The rate of technological progress passed its peak

Russian researchers analyzed the rate of technological progress over the last 42 thousand years of history. As a result, the authors found that their peak has been passed in 2018, but growth will soon begin again and slow down in the second half of the century. About their work, the scientists said in an article in Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

The history of mankind, as has been shown, subject to certain mathematical laws. However, despite their presence, a scientist is not always possible to accurately predict specific events in the history of civilizations, since in addition to the consistent and recurring factors they depend on is full of surprises, which are impossible to predict. In particular, scientific and technological progress largely depends on people’s thinking, their contacts with each other and many other factors and events, anticipating new discoveries.

However, for a sufficiently large period of time, the progress of mankind can be considered as a set of sequential processes, over and over again leading to new discoveries and inventions. Researchers from HSE, the Institute of Oriental studies and the Institute of social and humanitarian education, Moscow state pedagogical University analyzed long-term dynamics of technological progress from 40,000 BC to the present time, and made a forecast of its pace until the beginning of XXII century.

To do this, the authors used the theory of production principles, which releases in the history of mankind into three periods, each characterized by the technological revolution. Among them are agricultural, which happened somewhere between 12 thousand years BC and 3000 BC, industrial, occupied the period from the last third of the XV century and the first third of the XIX and cybernetic, which began in the 1950s, the end of which predicts 2060-70 years. Each of them can be described by hyperbolic function curve, growth rates which, over time, grow stronger. At some point, this mathematical function goes to infinity. Some futurists suggest that when the rate of progress of human civilization reach this point of singularity, technological development gets out of control people.

The calculations of the Russian scientists show that this is not true. According to their data, during the peak of development should be expected to fall, and then rise again. According to the researchers, the point of maximum rate of development for modern, the second phase of our cyber-revolution was already completed in 2018. But soon — in 2030 — our civilization is waiting for a new breakthrough. This will be the third phase of the cybernetic revolution, which could be the era of “smart” self-regulating systems. In the final phase — in 2055; it will quickly improve and will occupy a Central place in the new production process. Special attention will be paid to the medical field. How to describe the researchers, the main engine technology will be the global aging of the population and changing its age structure.