What is a Law of accelerating return?

The Law of Accelerating Returns, also known as Moore's Law, is an observation made by Intel co-founder Gordon Moore in 1965. It states that the performance of computing devices doubles roughly every two years while the cost per unit increases at a much slower rate. This phenomenon has driven exponential growth in technology since its inception and can be seen in almost all areas of modern life, from medical imaging to social media and beyond.

Moore's Law has been used to make predictions about future advances in technology and has acted as a major driving force for innovation over the past five decades. For example, it led engineers to develop new ways to increase computer processing power such as parallel computing and artificial intelligence. As a result, computing devices have become smaller and more powerful, enabling us to do many tasks quickly and efficiently.

The Law of Accelerating Returns has had a profound impact on the advancement of technology and its applications in our daily lives. It has opened up possibilities for new products, services, and experiences that would have been difficult or impossible just a few years ago. As such, it is an important concept for anyone interested in the future of technology and its potential to shape the world we live in.

Although Moore's Law holds true for most computing devices today, there are some limitations that prevent it from continuing indefinitely into the future. For example, as computer processing power increases exponentially so does the complexity of chip designs which can eventually lead to diminishing returns.

Simplified Example

The Law of Accelerating Return is like a toy that gets faster and faster the longer you play with it. Imagine you have a toy car that you can wind up with a key. At first, when you first start winding it up, it might not move very fast. But the more you wind it up, the faster it goes. It's the same way with technology and progress, the more we learn and the more we advance, the faster we are able to make new discoveries and advancements. The Law of Accelerating Return states that technological progress is exponential, meaning it happens faster and faster over time, this results in the rapid acceleration of technological evolution, leading to an increasing rate of technological change.

Who Invented the Law of Accelerating Return?

The term "Law of Accelerating Returns" is credited to Ray Kurzweil, an American inventor, futurist, and author, who introduced the concept in his 1999 book "The Age of Spiritual Machines." According to this law, the pace of technological change follows an exponential acceleration, signifying a continuous increase at an ever-growing rate. Kurzweil contends that this trend of accelerating technological progress has persisted for centuries and is likely to persist in the future. Examples he cites include the doubling of computing power every two years (Moore's Law), the exponential growth of the internet, and the rapid advancement of artificial intelligence.


Automation and Artificial Intelligence (AI): As AI and robotic automation continue to advance, both the cost and efficiency associated with industrial processes have drastically improved. This has enabled businesses to maximize their output for a fraction of what it would have taken just a few years ago, allowing them to remain competitive in an increasingly globalized marketplace. The result is that companies can now produce more goods at lower costs in shorter timeframes than ever before.

Biotechnology: Advances in biotechnology have enabled researchers to understand complex genetic information and use it to create new treatments for a wide range of diseases. In addition, bioinformatics and gene editing technologies have allowed scientists to manipulate genetic information with greater precision and accuracy than ever before, leading to breakthroughs in fields such as cancer treatment and regenerative medicine.

Information Technology: The development of the internet and other digital communication networks has revolutionized the way people communicate, connecting us instantaneously across vast distances. This technology has enabled businesses to interact directly with customers all over the world, while giving individuals unprecedented access to information from any location. As a result, we now have an incredibly powerful tool that can be used to share ideas and collaborate on projects with others around the globe at lightning speed.

  • Big Tech: A term used to describe a group of large technology companies that have become dominant in their respective industries.

  • Quantum Computing: A rapidly emerging technology and has the potential to revolutionize many industries.