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The Future of the Planet

By Gutza in Culture
Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 01:27:02 PM EST
Tags: Round Table (all tags)
Round Table

This is an invitation to discuss the future of planet Earth. I know you must have an opinion on this matter, so share it with us and with the people who will visit K5 one thousand years from now to see your prophecies come true and wonder how you did it!

My wife came home today saying she's got a deadline on November 4th for a radio show about the future of the planet. Since I'm the computer literate in the house she asked me if I could help her find a site with "prophecies" about the future of mankind - no matter on what subject or on what time span - just people and their opinions about the future. You can figure out the rest, including my excitement of finally being able to demonstrate why I spend so much time on the "kuro-something site"...

So, that's the theme: tell us what you think will happen according to your vision of the future - arguments are obviously nice to go along with your opinion (i.e. simply "January 12, 3621 - Earth will disintegrate" isn't a successful one).

I know, this is not a story in the real meaning of the word but I didn't want to bias you with my "vision" because that would make many of you to discuss my opinion instead of posting your own... But you'll get my opinion in a comment so you'll have the chance to get the story missing here.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


What's the future colour of the planet?
o Golden - as in great 2%
o Green - as in the return to Mother Nature 11%
o Blue - as in religious 4%
o Silver - as in technology forever! 31%
o Grey - as in dull anyways 9%
o Dark - as in not so good 22%
o Black - as in what future? 7%
o Stars and stripes - as in I don't have a clue 7%

Votes: 101
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Also by Gutza

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The Future of the Planet | 64 comments (51 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
Make Room, Make Room (4.66 / 3) (#1)
by Phage on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:14:05 PM EST

Is the book by Harry Harrison that was bastardised into Soylent Green by Kubrick.

I won't go over the entire plot, but the background is one where population growth pushes the environment to the edge of survivability.

An old book, an overlooked classic.

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.

bastardised? (none / 0) (#22)
by hjw on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:49:49 AM EST

I presume you consider the film to be a less than accurate production of the book. I've had intentions to read that book for years.
I quite liked the film though. It's one of the first sci-fi movies I ever saw that painted a bleak future for mankind. Along with Logan's run and I suppose Forbidden Planet.

[ Parent ]
I preferred the Simpsons version (5.00 / 1) (#24)
by TheophileEscargot on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 10:12:32 AM EST

Principal Skinner: "As you've so often suggested, Bart, I think I'll begin by eating your shorts."
Support the nascent Mad Open Science movement... when we talk about "hundreds of eyeballs," we really mean it. Lagged2Death
[ Parent ]
Bart to thefuture (5.00 / 1) (#43)
by hjw on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 03:56:54 PM EST

wasn't it in the Bart to the Future episode where homer produced a box of 'Soylont Green' at breakfast with a caption under the name - 'Now with more kids'.

Ralph Wiggim: Isn't that made of people?
Homer: Inuhno

[ Parent ]
They changed too much (none / 0) (#39)
by Phage on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:12:28 PM EST

Whilst I enjoyed the movie because they left the dark near-future background, unfortunately they removed the characters and sub-plots that give those scenes more depth.

The book is the description of events surrounding the murder of a wealthy man. The characters include the killer, the cop, the victim's mistress, and others. Those characters and plots reveal the detail of their hopelessness in this environment. The ending is a slap in the face that you wouldn't see in Disney !

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]

Kubrick? I think not. (none / 0) (#64)
by SIGFPE on Mon Dec 17, 2001 at 07:11:42 PM EST

[ Parent ]
Obviously... (3.80 / 5) (#4)
by Signal 11 on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 09:30:01 PM EST

Obviously, you never play video games. Look, it works like this: Some bad guy creates a superweapon that can destroy the world, and steals your girlfriend to boot. So you have to travel through thirteen levels and fight four bosses, gathering powerups and what-not for your final thick-crust apocolypse with the local pizza boy. And you'd better score at least 1,394,059 points, otherwise you won't make the top ten list.

Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
I'd tell you my idea, but... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
by garbanzo on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 10:34:39 PM EST

Rudy Rucker's is so much better. Go read Saucer Wisdom (ISBN 0-312-86884-7). Not only is this book highly entertaining and informative, it is also probably available on the cheap. I got mine at Half-Price Books (for much less than half price) and they still had some copies last time I was there. As I write this, I see that Amazon has at least 4 copies available used for US$5.98.

sure, it's all fun and games--until someone puts an eye out

Fire and Ice (4.80 / 5) (#8)
by Global-Lightning on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 10:49:15 PM EST

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To know that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost

About 5 to 7 billion (10^9) years from now, the Sun will have consumed most of it's hydrogen. the core will begin to collapses, causing its temperature to increase. The outer portions will expand and cool. It will become what astronomers call a Red Giant.
During this initial expansion the Sun will consume at least Mercury. On Earth, the oceans will boil away.

