Here’s a thought for the day: the technology we see around is isn’t actually the state of the art. In fact, it’s generally a few years in the past.
Consider: gadgets generally take a few years to go from concept to prototype to product. Sometimes these leak out early, but usually not until the product is fairly mature. If Apple and Microsoft are prepping their tablets for market now, you can bet they have research cells working on the next generation after that.
The same thing is true with bio-tech. Even the most basic drugs go through years of clinical trials before being released, and there are years of development behind each trial. Imagine what’s being internally tested now that won’t be available to the public for another decade.
Of course, everyone knows it’s true with military and defense technology. For the past 60 years or so, black programs have been years or even decades ahead of the state of the civilian art in air- and space-craft, remote sensing and even mathematical proofs.
Even movies and video games released today are made with the technology that was available a year or two ago.
On one hand, a medieval peasant’s plow was probably as advanced as any plow in the world during that time. During the Industrial Revolution, advances in machinery were implemented more or less as quickly as was practical. And yet, look at how long it took (even in the US) between Edison inventing the light bulb and every home having electric lighting; compare that to how quickly iPods and iPhones became ubiquitous. This seems like a strong argument that if there is a Singularity, we are living in it right now: the gap between the available and the possible keeps growing, even as the speed in which the possible becomes available shrinks.
We’re actually living about 5 minutes in the past right now. I don’t know about you, but that makes me optimistic about the future.