Ronin of the Spirit

Because reality is beautiful.

Behold the FUTURE!

Driving the tail end of 17 hour trip, I needed to lecture on something I was passionate about to stay awake.  I decided to make a variety of predictions about the future.  My friends know I love having an informed and passionate stance about a number of things.  This leads me to wildly swinging optimism and pessimism. Tonight, I’m an optimist.

So here are my thoughts on the future: (1.) The Internet; (2.) Cheap portable internet access; (3.) Evacuated tube transportation; (4.) Renewable energy; (5.) Voluntary population reduction; (6.) Fair trade.

(1.) So, the internet. Leslie and the LYs has a song about this called “I’m the Internet“.  The important part of the song is “I’m the internet, you’re the internet, we’re the internet, now thats the internet…”  The internet is primarily a network of people.  The amazing technology of the internet is neat only so for as it helps to connect people.  Business connections are people connections.  Even spam was written by someone (Someone evil perhaps, but someone). It connects people.  Which is going to lead us to one big McCulture.  Which is sad. But it also means the subcultures across the world can connect.  So subcultures get richer and deeper. Which is cool.

(2.) The only problem with the internet is the price of admission. To have the income to have net access and still eat, pay rent, etcetera is a privilege that at least 80% of the world cannot afford. But it is changing all the time.  Compared to a desktop computer, a cellphone is cheap and easy to power. (You can recharge it with a crank generator if you are so inclined.)  The line between mini-notebook computer and big cellphone will get blurrier and more and more people will have internet access.

(3.) Evacuated tube transport.  This is a big tunnel with all the air sucked out and the train moving through it by mag-lev.   Though the capital costs are huge, the savings are enormous.  It can be 98% efficient in energy input, then glide along pretty much without loss, and then 98% of the energy put in can be recovered at the end for breaking.  Great deal.  Will even further making the world smaller, because speed gets so bloody cheap.  You can move gigatons for pennies.  Also further links the world and blurs national lines and identities.

(4.) Solar cells make power, but they cost power to make.  Right now the payback is about 25 years.  As technology improves we might get to 10 years.  And then all the power they make is gain.

(5.) The world population is still going up, but it is going up more slowly all the time.  Its not impossible that in 100 years world population will be static or shrinking.

(6.) Countries are beginning to insist that other countries can only trade with them if they eliminate subsidization of the industries which produce traded goods.

Probably the most important is population control.  The whole world’s concept of government is based on suckers breeding more suckers.  It doesn’t matter how much of a wank your overlord is, he can trust more suckers to pay his stupid taxes next year because suckers breed like flies.  Voluntary population control is a new, and profoundly slow, if profoundly effective method of controlling elites.

Further, with renewable energy causing a net gain, rather than a net loss in the total amount of power, it will be harder to have wars about resources.  With low population replacement and “unlimited” resources, and an informed populace, it will be harder to have stupid, pointless wars.

Combine a static population with easy access to a global perspective, and stupid, evil politicians will have a real problem.

So power, and therefore materials, are cheap but labor is dear.  Which is a great position for workers.

And transportation is nearly free.  Goods, people, and information are moving cheaply.  This means workers can go from country to country easily.

Right now, agricultural subsidies are going down in Europe because it makes the market fair and undistorted for the EEC.  If this lever was placed on labor, by refusals to trade with countries which subsidize employers (by paying for the welfare of their employees), then it works to force fair labor world wide.

Sounds good to me.

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August 26, 2008 - Posted by | Ecology, Government, Politics, Uncategorized | , , ,

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