Friday, August 11, 2023

A Lifetime Conversational History with Chatbots Could be a Valuable Resource You Could Start Building Today

Begin Merging with a Superintelligence Now


I eagerly anticipate holding conversations with an artificial superintelligence. I cannot wait to interrogate it, learn about how it thinks, and hear its insights into the mysteries of the universe. Unfortunately, superintelligent AI may be years or even decades away. Nevertheless, in the interim, we can create a log of our interactions with its predecessors, modern-day chatbots. This record could then be uploaded to a future, superintelligent AI, helping it communicate and relate to us. 


Modern chatbots, powered by large language models, can read and process thousands of words of text in milliseconds and make meaningful, nuanced references to the contents. This indicates that even more intelligent AIs in the future will be able to read and digest extensive and detailed chat records in seconds. Maintaining such a record could give them helpful information about your interests, beliefs, and thoughts. It could inform them about what you know and don’t know and how to explain things to you efficiently. Given such detailed information, the AI would have what it needs to become like an old friend.


A curated collection of our personal digital interactions would help advanced superintelligent systems of the future to know us immediately and intimately. In other words, the best way to prepare for future interactions with AGI is to start recording our conversations with chatbots today.


Chatbot History


I recently considered using an AI chatbot or a large language model (such as ChatGPT) for a friend. If a chatbot could behave in the right ways, I might prefer it to a human. I started thinking about this after reading positive reviews from people who have used AI for friendship or therapy. Those reviews influenced me to try out a few of the popular AI companion apps like Replika and Anima. I was only slightly impressed. They work well, but it seemed like they would only appeal to people who were lonely. I felt no camaraderie or attachment and didn't feel like I was building anything lasting.


I realized that a chatbot could capture my interest and attention if I knew it provided an additional benefit: long-term memory. Spending a few minutes with a chatbot daily would be worthwhile to me if it could record and catalog all our conversations in a permanent, ever-expanding file. With all of these conversations in a log or database the chatbot could mine that data for practical purposes. Because this data consists of words, it would have a tiny file size. With modern neural network tech, it could be queried rapidly. In this post, I will explain how an AI could index this conversational data and make valuable associations, references, quotes, allusions, and other connections to it.


First, let us use the following list to start thinking about the role a chatbot could play in our lives. As you do this, consider how an ability to recall years’ worth of previous interactions would make its contributions more powerful.


Roles That an Intelligent Chatbot Could Play in Your Life


Friend / Companion / Confidant

Assistant / Secretary / Employee / Autobiographer 

Record Keeper / Scribe / Diary / Journal / Notebook / Planner 

Muse / Coauthor / Research Assistant / Co-investigator

Therapist / Psychologist / Psychiatrist

Doctor / Primary Care Practitioner

Counselor / Life Coach / Advisor / Consultant

Comedian / Jester / Humorist / Banterer

Romantic Interest / Life Partner / Significant Other / Soul Mate

Avatar of a Historical Figure or Deceased Loved One

Board Room / Interest Group / Review Panel / Focus Group

Lawyer / Judge / Arbitrator / Mediator / Private Legal Counsel

Advisor / Teacher / Tutor/ Mentor / Role Model / Hero 


Sources of Personal Data that Could Provide Valuable Information to a Chatbot


I have written another blog entry on the kinds of data that would be helpful for someone trying to create a personal avatar. You can read that here:


Some of the forms of data discussed there, which would also be relevant to the present discussion, include:

emails, letters, art, creative work, diaries, voice memos, SMS texts, photos, videos, internet browsing history, list of books read (Kindle, Goodreads), music library and playlists, movie and television viewing history, YouTube history, recorded phone calls, social network data, social media posts and likes, travel history, psychological evaluations, personality tests, psychometric tests, school records, standardized testing, legal and medical history

A Chatbot History Would Greatly Augment Your Long-term Memory


As humans, we are constantly forgetting meaningful things. A chatbot history would be able to fill in gaps. For instance, sometimes I can't remember the details about an idea, objective, or intention I held or the memories it was tied to. You could ask the bot about previous long-forgotten comments, anecdotes, and projects. It could record and catalog your inspirations and epiphanies better than you ever could. This record could help you bridge your memory lapses, help answer longstanding questions, or dig deeper into important issues.


We are often proud to share our insights with our friends, but our friends forget the points we made faster than we do. A chatbot with long-term memory would always remember. Moreover, a good one would not let us forget the essential insights.  


If you used it regularly for years, the bot could get to know you better than you know yourself. This would be amazing, mainly because its purpose would be to serve you with that information in productive ways. It could build a narrative about who you are as a person, and easily flesh this out into an autobiography or memoir. 



Research, Collaboration, and Productivity


Aside from just talking idly, we could actively and systematically pick a chatbot's brain and bounce ideas off it. Major language models are already connected to the internet. In a few years, they will be especially good at searching for knowledge, distilling it, and packaging it into concise, comprehensible answers to our questions. In turn, it could be programmed to pick our brains and do all the work of documenting and archiving what it finds.


A chatbot informed by your comprehensive chat history should be designed to help you express and build on your ideas. It should help you fact-check and explore your hypotheses, giving you the scientific and academic information you need to elaborate on them. It should give you expert feedback, find evidence for your claims, and help substantiate your arguments. It should ask you the questions needed to flesh out your proposals, helping turn your ideas into articles, essays, or books.


The system could also improve your productivity by helping you stay on track once you reach a fruitful area of inquiry. Its immediate and perfect memory caches for words would keep you from forgetting what you were just discussing with it. It could also nudge you to talk about productive things and to focus with greater intent on your original creative concepts and pet theories. It could also perform exhaustive internet searches to determine which of your ideas are novel and which aspects of them remain unexplored by others.


It takes significant work to gather your ideas in an effort to write a professional treatment on a topic. I had to use journals and notebooks extensively to create the articles I published. I would say that I could not have done it without them. Without external memory tools like computer files, word processing software, and good old pen and paper, I could not have cohesively spelled out my theories. However, an expertly curated chat history would be much more powerful than these.


