This is a special post for quick takes by AidanGoth. Only they can create top-level comments. Comments here also appear on the Quick Takes page and All Posts page.

This is a special post for quick takes by AidanGoth. Only they can create top-level comments. Comments here also appear on the Quick Takes page and All Posts page.

## The next technological revolution could come this century and could last less than a decade

This is a quickly written note that I don't expect to have time to polish.

## Summary

This note aims to bound reasonable priors on the date and duration of the next technological revolution, based primarily on the timings of (i) the rise of homo sapiens; (ii) the Neolithic Revolution; (iii) the Industrial Revolution. In particular, the aim is to determine how sceptical our prior should be that the next technological revolution will take place this century and will occur very quickly.

The main finding is that the historical track record is consistent with the next technological revolution taking place this century and taking just a few years. This is important because it partially undermines the

claimsthat (i) the“most important century”hypothesis is overwhelmingly unlikely and (ii) the burden of evidence required to believe otherwise is very high. It also suggests that the historical track record doesn’t rule out a fast take-off.I expect this note not to be particularly surprising to those familiar with existing work on the

burden of prooffor the most important century hypothesis. I thought this would be a fun little exercise though, and it ended up pointing in a similar direction.Caveats:

## Timing of next technological revolution

There have been two technological revolutions since the emergence of homo sapiens (about 3,000 centuries ago): the Neolithic Revolution (started about 100 centuries ago) and the Industrial Revolution (started about 2 centuries ago).

Full calculations in

this spreadsheet.almostdue a revolutionary technology! (According to this simple calculation.)## Duration of the next technological revolution

Full calculations in

the spreadsheet.## Poisson process on the number of human-years

Suppose technological revolutions arise as a Poisson point process, with time measured in human-years, so that it takes the same number of human-years for each technological revolution (on average). This seems like a reasonable way to form a prior in this case. If it takes

Nhuman-years for a technological revolution on average, and the number of human-years has been growing exponentially, then the time between each multiple ofNshould get shorter. But population hasn’t grown at a constant exponential rate, it’s more like the growth rate isproportional to the population level(until very recently, in macrohistorical terms).Numerical simulations suggest that when population growth is proportional to population level, the time delay between each

Nhuman-years gets shorter by the same factor each time.Very cool. You may have seen this but Robin Hanson makes a similar argument in this paper.

Interesting. Thanks for sharing :)