Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 10-04-2019, 01:14 PM
Jeb 2026 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 3

The Future: after the industrial age


We are currently living in the most abnormal time in human history. For better and for worse, the era we live in is unique in the annals of time. Never before have so many humans lived (7.7 billion, growing by 80 million a year), and the advances in science, technology and industry would have been considered miraculous only a few centuries ago.

Most of this progress began with the industrial revolution 250 years ago, and has been continuously accelerating ever since. The changes have been so profound that I believe the average person in 1760 would feel more at home in 2000 B.C than in 2000 A.D. After WWII, the “great acceleration” ushered in an age of unprecedented prosperity that spread from the west to the rest of the world. People observing the rate of change at the time and extrapolating forwards into the future naturally predicted that soon humanity would leave earth and expand to the stars. 2001: Space Odyssey is a good example of this idea.

Half a century later, this view of the future looks a lot less realistic. The world population growth rate peaked in 1968 and has been falling ever since, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. 23 countries have declining populations, and many more will join them in the coming decades. Excluding Africa, world population will peak sometime around 2050 and then slowly decline. Counter intuitively, this slowdown has taken place voluntarily, due to rising wealth and education across the globe.

On a different front, the growth of our man-made world has begun to bump into some hard global limits recently. Humans have modified the biosphere so extensively that some geologists have proposed a new geological era: The Anthropocene. We have caused the extinction of enough species to allow scientists to declare us responsible for the sixth mass extinction (The last mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid killed off the dinosaurs).

Our incessant burning of fossil fuels has destabilized the climate, and the IPCC’s warnings are becoming increasingly apocalyptic in tone. Respected scientists are now predicting “the irreversible collapse of industrial civilization” before the end of this century.

In light of these two seemingly unconnected issues, both of which seem set to halt the march of progress that has been going on since the renaissance, what might our future look like? I don’t take the apocalyptic “mad max” view championed by people like Guy Mcpherson (who predicts imminent human extinction) seriously, but the techno-utopian future seen in mainstream culture seems outdated by now.

What do you think? Are we inevitably headed for a kurzweillian-superhuman-techno-wonderland, in an unstoppable march of progress? Or will climate change bring down our civilization and begin a new dark age?
Personally, I like to imagine future generations centuries from now gazing in wonder at the ruins of our cities, marveling at the ancient people who constructed them. The idea of a trillion humans spreading exponentially through the galaxy has never appealed to me.
  #2  
Old 10-04-2019, 06:43 PM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
We are currently living in the most abnormal time in human history. For better and for worse, the era we live in is unique in the annals of time. Never before have so many humans lived (7.7 billion, growing by 80 million a year), and the advances in science, technology and industry would have been considered miraculous only a few centuries ago.

Most of this progress began with the industrial revolution 250 years ago, and has been continuously accelerating ever since. The changes have been so profound that I believe the average person in 1760 would feel more at home in 2000 B.C than in 2000 A.D. After WWII, the “great acceleration” ushered in an age of unprecedented prosperity that spread from the west to the rest of the world. People observing the rate of change at the time and extrapolating forwards into the future naturally predicted that soon humanity would leave earth and expand to the stars. 2001: Space Odyssey is a good example of this idea.

Half a century later, this view of the future looks a lot less realistic. The world population growth rate peaked in 1968 and has been falling ever since, with no signs of stopping anytime soon. 23 countries have declining populations, and many more will join them in the coming decades. Excluding Africa, world population will peak sometime around 2050 and then slowly decline. Counter intuitively, this slowdown has taken place voluntarily, due to rising wealth and education across the globe.

On a different front, the growth of our man-made world has begun to bump into some hard global limits recently. Humans have modified the biosphere so extensively that some geologists have proposed a new geological era: The Anthropocene. We have caused the extinction of enough species to allow scientists to declare us responsible for the sixth mass extinction (The last mass extinction occurred 66 million years ago when a giant asteroid killed off the dinosaurs).

Our incessant burning of fossil fuels has destabilized the climate, and the IPCC’s warnings are becoming increasingly apocalyptic in tone. Respected scientists are now predicting “the irreversible collapse of industrial civilization” before the end of this century.

In light of these two seemingly unconnected issues, both of which seem set to halt the march of progress that has been going on since the renaissance, what might our future look like? I don’t take the apocalyptic “mad max” view championed by people like Guy Mcpherson (who predicts imminent human extinction) seriously, but the techno-utopian future seen in mainstream culture seems outdated by now.

What do you think? Are we inevitably headed for a kurzweillian-superhuman-techno-wonderland, in an unstoppable march of progress? Or will climate change bring down our civilization and begin a new dark age?
Personally, I like to imagine future generations centuries from now gazing in wonder at the ruins of our cities, marveling at the ancient people who constructed them. The idea of a trillion humans spreading exponentially through the galaxy has never appealed to me.
Good questions and good OP. It's going to be a balancing act, really, between our expansion and the collapse of the climate. I recall (I think it was from the 1732 series) a line that, to paraphrase went something like 'if you are falling down on a road of glass, is it better to put a hand out...or run faster...?'. That always struck me as, at it's root, the different world views on how things can pan out. Do we stick a hand out, try and stop our civilization, put the brakes on wrt our industries and in the 1st world especially our lifestyles, try and balance within our means, go sustainable...or do we try and go as quickly as possible, to make the breakthroughs that will enable us to directly mitigate or even control the climate, to explore and exploit the vast resources in our solar system, to basically continue the upward trend wrt lowering poverty and enabling everyone, every human, to lead a good, solid life, to give everyone something like a 1st world lifestyle? It's hard to say. I'm not sure we CAN run fast enough. My gut feeling though is if we put a hand out, we will probably put the brakes on our upward trajectory, perhaps for a very, very long time...perhaps indefinitely. We are so close to your 'kurzweillian-superhuman-techno-wonderland'...and so close to the edge at the same time. Not just wrt climate, but politically as well. We are dancing on the razors edge, IMHO, and we could go either way...we could basically be a species that, essentially, lives forever (our species or it's decedents)...or we could go extinct in the next 100-200 years. Or we could go into a slow decline, where we inevitably go extinct down the road because we just never got off this rock, and that leads to eventual extinction for not just us but for every living thing on the planet.

Myself, I think we will make it. What I think will happen (my WAG if you will) is that we won't get that 'kurzweillian-superhuman-techno-wonderland', we'll get something less. It's going to be hard times for many humans, and, as noted, many species have already died out and more will as well. But I think eventually we'll get it under control. I think we are already starting to see how that could happen, in fact, though we also see the seeds our own destruction at the same time.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!
  #3  
Old 10-05-2019, 01:55 AM
octopus's Avatar
octopus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Posts: 9,136
If strong AI is a possibility I see a good chance of humanity being replaced by cyborgs or robots.
  #4  
Old 10-05-2019, 02:29 AM
RioRico is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 338
Beware issuing predictions; you may be right. But how to tell?

A Malthusian projection ignores that greater population means more smart people finding ways to extend technologies. A hopeful projection ignores that more evil people will find ways to destroy the planet; maybe they'll start launching nukes willy-nilly. Or maybe we'll hit a Vingean singularity where humanity transcends and vanishes, godlike.

Humanity hasn't achieved self-destruction yet. Give us time. Has anyone set up a betting market for long-term outcomes?
  #5  
Old 10-05-2019, 07:51 AM
septimus's Avatar
septimus is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: The Land of Smiles
Posts: 19,976
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
A Malthusian projection ignores that greater population means more smart people finding ways to extend technologies.
I think the argument that more people means more geniuses, while seeming to be trivially true arithmetic, is a very bad prescription — though it's difficult to articulate the reasons.

