That’s American inventor and futurist Ray Kurzweil.
He’s best known for his theory of the Singularity.
That’s the point when man and machine become a hybrid superintelligence.
Kurzweil was also one of the first to foresee us interacting with each other in 3D virtual worlds.
But it’s not Kurzweil’s predictions I (Chris Lowe) want to shine the spotlight on today. It’s his insight about why so many of us are so bad at predicting the future.
Linear thinkers believe the pace of tech innovation will mimic that of the past.
For much of history, that’s been a good bet.
There wasn’t much difference in the technologies on offer in ancient Rome when Julius Caesar was born, in 100 B.C., and those in 14th-century Rome.
Folks still got around on horseback… used oxen to pull carts… carried steel swords… and took the same, mostly useless, medicines.
But today, we’re living in the Exponential Age. And that kind of thinking will get you into trouble.
Innovations are happening so fast our intuitions will almost certainly be wrong about what will happen next and when.
And as investors, linear thinking means missing out on the biggest, most life-changing gains on offer in tech over the next decade and beyond.
In 2015, he launched our first tech investing advisory at Legacy Research.
He called it Exponential Tech Investor. And he kicked it off with a bold claim about the Exponential Age…
Over the next 10 years, advances in technology will bring such fundamental changes to our lives, they’ll dwarf all the progress we’ve seen since the great tech revolution that began in the late 1990s. […]
We’re on the cusp of a new revolution. And those who act now will be the first to realize the extraordinary wealth these changes will bring.
Jeff’s call has been spot-on so far…
It’s allowed him to give Exponential Tech Investor subscribers the chance to make a 220% gain on a chipmaker at the forefront of the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution.
He’s also up 327% in the model portfolio on a gene-editing company that’s another product of the Exponential Age.
And at our large-cap tech investing advisory, The Near Future Report, Jeff has given subscribers the chance to make 540% on chipmaker Nvidia (NVDA). It’s another play on the AI revolution.
So what is exponential growth? And how is it driving these monster returns for Jeff’s readers?
I know that may sound strange at first… but stick with me.
Exponential growth happens when the rate of growth increases over time.
Consider this example…
If you walk down a road taking steps a meter in length, it’s easy to know where you’ll end up.
Take six steps (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), and you’ll advance 6 meters. Take 30 steps, and you’ll end up 30 meters down the road. That’s linear.
If you took exponential steps instead, you’d double the length of your stride with each new step.
And if an exponential walker took six steps (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32), he’d end up 32 meters down the road.
By the 30th exponential step, our walker would cover more than 1 billion steps. That’s enough to take him 26 times around the world.
Exponential growth (solid line) versus linear growth (dashed line). Source: Singularity Hub
As you can see, with exponential growth there’s this head-spinning gap between where you think you’ll end up and where you actually land.
They follow an exponential – not linear – pattern of growth.
That’s because technological innovations compound… one on top of another.
For example, faster microchips lead to faster computers… which lead to better robot chipmakers and fabrication methods. This leads to even faster microchips… which lead to even faster computers.
Each step in the exponential chain makes the next step more impactful.
This is obvious when you stop to think about it. But it reliably baffles folks who fall into the trap of thinking linearly about tech.
Here’s an example from Kurzweil of exponential growth in action…
When the human genome scan got underway in 1990 critics pointed out that given the speed with which the genome could then be scanned, it would take thousands of years to finish the project. Yet the 15-year project was completed slightly ahead of schedule, with a first draft in 2003.
And the exponential growth of digital technology isn’t some radical new theory. It’s something we’ve known about for decades.
Moore was the cofounder and later the CEO of chipmaker Intel (INTC).
In 1965, he theorized that computing power doubled roughly every two years, thanks to how many transistors you can pack onto a microchip. This principle is now known as Moore’s law.
And history has borne it out… In fact, the doubling of computing power now happens faster than every two years.
That may not sound like a big deal to a linear thinker. But as our example of the exponential walker showed, it causes outcomes linear thinkers can’t imagine are possible.
So be honest: Do you think about the future in a linear or an exponential way?
Your answer will shape how you process and invest in new technologies.
A linear thinker will downplay future progress. An exponential thinker will expect surprising growth… and invest accordingly.
As I’ve been showing you, the next evolution of the internet is shaping up to be a series of virtual worlds called the Metaverse.
It won’t be the kind of internet you merely read or watch. Instead, you’ll step inside it via an avatar (a 3D graphical representation of yourself).
And that’s only the beginning of the changes it will bring.
NFTs (non-fungible tokens) and cryptos will be woven into the fabric of these virtual worlds. This will allow us to easily create new economies within them.
And these new virtual economies may one day even eclipse the size of the real-world economy, as Nvidia boss Jensen Huang predicts.
If you’re a linear thinker, you’ll be deeply skeptical about all of this. You’ll emphasize what you know about the world from past experience. And you’ll find it hard to imagine such a step change.
This, no doubt, will seem to you like the smart, realistic way to think.
But we saw this same skepticism from linear thinkers in the 1990s, when people started to adopt a new technology called the World Wide Web.
We also saw it a decade ago after a new technology called bitcoin (BTC) came onto the scene.
In other words, linear thinking was a recipe for missing the biggest gains on offer in tech over the last 30 years.
They’ll grasp that the pace of technological innovation in the Exponential Age will be far faster than their intuitions tell them it should be.
And they’ll remember that the result of exponential growth is always surprising.
That doesn’t guarantee they’ll spot the next Amazon (AMZN) or the next Google (GOOG). But they’ll be open to it. And they won’t get blindsided by the future like linear thinkers will.
So make sure to read back over my series on the Metaverse…
The future state of the internet that I’ve laid out sounds pretty out-there. I grant you that. And I wouldn’t blame you for reflexively dismissing it as science fiction.
But it’s the folks who can ditch linear thinking and embrace the Exponential Age who’ll benefit as the Metaverse unleashes the next wave of internet profits.
September 9, 2021