(aside: I changed the title of this post 7 times while writing, and it became about 100 times as long as I had first conceived it, but the thoughts, they just keep coming! please, read on…)
I’ve been thinking a lot about the acceleration of technology, the “singularity”, and I changed my tagline up above accordingly (feed readers, you’ll have to click to see it!). Here’s why. I’m still a geek blogger and technology evangelist. But I’m reading (or re-reading) a couple of books right now that get me all excited about technology and the future. Reading for the first time, Ray Kurzweil‘s “The Singularity is Near“, and for the second time, Charles Stross’ Accelerando (available for free under a Creative Commons license on his site – it’s great scifi, highly recommend you snag it).
I first read Accelerando about a year ago, because it was free, and I love scifi. I think it was a recommendation from Cory Doctorow (who also publishes great scifi books for free under a Creative Commons license at www.craphound.com). I hadn’t read anything at the time about the idea of a technological singularity (a point at which technology advances so rapidly that the world undergoes a fundamental shift). But Stross does a good job of explaining the idea and incorporating it into the story line.
A couple of weeks ago, I bought and started reading “The Singularity is Near” (non-fiction), and it’s been blowing my mind ever since. Kurzweil is a really, really smart guy, and while I don’t think anyone can predict the future with 100% accuracy (and I have my own beliefs about what’s going to happen to humanity in the future), he makes some very fundamental observations about the fact that technology is advancing at an exponential rate, has been doing so for a long time, and will continue to do so.
Think of Moore’s Law, and extrapolate it a few decades into the future. Think of how much technology has changed your day to day life in the last 5 years, and try to imagine what’s going to change in the next few decades. Pretty wild, huh? That’s one of the reasons I love working at Intel – it’s not a given, but I think it’s a safe bet that the next big, life-changing advance in technology and computing is going to happen at a company that spends billions on research and development, and is already mass producing the most complex things ever made by human kind (just go read up on the recent 45nm/high k dielectric stuff for one example). Heck, the computers have already convinced us to build them a building (an unstaffed high density datacenter). 😉 I want to be there when the chips “wake up”. I, for one, welcome our new silicon overlords (cookie for the reference).
Like Manfred Macx, the main character in Accelerando, I often feel like I’m living 15 minutes into everyone else’s future, and I love it. I love a quote by Tim O’Reilly – “The future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed.” And there’s another quote I love (I think it was in a William Gibson book) – “If you want to know what the future is like, just ask someone who lives there.” I don’t mean any of this is any kind of “I’m more advanced/further along than you.” In fact, one of the main benefits I get from constantly pulling myself into the future by what I read, the tools I use, and the things I do is that I get to teach other people how to do the same thing, and I love that just as much. I love pulling them a little bit into the future, where I’m at, and where life is faster, richer, easier, and more fun. Teaching people how to be connected anywhere, any time, on your own terms. To use intelligent tools to bring you information that you care about. That kind of thing.
Also like Manfred Macx, giving great, useful ideas away to others by teaching or example is what turns my crank/floats my boat/insert metaphor here. That’s why I consider myself a “technology evangelist”. I’m not smart enough to come up with the tools myself, but I am smart enough to figure out how to wring as much usefulness as possible out of them, and then boil that down to something that’s easy to teach and share with other people. Clawing my way a little bit more into the future, then pulling people as I can along with me, one or a few at a time. That’s what I do, and that’s what I love. And on some fundamental level, that’s who I am (along with lots of other important things, like a husband and father).
So, now that you know a little more about what makes me tick, won’t you come join me? Go read one of those books, or figure out how to make your life easier by using a new tool. Feeds, wikis, social networks, ubiquitous wireless (like EVDO or HSDPA), mobile computing devices like a smartphone or tablet, or anything that makes your life easier, more focused, more meaningful, or more fun. The web is my metacortex – it can be yours, too.
Not sure if you can (or want to) pull yourself a little more into the future? Let’s have a chat. I love to talk about this stuff.