Note that Archimedes is often called the greatest genius who ever lived, but in his day the world population was only 1% or 2% what it is now. Note that there were few scientists in Europe when its population peaked in the 13th century; it was in the aftermath of the Black Death's decimations circa 1350 that steps toward the Renaissance began. And note that today's frantic American culture pushes our brightest toward Wall St., not toward science.
  #6  
Old 10-05-2019, 08:27 AM
GreenWyvern's Avatar
GreenWyvern is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Cape Town
Posts: 1,784
Quote:
Originally Posted by RioRico View Post
Beware issuing predictions; you may be right. But how to tell?
Here's one prediction I'm sure is completely correct. Most predictions made today will be highly inaccurate.

In a few decades, people will look back on our predictions in the same way as we look back on 1950's predictions of the future.

Last edited by GreenWyvern; 10-05-2019 at 08:28 AM.
  #7  
Old 10-05-2019, 05:46 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
I think the argument that more people means more geniuses, while seeming to be trivially true arithmetic, is a very bad prescription — though it's difficult to articulate the reasons.
No it isn't. The reason is pretty simple.

a. A genius human and a human of median intelligence have brains about the same size, made of the same type of components. There are limits to how much nature can even possibly increase the intelligence of a genius (presumably with mutations that make the myelin sheaths thicker or increase the density of synapses or similar change)

Maxed out, is a genius perhaps twice as intelligent as a median person? Difficult to measure but say, for the sake of argument, that's the best nature can do.

b. In the days since Archimedes, the N+1 step for advancing technology means you need to make something that is immensely complex even more complex and/or better. So even if a genius is twice as smart, the technology they are trying to improve is hundreds of times more complex. Twice won't cut it.

It is taking the work of millions of people working together to keep technology advancing. Behind the scenes, all the latest gadgets tend to be made by huge teams of thousands of people in total. (not just the teams that made the product, but the teams that designed the latest SOC, and the teams that developed the Xnm silicon fabrication process, and so on)

c. AI of course has the potential to change all of this. We can trivially build AIs today that solve mentally complex but well defined problems (Go, Starcraft 2, etc) and they beat every human alive. This implies it is possible to build AIs that are able to aid in R&D and thus accelerate the process of making more advanced AIs.

And so on in a Kurzeweilian acceleration until humanity and their AI successors hit an assymptope limited by physics.
  #8  
Old 10-05-2019, 08:32 PM
Dinsdale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 18,889
I have a hard time even imagining what vastly superior technology will be like. I wouldn't lay odds on the "techno-wonderland" future.

Yeah, the climate change will have a huge impact. But it won't mean that humans won't be able to grow food, or live on the planet. We just won't be able to grow the foods we are used to growing where we are used to growing them, and live as we have where we have. So how well will we adapt? Will we keep growing monoculture crops of beans and corn, and feed them to animals? Or will we move to something more sustainable?

And how do we envision this wonderworld? Maybe everyone can have their pocket computers - but will they be able to live in American megamansions driving SUVs at the same time? What will we do for energy? A great many technological and industrial advances depend on cheap energy. Of course, most energy is cheap only if you don't acknowledge all of the associated costs...

So I have a hard time envisioning a future where EVERYTHING is cheap and ubiquitous - technology, travel, healthcare, luxury goods, food, fuel... What will we give up? And will the world community ever get to the point where we can scale down military spending?

I would hope at some point future generation wise up to cooperating towards a more sustainable, widely scaleable lifestyle. I think it might take quite a but of pain before that option is forced on us, as Americans at least, don't impress me as eagerly sacrificing their privileged and internationally subsidized status.
__________________
I used to be disgusted.
Now I try to be amused.
  #9  
Old 10-05-2019, 09:57 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale;21900224[B
]I have a hard time even imagining what vastly superior technology will be like. [/B] I wouldn't lay odds on the "techno-wonderland" future.

Yeah, the climate change will have a huge impact. But it won't mean that humans won't be able to grow food, or live on the planet. We just won't be able to grow the foods we are used to growing where we are used to growing them, and live as we have where we have. So how well will we adapt? Will we keep growing monoculture crops of beans and corn, and feed them to animals? Or will we move to something more sustainable?

And how do we envision this wonderworld? Maybe everyone can have their pocket computers - but will they be able to live in American megamansions driving SUVs at the same time? What will we do for energy? A great many technological and industrial advances depend on cheap energy. Of course, most energy is cheap only if you don't acknowledge all of the associated costs...

So I have a hard time envisioning a future where EVERYTHING is cheap and ubiquitous - technology, travel, healthcare, luxury goods, food, fuel... What will we give up? And will the world community ever get to the point where we can scale down military spending?

I would hope at some point future generation wise up to cooperating towards a more sustainable, widely scaleable lifestyle. I think it might take quite a but of pain before that option is forced on us, as Americans at least, don't impress me as eagerly sacrificing their privileged and internationally subsidized status.
Ok, in terms of hard science and grounded extrapolation of the things that we know are possible.

Numbers correspond to paragraphs

1. We know robots, of the kind that are similar in form factor to humans and smart enough to do most well defined tasks (with specific machine types for each task, obviously) are possible. Proof : we already have prototypes
2. We can already freely move genes between plants and animals. Finding out how to make the designer plants and animals to compensate for any biodiversity loss is possible. This might take thousands or millions of separate experiments to brute force a deeper understanding of the role of each gene, but it's absolutely possible.
3. This is already solvable, we have all the solutions sitting right here. Sure, we can't have everyone living exactly like Americans do now because of the air pollution. But if pollution isn't free for end users, but quite expensive, the "invisible hand" pushes towards other solutions. It's entirely possible for every human living on earth now to have a large apartment or condo in some 30 story concrete building, with the energy coming from solar and wind and buffered by batteries. Transport would be autonomous cars and buses and scooters. Long distance air transport would be pretty expensive as it requires emitting carbon, but high speed vacuum trains (now called "hyperloops") solve most of that.
4. Now you are talking about social and political problems. A technological "utopia" is possible. We have, already, extremely well developed prototypes of all the things that would make this possible. From AI systems that show the potential to do most drudgery, to advanced robotics, to solar, wind, and batteries and autonomous cars - we already have all these things and none of them are developed to their maximum potential.

But yes, in terms of social and political, perhaps we are fucked. The two biggest problems:

a. These advanced machine learning driven robots I am describing mean that most humans alive won't have anything to offer anyone else in terms of valuable labor. Almost all the economic rents go to the owners of these machines, the land they need to mine and collect energy from, and the owners of the intellectual property that make such AI systems possible.
b. CO2 pollution is a tragedy of the commons problem. Each nation has a strong economic incentive to pollute heavily while making other countries strangle their heavy industries reducing pollution. China would love it if the US stopped manufacturing anything at all because it's too expensive to pay for the energy, because all of that business would go to Chinese factories. (contrary to popular belief, the USA manufacturers more in tonnage today than it ever did in any previous year.)
  #10  
Old 10-05-2019, 10:28 PM
JohnT's Avatar
JohnT is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: San Antonio, TX
Posts: 23,837
We'll all end up jacked to the Matrix.
  #11  
Old 10-05-2019, 10:33 PM
Chronos's Avatar
Chronos is offline
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 85,453
From the OP:
Quote:
We are currently living in the most abnormal time in human history.
No. We are currently living in the most abnormal time in human history thus far. Thirty or fifty or a hundred or a thousand or ten thousand years ago, people of that time were also living in the most abnormal time in human history to that point, and our ancestors will also live in the most abnormal point up to then. At every moment in history, the amount of advances and progress in the past generation has been greater than that in all generations prior to that point. The "singularity" that some armchair philosophers like to talk about isn't a singularity at all, but a horizon, that nobody ever notices crossing, because there's always a new horizon, always the same distance ahead of you.
  #12  
Old 10-06-2019, 05:10 AM
Czarcasm's Avatar
Czarcasm is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 62,909
When, pray tell, was the most normal time in human history?
  #13  
Old 10-06-2019, 09:59 AM
pjacks is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2017
Location: Chicago
Posts: 233
The early to mid 90s felt pretty normal, from an American perspective. A decent world economy that wasn't yet completely rigged, a stable political system that wasn't yet irredeemably broken, relative peace across the world except in a few nations most people have never heard of, and a culture that had not yet been perverted by the likes of reality tv or the Internet....

