It is impossible for an exponentially growing society to last long-term

May 28, 2015, 2:14 pm

Agree25 Disagree14


The debate "It is impossible for an exponentially growing society to last long-term" was started by I_Voyager on May 28, 2015, 2:14 pm. 25 people are on the agree side of this discussion, while 14 people are on the disagree side. That might be enough to see the common perception. It looks like most of the people in this community are on the agreeing side of this statement.

I_Voyager posted 3 arguments to the agreers part.
PsychDave posted 1 argument, WordSpeller posted 3 arguments to the disagreers part.

I_Voyager, soullesschicken, toughgamerjerry, KimUri, wmd, DanielleR123, sabrina and 18 visitors agree.
PsychDave, WordSpeller, amanofprogress, bearunter, eka_zulaikha, Bodaciouslady16 and 8 visitors disagree.

replied to...

I guess I'm just trying to see it from a less abstract place. For nations, chaos is a latter. For many people chaos is a death-trap. To me individual people are ends in of themselves. I'm not concerned with brightly burning fires. I'm concerned with the participation, freedom and perspectives of individual people.

4 years ago

Well, you're previewing the chaos. I'm already thinking about the results of that chaos, because chaos is the fire that purifies the metal and forges it into a brand new sword. Chaos isn't a pit. Chaos is a ladder.

4 years ago
replied to...

No, it isn't. But if we have a normal discussion it's up to you.

And your english was fine.

My contentions are not so much with information technology or resource development. I'm not convinced we will meet the challenges of either man-made climate change, or social relationships between massively growing populations. We have no political philosophy for fifty billion people relating with each-other in a near-singularity society. Our economic systems are not evolving as rapidly as our information technology systems. We can relate thoughts, opinions, ideas, instructions to each other, but communicating value is based on systems evolved out of eighteenth, nineteenth and early twentieth century economic philosophy. These philosophies were better designed for the context of their time-periods. But the way we've enshrined their political and economic strategies in law make change slow, in a rapidly advancing society. The political revolution is slow-going. The opponents of change have a lot of power.

I can see us conquering problems of energy, food and water in the short-run. But I can see a massive collapse shortly there-after. Although as you said, if many starve and die we may evolve in the conflict... But evolution into a new society isn't the problem. Maintaining this one is what I think won't happen.

As for climate change, I recall the singularitarian sci-fi Transcendence showed the protagonist cleaning the sky's and ecosystems with nanobots. But I'm not so sure. Technology tends to be very specific in its application. The problem is the wide-spread popularity of and necessity of oil to moving or manufacturing. The energy revolution is slow-going and the oil companies have a lot of power. I've felt these company's would rather just do the Atlas Shrugged thang and build automated retreats, leaving the world to starve.

4 years ago

I understand why you're skeptical about spatial colonization. There's not a single planet in our system where we could set an extension of our civilization. Only unstable or devastated places from where we could gather some resources and nothing more. The difficulty of finding a planet that fits our conditions to be colonized grows exponentially if we look for it in other stellar systems, being the closest star about 4.6 light-years from here.

So if we ignore this possibility and attempt only to what we can do with what we already have in our planet, our chances of self-sustaining are still good. I talked about food engineering, you talked about printing food and these were only two brilliant ideas we had in the last 50 years, so imagine what ideas are yet to come until the end of this century.

That's what I'm talking about, science and technology have been evolving in such a incredible speed and the problems you may think are unsolvable today, will be overcome in by humanity's knowledge in the future. A knowledge we don't hold yet.

Just think about how hard was it to send messages from a place to another inside the small continent of Europe during feudalism and how ridiculously easy it is today, that even children can instantly connect to people from around the world. S and T. That's what differs us from our Martian neighbors who didn't know how to preserve their planet and ended up killing the planet.

Sorry for my English if I wasn't clear in some part of the text.

See? It's not so hard to have a normal discussion about an interesting topic.

4 years ago
replied to...

That's not a bad argument. There are a lot of innovations going on right now which may increase the abundance of food and space. We can print an $11 burger without having killed anything to get it. I haven't heard of artificial trees. I'll have to look that up.

I'm skeptical about spatial colonization. I want desperately for something like that to be possible. But I'm not convinced we're prepared to protect ourselves against radiation or micrometeorites. The logistics of such colonization seems to me something that'll be hell to figure out as well. Given the many proposed projects I've read I'm not convinced it'll be any sooner than 2050 before there's something meaningful happening in space, and 2100 before a meaningful number of people are living out there.

And these ain't arbitrary numbers ;) I've based them on the various projects I've seen claiming "we can put a settlement on mars by x" or "we could build this space station by 2050" or "we could have X number of ships out by 2100 if our economic progress from now til then were as follows.

4 years ago

"Population grows geometrically while food grows arithmetically" Yeah, we all have heard that, but what Malthus wasn't counting on is the fact that science and technology have been developed equally exponentially.

Artificial trees, food engineering, spacial colonization are at hand. Soon we'll be able to sustain ourselves no matter how big our specie is. And if we face a crisis, many of us may die starving, but it's in critical periods that humanity best evolves.

4 years ago

As long as supply of necessities keeps up with the population, it is possible. Hydroponics and high density farming would enable food production with a substantially smaller footprint and, at energy technology improves, it will become more efficient as well. There will reach a critical threshold when there is not enough land and resources on the planet, but by that time expansion into space is likely to be possible. We aren't ready yet but indoor farming that can sustain a city would be good for colonization ad well as exponential population growth.

4 years ago
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