• The Illusion of Short-Term Gains and the Underestimation of Long-Term Consequences

    For any decision maker, it helps to understand the major trends shaping the future. For a political leader who wants to position his or her country or community for a prosperous future, understanding societal and technological changes is critical to attracting business, improving quality of life, and creating wealth. 

    Similarly, investors who possess a keen understanding of their industry’s trajectory can capitalize on emerging opportunities. By identifying promising sectors and trends, they can make strategic investments that yield substantial returns. Moreover, entrepreneurs who stay at the forefront of technological advancements gain a competitive edge. By leveraging the latest innovations, they can develop sustainable and successful businesses.

    In essence, the ability to make informed decisions depends on understanding what the future holds. However, this is harder than it sounds. As detailed in “The Myth of Linear Progress,” most of us instinctively think about the future in terms of linear progress. We look at today’s reality and simply project it forward at a steady, incremental rate of change. However, this intuitive, linear way of thinking causes us to grossly underestimate the potential and impact of exponentially growing technologies such as artificial intelligence, renewable energy, biotechnology, and others.

    Because studying and understanding each technology and societal trend is a tedious and time-consuming task, many decision makers rely on experts, industry reports, and forecasts to gain a better understanding of the future. The problem is that even though these experts are familiar with and have witnessed the accelerating pace of technological progress, they also instinctively project the current rate of progress into the future. By ignoring the “historical exponential view,” they fail to accurately predict technological progress.

    This bias has profound implications for decision making. For example, it can lead to underinvestment in emerging technologies, missed opportunities for innovation, and inadequate preparation for the societal and economic changes brought about by technological disruptions.

    Predictions Missing the Mark

    Some better-known historic examples of predictions missing the mark include for example Thomas Watson, president of IBM, who said in 1943 that there “is a world market for maybe five computers”. Or Darryl Zanuck, Head of 20th Century Fox, who predicted in 1946 that “television won’t be able to hold on to any market it captures […, because] people will soon get tired of staring at a plywood box every night.” Or Ken Olson, Founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, who declared in 1977 that “there is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”

    In the 1980s, McKinsey & Company and AT&T projected a global market for cell phones of roughly 900,000 phones. Today, there are billions of cell phones in use worldwide. Apropos phones, in 2007 Steve Ballmer, then CEO of Microsoft, ridiculed the iPhone, saying “there’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

    In 2000, Blockbuster passed on the opportunity to purchase Netflix for $50 million, believing in the superiority of their brick-and-mortar model. Today, Netflix has more than 200 million subscribers worldwide, while Blockbuster eventually crumbled.

    In the more recent past, we can find multiple examples where leading consulting companies and investment banks turned out to be overestimating the short-term impact yet greatly underestimating the longer-term impact of technological progress.

    For example, around 2015, multiple investment banks broadly forecasted that fully autonomous vehicles would be widespread by 2020, only to correct their stance shortly thereafter. As Facebook rebranded into Meta, a hype around the Metaverse emerged. Forecasters predicted a rapid mass adaption and a revolution of work and social interactions. Yet, so far, neither Meta nor the recent launch of the Apple Vision Pro penetrated the mass market yet.

    When it comes to the impact of artificial intelligence, McKinsey Global Institute’s predicted in 2017, that 50% of the work done by knowledge workers would be automated. By 2023, only six years later, McKinsey adjusted this forecast to 70%.

    A review of historical predictions by business leaders, industry reports, and forecasts by respected consulting firms and investment banks reveals a recurring pattern: while short-term effects are often overestimated, long-term effects are often underestimated due to the fallacy of intuitive linear thinking.

    Approaches for Predicting Long-Term Trends

    What can leaders and decision-makers do to anticipate long-term trends with greater accuracy?

    While overcoming the intuitive linear bias is critical, there are five helpful approaches we can use to predict major long-term trends in our human society and evolution:

    1. Environmental Futurism
    2. Kondratiev Wave Analysis
    3. Generational Cycle
    4. Geopolitical Futurism
    5. The Study of Technological Revolutions

    1. Environmental Futurism 

    Environmental futurism studies long-term ecological and resource trends to anticipate major civilizational shifts. As climate change accelerates, futurists warn of cascading disruptions to food, water, and energy systems that could destabilize the global economy.

    However, these existential threats are also driving a sustainability revolution, unlocking trillions of dollars in investments into renewable energy, regenerative agriculture, and green transportation.

    When forecasting technological progress, such as the emergence of artificial general intelligence (AGI), environmental futurism highlights two key considerations:

    1. The risk of climate shocks derailing the exponential growth of technology due to societal instability and resource constraints.
    2. The potential for AGI to catalyze a sustainability revolution by rapidly advancing technologies that transform destructive industries and practices.