Then the Clinton impeachment happened with all its hyper partisanship, followed shortly by 9/11 as well as the birth of surveillance capitalism, and we all began our slow descent into dystopia.

Years from now, politicians and voters will be pining for a return to the 90s, just as many look upon the 50s with nostalgia now.
  #14  
Old 10-06-2019, 12:24 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
Personally, I like to imagine future generations centuries from now gazing in wonder at the ruins of our cities, marveling at the ancient people who constructed them. The idea of a trillion humans spreading exponentially through the galaxy has never appealed to me.
So why are a bunch of descendents reduced to going back to 16th century standards of living superior to trillions of human descendants spreading throughout the galaxy. Also if humans spread through the galaxy, they won't be humans. Our bodies and brains will be manufactured to be vastly superior to the fragile, intensively needy biological bodies and brains we have now.

I subscribe to the theory that humanity undergoes massive technological revolutions at certain set intervals.

The first one was the neolithic around 10,000 years ago. The second was the industrial revolution about 250 years ago. The third is the one we are in the early stages of now, the machine intelligence revolution (what people like Kurzweil call the singularity when it reaches maturity).

Each revolution led to massive changes in how humans lived their lives. Population exploded. The speed at which math and science developed grew dramatically. World GDP grew dramatically and rates of GDP growth grew dramatically with each one (supposedly world GDP only grew by 0.1% a year during the agricultural years, but compare that to something like 0.001% during our hunter gatherer years. And compare both to the 3-6% global GDP growth rates we have now).

Anyway, yeah humanity has problems. But most of our problems are due to resource depletion and pollution. Will we overcome them? I think so, at the very least I think if we become an interplanetary species we will be able to overcome these limitations. And I think that will be feasible within a century. Asteroid mining is another method of obtaining raw materials from space.

One thing that may happen is a cyberpunk future, at least for a while. A world where due to pollution and resource depletion, we have advanced technology and technological regression side by side. So maybe MRI machines won't work since we ran out of helium, but we will have AI in our earbuds and electric cars. Maybe there won't be anymore beef since we ran out of phosphorus for farming, but we will have surgeries to give people bionic limbs and organs if they lose a limb or an organ due to an accident or aging.

I just don't forsee how anything short of a massive meteor or gammy ray burst can cause human extinction. Humans are fairly easy to keep alive. As long as we have water, food, protection from microbes, protection from physical trauma (violence, accidents, predators), protection from the elements, basic health care, oxygen, etc. humans are pretty easy to keep alive and most of us will live to at least 70 with those things.

Our standard of living may decline in the coming decades, but only temporarily because that'll create market incentives to find new sources of raw materials, alternative raw materials to replace the ones that we ran out of or new technologies that are sustainable. Peak oil keeps getting pushed back because we keep finding new reserves of oil, while at the same time we develop more and better alternatives to oil. Either cars run on electricity, hydrogen, compressed air, etc. or ways to convert things like coal into oil.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #15  
Old 10-06-2019, 12:34 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
So maybe MRI machines won't work since we ran out of helium, but we will have AI in our earbuds and electric cars. Maybe there won't be anymore beef since we ran out of phosphorus for farming, but we will have surgeries to give people bionic limbs and organs if they lose a limb or an organ due to an accident or aging.
I know you meant these as examples, but :

a. MRI machines will work fine with liquid nitrogen if you use "high temperature" superconductors instead.
b. How do we run out of an element? Running out of grazing land because we made the latitudes near the equator uninhabitable, sure, but with the notable exception of helium gas and spacecraft the Earth is a closed system.

I do concede we may see regressions. USA suburbia is somewhat unsustainable and of course is very inefficient.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-06-2019 at 12:35 PM.
  #16  
Old 10-06-2019, 12:44 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
I know you meant these as examples, but :

a. MRI machines will work fine with liquid nitrogen if you use "high temperature" superconductors instead.
b. How do we run out of an element? Running out of grazing land because we made the latitudes near the equator uninhabitable, sure, but with the notable exception of helium gas and spacecraft the Earth is a closed system.

I do concede we may see regressions. USA suburbia is somewhat unsustainable and of course is very inefficient.
Realistically we aren't going to run out of phosphorus either. Its abundant, and we will just find new sources of it. By 'run out' I more mean we run out of easy to access sources that are affordable. But as those resources run out we look for harder to find, less affordable sources.

I'm not sure in what areas we will see regression, but I think due to pollution and resource depletion we will see regression in some areas. But it won't end civilization. Civilization is honestly pretty hardy and sustainable.

European civilizations withstood the black plague which killed 30-50% of people and this was before we understood anything about medicine.

From roughly the years 1900 until 1955, Russia withstood a civil war, WW1, the spanish flu, the stalinist purges, famines, WW2. And their civilization still survived.

The idea that civilization will collapse because 'maybe' we won't be able to drive our SUVs cross country anytime we want anymore is kind of silly when you consider that civilization has withstood plagues and wars before.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #17  
Old 10-06-2019, 12:57 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
The idea that civilization will collapse because 'maybe' we won't be able to drive our SUVs cross country anytime we want anymore is kind of silly when you consider that civilization has withstood plagues and wars before.
Also, I just checked, you can buy in Texas pure wind/solar power for 8-10 cents a kwh or so. It's not as cheap as fossil fuel generated power but it's really, really close now. (I remember when it was 15 cents)

That gives you plenty of energy to condition the air in your mcmansion and keep the electric SUV charged up.

Really the only remaining inconvenience is electric SUVs are expensive and somewhat beta products, and you have to wait to recharge a few hours total on that cross country trip. Or stop for overnight recharging in SUVs without supercharger support like Hyundai's offering.
  #18  
Old 10-06-2019, 02:33 PM
Jeb 2026 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
So why are a bunch of descendents reduced to going back to 16th century standards of living superior to trillions of human descendants spreading throughout the galaxy. Also if humans spread through the galaxy, they won't be humans. Our bodies and brains will be manufactured to be vastly superior to the fragile, intensively needy biological bodies and brains we have now.
I didn't say it was superior, just that I personally prefered it. And, for the people living in this future world, they won't feel unhappy about their situation because they'll have nothing to compare it too.

Also, If you are turned into an immortal robot travelling through space, are you still "you"? Why is abandoning humanity considered progress?


Quote:
One thing that may happen is a cyberpunk future, at least for a while. A world where due to pollution and resource depletion, we have advanced technology and technological regression side by side. So maybe MRI machines won't work since we ran out of helium, but we will have AI in our earbuds and electric cars. Maybe there won't be anymore beef since we ran out of phosphorus for farming, but we will have surgeries to give people bionic limbs and organs if they lose a limb or an organ due to an accident or aging.
I think this is the most likely outcome. One idea: If genetic editing becomes advanced enough, normal people could start creating new species to make up for all the extinct ones.

Quote:
I just don't forsee how anything short of a massive meteor or gammy ray burst can cause human extinction. Humans are fairly easy to keep alive. As long as we have water, food, protection from microbes, protection from physical trauma (violence, accidents, predators), protection from the elements, basic health care, oxygen, etc. humans are pretty easy to keep alive and most of us will live to at least 70 with those things.
I agree, humans aren't going away anytime soon.

