Future Timeline?

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  • Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    AI? Robotics? Climate Change? Transhumanism?

    Any other forum members interested in these topics? 🙂

    I made a timeline of my predictions across 10 sectors. What do you guys think?

    I know lots of this may be controversional. Discuss!

    Mitchell Newman
    Participant
    • Type: NeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    This is very rich and realistic on the whole and hints at an impressive knowledge base.

    Part of me wonders whether the “can computers be sentient” debate will ever actually end.  But since we generally orient ourselves by their behavior in any case, it may not matter for your predictions.  Such philosophical questions sometimes turn out to be moot or vague to begin with.  Probably the most impressive AI paradigm I have come across that is relatively under the radar is that of Stephen Thaler: http://imagination-engines.com/iei_founder.php  It is highly private and proprietary which is understandable given its power since apparently the government contracts with them, but they claim computers can already do remarkable AI tasks thought to be impossible (or close to impossible) even without supercomputing power.  But people may just never listen to them due to the power of money and PR campaigns.

    “Xavier, welcome to my nightmare! Pride and economics usually stand in the way of broad acceptance of the technology. After all, this AI paradigm does it all, but IBM and Apple have millions to spend on their media campaigns. So, while the press pounces on the opportunity of reporting on what these companies merely plan to do (or glitzy demos of stale AI principles) the struggle is on to trumpet what has already been done here. On the Adobe/Autodesk side of things, one must communicate directly to the management level without asking the purely technical underling what they think of IEI. Typically, the engineers and scientists feel threatened by the whole proposition. Furthermore, it’s a bit like Hero of Alexandria designing a steam engine in ancient times, when there were lots of slaves to supply power. Things haven’t changed in this ‘modern’ era where there are lots of programmers to write code.” – Stephen Thaler

    This documentary might be a good introduction to the paradigm: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5z7n5_E9IU

    And it may be that if properly understood, the capabilities of AI could make us questions our own sense of pride as a species, what is sentience, and whether we can combine with machines to become immortal (but perhaps not in a Von Neumann architecture!) so these are indeed very serious questions.

    Also some speculate that weather control technology may already be a developing thing in relative secret, which could be used to combat climate change but also much more sinister ends.  But Mouthy Buddha deals with highly controversial and speculative topics so no guarantee of course, but maybe it is worth entertaining.  However, speaking of Von Neumann from before, he did used to be interested in weather control technology and if he thought it was really possible, who knows.

    “I remember a talk that Von Neumann gave at Princeton around 1950, describing the glorious future which he then saw for his computers. Most of the people that he hired for his computer project in the early days were meteorologists. Meteorology was the big thing on his horizon. He said, as soon as we have good computers, we shall be able to divide the phenomena of meteorology cleanly into two categories, the stable and the unstable. The unstable phenomena are those which are upset by small disturbances, the stable phenomena are those which are resilient to small disturbances. He said, as soon as we have some large computers working, the problems of meteorology will be solved. All processes that are stable we shall predict. All processes that are unstable we shall control. He imagined that we needed only to identify the points in space and time at which unstable processes originated, and then a few airplanes carrying smoke generators could fly to those points and introduce the appropriate small disturbances to make the unstable processes flip into the desired directions. A central committee of computer experts and meteorologists would tell the airplanes where to go in order to make sure that no rain would fall on the Fourth of July picnic. This was John von Neumann’s dream. This, and the hydrogen bomb, were the main practical benefits which he saw arising from the development of computers.”

    -Freeman Dyson, in an account of a 1950 talk by von Neumann, in Infinite in All Directions (1988); the statement “All stable processes we shall predict. All unstable processes we shall control” is sometimes attributed to von Neumann directly, but may be a paraphrase.

    Or are these just Faustian pipe dreams, as Oswald Spengler predicated many years ago; utopian dreams of a dying culture?: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FsaieZt5vjk

    John Michael Greer might also be a fascinating read if you are interested in ecological spirituality and want to hear some skepticism of techno-futurism: https://www.ecosophia.net/the-twilight-of-the-monofuture/

    2020 US Riots, Socionics view by Gulenko from JungianTypology

    … sunset of the west already having been predicted by Spengler as an inevitability, at one point at least

    Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    This is very rich and realistic on the whole and hints at an impressive knowledge base.

    Thanks!

    Part of me wonders whether the “can computers be sentient” debate will ever actually end.

    I agree with it being moot.

    Philosophy has been debating consciousness for a while and will continue to do so. The debates of where its parameters/boundaries lie, whether it applies to animals, and now AI, will be still ongoing. But pragmatically, if you’re interfacing with an intelligent program and it won’t just do what you say (i.e. it has independent thought) then you have little choice but to treat it as a cognitive agent — and people will, simply because they must in order to interface with it at all.

    Or are these just Faustian pipe dreams, as Oswald Spengler predicated many years ago; utopian dreams of a dying culture?

    I watched the Spengler video. Very interesting! I really like his perspective, and need to read up more on it.