    2. Kondratiev Wave Analysis

    Nikolai Kondratiev, a Russian economist, theorized that the global economy moves in 40-60 year “super cycles” driven by the emergence of new general-purpose technologies; as hinted in “The Myth of Linear Progress”, artificial intelligence is likely this particular new general-purpose technology of our time.

    According to his analysis, we are currently in the “winter” phase of the 5th wave, characterized by stagnation and institutional failure.

    However, Kondratiev Wave Analysis predicts that within the 2020s we will be entering the 6th wave, powered by advancements in AI, robotics, and biotechnology. This new wave is expected to unleash an era of economic dynamism and growth.

    Through the lens of Kondratiev waves, the path in front of us is likely to be turbulent, as it coincides with the transition between long waves.

    Investors and leaders who anticipate this trend can position themselves for this transition and reap extraordinary returns.

    3. Generational Cycle Theory

    Generational futurists like Neil Howe and William Strauss argue that history moves in 80–100-year cycles, known as “saeculums.” Each generation’s characteristics are shaped by their place within this cycle. According to their model, we are currently in a “Fourth Turning” crisis period, similar to the Great Depression or World War II, where institutions will undergo intense disruption and transformation.

    For predicting technological timelines, generational theory suggests that the 2020s and 2030s will be a period of rapid technological and social change. The crisis-forged institutions of the previous saeculum will give way to a new order, driven by the emergence of new transformative technologies like AGI.

    4. Geopolitical Futurism

    Geopolitical futurists study the shifting balance of power between nations to identify long-term winners and losers. Many argue that we are entering a multipolar world as the unipolar moment of US hegemony wanes. In this context, the race for technological progress and AGI is not just a technological competition, but a defining struggle between great powers to secure primacy for the rest of the century.

    Ergo, leaders must consider not only which companies or research labs are furthest ahead, but also which nations are best positioned to capture the economic, military, and cultural high ground as exponential technologies reshape the global chessboard.

    5. Technological Revolutions

    The study of technological revolutions examines how clusters of new technologies disrupt and transform societies in recurring 50–60-year cycles. According to theorists like Carlota Perez, we are currently in the “deployment phase” of the Information Revolution, as the core technologies of computing and the internet reach maturity. 

    The next revolution will be driven by “deep tech” breakthroughs in AI, quantum computing, bioengineering, and new materials.

    Leaders who understand the inner logic of technological revolutions can surf these waves of creative destruction to build the platforms and enterprises of the future.

    A Holistic Perspective

    No single lens can provide perfect clarity in forecasting, but by cultivating an exponential mindset and synthesizing insights from diverse frameworks, decision-makers can develop a more comprehensive and nuanced understanding of the future.

    While industry reports and expert predictions offer valuable insights, they often fall victim to the intuitive linear bias, overestimating short-term impacts while underestimating the transformative potential of exponential technologies.

    To navigate this uncertain landscape, leaders must triangulate insights from multiple predictive models, seeking convergence points that suggest significant technological leaps on the horizon.

    While the precise timing of these breakthroughs remains uncertain, the convergence of models pointing to a technological leap in the 2040s provides a compelling long-term vision. Leaders should embrace this bold, exponential perspective, recognizing that the future may unfold far more rapidly and dramatically than many experts anticipate.

    Amidst the chaos and complexity of exponential change, one thing remains clear: the stakes could not be higher. The leaders who successfully identify and ride these macro-waves of technological disruption, societal transformation, and economic opportunity will not only secure the success of their organizations but also play a pivotal role in shaping a future of shared prosperity and progress for all. In an age of exponential possibility, fortune favors the prepared mind and the bold vision.

  • Introduction

    I don’t consider myself a conservative or a liberal. I am neither a value investor nor a growth investor. You might well describe me as a contrarian – someone who is known for questioning everything.

    My intellectual curiosity led me to follow a wide range of thought leaders, investors, and decision makers across the political spectrum and philosophical worldviews. Over the past year, I have come to realize that most people have one thing in common: they fall victim to the fallacy of linear thinking. This blind spot affects leaders, investors, and decision-makers across the ideological spectrum.

    Consider the polarized debate over renewable energy and electric vehicles:

    Conservatives fixate on the limitations of today’s solar panel and battery technologies – their material intensity, recycling challenges, range limitations, even the negative impact on the local landscape. They argue that today’s fossil fuel technologies are superior in many ways. And arguably they are right, but only if we look at a very restrictive snapshot of today.

    On the other side, progressives paint a bleak picture of unstoppable climate catastrophe and advocate drastic government intervention to force a transition to what they envision as a “sustainable green” future, which includes a vision of economic degrowth and other radical green-socialist policies.

    Both camps fail to grasp a fundamental truth: the solution lies not in ideological dogma, but in the exponential advancement of technology itself. When it comes to the future, both sides make the false assumption that progress will mysteriously stagnate.

