I’ve grappled with this question for many years. There is no way humans can possibly know if technological progression ever hits an endpoint. Some say yes, others say no. Even truly brilliant individuals are divided. I want to believe that technological progression has no end because it frightens if we can’t keep developing as a species as I want humanity to invent some of the awesome things we see in Star Trek.

Is there any good argument that supports that technological progression is boundless? It can be something you come up with, a logical argument or an analogy that seems applicable BUT I would love sources as well that support this belief. From technological philosophers or even more towards physicists.

Bernard Stiegler is a philosopher who has a belief that technology is endless but I read some of his stuff and I don’t think it is enough to convince me.

  • We do not know. Oct 18 at 5:57
  • Yes I’m aware that we don’t have a definitive answer. I’m just looking for something that might support that it has no limit. Anything for peace of mind.
    – Max
    Oct 18 at 6:15
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    From economics to politics, current attempts to predict future events are quite unsuccessful. The same for technology. In principle, every human activity is limited: maybe the universe will end... Oct 18 at 6:26
  • If one believes that the development of technology was part of our evolution as a species, then as long as humans continue to evolve, the technology will evolve. Oct 19 at 17:32
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    Even if there is a limit in our Universe, that's not necessarily a hard cap. Perhaps, those limits are merely emergent properties of the initial conditions of our "universe" and we can fine tune the initial parameters to get any laws we want. If we can write the laws, it's not clear we would ever "run out" of improvement. Although, there may still be limits to what we can do. IMO, the only way to prove one cannot develope anymore is if one is already omnipotent. It's hard imagining Humans ever reaching that point. Oct 22 at 21:09

4 Answers 4


There are fundamental constraints on some aspects of technological development. For example, the last fifty or sixty years have been notable for continuing advances in the miniaturisation of electronics, giving us the cliché of your watch having more memory and power than a warehouse full of computers in the 1960s, but there is a hard limit on the road ahead, as electronic devices clearly can't be smaller than the fundamental particles of which all matter is composed. The speed at which devices operate is ultimately constrained by the speed of light. The strength of materials is ultimately governed by the fundamental forces, as is the energy density that can be stored in batteries. And so on. But that said, much of technological development is not about driving towards those constraints, but instead is about combining capabilities in novel ways, and the scope for that doesn't have quite the same hard physical limits. Instead, the pace of technological development will be governed by other factors, including market forces and the limits of our ingenuity. Whether technological development can continue 'for ever' in a literal since seems rather irrelevant if all you are looking for is plausible assurances for your peace of mind, but there is no reason to suppose it will not continue for a very long time, assuming, of course, that we are not wiped out in the meantime by asteroids, plagues, nukes, etc.

  • How do we know there is a cap to fundamental particle sizes? Besides, isn't size relative to the space-time the object is in? What if we can warp spacetime to allow for massive objects inside small spaces? So we can in effect, have "smaller" nanochips, relative to something outside the device. Speed may also be bypasses by some kind of spacial shennanigens, not by accelerating faster- but by making it so your speed increase because you made the distance shorter for yourself. Oct 22 at 21:11
  • @MichaelCarey, sure, you can imagine all kinds of stuff if you ignore constraints. Oct 22 at 21:28
  • Not to change your point, but I wonder if more complex quantum devices might be able to get more states per particle with collections of particles, so it would somewhat overcome the particle size issue. But as you say, "I can imagine quite a bit."
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 17 at 12:37
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    @ScottRowe an excellent point! I suppose what I was driving at is the idea that if there are fundamental limits as far as physics is concerned, our technological developments will eventually bump up against them. Of course, if we find those limits are illusory, Bob's your uncle. Nov 17 at 16:45
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    @ScottRowe what an incredible stroke of avuncular luck! Nov 17 at 17:09

There is no reason to assume that the future will be like the past or better than the past. The future may be far worse than anything we've seen so far. Climate change is going to hit us pretty badly by the turn of the century, if not before. Once that happens, we won't be able to continue investing in fancy particles accelerators anymore, because the money will shrink and the needs will swell. It is safe to assume that scientific and technological development will pause or be seriously slowed down as a result.

  • Similarly, Larry Niven in the book "Ringworld" said that if a culture doesn't have the "free lunch" of fossil fuels available, it could not produce an industrial revolution, or recover from a technology collapse. Something to keep in mind as we use up all the readily available fuels... Without coal and then oil, we would still be in the 1700s, effectively. Actually, you need coal to make steel, so, Bronze Age?
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 17 at 12:30
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    Hi @ScottRowe. Hopefully we shall master nuclear fusion for energy production before the supply of fossil fuels dies out, or they get forbidden. Otherwise we're screwed.
    – Olivier5
    Nov 17 at 15:13
  • @ScottRowe Quite true.
    – Olivier5
    Nov 17 at 18:04

... History of physics 140 years ago ...

At the end of the 19th century, physics had evolved to the point at which classical mechanics could cope with highly complex problems... So profound were these and other developments that it was generally accepted that all the important laws of physics had been discovered and that, henceforth, research would be concerned with clearing up minor problems and particularly with improvements of method and measurement.

Are we in the same position?

  • "And the Michelson Prize for 2023 goes to..." (kind of like the Darwin awards, but for prediction in Physics)
    – Scott Rowe
    Nov 17 at 12:27
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    Thanks. It always amused me how we can be so certain of ourselves. I mean, these physicists in the 19th century had no clue about how the sun could generate all this energy. And yet the sun is a rather large and significant object, without which there'd be no life on earth... Having no clue about it didn't stop those guys thinking they had discovered all the laws of physics. :-)
    – Olivier5
    Nov 17 at 12:50

Even if technological development ends there will always be the need for technology because birth is suffering, ageing is suffering and death is suffering. All beings who take birth are in need of technology to reduce the physical and mental suffering. There will always be the demand for hospitals , medicines and doctors. There will always be the need for new innovative toys for the kids. There will always be the need for new age clothing. There will always be the need for great supply chain for the convenience of availability of essential commodities at least. There will be new and innovative ways to travel from one place to another, in fact , there is a possibility of teleportation in the future. There will always be the need for civilised societies to run great companies which help reduce suffering. Moral values may modify but will still remain relevant. There will always be the need for some kind of technological support in old age. And the list can go on forever because birth will take place as long as people have sex, ageing will take place if there is a birth and related technological help would be needed. Death would be made as much less painful as possible. The list of kinds of suffering people go through is huge and related technological solutions are also big.

However on the negative side , it is predicted that climate change will most likely take place. Diseases will manifest. Anarchy is also possible because reality is subject to certain conditions and all conditions are impermanent , meaning when the conditions change or dissolve, the nature of reality changes or dissolves.

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