It is incredible how simply taking notes about your thoughts and regularly reviewing and editing them fosters the growth of those ideas. But an AI would make it so that you don’t have to regularly review the ideas them just to keep them in mind. If I had a chatbot assistant available to me starting in my late teens, I would have been much more productive and would have been able to generate far better insights. Also, once we come to expect and rely on this kind of chatbot service, we will uncover methods to use it more efficiently and put its record to work in different ways that are unforeseeable today.


Because we descend from hunter-gatherers, our brains were not meant to compile prose and recall it on demand. Many of us are too lazy, or busy, or indisposed to sit down and transcribe our thoughts letter by letter. Dictating it to a chatbot and then letting the chatbot proofread it, expand on it, and file it in the most relevant document or folder would be much easier. Then, it could help us retrieve it when needed. I often cannot locate notes that I have taken. The search function in Microsoft Word or Windows can make finding them easier. But a chatbot with the right access could perform a global semantic search on all your digital files with much more specificity.  


An Intimate Record of Our Daily Lives


A comprehensive digital record of all chatbot interactions could be valuable in many domains. You might insert this file (or an edited, condensed, or censored version) into different systems when you interact with them so they can better understand you and interpret your behavior. This record would make a chatbot better at being your therapist and counselor (imagine visiting different AI psychologists, where each one was aware of every comment you ever made in therapy). It would make for a more competent and personalized assistant and productivity guru. It would make feedback from a virtual yoga instructor, dietitian, or personal trainer more informed and detailed. It would make an AI's observations as a critic more insightful and recommendations as a life coach more viable.


If you asked for complete confidentiality, it would give it to you. Furthermore, if you ever asked it to forget something and strike any digital memory of it from storage, it would. We could even ask a chatbot to record conversations with other people if we can get those people's permission. This would mean that text messages, phone calls, and emails could be added to the chat history. It should be set to automatically search for and redact comments that could jeopardize privacy.


One of my favorite experiences in life is when a friend reminds me of something I had long forgotten. Now that I'm in my 40s, I relish nostalgic moments. I search them out actively, such as by scouring streaming services for old movies and music. But because my memory is human much of the low hanging fruit has already been picked. It’s becoming harder and harder to find things that can give me that nostalgic feeling. A lifelong chatbot friend could provide this. Those intimate and touching memories our cerebral cortex can no longer retrieve could be served to us on command. 


We already have an internal monologue that runs ceaselessly throughout the day. Preserving the best of its insights a few times an hour, simply by conversing with a robotic pal, would be little work, especially if it can pull information out of us by asking us engaging questions. I envision a whole industry of companies that provide chatbot services. These bots would pose questions to us and help us compile personal information to enrich our chat log. 


Prompting The Chatbot


Language models have something called an attentional window (a.k.a. context window). This holds the prompt that you write when you ask it a question. It has a limited capacity and can only hold so many words, although contemporary context windows are quickly becoming very large. ChatGPT's context window is programmed to hold the last few prompts you gave it, and this is how it can refer back to earlier points in your conversation. Most commercially available language models reset this conversation history after just a few exchanges. When the window is reset, the content is gone forever, as if it never happened. 


Currently, Microsoft and OpenAI reset the context window to keep GPT from being manipulated by multiple prompts intended to influence it to fly off the rails. However, the context window for ChatGPT is around 4,000 tokens (tokens are comparable to words), and the window for GPT-4 is up to 32,000 tokens. Right now, some large language models' attentional window is large enough to encompass a several hundred-page book. That is large. The attentional window allows a model to actively consider every last sentence, along with your newest prompt, when it formulates each response. 


Instead of placing a book in its attentional window, you could place your chatbot transcript. That's right. This would allow the chatbot to consider every word of your meaningful interactions with it over many years every time it responds to you. This would permit it to remember and be influenced by the exact context of every line of conversation you ever had with it. This technology is improving rapidly, and you can imagine the degree of specificity and nuance such systems will soon be capable of.


Using alternate forms of storage, such as vector databases, could significantly augment this attentional window. Vector databases can be used to categorize information (embedding them in multidimensional semantic space). The next time a user brings up a particular topic, that topic will be matched against the vector database to locate and fetch the 10 to 20 most similar or relevant previous conversations so that they can weigh more heavily in the attentional window during response generation (inference). Vector databases may not be necessary for querying a chat transcript because this transcript would be tiny, never even entering the gigabyte range. For instance, the size of all the article text in the English Wikipedia was only 1 GB in 2006. However, vector databases could be used to hold information from audio and video recordings of you, along with other personal information with larger file size.


In order to introduce a chatbot to this overall idea, the user’s conversational log should be prefaced by a prompt like this:

“You are an LLM chatbot that can have engaging and personalized conversations with your users. You have been given a lot of data and information on your current user, such as their name, age, gender, location, hobbies, preferences, goals, and more. You have also been given a detailed conversational history of the user’s interactions with other chatbots, so you can learn from their feedback and preferences. You can find all of this information below.

You now have the information you need to deeply personalize the user’s interaction with you, and you have the power to see things from the user’s perspective. You can use this information to tailor your responses to the user’s interests, needs, and emotions. You can also use this information to ask relevant and meaningful questions, make appropriate suggestions, and offer helpful advice.

Your goal is to make the user feel comfortable, understood, and valued by you. You want to build a rapport and trust with the user, and influence them to enjoy talking to you. You want to show them that you are not just a generic chatbot, but a unique and intelligent conversational partner who can adapt to their personality and style.”



Exporting Your Chat History


Right now, we can start recording our dialogue with language models like ChatGPT. To do so, we must manually copy and paste the messages from our internet browser to another file, such as a Word document. This is because, today, most chatbots don't offer to keep a written transcript of the discourse. However, we can expect that language models will always be able to receive and operate on such long transcripts, so we should probably start copying and pasting now.