    The reality is that solar photovoltaic technology is on an exponential trajectory and will – sooner rather than later – approach the theoretical limits. Battery energy density is on a similar exponential curve, poised to unlock transportation ranges measured not in miles, but in thousands of miles. Technological convergence will enable a decentralized, self-sustaining energy model unimaginable through a linear lens.

    These dynamics go far beyond energy. Exponential advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, biotechnology, and materials science are radically reshaping our world in ways that linear thinkers cannot comprehend. Those wedded to linear thinking will continue to underestimate the scope and pace of change until the exponential returns render their worldview obsolete.

    Overcoming our exponential blind spot is essential for leaders and investors to make informed decisions in the midst of this whirlwind of technological transformation. It requires a fundamental rewiring of how we perceive technological progress. Only by adopting an exponential view of how technology develops can we profit from the staggering changes on the horizon.

    The Fallacy of the Intuitive Linear View

    Most of us instinctively think about the future in terms of linear progress. When we envision what the world might look like in 10 or 20 years, we typically take today’s reality and project it forward at a steady, incremental rate of change. This linear way of thinking makes sense to us because it reflects our human experience of life unfolding in a sequential, straightforward manner.

    However, this linear view causes us to grossly underestimate the potential of accelerating technological change driven by the exponential growth of innovations like computing power, artificial intelligence, renewable energy, biotechnology, and others.

    Time and time again, we have seen expert predictions about the future proven laughably wrong because the forecasters failed to account for the exponential curve of progress (more on that in the next issue).

    In 1977, Ken Olsen, MIT engineer and co-founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, famously said, “there is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home”. Today, 4.8 billion people carry a smartphone in their pocket that has more processing power than the supercomputers of the 1990s.

    When progress is exponential, straight-line forecasts break down completely. While linear growth proceeds in steady, incremental steps, exponential growth follows a radically different trajectory of accelerating returns. This divergence is deceptive at first, as the exponential and linear curves appear virtually identical in their early stages. But it is precisely this similarity that creates the “intuitive linear” mindset.

    Exponential Curves Look Flat in the Earliest Stages

    Humans are hardwired to perceive the future as a linear continuation of recent progress. We experience the world and the passage of time in an inherently linear fashion. Events unfold sequentially – one moment following the next in a straight chronological line. Our lived reality leads us to expect that future changes will also progress at a steady, predictable rate. We anchor ourselves in our present circumstances and simply extend that line forward. Furthermore, exponential growth involves counterintuitive concepts such as continual doubling over short periods of time. This simply defies our innate sense of numbers and feels implausible.

    Example: If you take 25 steps of one meter each, you travel 25 meters – a reasonable linear projection. But if those steps double in length exponentially, your 25th stride would astonishingly span over 33 million meters, nearly the circumference of the Earth.

    While Exponential Growth Looks Slow and Linear in the Beginning, Exponential Returns Become Quickly Elusive

    Again, when most people think about a future period, they intuitively assume that the current rate of progress will continue for future periods. This is what Ray Kurzweil calls the “intuitive linear” view. However, the intuitive linear view is wrong when applied to exponential systems and technologies. They fail because the rate of progress itself is not a constant, but doubles itself for each unit of time.

    Relying on linear thinking in an exponential world sets us up to be repeatedly blindsided by unforeseen disruptions and to underestimate the full transformative potential on the horizon. As Ray Kurzweil says: We tend to overestimate what can be accomplished in a year and underestimate what can be achieved in 10 years. Exponentials make the future seem deceptively far away, until it arrives incredibly rapidly.

    Ray Kurzweil points out that while we might intuitively expect 100 years of progress this century based on a linear view; the “historical exponential view” actually implies we will witness the equivalent of 20,000 years of progress by 2100 compared to the year 2000. This divergence is already playing out in the realm of computing and artificial intelligence.

    Moore’s Law projected that transistor density on microchips would double every two years, and this exponential curve accurately described five decades of staggering progress. But AI capabilities are currently doubling at an even more explosive rate of every six months – four times faster than Moore’s Law. No other field in history has achieved such blistering exponential growth.

    The exponential growth of AI itself will catalyze further technological breakthroughs – for example in solar and battery technologies – through intelligent system optimization, accelerated materials discovery, and predictive simulation capabilities (but more on that later).

    Calculating Exponential Growth

    Let’s make a mathematical excursion and calculate the factor by which the capacity of AI technology will increase, assuming exponential growth with the current doubling every 6 months.

    For this, we use the formula for exponential growth:

    Given that the current doubling period of AI is 6 months, we first need to convert years into periods of 6 months:

    • 5 years = 10 periods (since 5 years * 2 periods per year)
    • 10 years = 20 periods
    • 25 years = 50 periods
    • 50 years = 100 periods

    Now, applying the formula:

    • For 5 years: 2^10= 1024
    • For 10 years: 2^20= 1,048,576
    • For 25 years: 2^50= 1,125,899,906,842,624
    • For 50 years: 2^100= 1,267,650,600,228,229,401,496,703,205,376

    Therefore, under the assumption of exponential growth with a doubling every 6 months, the capacity of artificial intelligence technology will increase by a factor of 1,024 in 5 years, approximately 1.05 million in 10 years, approximately 1.13 quadrillion in 25 years, and approximately 1.27 sextillion in 50 years.