    As for how cultural rise & decay cycles relates to my timeline, the timeline is mostly focused on technological forces and the vectors they are currently heading in. But if there is one element that may be relevant to Spengler from a sociological angle, it’s the rise of VR cities in the 2030’s+. This is an unprecedented situation and it will give rise to a culture that is truly ‘new’ in a way we haven’t seen before. I think this may become the seed or hotbed of a new creative explosion and ideology.

    VR Cities

    VR Cities will be based on an entirely new set of ideals that challenge everything previously known, and yet will likely converge on a few values. Materialism will not be part of VR cities because objects/products can be cloned ad infinitum. Expansion into infinite space won’t be a value because there’s easy access to as much virtual space as you want. Endless worlds can be made. Conquests make no sense. Basically all the Western pipe dreams and fantasies can be fulfilled (or voided) in VR cities, then leaving the question of… what now?

    I think some of the ideals that may likely take root are ideals based on the sacredness of ‘information’, where evolved information structures (and the evolving of ever-better information structures) become equivalent to the soul of things, and the elevation of souls towards godhood — where god is redefined as the apex/highest/densest possible information structure.

    The human brain then comes to be redefined as an information structure making use of squishy tissue as its medium for hosting consciousness. But AGI’s, many of which will live in these cities, will also be seen as conscious– yet using a silicon medium to host their consciousness. In VR cities, whether your mind is being hosted on a carbon or silicon server will be a minor detail. The common denominator will be information structures, and people will aim to create more refined versions of it — new forms of consciousness. There may be a Cambrian explosion of new forms of sentience, and then the resulting evolutionary selection of forms suited to explore the cosmic unknown in the best/new ways. It’s this new-life that will truly populate the galaxy, but this falls outside of the timeframe of this timeline.

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    safsom
    Participant
    • Type: NiTe
    • Development: ll-l
    • Attitude: Unseelie

    Initial Remarks

    Many of these predictions are fascinating, and as Mitchell has said above, I am very impressed that they encompass such a wide sphere of topics. These predictions more likely than not originate (like the predictions of anyone else) in your mind; the mind has supplied you with premises and pre-stored information, and you have used this information to deduce your way to certain conclusions regarding the future of technology and many other matters. Here I do not contest the validity of the reasoning that led to these conclusions (as I think that this is sound), but rather, my post will be a critique of the premises and the data that allowed you to arrive at these conclusions, as I believe that many of these predictions focus extensively on a single area/sector but do not quite take into account the influence of other important sectors. In particular, while I wouldn’t disagree with many of the forecasts you make here assuming that the premises you used to arrive at them , I think you are downsizing the importance that socio-political factors play in this.

    Though intuitively I can say that all of your predictions are too optimistic, I do not know specifics regarding many of the fields that you have made predictions in, so I will limit specific criticism to two main fields in this post. I view your analysis of the housing industry, VR/AR digital consciousness and artificial general intelligence as being particularly flawed. It’s important to keep this post structured because I don’t want the criticism to occupy all of the content (as despite these obvious flaws I do view your predictions as having salient aspects to them), so the order that I will follow will be based on the methodology whereby which I will assess the predictions that are flawed, that is, I’ll address dialectical/philosophical problems first (as there do appear to be a few in the post above), and then move onto some of the predictions which arise from empirically flawed premises (though some of these predictions actually have philosophical and empirical flaws, these are beyond the scope of this post to address).

    Specific Criticisms

    To start off, I have a problem with the conclusion you arrive at from your analysis of VR/AR introduction in major cities, particularly the idea of a “digital consciousness”.  In addition, there are numerous problems in the line of reasoning you employ to arrive at this conclusion. In your pathway arriving at this conclusion, you also refer to the introduction of AR aspects to city-life and to optimize the city experience. The main problem I have with this is that most VR/AR technology requires the hosting / presence of advanced technology in the citizens. This creates a demographic problem. The phenomenon that would be seen (especially in developing countries), would be one of infrastructure disparity, those with smartphones advanced enough to access points of the AR would enjoy more benefits than those that do not. One could say that “all smartphones have AR capability”, but this is not true. It is actually already quite resource-intensive as a process for most smartphones to access a camera process, and layering 3D imagery upon camera imagery is something only really the most advanced / big-name smartphones can do. Most people have shitty, entry-level phones. The current political climate (decisively so) in most countries that would even bother to consider such a developmental consideration is one of polarization, and more importantly, class consciousness. There are already people using many developments as an excuse to allow for social stratification / division into what’s perceived as classes (based often on the all-encompassing conceptual primitive of “privilege”). If the ability to access AR systems were to be considered “clout” (and those with access to more social social services and benefits as a rule are often seen has having more “clout”), this sort of move is actually something that could lead to a great deal of political resistance, and so the subsequent points you outline (specifically those regarding the integration of a digital consciousness) likely will not follow in most atmospheres (based on the grounds, of course, that access to these AR systems will be considered a “privilege”). Of course, it’s possible that governments will anticipate this and attempt to limit the presence of AR in relation to city-life integration, but in this case,  this will be totally useless (as the integrated facilities will be trivial, as the integration of non-trivial facilities means public resistance from those without access). Your contingency regarding the building of alternate, AR/VR-only cities is interesting, but I think ultimately this will be met with the same political resistance (possibly even worse, because of the undertone of “apart”-ness). Progressing with more specificity, I have deep problems with your idea of a “digital consciousness”. Consciousness is something that we are not able to even comprehend yet at an individual level, so unless you are deferring to a digital cultural synthesis (progressing in accordance to some standards or laws of social progression, perhaps Spengler’s), I don’t actually think technologically grounded inter-linked system has access to qualia of experience (as thus far, qualia seem to be exclusive to biological systems). However, I don’t have enough evidence at hand to refute this conclusively, so I will end my criticisms regarding the VR/AR predictions here.

