent of technology, indeed since the advent of evolution on Earth.

I emphasize this point because it is the most important failure that would-be prognosticators make in considering future trends.

So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century — it will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today’s rate).

The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially.We use cookies to make interactions with our website easy and meaningful, to better understand the use of our services, and to tailor advertising.For further information, including about cookie settings, please read our Cookie Policy .Bill and I have been frequently paired in a variety of venues as pessimist and optimist respectively.Although I’m expected to criticize Bill’s position, and indeed I do take issue with his prescription of relinquishment, I nonetheless usually end up defending Joy on the key issue of feasibility.Although exponential trends did exist a thousand years ago, they were at that very early stage where an exponential trend is so flat that it looks like no trend at all.So their lack of expectations was largely fulfilled.However, careful consideration of the pace of technology shows that the rate of progress is not constant, but it is human nature to adapt to the changing pace, so the intuitive view is that the pace will continue at the current rate.Even for those of us who have been around long enough to experience how the pace increases over time, our unexamined intuition nonetheless provides the impression that progress changes at the rate that we have experienced recently.Indeed, we find not just simple exponential growth, but “double” exponential growth, meaning that the rate of exponential growth is itself growing exponentially.These observations do not rely merely on an assumption of the continuation of Moore’s law (i.e., the exponential shrinking of transistor sizes on an integrated circuit), but is based on a rich model of diverse technological processes.


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