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To download this story in PDF, click here.*The potential impact on life - Going from an informational to an exponential age.*5Deka’s Special Edition: Celebrating the first year anniversary of 5Deka

Written by Réjean Bourgault (Canada); Edited by Olivier Adam (United Kingdom), Co-founders of 5Deka – All Rights Reserved

We are now entering a new era of profound change, one at an exponential growth rate called the Exponential Revolution. This revolution will create unprecedented changes, technological breakthroughs and discoveries in many facets of science that will change our personal lives even more than any other previous technological advancement. Over the next 50 years, the medical and healthcare sectors will see previously unimaginable, unthinkable and unbelievable scientific breakthroughs that will yield truly amazing discoveries.

The exponential increase in computing performance and miniaturization efforts, often related to nanotechnology, will be the foundation of many fundamental research discoveries during this upcoming Exponential Revolution. We foresee in the next 50 years, based on this solid foundation described above, rapid changes in key research development areas and applications related to Genomics (DNA Research), Neuroscience (Brain Research), Biotechnology (Stem Cells Research), Bionic, Robotics and Space discoveries.

So let’s try to demystify what is up and coming in this future and why thinking exponentially is very important when trying to understand the next 50 years of our lives and beyond.

**Caution / Warning**: this article is more futuristic than previous ones we have written and you may find some aspects of this discourse scary, especially with respects to the potential impact it could have on humanity as we know it today. It has the potential to shake some of our personal beliefs and values. So please keep in mind this is an article about the potential of the future, not necessarily the future as it will happen.

**First**: Let’s look at the differences between Linear and Exponential growth. The following table illustrates, for example, the growth of computer performance over a 10 years period.

Years 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010

Linear Growth 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Exponential Growth 2 4 8 16 32 64 128 256 512 1024

Using the table above, assuming a linear growth in its development, a computer in 2005 would have been 5 times faster than it was in 2001. However, when we consider exponential growth for that very same computer, it becomes 32 times more powerful than one similarly produced and priced five years prior.

Continuing with this line of thinking, here are some more examples that show the difference between linear and exponential growth.**Examples of linear growth**:

- A height growth chart for children ages 2 to 16 follows a linear growth curve.

- The track record for the 100 meter sprint follows a linear performance improvement curve. In fact, very little improvement year over year (from 10.6 seconds in 1912, to 10.06 seconds in 1964 to the recent record of 9.58 seconds set in August 2009).

**Examples of exponential growth**:

- The number of pixels per dollar for digital cameras.

- A virus, like SARS for example, will typically spread exponentially at the beginning.

- Human population growth here on earth. From year 0 AD to year 2000 AD, the world’s population has definitely followed an exponential growth path. However, based on UN projections, the world’s population will grow from 6.8 billion in 2009 to 9 billion in 2050, in other words, a more linear growth rate. This is due to many factors including changes in access to and methods of birth control as well as societal changes in acceptability of using them.

- Computer storage capacity (i.e. memory stick and hard drives). (PS: Even though growth over the past 30 years has been tremendous, it only becomes exponential when we factor in the improvement of speed. Without speed, it can’t be considered as exponential.)

We, humans, understand linear growth and linear thinking very well. If I tell you that your computer will be 10 times faster in 10 years, you might say “wow”; it’s going to be fast. In this case, however, “10 times faster” is actually a very small improvement when compared to exponential growth in that if we were to calculate it in terms of exponential growth, that same computer would be 1024 times faster for that same 10 year period!