If we look at a graph where the horizontal axis (the x axis) represents TIME, and the vertical axis (the y axis) represents some quantiy of a particular thing, plotting those quantities as time progresses, provides us with a "line" (straight, curved, eratic, or in some other form). Over a long period of time, the line may increase, decrease, or go up and down eratically with no recognizable pattern.
Let's use for an example... the number of cars in America from 1900 to 2000. If the number of cars increased the same amount each year, the graph would be an increasing straght line. But if the number of cars increases by an increasing amount each year (for example an increase of 1000 in the first year, 2000 the second year, 3000 the third year, etc.), the graph would be an upward curving line.
One type of upward curving line (produced by an acceleration in the rate of increase) is called an EXPONENTIAL CURVE. (This is a somewhat over-simplified explanation of the exponential curve without actually getting into the mathematics, but it will suffice to explain the point of this article.) On this kind of curve, at first, the increase is almost unnoticeable. In fact, at the beginning of the curve and over a short period of time, it looks almost flat or like a very slight straight line increase. But over a long period of time, the incline of the curve gets steeper and steeper, i.e.,
each unit of time produces an ever-increasing amount of increase, until the upper end reaches an almost vertical line. (In an exponential curve, the line always approaches vertical, but never becomes 100% vertical.) This is the intriguing feature
of the exponential curve. Eventually, it makes HUGE increases over a very short period of time.
Dr. Raymond Kurzweil
Dr. Raymond Kurzweil is a very accomplished scientist, inventor, and futurist. He received the National Medal of Technology and Innovation in 1999, the U.S.'s highest honor in technology, from President Clinton. In 2002, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of 21 honorary doctorates and honors from three Presidents. Among his other writings, he is the author of the book "The Singularity is Near"
and the 2001 essay "The Law of Accelerating Returns".
In both of these, Dr. Kurzweil postulates that HUMAN TECHNOLOGY IS ADVANCING ON AN EXPONENTIAL SCALE.
Most people do not understand the implications of this!
His thesis is based on these ideas:
1. The "Intuitive Linear View" says that technological progress will continue at the current rate of progress for the foreseeable future... a straight linear increase. This error is made by viewing only a short time period - i.e., a very small part of the historical graph which appears to be a straight line increase, and so it is extrapolated linearly. (see "Almost Horizontal" on the preceding figure of the exponential curve graph)
2. Technology is advancing at "not just simple exponential growth, but 'double' exponential growth, meaning that the rate of exponential growth is itself growing exponentially." These observations are "based on a rich model of diverse technological processes."
That is, many different areas of technology, when shown over a long period of time, follow the exponential curve.
3. "As an evolutionary process... becomes more effective, greater resources are deployed toward the further progress of that process." That is, new inventions provide the means for making even better inventions, which provide for making even better inventions, etc. (and in a shorter span of time)
4. Technology progresses in any given area of science exponentially until that "method exhausts its potential", at which time "a paradigm shift (i.e., a fundamental change in the approach) occurs, which enables exponential growth to continue." Example - Moore's Law stated back in the 1970s that technology would allow us to double the number of transitors on an integrated circuit of a fixed size every 24 months. Basically, what this means is that the abilitiy of our "computing power" would double every 24 months by making the transitors smaller and smaller. This is true... up to a point. When the transistors become the size of atoms, the potential for putting more transistors on an integrated circuit of fixed size is exhausted, and thus, the potential for greater computing power is exhausted.
What Moore's Law does not take into consideration is that there are other means being discovered that will increase computing power (parallel processing, quad-core processing, etc.) In other words, when one "roadblock" occurs to stop the technological progression, another area of innovation provides for technology to continue on its exponential path. Kurzweil defines these times of invention as "paradigms".
In the area of "computing power", he identifies "at least five distinct paradigms of computing, of which Moore's Law pertains to only the latest one." Before that, beginning with the electromechanical calculators used in the 1890 and 1900 U.S. Census, five major paradigm jumps in technology have completely changed the way man thinks about computing power. Overcoming the natural roadblock existent in continuing the progress stated by Moore's Law is already being built. Let me explain.
