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Jeffrey Rosenthal and Thomas Brier of Blank Rome.

In 1999, renowned inventor and self-described futurist Ray Kurzweil—now director of engineering at Google—published “The Age of Spiritual Machines,” in which he proposed a formula for calculating the rate of change in evolutionary systems. Dubbed “The Law of Accelerating Returns,” Kurzweil’s formula holds that technological progress will occur at an exponential rate. Viewed in relation to human history, this means in the 21st century “we won’t experience 100 years of progress”; instead, the growth rate “will be more like 20,000 years of progress.”

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