Eventually the helium in the core will fuse into carbon in a violent event know as the helium flash. At this stage the Sun will engulf the Earth. What remains of the atmosphere will be blown into space and nothing will remain alive.

The sun will blow off its outer atmosphere into an expanding shell of nebular gas. The Earth will be left behind as a dead chunk of rock

Eventually the Sun's core will reach it's contracting limit and degenerate into a white dwarf.
The gravitational pull and drag from the gases thrown off the sun will draw the lifeless earth into the dwarf and cause it to evaporate in space.

This is just one of the possible final scenarios for the Earth. Others (including a couple of 'Ice' ones ) are discussed here

Now wait a second. (none / 0) (#13)
by physicsgod on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:39:43 AM EST

OK, I could buy the earth crashing into the core during the Red-Giant stage, due to atmospheric drag, but what would make a planet that's orbited stabily for 10 billion years crash into a lighter white dwarf?

--- "Those not wearing body armor are hereby advised to keep their arguments on-topic" Schlock Mercenary
[ Parent ]
Speed (none / 0) (#17)
by rusty on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:45:00 AM EST

The gravitational pull and drag from the gases thrown off the sun will draw the lifeless earth into the dwarf and cause it to evaporate in space.

If I follow the argument, the ex-sun will throw off a lot of gas, which will cause drag on the orbiting earth, slowing it and making it inevitably fall inward toward the sun's core.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

Well I think... (3.66 / 6) (#10)
by Tatarigami on Wed Oct 24, 2001 at 11:16:20 PM EST

2001 - 2035

The Earth's population continues to grow. Declining birth rates in the Western World leads governments to encourage skilled immigrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Ethnic boundaries become increasingly blurred and the geographical distribution of wealth becomes somewhat more uniform.

The environment is under increasing pressure from human encroachment, but the worst effects (global warming, desertification, soil depletion, etc) are staved off through massive investment in technological solutions.

Environmentally-regulated cities of skilled teleworkers spring up in some of the harshest climates on Earth.

2035 - 2050

Advancing medical technologies allow people to live longer, healthier lives. Although the population is no longer increasing, as the citizens of increasingly industrialised former 3rd World countries begin to have smaller families, the world is still crowded. Emigrating off Earth to O'Neil colonies in the Lagrange points or the asteroid belt becomes a fad among younger workers intent on carving out their own niche.

Scientific settlements on Mars become home to an expanding civilian population. Permanent scientific bases are established on Europa and Ganymede, moons of Jupiter.

A massive international effort begins to rehabilitate the Earth's environment, which has now become so strained by overpopulation that without ongoing technological intervention, nothing more advanced than reptiles could survive above sea level, and all large aquatic fish would slide into extinction.

2050 - onwards

Ongoing technological and cultural developments make all fifty-year old attempts at prediction meaningless...

Isn't it obvious? (4.40 / 20) (#12)
by kitten on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:39:18 AM EST

In the year AD 2101, war will be beginning.

I see a dim, hazy vision of a man named Captain, who is on routine patrol when without warning, someone sets up him the bomb.

He will ask what happen ?, and then flail about for a while shouting "What !"

Eventually, main screen will turn on, and a mysterious figure who is only identified as "Cats" will exclaim, "How are you gentlemen !!"

Cats will claim possession of all your base, and Captain will believe him without bothering to check. Cats will explain that Captain is on the way to destruction, and has no chance to survive make his time.

Captain will brood over his next move, which will likely involve taking off every 'zig'. He know what he doing. He will then move 'zig' in order to cause Great Justice.

mirrorshades radio - darkwave, synthpop, industrial, futurepop.
Fun (4.20 / 5) (#15)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:22:45 AM EST

You wanna know what is much more fun then predicting the future?

Reading predictions for the future written in the past.

A complete laugh riot, believe you me.

Because not only are they wrong, they are so amazingly wrong as to be wildly entertaining.

So this discussion, though mostly dull, ought to be saved in a time capsule, as it will have 'em rolling in the aisle in 2100.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Examples of short-sighted (small-c) conservatism (4.40 / 5) (#20)
by greenrd on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:48:00 AM EST

Here's a bunch of examples - not all predictions, but funny nevertheless. Blatantly googled and stolen from http://users.erols.com/hmmd/quotes.html

"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." --Popular Mechanics, forecasting the relentless march of science, 1949

"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." --Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943

"I have traveled the length and breadth of this country and talked with the best people, and I can assure you that data processing is a fad that won't last out the year." --The editor in charge of business books for Prentice Hall, 1957

"But what ... is it good for?" --Engineer at the Advanced Computing Systems Division of IBM, 1968, commenting on the microchip.

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." --Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977

"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." --Western Union internal memo, 1876.

"The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?" --David Sarnoff's associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

"The concept is interesting and well-formed, but in order to earn better than a 'C,' the idea must be feasible." --A Yale University management professor in response to Fred Smith's paper proposing reliable overnight delivery service. (Smith went on to found Federal Express Corp.)

