Design Night is a new events program at the Autodesk Gallery. At each event, guests explore a different theme – such as biomimicry, light, or robotics – that challenges the conventionally narrow definition of design. The theme is reflected in all aspects of the event, from the activities guests enjoy to the food they eat to the music they hear. The result is a fun and fascinating venue for exploration, networking, and the exchange of ideas.
The events are held on the first Thursday of the month. Last Thursday I attended our fourth Design Night: Leaps and Bounds, where we explored how exponential technology is making a big impact on the world’s greatest challenges.
Here was the setting:
- The future isn't now. It was yesterday. Technology is changing exponentially and has the power to solve some of the world's most pressing problems. But what is exponential growth? Well, for example, the 100 years of the 21st century will not provide 100 years of technological progress. It'll be more like 10,000 years. Yeah, we're moving at ludicrous speed now, so hang on and don't blink. There's even exponential growth in the rate of exponential growth.
The evening included:
Instructables robots - Yes, exponential technology means robots are getting brainier every day.
By the end of the night, it reminded me of that line from the movie Airplane — "...and Leon's getting larger."
- Featured speaker Salim Ismail - Global ambassador and founding executive director of Singularity University.
And what's not to like about: an open bar and food. Here are three fun highlights from the night:
Our brains are wired to think linearly, not exponentially. Salim Ismail told a story about how Singularity University students are first taught to think differently. They are instructed to imagine themselves at a fixed location. They then imagine themselves taking 30 linear steps. They all have a sense of where they be would be after doing so. Then they are instructed to start at the original location and imagine where they would be if they took 30 exponential steps. How far away would they be? The correct answer is a ~billion steps -- enough steps to go around the earth 26 times.
In his presentation Salim provided an analogy for the effects from exponential change to the three states of water:
- ICE - The molecules are densely packed and moving slowly. The form is rigid.
- LIQUID - The molecules are less densely packed and have some movement. The liquid adheres to the form it is contained in.
- STEAM - The molecules are loosely packed and moving rapidly. The form is fleeting and escapes any container whenever there is an opening.
This analogy can be applied to many domains of knowledge such as communication, travel, or manufacturing. We are in the steam age.
With the launch of the International Space Station, since October 31, 2000, the Earth has had a least one human residing at a location other than the surface of the planet. Using exponential growth techniques for extrapolating as to how many people will live in space from that is difficult because the variables for extraterrestrial life are so very different than earth. People need sunlight, water, warmth, etc. that are not always available in space. One disgruntled human can wipe out an entire planet's (or moon's) population by sabotaging the life support system. So when Star Trek™ becomes a reality remains a mystery.
A good time was had by all -- and educational too.
To see what you missed, check out these Socialcam videos:
- Jonathan Knowles at #DesignNight in the #AutodeskGallery
- Singularity University Exec student Nicola Baiocchi di Silvestri on exponential technology
- Singularity Univeristy Exec student Sophie Hackford on disruptive innovation
- DJ Plustype is Michael Frederickson selects songs using a syringe
- Squiggle Bots from Instructables (see how to make)
Growth is alive in the lab.