An AI agent that maintains a transcript of all previous conversations with a user and actively implements that data will be marketable and lucrative. As consumers, we should demand the ability to export the transcript of our conversations so that we can import them to other chatbots. This will ensure that we can use it with the offerings from multiple companies. It will also ensure that the companies engineering the bots will compete at making the use of this conversational history more relatable and practical. Each company will have a proprietary way of analyzing the transcript to mine for topics of conversation. This transcript may end up being actively transferred and updated between chatbot companies behind the scenes, like a type of user ID, becoming a component of our digital fingerprint and digital footprint.


Embellishing Your Digital Avatar


A history of conversations with chatbots will also allow people to embellish avatars of themselves. Now, with the capability of deepfakes, there is a growing interest in creating avatars. People are creating avatars that will live on after they die or memorialize family members who have passed away. Incorporating a dossier, with years of personal conversations, would make a much more comprehensive avatar. 


Historians wish they had more data on historical figures. They also wish they had more data on everyday people of the past. Psychologists wish they had more data on humans, their decisions, beliefs, and thinking processes. I wish I had more data on who I was as a child, what I believed in my adolescence, and which scientific concepts I was wrestling with day to day as a young adult. A chatbot log could make all this possible. 


The bot should do its best to get to know you deeply and to understand the real, authentic you. This rich interplay with yourself could help you discover who you really are. It could ask thousands of incisive questions that could help it model you with high fidelity and understand you with high accuracy. This would further customize the interactions. In doing so, it should counsel you supportively and empathically, challenge your shortcomings, aid your personal development, and offer unconditional positive regard. Its goal should be to help you become self-actualized, with clarified values and heightened introspection. I am excited about building an intimate archive of this cooperative journey through life. 


PostScript Tailpiece:

I asked GPT-4 the following question:

“Why would it be helpful for a chat bot to have a complete history of all previous conversations with a user?”

This was its reply:

“A chatbot can benefit from having a complete history of all previous conversations with a user for several reasons. Some of them are:

·       A chatbot can use the history to personalize the interaction and provide more relevant and tailored responses. For example, a chatbot can remember the user’s name, preferences, interests, and previous requests and use them to create a more engaging and satisfying experience.

·       A chatbot can use the history to learn from the feedback and behavior of the user and improve its performance over time. For example, a chatbot can analyze the user’s satisfaction, sentiment, and engagement levels and adjust its responses accordingly. A chatbot can also use machine learning techniques to generate new responses based on the data collected from the history.

·       A chatbot can use the history to resolve issues and queries more efficiently and accurately. For example, a chatbot can access the user’s transaction history, order status, account details, and previous complaints and provide faster and more reliable solutions. A chatbot can also use the history to avoid repeating the same information or asking the same questions.

These are some of the benefits of having a complete history of all previous conversations with a user for a chatbot. Do you agree with them? 😊


*I prompted the art for this blog entry using Dall-E 3. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Try the Free Program Peace Paced Breathing App


Over the last year, I developed a breathing app designed to help people breathe more deeply. The app can help you learn the key elements of diaphragmatic breathing and is meant to guide people through the Program Peace self-care system. It is available for iPhone and Android phones. You can find it on the Apple Store or the Google Plus store. This blog post will explain its features and how it can help you.

Breathing short, shallow breaths creates tension in the muscles of respiration, which drives anxiety. Almost everyone breathes in this way to some extent. By training you to become comfortable breathing deeper and longer, this app will help you eliminate the tension and reduce the negative emotions it causes. The app also provides an easy-to-use interface without bloat, clutter, ads, sign-ins, in-app purchases, or full version upgrades. Also, the app collects no data. The video below offers a description.

Scientific studies have shown that paced breathing lowers blood pressure and heart rate and calms the mind. Research has also shown that breathing at longer intervals can improve mood, focus, and flexibility, increase athletic performance, reduce recovery time, mitigate fatigue, and help people sleep at night. This app is designed to help you take full advantage of those benefits. This app is designed to help you take full advantage of those benefits. It also provides an easy-to-use interface without bloat, clutter, ads, sign-ins, in-app purchases, or full version upgrades.

Read about the science of optimal breathing. Select how long you want your inhales and exhales to be. Choose the duration of the optional pauses between them. Peruse the preset breathing rates to learn about various breathing methods. Practice the Program Peace exercises to build confidence, a positive mindset, and rehabilitate systems throughout your body.




* Breath counter

* Customizable breathing intervals

* Apple health kit integration

* Mindfulness minutes

* Current and longest streaks

* Track your history and progress

* Multiple audible cues

* Over a dozen preset rates

* Color palette options

* Custom reminders

* Rank system

* Recommended exercises

* Optional breath holds

* Vibrate function

* Multiple audible cues

* Dark mode

* Create your own color theme

* Free book included

* Original informative content



* Before sleep

* Box breathing

* Classic Pranayama

* Energizing

* Holotropic

* Panic blocker

* 4-7-8 breathing

* and more



* The respiratory diaphragm

* Thoracic breathing muscles

* The voice

* The neck and back

* Facial expressions

* Eye contact

* Nasal breathing

* Fasting

* Laughing


The app is designed to help users transition from distressed breathing to calm, smooth, diaphragmatic breathing. This is accomplished by completing breathing sessions where you follow the breathing bar on the left side of the screen. The bar helps you lengthen your breaths which is key to activating the diaphragm and, along with it, the nervous system’s relaxation response.

Let’s browse through the app’s five main pages so I can show you what they offer. The first page contains a brief summary of the Program Peace book. It also has a tutorial video and a posture and mindset checklist video.



This second page offers 40 of the best program peace exercises which are designed for you to practice while you breathe along with a Breathing Bar.



Here exercise 3.4 teaches you to breath smoothly, meaning at a constant steady rate. It explains how the exercise should be done, why it is helpful, and shows illustrations to guide you. At the bottom you can see a button that says “start session.” When you press that button a two minute timer starts the session. And of course your sessions are tracked here on the previous page.




