The Lightning-Fast Pace of Technological Advancement

We were stooped over a knee-high table in a dingy, all night video game parlor in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at 3 AM on a Saturday night, desperately trying to finish our weekend column so we could send it, via a hijacked, painfully slow-speed Internet connection, back to our Baltimore HQ on time. The joint was full of rancid cigarette smoke and the teenagers around us, mesmerized by the flashing lights of their online adventures, paid us no attention. They probably just assumed we’d lost our mind and/or wandered into the place by mistake.

In actual fact, our bus had broken down earlier in the evening on the way to the airport and this was the only semi-reliable Internet connection we could find on the outskirts of what was then, and still is, one of Asia’s more advanced cities. How different the scene is today, not just in KL, but all around the world.

Before we get into today’s regular reckoning, we pause for a moment to reflect on the remarkable advancements of modern technology…the kind that leads to material improvements in health and lifestyle, the eradication of debilitating disease and that inspires the exploration of new frontiers in both space and time. Not to mention, of course, the kind that allows your editor to write to you, as we do today, from a bus station while awaiting our (soon to arrive) ride to the nation’s capital, Montevideo.

“There has been more technological improvement in the last 50 years than in the previous 5,000,” asserts Patrick Cox, co-editor of Technology Profits Confidential, our brand new research service.

“Since you and I have been trained to think in linear terms, this isn’t necessarily intuitive,” continues Patrick. “However, a careful examination of history reveals that the rate of technological change actually accelerates over time. Due to this exponential rate of improvement, we are actually only seeing the beginning of disruptive, transformational changes in technology.”

Fellow Reckoners will no doubt recall the screeching, relative annoyance of dial up Internet from just a few years back (even if you experienced it in the comfort of your own home and not some dive gaming parlor in a random back alley while lost in Asia). Now, today, we hold the power of a wireless device in our hands…one with enough data storage capacity to shame even the most advanced military computing system of just a few decades ago.

You’ve no doubt heard of Moore’s Law. Back in the 1960s, Intel founder Gordon Moore noticed that the density of transistors on an integrated circuit was doubling every two years. And the cost fell in half during the same time.

Now, according to Ray Blanco, Patrick’s co-pilot over at Technology Profits Confidential, we’re on the verge of the next computing revolution.

“This next breakthrough could multiply that power by 100 times or more overnight,” says Ray. “In fact, it could very quickly jump to thousands of times faster than even the best laptop or desktop computer on the market today. And not just computers – cellphones, supercomputers and just about every other ‘information’ device that you can imagine. If it processes data, you could soon see it replaced by this technology.

“Imagine how fast you could read if you could start at the top of the page…the bottom of the page…in the middle of this article…and at the back and front…all at the same time,” Ray continues. “That’s the level of breakthrough we’re talking about. You don’t have to be a science geek to ‘get’ what that will mean.”

Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning