Re: Is lifespan following Moore's Law (ie: increasing

Robin Hanson (
Wed, 13 Oct 1999 16:49:49 -0400

Hal Finney wrote:
>Robin Hanson did an analysis of long term economic growth at
>, and he found that economic growth
>has not quite been hyperbolic, but rather was a series of exponential
>growth periods with successively faster doubling times. For several
>decades we've had a doubling time for world output of about 15 years.
>Extrapolating forward, it appears likely that we will move to a new and
>faster doubling time of perhaps as little as 1-2 years, some time in the next
>few decades. If we try to look beyond that, just a few years later the
>doubling time becomes on the order of weeks, and pretty soon we are at
>a singularity again.
>Of course this kind of curve fitting does not have strong predictive
>value, but IMO it adds credibility to projections based on expected
>technology improvements like nanotech and AI. The rate of growth has
>been greater than exponential over the long sweep of human history,
>and there is no particular reason to expect this to change given the
>prospects before us. In that case the Singularity may be more than
>just a technological horizon where cumulative changes make it hard to
>see the future from our perspective; it may represent a specific point
>in time where things change in a fundamental and irreversible way.

Thanks for the plug Hal. My only disagreement is that I find such curve fitting much more informative that speculations about nanotech and AI, and least for the near term. If we have seen roughly four exponential growth modes so far, it is presumptuous to project dozens of more modes going faster and faster. But it is probably safe to project one or maybe two such modes. This prediction has plenty dramatic enough consequences if only the world would take it seriously.

Robin Hanson Asst. Prof. Economics, George Mason University MSN 1D3, Carow Hall, Fairfax VA 22030
703-993-2326 FAX: 703-993-2323