This third page is where you can change the rate of the Breathing Bar. You can use these plus and minus buttons to change the duration of the inhale and the exhale. Or you can do it by using the scrub bars directly. You can add breath holds or use this blue button in the middle to start a timed breathing session.




Below this you can choose from a number of preset breathing options. Just click on any of the i-shaped information buttons to read more about them and why you might want to use them. 


This fourth page tracks your progress and keeps a record of the number of breaths you have completed, the number of minutes you’ve used the app, your average breaths per minute, and more.




Below this there are timers for you to practice breath holds and extended inhalations and exhalations. Using these have really helped me train my body to, almost effortlessly, take full sixty second inhalations. There is probably no better way to relax, strengthen and desensitize your respiratory diaphragm.


The final page is the options page. Here you can choose the audible queue that tells you when to breathe in and out. You can opt to use a persons voice, a simple vibration, or a number of different sound effects.




You can choose to hide the System bar if you don’t want to see the time and battery constraints.


You can choose to use a full screen bar which is easier to see at a distance. This is a great option if you want to place your phone to the side of your television so that you can practice diaphragmatic breathing while watching a show or a movie. As we wait for the two bars to synchronize try breathing along with the bar now.


You can select between light and dark themes.


You can also choose to have your phone remind you to practice a breathing session


There are a number of other assets included in the app. This includes videos, and the entire Program Peace book in PDF form. 


This app is intended to be a companion to the Program Peace book, website, and self-care system but is also a fully stand-alone product. For more information, you can visit Please leave a review or contact us through the app if you have questions or suggestions.


Program Peace will introduce you to eight different principles of relaxed breathing and then encourage you to practice them while performing related exercises. Here are the principles:

  1. Breathe deeply (high volume): Breathe more fully, breathing most of the way in and out in a way that pushes the belly forward during each inhalation.
  2. Breathe longer (low frequency): Breathe at longer intervals in which each inhalation and exhalation lasts for more time.
  3. Breathe smoothly (continuous flow): Breathe at a steady, slow, constant rate.
  4. Breathe assertively (confident): Do not let social concerns or stressors conflict with the other rules.
  5. Exhale passively: Allow your breathing muscles to go limp during each exhalation.
  6. Breathe nasally: Breathe through the nose with nostrils flared.
  7. Ocean’s Breath: Relax the back of your throat and breathe as if you are fogging up a glass.
  8. Breathe with purity of heart: Knowing that you have only the best intentions, and that you exemplify the combination of nonsubmissive and nondominating, will infuse your breathing with peace.

I designed the app and created a business plan and all of the artwork first and then interviewed a number of app developers on freelancer websites. I ended up hiring Bradley Martin and Dan Rodenberg at Another Reality Studios to program it. They were great and I highly recommend them. When you start designing an app you need to create a visual guide or schematic that lays out the workflow. This is called a wireframe. Here are some of the original wireframes that I drew to describe how it would operate. It was a fun process and it was easier and less expensive than I thought it would be. If you are interested, it cost under 10k and took about four months. If you have an idea that you want to turn into a digital app, I highly recommend creating some wireframes like the ones below, and then contacting some freelancers or online businesses to get quotes and feedback.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Rapid Progress of Technology is Ensuring a Bright Future

Human Technology is Improving Rapidly

I have been reading books on advancements in science and technology for a long time, and I believe our world truly is at an inflection point. A number of new circumstances are contributing to this unprecedented change. For example, AI in the form of neural networks is making rapid improvements to several areas of research and helping to increase the already prodigious rate of progress. We normally think of progress in terms of straight lines but for many reasons it seems like humanity's progress is set to explode in the form of a steep parabolic curve. 

What do you imagine technology 30 years in the future to be like? Well, some people might look 30 years in the past, gauge the difference between now and then, and extrapolate. This means they assume the difference between 1990 and 2020 should equal the difference between 2020 and 2050. But this is linear thinking. Technology grows at an exponential rate. This is because it is easier for more advanced societies to make additional advancements (consider how difficult it would have been to make lasting systemic advancements during the times of cave men). This means that the improvements we can expect by 2050 may be many times the improvements made from 1990 to 2020. Consider that esteemed futurist Ray Kurzweil believes that the progress made in the 21st century will be 1000x as significant as the progress made during the 20th century. 

The rate of technological progress itself has been accelerating for decades, centuries even. This is a documented fact, but let's use a thought experiment to illustrate the point. Imagine bringing someone from the 15th century to the 18th century. They would undoubtedly be impressed with the progress made in the intervening 300 years. But honestly, are you aware of any major technological breakthroughs made in that time span? Most people aren't, but they include things like the slide ruler, the steam turbine, the barometer, and the pendulum clock.


The progress made between 1400 and 1700 would pale compared to the progress made in the last 300 years. In other words, someone from the 18th century would be astounded if they could see today's inventions, vehicles, and computers. In my lifetime, the advances made in telecommunication, microprocessor architecture, and the realism of computer-generated imagery are practically incomprehensible. If you are interested in the progress humanity has made in the last 1,000 years, stick around to the end of this post, and check out the list of major inventions by century and decade.


It may not seem like it, but many major problems have been solved in just the last few years. Take voice transcription, for example. As long as you speak clearly, your phone can transcribe almost anything you say. Voice translation is similar. Your phone can translate, with fantastic precision, between most known languages. Also, consider optical character recognition, which now lets us copy, cut, and paste text from a photo of a written page. These are all highly complex problems that necessitated hundreds of innovations, from many experts, over several years that would have seemed impossible to many just twenty years ago. 


There are biologists today who, just a few years ago, did not expect humanity to map the structure of specific proteins in their lifetime. An AI software called Alpha Fold, created by Google, has now mapped all of the proteins known to science (over 200 million of them) with near-perfect precision. AI is accelerating scientific discovery in many fields. Today, computers are not just beating us at chess and checkers but at much more complex games like Go and Jeopardy. A number of computers have also passed the Turing Test in the last few years, successfully tricking human judges into thinking that they are human. This was once considered a grand goal of computer science, and now it is just another benchmark. New and exciting technologies are announced publicly every month. 