"Who the hell wants to hear actors talk?" --H.M. Warner, Warner Brothers, 1927.

"I'm just glad it'll be Clark Gable who's falling on his face and not Gary Cooper." --Gary Cooper on his decision not to take the leading role in "Gone With The Wind."

"A cookie store is a bad idea. Besides, the market research reports say America likes crispy cookies, not soft and chewy cookies like you make." --Response to Debbi Fields' idea of starting Mrs. Fields' Cookies.

"We don't like their sound, and guitar music is on the way out." --Decca Recording Co. rejecting the Beatles, 1962.

"Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible." --Lord Kelvin, president, Royal Society, 1895.

"If I had thought about it, I wouldn't have done the experiment. The literature was full of examples that said you can't do this." --Spencer Silver on the work that led to the unique adhesives for 3-M "Post-It" Notepads.

"So we went to Atari and said, 'Hey, we've got this amazing thing, even built with some of your parts, and what do you think about funding us? Or we'll give it to you. We just want to do it. Pay our salary, we'll come work for you.' And they said, 'No.' So then we went to Hewlett-Packard, and they said, 'Hey,we don't need you. You haven't got through college yet.
--Apple Computer Inc. founder Steve Jobs on attempts to get Atari and H-P interested in his and Steve Wozniak's personal computer.

"Professor Goddard does not know the relation between action and reaction and the need to have something better than a vacuum against which to react. He seems to lack the basic knowledge ladled out daily in high schools." --1921 New York Times editorial about Robert Goddard's revolutionary rocket work.

"You want to have consistent and uniform muscle development across all of your muscles? It can't be done. It's just a fact of life. You just have to accept inconsistent muscle development as an unalterable condition of weight training." --Response to Arthur Jones, who solved the "unsolvable" problem by inventing Nautilus.

"Drill for oil? You mean drill into the ground to try and find oil? You're crazy." --Drillers who Edwin L. Drake tried to enlist to his project to drill for oil in 1859.

"Stocks have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." --Irving Fisher, Professor of Economics, Yale University, 1929.

"Airplanes are interesting toys but of no military value." --Marechal Ferdinand Foch, Professor of Strategy, Ecole Superieure de Guerre.

"Everything that can be invented has been invented." --Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. Office of Patents, 1899.

"Louis Pasteur's theory of germs is ridiculous fiction". --Pierre Pachet, Professor of Physiology at Toulouse, 1872

"The abdomen, the chest, and the brain will forever be shut from the intrusion of the wise and humane surgeon". --Sir John Eric Ericksen, British surgeon, appointed Surgeon Extraordinary to Queen Victoria 1873.

"640K ought to be enough for anybody." -- Bill Gates, 1981

"Capitalism is the absurd belief that the worst of men, for the worst of reasons, will somehow work for the benefit of us all." -- John Maynard Keynes
[ Parent ]
They go the other way, too. (4.00 / 2) (#25)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:06:23 AM EST

When I get home, I'll dig up the quotes. There are some lovely ones from the late forties about how atomic power means that energy will be free,. And let's not forget flying cars!
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
I have the book for you... (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:20:57 PM EST

Reading predictions for the future written in the past
At a conference I attended a year back this book was discussed: Today, Then By Dave Walter. A collection of essays written in 1893 about what the world will be like in 1993. I haven't read this yeat but it looks really interesting! (In fact I'm ordering it right now...)
[ Parent ]
Bastard! (none / 0) (#28)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 12:28:29 PM EST

Yeah, you seem to have bought the ten dollar one, you bastard!

Oh well.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Actually... (none / 0) (#30)
by SIGFPE on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 01:51:15 PM EST

...I only have it locked. Having a little trouble getting my credit card processed due to an address change...so you have a chance...
[ Parent ]
Now you tell me... (none / 0) (#31)
by ucblockhead on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:12:47 PM EST

I ended up buying the other one.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Has it arrived yet? (none / 0) (#60)
by SIGFPE on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 07:18:04 PM EST

Mine just did. Looks very entertaining!
[ Parent ]
From circa 1950... (none / 0) (#52)
by Kaki Nix Sain on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 03:56:48 AM EST

"In the year 2000 every convience and luxury known to man had been invented and perfected. At the flick of a switch each task is performed by highly specialized electronic robots. Man lives without challenge and, all to often, without incentive."

I heard that in a song, The Future is Never by SuperPope. "Robot Devils" is also a neat song.

[ Parent ]

Post-scarcity and other crazy economics (4.20 / 5) (#16)
by RandomPeon on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 02:38:05 AM EST

Assuming technological advances continue to enhance both overall production and productivity, we will eventually arrive at a point where there's more stuff than people need. The United States and Europe already have agricultural systems that are so productive that governments intentionally reduce production to prevent price crashes.

Do we ever get to where supply outstrips demand for most common goods? Rapid decreases in technology prices, the elimination of unproductive middlepeople, and other economic trends suggest we might. Will we ever get to the point where no one needs to work very hard to satisfy material wants? It appears so, which would have profound social implications.

