How Fast Is Knowledge Doubling?

The total amount of information in the world is increasing. Simple enough concept to grasp, right?  Obviously, we would then conclude that human knowledge is increasing as well. (*Enter your own joke if you care to do so.) I don’t think you need a degree in rocket science to reason that one out either. However, have you truly considered what the rate of increase really is on each of these and how the future will look concerning analytics and technology?

I was watching a program not too long ago and the host said something that really caught my attention. He said that human knowledge is doubling every 13 months. That’s when I lifted my head out of the bowl of SpaghettiO’s and started really paying attention to what he was saying.

From an article on Industry Tap written by David Schilling, the host went on to say that not only is human knowledge, on average, doubling every 13 months, we are quickly on our way, with the help of the Internet, to the doubling of knowledge every 12 hours.  To put it into context, in 1900 human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years. By the end of 1945, the rate was every 25 years. The “Knowledge Doubling Curve”, as it’s commonly known, was created by Buckminster Fuller in 1982. If you want to take this even further down the preverbal road, you combine this with Ray Kurzweil’s (Head of Google Artificial Intelligence) “singularity” theory and Google’s Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen’s ideas which are discussed in their book, “The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business” and you have some serious changes to technology, human intelligence and business coming down the pike whether you like it or not.

Here are some numbers which can put the below chart into context but just keep in mind that whole “doubling every 12 hours” statistic:

Human Brain = several billion petabytes to index
The Internet = 5 million terabytes
Amount of Internet indexed by Google = 200 terabytes or .004% of the total Internet

I’m not saying that the mapping of the human brain is planned for next Thursday, but it should open your eyes to what lies ahead of all of us. Will you be able to keep up with all the technology and information and human knowledge or will you get left in the rearview mirror using an abacus? It’s just some food (maybe SpaghettiO’s) for thought.

Knowledge Doubling

3 thoughts on “How Fast Is Knowledge Doubling?”

  1. We need tools to manage such rapid change. Better search engines, can the semantic web get us there? Right direction perhaps, but not bold enough.

    We need laws or changes to laws and amendments to our constitution to stop the spread of misinformation aka blatant lies. If it means adding greater detail to the First Amendment. (an amendment to an amendment?) so be it but there’s got to be a better way. “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

    • I can’t say I disagee! There needs to be some form of information validation. It’s not really that different than having sites that have a secure way of payment. You see the icon you have reason to believe it’s a good site. How could we do that with information?


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