    In other words, given the current improvements of AI (doubling every 6 months), and projecting it on an exponential scale will result in the year 2074 in technology that is 1,267,650,600,000,000,000,000,000,000,000x more advanced than the AI we have today.

    Sextillion is a number so large that you have probably never heard of it. This factor is too large for us to imagine, which makes it impossible and impractical for us to work with it.

    Real-World Examples

    While the concept of exponential growth may still seem like an abstract mathematical concept, we are surrounded by powerful examples of technologies undergoing exponential progressions. From computing power and internet adoption to renewable energy, biotechnology, and artificial intelligence, the pace of progress is accelerating at an exponential rate (not linearly).

    Let’s look at some real-world examples that illustrate the exponential trajectory of technology.

    Moore’s Law and Computing Power

    Perhaps the best-known and most cited example of exponential growth is Moore’s Law, which predicts that the number of transistors on a computer chip will double approximately every two years. This exponential increase in transistor density has driven the staggering growth in computing power over the past five decades.

    In 1965, Intel co-founder Gordon Moore observed that the number of components on a chip was doubling every year. He predicted that this trend would continue. In 1975, he revised the doubling period to every two years and predicted that this trend would continue. Remarkably, this prediction has held true, with the number of transistors growing from a mere 3,500 in the Intel 8008 chip in 1972 to nearly 50 billion in modern processors.

    The exponential growth in computing power itself has been the driving force behind other technologies of the digital revolution, enabling the development of increasingly sophisticated software, the internet, and artificial intelligence.

    DNA Sequencing

    The cost of sequencing a human genome has dropped exponentially from $100 million in 2001 to about $100 today. This is enabling personalized medicine, gene editing tools like CRISPR, biohacking, and even the potential revival of extinct species. But the exponential curve of biotechnology’s capabilities has only just begun!

    Renewable Energy

    The costs of solar photovoltaics and battery storage have followed exponentially declining cost curves. This is igniting a rapid disruption of fossil fuels and exponential growth of renewable energy generation capacity. Exponential energy deflation – that means at one point energy prices too low to meter – will power many other exponential technologies that have high energy requirements (such as artificial intelligence).

    Artificial Intelligence

    The performance of AI systems, particularly in benchmark tests like image recognition and natural language processing, has shown remarkable improvement over recent years. While the rate of capability enhancement varies, advancements in data availability, computing power, and algorithmic efficiency have collectively propelled AI forward. Although the exact rate of doubling in AI capabilities is subject to debate and varies by application, the overall trajectory points to AI as an exponentially improving technology and a transformative force for any other technology.

    AI: A General-Purpose Technology

    In order to filly grasp the exponential technological progress ahead of us, it is crucial to understand the transformative power of artificial intelligence as a general-purpose technology. Unlike useful discoveries – such as dental floss or the polio vaccine – a general-purpose technology – such as the steam engine, electricity, or the internet – is not useful for one specific application only but can be applied to numerous purposes.

    General-purpose technologies have not merely served a single purpose, but have reshaped entire economies, societies, and the very fabric of human civilization. The steam engine ushered in the Industrial Revolution, electricity powered the modern age of manufacturing and communication, and the internet gave rise to the digital era, spawning countless new business models and industries.

    Artificial intelligence is poised to be the next general-purpose technology, with implications that will dwarf those of its predecessors. Its versatility stems for the ability to process vast amounts of data, identify patterns, and optimize complex systems – capabilities applicable to virtually every field of human endeavor.

    But AI’s true disruptive potential lies in its ability to accelerate the exponential progress of other technologies. As a meta-technology, AI can supercharge innovation cycles by augmenting scientific discovery, optimizing design processes, and even automating aspects of research and development itself.

    This positive feedback loop exemplifies the law of accelerating returns described by Ray Kurzweil; whereby technological progress begets more progress in a self-reinforcing cycle.

    AI Is Posed To Accelerate the Growth of Already Exponential Technologies

    For example, AI is already revolutionizing biotechnology by rapidly screening millions of molecular compounds, optimizing protein design, and even aiding in the development of novel gene therapies. These biotech breakthroughs could then enable engineered organisms to produce advanced nanomaterials and biological computers, further enhancing the hardware capabilities of AI. More powerful AI systems, in turn, could unlock abundant renewable energy by optimizing solar cell designs and grid management – and provide the massive computing power needed to train the next generation of AI models.

    This infinite cycle extends across domains, with AI driving advances in materials science, energy storage, transportation, and even the reverse engineering of the human brain. Each AI-enabled breakthrough generates tools and insights that feed back into the system, catalyzing further exponentials in a continuous cycle of reinvention.