If this seems awfully utopian, consider that the standard of living in all industrialized countries improved to a ridiculous extent over the last 100 years. If you could pluck somebody off the street of a major city in 1900 and put them in either New York or Moscow they would be amazed at the luxuries and amount of free time average people had.

In the modern era, no economic system has persisted for an extremely long period. Mercantilism had a short run before being replaced by small-scale capitalism, which gave way to large-scale lassiez-faire capitalism and state socialism, both of which have been replaced by regulated capitalism or weak socialism, which are just different in degree. But these systems won't last forever - we use them because they work, not because they're intrinsically good. The problems that go with capitalism might get worse - structural unemployment in particular and the need for continued growth will become real problems for our systems in 50 years. Information technology gives governments the power to analyze and plan economies like never before - we might see the state as central to economies again. Or we might see something we can't imagine. That's the problem - anyone can tell you things will change, but not how.

Of course, there's a chance the world might go to hell. We might blow ourselves up. There are reactionary religious movement in all three monotheistic religions that could always make the world into a Greater Afganistan and push us back into the dark ages. The only difference between Mullah Omar and Rev Fallwell is one has an army and the other doesn't. We can't continue to consume more resources every year forever without serious problems. Some smart people have suggested the next century will be dominated by "resource wars" which isn't so aburd if you look at the Gulf War and the difficulties the Israelis and Palestinians have agreeing about water rights.

Marketing = Producing demand (none / 0) (#53)
by swr on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 10:29:26 PM EST

Assuming technological advances continue to enhance both overall production and productivity, we will eventually arrive at a point where there's more stuff than people need.

The industrial age has pretty much done that already. People don't really need brown fuzzy cola drinks or pump-up running shoes, and yet these things are produced and sold by the millions. Most companies today have a department devoted to marketing, and there are even entire companies whos sole purpose is marketing - the creation of demand for a product for which there previously had been little or no demand.

[ Parent ]
This is rather funny... (3.87 / 8) (#18)
by Kasreyn on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:30:23 AM EST

...though I didn't write it:



"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Keeping my promise (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by Gutza on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 09:59:33 AM EST

Ok, I promised I'll post my opinion on the future so you'll find it below. Just a few clarifications though: I've been repeatedly criticised for the lack of seriousness about this story. That is entirely true - and that's because of two reasons. On one hand I think it's really lame to actually be serious about your ability to tell what's going to happen in the future because it's obviously impredictible if you go into details. On the other hand, although I expected some well-reasoned opinions I can only imagine posting on this topic as being fun. Other topics are indeed serious - when you post on freedom of speech or the war in Afghanistan you may well change someone's opinion or decide to do something about it, write a letter to the Congress or something. What could you do about these opinions, even if we start from the outrageously wrong assumtion that everybody posting here would agree and you wouldn't like the future? Would you take a stand, start a petition that the future shouldn't be like that or what? So then, as I said in the previous verion of this story, HAVE FUN! Ok, here goes nothing:

Obviously, disasters can happen - I'm not talking about those here, because there are so many scenarios which end with a boom or in overheating a.s.o. and all of them are pretty trivial. So then, the rest of the scenarios are dealing with a "predictible" trend of things to come. Since my honest opinion is that technology is what actually drives humankind, I'll start there:


As we know from the history, inventions are only implemented into real life and make a difference if there's a social need for them - for example, the principle of the steam engine was discovered during the Roman Empire, but there was no social need because of the thousands of slaves who were disposable anyways - so no steam engine.

Why I started with this paragraph is due to the myriad of possible technological advances available in middle term, leading to curious developments in the long term. Technologists bet on these advances while skeptics don't believe in these advances. My opinion is that a technological leap is definitely possible - but which of the possible inventions are actually needed by the society as it is now?

1. The All-Knowing Machine Yess! This is a cool one. I think we need it - a lot of SciFi books propose this machine which would run the global economy. Moreover, I think research is already being conducted in this direction, although probably not in a very advanced stage. I'm certain we'll see an AI robot with besic human intellect some 30 years from now. Add a lot of RAM, a couple of upgrades, Internet connections and leave it on the Net for a couple of years - and, voila: Roboticus Cyberneticus. Just a couple of upgrades later, a lot of research and some 50 years later, I really do think a more-or-less all-knowing machine could emerge which would gradually get political power due to the masses until 300 years from now it would probably run most of the world. Yes, it sounds kinda lame but I think it is not only possible but also probable that this will indeed exist.

2. The All-Working Robots I really doubt these will ever ubiquitously hit the work market. You know about all of those programs for retired people and their need to be active in society, don't you. People need to be active, need to feel useful in the society. We're all complaining about going to work but we all need it - that's how we're built to function. Ok, true, some may make a difference and be active without a "real" job - that's their rebel nature. Maybe there's going to be a better place for these guys in the future but the humankind as a whole needs to work. Ok, there already are bots doing some of the really hard, back-breaking or tedious work - and they are going to be improved. But I don't think they will ever be improved and implemented in a wide enough manner that the statement "people won't need to work" to be true.