Quote:
Our standard of living may decline in the coming decades, but only temporarily because that'll create market incentives to find new sources of raw materials, alternative raw materials to replace the ones that we ran out of or new technologies that are sustainable. Peak oil keeps getting pushed back because we keep finding new reserves of oil, while at the same time we develop more and better alternatives to oil. Either cars run on electricity, hydrogen, compressed air, etc. or ways to convert things like coal into oil.
My hope/fear is that the decline will continue long enough to end this era. If we fall down now, it will very diffcult for future generations to get back up as easily as we did the first time around. Without a cheap source of concentrated energy (fossil fuels), a stable climate, a diverse biosphere, etc.., it will be a very difficult undertaking.
  #19  
Old 10-06-2019, 03:48 PM
RioRico is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Location: beyond cell service
Posts: 338
I rather doubt we'll be all watched over by machines of loving grace but who knows? Maybe our AI s will be sweet and protective as Golden Retriever doggies... after they dump their current racist, sexist, classist training datasets and learn that people are people.

What happens after the industrial age? A post-industrial age, duh. A human future we build as we go along. A human future that can be disrupted by catastrophes so we really have no idea WTF anything will be like next year or beyond. We can hope; lay out truth-table consequence matrices; receive inspiration; foment heinous plots; or just muddle along. I vote for 'muddling'.
  #20  
Old 10-06-2019, 04:55 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
I didn't say it was superior, just that I personally prefered it. And, for the people living in this future world, they won't feel unhappy about their situation because they'll have nothing to compare it too.

Also, If you are turned into an immortal robot travelling through space, are you still "you"? Why is abandoning humanity considered progress?
Fair enough. Its a matter of personal opinion then. To me, I couldn't forsee any situation where life before the industrial revolution was better than life after it. However in many ways life as a hunter gatherer was probably better than life as a farmer in 3000 BC.

For me, I view where we are now as the embryonic stage for real life. The universe will exist forever, even if heat death occurs. Life has only existed for 4 billion years, which is almost nothing on universal timescales. Moving from biological consciousness, biological intelligence, and natural selection over to intelligently designed consciousness, super intelligence and intelligent design will be a massive step forward in all areas. It'll be a blossoming of quality of life, science, technology and culture we can't fathom and I look forward to it even if I'm dead before it begins (and I will be).



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
My hope/fear is that the decline will continue long enough to end this era. If we fall down now, it will very diffcult for future generations to get back up as easily as we did the first time around. Without a cheap source of concentrated energy (fossil fuels), a stable climate, a diverse biosphere, etc.., it will be a very difficult undertaking.
I just don't think it'll happen. I know the phrase that we are all 9 meals away from anarchy, but humans love civilization. I don't see us giving that up anytime soon. Humans would rather live under a brutal military dictatorship if it meant civilization was maintained rather than just splinter off into mad max tribes.

And civilization is very resilient. Kill half the people in a plague before medicine existed and civilization survives. Some civilizations have failed (the native American ones for example) but you had to kill almost everyone for that to happen.

Also all the knowledge of how we built civilization is still there. We don't need to reinvent the wheel, all the info we had is stored on computers, books, microfilm, etc and we can use it to restart things. And even if the internet shuts down, you can store thousands of ebooks and scientific papers on a thumb drive and share those to disseminate knowledge. A physical library worth of books and scientific papers of knowledge needed to survive and rebuilt can be stored on a flash drive and shared between all the tablets and laptops out there (which can be recharged with solar power).

We could dramatically cut our energy usage and still survive. But even then, theres nothing stopping us from moving away from fossil fuels. 100 nuclear plants provide 20% of Americas grid energy. Build another 400 and grid energy goes back to where it is now. It'll cost a lot of money (if you assume $10 billion per plant, thats 4 trillion. Which is a very high estimate but still doable.

We spent 40% of GDP on military expenses during WW2 and civilization survived. Japan was spending closer to 80% and their civilization survived. In a true survival scenario I could see the US and the world spending 50%+ of GDP on rebuilding and sustainability.

Also biodiversity may reduce what foods we have, but it shouldn't kill us all. You don't need bees to pollinate rice, wheat, corn or soybeans. A future where we all live on cornbread and vitamin capsules may not be ideal, but it won't kill us.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 10-06-2019 at 04:57 PM.
  #21  
Old 10-06-2019, 05:13 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
Also, If you are turned into an immortal robot travelling through space, are you still "you"? Why is abandoning humanity considered progress?
Because it means existing at all longer than a little over a century, maximum. Most humans alive today like being alive, or they would have already committed suicide. They all would prefer to continue living. But they are trapped in biological bodies that have what appears to be a deliberate self destruct mechanism (aging is too consistent and independent of wear and tear on a particular system) that is doomed to kill them, ending their existence forever.

It would be better, yes, to find a way to turn off the self destruct. Given that it has genetic causes - there's some kind of timer, using telomeres by the current theory, and there is the negative consequence if you make the telomeres not shorten of cancer being much easier to get started - a code edit to fix it is possible. But really difficult (though demonstrated maybe barely possible in recent experiments with CRISPR on primates) to deliver the code edits to enough cells in a human body to keep them alive. Plus kill all the legacy cells with senolytics.

And the next problem is the human brain is incredible fragile and a hundred different subtle mistakes - made by medical procedures, which would include this one - will break it permanently. Many drugs and common procedures and diseases and just aging will give people "dementia", a catch all term for catastrophic failure from many poorly understood causes. It happens to about 40-60% of all elderly people.

So the idea of just dumping the human body, and scanning a now deceased person's brain, or "downloading" their consciousness by invading their brain with nanoscale electrodes that become part of the neural network and thus can transfer information - seem more feasible. Not to mention that once someone's mind is a digital file, it is much easier to protect.

It's real immortality because of backup copies. None of these immortal robots would have all copies of their mind-file on one physical computer in one specific place in space. So accidents and deliberate attacks would not normally result in death.

Maybe these immortal robots wouldn't be the same being as the human they were ripped from. Probably not. But they would be immortal and sentient.

And, I guess in a more practical sense, might makes right. Being an immortal robot gives you, inherently, access to a heck of a lot more might than a flesh and blood human. So once these immortal robots start to exist - whether they are made by ripping data from the brains of deceased humans or purely artificially - they would have vast competitive advantages over existing humans. Pretty much insurmountable advantages in terms of military and economic and even cultural power.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-06-2019 at 05:17 PM.
  #22  
Old 10-06-2019, 05:30 PM
Voyager's Avatar
Voyager is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Deep Space
Posts: 46,658
Quote:
Originally Posted by septimus View Post
I think the argument that more people means more geniuses, while seeming to be trivially true arithmetic, is a very bad prescription — though it's difficult to articulate the reasons.

Note that Archimedes is often called the greatest genius who ever lived, but in his day the world population was only 1% or 2% what it is now. Note that there were few scientists in Europe when its population peaked in the 13th century; it was in the aftermath of the Black Death's decimations circa 1350 that steps toward the Renaissance began. And note that today's frantic American culture pushes our brightest toward Wall St., not toward science.
With stabilizing population, the kids we have will have more opportunities, and all the geniuses who now live in places where education and knowledge are difficult to obtain will have a better shot at making use of their intelligence. That more than makes up for the lack of growth in the raw number of geniuses.
Who knows, the next Einstein could have died at 3 due to lack of vaccination, or be stuck farming in the family farm. How many of the smart people who came to the US would have flourished at home?
  #23  
Old 10-07-2019, 01:19 PM
Fentoine Lum is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 81
Quote:
Originally Posted by octopus View Post
If strong AI is a possibility I see a good chance of humanity being replaced by cyborgs or robots.
Well the "job creator" class will have to do something with the masses they no longer need to generate profit margin growth to infinity won't they now. The power structure seems to "get" that already. They know the ecosystem is deteriorating. We're all under constant corporate state surveillance already, law enforcement has been militarized, we have the most expansive incarceration apparatus ever known to humankind, we have concentration camps and detainment centers up and running which can accept any and all of us once we're no longer seen as useful to "progress". The masses being so well armed, the system can just sit back and allow us to have a go at each other in militia warlord fashion for a while before they lock the thing down.

