0887: "Future Timeline"

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Aelfyre » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:13 pm UTC

Spiny Norman wrote:
st0aty wrote:Absolutely awesome comic... Was I the only one reading the list and counting off what could potentially occur in my own lifetime, then breathing a sigh of relief when I read immortality? ;-)


SlyReaper wrote:2040: Nanotechnology makes humans immortal.
Please please please let this one be true.


MikeStern wrote:You certainly weren't the only one. I even remarked on the fact that by that prediction I would only have to keep myself alive for another 39 years. Then, hopefully, we can eat all the bacon we want :)


Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).


maybe a surgical solution as opposed to a hairy man with a rusty axe?
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:15 pm UTC

ElectricTurtle wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).


Malthus was a fool who could not see beyond his own time and technology. World population is already more than sixfold the amount that was supposed to cause a Malthusian catastrophe, and it just refuses to happen. As population has grown, so has the efficiency of resource production/extraction, and there is still more room. If the 3rd world were to achieve the same agricultural productive capacity per square unit-of-distance as the first world, production would more than double. Add to this that there is so much efficiency left to be found in the logistics of distribution that currently wholly a third of food produced is never eaten. And arable land is a completely false limit with the possibilities of hydroponics, but arable land is so cheap and the infrastructure already in place there's no justifying the cost yet.

Not to mention all the neo-Malthusians need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that decade over decade world fertility is declining. Major 'problem areas' in terms of population like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. are seeing reductions in fertility rate on the order of 2-3 less children per woman. All of the most populous nations on earth have seen whole number reductions in their fertility rates in the last 50 years. 76 nations have fertility rates below replacement. Everybody who still tries to fearmonger about population growth is an idiot out of touch with the statistical reality.

Or maybe you are a fool who can't see the underlying principle. Which is that resources aren't endless. No, Malthus' 200 year old theory and predictions aren't valid anymore and some never were.
Oh, fertility is declining, is it? Great, we'll never need to worry again about millions of people in want of food, water, and all the luxuries that we take for granted and won't give up.
Unless fertility is declining but population is still increasing? Maybe you should take that statistics course: http://xkcd.com/552/.

Image
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Kain » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:26 pm UTC

Aelfyre wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
st0aty wrote:Absolutely awesome comic... Was I the only one reading the list and counting off what could potentially occur in my own lifetime, then breathing a sigh of relief when I read immortality? ;-)


SlyReaper wrote:2040: Nanotechnology makes humans immortal.
Please please please let this one be true.


MikeStern wrote:You certainly weren't the only one. I even remarked on the fact that by that prediction I would only have to keep myself alive for another 39 years. Then, hopefully, we can eat all the bacon we want :)


Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).


maybe a surgical solution as opposed to a hairy man with a rusty axe?


or maybe the immortality treatment (nanorobotics, medicine, whathaveyou) would have a "side effect" of infertility. Bonus if it can be turned off, rendering one mortal again, and eventually fertile again. One can dream...
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby humanalien » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

I love how the tobacco industry fails 20 years after tobacco is outlawed.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby buz » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:32 pm UTC

Uhm...There's a typo in year 2066: "Cyprus acheives its goal" I'm shocked that nobody noticed before I did-or maybe nobody cared?..Anyway, so there, my first post.

Also my first edit: I realized someone did already mention the typo...
For great justice!
Last edited by buz on Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:36 pm UTC

Aelfyre wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
st0aty wrote:Absolutely awesome comic... Was I the only one reading the list and counting off what could potentially occur in my own lifetime, then breathing a sigh of relief when I read immortality? ;-)

SlyReaper wrote:2040: Nanotechnology makes humans immortal.
Please please please let this one be true.

MikeStern wrote:You certainly weren't the only one. I even remarked on the fact that by that prediction I would only have to keep myself alive for another 39 years. Then, hopefully, we can eat all the bacon we want :)

Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).

maybe a surgical solution as opposed to a hairy man with a rusty axe?

Oh come on, at least say goodbye to your manhood in a manly way! And think of the tourists it would draw!
Besides, one person has already taken up the offer:

SlyReaper wrote:I would be willing to make that trade.

Kain wrote:or maybe the immortality treatment (nanorobotics, medicine, whathaveyou) would have a "side effect" of infertility. Bonus if it can be turned off, rendering one mortal again, and eventually fertile again. One can dream...

