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Anyone know any good futurists?

 
 
Chumly
 
  1  
Reply Mon 13 Apr, 2009 06:42 pm
@aperson,
Ray Kurzweil is probably best known for his early 80's sample based synthesis. The Kurzweil 250 in particular.

I don't find him overly convincing in his ability as a futurist, at least no more so than my above post as per:

a) cybernetics
b) bio engineering of people, pets, foods, etc
c) artificial intelligence
d) further global economic interdependence
e) further massive ecological destruction / poisoning of ecosystems
f) further resource depletion
g) further electronic miniaturization / sophistication
h) life extension

Part of the problem being the unpredictability of not only the application of present technologies, but the unpredictability of "break-through science" both of which would have to be taken in the context of the unpredictability of socio-economic change.

Rather a tall order! Especially in the light of the real possibility that human nature itself may come under direct control.
aperson
 
  1  
Reply Tue 14 Apr, 2009 04:38 am
@Chumly,
His what now?

I hadn't thought about that last bit. I suppose we can't accurately predict how AI will behave (I'm ignoring GE because I think that it won't improve fast enough to be better than machine-based technology.)
0 Replies
 
EmperorNero
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jul, 2010 12:16 pm
@aperson,
aperson wrote:

I see a lot of futurists on the web and such, but they all seem to be mainly about speculation and guesstimation. No actually scientific analysis of the world and how it is probably going to turn out. Does anyone know any highly regarded and proper, scientific futurists? In particular I'm interested in if the world is going to go to sh!t in my lifetime (I'm 16). Ie population collapse due to overshooting the carrying capacity of the world (We are currently in the exponential growth stage. Biology dictates that our population can't just keep on expanding), water, food, energy and space shortages, global warming, nuclear or biological war, death by nanotechnology, economic collapse, facism... As I'm writing this list I realise what a lot I have to worry about. On the other hand, can I trust that the world will hold itself together like it has in the past? The point is neither me, you or probably anyone you or I know can make anything more than a wild guess. I want a valid source of wisdom.


Everything will be fine. That whole exponential growth talk is a bunch of humbug. Human populations grew at all sorts of rates over time, but they do not simply grow at an exponential rate. Humans aren't bacteria, humans make rational reproductive decisions. Populations adjust to productive capacities, they don't simply grow uncontrolled until we run out of food. For 200 years Malthusians have been predicting that "biology dictates" that population growth must overshoot food production, and for 200 years they have repeatedly been proven wrong by food production growing faster than populations.
More people isn't a burden, it is a benefit. The empirical evidence is clear, standards of living have been getting better when populations have been "exploding". The carrying capacity of the earth is probably a lot higher than current populations, something like a thousand times higher. We could feed the entire world with a Hydroponics lab of the size of Austin, Texas. Nuclear is a safe and abundant energy source, and there's a lot more oil than alarmists pretend. If all of humanity lived in the state of Texas, there would be 1000 square feet for each of us. So much for lack of space. Actually, something like 97% of the worlds land area has been getting less populated in the last century, because of urbanization. Whatever resource shortages you are worried about, don't be. We probably won't run out of any resource ever because resources aren't actually "finite" in any meaningful way. Read some of this:
http://juliansimon.com/writings/Ultimate_Resource/

Global warming is a scam. Nuclear or biological war is a choice by people, so we don't know, but your personal chance of being killed by it is rather small. And so far only two nukes were used in warfare. I'm somewhat worried about drug resistant bugs, but there is no way to foresee that. The economy is going to be fine too, unless government meddles with it. The greatest threat to you, statistically, is big government; it was the leading cause of unnatural death in the last century. But fascism (or socialism or whatever you call it) is what we currently implement to deal with those imaginary scares. As long as you don't fall for socialism/fascism/communism you are going to be fine. And so will your grandkids.
0 Replies
 
EmperorNero
 
  1  
Reply Mon 19 Jul, 2010 12:47 pm
@aperson,
aperson wrote:
Instead of birth control and education getting better, quality of life is getting worse and people are dying more often and younger.


Standards of living have been rising in all non-socialist countries in the last half century. In some cases a lot.
I don't know where you have been reading that quality of life is getting worse, but it's simply empirically wrong. Look up any actual data to confirm that, because there is no other data.

aperson wrote:
a) What is the carrying capacity of the Earth currently?


It makes no sense to speak of the current carrying capacity of the world, since obviously the current earth only has to carry the current population. The carrying capacity of the earth was 4 million 10.000 years ago, now there are nearly 7 billion people on earth. That shows that the carrying capacity rises with populations.

aperson wrote:
b) Will overshoot the carrying capacity enough to catalyse a population collapse?


We will get too wealthy to have that many babies long before that.

aperson wrote:
d) Will we be able to provide and encourage birth control and change the societal norm enough to prevent a large overshooting of the carrying capacity?


No. Population control efforts are often counter-productive. And why should we tell other people how many kids they should have? They know better. Remember that Malthusians were saying that we should stop having kids, and they were wrong. But free people making their own reproductive decisions were right. How about we place the decision in the hands of the ones who were right the last time?
0 Replies
 
 

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