Law of Accelerated Returns


Futurist Ray Kurzweil has become famous for his accurate predictions for technological advances. In his opinion, rapid technological advances are the result of the exponential growth of the systems. The law of accelerated returns, advocated by Ray Kurzweil, is another expression of the exponential growth of systems. The exponential growth of systems happens by building new technological advances on top of previous advancements. Kurzweil specifically talks about the growth of computing power and information technology. Kurzweil's prediction of the exponential growth of computing systems is an example of Moore's Law. Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Intel Corporation, first demonstrated that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubled every year since the adoption of computer chips. "The Beginning of Infinity", authored by David Deutsch is another book that argues the exponential growth of computing power and supports Moore's Law.


Kurzweil uses an analogy to emphasize the power of the law of accelerating returns. He mentions the tale of the inventor of chess and the emperor. Emperor loved chess game and offered a reward to the inventor. The inventor was aware of exponential growth and asked for one grain of rice in the first square, two on the second, four on the third one, and so forth. By the time that grains of rice reached the last square, the rice price exceeded the emperor's wealth.


Ray Kurzweil believes that the human mind is mostly linear and unable to grasp how technology may progress exponentially. According to Kurzweil, rapid, exponential, and predictive growth result in an era called Singularity. Singularity is a case where a robot is capable of interacting with the world as well as any human. Ray Kurzweil scrutinizes this phenomenon in his book called "The Singularity Is Near".

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