That wouldn't be fair, you could switch it off, procreate, and then turn immortal again. No, sorry, it's either the aforementioned hairy man with the rusty axe, or death!
Last edited by Spiny Norman on Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:41 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby yoghurt » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:39 pm UTC

Immortality would make me freaking lazy.... Now, when I'm sitting behind the TV doing nothing I feel like I'm wasting my life away.
So immortality is a great idea, but make sure weed is illegal first! :mrgreen:

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby achtbit » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:48 pm UTC

I was expecting Skynet jokes in 2029.

Although I'm glad to see that a Star Trek joke managed to manifest itself in 2063.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby SlyReaper » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:55 pm UTC

One thing to bear in mind is that when people talk of immortality, they're usually just talking about curing the ageing process. You'd still be able to die through illness, injury, starvation, dehydration, etc. There would still be a finite average life expectancy, just with a huge sigma.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby cjm » Mon Apr 18, 2011 2:56 pm UTC

Awesome punchline, even though I had to Google it. (A lot of excellent comics lately, actually.)

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

Guinness wrote:"2080 - UK population doubles"
Which begs the question of what the hell happens in 2079?

And will my 99-year old self be involved?

Yes yes, I know. That's just how I wanted to read it.
2079 - the entire population of the UK is reduced to 2 people.

2080 - That nice Williams couple from Vermont moves in.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby cphoenix » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:00 pm UTC

Predictions from 1900. Scary accurate - they predicted real-time worldwide color/sound video, central heating/cooling, prepackaged factory-cooked meals, and... snowmobiles.

Not all of them are accurate, of course. Right after ubiquitous automobiles comes the prediction that anyone who can't walk ten miles will be considered a weakling. In hindsight, they couldn't both come true.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby nomeata » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:15 pm UTC

Image

Meaning: The comic would be even cooler as a image map, where you can read the page that contained each prognosis. But still, great work!
Last edited by nomeata on Tue Apr 19, 2011 4:53 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Vroomfundel » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

ElectricTurtle wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).


Malthus was a fool who could not see beyond his own time and technology. World population is already more than sixfold the amount that was supposed to cause a Malthusian catastrophe, and it just refuses to happen. As population has grown, so has the efficiency of resource production/extraction, and there is still more room. If the 3rd world were to achieve the same agricultural productive capacity per square unit-of-distance as the first world, production would more than double. Add to this that there is so much efficiency left to be found in the logistics of distribution that currently wholly a third of food produced is never eaten. And arable land is a completely false limit with the possibilities of hydroponics, but arable land is so cheap and the infrastructure already in place there's no justifying the cost yet.

Not to mention all the neo-Malthusians need to pull their heads out of their asses and realize that decade over decade world fertility is declining. Major 'problem areas' in terms of population like India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, etc. are seeing reductions in fertility rate on the order of 2-3 less children per woman. All of the most populous nations on earth have seen whole number reductions in their fertility rates in the last 50 years. 76 nations have fertility rates below replacement. Everybody who still tries to fearmonger about population growth is an idiot out of touch with the statistical reality.


Oh, so you suggest we impose our unnatural western processes of food production and get rid of free range farming with millenia of tradition - that's what westerners always do, consider their ways the only proper ones and try to shove it down the world's throats!
Just kidding, of course, I wish I had a penny every time I hear an environmentalist with questionable knowledge of world economics say this.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby ElectricTurtle » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:40 pm UTC

Spiny Norman wrote:Or maybe you are a fool who can't see the underlying principle. Which is that resources aren't endless. No, Malthus' 200 year old theory and predictions aren't valid anymore and some never were.
Oh, fertility is declining, is it? Great, we'll never need to worry again about millions of people in want of food, water, and all the luxuries that we take for granted and won't give up.
Unless fertility is declining but population is still increasing? Maybe you should take that statistics course: http://xkcd.com/552/.

Image


That's a cute little chart, too bad it ignores the downward trends I have previously cited. Basically every population fearmongering projection freezes the fertility rate where it is, ignoring that it hasn't been frozen, well, ever, and that the trend is down, not up.* It is completely disingenuous and unscientific to assume that a rate is going to stay the same forever. (Since you like xkcd for illustrations, try this one on for size: http://xkcd.com/605/) I wouldn't be giving lectures on statistics if you can't understand that while population must necessarily increase where fertility is above replacement level, if the fertility keeps decreasing that eventually stops. Until there is a decade where fertility increases instead of decreases there is no justification for fear of a population catastrophe.

As it is current privations are mostly logistical and political, not because there simply isn't enough. If there weren't so many corrupt warlords in the 3rd world embezzling, diverting, or otherwise undermining both foreign aid and local development, most if not all privations would evaporate. They are indicative of failed social constructs, not true resource shortfalls.

