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  • Writer's picturekyle Hailey

Exponential Thinking

Updated: Oct 20, 2023

Life on Earth began approximately

3.7 billion years ago

The emergence of major technology, dating back to the say the pyramids (? or pick your own point) around

4,000 years ago technology started

only represents

0.00008% of the timeline life has had major technology

Or if life on earth was 1 hour, then technology comes in in the last 3 milliseconds

Only 0.00008% of life's existence on our planet has had major technology. Viewing the history of Earth unfold over billions of years would seem rather uneventful, with life appearing as just a thin layer on the planet's surface. Fast forward to when Homo sapiens arrived on the scene approximately 300,000 years ago. In this context, the 4,000 years of technological progress only represents 1% of our entire history. Observing Earth from space for 300,000 years would seem relatively unremarkable, with not much happening. If we condensed this time frame into a one-hour movie, all of our technological advancements would occur in the final 40 seconds, with the most significant developments (last 150 years) appearing only in the last second, like the earth suddenly exploded and that explosion continues to accelerate.This is important because our rapidly developing technology increases the likelihood of human-induced mass extinction events

It seems like the main dangers are the breakdown of society and the potential power plays that happen during that breakdown.

It also seems easy to do safely in theory with some level headed thinking.

Here is the growth of ChatGPT usage on a log graph, a low slope straight slanted line would be growing faster and faster. Normal linear growth rates will flatten more and more as time goes on. In this case ChatGPT is so straight and so steep it doesn't make sense.

Why is that important? Because with the benefits of more powerful tech, come the increased dangers of that tech.

Exponential increases on an Exponential graph

The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand exponential growth.
-- Albert Bartlett

Here is the growth of parameters in the models (parameters are like neurons in a brain). The growth rate looks exponential but this is on a log graph i.e. this is like exponential growth of exponential growth.

Related charts

-> type 1 in about 100 years


we are on a hyper-exponential energy growth rate but even at just exponential we will be using all of our planets energuy well before 2400

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