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Networks vs Pyramids
Posted: 3 June 2010

A distributed network of Playstations or iPads, with the right connections, can easily outstrip the largest supercomputer. One has to remember there are millions of them 'available'. But would people choose to build such networks, and if they did, what would they create?
On the other hand, a Ponzi scheme very rapidly reaches saturation, and peters out. Both are examples of exponential growth, leading to either super-performance or extinction.
The difference is that an effective network creates value for all participants, presumably sustainable value through constant innovation. A pyramid scheme only benefits the few at the top, removing value from the masses at the bottom.
In Ray Kurzweil’s view of the future, accelerating returns are endless, and thus marginal cost reduces to zero. But once everything is commoditized to the nth degree, 3D printers are commonplace, and computers do all the thinking, might we not reach saturation? Then all products need to be truly unique – essentially artworks.
Both these points of view have profound implications for business, and how to position for the future.

The pace of technology advances slows as all invention is outsourced to computers
Dateline: 3 March 2033
We are in trouble. We’ve reached the end of the road. Like the mythical serpent devouring itself from the tail, we have progressed in ever decreasing circles, until we reached the point where we are in danger of disappearing up our own metaphorical orifice. Let’s be clear on what we are discussing. The ability of the human species to perpetually innovate and invent new, better, smaller, ...
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