How Should We Think About the Future?


April, 2016

Chances are, you’re underestimating the amount of progress we’re going to make in technology, medicine and a host of other things. Why? Because your brain, and mine, and everyone else’s, thinks linearly, rather than exponentially. We are living in an age of exponential change in things like computing power and speed, decoding and finding medical uses for the human genome, adoption of the Internet mobile technology and various social media sites, self-driving cars and many other things that were not even on your radar ten years ago.

According to an article at Singularity Hub, our brains are wired to predict the future based on the past. If we’re walking down a road, and taking steps a meter in length, we assume that it will take 30 steps to travel 30 meters. This progress is relatively easy to predict, and this linear thinking would have worked pretty well for evaluating the growth of our economy and its various technologies until fairly recently.

But now think about exponential growth, where each step we take is twice as long as the previous one. Our first step is a meter, the next one is two, and by step number 30, you will have traveled a billion meters—a distance equal to 26 trips around the Equator. This kind of rapid change is very difficult for our minds to wrap themselves around, but it accurately describes the evolution of many of the technologies and medical services that we enjoy today.

One of the hardest things to adjust to, the article tells us, is how things seem to appear out of nowhere. Think: mobile device apps, or the iPhone itself, or the exponential growth of information available on the Internet. That’s because exponential growth seems to happen overnight. When you double the length of each of those steps, you’re traveling 125 million miles at step 28, which is as much as all of the previous steps combined. Your next step is 250 million miles, again as much as all previous steps, and then you step 500 million miles, and you have traveled a full billion. If this were technology, those last two steps may see the advent of something completely unexpected and far beyond whatever came before.

Individuals and companies can’t predict exactly what will happen. But we can prepare for a future that moves so quickly that it seems out of control, and know that it’s actually the result of steady progress where a lot of previous steps built on each other invisibly but exponentially. We can allow ourselves to be pleasantly surprised by what the world brings us in the next ten or 20 years in the form of new therapies, new conveniences and access to more and better information—because changes are coming faster than our humble minds can predict, whether we decide to adjust to them or not.


Edward J. Kohlhepp, Jr., CFP®, MBA

Edward J. Kohlhepp, CFP®, ChFC, CLU, CPC, MSPA
Founder & CEO


Please contact us whenever there are any changes to your financial situation, personal situation or investment objectives.






This material was prepared by, and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note - investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.


Cheaters, Thieves and Tax Havens
Beware the Bogus IRS

Archived Newsletters

Investment Updates

Newsletters Sign Up

Account Login

Contact Info

Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd.
3655 Route 202, Suite 100
Doylestown, PA 18902
Phone: 215-340-5777
Fax: 215-340-5788

Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc. a Registered Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisory Services offered through Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd., a Registered Investment Advisor. Kohlhepp Investment Advisors, Ltd. and Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc. are not affiliated.

Due to various state regulations and registration requirements concerning the dissemination of information regarding investment products and services, we are currently required to limit access of the following pages to individuals residing in states where we are currently registered. We are licensed in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, IN, KY, LA, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, OR, PA, RI, SC, TX, VA, VT, WA

Check the background of this firm on FINRA's BrokerCheck