3. The All-Travelling Spaceships Not only I believe these are going to exist but I'm quite certain humans will be colonizing other planets - actually I'm so convinced of this that I don't know why anyone would ever doubt it (I'm really serious about this).

4. The All-Teleporing Machine Until a couple of weeks ago I really doubted this will ever going to exist. Well, surprize! So it seems we'll also have this, maybe a basic experimental version even within our lifetime. This is really, really going to be a tough one for our current intimate understanding of the distances. I don't know what's going to happen when this is going to be implemented large scale at reasonable prices. Can you imagine "going out" in a bar in Bangkok this evening? Not to talk about the work market...

5. The All-Assistant Robot This is a cool one I think will exist within 25-30 years. The All-Assistant Bot is not going to be a robot. It's going to be your operating system. It's going to be the Extremely Friendly AI Operating System (TM) for your Smaller Than A MatchBox (TM) laptop powered by the innovative Everlasting Power From Nothing (TM) battery you will operate with the Xtra-Sensitive Brainwave Reader (TM) while being permanently connected via Blue-Jaw (TM) to the Internet wherever you are. Sorry, had to go babbling a little. That's the long-term version. The "within-our-lifespan" version will be a very flat, rather small and flexible laptop connected to the Net you will be able to talk to and get all the info you need at all times. You are going to carry this little dude wherever because he's going to organize your life - really!.


Globalization? Of course! I know, we're not all happy with it, but it's going to happen and there's nothing able to stop it. A little bit of a shock at the beginning but there's going to be better for everybody in the long run because everybody will have the opportunity to work for the global market rather than in a local, uninformed medium. Since production efficiency is going to steadily increase, the rich are going to get richer. The poor are also going to get richer, but at a more moderate pace. Yes, the gap between the rich and the poor is going to steadily increase. I'm really puzzled about what's going to happen with all these mergers these days - if they are going to keep this pace, in a couple of decades there's only going to be a single big company manufacturing everything and providing all the services. I'm not an economist, that's why this paragraph is quite short, but I really am quite puzzled with what's going to happen about this.


There are only going to be about five states in the world 100 years from now. I don't think these will become one single state before real, serious colonization of another planet. We're too cocky to accept that unless we're forced to. Form of government? I really don't have a clue. Capitalism is not going to make it on the long run the way it is, but whatever is going to be it's going to be very close. People are individualists so any utopic form of real freedom won't work.


Overall, I think there are going to be a couple of really serious revolutions - one political and one economical - within our lifetime. After that, hopefully, if the right decisions are made, the society will be ready for the technological advances to come, which will provide some personal revolutions in the way of life. All for the better - humankind is evolving, as it's supposed to be.

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
An optimist's view of the future I think (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by PhadeRunner on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 12:37:37 PM EST

...inventions are only implemented into real life and make a difference if there's a social need for them...

This fragment should really read: inventions are only implemented into real life and make a difference if there's a social need for them and money to be made from them...

I'm also confused about your economy/politics points. In one you say that the world's economy will become more global and that the rich will get richer etc. In the next you say that capitalism won't be the method in which that happens. Surely capitalism will be the mechanism in which this happens since it is the corporation and not government that drives this globalisation.

I personally believe that government will become mostly irrelavent and that corporations will have more influence on things. This is surely already happening with the global econony. It is not long before corporate social engineering such as brand loyalty will take over from concepts such as national pride.

This will leave a greater split between conformists and non-conformists than there is today however the sub-culture will be more significant.

I think your view of the future is a little too rosy.

Just my 2 pence...

[ Parent ]

Hummm... (none / 0) (#49)
by Gutza on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 08:30:09 PM EST

"This fragment should really read: inventions are only implemented into real life and make a difference if there's a social need for them and money to be made from them..." - well, that's how it reads, actually - do you think the guys in the Roman Empire didn't want the steam engine out of some kind of perverted love towards their slaves or what? :-)

"I'm also confused about your economy/politics points. In one you say that the world's economy will become more global and that the rich will get richer etc. In the next you say that capitalism won't be the method in which that happens. Surely capitalism will be the mechanism in which this happens since it is the corporation and not government that drives this globalisation." Why do you think there cannot be globalization without capitalism? On the other hand, I also said that the future "form of government" - which was the wrong term - would be something very similar to capitalism...

"I personally believe that government will become mostly irrelavent and that corporations will have more influence on things. This is surely already happening with the global econony. It is not long before corporate social engineering such as brand loyalty will take over from concepts such as national pride." - yes, that's the current trend but I don't think this will ever actually happen. That's because I think governments have to respond to a lot more stimuli than corporations, not because I believe the theory to be absurd or something...

"I think your view of the future is a little too rosy. " - I can only give you the trivial answer - we'll see about that! :-)

On the other hand, you are free to post your own version of what's going to happen - just saying something is wrong doesn't change that into your point of view...

