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#13355 - 12/16/10 08:50 PM things that make you go "hmm"
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)

Global development, illustrated graphically:


200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes



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#13356 - 12/17/10 01:17 AM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: Hal Itosis]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
Hmmm... Great delivery of fascinating material, but I wonder about his rosy prediction.
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#13358 - 12/17/10 06:23 AM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: artie505]
alternaut Offline

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Registered: 08/04/09
Not to quibble about details, but isn't all we see a presentation of a trend in the last two centuries? The fact that this trend is suggestive of future development doesn't quite make it an actual prediction of what's to come. For one, I suspect there won't be a continuing linear development (as shown so far) under the best of circumstances, as development will have to level off sometime. Besides, there is still ample opportunity for our collective plug to be pulled, and in that I do agree with your coloration. frown

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#13359 - 12/17/10 08:46 AM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: alternaut]
Hal Itosis Offline


Registered: 09/03/09
Loc: 10.6.8 (build 10K549)
Originally Posted By: alternaut
Not to quibble about details, but isn't all we see a presentation of a trend in the last two centuries?

Also, maybe we'd need to know how the financials were factored in.
E.g., "$40,000" in 1810 was quite different from "$40,000" in 2010.

But perhaps it all balances out, in a "relative" way.

Kinda interesting conceptually, nonetheless.


Edited by Hal Itosis (12/17/10 08:48 AM)

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#13360 - 12/17/10 08:48 AM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: alternaut]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
> The fact that this trend is suggestive of future development doesn't quite make it an actual prediction of what's to come.

"Extrapolation" would be a more accurate word than "prediction," but the "onward and upward" arrows and Rosling's rosy language and manner make the extrapolation sound more like a prediction.

Personally, and unfortunately, I do not expect Rosling's extrapolated future to come to pass, and I'll bet everything I own against his predicted one. frown
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The new Great Equalizer is the SEND button.

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#13361 - 12/17/10 08:51 AM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: Hal Itosis]
artie505 Online


Registered: 08/04/09
I wondered whether inflation had been factored into Rosling's presentation, but I took it on faith that it must have been taken into account.
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#13363 - 12/17/10 10:59 PM Re: things that make you go "hmm" [Re: alternaut]
tacit Offline


Registered: 08/03/09
Loc: Portland, Oregon, USA
Originally Posted By: alternaut
For one, I suspect there won't be a continuing linear development (as shown so far) under the best of circumstances, as development will have to level off sometime.


Actually, there's no reason why that must necessarily be true.

From the beginning of human civilization to today, we've done things in pretty much the same way. Sure, our technology is more sophisticated now than it was, but it still follows the same basic premises. When we want to make something, like a car or a computer or a chainsaw, we are still doing it the way we made stone knives and bearskins: take something from the natural world, process it, refine it, hack away at the extraneous bits of it, bend it, cut it, shear it, and form it into the thing we want.

When you do things that way, you're limited by the quantity of natural resources available to you and by your ability to extract those resources. The entire world can not live at First World standards with current technologies.

There are two potential technologies on the horizon which could alter that quation, however.

The first is nanotech, and specifically general nanotech assemblers. The idea behind an assembler is that rather than going out and digging up iron ore and then smelting the iron, refining it, forging it, machining it, and forming it into what you want, you take raw materials, like say, dirt, and build whatever you want to make from the ground up, one atom at a time.

This has the prospect of, for example, making things from diamond, which would become a common building material because carbon is so cheap and plentiful--it's all around us. (An age of nanotech assembly is often callted the "diamond age," because diamond becomes the single cheapest material to make; assemblers could start from, say, charcoal and make a window out of pure diamond far less expensively and more quickly than you could make a window out of glass.) For applications where diamond is not appropriate, you make things from metal by growing them from a single flawless crystal of the base metal.

The biggest limitation to this kind of production is energy. It takes energy to break molecular bonds and energy to put them back together. We do that right now mostly by burning stuff; even electricity usually, in most places, comes from burning stuff.

That's the second potential technology: nuclear fusion. Fusion promises cheap, safe power in virtually unlimited quantities, from nothing more than seawater. You use electrolysis to break water into hydrogen and oxygen, then fuse the hydrogen into helium. Since fusion releases millions of times more energy than chemical reactions, the energy to break apart seawater is a negligible fraction of the energy you get from the fusion.

Fusion alone might be enough to bring the Third World up to First World living standards. Fusion and nanotech together definitely would.

Right now, we live in "scarcity society," which means that certain resources are scarce enough that their scarcity ensures they are not available to everyone. No matter how wealthy the world is, not everyone in it can afford to drive a Ferrari or own a Learjet,

Nanotech offers us the promise of a post-scarcity society, in which there is no single resource whose scarcity presents a bottleneck that means not everyone can have whatever they want.

We are accustomed to thinking that we live in a high tech world. Really, we don't. We have more technology than, say, the Roman empire, but not by a lot.

Just like most folks who look back on history now tend to lump the technology of early Rome and the Middle Ages together, the advent of technologies like nanotech will probably be so ground-shifting that people will look back on us and see little difference between us and the Roman empire. It's entirely possible that most folks won't be able to correctly identify whether or not the Industrial Revolution took place before or after the Middle Ages, as it will seem pretty much all the same to them--poverty, limited resources, poor medical care, and so on.
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