*(I cannot debunk the methods of the specific image directly because the image's own producer lists the sources for that graphic as "unknown". Not exactly open and authoritative.)


Vroomfundel wrote:Oh, so you suggest we impose our unnatural western processes of food production and get rid of free range farming with millenia of tradition - that's what westerners always do, consider their ways the only proper ones and try to shove it down the world's throats!
Just kidding, of course, I wish I had a penny every time I hear an environmentalist with questionable knowledge of world economics say this.


Just like those "unnatural" vaccines and hygiene education? Let's stop that unnatural pasteurization too. Yes, let's keep all inefficient and even harmful anachronisms no matter how many people it kills so that we can feel all nostalgic about our bucolic fantasies. Curse all that evil modernity increasing lifespans and decreasing infant mortality!

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby ESoergel » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:48 pm UTC

2102: Duke Nukem Forever reaches beta.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Jof16's » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:49 pm UTC

2067: Redheads go extinct.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I gues I'd better find me some hot redheaded women to try and stop that, huh? ;) :D

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby asliceofpi » Mon Apr 18, 2011 3:55 pm UTC

Jof16's wrote:2067: Redheads go extinct.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

I gues I'd better find me some hot redheaded women to try and stop that, huh? ;) :D

I think this would be a great time to invest in red hair dye. That stuff might be gold before you know it. ;)

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Scaraban » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:12 pm UTC

Covarr wrote:Aww, so does this mean Half Life 3 is never coming out?

or even HL2: Episode 3!?
I'd settle for either at this point!

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Legosheep » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:17 pm UTC

Would it be possible next time you do a list like this to link to the articles? Some of these seem quite intriguing and I'd like to know more.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Faranya » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:43 pm UTC

SlyReaper wrote:
Spiny Norman wrote:
st0aty wrote:Absolutely awesome comic... Was I the only one reading the list and counting off what could potentially occur in my own lifetime, then breathing a sigh of relief when I read immortality? ;-)


SlyReaper wrote:2040: Nanotechnology makes humans immortal.
Please please please let this one be true.


MikeStern wrote:You certainly weren't the only one. I even remarked on the fact that by that prediction I would only have to keep myself alive for another 39 years. Then, hopefully, we can eat all the bacon we want :)


Not that I am taking any of these predictions serious, but... Granting immortality to people is completely irresponsible! Have you guys never heard of Malthus and the principles of population? I'm thinking, as a compromise, you can become immortal, but only if you have your balls chopped off (/ovaries ripped out).

I would be willing to make that trade.

Me too. Cause I'll have already had all the children I'll want by then.
Image

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby davidstvz » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:52 pm UTC

EPIC :D

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby darkwing0o0rama » Mon Apr 18, 2011 4:55 pm UTC

Comic JK wrote:I'll bet after this, people will add their projections just to fill in those lonely missing years.

Why no love for 2042? That's when we'll learn the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

:cry: I was going to have said that

Also, the year 2077 is the year when I will have proven time travel by traveling backwards and meeting myself in about 5 minutes. I sure hope there are no paradoxical consequences...

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Apeiron » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

There are no water shortages, only excesses of people (in relation to that areas ability to provide and the people's ability to use it effectively).

The banks took over the planet centuries ago.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby MrD3a7h » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:01 pm UTC

The Atlantis predictions seem off. They had three ZPMs, so they should be able to stay cloaked for a long time.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Goplat » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:03 pm UTC

ElectricTurtle wrote:That's a cute little chart, too bad it ignores the downward trends I have previously cited. Basically every population fearmongering projection freezes the fertility rate where it is, ignoring that it hasn't been frozen, well, ever, and that the trend is down, not up.* It is completely disingenuous and unscientific to assume that a rate is going to stay the same forever. (Since you like xkcd for illustrations, try this one on for size: http://xkcd.com/605/) I wouldn't be giving lectures on statistics if you can't understand that while population must necessarily increase where fertility is above replacement level, if the fertility keeps decreasing that eventually stops. Until there is a decade where fertility increases instead of decreases there is no justification for fear of a population catastrophe.
You're accusing population "fearmongers" of assuming that fertility will stay the same over time, while making the equally ignorant assumption yourself that the derivative of fertility will stay the same over time. Neither assumption is grounded in reality. As long as there exists any subset of humans with the genetic disposition to ignore whatever it is that's making everyone else stop having children, that subset will grow exponentially if not stopped.

