Doing Everything with Nothing: Architecture, Ephemeralization, and the Law of Accelerating Returns
Mankind’s technological advancements allow us to do “more and more with less and less until eventually we can do everything with nothing”, as R. Buckminster Fuller predicted in 1938. This concept, “ephemeralization”, is especially evident in cloud computing, where infrastructure, platforms and software are now commodities. The effort required for their use is closing in on the nothing, and the capabilities they provide are, at the same time, bordering on the everything. This gradual disappearance of readily apparent complexity, and the accelerating returns afforded by our progress, is not limited to software. Throughout history, all aspects of the world’s growth have been exponential. We humans tend to think very linearly, so we can usually only grasp change after it has already happened. So what does a future look like when we factor in that progress is exponential, and that there is no apparent upper limit on what we can collectively achieve?