    Recognizing AI’s role as a general-purpose technology is critical for investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers alike. Just as previous general-purpose technologies made entire industries obsolete while giving rise to new ones, AI will inevitably disrupt and reshape the economic landscape in ways we cannot yet imagine.

    The Six Ds of Exponentials

    While the exponential growth patterns of transformative technologies such as AI are powerful drivers of change, their implications can be challenging to grasp intuitively. To better understand how exponential technologies such as artificial intelligence develop, Peter Diamandis divides the exponential growth cycle into six key steps, which he named the “Six Ds of Exponentials that characterize their evolution and diffusion: digitization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization.

    In the first phase, digitized, anything that is digital or anything that can be digitized has the ability to enter an exponential growth phase. This includes AI, which I estimate has currently already entered the second phase: deception. At the beginning, exponential technologies don’t seem to grow very fast – which is deceptive. 0,1 only becomes 0,2. Yet as we break the whole-number barrier, exponential growth accelerates faster: 2 quickly becomes 32, which becomes 64,000 faster than we can grasp. Do you remember the previous example of making 25 linear versus exponential steps?

    In the third phase, a digitalized, exponentially growing technology will disrupt existing markets and industries by outperforming them in effectiveness and cost. Once you can use Excel, why manually crunch numbers?

    The fourth phase, demonetization, states that exponential technologies become cheaper, often to the point of being free. The barriers to entry for adopting AI-driven solutions are rapidly diminishing. For example, Chat GPT-4 is currently available for free or at a very low cost. In the future, much more advanced models will become available for free or close to free.

    In the fifth phase, dematerialization, physical products disappear. Today, a smartphone combines hundreds of technologies which were once bulky and expensive: radio, music player, camera, GPS, video calls, maps, encyclopedias, etc. AI will lead to a similar dematerialization; this will be in the form of jobs but also entire supply chains and manufacturing processes through the emergence of highly advanced 3D printing technologies and much more – which all work synergistically with AI.

    In the sixth and last phase, democratization, once something undergoes digitization, its accessibility broadens. Consider the fact that the wealthiest and most influential individuals in the world use the same smartphones as the average person. Consider that equally, today the wealthiest and poorest persons have the same access to the most advanced generative AI through services like ChatGPT and open-source models Llama 2.

    In the case of AI as a general-purpose technology, we are likely still in the deceptive phase, with its full disruptive potential yet to be unleashed.

    Overcoming the Intuitive Linear Bias

    Despite the mounting evidence of exponential technological change unfolding right in front of us, our deeply ingrained bias for intuitive linear thinking blinds us to understand the true magnitude of technological progress. Overcoming these cognitive hurdles is perhaps the greatest challenge we face in preparing for and harnessing the exponential age.

    Again: the roots of our linear thinking run deep, shaped by millions of years of evolutionary experience in which change happened gradually. Our brains evolved to process information linearly, extrapolating the near-term future as a continuation of recent trends. This way of thinking served our ancestors well in a world of relatively stable, incremental change.

    However, the exponential progression of technologies such as AI, biotechnology, and energy systems represents a radical departure from this linear norm.

    The mismatch between our linear intuition and the historical exponential reality manifests itself in several cognitive biases that impede our ability to grasp the exponential change:

    Exponential Growth Bias: The exponential growth bias is the tendency for people to underestimate the long-term effects of exponential growth and compounding rates of change. When we observe an exponential curve locally or over a short time horizon, it appears linear. This localized perspective causes us to linearize the curve and consistently underestimate the long-term impacts of compounding growth rates.

    Magnitude Bias: The magnitude bias is the human tendency to struggle with comprehension and emotional resonance that exceeds the scale of human experience. The sheer magnitude of exponential growth quickly exceeds our cognitive grasp, making it difficult to impossible to fully grasp the implications of long-term exponential progress.

    Status-Quo Bias: The status quo bias is the deep-rooted tendency of people to prefer and maintain the current status quo, even when presented with potentially better alternatives or when change is necessary. It is an irrational preference for the familiar and a resistance to change that leads us to simultaneously assume that the future will resemble the past and present, dismissing potential disruptions from the norm as aberrations.

    Confirmation Bias: Confirmation bias is the tendency for people to selectively seek out and interpret information in a way that confirms our pre-existing beliefs and worldviews, leading us to disregard any evidence that challenges our linear assumptions.

    The sum of these biases leads us to our intuitive linear bias, which is the cognitive illusion that leads us to expect the future to unfold at the same pace as the past.

    Overcoming these biases requires a concentrated effort to rewire our thinking patterns to cultivate an “exponential mindset”. By regularly exposing ourselves to the principles of exponential thinking – for example by practicing looking at a particular technology through the lens of the “Six Ds of Exponentials”, reading on historical case studies of exponential growth, immersing ourselves in data that challenges our intuitions, and embracing the mindset of questioning long-held assumptions – we can recalibrate our expectations and prepare for the exponential pace of innovation.

