The accelerating rate of change

I’m at Singularity University (SU) in Palo Alto this week learning more about the big technologies that are changing the world and how to apply them to solving the world’s biggest problems. It’s inspiring stuff on a number of levels and I will go home more determined to do more stuff that’s going to make a difference.

I’ve written before about how exponential improvements in technology are driving increasingly rapid changes in society and increasing opportunities for startups. Moore’s Law is perhaps the best known example of an enduring exponential improvement, but it’s just one of many. These exponential improvements have been running for well over a hundred years and there’s no reason to think they will stop.

A strong belief that this exponential rate of change will continue underpins everything that goes on here at SU, many of my views on society, and my interest in innovation and venture capital.

I’ve also written before about cognitive bias, but one I haven’t mentioned is baseline bias, the inclination to believe that things will going forward will be as they have been in the past. This baseline bias coupled with difficulty imagining a radically different world make it difficult for many people to believe that the pace of change will accelerate.

Don’t make that mistake. Look at the graphs I posted before and read the works off Kurzweil and Diamandis. Try and imagine what you would have said if ten years ago someone had told you that Facebook and Twitter would dominate the media landscape by 2013.

If you work in the startup world you need to get your head around this point.

I had intended to blog a video about what’s coming in synthetic biology, but I’ve spent to long setting the scene. I will blog it tomorrow.