The CPU (central processing unit) is the electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program. Up until very recently, these chips have been flat (2-dimensional) although they were built with up to 20 layers of materials to produce one layer of circuitry. BUT NOW, 3-dimensional circuitry is in the offing. How powerful would such technology be? Think of this... Just "one cubic inch of nanotube circuitry [3-dimensional] would be a million times more powerful than the human brain." And the idea of 3-dimensional circuitry is just one of many new technologies that is literally exploding the computing power of computers into areas that as recently as a few years ago some people thought would take decades to achieve. You might say that these technologies are the Sixth Paradigm... the one to overcome the limits set by Moore's Law. You might even say that we've reached the upper end of the exponential curve of technology and now, HUGE advancements are being made in very short periods of time... and the rate of growth of those advancements will CONTINUE to increase (remember the exponential curve?) But, is there no end to it? I mean... Will computers eventually become so powerful that the human brain cannot keep up with the advancements? When computers begin to design and build bigger and more powerful computers, will man lose control of his own inventions?
That "Losing Control" is referred to as "Singularity". (The word refers to something that is absolutely distinctive and separate unto itself, i.e., there's nothing like it.) It would represent a single point in time when man's advancements in technology would literally outrun his own ability to keep up with it and understand it. Thus, losing control.
Kurzweil theorizes that there will be a major paradigm before man allows Singularity to occur. Since the human brain is a finite CPU, its capacities must be greatly increased in order to prevent the Singularity. "
The upcoming primary paradigm shift will be from biological thinking to a hybrid combining biological and nonbiological thinking." That is, there will be a merging of man-made CPUs with the human brain making it thousands of times faster and able to retain perhaps millions of times as much information. "So we won't experience 100 years of progress in the 21st century - It will be more like 20,000 years of progress (at today's rate)".
Does all of this seem farfetched to you? Does it seem impossible that it could happen? Well, just think for a moment about how far man's computers, communications, transportation, the internet, and other technologies have advanced in the last ten years, compared to the advancement made in the 1000 years prior to that! According to the exponential curve of technology advancement, the next ten years will witness a hundred times as much. You're not going to believe what inventions will come in just the next few years!
You're probably thinking, "What has all of this got to do with Bible Prophecy?" Just hang on. I'm going to show you.
The prophet Daniel was told to shut up his book and seal it "even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased." (Dan. 12:4) It was a way of saying that there would come a day at the end of the age when astonishing mobility and an incredible increase in knowledge will occur. It certainly appears from all that I've written here that we are on the very cusp of witnessing unimaginable leaps in technological knowledge... things that our fathers never even dreamed of! But that's not the main point of this article.
Because Kurzweil believed that a double exponential increase of knowledge is taking place, to prevent Singularity, man will merge his biological brain with small, non-biological computer chips having massive storage and computing capabilities. He asked the question, "what would a thousand scientists, each a thousand times more intelligent than human scientists today, and each operating a thousand times faster than contemporary humans (because the information processing in their primaily nonbiological brains is faster) accomplish? One year would be like a millennium. What would they come up with?"
The possibilities are mind-boggling. BUT, the Bible speaks of the technology in the Tribulation, that even though it is advanced (by today's standards), it is nowhere near the Singularity level:
1. Rev. 11:3-14 speaks of God's two Witnesses, who will die in Jerusalem. It says that their bodies will lie in the streets for 3 1/2 days and "they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies" - satellite communications.
2. Rev. 18 speaks of the destruction of Babylon where "she shall be utterly burned with fire" (18:8) and the merchants "shall stand afar off for the fear of her torment" (18:15). This seems to be a reference to a nuclear explosion - national arsenals of nuclear bombs are prevalent today.
3. Rev. 13 speaks of a "mark" that all people are required to take in order to buy or sell anything - Subderminal identity chips? Planetary-wide financial networks. It's all here now.
A hundred years ago, men scratched their head in wonderment at how such things could come to pass. But today, these levels of technology are easily understood.