Cleva.Bot: 20 Years in the making

Cleva.Bot: 20 Years in the making

By Andy Mundell | Published: 19 December, 2023


20 years ago, I sat wondering, "What comes next?".

You see, at the time, I'd just cashed out of my business of 12 years, having established a global sports product under an exclusive worldwide license for the Ironman Triathlon brand. With manufacturing in Taiwan, China, and Thailand, and distributors in 35 countries, I was completely spent. Done with long haul flights; done with inventory management, global logistics and production deadlines; and done with spending so much time in the US rather than being in my native NZ. My propensity to design, invent and innovate were my only surviving motivations.

Finally, with time on my hands and sand under my feet (and being a futurist at heart), I pondered what the future world might look like and where I needed to be to prosper in it. It was then I stumbled upon an extraordinary paper written by Ray Kurzweil titled "The Law of Accelerating Returns." This not only blew my mind, it completely shifted my focus and trajectory, and so began my ventures into web design, development, technology and apps. I'd love to say it's been plain sailing over the 20 years since. It's been anything but. The learning curve has been steep, and just when you think you have a handle on it, it takes another leap.

What's remained remarkably true to form is the predictions Ray Kurzweil laid out in 2001, including the emergence of AI and ChatGPT-like technologies in 2023.

As remarkable as ChatGPT is, it's been on my radar for 20 years, leading up to the launch of Cleva.Bot today.

When founding Cleva.Bot in 2023, I asked Jef Kay to join me in a 50/50 partnership venture. I met Jef in my early 20s when we were both heavily involved in the NZ skydiving scene. Jef's a talented serial entrepreneur with many successes including a multi-franchise Pizza chain, GeorgeFM radio, 2 popular bars in Ponsonby, Auckland, and a social media company, to name a few. Jef was one of the pioneers of the NZ house music scene in the 1990's and one of the first to start paying local DJs to perform their craft (of which I was stoked to be one of them).

We both organised and enjoyed many incredible events and good times over the years and know each other's strengths. Our Cleva.Bot partnership gathers the combined experiences and talent pools of On.Works,,, and, providing a solid foundational team to roll out Cleva.Bot. What excites us both about Cleva.Bot is that it delivers everything it promises and then some. Given the high ethical standards we both hold ourselves to, this is fundamental to the DNA of our venture.

"The Law of Accelerating Returns" published March 7, 2001, by Ray Kurzweil, presents a comprehensive analysis of the progression of technology, emphasizing that technological change is exponential, not linear. Kurzweil argues and demonstrates with impeccable detail how this will lead to profound changes in society.

Kurzweil challenges the common "intuitive linear" view of technological progress, proposing instead that technological change follows an exponential curve. He suggests that the 21st century will not experience 100 years of progress at the present rate, but rather 20,000 years of progress using a 2001 measure. This acceleration is evident in various technological domains, including computing power, where we see exponential growth in both the capabilities and cost-effectiveness of technology.

A key aspect of Kurzweil's argument is the concept of the "Singularity," a point where machine intelligence surpasses human intelligence, leading to unprecedented technological growth that will fundamentally alter human history. This Singularity, he argues, will be characterized by the merging of biological and nonbiological intelligence, leading to scenarios like immortal software-based humans and ultra-high levels of intelligence.

Kurzweil contrasts the "Intuitive Linear View" with the "Historical Exponential View" of technological progress. Most people expect the future to unfold at the same rate of progress as the present, but this view overlooks the exponential nature of technological advancement. He uses various examples, including the evolution of computing technology, to demonstrate how each technological paradigm shift leads to an acceleration in progress.

The essay delves into the "Law of Accelerating Returns," which Kurzweil defines as a result of evolutionary processes. He explains that as each stage of evolution builds upon the previous one, the rate of progress increases exponentially. This law applies not only to biological evolution but also to technological evolution. Kurzweil discusses how each paradigm shift in technology, such as the shift from vacuum tubes to transistors to integrated circuits, has led to exponential growth in computing power.

Kurzweil also explores the implications of the Singularity, discussing how it will transform human life in various aspects, including social, economic, and intellectual domains. He predicts that the bulk of our experiences will shift from real reality to virtual reality, and most of our civilization's intelligence will eventually be nonbiological.

The essay further examines the growth of various technologies subject to the law of accelerating returns, such as DNA sequencing, memory, communications, and miniaturization. Kurzweil emphasizes that this exponential growth is not just confined to computing but is a characteristic of all evolutionary processes.

The thing that really captures my imagination about Ray Kurzweils predictions is this: Projecting his data-driven models forward on the paths and trajectories that have held historically true, means we will experience more change over the coming 20 years than the sum of all change that has ever occurred in the history of our civilisation.

There's a classic line in THE MATRIX movie that, to my mind, perfectly sums up the technology precipice that we stand before today.

"Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy,
'cause Kansas is going bye-bye."


Shift happens!

  • The AI paradigm will likely eclipse the emergence of the internet itself.

  • Many businesses in the late 90's believed they didn't need an online presence. Failing to embrace the shift saw industries leaders replaced by those keeping pace with change.

  • The big question now is "which side of history will you be on when the story of AI's emergence is written?"

  • Shift happens! It waits for no one. Get Cleva.


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