As I've said before on a different thread:
Goplat wrote:Just like overuse of antibiotics has not wiped out staph bacteria but instead created MRSA, there may be various factors in the first world that discourage most people from breeding, but these will just have the end result of replacing them with people who aren't affected by these factors. There may be few unaffected people now, but since they have more children, they contribute more to the gene pool, and become a greater fraction of the population every generation.

We can expect the typical Europe/Japan type country to progress like this:
Image

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby DreadArchon » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:15 pm UTC

Awesome! I love this style, and I definitely got a kick out of reading 20 minutes for an AYB joke.

Also, he may have missed some humor opportunities, but that's probably because he kept his research method pure. Which actually makes me like it even more.

And I didn't buy the last posters, but if this was a poster I'd buy it. :D

(Also: The Alt Text was funny too, which is noteworthy as of late.)

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby darkwing0o0rama » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:16 pm UTC

In the year one-million and a half, human kind is enslaved by giraffe. Men must pay for all their misdeeds, when the tree tops are stripped of their leaves.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby stephentyrone » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:19 pm UTC

In the year 3030, everybody wants to be a DJ.
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Neostar » Mon Apr 18, 2011 5:30 pm UTC

Did anyone else notice that for every "good" thing (return of Jesus, US debt paid off) there were 2 or 3 "bad" things (one million species extinct from climate change, two billion people face water shortages, West coast falls into ocean, etc.)?

It seems we as a society are obsesed with the negative "what-ifs."

Also, the "earth-cycle" theory seems to be supported by the "Earth's climate becomes similar to that of Cretaceous Era" comment...

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Beans » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:02 pm UTC

When I hit 2101, I immediately thought, "He got the idea from 2101, then backtracked a hundred years just to build suspense." Spectacular.

On another note, I have access to a 36" plotter here so I'm getting a poster one way or another :D

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Capoeira » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

I thought at first that "Europe reaches Mars" meant that the actual continent was somehow going to rise up to literally touch the red planet.

"2047: World ruled by banks and corporations"
... what? It's already been like this for years.

humanalien wrote:I love how the tobacco industry fails 20 years after tobacco is outlawed.

That's because it's still successful in the black market for those intervening 20 years!

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Mabus_Zero » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:13 pm UTC

Quickly, Randy, Main Screen Turn On!
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby caerphoto » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:23 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:Image
That graph is depressingly believable :(

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby vultur-10 » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:27 pm UTC

Even if fertility rates start going up again (and it is quite possible that the demographic transition won't hit as hard elsewhere), that is still no reason to fear overpopulation -- overpopulation is a factor of technology, so as long as technology continues to develop...*

We couldn't feed our current population as hunter-gatherers, or as primitive agriculturalists. Is there any reason to expect that this will not continue? Biotech has barely been used (IMO largely due to regulations which effectively limit it to a few huge corporations); I would be astonished if 100 years from now we don't have crops whose productivity is, by our standards, ridiculous -- and if we don't, it'll most likely be because we don't have the population to need them.

Per capita food production has been steadily increasing for at least the last 50 years; and the proportion of hungry people has generally decreased (though the current economic crisis caused a big upward spike).

Even with pessimistic assumptions about agricultural technology, which I do not accept, we are centuries from real problems given the current population trends... more than enough time to exploit space seriously (we've had the technology for decades -- it's only anti-nuke paranoia that killed NERVA, etc.: if we ever really needed them...) Once we do that, there are practically no more limits....

*There is, presumably, a physical limit to what the Earth can support, given the total amount of CHON and energy available, but I'd imagine it's vastly higher than the terms anyone is now thinking in.

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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:33 pm UTC

Vroomfundel wrote:Oh, so you suggest we impose our unnatural western processes of food production and get rid of free range farming with millenia of tradition - that's what westerners always do, consider their ways the only proper ones and try to shove it down the world's throats!
Just kidding, of course, I wish I had a penny every time I hear an environmentalist with questionable knowledge of world economics say this.

When he said fertility, I think he meant the birth rate.
And didn't "we" already impose our economic values long ago?

ElectricTurtle wrote:That's a cute little chart, too bad it ignores the downward trends I have previously cited. Basically every population fearmongering projection freezes the fertility rate where it is, ignoring that it hasn't been frozen, well, ever, and that the trend is down, not up.* It is completely disingenuous and unscientific to assume that a rate is going to stay the same forever. (Since you like xkcd for illustrations, try this one on for size: http://xkcd.com/605/) I wouldn't be giving lectures on statistics if you can't understand that while population must necessarily increase where fertility is above replacement level, if the fertility keeps decreasing that eventually stops. Until there is a decade where fertility increases instead of decreases there is no justification for fear of a population catastrophe.

