August 01, 2015

Mundane Singularity Update part 1

I had looked at what will be the technologies and changes that can eventually lead to
1. Economic abundance
2. Radical life extension
3. Physical and Cognitive enhancement
4. Blood Stream Robots
5. Supermaterials
6. Open Access to space
7. Pollution elimination
8. Computer Advancement
9. Shape changing functional devices like utility fog

Here was the list with updates for the first eight out of 18
1. Pro-growth Policies

World economic growth has slowed


Global growth is projected at 3.3 percent in 2015, marginally lower than in 2014, with a gradual pickup in advanced economies and a slowdown in emerging market and developing economies. In 2016, growth is expected to strengthen to 3.8 percent.

Growth in advanced economies is projected to increase from 1.8 percent in 2014 to 2.1 percent in 2015 and 2.4 percent in 2016, a more gradual pickup than was forecast in the April 2015 WEO. The unexpected weakness in North America, which accounts for the lion’s share of the growth forecast revision in advanced economies, is likely to prove a temporary setback. The underlying drivers for acceleration in consumption and investment in the United States—wage growth, labor market conditions, easy financial conditions, lower fuel prices, and a strengthening housing market—remain intact.


India stumbled to a couple years of 4-5% or so GDP growth in 2012 and 2013 but now appears to be heading back to 7-8% GDP growth.

World financial policies are very loose in an attempt to get growth out of weak economies.
India and China are attempting to boost growth to not slowdown too much.
Instead of trying to achieve abundance it is use whatever policies that will first get back economies from bad back to pretty good.

China is trying to keep its growth going at 6.5% or higher for as long as possible.

This is a driving force for the One Belt One Road policy.
China is shifting to building out rail, energy and infrastructure in Africa, Asia and towards Europe.

I would talk about future altering high growth policy from Europe and North America but I am not aware of it.
The US is doing what it can with finance policy and trade deals.

2. Energy Efficiency - superconductors, thermoelectrics, improved grid

Superconductors and thermoelectrics have products but the big breakthrough in price and market size are taking longer to achieve.

3. Energy Revolution - Mass produced fission, fusion, and maybe cold fusion

Very low cost energy is important because energy has a larger impact on the economy than was officially recognized until recently.

According to the cost-share theorem, reductions of energy inputs by up to 7%, observed during the first energy crisis 1973–1975, could have only caused output reductions of 0.35%, whereas the observed reductions of output in industrial economies were up to an order of magnitude larger. Thus, from this perspective the recessions of the energy crises are hard to understand. In addition, cost-share weighting of production factors has the problem of the Solow residual. The Solow residual accounts for that part of output growth that cannot be explained by the input growth rates weighted by the factor cost shares. It amounts to more than 50% of total growth in many countries.

Horizontal multi-frac oil and gas has boosted US production which has contributed to lower global oil and gas prices. Natural gas which is less than half as polluting as coal has displaced about 40% of the coal used in the USA.

China wants to shift from coal energy dependency to reduce air pollution. China is looking to scale up nuclear power to provide energy at least as low cost as current coal energy. China will have built up all of the hydro by 2020 and will then turn to getting really serious about scaling up nuclear power.

China's 200 MWe HTR-PM pebble bed reactor will now be completed about 2017. This will then be built into several 600 MWe units.

China is also looking at supercritical water reactors. These have a similar supply chains to existing pressure water reactors and are potentially could supply energy at about half the cost.


Terrestrial Energy in Canada is working on a molten salt reactor prototype which could be completed by 2020.

Fast neutron reactors appear ready to become mainstream commercial in the 2020s and should then ramp up for major deployment in the 2030s.


Russia's SVBR-100 is interesting because it has the potential for factory mass production.

China's larger gigawatt reactors are interesting because those are ones that China will mass deploy in 2030 and beyond.

Nuclear fusion projects continue to develop.
The closest to possible commercialization are
General Fusion in Canada
Helion Energy
Tri-alpha Energy
LPP Fusion

Possible super-controversial breakthroughs
Cold Fusion aka Low Energy Nuclear Reactions - Rossi Energy Catalyzer continues to make claims. Blacklight Power makes claims.

4. Additive manufacturing

Applications that can help develop space industry or for tissue engineering have the potential to have most big future impact.

5. Not so mundane - neuromorphic chips, quantum computers, photonics

There was a detailed analysis of a roadmap to human brain scale neuromorphic systems using FPGAs. There was also an analysis of some commercial applications for signal processing and image recognition.