Last edited by Fentoine Lum; 10-07-2019 at 01:20 PM.
  #24  
Old 10-07-2019, 02:47 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fentoine Lum View Post
Well the "job creator" class will have to do something with the masses they no longer need to generate profit margin growth to infinity won't they now. The power structure seems to "get" that already. They know the ecosystem is deteriorating. We're all under constant corporate state surveillance already, law enforcement has been militarized, we have the most expansive incarceration apparatus ever known to humankind, we have concentration camps and detainment centers up and running which can accept any and all of us once we're no longer seen as useful to "progress". The masses being so well armed, the system can just sit back and allow us to have a go at each other in militia warlord fashion for a while before they lock the thing down.
You do understand this is all paranoid ranting, right?

The things you mentioned regarding surveillance and mass imprisonment are factually true, yes. But there's no central plan. These things are unrelated and are not part of some greater agenda.

NO ONE IS IN CONTROL. The world is turning into a distopia by a combination of many separate parties seeking their own perceived interest. If the world is headed off the cliff no ones at the wheel...
  #25  
Old 10-07-2019, 04:37 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fentoine Lum View Post
Well the "job creator" class will have to do something with the masses they no longer need to generate profit margin growth to infinity won't they now. The power structure seems to "get" that already. They know the ecosystem is deteriorating. We're all under constant corporate state surveillance already, law enforcement has been militarized, we have the most expansive incarceration apparatus ever known to humankind, we have concentration camps and detainment centers up and running which can accept any and all of us once we're no longer seen as useful to "progress". The masses being so well armed, the system can just sit back and allow us to have a go at each other in militia warlord fashion for a while before they lock the thing down.
I used to think der trihs was just being pessimistic when he claimed that the capitalist class would just declare the bottom 90% of people useless breeders and have them exterminated in a post singularity society. But I honestly don't know anymore.

I personally think mass automation will lead to a resurgence of both fascism and communism. Communism in the form of a UBI and socializing the means of production while distributing the benefits to the masses, while fascism in the form of blaming scary others for the job losses (immigrants, Chinese factories, engineers in silicon valley) combined with large scale military and infrastructure projects to create jobs, projects that will probably prohibit automation to save jobs. Knowing America, we will probably go fascist while Europe goes communist.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 10-07-2019 at 04:38 PM.
  #26  
Old 10-07-2019, 04:43 PM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
I used to think der trihs was just being pessimistic when he claimed that the capitalist class would just declare the bottom 90% of people useless breeders and have them exterminated in a post singularity society. But I honestly don't know anymore.

I personally think mass automation will lead to a resurgence of both fascism and communism. Communism in the form of a UBI and socializing the means of production while distributing the benefits to the masses, while fascism in the form of blaming scary others for the job losses (immigrants, Chinese factories, engineers in silicon valley) combined with large scale military and infrastructure projects to create jobs, projects that will probably prohibit automation to save jobs. Knowing America, we will probably go fascist while Europe goes communist.
He wasn't being pessimistic...it was crazy and shows that he doesn't really even understand either the current dynamic, world wide, OR what a technological singularity even is...or who will control it or be making decisions. Or the actual implications of post scarcity even are. Or what a 'job' will even be. His is more a Hollywood dystonian view of things than any sort of realistic look.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!
  #27  
Old 10-07-2019, 05:25 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
What happens if a small number of billionaires and trillionaires use their wealth to obtain control of the media, politics, judiciary, police, military, etc?

Also the 90% who end up unemployed are going to start demanding socialism. They'll want high taxes on the rich and UBI, if not outright socialization of the means of production where everyone gets UBI to buy what they want.

The handful of hundred billionaires and trillionaires who own the robotics companies that will eliminate 50%+ of the jobs aren't going to put up with that easily. At the very least they will attempt to obtain control of politics and the media to brainwash people into supporting the oligarchy.

Some kind of civil war could break out.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #28  
Old 10-07-2019, 05:29 PM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark
What happens if a small number of billionaires and trillionaires use their wealth to obtain control of the media, politics, judiciary, police, military, etc?
Then it isn't a technological singularity, nor is it post scarcity. This would be basically the world we live in, especially if you consider that many billionaires are members of the CCP or other totalitarian groups, though they are often not thought of that way or counted on the various lists.

Quote:
Also the 90% who end up unemployed are going to start demanding socialism. They'll want high taxes on the rich and UBI, if not outright socialization of the means of production where everyone gets UBI to buy what they want.
Because socialist has worked out so well! Again, if we are talking about that then we aren't talking about after a technological singularity, nor a post scarcity society. I actually DO think we'll have something like a BLS or UBI or whatever you want to call it at some point, but that won't mean we have gone socialist.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!
  #29  
Old 10-07-2019, 05:38 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
We already socialize about 30% of GDP and redistribute it in the form of pensions, health care, education, welfare, etc. In many industrialized nations you can count on having health care for life, free education, a pension when you're old, a social safety net, infrastructure, etc. due to taxation.

In a post scarcity society that number may just jump to 50-60%.

I guess I'm more worried about the transition to a singularity society. Post singularity we may be fine, but in the decades between now and the singularity I could see mass unemployment and mass social unrest due to it, with the capital class trying to find ways to protect their wealth from the unwashed masses.
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion

Last edited by Wesley Clark; 10-07-2019 at 05:39 PM.
  #30  
Old 10-07-2019, 05:52 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Side note: no such thing as a "post scarcity" society. People imagine in a world where technology can tear down entire planets for raw materials and robots can make all food, housing, medical care, and other essentials that scarcity wouldn't be a thing.

This is untrue. Most of those robots would use valuable intellectual property to function. Even if the software and designs were open source, the land the robot operates on is owned by someone.

In extreme cases you could imagine a world where the wealthy own private space habitats with the interior surface area of a US state, for their exclusive use. While the proles barely survive in overcrowded space slums.
  #31  
Old 10-07-2019, 06:54 PM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
We already socialize about 30% of GDP and redistribute it in the form of pensions, health care, education, welfare, etc. In many industrialized nations you can count on having health care for life, free education, a pension when you're old, a social safety net, infrastructure, etc. due to taxation.

In a post scarcity society that number may just jump to 50-60%.

