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Kurzweil in 1999: "More tech change in next 20 years than in last 100"


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#1
funkervogt

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The full quote is: "We will see more technological change in the next 20 years than we saw in the last 100." and he said that on February 1, 1999. 

 

https://youtu.be/97c2ezJ_1U8?t=212

 

We're now well past his 20 year deadline. Yes, technology is much better now than it was in 1999, but not nearly as much as Kurzweil predicted. 

 



#2
Yuli Ban

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^ Debatable in some areas, true in others (especially computing power, artificial intelligence, understanding of genetics, and some areas of astronomy & physics). 

 

The fundamental problem with saying or refuting "we'll be more advanced in [X] years" comes down to something I asked many years ago and never got a truly satisfying answer: "what does being 'more advanced' really mean?"


  • wjfox, zEVerzan, Casey and 1 other like this

And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.


#3
funkervogt

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Make your strongest arguments. 



#4
tomasth

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Is there an acceleration because of : computing power , network infrastructure , use of the internet and social media , deep learning , more trained researcher then ever , cheap sensors and satellite , internet founding ,  any were/time computer/network device in the form of smartphones (and its sensors) ; then before those and others existed to do the same amount/kind of work ?

 

one would have to check many fields and see if how much each effected productively to get an estimation. I'm assuming his next book will check this.

 

It doesn't have to be 100 years for 20 , any acceleration would support his tech acceleration claim (same as being off on his time line to some extent)



#5
Alislaws

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It depends on definitions and where you set the goalposts i guess. 

 

Like there have obviously not been the same seismic shifts in the last 20 years as happened between 1900 and 2000. For many people life may have changed more fundamentally between 1750 and 1850* than either 1900-2000 or 1999-2019

 

(*in the UK, with the industrial revolution reshaping the nation from primarily agricultural to primarily industrial, this was such a huge upheaval and for a population not expecting change as we do now) 

 

In terms of technology, technological advancement etc. there may well have been more progress made, there is certainly likely to have been more data gathered in the last 20 years than in the 100 years before that. The issue is this progress is only really understood by scientists and specialists whereas the industrial revolution, or the rise of commercial aircraft or the space race are all big obvious things that intrude into everyone's lives in a way we couldn't ignore. 

 

Having said all that I'm pretty sure if he was honest Ray would say that he overestimated the changes, r overestimated how much the progress would affect day to day life, or how fast the progress would filter through to end products. 

 

Here's a thought: I'm sure you've all seen the S curves and know abut the idea of accelerating returns, but it could very well be that the time needed to turn a breakthrough into a commercial product that can disrupt people's lives is always going to be 3-5 years from invention to commercialisation, even for incredibly valuable/major advances.

 

So futurist predictions may need a "commercialisation period" added on which should also decrease over time, but probably slower than the speed up we see in pure research/understanding which is more closely tied to the various exponential improvements in sectors .  



#6
funkervogt

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Like there have obviously not been the same seismic shifts in the last 20 years as happened between 1900 and 2000.

Then that's it. Kurzweil was wrong. 



#7
tomasth

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the same seismic shifts in the last 20 years as happened between 1900 and 2000.

Do Kurzweil own prediction for 1999-2020 meet this ?

 

Up to the singularity , does any of his prediction meet this ?



#8
Alislaws

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Like there have obviously not been the same seismic shifts in the last 20 years as happened between 1900 and 2000.

Then that's it. Kurzweil was wrong. 

 

 

Not necessarily because (at least according to the thread title) he did not claim there would be more societal changes, or more demographic changes, or more occupational changes, or even more visible changes he said "Tech change" and that could be correct without it being immediately obvious.

 

Take optical computing as an example, 20 years ago I don't think this was much of a thing? buet even so there are now some optical computers in labs, This could represent as huge a step forward as silicon chips were (for all we know at this point) but it won't become apparent for a few more years (or maybe decades). 

 

Or we may look back on cloud computing or mobile computing as similar game changers where the period from 1900-2100 is looked at in hindsight.  

 

Maybe Openwater's BCI really will fulfil all  possible hype and will usher in FIVR and MRI level wearable medical scanning tech, which could literally change everything about human life, and most of their progress on holography etc. has happened in the last 20 years. 

