Friday, February 20, 2009

Look On The Bright Side

Mankind has tended to get out of tough spaces by technical cleverness rather than wisdom. Well, those branches of mankind that survived, anyway. Groups that were neither clever nor wise tended to get eliminated.

The amount of debt we are bequeathing to our successors is growing so enormous that we are backing ourselves into a corner. We have apparently already eliminated "wisdom" as a possible solution, and so must rely on technical innovation. The amount of rethinking government required to slow spending is not going to happen. I can fantasize that it would happen if, if, if, but those are big "ifs." If Republicans nominate almost entirely frugal candidates, and if a significant majority of Republicans gets elected, we have a shot at it. As those two things tend to work against each other electorally, it's not going to happen.

The dark fantasy if things get bad enough America will increasingly accept tyranny has been an undercurrent to political discussion for decades. The more hopeful thought that if things get bad enough she will wise up - 70% of the under-25's realizing that they are getting massively screwed and voting for small government, for example - also floats in the political air.

What is more likely than either is that technological solutions will become affordable because they are the only road home. Whether we approve of them or want them, we will accept them because we have no choice. It is considered the height of Pollyannaism to wait for magical solutions, but it's not just waiting that will occur. The forces that back us into the corner will also drive down the prices of what we need.

What you envision may not be what you get. Want a solar house? It may not happen that way. Really dislike the idea of a solar house? You may get one anyway. Circumstances, not choices, will dictate what houses look like in thirty years.

With all this in mind, I pass on to you some of the technical innovations that are gradually coming online. All of them look like they will "work" in some sense. Whether they will work well enough, or cheaply enough, is another matter. But some things out of this list are where you young 'uns are going. I still recommend that small-government types continue to interest their children in space colonization.*

Some reposts of earlier links occur.

MIT's Technology Review hightlights ten emerging technologies.

From the same source, improvement in materials, drugs to dampen bad memories, and improvements in batteries.

Future Pundit updates us on the drop in prices of PV solar and some good news about rainforests

The Futurist had a timeline of energy predictions in 2007. We seem to be slightly ahead of schedule in most places. Related, the projected big jumps in solar technology.

This just in: new research shows that men regard pictures of women in bikinis as objects. They don't try and imagine what the women in the pictures are thinking and feeling at all. Your tax dollars at work.

*(Foreshadowing: your guide to quality literature.)

1 comment:

Ben Wyman said...

Don't knock the bikini subject. It's handy to have such a final word on the subject so that we can all move on. Next on the dossier, we need an answer: Are Bunnies The Cutest And Fluffiest Or What?