Can I just say how wonderful it is that iOS 8 was more than 4.5 GB and iOS 9 is only 1 GB? I love living in the future
— Jude Fox (@JudeFox14) September 18, 2015
Before I delve into yet another post about how much I love technology, I’d like to begin by attempting to retell a fable of sorts that was told to me as a child by a math teacher. I am lost on the finer details of the story but I remember the gist.
Once upon there was a young boy and his father. When the father felt his son was old enough to do chores, he approached the boy and said he could have an allowance.
“I want to discuss the terms of your allowance,” the father said, seeing this as a great opportunity to each the boy a lesson in business negotiations. “Your allowance will increase along with your experience. What do you think is a fair starting wage?”
The boy thought about it. “I’d like you to start me at 1¢ per day.”
“One cent!?” The father was very surprised.
“And,” his son went on, “I’d like my pay to double each day.”
The father was disappointed. His son was asking for chump change. 1¢, 2¢, 4¢, 8¢… it was negligible! Confused, but wanting his young son to understand the concept of money, the father agreed to pay the boy 1¢ on the first day of chores, 2¢ on the second day, and continue doubling from there.
On the fifth day, the boy made 16¢.
On the sixth day, he made 32¢.
On the seventh day, he made 64¢.
On the tenth day, he made $5.12.
By the 20th day, the boy was making $5,242.88
Ok, story over, the characters don’t matter anymore because you see the point. The story illustrates the incredible multiplicative power of exponents. By the 30th day (2^29), the boy would be owed over five million dollars ($5,368,709.12).
So how does this relate to “The Future”? Consider Moore’s law, which is the observation that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit doubles approximately every two years. This is a somewhat outdated description that basically means computers get twice as good every two years. You know what else got twice as good for every one unit of time passed? That kid’s allowance.
In a very over simplified form, Moore’s law looks like this:
Exponential numbers. grow. FAST. This equation literally goes of the charts so fast that it is painfully obvious to behold in our everyday lives. Just think… mentally compare the first generation iPhone (2007) to the current iPhone. That 1st Gen had a 2 Megapixel camera, what we in 2015 would call “potato quality”. The iPhone 6S has 12 Megapixels.
That’s just one tiny example. It boggles my mind to compare the music-listening technology of my childhood (single disc portable CD player) with today’s devices. A CD player vs an iPhone is like a tricycle vs. a McLaren. This is why I like to say “it’s good to be in the future,” “this is the future,” and the like. Because, wow, isn’t it amazing how much technology has become obsolete in my short lifetime?
No matter how amazing that all is, it pales in comparison to what awaits us in the next 15 years. On the simplified Moore graph, I figure we’re about here:
You guys, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Human technology is going to go off the charts, and the millennials are going to live to see it.
So, while I’ve been calling the present “The Future” for years, with every year that passes that joke simultaneously becomes more true and more false. More true because our technology is truly more futuristic than ever before. More false because as the slope of our graph increases, it becomes easier and easier to see how in just a few short years, we will have new technology twice as unbelievable as what we’ve achieved in the past few years. And seriously, guys, the iPhone is pretty dang unbelievable.
Can’t wait to live in The Future five years from now when I’m sitting in my self-driving car looking back at this post on my Google Glass.