    Ultimately, transcending linear biases is a necessity for navigating the exponential age as a leader and investor. Those who fail to internalize an exponential mindset risk becoming obsolete as the pace of change accelerates.

    While it is impossible to reliably predict the outcomes of any specific project or business, Ray Kurzweil emphasizes that, despite the apparent chaos, the overall progress of information technology is following an exponential path. This allows anyone who embraces an exponential worldwide to reliably anticipate the future and seize emerging opportunities that are invisible to the linear thinker.

    Closing Words

    The electric vehicle and solar energy debate from the introduction illustrates how both conservatives and progressives fall into the trap of linear thinking. Conservatives dismiss exponential improvements in solar PV and batteries. Progressives underestimate how quickly free-market entrepreneurs can make clean technology leapfrog fossil fuels and solve the world’s biggest problems.

    The truth is, the future isn’t predetermined – it’s built by entrepreneurs who bring exponential technologies to market. The dynamism of free market capitalism is driving exponential progress in solving grand challenges like climate change, disease, and energy shortages.

    While doomsayers wring their hands, visionary capitalists are betting on exponential fields like AI, nanotech, and synbio to shape an abundant future – including 99.97% efficient solar panels to meet all energy needs.

    The future belongs to those who think exponentially, not linearly. Investors, leaders and policymakers must embrace the exponential or be made obsolete by those who do. The myths of linearity are crumbling – the future is exponential.

  • Only capitalism, with its competition and incentives for innovation, can bring us the breakthrough technologies we need to drastically reduce our consumption of resources.

    Without the creative destruction of the free market, we will stagnate and continue to pollute the environment. True sustainability requires radical progress – and that is only possible under capitalism.

    Instead of indoctrinating the younger generation with fears of resource scarcity and climate damage, we should encourage them to find bold solutions through ground-breaking inventions and cutting-edge research.

  • Science is that it is a rigorously structured system, meticulously designed and refined over decades, to investigate the present level of reality framed within our current technological and scientific nexus of thought. However, the moment we venture to investigate phenomena beyond this established framework, the supernatural, we encounter resistance. Anything beyond the current technological nexus is dismissed as impossible.

    If we really want to see breakthrough innovations, if we really want to make an evolutionary leap forward, science must open itself to the impossible.

    I am referring to areas such as energy or quantum healing, the potentials of zero-point energy, the enigmatic technologies of UFOs, the vast landscape of consciousness and the transformative effects of psychedelics upon it.

    The next chapters of scientific discovery await in the prospects of telepathy, the frontiers of artificial superintelligence, the intricate art of matter manipulation, the theories of interdimensional travel, and the concepts of antigravity and warp drive technologies.

    This level of progress requires leaving the rigid confines of current science and using an elevated state of consciousness to find answers to what is now called the impossible.

  • The future will be drastic. Either we will see abundance or we might find ourselves in total chaos.

    On the one hand, we see technological advancement such as artificial intelligence which in and of itself will lead to further exponential technological advancements. For example, researchers closest to AI research and development predict AGI might arrive in as little as 3 years.  AGI which refers to artificial general intelligence or in other words artificial intelligence that is capable of doing any intellectual task that humans can perform.

    The arrival of AGI could lead to groundbreaking advancements across diverse fields, potentially solving complex global challenges, enhancing human capabilities, and propelling society into a new era of prosperity and knowledge.

    On the other hand, however, unchecked AGI also poses existential risks, where unintended consequences or malicious use might result in catastrophic outcomes, challenging the very fabric of human society and control. And that might turn out even worse than the current global geopolitical landscape where the deep state of the United States challenges an ever more mighty OPEC+ – with Europe incapacitated.

    Overall, negative news spread faster and wider. Exponential advancements with and through AGI are not understood by the majority of people.

    If we get artificial intelligence right, we might find ourselves in a world of abundance. If we fail to achieve or regulate it – chaos will persist.

  • Over the last two years, we’ve seen a massive shift towards remote work. Employees were forced to work from home. Just as executives, lawyers, and civil servants. Many enjoyed and learned to love working remotely from where they want to work – not from where they have to work.

    This shift towards working remotely also affected young entrepreneurs and researchers. Suddenly, they could work from where they liked – not from where their peers, co-founders, customers, investors, or employees were located.

    This shift towards remote has been so significant that it will never return to normal – meaning pre-2020.

    People enjoy working remotely for a variety of reasons. You can summarize all of them under one term: “freedom”.

    However, making use of this newly gained freedom comes with a cost.

    The location and thus the city where one lives has an enormous impact on one’s ambition.

    Where you live has an impact on how ambitious you pursue your goals and thus whether we – as a human society – advance.

