6 “Ds” of Exponential Growth

Dr. Peter Diamandis, is known for his roles as founder and chairman of the X Prize as well as co-founder of Singularity University. The title of his talk was “Goodbye Linear Thinking: Hello Abundance”.

Diamandis began by discussing how the human mind evolved to be both “local and linear” – local in that until recently humans spent their provincial lives only being influenced by those in their immediate vicinity, and linear in that we have trouble fathoming exponential trends. As an example, he said, consider where you’ll be if you take 30 linear steps in any direction – easy right? Now, try imagining how far you’d get with 30 exponential steps (2^30). Most would not realize that this would allow you to circumambulate the world 26 times! Linear thinking, he argued, was responsible for the demise of many great companies such as Kodak, which in 1996 had a market capitalization of $28 billion and 140,000 employees but, because they did not realize the disruptive potential of the digital camera technology that they developed, now are down to $100 million and 17,000 employees.

The issue is that while our minds are still stuck in linear thinking, technology is growing exponentially, thus leading to a growing gap between what society believes to be possible and what technology is actually making possible. (As an aside, Diamandis discussed that this problem is compounded by the fact that the media churn out negative news to you wherever you are, in effect transforming your natural fear response from your amygdala into advertising revenue.) Diamandis then went on to provide a framework of 6 “Ds” that can be used to think about exponential growth processes in technology:

Framework of 6 “Ds”

  • Deceptive – early stages of exponential growth processes may be deceptively linear
  • Disruptive – once exponential growth reaches the inflection point, or “knee of the curve,” they become truly disruptive
  • Digitized – more information is becoming digitized, opening the door for a layer of analytics (e.g. machine learning) to be placed on top of it
  • Dematerialized – no longer do you have to buy a flashlight or digital camera, you can simply purchase an app on your phone to accomplish these tasks
  • Demonetized – as manufacturing techniques improve, technologies are becoming less expensive at an alarming pace
  • Democratized – there will be 3 billion more people on the Internet by 2020, leading to more perspectives because these people will be given a voice in the global discourse for the first time

Diamandis then laid out the week ahead and said that there are eight primary technologies riding Moore’s law, many of which will disrupt medicine in our lifetimes: infinite computing, sensors and networks, robotics, 3D printing, synthetic biology, digital medicine, nanomaterials, and artificial intelligence.
Technology is Exponential:

  • We are linear thinkers living in an exponential world.
  • Technology is Getting Cheaper, Quickly: Moore’s Law is driving growth. We’ll continue to see technology double in power and drop in price every 18 months.
  • Change is the Constant: Disrupt your own business before your competitors disrupt it for you.
  • Intuition is Misleading: We have a cognitive bias against exponential change. Prepare for resistance from others as you share your newfound exponential mindset.
  • Begin thinking in terms of 10x growth rather than 10% growth.

Source: Peter Diamandis Abundance 360


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