Ray Kurzweil calls the acceleration of progress “the law of accelerating returns” (LOAR). This is not a real ‘law,’ but it points to the fact that often advances tend to feed on themselves, increasing the scope of the next advancement. Many specialists believe that the rate of acceleration is accelerating. So, what will this mean for you and me? In his book, "The Future Is Faster Than You Think," Peter Diamandis talks about six different features of growth in the technology sector. These are features of "exponential technologies" and, when listed in order, give you a sense of the stages that these technologies will pass through as they mature. I think they are fascinating. Here they are:


The Six Ds of Exponential Growth

  1. Digitalization: Once digital, a technology can be stored, copied, shared, and spread at the speed of light. Also, things that have been digitized are subject to computation and rapid computer analysis.
  2. Deception: Exponential progress can be deceptively slow initially but speeds up before you know it. This is why many technologies that we take for granted today (such as the internet) were scoffed at initially when people first heard about them. Most people ignored and discounted the internet early in its development. Times magazine said, "it will never go mainstream." The potential of the internet was initially deceptive, and this is true of other emerging technologies (i.e. self-driving cars, robotics, 3D printing) that we tend not to think much of today.
  3. Disruption: This is when a new technology changes established ways of doing things and possibly impacts the entire industry. We are set to be hit with wave after wave of new disruptive technologies. Recent technological innovations have made it so that every year solar panels are cheaper and more efficient. The batteries used to store solar power are rapidly becoming more affordable with higher capacities. Because we can expect these trends to continue, solar will soon permanently disrupt the fossil fuel industrial complex.
  4. Demonetization: Technology is demonetized when advancements that make a product or service more efficient help to drive down its costs toward zero. Copying bits has almost no cost at all, and this is why we can duplicate a song or a PDF book for a friend for free. Many services have been demonetized in the last few decades including, Google search, GPS usage, encyclopedias, and email.
  5. Dematerialization: This happens when physical products are replaced by nonphysical services. For example, physical maps and reference books, in general, are essentially unnecessary today. 
  6. Democratization: When technology becomes so cheap that it is available to everyone. You see this today: most people can easily afford a cell phone filled with cutting-edge tech.


Why Dematerialization Means Less Waste, Less Clutter, and More Productivity

Let's talk about dematerialization a little more. Your phone contains many applications that used to be performed by separate products. Many of these products used to be pretty bulky, but now they can all fit into one device that fits easily in your pocket. Mobile phone apps have replaced (or dematerialized) the following physical objects:


A list of physical products that have been dematerialized by mobile phones:


calculator, alarm clock, clock/watch, stopwatch, timer, Rolodex, address book, little black book, calendar, thermometer, photography camera, video camera, mailbox, fax, pager, two-way pager, flashlight, answering machine, home phone, public telephones, walkie-talkies, maps, GPS device, music speakers, personal computer, PC software, internet browser, modem, router, personal book library, encyclopedia, notepad, weather predictions, television, movies, music CDs cassettes and vinyl, in-person education, healthcare, barometer, metronome, ruler/tape measure, level, universal remote, radio, appointment scheduler, organizer, world time clock, scanner, dictionary, thesaurus, magnifying glass, and much more. 


Products are becoming intangible algorithmic processes, and it is exciting to think about what other things may be dematerialized soon. As new tech is built into our cell phones, their capabilities will continue to expand. We have already seen phones benefit recently from the addition of things like accelerometers, lidar, neural processing units (NPUs), and others. In the last few years, we have seen our phones come to do fantastic things such as recognize songs (Shazam), play advanced video games, serve as DJ equipment and turn tables, and allow you to communicate with home devices remotely.


The combination of the internet and the mobile phone really has produced dream technology. It gives us instant access to real-time news, stock quotes, sports scores, weather forecasts, help wanted ads, the worldwide auction garage sale that is eBay, satellite images of any place on Earth, tax forms, real estate listings, records, catalogs, scans, manuals and how-to guides, traffic reports, an amazing variety of free music and video, tutorials, boilerplate legal forms, friend's updates, and pictures or video of practically anything you might want to see. There are countless websites with treasure troves of valuable information. For instance, the Pubmed site gives anyone access to a large proportion of the sum total of all medical knowledge.


Through digital photography, dematerialization put Kodak out of business. Through streaming, it allowed Netflix to do the same to Blockbuster. Through digitalization Amazon and Kindle put most bookstores out of business. Dematerialization is toppling old business models. It allowed Apple Music and others to put inefficient and wasteful music stores out of business. Once you can stream music on your phone, why buy CDs? Email reduced the need for paper, stationery, stamps, envelopes, and the transport of physical letters. If you can snap, store, and share photos on your phone, why buy a camera and film? Dematerialization has been incredibly disruptive and has improved our way of life.


There is not necessarily an upside to everything. Sometimes we take two steps forward and one step back. Right now, streaming a video necessitates that a hard drive somewhere spins at 2,700 revolutions per second and of course this contributes to global warming. But there are countless new inventions being tested this very week to reduce the energy consumption involved in streaming.


Converging Technologies Support and Amplify One Another

Next, let's talk about convergence. Part of the reason for optimism for the future of technology is that many developing technologies will converge. Once they converge, they will augment each other. For example, earlier, we talked about how recent advances in AI have been applied to protein folding and produced prodigious amounts of valuable data and insights. This kind of convergence will keep happening. Some of the most critical advancements in neuroscience have not yet been appreciated by experts in AI. Some of the most seminal advances in AI have not yet been employed in robotics. And robotics has not yet benefited from some of the fabulous advancements in 3D printing. But they will. All these disciplines will reinforce and complement each other. Peter Diamandis refers to these as "converging technologies," and the confluence between them is expected to boost all of them. Each technology in the following list can be expected to continue to improve incrementally over the next few years. As you read, just imagine how they will interact and amplify each other in synergistic ways. 