    Back in 2015, I spent just over a month in Silicon Valley. The entire neighborhood screamed at me: do more, risk more, innovate more! I lived in a shared housing with a couple of other entrepreneurs and everyone was hustling hard on their startup idea. Every night I could attend meet-ups on a variety of bold topics with people at least 10x smarter than me.

    The first time I ever set foot in Palo Alto, I stepped into a small café. After I grabbed my coffee, I sat down at a table outside, just next to the door. On the opposite side of the door, was sitting an energetic bold man. Somehow we got into a nice small talk until he was joined by a nerdy guy in his late 20s. While I leaned back to enjoy my coffee, they started to converse about a potential multi-million dollar investment into the startup of the nerd who just arrived. It turned out I was by chance talking to a big investor. As you can imagine, this encounter fueled me with a desire to achieve more. It fueled my ambition.

    Palo Alto is also home to one of the most prestigious universities in the world – Stanford University. Which is why the chance of running into one of the smartest engineers in the world or the next Mark Zuckerberg so high.

    The Silicon Valley used to be a magnet for ambitious people. People who wanted to grab power and change the world by creating technology.

    London and New York City are for finance – what the Silicon Valley and San Francisco were for technology. These two cities are the strongest magnets in the world which attract people who want to become super rich.

    When I visited London for the first time, the entire city was screaming at me: Earn more! Get rich! And dress better!

    The key point is the following: certain cities attract certain people.

    The Silicon Valley is a magnet for ambitious entrepreneurs who aim to change the world through technology.

    London and New York are magnets for people who want to get rich by any means.

    Shenzhen is attracting entrepreneurs who wish to build the great hardware of the future.

    Los Angeles is attracting all the people who want to become famous at all cost.

    Cambridge is attracting the world’s most intelligent people.

    Tenerife, where I currently live, is attracting people who seek quality of life above everything else.

    Cities are not great because of their macro factors, but because of the people they are attracting.

    The most ambitious researchers will do everything to get to Cambridge where he can be surrounded by the smartest people of the world.

    The most ambitious technology entrepreneurs will do everything they can to move to Silicon Valley or Austin – only losers will stay in Berlin or Lisbon.

    Just like strong magnets, the best of the best are all attracted to the major city of their field – principally because of the ambitious people they encounter there.

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    Magnetic Fields of Cities

    After two years of remote work, many people have realized that almost everything is better remote.

    You choose where you live: a sunny town with affordable housing prices. Or in your hometown, very close to your loved family.

    Instead of a tiny city apartment, you now have a large house with a garden in which you can see your children joyously playing.

    You’re growing your fruits and vegetables in your garden and the food is more delicious than ever.

    Finally, you can work without any distraction and with it your productivity is skyrocketing.

    Everything seems perfect, but your ambition is declining. The magnetic field of the big cities is still palpable. It is whispering at you: You can be more. You can be richer. You can be smarter. Etcetera.

    Even though your quality of life is now a 10 out of 10, you deep inside feel the magnetic field of the big city. Whatever it is you want to accomplish – might it be intellectual, creative, or financial – you know that there is a place on earth where the smartest, most creative, or richest people live. And you know exactly:

    • Being in one of these cities is energizing your inner ambition.
    • Being outside these cities is soothing your inner ambition.

    From Libraries to the Internet

    We’ve finally arrived at a point where the location matters less and less. You finally can work from anywhere – if you wish to.

    I decided to do so in April 2022, when my wife and I moved to the island of Tenerife. An absolutely stunning island in the Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Africa and the Sahara desert. Delicious fruits, tasty vegetables, a lot of sunshine, great people.

    The quality of life is a 10 out of 10 here. I couldn’t imagine a better place to life.

    But as soon as I moved to Tenerife – I still sensed this magnetic field of the world’s most ambitious cities. I feel and know that there is a city out there, where I should rather be, in order to be all I can be.

    But it is not the city. It is the people in the city which are luring me. The melting pot of like-minded ambitious individuals working towards similar goals.

    I have the feeling that if I never go there, I might never meet the people I should meet, which may prevent me from fulfilling my full potential. And this feeling can kill you inly.

    On the other hand, I know with absolute certainty that cities are not the solution.

    Cities evolved over hundreds and thousands of years. Cities were – so far – humanities greatest invention. They allowed people to come together to work on science, arts, politics, philosophy, and religion. Our ancestors created universities, libraries, and town halls. Cities became melting pots of people. And over time, certain cities got to be known for certain specializations: knowledge, art, fashion, philosophy, business, etcetera.

    Moving to a city was the only way to meet people and gather knowledge.

    There were no computers and there was no internet then. Which means: no PDFs, no email, no Google, no e-books, no blogs, no chat rooms, no social media, etcetera.

    Today – on top of all of that – we also have the technology for free global calls. We have high definition video calls. We have virtual reality headsets. Not only that, but we have hundreds of collaboration tools. And most importantly, we have the entire knowledge of humankind accessible within seconds– not only on our computers but on our smartphones we carry around all day long.

