Frost & Sullivan | Ray Kurzweil featured in recent Stratecast report
January 20, 2012
Frost & Sullivan — January 20, 2012 | Mike Jude, Ph.D.
Ray Kurzweil’s thesis about accelerating trends in technology and paradigm shifts was recently discussed in Frost & Sullivan’s January 20, 2012 Stratecast report, Paradigm Shift — The Rise of the Virtual World Order, by Mike Jude, Ph.D.
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“Paradigm Shifts | As Thomas Kuhn observed back in 1962, a paradigm shift is a fundamental rearrangement of society. Historically, such rearrangements have been associated with such things as the switch from hunting and gathering to agriculture, and from agriculture to manufacturing.
“More recently, paradigms have been associated with information technology and communications.
“In fact, as noted in previous SPIEs, the information revolution was actually a revolution in data manipulation: giving reason to suppose that the next paradigm may be associated with true information technology.
“There are two essential facts to remember when it comes to paradigms, though. The first is that paradigm shifts are always disruptive; and second, they are occurring with an increasing cadence. As Ray Kurzweil demonstrated (see Figure 1 below), paradigm shifts are accelerating. The graph, which displays selected paradigm shifts, shows an essentially straight line plotted on a logarithmic scale; implying that the change-function is basically an inverse exponential.
“Of course, paradigms occur in many areas and, as can be seen in the chart, the paradigms listed are a mixture of those things that humans control (e.g., development of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution) and those that are beyond human control (e.g., the evolution of reptiles to mammals and the evolution of hominids to humans).
“Nevertheless, as Kurzweil, in particular, has shown, one can pretty much randomly select paradigm shifts from any discipline and they all fit the same chart, with a remarkably high degree of confidence.
“As in any exponential function, there is a point in the paradigm evolution where the curve becomes asymptotic with infinity; essentially the point where the duration of a paradigm approaches zero. This point, due in a few years, is called the Singularity. Although it isn’t clear exactly what this means, it is clear that rapid change will be part of it. Paradigms, it seems, are inevitable and are, at least in the age of humanity, driven by technological changes. The last technologically driven paradigm shift — that of communication-information technology — is relatively recent. Yet, as Figure 1 implies, the next one is imminent.”
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