Free Markets, Free People

We Live In Exponential Times

You may have seen this, but it does cause one to pause and think about what the future holds:



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22 Responses to We Live In Exponential Times

  • What do they consider the “start date” for the Internet, such that there were 50,000,000 users within four years of it? Not the guys at BBN plugging in the first router, that’s for sure. Maybe the first HTTP server at CERN or something? The release of Mosaic 1.0? I mean, whatever, but if you’re gonna compare it to the invention of radio or something, you’re looking at 1969, and four years is ludicrous.

  • I saw this a while back and while generally good, on some of them pure numbers don’t tell the story.

    Let’s take engineers from China as an example.  I’ve sat in rooms with them (I work in the optics field) and I would put an American (or German or Japanese) up against 20 of them and still get better, more creative work (even taking language barriers into effect).  They just crank them through their schools.

    I suppose this could change over time, especially as we seem to be handing our university system over the Chinese along with everything else.

  • This exponential change is the most basic reason that all those stupid big government programs can never work over any significant time span. The world just changes too fast for bureaucrats and their rule books to ever keep up.

  • Some thoughts:
    Half of the 4.6TB of data is Obama’s speeches and press releases.
    Bermuda’s penetration is all of twenty-two people.
    The art of proper learning necessitates that children are taught to conceptualize and abstract rather than the rote learning employed today.
    Ask most any of our ‘yutes how their gadget works and they’ll tell you how to push the buttons, etc; hardly any can understand, much less explain, how the processor sends the data packet to a transmitter which sends it to a satellite, etc.
    All those messages and 98% of them are brain-dead tripe.
    Per Louis Armstrong, what a wonderful world!…of toys.

  • Yea, lets poke holes in the statics so that we can feel better and sleep at night.  Its not like we are buggy whip makers sending letters to each other about how that automobile is never going to catch on.
    FYI, just because someone doesn’t understand the internal workings of a machine doesn’t mean that the machine cant change the world.  How many people really understand the internal workings of a combustion engine?  Doesn’t mean that those “toys” don’t server a core function in the economy.

    • Evidently you were a student of that same rote learning. What is a “static”?
      1) Many of that stats are bogus
      2) Many other stats are projections based on static models. (You’re half right by accident)
      3) In you’d dig into actual populations stats, you’ll find a lot of bogus statements.
      4) So what, that China has more honor students than the US has students. The US work force produces more in a year than China, with four times the population, does in a decade.
      5) The key is not learning technology, but to learn to be TECHNICAL (i.e., methodical, systematic); that is how previous generations moved from vacuum tube computers to the current technology.
      6) Sadly, very few understand the workings of an internal combustion engine, but they can tell you every stat and name about entertainment, sports, trivia.
      7) Yes, the “toys” do serve a function, but remember part 2 of Eisenhower’s Military/Industrial Complex” speech:

      “…the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

      The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

      Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.”

      You only grasp the most simple points about the video, which is half worthwhile, half lame.

    • Having determined that he is poking holes in it, what do you plan to do with the information (either his, or the video’s) other than consider yourself and your acquaintances to be buggy whip manufacturers or Neanderthals awaiting exctinction.

      What, even generally, is it that he fears about the video , gross generalization that inspires people to ‘take action!” perhaps?

      If you walked away from the video with the buggy whip maker analogy in your head that’s a problem.  

      Are you now inspired to do something based on the information in the video, and if so, what?

  • “The art of proper learning necessitates that children are taught to conceptualize and abstract rather than the rote learning employed today.”

    A nice sounding, but silly, phrase adopted by ‘educators’ to justify their, uh, let’s call it less than optimal results. When I type these words I do not ‘conceptualize and abstract’  the spelling of them, otherwise it would be something like iejnfkl  lfdjurn. Even with something like mathematics, when I need to solve a calculus problem I do not need to quickly derive the calculus, something that took generations of conceptualization and abstract thought.  I just use the techniques and/or formulas that I learned by rote memorization. Would you pay to listen to musicians who performed every tune with conceptualization and abstraction rather than memorizing it?

    • Perhaps his point is, it’s what you do with what you know Tim, and if you’re just going over the, let’s use the example of a musical score, notes “by the numbers” it’s hardly going to make for more then elevator music.    If we aren’t actually teaching people to ‘think’ instead of parroting, we end up with Imeme as President.