    I will address your predictions on artificial general intelligence in this portion of my writing (which I will refer to as AGI, as you do, for the sake of abbreviation). I think in this case that your prediction, rather than being philosophically unsound, fails to account for many logistical contingencies that would otherwise rather significantly impact the course of events. In regards tot this topic, I think that the timeline you have provided is far too optimistic given the rate of current research into this area, in particular, for there to be fully operational VR-based AGI citizen-rooted cities in 2055 is completely untenable, because of one very important factor, public perceptions of the issue. The debate regarding the ethics of AGI is ongoing, and like most moral-philosophical dilemmas, will likely remain unsolved (even if companies continue research regardless of these debates). One could say that whether or not these debates are consequential or inconsequential is irrelevant because most of these things are at the whims of companies and corporations anyways, but I think that in this specific case there is a very important aspect to public perception, and that important aspect stems from funding. All governments, as a rule, rely on from citizens to fund their public projects, and the construction of a city for AGI citizens is fundamentally in a public project. Many citizens of developed countries are opposed to AGI citizens on either (a. ethical grounds (most often replacing to jobs, etc…) or (b. ignorance (and thus fear, as the general tendency in human beings does seem to be towards a fear of the unknown, and so it is very unlikely that governments will receive the consistent public funding needed for the setting up of this endeavour. Though it is possible that funding from a particularly large AGI manufacturing corporation / company could assist governments in the funding of these projects without citizen interference is possible, it is very unlikely that companies will engage in this kind of behavior because (a. even with confidentiality guarantees, a company will have individual members that will be morally opposed to this kind of behavior, and thus rejecting of it and (b. as a result of this moral opposition, word of the company’s plans will reach the public (a meme as a unit of information transmission is a relevant concept to invoke here). Even if this does not lead to a general boycott of the company, public perception to it will most likely be severely impacted, and as a result, profit too, with another result being the general delaying of the conclusion that you have outlined. There is another logistical contingency (though it’s easier for most people to see this one as “boring”), and that is the allocation of the actual land for the construction of these cities. It’s not unlikely that several citizens being opposed to these projects could hold on to the allotted land for the city and stage protests to prevent its construction. Even in the case that the government were to do it from a secret location, the advances in communication and information-transmission by that time (which I think definitely will occur) will make this essentially public knowledge. A broader problem here is also AGI citizens being allowed independence; I think those that do will face significant persecution (if it does even happen, and I think that reasons I’ve outlined above are plenty to show why none of this will happen) and perhaps form a fringe group (which leads to some interesting considerations of social dynamics that I would love to comment on but won’t have time to do here).

    Though these specific criticisms will be significantly more boring (where boring means that the analysis will be primary causal and not philosophical or dialectical), I think it is still necessary to criticize the analytical projections you have regarding the meat industry and the house industry, two industries you seem to oversimplify significantly (of course while it’s possible that you’re not oversimplifying them, based on the evidence, I am inclined to think that you are). The house industry is being oversimplified in this case because I think you underestimate the power that real estate agents hold in many places economically. Especially in lesser developed countries (like my own experience in Myanmar), there are certain land-lords that trademark specific kinds of houses in small regions. It is a tight logistical battle to attempt to dismantle these housing empires. Not to mention the obvious logistical challenge of transporting entire pre-printed houses to said places, or even printing them en-site (the topographical constraints that I brought up earlier are quite relevant still). The prediction regarding the meat industry is just… no. Not only is there the potential environmental catastrophe when attempting to relocate animals from existing farms to other ones (which can bring changes in climate to places where you are not intending them to be) but assuming that the technology does eventually develop to become cheaper, why should meat companies, some of the largest corporations on earth, give up their primary sources of income for something far less profitable?

    General Criticisms

    I have exhausted my capacity for specific criticism (as the criticisms I’ve outlined above are entirely within the bounds of my knowledge-base), and thus any more attempts at specific criticisms for me would be unfair on you (as I would be projecting my incomplete ideas as being superior to your potentially more-complete ideas), and a manifestation of intellectual dishonesty from me. This is why I will focus this next section of my response on a few more general criticisms of patterns in your reasoning processes and perceptions of causality, to be specific, I think there are two main problems that I’m seeing here. The first problem I see is that even your global-scale predictions seem to largely ignore the population of the developing world (which in terms of quantity, is actually more significant than the developing world), which is a blunder, because the developing world consistently has shown itself in the 21st century to have a higher rate of economic growth than the countries your analysis seems to concern. The second problem I see is that there seems to be a certain ideological undertone to the predictions you’re making, that is, it seems that a lot of these anticipated outcomes arise not from objective perception of the trends that lead to them, but a certain emphasis on some schools of thought and a de-emphasizing of others. Let me address these points in more detail below.

