Sunday, 6 March 2011

3 Principals of Technological Evolution.

1) All Technology Improves in Price-Performance Until its Life-cycle Inflection Point. An inflection point is a point on a curve that changes from being concave upwards (positive curvature) to concave downwards (negative curvature), or vice versa. If one imagines driving a vehicle along a winding road, inflection is the point at which the steering-wheel is momentarily ‘straight’ when being turned from left to right or vice versa. And this turns out to be a key principal in technological evolution.
Take the humble telephone. In my lifetime I’ve seen it transform from a quite dumb, very limited, land-tied piece of equipment to an amazingly intelligent mobile machine that enables me to communicate voice-video-data around the world instantly. Whilst the end-price point has continued to remain stable at each stage of advancement.
Only, technological improvement hits a plateau, when novel, often unforeseen tech’ begins to emerge. Hence:

2) Game Changing Technology Turns Up When Least Expected. A complexifying world means more new possibilities with greater opportunities. And that means greater novelty is abound, which in turn means new, often surprising technologies that cause tremendous structural shifts compromising the current standard.
However, it is often on the fringe that these Game Changers occur or emerge. To wit: 3D-TV is rapidly becoming the big new thing.
But what is likely to outgun this tech’ in next to no time? Look at Immersive Holographic Displays, or 4D Nearfield-Infrared Scanners, or GigaNet Bandwidth, or Thinfilm ‘Superflat’ Displays, or 3D Hyperthreading Microprocessors. This lot will sooner, rather than later, change the rules of the game! And all out of the line of sight of most TV manufacturers.

3) As Technology Becomes Increasingly User-Friendly with Greater Functionality, it Continues to Complexify on the Inside. Think of the TV once again? It’s burgeoned tremendously in functionality over the last 2 decades. But to achieve this expanse, evermore and different technology is packaged inside the same or smaller volume of space. Pharmaceuticals, another example, embed deeper complexity. The latest drugs are designed via so-called non-rational design techniques, resulting in synthetics molecules approaching that found in biology. To be sure, the future of technology is smaller and more refined beyond the nano-scale, with ever greater functionality and interconnectivity.