Growth curves

Douglas Houts (
Thu, 10 Oct 1996 18:47:38 -0400

Hal Finney wrote:

>Speaking very broadly, most growth cycles have had either an exponential
>or "yeast curve" pattern. The yeast curve looks exponential at first, but
>then slows down and hits a ceiling as some limiting factor is reached.
>This raises the (unextropian!) possibility that growth curves which
>today look exponential will also someday reach limits.

I have found these types of curves interesting as well, though I don't think
they are necessarily unextropian. I can envision a series of such curves in
succession. As the growth in one curve starts leveling off, new processes
(which I think can be viewed as extropian - BE, ST, IT ) take over and start
a new curve. I can also see the time interval required to complete a new
curve sequence possibly getting shorter and shorter. Speculation: perhaps
the rate of the shortening of the time interval would also follow such a
curve (a fractal-like relationship)?

I think this type of growth curve can be applied to increases in population
or wealth. Most of what I would consider credible estimates of future world
population predict a stabilization somewhere in the 10 to 15 billion range.
This would make a curve like the one mentioned. I can also see more similar
shaped curves taking off from the previous one with the colonization of the
rest of the solar system, neighboring systems, etc.

>The second question is more difficult to answer. Realize that the
>dramatic rates of growth of computer technology already are made possible
>in large part due to feedback mechanisms.
>Certainly the high performance
>chips of today could not be designed or simulated without the computers
>of a few years ago.

A friend of one of my co-workers is a designer at Intel. The computer he
works on has about 2GB! of RAM, which is what's needed to simulate the
activity of all the individual transitors on the next generations of chips.

Doug Houts

"The moment when first the conqueror spared his victim in order permanently
to exploit him in productive work, was of incomparable historical
importance. It gave birth to both nation and state." -- Franz Oppenheimer