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As defined by Ray Kurzweil in his book "The Age of Spiritual Machines", the law of accelerating returns states that time exponentially speeds up in a system in which order is increasing exponentially. He claims that time speeds up, because the length of time between salient events grows shorter as time passes in a system with exponentially increasing order.

He uses this concept to illustrate how the increase of technology and order is actually causing time to accelerate exponentially, and must therefore eventually reach the "asymptote" of the exponential equation, a concept he will cover in more detail in his future book "The Singularity".

The opposite of the law of accelerating returns, in Kurzweil's definition, is the law of increasing chaos, which states that as chaos increases exponentially in a system, the period of time between salient events grows longer, and therefore time slows down.

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