Friday, July 19, 2013

The Nth Technological Plane




I'll possibly die in 2075 by the age of 90 if I'm lucky. By that time frame, I'd see self driven cars as a norm, cheap DNA profiling to perform heritage health checks, embeddable electronics to read your current state and predict future states, nanotechnology deep in the fabrics you wear to keep them clean at all times. All devices are self regulating, my home is smart, and how much smarter you want to get depends on how much money you really have.

Towards the ending days, I would most likely have the option to 3d print new organs and replace my bones with bio-compatible synthetics to live a few extra years longer. But capitalists as we can be, some wise crack would be nice enough to offer me the option to be stored in a sterile freeze pod and wait for technology to mature to the point where I could be revived.

Perhaps by then, buildings and roads would repair themselves, and even if our roads were bad, your car tire could seal itself at the sign of puncture. By then, we'd be soaring like the jetsons on flying cars and bots to police us in the skies. I hope we could find fun things to do while humanoids took care of our chores, swept our streets and took our dog out. Paper would be an odd word, our libraries would be in cloud storage and if you're not into quantum then you wouldn't be cool. 

Resources are limited, cost is an improvement parameter, people have needs or can be programmed to have needs and businesses compete with each other. There will always be new discoveries time and time again. You put all these elements into a box and shake it real hard. At the macro level, what comes out is a better mousetrap than its predecessor.

The returns of one technology or iteration of technology feed into the new one, and often orders of magnitude in improvements are sought at each step by creators. It has always been that if an asymptotic state was reached in technology progress, an entirely new technological plane or paradigm shift was created over time to continue to the march. This has happened numerous times in our history - when we went from steam power to gas power, when we went from from vaccuum tubes to transistors, from internal combustion engines to gas turbines, airplanes to rockets.


Ray Kurzweil writes on his blog that "the paradigm shift rate (i.e., the overall rate of technical progress) is currently doubling (approximately) every decade; that is, paradigm shift times are halving every decade (and the rate of acceleration is itself growing exponentially). So, the technological progress in the twenty-first century will be equivalent to what would require (in the linear view) on the order of 200 centuries. In contrast, the twentieth century saw only about 20 years of progress (again at today’s rate of progress) since we have been speeding up to current rates. So the twenty-first century will see about a thousand times greater technological change than its predecessor."

That is astounding if you think about it : each century growing exponentially than the previous one in technology.

May I be arrogant enough to define a hypothetical "nth technological plane" in a certain century which is the collection of all technologies that have the best, most optimum level of attributes such that any further refinements cannot be made and if made, it becomes only a disadvantaged product? I assume then that the Nth technological plane becomes more like a technological plateau with negative progress curves forward or back. There would not be any more paradigm shifts to take place. No more improvements to be milked out. Where would we be at that stage?

Keep in mind that at so far of an advanced stage as the Nth technological plane, humans are not involved in the creation of technology, it is technology that does the creation of more advanced technology of increasing order and complexity until some sort of aymptote is reached where no further advancement can be even deemed rational. Our overlords, technology itself, will decide a finality to advancement.

A quick area of applicability might be music. I imagine a time when all iterations of musical creativity would have been visited sometime in the past such that no new music could be made, and if people attempted to do so, any music would sound just like an older piece of music. No room to maneuver. 

This maybe bit of an odd piece of writing. I myself can't predict what will happen to this world many centuries after I'm gone. But nevertheless, an interesting thought exercise.  What do you think? Does technology evolution have an nth state, a finality to it?  

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