    Firstly, you make several assertions regarding “major cities” and “major countries” without actually qualifying what these terms are referring to. Though it might seem pedantic that I am picking on this at the moment, this is actually a very necessary distinction to make. As Mitchell has outlined above, Spengler’s analysis regarding the “Decline of the West” is something very important to consider here – the development of China’s Zhongguancun district (as representative of the larger technological bent that the country seems to have), and the multiplication of corporations therein is certainly leading to the introduction of a new “major country” in regards to technological hegemony (which is relevant, because many of your forecasts here regard technology). However, you also see many societies in Asia becoming “major countries” for opposite reasons, several countries have projected their domestic conflicts onto neighbour nations, turning these into geopolitical conflicts (as you see is the case with the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, for example), which means many of these “major” countries have things to deal with that aren’t relevant to anything that you’re saying, and if anything, the introduction of your predictions would hinder these resolutions. The point is that the major players are changing quite fast, for different reasons, and too inconsistently for you to be able to refer to them at all without extensive analysis of temporal trends to justify these predictions. You’re making too many assumptions that they will even care.

    Secondly, I get a vague undertone that you have a somewhat untempered, childlike (not in a derisive, but endearing manner) optimism regarding a technologist view of the future. I think the realization a lot of the predictions that you’ve made here will be dependent on social/political perceptions of the issue, and that you are ignoring factoring these perceptions into your analysis because it seems as if you have the desire to see these manifested. In the case that you don’t, it’s fine, you can ignore this section of my post as this is basically just a subjective impression that I get from reading it. However, in the case that you do want to see these things happen, I suggest that (a. you analyze the trends taking into account the factors that I mention above (and there are several that aren’t present in here) and (b. you figure out ways to get these trends to manifest.

    Conclusion

    In conclusion, this has been a highly engaging post-prompt to think about, and I hope that future discussions on the forum take a similar vein to what’s been done today. I don’t have enough time to make my own predictions for the next paradigm shifts today, but I will reply to this forum post with them some time within next week.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 3 weeks ago by safsom.
    Rua
    Moderator
    • Type: NeTi
    • Development: ll-l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    @auburn – interesting. I am quite ignorant of the specifics of most of those domains except climate change, but I’m confident that dimension alone is sufficiently damaging to the perpetuation of the timeline. Intuitively my impression of your timeline is that it’s a very good sketch in the absence of any large catastrophes, but that’s precisely where I would add my contention.

    The first thing I’d say is that ‘climate change’ is itself a woefully inadequate term; ‘change’ would be much more accurately swapped for ‘destruction’ or ‘devastation’ given how utterly world governments have failed to ameliorate its consequences over the past three decades. Major damage has already been assured, and grows worse by the day. I’d refer anyone to The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells for an up-to-date, comprehensive review of the literature for laypeople.

    The picture that emerges of the near-future is gruesome, but not completely hopeless. Many of the countries that will be hardest hit are already experiencing a refugee crisis numbering in the millions, such as Syria and South Sudan. Room could be made for more millions of refugees, but when conditions inevitably become tougher in almost every nation due to global warming, world history would indicate that the most likely scenario is to “close the gates” and abandon those outside in fear there will not be enough resources for everyone. This scarcity mentality isn’t a direct rebuke to the development of nations further along in their technological progression, but it certainly paints the overall picture in a significantly darker tone.

    And while I do believe that you are correct that the pretense of climate denial will eventually cease to hold any significance, likely within 20-30 years, that timeline in and of itself is damning for the human race. Our current political and corporate structures are woefully inadequate to deal with this issue because they are designed to be short-sighted: corporate boards think of time primarily in terms of fiscal quarters, politicians think of time primarily in terms of election cycles. This doesn’t work for a sequence of problems that will cascade over years and decades, and because the consequences have yet to come directly to vast spans of the voting populace, there is no desperate surge in grassroots political will to stop the ensuing damage.

    Where this directly impacts the timeline is infrastructure. Nations’ current infrastructures are designed to be just adequate enough to deal with current problems at a current temperature. Although my understanding is that more than a few Western European nations have delayed upgrades to critical infrastructure (i.e. drinking water, transportation) for decades, I’ll use the beautiful dystopian U.S.A. to illustrate the point: The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) current grade for U.S. infrastructure is a D+. This rating has been static for a decade.

    The pattern is to fix things only when they approach a significant level of dysfunction, and rarely before. This shoddy method of repair will be painfully exposed, and itself rendered dysfunctional upon the advent of widespread flooding, wildfires, drought, crop failure… the list goes on, and they will happen one upon the other. Our current building and transportation specifications will start failing due to heat stress in a sweeping fashion. If action is only taken at the apex of the crisis, the economic consequences will be severe enough to significantly curb an optimistic timeline of human technological achievement, as infrastructure (economic infrastructure in particular) undergirds the entire system that widespread technological applications are founded upon.