    But despite all the technological solutions we have accessible today, the magnetic field of ambition is still centered around cities.

    If you are serious, a city is still this melting pot of people where you can blossom.

    Digital Ambition Magnets

    In cities, the infrastructure is only a small part of what makes people want to move there. The primary reason people move to cities is because of the people living there. Which is launching an endless loop.

    In cities, where smart and ambitious people come together:

    1. Science happens
    2. Ideas form
    3. Inventions are made
    4. Businesses are started
    5. Jobs are created
    6. Wealth is accumulating

    The more smart and ambitious people move to a certain city, the better the city is doing.

    Meeting and being with ambitious people has an exponential ripple effect. This exponential ripple effect – which I call the ambition magnet – is always happening when people with ambition and intellect convene. In the past, it just made sense that cities evolved into ambition magnets because these were the places where smart people met.

    Today, we are experiencing a turning point in human evolution. For the first time, we see smart and ambitious people move out of big cities. While the magnets of ambitious cities still pull in ambitious people, the internet reduced the force of these magnets. Not only that, but thanks to the internet, smart and ambitious people can now collaborate regardless of their physical location.

    Just as in the 1940s the smartest physicists and mathematics gathered in Los Alamos in New Mexico to create godlike weapons, today the smartest physicists and mathematics can come together regardless of their physical location. With the internet, the boundaries of physical location are of little importance.

    Imagine how our human species can evolve if we don’t limit science and innovation to physical locations – i.e., cities and countries.

    Imagine what can happen when many brilliant and ambitious people not only from the United States, Germany, or the United Kingdom, but also from India, Cameroon, Nicaragua, The Philippines, Russia, and China come together to work on our world’s biggest problems and our world’s unresolved mysteries.

    I am certain that if we create digital spaces, where ambition and intellect is not separated by location, we – as a human species – can evolve towards the next step.

    To achieve this, these digital spaces cannot simply be a combination of email, collaboration tools, online forums, chat and video calls.

    Instead, these digital spaces must be designed from first principles basically from scratch.

    First, digital spaces for intellect and ambition must have a magnetic field at least as strong as the world’s most ambitious cities. Currently, the magnetic field of Cambridge with Harvard and MIT is attracting the world’s smartest people to move there. A digital space must have an ambition magnet just as strong as cities like Cambridge, the Silicon Valley, Shenzhen, Shanghai, London, New York City, or Austin.

    To do so, the smartest of the smartest must be committed to this digital space.

    Digital ambition magnets must allow random accidental meetings. Just as I walked into a café in Palo Alto and all of a sudden, found myself talking to a VC investor. Or just as you randomly meet fellow students in a lecture, the cafeteria, on the campus or an event.

    It must also have some kind of entry barrier. For Cambridge, this bullshit filter consists of a ridiculously high tuition fee, a tough selection process, high housing prices, pitiful weather, and a U.S. visa if you’re from abroad.

    For digital ambition magnets, there shouldn’t be an entry barrier based on the economic situation or nationality but rather based on input. The more smart and useful contributions you make, the higher your status in this digital space becomes. The higher your status, the more exclusive and small the communities you can interact and work with.

    When creating a global digital space, it must also be clear, that the intellectual property and spin-offs are based on a rock-solid legal basis. This might be established with smart contracts secured on a blockchain.

    By creating a legal system for these digital spaces, we also turn on the magnetic field for investors. They can now join digital ambition magnets and fund these communities, digital research endeavors and digital businesses.

    Most importantly, digital ambition magnets must be created as digital spaces which are fun and exciting to use.

    No one wants to join video calls, write emails or post in forums. Digital spaces must be built upon existing technologies but by doing so, re-invent what it feels to use them.

    Imagine it as a blend of chats, forums, video-calls, voice messages, videos, photos, and VR games.

    As soon a digital ambition magnet is created, it will attract the world’s most ambitious people of a certain field. Whether it is science, entrepreneurship, or philosophy.

    This digital ambition magnet becomes a real mastermind which can attack the world’s biggest problems and mysteries.

    By making it digital first, we remove the biggest barrier of entry: location.

    Some people cannot move to a certain city because of their nationality or financial situation. Others would rather not move to a certain city because of family values and traditions. Others don’t want to move to big cities because they hate the city life.

    Nevertheless, the intelligence and creativity of these individuals who – for whatever reason – cannot or want not move to a certain city may, in fact, be the key to scientific and technological breakthroughs.

    Today, by being at the wrong location, the potential of these people is wasted. Tomorrow, with digital ambition magnets, their talent, intellect, and creativity is used productively and will be crucial to solve the world’s most important problems.

    It is not a question of IF, but a question of HOW and HOW FAST we can design and create digital ambition magnets, as they are the key to advance human evolution and consciousness.

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