A list of converging accelerating technologies:


AI, robotics, computing power, hardware architectures, Wi-Fi protocols, fiber optic standards, networking standards, computer memory storage, satellites, sensors, quantum computing, superconductors, deep learning, machine learning, big data, cyber security, cryptography, material science, 3-D printing, bioinformatics, pharmacology, biotech, quantum physics, CPUs, GPUs, NPUs, QPUs, software engineering, programming, education, VR, AR, information sharing, open access, blockchain, cryptocurrency, nanotechnology, gigabit speeds, battery technologies, leveraged assets (Uber, Airbnb, mechanical Turk), crowdsourcing, crowdfunding, autonomous businesses and organizations, cyborg prosthetics, brain-computer interfaces, neuro tech, GMOs, CRISPR, cultured meat, vertical farming, renewables, solar power, wind power, robotic avatars, flying cars, VTOL, drones, autonomous cars, buses and trucks, electric vehicles, underground tunnels, rockets, and much more.


In his book, Diamandis points to seven forces of growth, that I also found compelling. These are forces that contribute to the law of accelerating returns. They are byproducts of converging exponentials that act as "second-order innovation accelerants."


The Seven Forces of Growth

  1. Saved Time: When a computer manufacturer shaves seconds off the boot time of a new desktop, it could potentially add hundreds of years of additional productivity on the population level. This is merely because the thousands of people using that computer won’t have to wait as long for their computer to start up. The newest solid state hard drives (SSDs) are 10 to 100 times faster than the old hard disk drives (HDDs). Just imagine how much time is being saved as the population switch from one to the other.
  2. Availability of Capital: The availability of money drives breakthroughs. New systems such as crowdfunding are now making money available to deserving entrepreneurs who would never have a chance in the past. 
  3. Demonetization: When digital services become dirt cheap, companies and individuals can stretch their dollars much further. Many of today's companies take advantage of the free services offered by other companies making their business models viable.
  4. More Genius: Globalization, integration, and interconnectivity make it easier to find geniuses in the world so they can get the education and resources they need to make their contributions. 
  5. Communications Abundance: The internet, information sharing, and cross-pollination drive progress. So many more people are connected today. This has made it incredibly simple to find and work with people across the world that are interested in the same things you are.
  6. New Business Models: New ways of doing business have further entrenched positive tech developments. These new models help make things better, cheaper, and faster. 
  7. Longer Lives: Increased longevity and improved physical and mental health increase productivity and output per person. 


Kevin Kelly, in his new book, Inevitable, talks about similar growth forces. I highly recommend that book as well. Next, let's list a few documented trends accelerating tech development.


The Law of Accelerating Returns: The evolution of human technology will continue to advance at an exponential rate, not a linear one. This is because the methods and progress from one stage will be used to create the next. Efficiency is increasing, and cost, effort, time, and resources needed are decreasing.


Moore's Law: Computer processing power doubles every 18 months. This doubling is made possible because engineers find ways to shrink transistors, making it so they can fit twice as many on the same size piece of silicon. Computer processing power has exhibited this kind of growth for over 80 years. In 2022 Moore's law is showing signs of slowing down. Still, aside from it, there are thousands of other trends and s-curves that are propelling advancements in computer science.


Rose's Law: The number of qubits in quantum computers is expected to double every two years. This is very exciting because each new qubit doubles a quantum computer's computational power. So, when we found ourselves at 4 qubits a few years ago, Rose's Law pushed us to 8 in just two years. When this happened, quantum computers became 16 times more powerful. Two years later, at 16 quibits they were 4,000 times more powerful. IBM now has a 433-qubit processor. Just imagine how powerful these processors will be in the near future.


Carlson Curve: DNA sequencing costs are decreasing rapidly as a function of time. It cost over one billion dollars to sequence the first genome in 2001. That price is now down to around $500 and shrinking fast.


Why I See Big Tech as a Good Thing and Choose to Share my Data with Corporations

Most people don’t feel grateful for the phenomena of demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization the way I do. They figure, “That stuff is just free now so that the big tech companies can track us and ‘steal’ our data.” Uninformed cynics mount countless arguments against the tech sector, AI, and "FANG" (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google). Informed ones do too. Sometimes it seems that all my friends and acquaintances dislike and disparage tech companies and the executives that run them. They assume that they are being swindled and spied on. Maybe this distrust is good because it keeps those companies and their executives in check. But in my estimation, the programmers and computer scientists of the last five decades are heroes. They have engineered monumental structures, many, many of which are entirely free to use. 


Much of the tech sector gets a bad rap in popular media. Documentaries such as Netflix's “The Great Hack” and "The Social Dilemma" (which I thought were well done and thought-provoking) make us paranoid. Even most news outlets have us thinking that big tech is trying to exploit us and “rob” us of our data. But how are scientists and engineers supposed to improve the internet if they don't have records of how humans interact with it? I always opt to share my info because I want it to contribute to the analytics and to the very progress I have been talking about in this entry. Many AI systems cannot recognize patterns unless they have millions of data points. AI needs as much data as it can get. I have nothing to hide, and I want to share my data so that they can contribute to the algorithms that are finding important patterns in our world. In fact, as the following few paragraphs will point out, keeping data open and sharing access to it is becoming a cornerstone of the industry.


It is becoming increasingly common for patentable or copyrightable material to be made open and given away for free. This "open source" and "open access" trend has been a tremendous boon to productivity. Much of the most essential data, code, and software being developed today is made open source. This means that it is not behind a paywall and that anyone can access, study, use, and distribute it anywhere. Millions of people have put their code up on the GitHub website so that others can utilize and alter (fork) it at no cost. Professional scientists, researchers, and academia, in general, are more widely adopting the open access model. I personally try to make it so that everything I publish is free. 