    It is quite possible that many of the technological advancements you’ve predicted could outrun the clock and start proliferating before a series of climate (or other, as yet unforeseen) catastrophes damage global infrastructure, but I have grave doubts that the distribution of these resources could remain ubiquitous in light of such events. Already there exists a staggering disparity in quality of life when directly comparing most desirable to least desirable nations to be born in, and though there is certainly truth in the idea that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’, I think there are very reasonable doubts to be had concerning the constancy of this arrangement; so that while it is true that almost universally quality of life has increased for billions of people in recent decades, some significant limitations to this growth and prosperity will arise when the staggering climate costs for the most recent three decades of marked progress are manifested through widespread damage to global infrastructure.

    Of course, the major assumption beneath most of what I’ve written here is that world governments don’t get their acts together within the decade and begin instituting massive reforms. Unfortunately, the odds of that happening look abysmal from my perspective.

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    Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Yes, I share your sentiment here and unfortunately think that the climate denial at the political level won’t go away until it’s directly in our faces..

    I think the solution would need to come in the form of a few policies such as:

    • Carbon Tax: Oil companies get taxed for their products, and oil prices rise.
    • Meat Tax: Due to their methane output and negative impact on the environment in so many ways (land deforestation, etc), the meat industry is also taxed, raising meat prices.
    • Solar/Electric Subsidies: The subsidies currently being given to Gas should be moved over to renewable energy sources, to help with research but also production of more power plants.
    • Deadline: An aim to be 100% renewable in energy by a certain year.

    None of these are fun or easy for people to do. First of all, nobody likes the prices of gas at the pump to go up. People don’t support a carbon tax because they don’t want to see that gas number rise. Secondly, people like their meat — it’s tasty and yummy. People don’t want their meat to rise in cost, nor to be told that it’s bad and guilted over it.

    There are two (possibly complementary) ways that I see this inertia being fixed. One is that the individual toll felt by civilians from climate change becomes greater than their need for gas and meat. Humans have poor willpower, but I suppose if it was their life versus their gas juggler and their meaty steak, they might choose life. Might!

    The second way this inertia can be fixed is by compelling alternatives coming to market. If electric cars are 1) as affordable, 2) as stylish, 3) as fast — as gas cars, then people can keep their lust/adrenaline for cars without the fumes. And they can keep their wallets from being drained by high gas prices. But if these cars are not widespread enough, they won’t make the shift.

    And if meat-alternatives can be made to taste just like real meat (indistinguishable), and be as affordable, then they can change their ways. But if they do not taste as good as regular meat, the mainstream is not going to deprive themselves of steak and bacon. So there’s a technological threshold that will need to be met. Heme-iron meat will need to be mass produced at low cost, and electric vehicles too.

    Basically, the “acting now” is not happening because the solutions in place would require average citizens to forego their personal needs for the (as-yet-semi-invisible) greater good, and human will sucks at that. So it’s not necessarily just the governments, it’s all of us.

    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    Awesome predictions AND criticism !

    As Safsom said above, which I admire, by the way, I also don’t know enough about many of these topics, so it would not be fair to intervene there.

    There is one issue that I will address though, because it has not been addressed and the conversation is getting precisely there.

    I am currently reading a book – “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” by Yuval Noah Harari.

    So, the dreadful reality that is mentioned in this book is that not all countries will be affected in the same way by climate change AND by gas being replaced by solar/electric power.

    I am speaking here specifically about countries that have few coastlines or few major cities close to the coastline, cold weather and that are, above all, gas and petrol exporters.

    You probably guessed it…

    Russia is one of the major gas exporters, so, it has all interests to keep selling gas. It is currently the largest exporter of oil, natural gas and hard coal to the European Union. (“30% of the EU’s petroleum oil imports and 39% of total gas imports came from Russia in 2017. For Estonia, Poland, Slovakia and Finland, more than 75% of their imports of petroleum oils originated in Russia.” )

    Now, if you look at it, there are not as many coastlines that are prone to massive destruction when the sea levels rise and where there are, I doubt there is a lot of population.

    This question is being asked seriously in the book – could wheat be cultivated in Siberia if the general temperature went up ? Not tomorrow but in a longer time span?

    I am not a specialist, I don’t know. But if someone thought about this scenario, Russian politicians have thought about this scenario too. Hence even if it was completely wrong and insane, the belief that it could be right will weigh in the political decisions they will make.

    Russia will be impacted, it already is being impacted by climate change, like all other countries, but it has big interests to sell gas and petroleum and the impact it will suffer might cause some temporal damage but on the long (though not very long) run this damage could be less significant for the population compared to some benefits.

    Taking all these factors into account, will these measures you propose be taken by Russia? I doubt it. And we are talking here about a huge power, the largest country in the world by area and the 9th most populous country in the world (according to wikipedia, so if anything I say here is wrong, you guys tell me). That also has influence over other smaller countries.

    AND I only happened to read these points about Russia – we don’t know exactly what interests each country has.

    According to the same book, Iran and Saudi Arabia are also big petrol and gas exporters and their economies will suffer from gas being replaced by solar and wind energy. Some other countries might be in the same situation.

