The transitions to farming and to industry were associated with huge sudden increases in growth rates. Growth had remained pretty steady before each transition, and then boom, within a quarter of a previous doubling time, doubling times fell by over a factor of 150. Going by the number of doublings in these previous modes, we are already overdue for another transition. So I
Suppose most of social and economic life occurs in cyberspace, and the speed of computation doubles every few weeks. This could easily happen if we develop quantum computers. If we have strong encryption and high-fidelity virtual reality, we may be able to interact in cyberspace in any way we can imagine interacting today in the real world. And we may have enough privacy to create and join any social institution we please, and keep it completely hidden from existing governments. Other than that, I can't think of any way the world economy could truly have a doubling-time measured in weeks.
There comes a point when keeping changes to laws becomes another form of inflexibility.
SIngapore and Dubai will probably be best placed to take advantage of this under continuation of present trends.
I agree that we wouldn't have infinite singularities, because as the doubling time gets smaller, some limitation that is not being reduced by this process would become more and more significant until neglecting it invalidates the model. But it is an interesting question to ask what sort of limitation is it, and how many doublings / how small of a doubling time will it allow?
I think this next transition, if it is to allow a doubling time of weeks, would need to remove the economy's dependence on the productivity of biological humans. If that happens, and the limitation is not a property of biological humans, what is it, and where does it stop?
Ah, that clears it up. Sorry for getting it all wrong. I would still be willing to bet against this prediction but, alas, neither of us is going to be around in a century or so.
Remember my point about favoring larger economies with large developed inputs and high demand for outputs. Unless seasteading has a truly remarkable level of success, it just won't be in the running here.
Robert I said the time frame is "within a century or so" while the transition time scale is "about five years".
If the changes that are needed are dramatic but obvious though costly, I have an odd candidate. Of the existing major nation states, Japan might do well. Although it tends to be fairly rigid and stable in the short run it has a tendency to make sudden social jumps when it perceives a need for rapid institutional adjustment. E.g. late Tang China, Meiji Restoration, Post WWII. To some extent, its homogeneity doesn't make for flexible local adjustments but enables it to promote unified national adjustments.
The U.S. seems good where adjustments are local and diverse. It does more poorly when adjustment requires some sort of national contract.
The fact that these accelerations in change have happened in the past suggest that they may happen again, but trying to extrapolate a trend from 3 very widely spaced datapoints seems rather dubious to me. Thus, I don't think it's meaningful to claim to that we are "overdue" for the next change or that it's necessarily likely to happen soon.
Okay.. I just saw TGGP's reply...
Perhaps you should consider seasteading ventures... New countries forming on artificial islands on international waters.. So they could have social/political/etc systems much different from those in existence in other parts of the world.. The SeaSteading Institute says 75 years should have us see at least one independent country the size of a city... This should allow a lot of flexibility in laws etc...
More opportunities? A wager, perhaps? This seems to be a very straightforward prediction that can be formalized without much hassle. I am a bit younger than you are so chances are high that we both will be around in 5-7 years now. Say, a half of the taxable income in the year preceding the set date? My email is real - reply if interested.
I didn't think you meant an infinite number of doublings, but you did leave it open for a broad interpretation.
Damn, TGGP scooped me. I am hoping that seasteading will bring about functional institutions, and that perhaps existing nations will begin to copy them. One narrative states that this is what happened the last time a stagnant old population found a new frontier. Supposedly, the new frontier gave space for democracy to develop, and slowly democracy began to replace the monarchies in the old world.
If seasteading or charter cities DO open up a new frontier, in which large groups of people are free to try new forms of social institutions, surely they'll stumble upon something that's worth copying.
I watched Elinor Ostram's Nobel lecture. She points out that old fashion irrigation systems run under functional social norm work far better than new high-tech irrigation systems run without any sort of functioning social norms. I'm not extrapolating entirely from this example, but I think that having functional institutions is more important than having super-advanced tech. If those institutions aren't allowed to evolve freely, as they most certainly AREN'T in any nation today, we won't see the new singularity.
Wait a minute... I think I may understand now.... Did you mean to suggest that sometime in the distant future, there will exist a 5 year period, during which the doubling time will suddenly become as short as every few weeks? But this 5-year transition period itself is located in the far future? Even so, the language you used to communicate that seems odd. But that is the now only interpretation that makes sense to me...
I'm sorry, but when I saw "...since the current doubling time is about fifteen years, we should roughly expect that within a space of about five years the world economy will transition to doubling every few weeks or less" I thought it was some kind of typo/text cutting/pasting error. But then you responded to DK's comment and didn't mention or correct the apparent error. So... what am I missing here? You are not seriously suggesting that in a mere 5 years, the size of the world's economy will be doubling "every few weeks or less" are you?? It's one thing to speculate about the distant future. It is quite another to make such a near-term fantastical prediction. Did you really mean to say something like perhaps 500 or 5000 years?