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Laurens Rademakers


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Why do things "speed up" over time? (Science, Innovation, War, Information...)

An interesting philosopher -- Paul Virilio - has written a lot about the acceleration of speed in the development of mankind:

-Information + speed: things get faster, billions of people are informed about events simultaneously, around the globe
-Politics and war + speed: blitzkrieg and video-bombing
-Science + speed: the law of accelerating inventions and returns

All disciplines and sectors of social management seem to "speed up" over time. The consequences are "catastrophic", according to him. Because of this, we are losing our grip on "reality".

Kurzweil has written something similar, but draws a kind of utopian fantasy out of it (his idea of the Singularity).

Why do things speed up over time?

Where does this come from?

:: Is there some kind of hidden law of acceleration in the universe? If we suggest there is, we have become metaphysicists

:: Is it the result of the evolution of our brain? If we say so, we need to explain why speed speeds up, while our brain is not getting faster, fast.

:: Perhaps it's a demographic fact? More brains are collaborating than ever before, on this planet.

None of these explanations is satisfactory. The question thus remains unanswered.


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    Jun 25 2011: I would say that this, fundamentally, is related to the fact that entropy is on a never-ending, or seemingly never-ending, path of growth. Entropy is perpetually increasing, so, the amount of potentialities is increasing.
    Actually, in his book The Age of Spiritual Machines, Kurzweil discusses the trend of rapid increase in the rates of technological innovation and invention. I forget the details of his take on this matter, but it was a great read overall, I'd recommend it!

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