    So, I think this should be analyzed specifically, as we start from the assumption every country has the same interests, but actually, they have competing interests even in the face of a total disaster that is menacing to destroy us all.

    Another issue that is mentioned in this book is that some politicians and some entire political parties don’t believe in climate change, not because there is not enough evidence supporting it, but because their ideology simply does not contain any solution for climate change. Especially extremist nationalists…simply can’t tie climate change very well into their world view. Because it is a global issue and their ideology is not oriented towards solving global issues at all.

    By the way, I want to make it clear I am not criticizing any of these countries or political ideologies.

    These are simply some possible major setbacks to climate change measures/policies.

    Oh, one more thing – I haven’t read much about the meat problem, but Safsom’s point looks valid to me :

    but assuming that the technology does eventually develop to become cheaper, why should meat companies, some of the largest corporations on earth, give up their primary sources of income for something far less profitable?

    I also doubt they will. But I need to read more about this subject. I would personally pay even a double price for meat. I would rather give up my mobile phone than meat. So, we need to also assess how willing consumers will be to replace meat with…I am not sure what you (Auburn) are even talking about here but I can’t imagine a viable replacement. This is the most dystopian part of these predictions. :))) I mean, ok, the environment goes to hell and robots will take our jobs, everyone knows that…but NO MORE BACON??? 🙁

    I will read more about all these issues and come back if I see any other useful information; this is a fascinating thread.

     

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Bera.
    Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    I mean, ok, the environment goes to hell and robots will take our jobs, everyone knows that…but NO MORE BACON???

    Hehe! Hence why I said “if meat-alternatives can be made to taste just like real meat (indistinguishable), and be as affordable,” and that  “the “acting now” is not happening because the solutions in place would require average citizens to forego their personal needs..”

    I’m specifically talking about companies like Impossible Burger, which is a new company that has cracked the secret to the taste of meat. You’re right that nothing tastes quite like bacon or beef, but why is that? What chemical is it that gives meat it’s signature/unique taste? Labs have been trying to work this out for a while and identified the key molecules responsible – allowing them to synthesize that in a lab to make non-meat legitimately taste identical to meat because it has the same taste markers.

    People are certainly not going to give up the experience or taste of meat. But I think that nobody wants to kill animals. In other words, if people could have all the same delicious taste but know that no animals are being slaughtered in the process – I think that’s a checkmate. And from what I’ve seen so far, many diehard meat-eaters taste the Impossible Burger and cant’ tell the difference.

    The company’s explicit goal is to replace the meat industry by 2035. However, I think that goal is great but over-ambitious. The amount of infrastructure and sheer volume levels needed to replace the meat industry won’t be easily turned over, even when a better alternative is present. So the estimates in my timeline have the meat industry losing government support in 2040 and fully collapsing by 2050.

    But there’s actually more reason to believe this will happen beyond climate change, health-consciousness, and animal rights. As if those weren’t enough reasons, they’ll actually be cheaper to produce eventually. Meat is a very resource-heavy thing to make/grow. Plants are far easier to grow (per kg) than meat, taking up less water, less land, less resources. This means that, in terms of economics, it’s also a viable/sensible –and I might argue inevitable — switch to make.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Auburn.
    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    Hmmm, ok, so they managed to obtain the taste of meat. Still there are some issues to discuss here.

    1.Health/Nutrition

    How healthy is soy? And what is soy’s nutritional value?

    I don’t know much about this issue and of course meat has unhealthy effects too.

    But this should be properly analyzed.

    I read soy can cause fertility issues, which are already affecting a lot of people anyway.

    2. What about the eggs and dairy industries? Do these remain in this timeline? Do we keep using animals for     food only without slaughtering them? And since we are here, what about fish?

    I really don’t know what you will say, so I leave this as a question. Especially since cows are mentioned but I’d argue cheese is a more relevant product coming from cows than meat. Many people prefer pork or chicken but still eat a lot of dairy products.

     3. How far does this go on a longer timeline?

    This question is linked to the previous question. What if we get an almond milk that tastes just like cow milk? Or some tofu that tastes just like the most fancy French blue cheese?

    Or a synthetic gelatin based product that tastes like kale? 🙂

    Where do we draw the line between what is an acceptable replacement and what is not?

    4. In which ways would taking out meat completely impact our identity?

    This is my biggest concern.

    We deeply identify as hunters/predators. Maybe this does not apply to all of us. But many of us see ourselves as being a specific type of animals that kill and eat some other animals. And that can also be killed and eaten by some other animals. A part of the food chain.

    My impression was we were higher on the food chain, but since we also eat a lot of veggies and meat from animals that are very low on the food chain, we aren’t apex predators…from a biological point of view. (though our general behavior is of apex predators, which I think is why many people have the tendency to view humans as higher on the food chain than they really are – I read we are at about 2,21 in the food chain, in a similar position to pigs. 🙂 )

    Still, no matter what the actual score is, hunting or farming, killing the animals, cooking them and eating their meat is a part of who we are. It can be seen as a gruesome part but…you can’t quite wipe out the fact it exists. Removing meat completely, with no possibility of return, raises the question if we will still be fully human after. This will change our identity as hunters and tamers and our perspective as a part of the food chain. I can’t predict all the consequences but it’s a drastic change, that can have many psychological effects on people.

