Re: technological accleration?

From: Anders Sandberg (
Date: Mon Sep 03 2001 - 18:45:34 MDT

On Mon, Sep 03, 2001 at 05:00:59PM -0700, Tim Maroney wrote:
> Are there any quantitative arguments to support the argument that the
> twentieth century was one of unparalleled technological acceleration?

I think the place to look is Ray Kurzweil's website - he seems to be
collecting exponential growth graphs :-)

I think one can look at aggregate values, like energy production per
capita, or the efficiency of various motors/generators to get an
estimate of overall changes.

> This came up on another mailing list in which a few people were attempting
> to support religious claims about a "new aeon" based in part on the claim
> that the century just ended was witness to unprecedented technological
> acceleration. No one was able to come up with a scholarly source
> demonstrating that, though, and I find I am unsure that it is not a kind of
> horizon effect. Every one of the last eight centuries at least has seen
> major technological changes from the previous century.

Which is what you would see if there was an acceleration - every time is
the fastest yet. If it was slowing, we would see more advances in the
past and a clearer "golden age".

In general, I think you are right to ask for evidence. Far too many
common assumptions people believe are based on very rickety evidence.

Anders Sandberg                                      Towards Ascension!                  
GCS/M/S/O d++ -p+ c++++ !l u+ e++ m++ s+/+ n--- h+/* f+ g+ w++ t+ r+ !y

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