Thiel: What Happened to the Future?

An excellent look at venture investing and technology. This along with Blake Masters’s course notes from Peter Thiel’s CS 183 class are a must read.

We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters.

What Happened to the Future?
CS 183 Course Notes

Kurzweil : The Law of Accelerating Returns (2001)

The Law of Accelerating Returns by Ray Kurzweil. Be warned it’s long but well worth the read in it’s entirety. The application to economics is a bit of a stretch but outside of that a brilliant look at where we’ve been and where we’re going (it was written early 2001 after all).

An 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 (at today’s rate). The “returns,” such as chip speed and cost-effectiveness, also increase exponentially. There’s even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth. Within a few decades, machine intelligence will surpass human intelligence, leading to The Singularity — technological change so rapid and profound it represents a rupture in the fabric of human history. The implications include the merger of biological and nonbiological intelligence, immortal software-based humans, and ultra-high levels of intelligence that expand outward in the universe at the speed of light.

Now back to the future: it’s widely misunderstood. Our forebears expected the future to be pretty much like their present, which had been pretty much like their past. Although exponential trends did exist a thousand years ago, they were at that very early stage where an exponential trend is so flat that it looks like no trend at all. So their lack of expectations was largely fulfilled. Today, in accordance with the common wisdom, everyone expects continuous technological progress and the social repercussions that follow. But the future will be far more surprising than most observers realize: few have truly internalized the implications of the fact that the rate of change itself is accelerating.

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Jobs : Here’s to the Crazy Ones. (1997)

Here’s to the Crazy Ones.

The Troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.

They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo.

You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.

About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things.

They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They Inspire. They push the human race forward.

Maybe they have to be crazy. How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art?

Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?

Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that usually do.

– Steve Jobs