 

If someone cracks commercial fusion tech in the next few years then that will have happened based mostly on tech changes in the last 20 years, and the impact of that could be huge. 

 

Wow, I've made myself feel all optimistic about the future! but in all seriousness I suspect people looking back in 20100 will agree that he was wrong.

 

Still I hope it turns out that lots of amazing ground work and progress has happened behind the scenes. 



#9
funkervogt

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Like there have obviously not been the same seismic shifts in the last 20 years as happened between 1900 and 2000.

Then that's it. Kurzweil was wrong. 

 

 

Not necessarily because (at least according to the thread title) he did not claim there would be more societal changes, or more demographic changes, or more occupational changes, or even more visible changes he said "Tech change" and that could be correct without it being immediately obvious.

 

Take optical computing as an example, 20 years ago I don't think this was much of a thing? buet even so there are now some optical computers in labs, This could represent as huge a step forward as silicon chips were (for all we know at this point) but it won't become apparent for a few more years (or maybe decades). 

 

Or we may look back on cloud computing or mobile computing as similar game changers where the period from 1900-2100 is looked at in hindsight.  

 

Maybe Openwater's BCI really will fulfil all  possible hype and will usher in FIVR and MRI level wearable medical scanning tech, which could literally change everything about human life, and most of their progress on holography etc. has happened in the last 20 years. 

 

If someone cracks commercial fusion tech in the next few years then that will have happened based mostly on tech changes in the last 20 years, and the impact of that could be huge. 

 

Wow, I've made myself feel all optimistic about the future! but in all seriousness I suspect people looking back in 20100 will agree that he was wrong.

 

Still I hope it turns out that lots of amazing ground work and progress has happened behind the scenes. 

 

 

If Kurzweil's prediction can be scored as "right" so long as we can find one technology--regardless of how unimportant it is--in the vast sea of technology that radically advanced over the last 20 years, then the bar is set so low that the prediction had no value to begin with. 

 

It would be like me saying in 1999 that "We will see change in fashion over the next 20 years than we saw in the last 100," and then, 20 years later, citing the invention of the Snuggie as proof I was right. 

 

"Think of it: a wholly new type of clothing invented and popularized. Exponential does not begin to describe the amount of progress it represents, for an exponential increase requires that there have to be something at the start. But the Snuggie was created new!" 



#10
Yuli Ban

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But that's the fundamental issue that I mentioned earlier: all this talk about change, about how much we're going to change over [X] years— what is the basis? What is the standard? If you say we're going to see more change between 2019 and 2039 than the entirety of the 20th century, then first explain what "change" means! Otherwise, it can mean anything.

 

Because as I said, there are plenty of areas where certain qualitative jumps have been seen that dwarf what we saw in the 20th century. Smartphones alone improved at an extraordinary rate between 2005 and 2015. The number of exoplanets we've discovered has increased from "1" to "nearly 4,000". The most advanced robotics today are utterly beyond anything we could accomplish even in the late '90s. But again, what measure is there? 

What makes an iPhone 11 more advanced than a Simon Personal Communicator? What is the qualitative difference of going from a  St. Louis Gasoline Buggy to a '99 Ford, Toyota, or Volkswagen and why is the difference between 1999 cars and 2019 cars so much less? Is it actually less on certain levels? Did computers get better between 1999 and 2019 than they did between 1900 and 1999? They improved maybe a few hundred thousand times in terms of processing speed in that time, compared to the trillion-times-over improvement a century prior... but isn't that latter few hundred thousand-times improvement more qualitatively important?  If you exponentially increase a number from 1 to 1024, you've doubled 10 times; if you do it from 1024 to 8192, you've only doubled three times. But in those three doublings, you've gained slightly over 4x the combined sum of  all exponential numbers from 1 to 1024 (2047), so even slowed growth for the first ten years of the 21st century gives you more than the sum of everything from the 20th century,

And so on and so forth. 

 

Kurzweil was obviously too optimistic and rigid— I've even gone in detail about how his 2009 was actually our 2019. He was at least a full decade off.

 

But even if his 2019 (likely our 2029) came true on time, would that still represent a century of improvement? If you say so, why?


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And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.





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