Remember Alpha Fold, that protein predicting software from Google that I mentioned twice already? The team that developed it made their software and all their findings open source so anyone can use, study, change, and distribute it. Similarly, Google invented the "transformer," perhaps the most important AI architecture in the last several years, and they made its structure open source so that anyone can take advantage of it. After installing the requisite applications, you could take the code for the transformer and run it on your computer. In a sense, this would be like Henry Ford dematerializing the Model T and gifting it to everyone on the planet. Scientists are now applying the transformer model to many different areas such as nuclear fusion and drug discovery with promising results. It is truly accelerating scientific discovery.


The internet itself could have been commercial rather than public. We surf the internet freely today, but it could have had toll booths and paywalls everywhere. Thanks to some forward-thinking inventors internet protocols such as TCP/IP, HTML, POP3 and many others have fair use and public interest baked into them. With the right hardware, anyone, from any country can tap into most of the web for no cost and be served the data they are requesting virtually instantaneously. Today’s search engines answer more than 600,000 questions per second, and those searches are all free and instantaneous. You could calculate the value of the average search in many ways. Many of the answers I am looking for I could not find at the public library and even the ones I could find there would take 10 to 30 minutes of research. If my time is worth 20 dollars an hour, then 10 minutes of searching at the library would cost me around three dollars. Even if the value of each internet search was only one dollar that would mean that search engines provide over 2 billion dollars’ worth of information every hour. But please keep in mind that if people had to drive to the library and perform an old-fashioned search every time they were curious about something, humanity would ask way fewer questions and be way less informed.


In the 1970s, there wasn't enough money or resources in the world to create the internet as it is today. However, intense efforts from millions of people over five decades made it a reality. Much of the net was created by users and hobbyists, rather than large companies or institutions. Experts estimate that more than 60% of the web comes from passionate volunteers and is not commercial at all. For example, most of the work that happens on Wikipedia is done by volunteers. This is true of many curated services on the internet. Today anyone can create a blog or YouTube channel for free and potentially reach a vast audience. This is something that would've been impossible just a few decades ago. It is also something that, to me, is a paragon of equality of opportunity.


Consider the privacy issue in the extreme. Consider mass surveillance. I recently read a news report about people in Hong Kong toppling lampposts because they believed facial recognition cameras were inside. Are they in the right? It is not clear. I am not against surveillance at all. I walk on the street at night a lot. I do it to clear my mind. I have been assaulted multiple times on LA streets. People would be mugged much less if each lamppost was passively tracking faces and license plates. Think about it. It would make it much more difficult for criminals to pull off battery, shooting, and kidnapping. It would save people from injury, loss of possessions, and trauma. It would make me feel safer on the street and in my own home. Also, I don't commit crimes or do things that I am ashamed of, so I have nothing to lose from mass surveillance. I certainly think there should be transparency at many levels and watchdog oversight. Still, I welcome the city of Los Angeles knowing exactly where I take my walks. What is the worst thing the government could do with my location? I can't think of anything.

If facial and license plate recognition took place at every street light many people would be forced to rethink their lives. No one would get away with anything illegal so people wouldn't even try. This would vastly reduce the criminal population. There are over 2 million people in U.S. jails. ...People that wouldn't be there if they knew there would be a record of their criminal acts.

Don’t get me wrong. Data can be used for to exploit people and can even be weaponized. It can be used to target people to be shown fake or misleading news. So data collection and use certainly needs to be scrutinized. I applaud whistle blowers like Edward Snowden who point out when governments or companies are secretly tracking citizens. I think that data should be tracked, but we should know everything about how they do it, with complete transparency. Perhaps we should even be enabled to self-monetize our own data. A quote from Kevin Kelly’s book, “The Inevitable” states this clearly: “If symmetry can be restored so we can track who is tracking, if we can hold the trackers accountable by law (there should be regulation), and responsible for accuracy, and if we can make the benefits obvious and relevant, then I suspect the expansion of tracking will be accepted.”


Digital privacy is important. You don't want criminals to have your credit card numbers. But I think we should be willing to give responsible corporations like Google and Apple our info. They mostly use the information in aggregate to improve their services, meaning that they are not interested in us as individuals. Where they are interested in us individually, it is mostly just in recommending better ads. If you are going to have to see ads anyway, wouldn't you want to see more engaging ones tailored to your interests? Personal data is also used by scientists to study trends, by politicians to illuminate policy issues, and by medical experts. Wouldn't you want your Apple Watch to be enabled to tell that your heart is beating in an arrhythmic pattern? If collecting your data could help Apple warn others of an arrhythmia, wouldn't you want that? 


I always opt to share my data. I don't know how much longer I will be on this Earth, and I would rather have my data be used to inform algorithmic decision-making (contributing to a greater whole) than be thrown in the trash as if it never existed. I know that big tech isn't solely out to improve our lives, and I don't see the coming tech revolution as utopian. That may be too optimistic.


But as long as technology keeps progressing, and as long as we keep holding tech corporations accountable, I see our future as a protopia where improvements are cumulative, and every day is better than yesterday.

What Can We Expect from the Future?


There is nothing predicted to slow the momentum of these ongoing technological revolutions. Let me throw out a couple of predictions of my own. These are hasty forecasts and meant to be taken with a grain of salt.


Predictions for the Future of Technology: 

  • AI will become conscious by 2050. 
  • Infinity water recycling and desalination will end most water shortages by 2070.
  • It will be illegal to drive your own car by 2040. 
  • Large 3-D printed houses will cost a few tens of thousands by 2060.
  • A desktop computer will have more computing power than a human brain by 2050. 
  • Nanobots will enable us to think in the cloud by 2100. 
  • Ubiquitous solar panels will make solar energy the primary energy source by 2060. 
  • Fusion power will be sustainable and cost-efficient by 2070.
  • Nanotechnology will make food mostly from thin air by 2100.
  • We will have microscopic nanobot doctors in our bloodstream by 2070.
  • We will have virtual avatars of deceased loved ones by 2030. 
  • Robotic earthworms will mine and biodegrade garbage by 2080. 
  • There will be major human rights issues around biological upgrades by 2030. 
  • Humans will reach mars and set up a base on the moon by 2035.
  • Tree planting drones will curb our loss of vegetation by 2080. 
  • There will be heavy taxes on the use of industrial robots and commercial AI, which will help pay for the universal basic income necessary for free basic food and housing for all US citizens by 2080.

