The first part of this article discusses how economic growth has been on a smoothly accelerating trendline, from the start of human civilization through the present. Now, in the second part, we will envision the future.
The first chart, also shown in Part I, displays global per capita GGP (Gross Global Product), starting from the year 2000 and going backwards on a logarithmic scale. It is apparent how the economic gains of the 20th century dwarf those of all prior millenia of human civilization. Put another way, world GGP growth of 4% a year seems normal today, but was under 1% in the 18th century.
Historical World Per Capita GGP until 2000
Now, it gets interesting. As this growth is not just exponential, but exponential even in the second derivative i.e. the rate of increase also increases at ever-faster rates, the best way to extrapolate the future would be to change the x-axis to take, say, 2050 as a starting point, and see what a trendline plot of the same approximate shape would amount to in per capita GGP on the y-axis.
This gets us what we have in the chart below.
Historical World Per Capita GGP until 2050
This method predicts that the GGP per capita in 2050 will be $36,000 per year in today's dollars, or about 6 times what it was in 2000. The gains made from 1950 to 2000 are dwarfed by the gains made from 2000 to 2050..
Imagine, for a moment, what this means for society. All the glorious technological innovations discussed in other articles here will allow the costs of health care, education, transportation, energy, and entertainment to plummet and allow poorer nations to rapidly creep up the ladder of prosperity and Maslow's hierarchy. If we project even further into the future, the exponential curve continues to steepen and the wealth that awaits is so vast that perhaps even the grandest visions of science fictions might be quite economically feasible.
Additionally, this makes economic dimension of the Technological Singularity quite tantalizing to speculate.