The Great Knowledge Debate
The world will see more knowledge in the next fifty years than it did in the last.
“What a profound and thought-provoking statement,” I hear you virtually mutter. Where did I read such a thing? I wish I could tell you it wasn’t written on an expired calendar hung on the back of a toilet door in Woolgoolga NSW, but unfortunately, I can’t.
Uninspired and unhygienic location aside, this statement, coupled with a fairly large intake of alcohol, fired up a heated and boisterous discussion about what this world has seen, and what is likely to come.
In a group of eight tipsy twenty-somethings, there were only two who didn’t believe the aforementioned statement could be true. And what was their valiant trump card? The Internet. A valid argument, and one that was probably put forward when man first turned on a light, when man first walked on the moon, and when man first listened to a radio.
In the last 50 years, we’ve seen some pretty amazing inventions. Things that were once deemed out of this world (literally, in the case of the first communications satellite) are now considered the norm. We’ve seen the first airline jet facilitate mass domestic and overseas travel. We’ve seen the contraceptive pill and IVF completely revolutionise childbirth. We’ve seen the MRI scan, the pacemaker and antibiotics save millions of lives. We’ve seen the digitisation of music, film and… just about everything really. And of course, in 1990, we saw Tim Berners-Lee invent the World Wide Web. Groundbreaking? Yes. The pinnacle? No.
Alas, the great debate could have been over with a simple Google search. The irony. According to Buckminster Fuller’s ‘Knowledge Doubling Curve,’ human knowledge doubled every century up until 1900. By 1945 knowledge doubled every 25 years and today it is doubling every 13 months on average says Industry Tap.
So what’s next? Popular Mechanics believes bridges will repair themselves with self-healing concrete; face recognition will make passwords obsolete; you’ll be able to 3D print your car parts; vaccines will wipe out drug addictions; farms will become vertical, and contact lenses will provide terminator vision. That all sounds pretty cool right? Beyond this, Ray Kurzweil predicts that within decades, humans will have the knowledge to read minds, assume different forms, and reshape the physical environment at will. Okay, now that’s just creepy.
Technology, both the good and the bad, has become such an inherent part of our lives. If the Internet is not the pinnacle, then what do you think is? I’d love for you to weigh in on the debate.