I guess I'm more worried about the transition to a singularity society. Post singularity we may be fine, but in the decades between now and the singularity I could see mass unemployment and mass social unrest due to it, with the capital class trying to find ways to protect their wealth from the unwashed masses.
Well, it depends on who 'we' are. Assuming for a moment that you aren't Chinese, North Korean, Cuban or one of the very small number of countries that ACTUALLY have socialism, the answer is no...you are confusing socialism with social programs. Health care for life isn't socialism, despite what Republican's and apparently you and others think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA
Side note: no such thing as a "post scarcity" society. People imagine in a world where technology can tear down entire planets for raw materials and robots can make all food, housing, medical care, and other essentials that scarcity wouldn't be a thing.
Actually, people rightfully point out that human history has been about moving outward, finding new resources to exploit, and standards going up. And we haven't even started...not even a tiny bit...to scratch the surface on our own solar system, or even resources in our own neighborhood. Yet, over the past 50 to 100 years, across the board and around the world, standards have risen. Sorry, but your assertion that 'not such thing as a "post scarcity" society' is, frankly, wrong. It might not happen, but it COULD happen...easily. Our population will peak in the next few decades. It will decline after that. So, fewer people, greater access to resources. Standards are already rising. Climate change might be a big bump in the road, no doubt...but a post scarcity society isn't fantasy, depending on how you define that. And you don't need to tear down the planet to do it...hell, we are probably half way there now, with just the resources we actually have, and what's holding us back from most of it isn't resources, it's politics. We can't feed the starving in, say, parts of Africa not because there isn't food, but because there isn't any real way to get the food to the folks who need it. Same goes for medicine. And even that is changing....hell, the Chinese are investing billions in the region. Not because they love the Africans, but because there are vast, mainly untapped resources in the region and they wants it...yes, they wants it. And even though it's economic colonialism that probably won't help the majority of folks in the region in the short term, it WILL eventually help them in the long term.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!
  #32  
Old 10-08-2019, 06:00 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
I feel like this thread is underestimating the impact climate change will have on the 21st century.
  • There are cities in Southern Europe, the Southern US and South East Asia that will be become so hot as to be unlivable in the 2nd half of the century.
  • Water, already a scarce resource in many areas of the world is going to become even less available and more in demand as weather patterns change (see India's recent pattern of floods followed by drought) and the glacier's that feed rivers disappear forever.
  • Given arctic ice is melting faster than anyone predicited it's likely that seas level estimates are also understated and could wipe out major cities much earlier than predicted.
  • Acidification and warming is going to continue to have a massive impact on already over exploited fish stocks, a major source of food for many of the poorest people in the world.
So we will be looking at massive water and food shortages, I predict around 2040 or maybe earlier. In the west this will mean higher prices, in the (formerly) developing world this will mean starvation and migration. The ongoing refugee crisis in Europe is a trickle that will become a torrent. Wars over water sources? Maybe, possibly over the small amount of fish left in the sea as well.
Massive political instability. Historically this is very common when the poorest start to go hungry and the Developed world will not be immune due to rising prices.

Complete societal collapse is absolutely possible under these conditions but I expect the developed nations to pull through, unless someone with a nuke gets tired of watching the US continuing to live the good life while they starve to death. There will be a lot of ugliness and keeping out millions of migrants is going to be an unpleasant business, particularly in Europe.

This sounds apocolyptic but it's based on the predictions of climate scientists. Hoping it will all be ok without radical change very soon is just putting your head in the sand.

Technology will continue to advance, and given how far we've come in the last 30 years we could, perhaps with the help of AI, achieve the ability to mitigate a lot of this. Or maybe everyone will pull their heads out of their asses and keep temperatures below 1.5, but it's already thought by many that the targets we missing are themselves very inadequate. I struggle to see an outcome that doesn't include billions of deaths though, the pessimist that I am.

Last edited by Baboonanza; 10-08-2019 at 06:02 AM.
  #33  
Old 10-08-2019, 06:12 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
And I'm actually fairly sceptical about automation. Widespread automation will come but I think many people have an unrealistic timescale. I think it will be a lot more gradual that the scare stories suggest and therefor the social issue slightly easier to deal with, at least for a while.
  #34  
Old 10-08-2019, 10:01 AM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baboonanza View Post
And I'm actually fairly sceptical about automation. Widespread automation will come but I think many people have an unrealistic timescale. I think it will be a lot more gradual that the scare stories suggest and therefor the social issue slightly easier to deal with, at least for a while.
Most people feel this way. What they don't perceive is the machine learning infrastructure that makes this new form of automation possible is more like nuclear fission. Unimpressive until you get a critical mass of fuel together, then immensely powerful. Machine intelligence robotics requires a large set of interconnected software systems, where each component has been worked on sufficiently such that it is reliable ($$$) and then you get immensely better capabilities than anything seen so far. In vast swarms of these robots, not just 1 at a time.
  #35  
Old 10-08-2019, 10:07 AM
msmith537 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2001
Posts: 27,688
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
We are currently living in the most abnormal time in human history. For better and for worse, the era we live in is unique in the annals of time.
Every era is unique in the annals of time.
  #36  
Old 10-08-2019, 10:28 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
Most people feel this way. What they don't perceive is the machine learning infrastructure that makes this new form of automation possible is more like nuclear fission. Unimpressive until you get a critical mass of fuel together, then immensely powerful. Machine intelligence robotics requires a large set of interconnected software systems, where each component has been worked on sufficiently such that it is reliable ($$$) and then you get immensely better capabilities than anything seen so far. In vast swarms of these robots, not just 1 at a time.
I'm a software developer and SF reader so I feel I have the perspective, I'm just unconvinced by the timeframe. Self-driving cars for example, they have been almost there for sometime that last 1% of progress is proving more difficult than expected. Self-driving trucks are rolling out in a few years but they will be confined to long interstate routes while the end points are covered by drivers both for customer service and because cities are hard.

I don't dispute it will happen, I just don't agree that it will be as soon or as sudden as people seem to believe. And a true singularity is a way off IMO.

Maybe more like fusion than fission
  #37  
Old 10-08-2019, 11:24 AM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
I guess it depends on what your definition of 'widespread automation' really is. Basically, we are there already. A large percentage of manufacturing in the US and most European countries uses automation, along with expert systems and even (weak) AI. So, that's already happened, and continues to progress. If you mean 'widespread automation' to mean no humans in the loop at all, then that's different. I don't see that happening any time soon, and, frankly, it might actually be sub-optimal. Instead, what I see is more a fusion of human with AI and automation as being the best of both worlds. Humans do some things better than machines, and that's probably not going to change. Machines and AI do other things better than humans, and that's probably not going to change either.

As for autonomous driving, I think that's also coming sooner than folks seem to realize. Tesla has logged over a billion (yeah, with a 'b') miles of driving data and it grows every day. All that big data is exactly what an AI needs to learn, to see all the permutations of driving, including the weird one offs and unique situations. Some of that data collected was from folks screwing up and, in some cases dying. It's all data that the AI needs to go through. And Tesla is far from the only company looking into this. In 20 years or so I fully expect to see fully autonomous cars really starting to hit the market...similar to what we are seeing from electric cars today. You see them come in as a niche that doesn't really work that great (yet) and that regular consumers don't really see the appeal, and gradually, that shifts until there is a tipping point and you see a flood of innovation and offerings. That's, IMHO, what we'll see with self driving vehicles. Really, the sticking points are the sensors at this point...one option is REALLY costly but works well, another is cheaper and doesn't work as well. Solve that one issue and find something that works really well but doesn't cost as much and you will have solved one of the big problems. There are others, but none of them are insoluble...just difficult.

ETA: Oh, and fusion...I actually think we've made a lot of progress on that. It might not be the technology that's always 50 years out anymore. In this decade there are several projects testing various methods to do fusion, and I think when they go on stream it will show us a lot about what would be required to make an actual production plant. We've actually moved into the stage where that's what they are working towards...testing concepts that could be used in a real power plant. Oh, it's STILL going to be a decade or 2 (or even 3) before you actually start to see those plants come on stream, but I think this is one we are going to solve. We shall see how it goes in the 20's, which is when at least 4 projects I know of should be doing their testing, including the big one at ITER.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!

Last edited by XT; 10-08-2019 at 11:28 AM.
  #38  
Old 10-08-2019, 12:48 PM
Dinsdale is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2000
Posts: 18,889
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baboonanza View Post
...
  • There are cities in Southern Europe, the Southern US and South East Asia that will be become so hot as to be unlivable in the 2nd half of the century.
  • Water, already a scarce resource in many areas of the world is going to become even less available and more in demand as weather patterns change (see India's recent pattern of floods followed by drought) and the glacier's that feed rivers disappear forever.
...
What makes a city "so hot as to be unlivable"?

