It seems important to keep in mind that the knowledge explosion which created nuclear weapons feeds back upon itself creating an ever accelerating knowledge development process. Let’s remind ourselves of some examples of how that works.
WRITING: An early step in the development of knowledge was the invention of writing. Once we were able to store information in the written word we could then share things that we’d learned with other people, even if they were distant from us in time and space. Thus, more people could have access to our knowledge, which made it more likely that someone would use what we had learned to learn something else.
THE PRINTING PRESS: With the invention of the printing press we escaped the tedious time consuming labor of having to write everything down manually, and could quickly make many copies of a piece of writing. This again multiplied the number of people who could have access to our knowledge, which again made it even more likely someone would use our knowledge to develop more knowledge.
THE INTERNET: In our time the internet has dramatically improved upon the printing press, making it very convenient for pretty much anyone to instantly share their knowledge with pretty much everyone else on Earth who wants it. This revolutionary new tool radically accelerates the development of knowledge even further. Again, the Internet doesn’t just share knowledge, by spreading knowledge it makes it easier for us to develop new knowledge.
COMPUTING: And of course the classic example is computing. Once we learned how to make computers, we could then use computers to learn many other things much faster than we would have been able to in the past. We can analyze vast piles of data to unlock it’s secrets, and so on.
The written word, the printing press, the Internet, and computers are all examples of accelerants, products of knowledge which feed back in to knowledge development process causing it to further speed up.
And so we see that the knowledge explosion is not really an explosion in the sense of being one big bang and then it’s over. The knowledge explosion is instead a continually accelerating process which feeds back upon itself generating new information at ever faster pace.
So far we’re just reminding ourselves of what most people already know, knowledge develops at an accelerating pace. While this fact is generally common knowledge, it has crucial implications which are being widely ignored at our great peril.
Now that we’ve reminded ourselves of the accelerating nature of knowledge development, let’s being exploring the implications on the next page.