Commonly, exponential growth means explosive growth, it means that things increase in an uncontrolled way. This intuitive understanding comes from examples we know from biology: Bacteria exhibit exponential growth under optimal conditions. As a consequence the term „exponential“ often has a disquieting connotation.
When it comes to the significance of exponential growth for human activities we need to talk about accelerating technological change. In the technological arena accelerating change means an increase in technological (and often also social and cultural) progress throughout history, which may suggest a faster and more profound change in the future. 10.000 years of progress – at today’s pace – will now be experienced in just 50 years due to the exponential rate of change.
Futurists like Ray Kurzweil have created the notion of a technological singularity and a scenario for the future: Accelerating change will lead to artificial intelligence that exceeds human intelligence. By 2015, a $1000 computer will have the same calculation power per second as the brain of a mouse. 2023 will see it equal to the power of human brain. In 2045 it will be equate to the power of ALL human brains combined. Similar exponential developments await us in the areas of robotics, nanotechnology or synthetic biology.
We want to explore where and how exponential change happens and what it will lead to. Which future will exponential change create for us? What are the implications these advances will have on society? What is the future role of humans in this brave new world? Is there a limit for exponential growth?
Join us at TEDxBerlin!