Exponential advancements have a long ramp up
Part 3: Everything connected
Covid-19 showed us that science and technology can’t solve everything. At least not at once. Even with massive resources it’s hard to gain ground against such a tiny virus. On average, it takes 15 years to develop a vaccine. Eventually also a Corona vaccine will arrive. This takes not only resources, but time.
Fighting the coronavirus is like going to the moon. Kennedy explicitly said we go to the moon at the end of the decade, not at the end of the year. And 1969 was a close call. Almost 300.000 people worked on the Apollo project in the sixties. At the end of the decade Armstrong finally set foot on the moon. We are overestimating the progress within a year, but we underestimate what can be done in a decade. In ten years time Covid-19 is a historical event.
There are other examples of technological revolutions that took some time before ruling the world. Let’s go two decades back in time. The iPhone was introduced in 2007. Smartphones were by no means new at the time, but Apple’s implementation was revolutionary. In its first year Apple sold only 1.39 million devices. People found the iPhone impressive, but it was not that everything changed after Steve Jobs presentation.
After 10 years Apple sells more than 200 million iPhones yearly. This number doesn’t even represent how the smartphone affected our society and personal lives.
Another decade earlier. The first Nokia’s arrived in the 90s. A lot of people at the time couldn’t picture themselves with such a phone. They thought mobile users were a bit of a show-off.
Fast-forward to today. Everyone thinks it’s normal to have a smartphone in their hands all the time. Or at least accept it. In a few decades things changed completely. We changed how we communicate, navigate, shop, search for information and so on. In a sense technology fuses together with our lives. But is this the progress of a few decades or much much longer?
Exponential advancements did not started this decade, the decade before or even hundred years ago. It’s a long process that goes all the way to the beginning of human history.
In the news we read all about new tech hypes. To understand these present day technology we need to understand the ramp of this.
When we look at new technologies. What’s the hype and what is covered by the media. We look at the massive growth to analyze why technology becomes exponential. What the impact is on society? How to predict the future? Where to invest and where are the dangers? To answer such questions we need to analyze the early years.
The early years of virtual reality
Virtual reality is at it’s turning point to massive growth. In the early years' expectations were high. People expected a more linear growth, but this didn’t happen. A lot of fundamentals weren’t solved yet. People got disappointed. But these years after the original development, were the most important of all.
In these years VR was not in the eye of the public. A few internet forums for tech were enthusiastic. One of those tech enthusiasts was Palmer Lucky. He collected every VR headset he could find. Then he created over 50 different head-mounted displays. For this he used cheap technology to create a working recipe for VR.
When he put his project on Kickstarter he was on a top of the mountain of early development. Then he put his snowball down in the form of the Oculus Rift. The rest is history.
It’s not about reaching singularity. It’s not about massive exponential growth. It’s about the early years of a decade.
Not reaching to the moon, but the whole journey to the moon is what is interesting. In those years the cool stuff happens. In those early years the future is defined.
The early years take time. A lot of time. Time to experiment. Time for disappointment. Those who are aware of this, who have focus, not get distracted by hypes and not get disappointed by failures will have the future in their hands
To predict the future we need to focus on those people and those years. The last decade were the early years for IOT and AI. For VR those years were at the first decade of this century. For the World Wide Web was a decade earlier.
This decade will bring all those technologies together into a new way of connectedness. These are the early years for the internet of everything.