Ever feel like the world of technology is whizzing past and you just can’t keep up? That’s fair. It seems we barely have our hands on a brand-new smartphone before the manufacturer announces an updated model. In this age of planned obsolescence, where devices are purportedly designed to become worthless in a short space of time, it’s hard to keep up.
Since the burst of the dot-com bubble in 2000, technology has advanced at an astonishingly rapid pace. The World Economic Forum notes that in the past two decades, the percentage of the global population online has skyrocketed from 7% to more than half. Broadband access is no longer considered a luxury but a basic human right. The math teachers who told you you wouldn’t always have a calculator in your pocket were wrong.
Before the internet became a mainstay in many of our lives, two years might not have yielded a huge amount of technological innovation. Nowadays, two years is a lifetime. That’s all down to the exponential growth of technology.
What does exponential growth mean?
Exponential growth is a mathematical term that refers to the process of greater increases in quantity as time passes. For example, if your savings account was growing exponentially, you might have $500 this year, which would increase to $1,000 the following year, $2,000 the year after that, and so on. As Thomson Reuters reminds us, exponential growth is not the same as linear growth. Figures are multiplied rather than simply added, meaning things advance a lot more quickly.
So, what does exponential growth mean for tech consumers? It means we can barely comprehend the speed at which new, shiny toys are presented to us. Things move at hyperspeed — a decade in the tech world can be a lifetime when it comes to innovation. Today’s millennials might laugh at the clunky cellphones of the 1980s, but these were state-of-the-art devices for their time. Similarly, Gen Z might ridicule the Blackberrys and Motorola Razrs that dominated the early noughties, despite their former position as the ultimate status symbol. Who knows what future generations will think of our current innovations?
This echoes the sentiments of famed astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who said: “I have stopped commenting on the advances of things, because I know in a short number of years that follow, it would be laughable given what we would have then achieved. When you live on an exponential growth of anything, it looks like all the greatest advances just happened, just for you, just in that moment. That is the nature of exponential growth.”
To truly get to grips with the exponential growth of technology, we must familiarize ourselves with Moore’s Law.
What is Moore’s Law?
Moore’s Law is a theory developed by Gordon Moore, co-founder of chip manufacturing giant Intel. In 1965, he predicted that the number of transistors on a microchip would double every year (later revised to two years), but the cost of computers would be cut in half. Put simply, this means the speed of our computers will continue to increase as their price continues to drop.
This pace has begun to slow somewhat in recent years, leading some to ponder: ‘Is Moore’s Law dead?’ According to Mike Gianfagna of Synopsys, this is not the case. He posits that “the explosion of hyperconnectivity, big data, and artificial intelligence applications has increased the pace of innovation and the need for ‘Moore’s law-style’ improvements in delivered technology.” Though the theory itself may soon reach its limitations in terms of chip size, ASML’s Martin van de Brink adds that Moore’s prediction was “more focused on the march of innovation than just shrinkage.” And that march shows no signs of slowing down.
How to keep up with the exponential growth of technology
OK, so you’ve completed your crash course in the exponential growth of technology. But what next? Panic as you realize you could never possibly stay up to date with the latest tech trends? Not quite.
Though the constantly changing nature of this industry can be daunting for the less technologically adept, it’s a likely unavoidable aspect of your career. As employment website Indeed points out, “technology is an important part of almost every job today.” This means it’s essential to keep an open mind when it comes to learning new things.
Here are some tips on how to keep up with tech news at work:
Do some research
Take the time to research key influencers in the tech industry. Find people whose tone of voice resonates with you and who you find interesting. Follow them on social media to sprinkle a few extra tech tidbits into your daily life.
Set up an RSS feed
This is the simplest way to get the latest tech trends and insights from company blogs, industry experts, and more in one place. Set aside a time block on your calendar to catch up with these articles once a week, if not daily.
Create a training goal
Many organizations are willing to subsidize training courses to help their employees upskill. Set yourself a goal to gain a new certificate or accreditation in your chosen area of tech within the next six months. Invite your colleagues to join you for extra motivation.
Attend tech events
This is a fun way to stay up to date with new advances in the technological industry — why read about it when you can see it in action? Look online to see if there are any tech conferences or trade shows taking place in your locality.
Ask for help
If you need a hand getting to grips with a new software platform, ask a supervisor or member of the IT team. No need to be embarrassed — if you’re having trouble with it, chances are some of your colleagues are, too.
Finally, don’t get disheartened. Yes, the exponential growth of technology can be mind-boggling at times, but if you focus on your own industry and stay abreast of the advancements relevant to your role, you’ll be up to speed in no time.