Our ancestors probably relied on the use of good tools to survive. Those with better tools had higher chances of survival and reproduction than others. In turn, better tools had those who could communicate better, learn from each other, and teach each other. The more people are networked together, living together or communicating with each other over long distances, the faster knowledge and technology is transmitted and improved. Improved technologies, in turn, have enabled better communication and networking between people.

Thus, the (evolutionary) history of humanity is characterized by an ever faster increase in knowledge and innovation. Over the past 200 years, and especially over the past 50 years, we have seen an exponential increase in technological progress.

The Goal 9 of the Global Sustainable Development Goals is to foster innovation capacity, to build a resilient infrastructure and to enable inclusive and sustainable industrialization.

What impact will this technological progress have on the future evolution of our species?

Will technological advances continue to grow exponentially in the coming decades? Or will progress possibly decline due to other sustainable development issues?

Will technologies have more of a positive or negative impact on us?

How can we use our capacity for innovation for fostering human well-being and the sustainable development of our species?

One trend is the observation that computing power has doubled every two years since 1960. That is, there was an exponential increase in digital processing power. This trend is called Moore's Law. Also, the memory capacity of computers, the number of computations per second, and the amount of data that can be sent per second increased exponentially, while costs declined exponentially.

Some people think that this trend will continue until 2050. Then, according to the prediction, people will be able to buy computers that match the computing power and intelligence of all human brains together.

Increase in the number of computations per second (y-axis is logarithmic!) Image source: Our World in Data.