So many half truths.
https://youtu.be/uStFvcz9Or4 offers an alternative perspective to the video above, which is much closer to reality and still not close enough.
There are so many issues being in a system that values scarcity.
When one considers that the fully capitalised FOB production costs of Saudi oil is under 40c/barrel there is a lot of profit margin there available to protect that profit margin using any and all legal, technical, economic, strategic and political means. That’s not picking on anyone in particular, just one glaring example amongst millions of others.
Ray is mostly correct, but he tends to ignore the biological use of energy that humans consume. We eat things that require sunlight to grow – the higher up the food chain those things are, the more sunlight is involved.
I’ve been vegan for 6 years. It’s tough adjusting for the first year, and then it becomes quite pleasant, and so much healthier (I was essentially a carnivore for 55 years).
If we focus engineering effort on meeting the real needs of people for secure sources of clean water, clean energy, healthy food, relevant (at the individual level) education, efficient transport, housing and healthcare – universally, then it could relatively easily be done. But there would be no money in it, because anything universally abundant has no value in a market.
This is the fundamental problem of our time.
Our system of value, complex as it is, evolved in a time of genuine scarcity for most things, and cannot adapt to genuine universal abundance. Money is a very poor measure of value when automation allows universal abundance of anything that can be automated or approximated closely enough to be utilitarian.
We are in a transition phase.
We can cobble together patches for the market system that let it limp on for a little while, and fundamentally, it has to go.
It simply doesn’t work in an age of abundance.
Technology has overwhelmed it.
To deliver security, we have to get large scale engineering in space.
Game of Thrones fans may be shocked to learn that long winters are real.
Large volcanoes can deliver multi-year winters (1816 was the last one in Europe).
With longer ones cannibalism is unavoidable unless one has large scale high tech and a lot of energy (which essentially means getting off planet where there is no interruption to the sun).
Some of the worst of those volcanoes can trigger tipping into Ice Ages, that can last for thousands of generations.
Such risks can be managed technologically, and it requires significant space based technology, which is easy enough to do if we focus on full automation of distributed production, and send one such self replicating unit to the moon, and once it has replicated for 30 or so generations start exporting significant amounts of mass from the moon’s very much smaller gravity well that doesn’t have any significant atmosphere to inhibit launching mass to orbital speed with ground based technology (linear motors or rail guns essentially).
We can easily meet the reasonable needs of most people for all essentials from under a thousand square meters land area each, if we optimise our use of space in both an engineering and an aesthetic set of senses.
Not difficult to design, or produce, just impossible to make profitable if one thinks about it in a market based sense.
We need to close nutrient loops, and market systems cannot do that. The logic of geochemistry, biochemistry and ecosystems is at variance with that of markets.
Mega-cities of the future may have lower densities, or may be powered by space based microwaves sent to a receiving area not too far away.
With very reliable high bandwidth communication networks, and remote robotics that can become the centre of awareness and action of anyone anywhere, there is not nearly as much need for people to travel places on a daily basis, or live in mega-cities. Anywhere within 1,000km (600 miles) would be close enough for network lag not to be a significant issue (no worse than moving one’s real body in real space).
We have real risks, and we have real options to mitigate those risks. And right now, our focus on money, markets and profit is the single greatest risk to implementing much needed risk mitigation measures for low probability high impact events.
I want to live a very long time. So for over 40 years I have been actively exploring risks and mitigation strategies. Indefinite life extension is on track to become a reality much faster than most people realise (even most of those who think they are in the know – I have known it was possible for 42 years, the logic is inescapable once you look closely enough at the biochemistry and the math). In a market based system, that fact (of life extension) alone becomes the single greatest source of risk to everyone.
Life extension must rapidly become universally available if it is to be stable.
Without universal availability, the risk from those who feel unjustly treated exponentially increases. And if one embarks on any variation of a pogrom of genocide to solve that issue, the risk of meeting a more advance extra terrestrial entity at some point in the future, and being exterminated as too high a risk to have around, becomes significant. So universal availability really is the only long term stable solution.
So we really do live in “interesting times” (to borrow from a Daoist curse), and they are also exciting times, full of potential, and also full of danger.
I am clear we can exponentially increase the potential, even as we exponentially decrease the risks – infinity has that rather unique set of attributes.