Models and Theories in Human-Computer Interaction/Accelerating Returns and Singularity

Kurzweil's “The Law of Accelerating Returns”Edit

The AccelerationEdit

We will develop content for a new wikibook where we critically assess models and theories relevant to the field of Human Computer Interaction.

Kurzweil's “The Law of Accelerating Returns” is a theory aimed to prove that technology evolves and eventually gets replaced at an exponential rate. When technology encounters a block it is superseded with the introduction of a new technology. The new technology is usually more efficient. The main driving force of the theory is that the rate of replacement is exponentially faster (Kurzweil, 2001). The reason being – the human brain has the tendency for continuous improvement. Let’s look at the following example – about fifteen years ago, the concept of “social networking” was limited by the email exchanges, chat rooms, discussion threads etc. This benign concept got jolted by the introduction of new technologies i.e. Myspace, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, and many, many more. The occurrence has been faster and more versatile.

The DecelerationEdit

Conversely, Kurzweil's also mentions culmination of technologies of unimaginable progress that will lead to singularity.

The SingularityEdit

Kurzweil's theory can be rationalized into two parts – one that of accelerating returns and the other that of singularity. The accelerating return is constant no matter the outcome. Technology reaching the point of singularity may be tough to envision.

Major technological advancements have been happening all around us. More is yet to come. Technologies fusions are constantly happening. It is plausible that copulation of technologies that merge humans and non-human components may progress towards singularity but it is unlikely. Technology may slow down there will be always a human brain that is constantly thinking of replacement. The human brain is wired to constantly think “what else can or more be done?” For benefit of further discussion, it can be argued that singularity can transpire if human brain is mapped a technological component. According to Allen (2011) the understanding of the brain as to how it responds, reacts, thinks, deviates or shuts down disrupts the point of singularity theory. More importantly, it will require a massive acceleration of our scientific progress in understanding every facet of the human brain (Allen, 2011)


Greaves, M., & Allen, P. (2011, October 12). Paul Allen: The Singularity Isn't Near. Retrieved June 17, 2015, from http://www.technologyreview.com/view/425733/paul-allen-the-singularity-isnt-near/
Kurzweil, R. (2001, May 7). The Law of Accelerating Returns. Retrieved June 17, 2015, from http://www.kurzweilai.net/the-law-of-accelerating-returns