There has been major funding of neuromorphic and brain emulation projections. Europe has a 1 billion euro ten year project. DARPA and US projects are of similar scale when funding is added together. There are major neuromorphic projects at IBM and Qualcomm and other companies.





Dwave system quantum adiabatic annealing systems are over 1000 qubits and have physical 2000 qubits. They are doubling the qubits every 12-18 months.

On chip photonics are planned to have significant deployment by HP by 2020. IBM and others are also working on this.

6. Automated transportation (leading to robotic cars and planes)

Significant driver assistance is being deployed into cars now. Elon Musk Tesla, Mercedes, BMW (luxury car makers) are leading the way in driver assistance.

Autonomous vehicles are still a developing technology; a large number of companies and researchers have speculated about future developments and the possible effects of the cars.

By 2016, Mercedes plans to introduce "Autobahn Pilot" aka Highway Pilot, the system allows hands-free highway driving with autonomous overtaking of other vehicles.
By 2016, Mobileye expects to release hands-free driving technology for highways.
By early 2017, the US Department of Transportation hopes to publish a rule mandating vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication by an as-yet unspecified deadline. GM says that by the 2017 model year, the Cadillac CTS will be V2V equipped.
By 2018, Elon Musk expects Tesla Motors to have developed mature serial production version of fully self-driving cars, where the driver can fall asleep. However, he expects they would be allowed only some years after that, due to regulatory issues.
By 2018, Mobileye expects autonomous capabilities for country roads and city traffic.
By 2018, Nissan anticipates to have a feature that can allow the vehicle manoeuver its way on multi-lane highways.
By 2020, Volvo envisages having cars in which passengers would be immune from injuries. Volvo also claims vehicles will effectively be "crash free."
By 2020, GM, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Nissan, BMW, Renault, Tesla and Google all expect to sell vehicles that can drive themselves at least part of the time

There is the prospect of a global drone market being worth $100 billion over the next decade, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is perceived as dragging its feet over committing to a regulatory framework.

Amazon could be making drone deliveries within the year. Not only that, but the e-commerce company wants to deliver products within 30 minutes using the small, unmanned aircraft.

"We’d like to begin delivering to our customers as soon as it’s approved," added Amazon vice president of global public policy Paul Misener. "We will have it in place by the time any regulations are ready. We are working very quickly." He added that the company plans to use drones to deliver products within 30 minutes of customers ordering them.

The current UAV market is about 89% military, 11% civil cumulative for 2005-2015. These numbers will probably shift to 85% military and 15% civil by 2025.

Major world powers are expected to have much larger drone fleets by 2022, and unmanned systems could make up 50 percent of the aircraft of some militaries by 2030.

Facebook successfully tested a new laser that can transmit data at 10 gigabits per second. That's ten times faster than any previous system, and it can accurately connect with a point the size of a dime from more than 10 miles away. Facebook's Aquila is a solar powered unmanned plane that beams down Internet connectivity from the sky. It has the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but weighs less than a car and can stay in the air for months at a time.



Chinese drone maker SZ DJI Technology secured a $75 million investment in May, 2015 that values the company at roughly $8 billion


7. Urbanization MegaCities

Why do megacities, robotic cars, sky cities matter for economic abundance ?

Seminal work by Ciccone and Hall (1996) assessed the impacts of density on productivity in the US, and found that doubling employment density, and keeping all other factors constant, increased average labour productivity by around 6%. Subsequent work by Ciccone (1999) found that in Europe, all other things being equal, doubling employment density increased productivity by 5%. A third paper (Harris and Ioannides, 2000) applies the logic directly to metropolitan areas and also finds a 6% increase in productivity with a doubling of density.

More recent work by Dan Graham (2005b, 2006) examines the relationship between increased effective density (which takes into account time travelled between business units) and increased productivity across different industries. Graham finds that across the whole economy, the urbanisation elasticity (that is, the response of productivity to changes in density) is 0.125. This means that a 10% increase in effective density, holding all other factors constant, is associated with a 1.25% increase in productivity for firms in that area. Doubling the density of an area would result in a 12.5% increase in productivity.

Economist Robin Hanson noted that doubling the population of any city requires only about an 85% increase in infrastructure, whether that be total road surface, length of electrical cables, water pipes or number of petrol stations. This systematic 15% savings happens because, in general, creating and operating the same infrastructure at higher densities is more efficient, more economically viable, and often leads to higher-quality services and solutions that are impossible in smaller places. Interestingly, there are similar savings in carbon footprints — most large, developed cities are ‘greener’ than their national average in terms of per capita carbon emission.