Who's your vendor, who's your vendor? — Scott Adams
time is K5
[ Parent ]
Predictions (4.00 / 3) (#26)
by Ward57 on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 11:54:06 AM EST

Firstly, go to goole and search for Vinge Singularity - he admits to being slightly wrong in some sense, but it's one hell of a prediction.
Secondly, my predictions.

1. Nuclear power comes into its own with successful commercial plants - slightly reduces coming energy crisis.
2. Governments worldwide realise that the key to a successfull economy is people, causing a rush for high population growth in the west (sustained by both fertilisers and desalination plants).
3. Population growth in Africa overuns resources, many die.
4. Asteroid mining (soonish, limited. Something of a new race for space, but a little later.)
5. Regarding the human race as a single organism, with a single group mind run over the internet becomes popular. Improving the data sources of the internet suddenly becomes very low priority for global government. (Note, this sees them ignorant, not self interested).
6. Genetic treatments are more available in America than Europe, despite strongly socialised health care, making the European market secondary. This is entirely due to the european market being secondary. Life extension by genetics does not appear until 2050 at the earliest.
7. Nanotech - self replicating nanites in the lab only. Nanites never gain high survivability outside of (industrially) controlled conditions.
8. At least one war with use of nuclear weapons.
9. No extra terrestrial colonies until 2030

That will have to do, I think.


I look into the crystal ball; what do I scry? (4.00 / 3) (#33)
by A Dapper M on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 03:35:31 PM EST

The future shall likely proceed much as it has before: We shall cycle war and peace, liberal and conservative, modern and postmodern.

However, there are some events that will almost certainly happen that will upset this pattern.

One, the ability to alter the genomes of organisms will advance to peviously unimaginable levels. While there will be much focus on creating babies to order, and altering our genetic chemisty in drastic ways, the real danger shall be from biohackers. Imagine a Ted Kazinsky or a Bin Laden with the ability to alter the genes of the flu virus...The only hope that we have not to see a majority of the humans on this planet die from genetically modified virii is either draconian state control (a real 1984 scenario) or an a extreme advance in chemical or nanobiomechanical wide ranging vaccines and antivirals.

And, assuming we are not waylaid by the previous scenario, or by another unexpected catastrophe, we will eventually have to deal with a 'singularity'. This would be the point when change occurs in our society so quickly that even the most able of us loses the ability to keep up. This is the end result of our logarithmic acceleration of the speed of change in our societies. Somewhat like a physical singularity, we are unable to but guess at the conditions beyond it, so all we can do is speculate on what would happen after.

-My $0.02
-A Dapper M

"I sought only myself." - Heraclitus

The cycle has been broken. (none / 0) (#34)
by quartz on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 04:24:58 PM EST

We shall cycle [...] modern and postmodern.

You can't cycle modern and postmodern. History ended with postmodernism, haven't you read?

Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke, and fuck 'em even if they can.
[ Parent ]
What the hell are you talking about? (none / 0) (#37)
by A Dapper M on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 05:07:32 PM EST

Hegel and Marx are naive. Everyone who has ever thought that the big questions will be settled soon, and that this will happen when the type of society they beleive is best comes to be has thus far (and there has been a lot of them) been wrong.

Always, throughout human existence, the big questions have persisted. In addition, we often observe that society moves in cycles. In the U.S.'s recent history, we saw the following swings from conservative to liberal and back:

  • 1900s - 1920s more liberal
  • 1920s - 1950s more conservative
  • 1960s - 1970s more liberal
  • 1980s - 2000 more conservative
As far as modernist and postmodernist veiwpoints, they do cycle. As one who recognizes the validity of both types of thought, I see that the fundamental sources and outcomes of both of these types of thinking have existed before, and will likely do so in the future.

"I sought only myself." - Heraclitus

[ Parent ]
biohackers: (none / 0) (#48)
by sja8rd on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 07:29:52 PM EST

rumor is this:

there is a loose-knit group of biologists semi-based out of Canada that are in the process of tailoring a series of species-specific virii with the intention of irradicating human life altogether.

probably nothing will come of it, but such a feat is not outside the realm of possibility.

[ Parent ]

Just saw this the other day (4.33 / 3) (#38)
by drivers on Thu Oct 25, 2001 at 06:43:06 PM EST

Found this link the other day.

Pretty scary stuff. Good read.
My apologies if this was on kuro5hin already. :-) (I got it from some 'blog, don't remember which.)

Analysis of some of the Dangers (4.50 / 2) (#40)
by BlckKnght on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 08:03:33 AM EST

A lot of popular predictions about the future involve theories about how the human race make be killed off by some terrible danger. Some of them are totally outlandish and some are quite feasable.

There's a very good article, that examines the dangers (both obvious and outlandish) and tries to assign a rough probability to them. It's a good read and it has some good references like the Foresight Institute and other interesting places.

