You CAN Predict the Future, and You Must
All too often we get plans which have this common assumption that the future’s going to be just like today.
Raymond "Ray" Kurzweil (born 1948) is an American inventor and futurist. He is involved in fields as diverse as optical character recognition (OCR), text-to-speech synthesis, speech recognition technology, and electronic keyboard instruments. He is the author of several books on health, artificial intelligence (AI), transhumanism, the technological singularity, and futurism.
He has received nineteen honorary Doctorates and honors from three U.S. presidents.
Ray has written six books, four of which have been national best sellers. The Age of Spiritual Machines has been translated into 9 languages and was the #1 best selling book on Amazon in science. Ray’s latest book, The Singularity is Near, was a New York Times best seller, and has been the #1 book on Amazon in both science and philosophy.
When I do mentoring and early stage investing, one obvious thing I look for is that people incorporate a model of the future into their business plans. All too often we get plans which have this common assumption that the future’s going to be just like today. Yes, we’ve had a lot of change up until now, but then people’s imagination leaves them and they assume that, five years from now, ten years from now, it’s going to be the same reality. Maybe cell phones will be a little smaller.
I got into this because of my own interest in being an inventor and being able to anticipate where technology would be so I could time my project correctly. Imagine life without social networks, that’s ancient history. In fact, you watch the movie, Social Network, and it looks like ancient history, but it’s 2004.
So the world is changing faster and faster. You can anticipate what things will be like. This common wisdom, you can’t predict the future, is wrong when it comes to at least these underlying measures. Very specifically: bits of communication per dollar, or bits of memory per dollar, or base pairs of DNA per dollar, or the number of base pairs sequenced each year, the number of bits for moving around the Internet, the number of bits being moved around wirelessly, the number of bits of data we’re downloading about the brain. These kinds of basic measures follow exquisitely predictable exponential trajectories.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
From time-traveling billiard balls to information-destroying black holes, the world's got plenty of puzzles that are hard to wrap your head around.
- While it's one of the best on Earth, the human brain has a lot of trouble accounting for certain problems.
- We've evolved to think of reality in a very specific way, but there are plenty of paradoxes out there to suggest that reality doesn't work quite the way we think it does.
- Considering these paradoxes is a great way to come to grips with how incomplete our understanding of the universe really is.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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