Well-known futurist Ray Kurzweil has written extensively on the impact of rapid change -- with obvious implications on the need for Knowledge as a Service℠ .
According Kurzweil, the rate of change predicted by Moore’s Law — and, in fact, the history of all human progress — is just one segment of a much longer line plot in which both the X- and Y-axes are logarithmic. This effect of ever-accelerating rates of change is called the technological singularity. If you take 15 well-known lists of major historic events — extending from the present back to before life first appeared on Earth — they all roughly fall in a straight line on a double-logarithmic graph.
Take, for example, the Human Genome Project. In 1990, when the $3 billion project was funded, experts predicted it would take over a century to map the entire human genetic code. It actually took until 2003. Today you can have yours done in a week for under $1,000.
The reason for the name “singularity” is because the effect is a complete disconnect with how people predict the future — which is to say, linearly. According to the American Society of Training and Documentation the total amount of knowledge in the world doubles every 18 months — the same rate at which the number of transistors on an integrated circuit increases, according to Moore’s Law. However, both assertions assume linear progress. We know already that the rate of both computational power and storage density are actually growing faster than Moore’s law predicts -- and accelerating -- as new technologies replace miniaturized transistors as the basic computing unit.
And as information technology grafts onto other technologies, notably biotech, you’ll start to see the same effect of increasingly accelerated change in human development as well.
The singularity’s implications are obviously profound and perhaps for the most part unfathomable. But one thing is fairly clear. That’s the growing need for just-in-time knowledge delivery. As rates of change accelerate at ever-faster rates, just-in-time knowledge delivery will be key for helping people keep up. As change increases exponentially, it creates a Knowledge Singularity. People can’t predict what they will need to know to do their jobs before they need to know it.