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Nov 25 2005 / Aaron

The BookBlogularity Is Near

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t
by Jim Collins

An inspiring study on the common factors shared by companies that made the transition from merely average normal companies to great companies. When the transition is made it is like the rocket boosters have been lit. The study finds these companies shine because of a few common factors:
They all have rational non-ego-centric leaders that make the tough decisions with little regard for personal gain. They have high employee standards, feeling it’s better to suffer understaffed for a while, or grow slower, rather than hire mediocre employees. With too many mediocre employees the company can never be great. The company executes a strong focus on the core, which is the thing it can be best in the world at doing. It stops doing anything outside of its focus area. The work culture is highly disciplined, results oriented, and pragmatically embraces technology to accelerate progress. It builds momentum off of being consistent to its core prowess.

The Singularity Is Near : When Humans Transcend Biology
by Ray Kurzweil

As a Computer Scientist, one becomes intimate with exponential growth, in many forms. I’m no stranger to the idea of the Technological Singularity as I’ve been avidly exposed to transhumanist philosophy and Hard Science Fiction. So really, there were few new ideas in this book for me. That doesn’t mean a good preaching-to-the-choir-book can’t be good fun now and then. I would certainly recommend this book to family and friends (and even a few strangers, if they can read english) if their curiosity is aroused to understand where technology is really headed.

To the uninitiated, Kurzweil may sound downright loony in his predictions, but the man has done his homework. Even if his timelines are over-optimistic, I think that barring major global catastrophes, much of what is predicted in this book shall come to pass in some form, if not by 2047, then perhaps no more a few decades more. Such is the nature of exponential growth in the ability for this universe to organize information. Plotting the time-line of the big bang, the earlist single-celled life on earth, multi-cellular life, the cambrian explosion (body plans & vision), mammals, homonids, homo sapiens, human civilization, the industrial revolution, the computer revolution, the internet revolution, and you will see a exponential curve. Each successive new ‘technology’ or organization of information provides a more powerful system to drive the growth and creation of its successor, such that the successor is an order of magnitude more powerful and is created and order of magnitude faster than the preceding technology.

These changes used to take billions, then hundreds of millions of years, then millions of years, thousands of years, and so on. We are now experiencing multiple technological revolutions within a single generation. Kurzweil predicts that next few revolutions now underway will churn within mere decades, and eventually within years. There may come a day sometime mid-century, when the rate of change will be so great the world will appear to change over night. The Singularity. But it doesn’t stop there.

Hold on to your hats. The merged-man-machine transcendance will continue to grow exponentially, transforming the matter of the solar system, the galaxy, and the universe into computational, sentient, substrate. Perhaps the Bible has it backwards: Out of chaos comes man, and man creates God in his own image. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

For a quick & free overview of these [heretical] ideas, see an older essay by Kurzweil on the topic.


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  1. Samuel / Nov 26 2005

    I am smoking it!

  2. april / Dec 9 2005

    Hi Aaron,

    I loved that Jim Collins book!!!

    It was great seeing you and Christine!


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