The economic productivity and technological capacity of humanity has not only been constantly growing for millennia, but is growing at a faster rate. To the point that the growth of technology is already exponential . Is it the same with economic growth?
When we were still living in prehistoric times, for example, growth was so slow that it took almost a million years to increase human productive capacity enough to support an additional million people at the subsistence level.
7,000 years ago, after the Agricultural Revolution, that same amount of growth produced in a million years took place in just 200 years. Currently, after the Industrial Revolution, the world economy grows that amount on average every … 90 minutes . That is, every 90 minutes, a mere hour and a half, we grow as much as we did in prehistory over a period of a million years.
The exponential leap
If the world economy continues to grow at the same rate as the last fifty years, the world will be 4.8 times richer in 2050, and about 34 times richer in 2100.
If this growth looks spectacular, it is nothing you can come up with in no time, if a next Industrial-like side effect revolution takes place.
Economist Robin Hanson has calculated, based on historical demographic and economic data, that a typical global economy multiplies by 2 in Pleistocene hunter-gatherer society every 24,000 years; in agricultural society, every 909 years; and in the industrial society, every 6.3 years .
Imagine the consequences of exponential growth in the short term, and that we arrive at the singularity predicted by Ray Kurzweil , among others. As Nick Bostrom abounds in this in his book Superintelligence :
If another similar transition to a different growth pattern were to take place, and if it were of a similar magnitude to the previous two, it would result in a new growth regime in which the world economy would double in size roughly every two weeks.