FutureTimeline

First of all, I’d like to say a big thanks to everyone who’s been following my site – especially those who’ve provided me with feedback and ideas.

I’ve been developing this timeline for almost two years now, and have watched it grow and grow, both in content and in terms of visitor numbers. Although it’s quite large now, there are still many more technologies and events I intend to add. The 22nd and 23rd centuries, for example, have barely been touched upon.

A major inspiration for me has been The Singularity is Near, by noted futurist Ray Kurzweil. The central theme of this book is the idea that technology progresses exponentially, rather than linearly. The most well-known of these trends is Moore’s Law, but there are dozens of other examples.

Everything from biology to nanotech, computing, the Internet, mobile phones, DNA sequencing… it’s all growing at such a rapidly accelerating rate that we’re in for some truly profound changes in the coming decades. Even during times of economic hardship, these trends have been shown to continue. Concepts that were once the preserve of science fiction may soon become a reality.

Remember how the Internet just seemed to appear out of nowhere? Hardly anybody used it back in the early 90s. Then suddenly – due to exponential growth – it became a worldwide phenomenon. The same is true of cell phones. As recently as 1995, they were used only by a minority. Today, they are owned by nearly 5 billion people, including half the farmers in China, and the latest of these phones come with a bewildering array of features. This kind of rapid emergence of technology is the kind of thing we’ll be seeing a great deal more of during the 21st century. The aim of FutureTimeline is to explore these changes and to give some idea of where it’s all heading, because I don’t think people realise just how rapidly things are developing.

I was skeptical of Kurzweil’s predictions at first (and I’m still in two minds about whether a Singularity will emerge). But the more I read in science journals and the media, the more I can see that his basic idea of exponential growth is true. Our brains have been hardwired through evolution to an “intuitive linear” view of the world – but the reality is that most forms of technology are progressing exponentially.

Even when a plateau is reached, in many cases a new paradigm will emerge to eventually continue the growth.

As Kurzweil himself has said: “If you go back 500 years, not much happened in a century. Now, a lot happens in six months. Technology feeds on itself and it gets faster and faster.”

Exponential growth

My Twitter account has links to the latest discoveries and breakthroughs. You can also find references throughout the timeline. If you have a prediction of your own, please feel free to contact me!

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8 Responses to “FutureTimeline”

  1. Dr Johnty Says:

    This is all quite interesting and I looked at it from much the same angle. My conclusions point to the fact Ray is clearly correct and I have made a list of significant scientific breathroughs from 1041 to now at http://drjohnty.com/Exponential_Growth.html

    When you look below at the list of discoveries since 1041, which are deemed to be the most significant you see that 74 were made in the 857 years between 1041 and 1898 and 41 of these were made in the 19th century. Then look at list 2 which lists 46 groundbreaking discoveries made in the last 107 years and it becomes clear that the number of discoveries in the 19th and 20th centuries are about the same but the importance of the discoveries in the last 100 years is much more significant in many cases.

    It does not matter whether people personally agree or disagree with me, what matters is that the date of breakthroughs cannot be disputed and you will see the closer we get to the present the developments are coming faster and faster. Not only are they coming faster they are becoming ever more influential. I am confident that I am correct when I say that, even if the rate of progression slowed by 50% or even 75%, the rate of technological progress in the 21st century would still eclipse everything that came before it. I guess what this shows is whatever way we all approach it the conclusion is the same.

  2. Paul R.O. Says:

    Is it utter sci-fi rubbish, or is it a foretelling prophecy. Extremely intriguing nonetheless. I had always felt that a surge of mammoth unimaginable realities would come upon us in the future, due to the principle of exponential advances in technologies.

    I appreciate this site very much. I’m going to recommend it to folks I know so they can obtain the knowledge of a predicted possible future that is astonishing.

    While many are naive of such advances due to distractions of mainstream media & entertainment, social lives, primal urges, daily concerns, ignorance or plain apathy… it’ll bound change all of our lives drastically someday.

    well……….. Thanx,Bye & take care!
    sincere,
    Paul

  3. Erikelle Says:

    I love your website, whether everything is plausible or not, it deffinetly makes one dream. 🙂

  4. technologyinf Says:

    The world we are living in is changing everyday. We are in technology age where things change in a friction of time. How the future technology will change our living? Learn everything about todays and Future Technology.

  5. greg Says:

    Though the general idea of exponential growth is probably true, that graph by Kurzweil is quite misleading. Why? Well, just think about it for a second. The graph’s slope on the exponential-exponential scale is nicely smooth and linear, with a slope fairly close to one. That means if we extrapolate the graph out to the right just one more tick, we will come to three years before the present with a time to the next event of about three years; one more tick and your’re to about 0.3 years before the present with a time to the next event of 0.3 years; one more tick and you’re to 0.03 years before the present with a time to the next event of 0.03 years. That is, if you extend the graph just three more ticks— a reasonable thing to do— ten days ago (0.03 of a year) we should have gotten a new innovation every ten days on the order of the telephone or the Internet or homo sapiens. One more tick and it says that one day ago we should have been getting a new innovation every day. (.0003 of a year) And one more tick and it says we should have gotten about 20 new innovations in the last 24 hours each on the order of the creation of life, homo sapiens, or the telephone.

    Didn’t happen.

    You have take these sort of graphs with a grain of salt.

  6. greg Says:

    I guess my main point is that that graph basically says that, no matter where you on the graph, the Singularity is happening as we speak. One minute ago we should have gotten an innovation every minute, and one microsecond ago we should have been a new innovation every microsecond.

  7. Shipping Container Homes Says:

    We are deffinately going to see a singularity coming soon.
    Also, technology will keep going and growing at an exponential rate for as for as I can perceive. That is until of course we end up blowing ourselves up in World War III and the remainder of us will pull our society back together…then as the population starts to grow again…so will science begin to go forth again.

    Just my two cents.
    Ben.

  8. n3ur0manc3r Says:

    Doesn’t the graph imply that something like 20 years ago, the next step was only something like 15 years away?

    Either way, please welcome to check out my blog about the forthcoming singularity:

    http://n3uromanc3r.blogspot.com/2011/05/technological-singularity.html
    http://n3uromanc3r.blogspot.com/2011/05/singularity-quotations.html
    http://n3uromanc3r.blogspot.com/2011/05/ray-kurzweils-predictions.html
    http://n3uromanc3r.blogspot.com/2011/05/divergent-perspectives-similar.html
    http://n3uromanc3r.blogspot.com/2011/05/alternative-energy.html

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