Error: .signature: No such file or directory

A book recommendation (4.50 / 2) (#41)
by Prominairy on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 08:43:13 AM EST

    If you feel like adding a glum twist to the subject and are not afraid of dabbling with pseudo-science, I wish to point you to the following book:
Isaac Asimov: A Choice of Catastrophes: The Disasters that Threathen our World
    I seem to remember I enjoyed it ten years ago, although I might have a fairly different opinion of it nowadays. It doesn't deal simply with the possible disasters facing the world, but also tries to explain the scientific laws that hold the universe together; gravity (black holes), fusion processes (solar expansion), etc.

"Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching."

Nice Sig (none / 0) (#56)
by Phage on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 11:54:45 PM EST

Yours ?

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]

No, it's not mine (none / 0) (#58)
by Prominairy on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 08:52:23 AM EST

    I first saw it in a book of quotations, where it was attributed to "Unknown." Quite a few years later I saw it on Erowid and adopted it. When looking for whom to actually attribute the quote to the most likely candidate seem to be Mark Twain, but I've never really found any good references where he actually wrote or said this.

"Work like you don't need the money.
Love like you've never been hurt.
Dance like nobody's watching."

[ Parent ]
Could be Twain (none / 0) (#59)
by Phage on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 05:24:00 PM EST

But it sounds more modern.

Nice quote tho' either way. I guess if it's a true reflection of the human condition then it will sound modern to my ear anyway.

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]

This I know: (4.25 / 4) (#44)
by Eight Star on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 04:45:19 PM EST

At least within 100 years, probably within 50, we will have commercially available androids that are not easily distinguishable from a human female, and they will come from Japan.

That's incredibly optimistic (none / 0) (#50)
by Kalani on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 10:55:30 PM EST

"I [think] that ultimately physics will not require a mathematical statement; in the end the machinery will be revealed and the laws will turn out to be simple, like the checker board."
--Richard Feynman
[ Parent ]
2004 Prediction (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by lvogel on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 05:28:17 PM EST

I predict that George Bush will not be re-elected into the White House. I am going to write to the major corporations that constitute the Republican Party and request that they pick someone else. I also predict that more Americans will get their news from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart than they will from any other news source.

from there, the crystal ball gets hazy... :)

The Daily Show (none / 0) (#47)
by ucblockhead on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 07:14:01 PM EST

That is certainly an optimistic prediction. One can only hope that people start using more reliable news services.
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Its a joke (none / 0) (#54)
by eightball on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 09:32:54 AM EST

That is one of the tag lines they use to advertise the show, as well as (I hope close to):

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The most important television show. Ever.

[ Parent ]
William Gibson (3.50 / 4) (#46)
by Celestial on Fri Oct 26, 2001 at 07:11:47 PM EST

The father of cyber punk,and in my opinion, the only good cyber punk auther Read Neuromancer... that is very likely what the future will look like. Basically corporations with replace government completely (hey right now they just purchase politicians... how long before the charade breaks down?) Drugs will evolve to previously unimagined grandeaur, and we will basically kill off most of the worlds species that can't adapt to living off human wastes. Some of them will be kept around in zoos and the like because there will always be some rich person who thinks its interesting... but the natural habitat will be mostly gone due to human over population. Unfortunately we won't be really getting out in space all that much for a really really long time, not until the mega corporations can figure out how to maximise the profit from such a venture... and how maintain control of it... bio-technology will be big.... HUGE Basically we will continue down the same damn pather we are going down now, as long as something cataclysmic doesn't happen to derail us. Something like umm... I dunno... WWIII where we bring out the neucs. I don't think the future will be all that great though... people seem completely unable to fit thier brains around the idea that technology and enviromental care can co-exsist, and as long as they stay at war the technology will win. Nobody really wants to go back to life like it was before the industrial revolution. Myself, I would with for the current decay in society to be pushed along, right now our society seems like it will continue the way it is until if finally consumes all of its resources. Since societal collapse is going to happen eventually I would rather sooner than later. Less over all damage to the earth. And it is going to happen, nothing lasts forever. I just don't know... something tells me its all going to get worse before it gets better. Then again... maybe somebody will lead a totally new kind of revolution, and permanently change the way people think about certain things... like freadom and the like and society will change and the future will take a completely different path. It has happened before... but not always to the good. Basically, human nature will never change. What will change is which things are bad and which things are good. If you want to see the future read some good Sci Fi, science and science fiction work in a strange sort of harmony... they need each other. Scientists wouldn't ever figure out the next step or the practicle application, authors need the scientists to fuel thier imagination. Which is why gibson's view of the future is so compelling, he has already influenced the flow of technology.