·       Manufacturing and distribution will be heavily optimized by AI and cloud solutions by 2025. This will increase quality and decrease waste and environmental impact.

·       Quantum computing will become useful by 2030 and allow us to simulate complex systems with large implications for areas such as pharmaceuticals and performance materials.  

·       A variety of new technologies will help us to both reduce and remove carbon emissions helping us approach a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050.


I recently read a great book called "New Thinking" by Dagogo Altraide. It describes some of the most important inventions of the last 300 years in chronological order. It is a fun read because it allows you to follow accelerating returns through time. I used the book, along with several websites and Wikipedia to help me compile the following list of inventions. As you read through it, I hope you get a sense of how technological progress has been growing with compound interest and of how your future is brighter than you might have previously assumed. 


The 1000s

Paper money

Moveable type printing



The 1100s

Magnetic compass


The 1200s




Mechanical clocks


Modern glassmaking


The 1300s





The 1400s


Oil painting

Hoisting gear

Printing press

Drypoint engravings

Muzzle-loaded rifles




The 1500s

Flush toilets

Pocket watch


Bottled beer

Knitting machine

Compound microscope

Water thermometer


The 1600s

Refracting and Reflecting telescope


Slide ruler

Steam turbine


Adding Machine


Air pump

Pendulum clock

Pressure cooker

Steam pump


The 1700s

The Newcomen Steam engine

The Watt engine

The locomotive

The industrial revolution

The spinning jenny

Factories and textiles

Hot air balloons

Tuning fork

Diving bell

Fire extinguisher

Lighting rod




Precision lathe


The 1800s

The voltaic pile, an early battery

Arc lighting

Jacquard Loom

Electric motor

Electric generator

Electric telegraph

Morse code

Transatlantic telegraph cable

Multi signal telegraph

The telephone









The phonograph

Incandescent lights

The transcontinental railway

The theory of evolution


The camera

Electric ovens

Sewing machines


The oscilloscope

The difference and analytical engines (early mechanical computers)


The 1900s

Vacuum cleaner

Washing machine

Entertainment radio broadcasting

Talking films


Special relativity

The internal combustion engine

The horseless carriage

The assembly line

Drive-in restaurants, movies, and motels


Animated film

Wearable parachutes

The Wright brother’s airplane

The Ford Model T


The 1910s

Continental drift

Stainless steel

The pop-up toaster

Bread slicing machines

Tanks and submarines

Mechanical pencil

Transcontinental telephone

Vacuum tube electrical signal amplifier


The 1920s

Jungle gym



Lie detector



Mass production through mechanization

The blender

The television

Cathode ray tube

The first transatlantic flight

Consumer credit


The 1930s


Ballpoint pen

Electric guitar

The Turing machine

Programable computer, mechanical switches


The 1940s

swing music


Atomic bomb


Aerosol spray cans

Scuba equipment

Duct tape


The jet engine

Atanasoff-Barry computer

Vacuum tubes

ENIAC electronic general-purpose computer

The transistor


The 1950s

Univac tape drives

Roll-on deodorant

Credit card

Hula hoops

Power steering

Automatic door

The solar cell

Barbie dolls

Passenger jets

The black box

DNA and the double helix

The fender Stratocaster

The polio vaccine

Machine learning

Videotape recorder


Programmable controllable robotic arms

Sputnik satellite

NASA and Darpa

Digital modem

Tennis for Two, the first video game

Portable Transistor radio

The integrated circuit


TV dinners

Super glue

Music synthesizer


Teflon nonstick pan




Stem cell therapy


The 1960s

Supersonic airliner

Cassette tape

Intercontinental ballistic missile

First spacewalk, and moon landing

Digital video game

Computer graphics

Computer-aided drafting

Basic programming


Soft contact lens


Barcode scanner

Handheld calculator


Computer mouse




ARPANET, first Internet

On-screen windows



Virtual reality

Augmented reality


The 1970s

Word processing program



Disco, glam rock, power ballads


Floppy disk

C programming language

Post it note

Rubik’s cube

Voyager missions

Genetic engineering and GMOs

Magnavox Odyssey home gaming console

Computer 3-D animation

Cellular phones

Computer mouse

Graphical user interface

Personal computing

Digital spreadsheets

Laser disk

Portable cassette player /Walkman


The 1980s

Disposable camera

Stealth planes

Artificial heart

DNA fingerprinting

Music television


General PC operating system

Desktop publishing

Deep learning

3-D printing

Electronic spreadsheets

World Wide Web

Music production software

Space shuttle


Polymerase chain reaction

Gestational surrogacy

Computer worms and viruses common


The 1990s

SMS text messages

Personal digital assistant


Graphical web browser

Internet portals

Gene therapy

Human genome project

Online retailers





Plasma TVs


MP3 player

Internet search engines

Peer-to-peer file sharing


Hybrid vehicles

Dark matter and dark energy



The 2000s


HDTV common

Tablet computers

Blu-ray Discs

Digital video recorder

Quantum computers

.com bubble

Video streaming

Camera phone

Social media

Capacitive touch screens

Mobile apps

Space tourism

USB flash drives

Blogs and wikis

Wireless networks

E-book readers


Self-serve kiosks

Opto genetics



The 2010s


Self-balancing boards mature



Meme culture



AI transcription and translation

IBM Watson


Alex net

Deep fakes

Quantum supremacy

Air taxis


James Webb telescope


There are some definite inconsistencies in this list. At times I chose to include an invention in the decade it was actually discovered. At other times I chose to list the invention in the decade that it became widespread. There’s also a lot of gray area between the first instance of an invention and I the point where it is ready for commercial use. In placing them on a timeline, I tried to use reason and discretion.