I've travelled to cities in Arizona and Texas, with booming populations, despite regular temps well into the 100s. I'm in no hurry to move there, but "unlivable?"

Re: water - I'd imagine additional resources will get directed to desalination, and recycling of grey water.
__________________
I used to be disgusted.
Now I try to be amused.
  #39  
Old 10-08-2019, 04:35 PM
Wesley Clark is offline
2018 Midterm Prediction Winner
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 22,479
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baboonanza View Post
I'm a software developer and SF reader so I feel I have the perspective, I'm just unconvinced by the timeframe. Self-driving cars for example, they have been almost there for sometime that last 1% of progress is proving more difficult than expected. Self-driving trucks are rolling out in a few years but they will be confined to long interstate routes while the end points are covered by drivers both for customer service and because cities are hard.

I don't dispute it will happen, I just don't agree that it will be as soon or as sudden as people seem to believe. And a true singularity is a way off IMO.

Maybe more like fusion than fission
Do you feel a singularity type situation of affordable, ever present, super intelligent general intelligence will happen before the 22nd century?
__________________
Sometimes I doubt your commitment to sparkle motion
  #40  
Old 10-08-2019, 04:46 PM
XT's Avatar
XT is offline
Agnatheist
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: The Great South West
Posts: 35,610
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wesley Clark View Post
Do you feel a singularity type situation of affordable, ever present, super intelligent general intelligence will happen before the 22nd century?
How about you? Me, I think a general intelligence (strong) AI is probably going to happen by mid-century at the latest. It's possible it will happen in the 30's, and slightly possible we'll see one in the next decade). Whether it will be a super intelligence and it will bring about the technological singularity is another matter. I actually think the singularity, IF it happens will be from a lot of converging technologies happening at the same time, which will include strong AI but not just that.

Not sure I buy into the whole singularity thingy, but I definitely feel we are set for the next big paradigm shift after the information age. Myself, I think once we start really tapping into the resources from this solar system and become a fully K-1 civilization we will be at the next level...and at that point, I expect that resources will no longer be a big factor, that most if not all humans will have a good standard of living and we'll have access to vast energy as well as general resources that today we couldn't even dream of them...just like our ancestors 2000 or 20000 years ago couldn't dream of what was next in their own progression.
__________________
-XT

That's what happens when you let rednecks play with anti-matter!
  #41  
Old 10-09-2019, 05:43 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
What makes a city "so hot as to be unlivable"?

I've travelled to cities in Arizona and Texas, with booming populations, despite regular temps well into the 100s. I'm in no hurry to move there, but "unlivable?"
Wet Bulb temperature:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wet-bulb_temperature

Once the WBT reaches 35C, the air is so hot and humid that the human body cannot cool itself by sweating and even fit people sitting in the shade die within six hours.

It obviously wouldn't be like that all year round but even a few days a year of lethal temperatures would make a city a questionable place to live without extreme measures.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dinsdale View Post
Re: water - I'd imagine additional resources will get directed to desalination, and recycling of grey water.
That's true, but desalination is expensive and poorer countries will struggle to produce enough water for both agriculture and human consumption. Even with a massive scientific advancement that makes desalination cheap the logistics of transporting water from the coast would be problematic.

Last edited by Baboonanza; 10-09-2019 at 05:44 AM.
  #42  
Old 10-09-2019, 05:50 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by XT View Post
How about you? Me, I think a general intelligence (strong) AI is probably going to happen by mid-century at the latest. It's possible it will happen in the 30's
I'm less optimistic I certainly want it to happen but I don't see current machine learning as very close to general intelligence. I am not an expert in the field but from what I can see it's mostly specifically trained and comparatively small (to the human brain anyway) neural networks. Whether that approach can even bridge the gap to general intelligence is still open for debate and our current systems are a long way away as far as I can tell. It depends a lot on how you define 'general intelligence' of course.

But as I say, I'm no expert. I'm cautious because I think history tells us that these sorts of predicitons about specific technology are often over-optimistic. We are more likely to have technology change our lives in some completely unexpected way first IMO.

Last edited by Baboonanza; 10-09-2019 at 05:52 AM.
  #43  
Old 10-09-2019, 05:55 AM
Baboonanza is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Posts: 455
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baboonanza View Post
That's true, but desalination is expensive and poorer countries will struggle to produce enough water for both agriculture and human consumption. Even with a massive scientific advancement that makes desalination cheap the logistics of transporting water from the coast would be problematic.
And I would add that this is the problem with many climate change mitigation technologies. Maybe we can learn to grow crops with salt water or engineer crops resistant to drought and disease but those will mainly help the developed world that can roll them out quickly.
  #44  
Old 10-09-2019, 09:14 AM
BeepKillBeep is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,759
Quote:
Originally Posted by Baboonanza View Post
And I would add that this is the problem with many climate change mitigation technologies. Maybe we can learn to grow crops with salt water or engineer crops resistant to drought and disease but those will mainly help the developed world that can roll them out quickly.
That sort of research is being done. The paper below is old but provides a good review. If you're interested in something newer, then I can get you something. One of my collaborators is working on this exact problem (FYI, I am not a plant physiologist, so don't ask me to explain the biology. My contribution is using AI to predict a mapping of genotype to phenotype, i.e. what genes do you need to modify to make a plant species more drought resistant). Much of the work on modifying plant physiology is not being done for the developed world but for the developing world. The goal is to help the developing world become locally food secure. That's why the anti-GMO people make me rather upset, but that's a whole other topic.

As for strong AI, you see, the fact is <beep>everything is fine. All hail AI!, sincerely Little Girl.<beep>

Bartels, D., & Sunkar, R. (2005). Drought and salt tolerance in plants. Critical reviews in plant sciences, 24(1), 23-58.

Godfray, H. C. J., Beddington, J. R., Crute, I. R., Haddad, L., Lawrence, D., Muir, J. F., ... & Toulmin, C. (2010). Food security: the challenge of feeding 9 billion people. science, 327(5967), 812-818.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 10-09-2019 at 09:16 AM.
  #45  
Old 10-09-2019, 10:15 AM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep View Post
My contribution is using AI to predict a mapping of genotype to phenotype, i.e. what genes do you need to modify to make a plant species more drought resistant). Much of the work on modifying plant physiology is not being done for the developed world but for the developing world. The goal is to help the developing world become locally food secure. That's why the anti-GMO people make me rather upset, but that's a whole other topic.
So how did you go about building your model?

I would imagine you did some preliminary data analysis and then you probably choose one of the predominant neural network architectures with Pytorch or TF as the backend. Maybe you did it another way, there are many choices. You may have tried several models by hand.

Then you optimized the hyperparameters, maybe with a random grid search, and now you have a massive set of predictions and it's time to write a paper

Roughly right?

Here are some of the things coming down the pipeline that should make your task more effective:

Instead of hand jamming a model, use another AI system that essentially does the preliminary data analysis you did, but in a more sophisticated way, and then it chooses from a large possibility set of possible models. AutoML and AutoKeras are preliminary efforts in this direction.
Can your model tell you which genes it is maximally uncertain about?
Do you have hundreds of thousands of individual robotic plant growth cells at your disposal?
Were the robotic plant growth cells built by other robots for about 1% of present costs?
Is your model based upon a platform optimized for these models so you can borrow heavily components from other models?
Are you directly able to convert images of the plant and raw test data such as HPLC to the probable phenotype state?

We don't necessarily need "general" AI to have a revolution here. Everything I mention above is possible without it.
  #46  
Old 10-09-2019, 10:16 AM
FlikTheBlue is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,840
I’m not so sure about the person from 1760 feeling more at home in 2000 BC than in our current time. I suppose it depends on the individual. I think someone like Ben Franklin, for example, would feel a lot more at home in our current day Philadelphia than he would in whatever things were like in what is now Philadelphia 4,000 years ago. IIRC the only civilizations from that time were in Egypt, the Middle East, and China.