The <p> Tag is your friend (n/t) (none / 0) (#55)
by Phage on Sun Oct 28, 2001 at 11:52:53 PM EST

I don't find Heathens to be sexy, as a general rule.
[ Parent ]
I'm pretty sure it goes like this: (4.00 / 3) (#51)
by Wondertoad on Sat Oct 27, 2001 at 02:36:43 AM EST

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive they may find

In the year 3535
Ain't gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lies
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today

In the year 4545
Ain't gonna need your teeth, won't need your eyes
You won't find a thing to chew
Nobody's gonna look at you

In the year 5555
Your arms hanging limp at your sides
Your legs got nothing to do
Some machine's doing that for you

In the year 6565
Ain't gonna need no husband, won't need no wife
You'll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube, whoa-oh

In the year 7510
If God's a-comin' He oughta make it by then
Maybe He'll look around Himself and say
Guess it's time for the judgment day

In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He'll either say I'm pleased where man has been
Or tear it down and start again, whoa-oh

In the year 9595
I'm kinda wonderin' if man is gonna be alive
He's taken everything this old Earth can give
And he ain't put back nothin', whoa-oh

Now it's been ten thousand years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what he never knew
Now man's reign is through

But through eternal night
The twinkling of starlight
So very far away
Maybe it's only yesterday

In the year 2525
If man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find

In the year 3535

Warp Speed to navel-gazing in jack boots (none / 0) (#57)
by Buck Thighmaster on Mon Oct 29, 2001 at 06:38:13 AM EST

Anyone with a lick of sense can see we're in trouble. Whether it's global anarchy, over-population, the death of resources, environmental catastrophy, WWIII, or other thing, the long term future for the human race is not looking good when you consider all the problems we've engendered, and the one's yet to be born are looking worse.

Catastrophe or slow road to hell, the way we currently behave is bound to be really bad news eventually, because when we talk about the survival of the human race we're talking millenia. The cockroach has been around much longer than us, and if we're going to put a dent in it's record we have to consider eons.

So it comes down to a very simple question. Do we get to keep behaving this way? The answer I think hinges on a single scientific break-through.

Either we break the light-speed barrier, or the human race transforms into something fundamentally different.

With substantially faster than light travel, all of the limitations of a single planet go out the window. Humanity can keep on doing everything in our own worst interests, because there will always be another orb in the next star system. I won't even get into the renaissance effects of an exploratory drive, that's another topic. Without 'easy' faster than light travel, space is dead and we're stuck on planet Earth.

But what if Einstein was right and this is all we get? Well, then things go to hell in a hand-basket and we go the way of Mad Max or the dinosours, or civilization goes into stasis.

By stasis I mean everyone starts behaving for the best of the race, all the time. Not that that would be easy. Can you imagine everyone in the world only doing what's best?

Total population control, total respect for the environment, total control of resource use and distribution. No war, no dissent, and not even constant scientific innovation and improvement because every change would be completely srutinized for it's effect on the stability of the planet. The entire goal of the human species would have change from expansion to mere survival, with no exceptions.

The only way I can see that happening is with a fundamental change to global human society. We could become homogenous society of 'monks and nuns', always doing what's right, nothing less, nothing more. Or we could become a police-state the likes of which are almost unimaginable, with rules for the good of everyone enforced with an unbreakable will.

Whatever way it goes, I think it would be almost unrecognizable to us now.

Einstein and Warp Speed (none / 0) (#62)
by Cameleon on Thu Nov 01, 2001 at 06:57:31 AM EST

First you talk about 'warp speed', and then you say:

But what if Einstein was right and this is all we get?

According to Einstein, yes, light speed is the upper limit for anything with mass. But the principles for warp speed, which involves bending space-time to get where you want faster than light by not going faster than light but shortening the distance between here and where you're going is also in agreement with Einstein. In fact, the first thing comes from the special theory of relativity, whereas the second comes from the general theory of relativity. So there's no need to throw Einstein (and all those who came before and after him) out the window if we want to travel to other planets.

[ Parent ]

Beggars and Choosers (none / 0) (#61)
by Souhait on Wed Oct 31, 2001 at 02:32:38 PM EST

Given the general belief in the power of biotechnology, the scenario detailed in this series strikes me as highly possible. Basically, the power to genetically engineer ourselves will only be available to the wealthy, giving them the ability to create even further wealth, creating a monstrous gap between rich and poor. The people too poor to afford engineering are relegated to living out their lives on a form of welfare. Assuming that genetic engineering advances to that point, I could see our planet going any number of ways - the technology is outlawed by a government afraid of mad scientists, leaving mad scientists to be the only ones willing to work with illegal technology and causing the destruction of the earth. Or, maybe the masses revolt against a super-intelligent minority, causing the bloodiest massacre (on both sides) in history. What do you guys think about the role bio-technology will play in our future? Or, is it too early to tell?

Evertyhing's fucked my friend (none / 0) (#63)
by exa on Fri Nov 02, 2001 at 09:30:34 PM EST

Nice song from Pitchshifter. Check it out while you can.

Gives a good view of the future, too.

Heh :)

exa a.k.a Eray Ozkural
There is no perfect circle.

The Future of the Planet | 64 comments (51 topical, 13 editorial, 0 hidden)
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