This is a great video looking at the rate of change in the world today. Things are changing faster than ever before, which makes for fascinating viewing for those of us lucky enough to be alive now.
The vid describes this as Exponential Times. The transhumanist movement posits that this will ultimately lead to a singularity - some point in the future when technological change becomes so rapid that we cannot even imagine what things might be like from our point of view today.
[At this point we all become Posthhuman, a scenario explored in the rather wonderful Down and Out in the Magic Kingdon by Cory "Boing Boing" Doctorow.]
When fiber optics get really clever and bandwidth becomes near enough infinite, you will be able to access all the accumulated knowledge of the world in seconds. With the semantic web, those data will self organise and make their own connections. When everyone is connected, we might find out what the killer app for mankind is.
Sounds grandiose, I suppose.
Termites aren't very bright. But collectively they learn - the hive has an emergent property akin to consciousness - older termite colonies behave more cautiously than younger ones, even though all the individual termites that make it up will be new - the life cycle of a colony is far, far longer than the lifespan of an individual. [See the fantastic Emergence by Stephen Johnson for more on this]
I wonder what the emergent properties of humanity might be.
Amara's Law: "We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run." By Roy Amara, past president of The Institute for the Future.