A successful Technological singularity has been cited as being able to provide cures for diseases, accelerated economic growth and solve human challenges in fields like medicine, physics, chemistry, engineering, politics, diplomacy, biology, sociology, and economics. The more optimistic forecasts are that a technological singularity is 30-60 years away. There is plenty of time to get things right before something that might not happen or which could happen far later than expected or which could be different.
The developed countries of the United States and Europe are usually viewed as having pretty good systems and are very successful when compared to places like Africa. Many countries in Africa know that they have 100 times lower GDP per capita than the developed countries. However, the developed countries could have and should be doing a lot better but do not have many good examples of better places to show how much better things could be.
Countries are collection of cities and each city should be as good as the best cities
There are small success stories like Liechtenstein.($141,000 per capita for 32,000 people)
Luxembourg has about $100,000 per person for 500,000 people
Singapore is at about $60,000 per person for 5 million people.
Most developed countries are 75-100% urban. Each city should be shooting for the standards of the top city states. The cities make up 75-100% of what the country should be achieving. Their should be more training and research and systems developed to make it easier to have successful cities.
Bureaucracy, Corruption and incompetence
Massive amounts of bureaucracy, corruption and incompetence have a large impact on making current problems persist and making problems worse. Bureaucracy and incompetence increased costs by 700% (from $780 million to over $6.3 billion) on the San Francisco Bay Bridge repair. If China levels of corruption increases costs by 30%, then the US should considering trading bureaucracy and incompetence for corruption. The Bay Bridge had a 10+ year delay in getting started had resulted in the project running into commodity inflation in steel and concrete which would not have been a problem 10 years earlier. There were ongoing delays and cost increases. There were continuing delays from bureaucratic flip-flopping on what was to built.
Many solutions are available that do not need great intelligence to discover or implement
There are many solutions that should be easily implemented to address many problems listed as major problems for the world.
The US budget and long term deficits would be less of a problem if there was faster economic growth.
There are several technologies and solutions for Greenhouse gas mitigation.
1. China Broad Group making “Can be built” factory mass produced high rises and skyscrapers. Deployment of 5 times improved energy efficiency by 2020 with many partners (30% of new construction) would save 400 million tons of CO2 per year
2. Black Carbon free cookers for 700 million households would save 18% of black carbon soot. Equal to about 10% (3 billion tons) of today’s CO2 in warming effect. Current target is 100 million households by 2020 for the equivalent of about 400 million tons of CO2 per year in warming reduction.
3. Diesel particulate filters for cars and trucks and other diesel engines can reduce the 14% of black carbon from transportation. Majority of vehicles are existing older cars and trucks already on the road and would need retrofits
4. Massive amounts of electrification of vehicles could reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions. There are 150 million electric bikes and scooters (mostly in China). This could increase to 500 million electric bikes and scooters by 2020. This will reduce the usage of 2 billion regular cars and vehicles. There will at best by 20 million electric or hybrid cars without massive change.
5. A variety of DOE and other approaches to retrofitting existing buildings for efficiency could increase energy efficiency by about 20%. Perhaps 1 billion tons of CO2 per year worldwide by 2020.
6. Reducing carbon dioxide emissions from concrete. 5% of world total. There is green cement which can absorb carbon dioxide. Green cement is unlikely to be deployed on a wide scale by 2020 because of the need for long term studies to prove develop and prove the safety of the new materials. Also, the new material have to be scaled up.
7. Scaling up of regular nuclear power and hydro power. The world will add about 1000 TWh of hydropower and about 1200 TWh of nuclear power.
8. Nuclear fission technology advances –
* Annular fuel (MIT invented, being commercialized in South Korea (can boost existing and future reactors by 20-50%)
* factory mass produced pebble bed reactors (China under 210 MWe being built, first I 2013-2014)
* factory mass produced breeder reactors Russia, first in 2018-2020
* Hyperion Power Generation 25 MWe reactors, first in 2014-2018. Could be used to convert container ships to nuclear power. China COSCO shipping company was interested in nuclear shipping. Nuclear shipping would reduce pollution from the worst grade of oil – bunker fuel. 5000 ships would be like electrifying 100 million cars.
Should be big impact from 2018-2030
9. Johannes Lehmann of Cornell University estimates that by switching to slash-and-char from slash-and-burn agriculture, which turns biomass into ash using open fires that release black carbon and GHGs, 12% of anthropogenic carbon emissions caused by land use change could be reduced annually, which is approximately 660 million tons of CO2-eq. per year, or 2% of all annual global CO2-eq emissions.
The fertile black soils in the Amazon basin suggest a cheaper, lower-tech route toward the same destination as carbon storage. Scattered patches of dark, charcoal-rich soil known as terra preta (Portuguese for “black earth”) are the inspiration for an international effort to explore how burying biomass-derived charcoal, or “biochar,” could boost soil fertility and transfer a sizeable amount of CO2 from the atmosphere into safe storage in topsoil.
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Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.