    Now many of us buy food instead of hunting or farming but we are still aware we are eating meat. And we are aware we have a position IN nature, ABOVE certain animals that we eat and BELOW others that sometimes eat us. This implies being predatory and being vulnerable. And it carries with itself a certain set of qualities or rather it impacts and is impacted by a set of qualities.

    After stopping eating meat as an entire society, would our perspective regarding our place in the food chain change?  As our place would change, it would go lower. But I wonder more about perspective. If it did change, would this make us less humble? Or too trusting of others? And, on the other side, would it make us less assertive and capable of defending ourselves?

    Because these are qualities we developed based on our specific place in the food chain. Could we lose them in time?

    I frankly don’t know, but humans are already losing the ability to be aggressive enough in a world that is falling apart and in the future we might end up in a much more dangerous environment, with far less coping skills than the ones we have now.

    There is another issue here.

    5. Small farms can have a certain level of self sustainability. Generalized production of highly processed foods does not. What could be the consequences of outlawing or of simply economically and socially discouraging the development of small farms ?

    I think we would come to depend more and more on the state and on corporations, something many of us want to avoid, as the general distrust in the state and in corporations is on the rise and I’d say for good reason. States can’t even handle the Covid pandemic. Can we trust them to handle the future?

    I think @Staas and @Elsie could give a better perspective on this. I can only point out the issue, but I don’t have the details.

    I will not go further and ask about traditions, as I do agree economic and ecologic issues are more stringent than that of keeping traditions. But I do think the points above have the potential of weighing more than the benefits of replacing meat with other products. They might also not, but the discussion is worth it.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Bera.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Bera.
    Auburn
    Keymaster
    • Type: TiNe
    • Development: l--l
    • Attitude: Adaptive

    Oh, these are some good questions! …and I don’t know the answer to all of them, but here’s a try:

    Health/Nutrition

    The transition to plant based meat won’t necessarily have health as the prime objective in mind, as it falls second to ecology, animal rights and climate change. It may be slightly more healthy than regular meat to one’s personal health, but even if it wasn’t, people don’t really eat meat for its health value either and I doubt that’ll change.

    But if soy does have averse effects, like fertility, I’d expect they’d swap it out for something else in the long run. Since the plant-meat formula is in our hands, I think we can modify it until it’s acceptable to our health. Impossible burger also relies on potato protein, not just soy protein, so maybe it can swap the soy out?

    Dairy/Eggs & Cheese

    I am not well read on this one or where things are at with it, but what I can say is that our ability to synthesize molecules in the lab will only continue to expand until we can synthesize everything from the taste of eggs up to eventually engineering new forms of DNA. At some point (though I didn’t include dairy in the timeline) I think cheese’s taste will also be synthesized. I know Impossible Burger is working on Pork right now. So I can only expect that similar efforts to find the molecular markers for the taste of these other products will also be identified and synthesized. But I don’t have a timeframe for this.

    In which ways would taking out meat completely impact our identity?

    Heheee.

    Well, this is a curious point to make! I’m interested in what others think about it too. For me the short answer is that we’ll have to re-frame our identity, as we have many times in the past. We used to be horseback riders, remember? What was a man without a horse? Or, we used to hunt with spears — what was a man who couldn’t hunt a deer?

    Do we feel feeble now that we can’t tear meat apart ourselves? Or has our desire to hunt and dominate been sublimated into earning dat money? I think the average person is fully removed from the physical slaughter of animals nowadays, and yet our society is still here, which means our impulse for domination is still alive and well but it’s likely been redirected. I don’t see how supplanting real meat would have much impact since we already have supplanted our hunting instinct for a metropolitan economic jungle. We won’t become more pacifist because of this, as we still are plenty adept at competing with, and killing, one another.

    Small farms can have a certain level of self sustainability.

    Yes, wow this is a subset of another quite big topic. It goes into way more than farming.

    As our jobs themselves get taken over by automation, our “power” and “independence” will be in peril overall. In the most dystopian scenario, machines and governments might wonder why the world needs humans anymore at all. If bots will eventually out-work us & out-smart us, why would the new world pamper homo sapiens with free stuff, rather than make the economical decision to toss out the couch potato? We’d be at their mercy.

    Humans will face an existential threat at this point, and this is the biggest wildcard in the timeline. People like Elon Musk recognize this danger too, and know we have to be proactive about sustaining our relevance and power in this world. (hence Neuralink)

    I think the way to ensure our security is to retain our relevance, and thus power, in the new world — which cannot happen without us advancing alongside machines through transhumanism.

    The other option, imo, is to kill off the machines that threaten our relevance — and with them the automated labor. Which, okay, we do that, then what? We go back to working our fields by our own hand because we want to keep our jobs and land? Really? Alright, then what? For how long? Another 100 years? Another 1,000?

