An Exponential World

Let's face it, things are changing pretty fast these days. But don't forget, we are free to seek out the changes that will benefit us (all), and embrace them for better outcomes.

First Exercise

A trip down memory lane
  • Let's go back to 1997
    • And if you weren't born yet, or are too young to remember what life looked like in 1997 - then think back to 2007.
  • How old were you - do you remember your birthday?
  • Got that?
Now - take a deep breath, relax - and remember back . . .
  • Where were you living
  • What was the neighbourhood like
  • Who was important in your life then
  • Where did you work or play most days
  • What sort of work was it
  • Did you or any of your friends have cell phones - what did they look like
  • Were you regularly using a computer - like, most days
  • Did you have an email address - how many emails did you get each week?
  • Remember this sound?

  • Take a minute to write down:
    • Where you were living in 1997
    • What your work was?
    • A description of any phone and computer technology you were using?
  • Got that . . . OK
  • Now give each other one minute each to share the tech you were using and what you were doing with it?
  • (5mins)
    • image
    • What was your work?
    • What phone and computer technology were you using in 1997?
    • What phone and computer technology are you using now?

Let's take a trip into future, well actually the present, which is hinting at the future . . .

First a quick primer on exponential.

Definition: (of an increase) becoming more and more rapid

Think of biology, and weeds on a pond.

The pond has just a little weed around the edge, about 1% of the surface area. But each week, the nutrients in the water and the sunshine mean it doubles in size. 1%, 2, 4, 8 . After four weeks just 8% of the surface area has weed cover. In the next 2 weeks it's up to 32% and in less than two more more weeks it's totally smothered.


2017 in context

In the last 30 years in particular, our lives have become more complex, with much more information and many more decisions to be made every day.

Analysis of the history of technology shows that technological change is exponential, contrary to the common-sense “intuitive linear” view.

So we won’t experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century  —

—  it will be more like 20,000 years of progress!

  • Has anyone read the book by Alec Ross: The Industries of the Future?
    • It covers a wide range of trends and their implications
    • and gives a sense of not only what's coming, but how fast it's coming!
    • We are on that bend in the hocky stick of exponential change.
    • Grab the book, however you consume them - my preference is listening to them on road trips, and I get my books though
    • image

A glimpse into the future

It's in my blood, to embrace change, and so I was delighted to be able to attend the Singularity Summit in Christchurch last November. I wrote about it here, and what I got, was that the future is not predictable, but it is guaranteed to be unlike anything we've experienced up till now.


  • I saw Artificial Intelligence with a face that evoked emotion. And the promise of digital PA's who would make all manner of connections for you, and offer suggestions. It's augmented intelligence at the next scale. It could help you achieve the things you really want to achieve, utilising the gifts you bring.


  • Driverless cars are becoming safer than cars (and trucks and buses) driven by people - Christchurch airport is trialling now. Elon Musk is about to demo a self-driving electric truck.
  • Autonomous cars are tested by measuring the number of human interventions required per 1,000 miles. Google's self-driving car division has reduced the number by 75% in one year, going from 0.8 interventions per thousand miles to 0.2 interventions - that's one intervention per 5,000 miles!


  • The cost of manufacturing Lab grown meat, has dropped 30,000 times from $325,000/Kg to just $11.36. You might see it on your plate in five years. What's that going to do to our animal farming industry. Oh and milk is on the same trajectory.


  • While the banks and bank supporters are still pedalling horror stories about Blockchain and cryptocurrency and desperately holding on to the past, the reality is that they are rapidly embedding themselves in our society.
  • Digital currency is here. You can already buy books on Amazon with BTC, even if you can't yet pay for a taxi ride or a lunch with it. This is the future and it's coming fast, and it's going to disrupt so many industries.
    • Banks
    • Data collection and publishing
    • Land and house titles
    • The internet altogether
    • Investment in digital currency (outstripped USD)


As at Oct 9 - but you can see two years up to today.

We are simply not built or wired to see exponential change. Despite being on the brink of phenomenal change we can barely see it or sense it. And experts continue to predict linear change, despite the evidence.


It's all a bit wild out there. Here's an update from Kaila Colbin February this year.

So let's come back to 2017 and look behind us