Below, two cool graphs from Ray "The Singularity is Near" Kurzweil's presentation at Harvard Business School's Cyberposium this weekend. Kurzweil whipped up these charts to show how awesomely fast cultural, biological, and technological progress can accumulate.
The upshot is that ideas which seem far-fetched–like the possibility of extending human life indefinitely, cybernetic implants, and nanobots in our bloodstreams, all of which Kurzweil has predicted–could be upon us sooner than you think, because change is accelerating at such a mind-blowing pace that our linearly-predisposed brains have trouble comprehending it.
It's important to note the the chart is doubly logarithmic–moving along the x or y axis moves you by powers of 10. If the graphs were on a linear scale, they would look like a nearly flat line, followed by an exponential explosion of progress.
Lest you accuse the man of cherry-picking biological and cultural landmarks to fit his line, Kurzweil calls in some outside experts:
Download the whole presentation here.
Check out reason's interview with Singularity speculator Vernor Vinge.