      • ” it’s what you do with what you know Tim,”

        Well, that’s pretty obvious.  But My point is that if you don’t know it, you can’t do anything, period. The rest is gravy, and there is no evidence that the ability to conseptualize and abstract can be is a product of education rather than heredity. And, unless the teaching profession has improved by orders of magnitude recently, there is a dearth of teachers who possess the ability to conceptualize and abstract, much less the ability to teach it. If such eduction made any real difference George Bush and John Kerry, products of our nations finest educational establishments, would certainly be a little more impressive.

  • What does it all mean?

    That technology and China are both overrated, and that Americans need to learn that experience is meaningless without judgment.

    Without virtue all that glorious technology is nothing but landfill.

  • Doesn’t this all sound alot like Greeks berating the Romans.  Romans aren’t learned, they are not cultured in philosophical understanding, they only understand how to use the technology, not what it means.  We Greeks are the pinnacle of human development, and it will always be that way.
    It seems that there are many fat slow moving sheep explaining that the wolf really doesn’t exist in the area today, because he wasn’t here yesterday, and even if he was here, we are just better, so he is no threat.
    Yep.  Buggy whip makers.

    • Well, uh NO! I don’t see anyone here saying that the emerging economies of China and India will not someday become larger than ours, certainly they will, that is just a matter of time.
      What we are wondering is why this is of so much concern to you?  What, do you think that we will somehow suffer as our trading partners grow more prosperous?  Just the opposite, provided that we can survive the current bunch of spendthrifts in power now. As other nations grow more prosperous they will enter into even more profitable trade arrangements for us.
      As their middle class grows they will demand more high quality goods and services of which we excell in creating.
      As for education, our high schools are pretty bad, but our universities are the envy of the world.
      By the way, how do you measure the quality of “honor students” form one nation to another.  It reminds me of the old Soviet Union, all their students were honor students.

      • The way I measure the quality is the number and competency of Indian and Chinese engineers I have working at my firm.  That’s concrete.  Auguring philosophically that your nation-state honor students are better than their nation-state honor students when all metrics report the contrary is silly.  FYI, the nation-state you sited is a prime example of a state that failed to recognize the reality of the situation they were in (people ignoring a changing world, why does that sound familiar?).
        By the way, I just returned to my university to pursue a Ph.D. last fall, so yes, I agree, our universities are the envy of the world, must be why 40% of my class spoke fluent Mandarin, and another 35% spoke Hindi (or possibly Bengali, I really can’t tell the two apart).
        I think your misreading what I posted a little, I completely agree with you that the world is changing, that trade benefits all, and as a whole, I think its getting better, BUT for that to occur, you need to recognize the change, and adapt.  What I’m complaining about is the people here who try to ignore the changing world, or explain it away thats its not really changing, and that everything is fine (much like your honor student comment).
        In other words, at some point look up and realize that people don’t need buggy whips anymore, and perhaps rather than bailing out the buggy whip industry, it might be smarter for the government to stand back, and allow people and companies to retool for the new world.

  • I’m more interested in the computer part of the video.  I think the timeframe is wrong or more to the point it doesn’t take into account of using the most powerful computers to design future generations of computers.

  • The really important scientific breakthroughs will come when physicists and cosmologists start discovering where and what the hell the missing 95% of the universe really is (dark matter and dark energy). Dark energy, which is about 70% of all matter/energy in the universe, is a force of repulsion, i.e., anti-gravitational — it’s what is causing the universe to accelerate in its expansion.

    As lawyer Barry Scheck said while questioning a witness at the O.J. Simpson murder trial, “What about that, Mr. Wong?”

  • BTW that was quite possibly the most annoying presentation I have ever seen.

  • Re: Sharpshooter, Looker, Timactual et al’s debate.
    It’s simply wisdom vs. knowledge. Anyone can learn facts, but few are wise.
    I loved this: the NY Times contains more facts in a week than the average 18th Century person would encounter in their entire lifetime. Or something to that effect. How much MORE EXPONENTIAL  would it be if the Old Grey Lady covered Democrat/Lefty scandals? Zing!

  • Wow you guys are cranky today.  🙂  Can’t the takeaway just be a little fascinating thought on what the future holds considering how quickly things are moving?