- Published in issue 9/1997 on page 12
The logarithmic law of usefulness:
How can a society survive twenty-five years of exponential technology growth?
During the past twenty-five years, we have witnessed a rate of progress in information technology that seems beyond comprehension. An increase in the characteristic parameters by a factor of between one thousand and one million has been the rule rather than the exception. Progress in, for instance, the field of transportation took centuries before a factor of one thousand was accomplished: a horse cart, an early automobile and a supersonic aeroplane cover the distance of thirty kilometres in one day, one hour, and one minute, respectively. A factor of one thousand in only ten to fifteen years thus means a real revolution. But why can we apparently co pe so easily with this exponential growth. How can we so easily absorb and implement such progress without being confused by its implications? My answer is that the perceived progress, the increase in usefulness, is not exponential, but linear. In other words, usefulness is a logarithmic function of technology