    Quite frankly, we will either stagnate at this same agricultural level forever, retaining our power and relevance as meat-bags doing meat-bag jobs, or we will advance away from such jobs to higher heights — and find new sources of meaning, identity and power.

    I agree that civilian power needs to be maintained, but not by farmers having guns and keeping their land. Not in the long term. That model of power, based on land and food, will need to be replaced for another model.

    I only have intimations as to what that new power model would be, though.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Auburn.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Auburn.
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    Bera
    Moderator
    • Type: SeFi
    • Development: ll--
    • Attitude: Seelie

    I need to read more about all this to be able to add an informed opinion. So, I’ll just mention some points and come back to it when I know more.

    Health/Nutrition

    people don’t really eat meat for its health value either and I doubt that’ll change.

    We eat meat for protein and some other nutrients. Meat gives us fast energy resources without causing gut problems (that many veggies do and 1 in 5 people has IBS/IBD) and without raising blood sugar very much (that most fruits do).

    Meat can have negative health effects but it’s simply the only product that does this right now. So, for example potato starch doesn’t have the necessary protein amount and can trigger IBS flare ups. This sounds like a minor issue until we accept a huge part of the population suffers of gut problems.

    Now, I will admit I don’t know if our reactions to many plant based products are a consequence of humans being omnivores leaning towards carnivore 🙂 at core or if it is simply because all these products are genetically modified and/or contain dangerous chemicals. The fact is meat keeps you going without causing immediate gut problems, which is rare in other products. They either contain too little proteins or they trigger gut issues. That aren’t like – in 20 years you might get cancer, they are immediate. Not to mention the alarming rise of allergies. And soy is an allergen.

    There are people who have reactions to so many types of foods, they simply go carnivore. Like Mikhaila Peterson. Who stopped suffering of depression and severe arthritis symptoms by changing her diet to carnivore. She calls it the Lion Diet and it’s composed of “fatty ruminant animal meat, salt, and water”. 🙂

    I don’t think these people don’t realize meat in excess can be very unhealthy. I think their health is in such a poor condition it doesn’t matter anymore. They eat meat because it is the only option that works for them now.

    Of course, some of these issues could potentially be solved with the proper gut treatment or with discovering what it is that causes these gut problems and taking it out of veggie based products. But this is only a possibility, we don’t really know if it will work, it could very well fail.

    In which ways would taking out meat completely impact our identity?

    We used to be horseback riders, remember? What was a man without a horse?

    That’s a very good point. We did replace horses with cars and motorcycles.

    I think they are still a big part of our culture too though. We don’t have real horses but horses are common in video games and in certain movie genres.

    I am not sure the issue is exactly the same though, simply because eating is a really important part of life. 🙂 So, the implications can be deeper.

    And another argument is we have in fact become less aggressive than our ancestors since we buy our meat in the store and then cook it instead of hunting deer and eating them. :))

    Small farms can have a certain level of self sustainability.

    As our jobs themselves get taken over by automation, our “power” and “independence” will be in peril overall. In the most dystopian scenario, machines and governments might wonder why the world needs humans anymore at all. If bots will eventually out-work us & out-smart us, why would the new world pamper homo sapiens with free stuff, rather than make the economical decision to toss out the couch potato? We’d be at their mercy.

    YES ! Exactly, this is a very likely scenario.

    It’s mentioned in this book I was talking about too. The main problem is many people will become unnecessary and irrelevant.

    In the past workers united against the bourgeoisie and obtained some results (varying from country to country), because they were needed, but if in the future workers will become unnecessary because bots will be able to do anything better – why would anyone in power grant them any rights?? What do common people have that they can offer in exchange for their rights being respected? Because this used to be and luckily still is WORK.

    To be honest, it looks like huge portions of the population will become unnecessary and this will be happening in a period in which the environment will keep deteriorating. So, I can’t stop visualizing this moment in which only top tier sciency people and extremely rich people are left in the cities and everyone else is simply tossed out and left at Nature’s mercy.

    I think the way to ensure our security is to retain our relevance, and thus power, in the new world — which cannot happen without us advancing alongside machines through transhumanism.

    The other option, imo, is to kill off the machines that threaten our relevance — and with them the automated labor. Which, okay, we do that, then what? We go back to working our fields by our own hand because we want to keep our jobs and land? Really? Alright, then what? For how long? Another 100 years? Another 1,000?

    I agree these seem to be the two options we have.

    The question here is though – what do we want to obtain with all this technological improvement? Is it immortality? Is it the expansion to other planets?

    Because in the end, in order to make a choice – assuming both are viable – we need to see what our purpose actually is. Or rather what our values are, because we might never find an indisputable purpose.

    It could be an immortality vs. freedom game. But both immortality and freedom are pretty nebulous concepts, none being truly attainable and a diluted version of each being only possible in congruence with the other.

    Also, I suspect the second choice might not be possible if we don’t simply use the coming environmental catastrophes to kill them with fire and move on with our axes and machine guns to a new old world. 🙂 Because if an opportunity is not found fast, the people who will try to destroy the machines will need a similar technological advancement in order to be able to destroy them and after fighting for a while, there will only be minor differences between the two camps.

    But is this about immortality? Or about something else?

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