Dunvegan Thought Spot


In the research The Dunvegan Group conducts to support our CCR™ (Customer Care & Retention™) programs, we discover articles, blog posts and videos which, although not directly related to our work, are thought provoking or concern matters you may want to think about.  ‘Thought Spot’ covers a broad range of subjects.

The posts in ‘Thought Spot’ are selected by Olev Wain, Ph.D., VP of Research at The Dunvegan Group. 

We welcome your feedback!


Exponential Technologies – What Are They?

Peter Diamandis is an American engineer, physician and entrepreneur who co-founded Singularity University, a Silicon Valley think tank providing educational Artificial Intelligenceprograms as well as running a business incubator. 

The university focuses on scientific progress and the development of ‘exponential’ technologies such as artificial intelligence, robotics and virtual reality.

The incubator encourages application of these technologies in various fields such as data science, digital biology, medicine and self-driving vehicles.

In his primer on exponential technologies, Peter Diamandis writes (edited):

For a technology to be ‘exponential, its power and/or speed doubles each year, and/or the cost drops by half.

They are technologies which are rapidly accelerating and shaping major industries and all aspects of our lives.

Diamandis constructed a framework for summarizing the characteristics of exponential technologies. These characteristics are interrelated.

He calls these characteristics the 6 D’s. Here is a summary (edited) and explanation as presented by Vanessa Bates Ramirez writing on SingularityHub.com on November 22 2016:

1. Digitized – it can be programmed

“Anything digitized enters the same exponential growth we see in computing.

Digital information is easy to access, share and distribute. It can be spread at the speed of the internet.

Once something can be represented in ones and zeros – from music to biotechnology – it becomes an information based technology and enters exponential growth.”

2. Deceptive – it is initially slow in developing

“When something starts being digitized, its initial period of growth is deceptive because exponential trends do not seem to grow very fast.

Doubling .01 only gets you .02, then .04, and so on. Exponential growth really takes off after it breaks the whole number barrier.

Then 2 quickly becomes 32, which becomes 32,000 before you know it.”

As an example, artificial intelligence had its origins in research conducted during the Second World War (1939 to 1945) but did not demonstrate its true potential until more than 50 years later in 1997 when IBM’s supercomputer ‘Deep Blue’ defeated world-champion chess player Garry Kasparov.

3. Disruptive – it is more effective and cheaper than what it replaces

“The existing product for a market or service is disrupted by the new market the exponential technology creates because digital technologies outperform in effectiveness and cost.

Once you can stream music on your phone, why buy CDs?

If you can also snap, store and share photographs, why buy a camera and film?”

4. Dematerialized – take something that is physical and re-create it digitally.

“Separate physical products are removed from the equation.

Technologies that were once bulky or expensive – radio, camera, GPS, video, phones, maps – are all now in a smart phone that fits in your pocket.”

As an example, the Sony Walkman, a portable cassette tape player introduced in 1979, allowed people to carry their music with them. Now the same end is accomplished via the iPhone and digitized music.

5. Demonetized – becoming cheaper

“Money is increasingly removed from the equation as the technology becomes cheaper, often to the point of being free.

Software is less expensive to produce than hardware and copies are virtually free.

You can now download any number of apps on your phone to access terabytes of information and enjoy a multitude of services at costs approaching zero.”

6. Democratized – available to everyone, not just the wealthy

“Once something is digitized, more people have access to it. Powerful technologies are no longer only for governments, large organizations or the wealthy.”

If you can buy a cheap phone with an internet connection, you have the same communications capabilities and access to the same platforms as a billionaire.

I think the 6 characteristic D’s of exponential technologies can be summarized even further as:

1. A digitized form of a previous technology
2. Accelerating development of improvements following a slow start
3. More effective and cheaper than what it is displacing and therefore available to everyone

Your thoughts?

Image courtesy of akindo at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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