Daniel Lemire's blog

, 4 min read

The exponential cost of progress

4 thoughts on “The exponential cost of progress”

  1. Yvan Dutil says:

    Law of thermodynamics combined with Shannon information theory impose an exponential cost to progress.

  2. joe says:

    The question is: will we cure everything before it becomes too expensive ? or not ?

    Same goes for other fields.

  3. @joe

    “Fixing or curing everything” puts the bar too high in almost any field. Perfection is often hard to reach.

    Rather, we tend to reach a point whereas faults are manageable. For example, we all pay with credit cards, and yet there is a lot of fraud. We do not eliminate fraud, we “manageable it”.

    Regarding our own bodies, it is likely that the same can be reached… a point whereas we still get sick despite great prevention, but there are cost-effective therapies for almost all these instances.

    My own guess regarding medicine is that most of the progress will take the form of prevention. That’s how we have done most of our progress so far with better hygiene, vaccine and so on. It is also a lot cheaper to prevent disease than to cure it, on the long run.

    Regarding computing targets… there is no reason to believe that there is a ceiling on, say, voice recognition technology, that is lower than human level performance. I am quite convinced that, given enough effort, in 20 years, we will have human level voice recognition… and so forth…

  4. K says:

    (like how you said it takes 80% of the effort to solve last 2)% of the problems). But i think it takes 80% effort only if we do it the way we have been doing. When we hit a wall, we develop technologies that help us go around the wall. For eg: IBM’s watson helped identify many new potential proteins that drugs can target to cure diseases, just when it is becoming increasingly difficult to identify new targets

    Also quantum computing (if you believe d-wave’s computing as quantum) is advancing and increasingly solving problems that classical computing is finding difficult to do. It could also solve problems in machine learning and translation. This and or watson could identify new materials that could help us make 5 nm or lower chips more easily.

    Also i think heart disease/stroke is still a low hanging fruit. Smoking causes heart disease too as much it is responsible for lung diseases. And ofcourse transfat. These both are responsible for somekinds of stroke too. People simply need to modify their lifestyle and most cases of heart-disease will disappear.

    Parkinson/alzheimer i trust something like watson (if not wwatson itself) can solve those too in five to ten years time. Its simply a matter of ‘finding’ the chemical or bio-chemical cycle responsible for alzheimers.