As it is current privations are mostly logistical and political, not because there simply isn't enough. If there weren't so many corrupt warlords in the 3rd world embezzling, diverting, or otherwise undermining both foreign aid and local development, most if not all privations would evaporate. They are indicative of failed social constructs, not true resource shortfalls.

*(I cannot debunk the methods of the specific image directly because the image's own producer lists the sources for that graphic as "unknown". Not exactly open and authoritative.)

So what you're trying to say is, that while right now much more people are being born then die, this might change if the birth rate keeps going down?
First of all, the population of the world is still on the increase. The smoothing of that curve hasn't started yet. If it does, there will still be a long way to go. You mention just one factor - what about the advance of medical science, keeping everyone alive longer? Face it, the population is not about to shrink unless some huge disaster happens.
And secondly, the point is that we're going to run out of resources at some point. It won't happen like Malthus predicted. But there is still a limit. Fossil fuel for example. And the people in all the emerging economies want cars and television sets and mobile phones. If alternative solutions fail to appear in sufficient numbers then a struggle will start over who gets most.

Men like Newton and Malthus and Darwin are not famous because their theories are still valid. They are because they were the first to think of things we now take for granted. Standing on the shoulders of giants, that sort of thing. I think, for the 1800s, it was a rational, insightful approach, a sort of total view that most people are incapable of seeing without help. (How many silly people today think that moving a problem equals solving it, and that you'll always be able to get what you want some way or another?) You seriously call that foolish?
This topic desperately needs a post from Summer Glau.
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udqbpn
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2010 5:49 am UTC

Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby udqbpn » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:36 pm UTC

Can somebody make a program that makes these lists automatically? That way we could keep track of how the future is changing. Google image searches for "future" are somewhat entertaining as well. When do we make contact with extraterrestrials? And when do I get to go SCUBA diving on Jupiter's moon Europa?

RogueCynic
Posts: 410
Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2009 10:23 pm UTC

Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby RogueCynic » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:38 pm UTC

We have until the year 2050 before Proposition Infinity becomes an issue.
I am Lord Titanius Englesmith, Fancyman of Cornwood.
See 1 Kings 7:23 for pi.
If you put a prune in a juicer, what would you get?

graudrakon
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Joined: Wed Sep 26, 2007 5:40 am UTC

Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby graudrakon » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:42 pm UTC

http://www.neurosky.com/ controlling computers with your brain is already here, if rather limited. My friend wired up a nerf gun to fire by concentrating.

Spiny Norman
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Re: 0887: "Future Timeline"

Postby Spiny Norman » Mon Apr 18, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

vultur-10 wrote:Even if fertility rates start going up again (and it is quite possible that the demographic transition won't hit as hard elsewhere), that is still no reason to fear overpopulation -- overpopulation is a factor of technology, so as long as technology continues to develop...*

We couldn't feed our current population as hunter-gatherers, or as primitive agriculturalists. Is there any reason to expect that this will not continue? Biotech has barely been used (IMO largely due to regulations which effectively limit it to a few huge corporations); I would be astonished if 100 years from now we don't have crops whose productivity is, by our standards, ridiculous -- and if we don't, it'll most likely be because we don't have the population to need them.

Per capita food production has been steadily increasing for at least the last 50 years; and the proportion of hungry people has generally decreased (though the current economic crisis caused a big upward spike).

Even with pessimistic assumptions about agricultural technology, which I do not accept, we are centuries from real problems given the current population trends... more than enough time to exploit space seriously (we've had the technology for decades -- it's only anti-nuke paranoia that killed NERVA, etc.: if we ever really needed them...) Once we do that, there are practically no more limits....

*There is, presumably, a physical limit to what the Earth can support, given the total amount of CHON and energy available, but I'd imagine it's vastly higher than the terms anyone is now thinking in.

That's perhaps a tiny bit optimistic. You're counting on a huge chunk of technological innovations saving our lazy lifestyle. It could happen, I wouldn't complain, but it could also be a planning fallacy. For example, space travel won't bring a solution anytime soon. In fact, I've heard tell that by the time we've developed that kind of technology, all the other problems will have been solved already. I don't know if you can count on assurances like "we're doing fine so far" and "it has never seriously gone wrong before". (And wikipedia says NERVA was abandoned because of the cost.)
This topic desperately needs a post from Summer Glau.
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