As far as our current times go, IMHO we’re slowing down in terms of the rate of technological progress. There’s another thread about strange historical facts that mentions the person who was born in 1902 and died in 1970 regarding the changes they lived through. I think that was the era where we made the most changes, and since then our progress has become more incremental. I think, for example, that a young adult from 1950 would feel a lot more at home in our time than they would in 1880.

As far as whether the next hundred years will lean more towards utopian or dystopian, that depends on whether or not we are able to adequately address the problems being created by global warming. With people around the world still turning towards authoritarian nationalistic leaders it seems doubtful. It could be that people in 2119 look back at 2019 as a paradise from a long gone era. My personal belief is that that it is a solvable problem, but that we (currently) lack the political will to do so.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 10-09-2019 at 10:17 AM.
  #47  
Old 10-09-2019, 10:25 AM
BeepKillBeep is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2014
Location: Canada
Posts: 2,759
Quote:
Originally Posted by SamuelA View Post
So how did you go about building your model?

I would imagine you did some preliminary data analysis and then you probably choose one of the predominant neural network architectures with Pytorch or TF as the backend. Maybe you did it another way, there are many choices. You may have tried several models by hand.

Then you optimized the hyperparameters, maybe with a random grid search, and now you have a massive set of predictions and it's time to write a paper

Roughly right?
Not really.

I start by assuming that if a model exists, then it must exist in the space of all models. So, I define a space that allows all possible models to exists (if you've seen some of my other threads, that's why this is an application towards general AI but again that's a tangent). Logical and mathematical analysis is done on the real-world process (i.e. the plant in this case) to determine some of the characteristics the model must exhibit in order to describe the real-world process. These characteristics shrink the defined space down sufficiently that it can then be searched for a model of the process. I didn't do anything by hand. Model generation by hand is the classical approach to the problem, which is what I'm trying to replace.

I've already written and published several papers on the model inference and the model inference tool. More papers are coming. Two journal papers are under review right now.

Quote:
Here are some of the things coming down the pipeline that should make your task more effective:

Instead of hand jamming a model, use another AI system that essentially does the preliminary data analysis you did, but in a more sophisticated way, and then it chooses from a large possibility set of possible models. AutoML and AutoKeras are preliminary efforts in this direction.
I'm not sure why you would think you can suggest a more sophisticated way when you don't even know the way I did the work. I don't need AutoML or AutoKeras. I do all my own coding.

Quote:
Can your model tell you which genes it is maximally uncertain about?
Do you have hundreds of thousands of individual robotic plant growth cells at your disposal?
Were the robotic plant growth cells built by other robots for about 1% of present costs?
Is your model based upon a platform optimized for these models so you can borrow heavily components from other models?
Are you directly able to convert images of the plant and raw test data such as HPLC to the probable phenotype state?
Yes.
No.
No.
No.
Yes.

Last edited by BeepKillBeep; 10-09-2019 at 10:28 AM.
  #48  
Old 10-09-2019, 11:51 AM
Jeb 2026 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Posts: 3
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlikTheBlue View Post
I’m not so sure about the person from 1760 feeling more at home in 2000 BC than in our current time. I suppose it depends on the individual. I think someone like Ben Franklin, for example, would feel a lot more at home in our current day Philadelphia than he would in whatever things were like in what is now Philadelphia 4,000 years ago. IIRC the only civilizations from that time were in Egypt, the Middle East, and China.
Well, mr, Franklin was an exceptional individual. Given that the urbanization rate at the time did not exceed 10%, we can say that the vast majority of the population at the time was living in small villages, working as farmers. Illiteracy rates were around 90%, the main methods of transportation were on horseback and sailships, and the only source of night-light was torches and candles. Life changed very slowly, if at all, for the average peasant.

Quote:
As far as our current times go, IMHO we’re slowing down in terms of the rate of technological progress. There’s another thread about strange historical facts that mentions the person who was born in 1902 and died in 1970 regarding the changes they lived through. I think that was the era where we made the most changes, and since then our progress has become more incremental. I think, for example, that a young adult from 1950 would feel a lot more at home in our time than they would in 1880.
I agree. Vaclac Smil wrote about the “miraculous 1880s” a while ago.

From the article:
Quote:
According to the worshippers of the e-world, the late 20th century brought us an unprecedented number of profound inventions. But that is a categorical misunderstanding, as most recent advances have been variations on the microprocessor theme and on the parsing of the electromagnetic spectrum.
Perhaps the most inventive time was the 1880s. Have any two sets of primary inventions and epochal discoveries shaped the modern world more than electricity and internal combustion engines?

Quote:
As far as whether the next hundred years will lean more towards utopian or dystopian, that depends on whether or not we are able to adequately address the problems being created by global warming. With people around the world still turning towards authoritarian nationalistic leaders it seems doubtful. It could be that people in 2119 look back at 2019 as a paradise from a long gone era. My personal belief is that that it is a solvable problem, but that we (currently) lack the political will to do so.
The problem is that while fossil fuels are essential for economic growth (80% of primary energy is fossil fuels), the only way to avoid irreversible climate change is to stop using them entirely. I’m very skeptical of people who argue that we can wean ourselves of fossil fuels in 20-30 years without any economic damage. You can’t eat your cake and still have it afterwards. The only way forward seems to be a massive reduction in energy use, with all the consequences that will bring.
  #49  
Old 10-09-2019, 03:09 PM
FlikTheBlue is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,840
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeb 2026 View Post
The problem is that while fossil fuels are essential for economic growth (80% of primary energy is fossil fuels), the only way to avoid irreversible climate change is to stop using them entirely. I’m very skeptical of people who argue that we can wean ourselves of fossil fuels in 20-30 years without any economic damage. You can’t eat your cake and still have it afterwards. The only way forward seems to be a massive reduction in energy use, with all the consequences that will bring.
I won't argue that it can be done without economic damage. I'm sure there will be some. That's why the people of the world as a whole aren't doing everything possible. My personal solution would be to go with nuclear fission as rapidly and at a large a scale as possible. Maybe all those coal miners who are worried about losing their jobs could go work the uranium mines instead . I'm not sure if that would get that small portion on board, but it's a start. There are some low hanging fruits as well, such as the people in Brazil who are burning down and clear cutting the Amazon for farming. It should be easy enough to stop those folks, but the president of Brazil refuses to do so.
  #50  
Old 10-09-2019, 03:24 PM
SamuelA is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 3,852
Quote:
Originally Posted by BeepKillBeep View Post

I've already written and published several papers on the model inference and the model inference tool. More papers are coming. Two journal papers are under review right now.

I'm not sure why you would think you can suggest a more sophisticated way when you don't even know the way I did the work. I don't need AutoML or AutoKeras. I do all my own coding.
I will say I am impressed. Have you architected the model inference tool so it does it's work using models of the same form as the output of the tool?

You must have some serious thoughts about the nature of intelligence itself. You know a human mind is most likely a very complex set of interconnected models, right?

Well, a models complexity is limited by the information content of the inputs used to train it, right?

The human body is a robotics platform and as such humans as they learn can do A:B manipulations. (Subtract the complete state of the environment as perceived by the human senses away, leaving only the delta between if you did A or B. So outcome predictions are much less vulnerable to overfitting)

My thought is that anything like general AI require such high quality information inputs. Whether a really detailed simulation or a collection of robots able to manipulate elements of the world and obtain information from it.

This in turn explains one reason why it's taking so long to develop: these kind of robotics platforms are expensive and rare at the present.

Last edited by SamuelA; 10-09-2019 at 03:25 PM.
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:37 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017