Sky Cities and Broad Factory mass produced skyscrapers like the move from 3 to 4 story buildings to cities with 30 story buildings. Average skyscrapers are now 30 to 50 stories tall. This factory mass production will make 100 to 300 story buildings affordable and common.

Eight times the density would be a 45% boost to productivity.

Road capacity could be boosted by 4 times using robotic cars. This could be another 30% boost to productivity.

The Sky Cities are also designed to reduce pollution (99% less construction dust) and use 5 times less material than a regular skyscraper. They would also house homes, offices and stores which will enable more in building commuting. This will boost productivity and reduce commuting times.

Certain megacities (future New York, Shanghai, Tokyo etc...) could increase to being about one third to one half of the overall population and could have 75% more GDP per capita than they do today. There would be rural, regular urban then super-urban.

In 2011, NBF discussed the plan China had for the megacity region around Beijing.

President Xi has made the integration of Beijing - Tianjin and the surrounding cities as a major part of his plan and future legacy for China. Infrastructure is being built.

President Xi Jinping has a signature project to link 130 million people across Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei province into a single megalopolis, the so-called Jing-Jin-Ji region. Xi has held out the model as a template for China's urbanisation in the future. For the project to work, he will need to align policy and interests that are often in conflict - ones that touch on urban planning, industry, state and private enterprises, and environmental protection.

Xi's plan calls for the three northern areas to be united into one economic sphere. The Bohai Bay area would become a key growth plank, similar to the Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta. Vice-Minister of Finance Wang Baoan has said the new metropolis would require an investment of 42 trillion yuan (HK$52.7 trillion) over the years.

High-speed rail is moving toward smaller cities. One line is opening this year between Beijing and Tangshan. Another is linking Beijing with Zhangjiakou.



Shanghai and the Yangtze river delta region will also become a 200+ million person megacity in the 2020-2025 timeframe. It is 65% urban now and will be 75% urban by 2020. Of the 160 million people in the area about 100 million are in a somewhat connected megaregion.


Shanghai is at the core of the larger Yangtze River Delta, home to nearly 160 million residents crowded into an area the size of Oregon. The Yangtze Delta includes the provinces of Zhejiang, Shanghai and Jiangsu and stretches from Ningbo, through Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Changzhou, and Zhenjiang to Nanjing.

With 20% of the GDP of China, this area already has about $2.2 to 2.5 trillion (nominal) in GDP and should be about $3 to 3.5 trillion in 2020 and about the level of Japan's GDP before 2030.

The Pearl River Delta (Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhoua and others in the area) is the third Chinese megacity.


8. Urbanization Broad Group skyscrapers

Broad group did complete a 57 story factory mass produced building. The CEO is still pushing for the 200+ story Skycity. Dozens of 30 story factory mass produced buildings have been built.

The building is about 200 meters tall. This is officially classified as a skyscraper.

Skyscraper is often used for buildings higher than 150 meter (492 ft). For buildings above a height of 300 meters (984 ft), the term Supertall can be used, skyscrapers reaching beyond 600 meters (1,969 ft) are classified as Megatall

Broad Sustainable Building (BSB) Architect Xian Min Zhang has released a time-lapse video of the construction of J57. The J57 represents a smaller prototype for a 205 story building that they plan to build. It is called the Sky City.

The J57 building has 19 atriums of 10 meters’ height each, 800 apartments, and office space for 4,000 people. Zhang claims that the use of its modular construction technique, which won a CTBUH Innovation Award in 2013, reduced the use of concrete by 15,000 trucks, which he says has nearly eliminated all the dust that would normally be released during conventional construction, an important advantage in pollution-ridden China. Zhang also says that all of the air inside the building is 99.9 percent pure, thanks to the tight construction and built-in air conditioning system. BSB’s parent company, Broad Group, manufactures air conditioners, air purifiers and other similar products.





Broad Group did complete a couple of high rise buildings in 2014.





The premier project of a 202 story building. The 57 story building was on hold but is now completed

The same "95%-prefabricated modular technology" as Sky City was being used for the J57.

Part 2 will look at the remaining items

9. Robotics
10. Hyperbroadband
11. Supermaterials
12. Improve medicine and public health
13. Space
14. Synthetic biology and recombineering
15. Sensors everywhere
16. Education transformed and accelerated innovation
17. Supersmartphones, exoskeletons and wearable systems
18. Memristors and other significant computing and electronic improvements.

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