Transforming Life and the World by 2100

How different can things get by 2100? Prediction site Metaculus attempts to ponder what a fundamental change to the human condition would be like.

Nick Bostrom, philosopher and Founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford, argues that only two events since the dawn of humanity have fundamentally changed the human condition: the Agricultural Revolution that took place approximately 10,000 years ago, and the Industrial Revolution which took place from roughly 1760-1840.

So what kind of thing would count as a fundamental change in the human condition?

You could argue that if we look back over history, there has really only been two events that have fundamentally changed the human condition, the first being the Agricultural Revolution some 10,000 or 12,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, where we transitioned from being hunter-gatherers, small bands roaming around, to settling into cities, growing, domesticating crops and animals. With that you get social stratification, if there is a lot of grain, you could have a king or pharaoh who extracts the surplus, you can have standing armies, you can have war, you can have higher population densities, specialization of labor, and from that point on, innovation grows much faster and population grows faster as well as a result.

There are many impacts but the basics change for the Agriculture revolution was being able to grow and raise our own food instead of hunting or gathering our food. The changes that followed were profound but the enabling capability was being able to stay in one spot while still being able to feed ourselves. This also changed how we spent time in the day. Feeding ourselves with hunter-gathering used time and effort that left no time for improving our lives and enabled us to create civilization.

The importance and predictable things is going beyond very important limits in a profound way that everyone will use or be impacted by everyday.

We eat every day. We move every day. Most work every day. We live every day. We use what we build or create every day.

Bostrom says the second fundamental change in the human condition, the Industrial Revolution, where for the first time, you have the rate of economic and technological growth outstripping population growth, and so only when this happens can you have an increase in average income. Before that, there was technological growth and economic growth, but the economy grew 10%, the population grew 10%, everybody’s still in a Malthusian condition.

There are many impacts but the basics change for the Industrial revolution was being able to fully overcome human physical limits with machines. The steam and then the combustion engines replacing human and animal muscle power.

I think there are more than the two Bostrom classes as fundamental to significantly changing our daily lives and transforming civilization. I think the third is the computer revolution. The computer revolution would thus be boiled down to machines being used to go beyond the limitations of human cognitive capacity.

Bostrom is recognizing a fundamental and powerful lasting transformation by going beyond past limits and substantially and meaningfully change how we spend our time and what we can do with our time.

The Satellite and phone revolutions let us communicate and see how people live around the world. The accumulated impacts of the computer revolutions and satellite revolutions have not yet grown to the level of agriculture because impacts to time to incorporate.

Satellites have lowered in cost to less than $1 million per satellite and the launch cost per satellite is dropping below $1 million each. This is crossing over the cost of cellular ground stations. Having millions of satellites that replace all ground stations and enable everywhere high bandwidth communication, ultra-precise location information and power delivery will enable us to go anywhere with no sacrifice in bandwidth, computation and internet access. We will be able to do what is done in built-up factories everywhere.

This will impact all aspects of our lives in a profound way and enable more economic growth and new services.

Other Transformations of the 21st Century

Having life expectancy reaching 140+ years would be a technological triumph and would change peoples perception of their lives. People reached 100 years of age in the past but it was extremely rare. The change is people now expect to live to 70 and have a good chance to their 80s. Pushing 20 years past the known max would be profound and if it happens by 2050, then world population could grow by 40-80 million each year from 2050 onwards. Having nearly 100% non-fossil fuel energy and transportation and precision farming, cell-based food production and advanced greenhouses could enable the planet to easily hold 100 billion people.

Reusable Rocket travel on earth for people. One hour anywhere for intercontinental travel. This would help connect the world and alter travel but this would be less transformational than 150-200 mph self-driving cars and trucks. Full autonomy self-driving cars could provide safe travel at 150-200 mph. Cities could become mainly megaregions 50M-500M people connected with 1-hour travel. We drive or travel on the ground nearly every day. Going 5 times further and faster as part of our day would be as profound as going from riding a horse to our current cars.

Milestones for what might happen in the 21st century.
100 million people in orbit or beyond would clearly show a spacefaring transformation was happening.

Super factories that are 100X more productive and more flexible with 3D printed electronics and more robotics and 3D printed parts.

Rapid construction of buildings, tunnels and infrastructure.

Molecular nanotechnology transformation (diamondoid). Reaching 10% of the value of goods in the economy produced using molecular nanotechnology would be something where everyone would notice the difference every day. Controlling atoms at a macro scale can enable a clearly different world.

Intelligence augmentation (brain computer interface – super version of neuralink) or genetic modification or IQ screened embryo selection – IVF enhanced over 50+ IQ points or gene modification of adults.

Full regeneration or embedded healing systems could remove the concern and risks around accidents.

SOURCES- Metaculus, Brian Wang Analysis
Written By Brian Wang,

144 thoughts on “Transforming Life and the World by 2100”

  1. I think the super narrow intelligences will be achieved but are vastly more difficult to build and the speed of moving from super chess AI to super medical vision AI to super GO playing AI to super self driving AI is slower than AI optimists think. Also, the benefits of previous developments are slower to translate into accelerating the next Super-AI. The acceleration of the next AI is more difficult. The frictionless whoosh to convert fairly well described theories and visions into real technology and products has unforeseen barriers and friction.

  2. I think the biggest factor with HG lifestyle was that groups could not develop to any larger size, as the area needed for food for large numbers of HG people would be huge. Much larger than you could travel in one day. Without that critical mass you don't get the technology sharing and other knowledge such as writing or advanced language.

  3. Travelling around India 25 years ago, we really noticed that while wealthy Indians (say everyone with a University degree) were the same size as us westerners, the manual labourers and farmers were very clearly much smaller people.

  4. Yes. It was the lack of variety in the early farmer's diet that was responsible for the diminished stature, because 95%-100% of what they ate was a handful of crops. The elites did not have this issue. They could trade with the pastoralists and hunter gatherers. They were taller, and likely had healthier, larger brains. Archaeologist and art historians assume that larger depictions of the kings and elites is entirely social. I don't think so, though it would be exaggerated. And this actually persisted until the last 100-200 years but less. Arguably still persists in Guatemala.
    And there is something else which might have been driving it. At many times and places there was a ration. If you were smaller but given the same amount, you were more likely to survive. Brains also burn a lot of calories, and farming doesn't require the same amount of skills, or sharp memory, so naturally, brains shrank. Our brains are still smaller despite nutrition far beyond what a hunter gatherer could have hoped to have eaten. Early Modern Humans AKA Cro Magnons had a cranial capacity between 1500-1600 cc. Today we average 1350 cc. Men average 1427 and Women average 1272.
    And there is a third possible contribution. I was a big kid. I was constantly asked if I played football. I think something similar went on back then. If you were big and had muscles you were encouraged to join the military. But you then had an increased risk of dying before you had children or died with fewer of them.

  5. OK, first of all, if you contest Dogs then we can't be friends any more.

    While I'll agree that iron was basically the same idea as bronze, only much cheaper (eventually steel was stronger and harder, but the early iron was actually a downgrade in properties, but enormously easier to produce), making metal (copper) in the first place was a fundamental breakthrough. It was a new material, that was a major step change in people's world view as well as capability.

    I'll also grant representative democracy. A big change from direct democracy which really can't be done on any larger scale than a few 10s of thousands at most, living in a single city state. (Well, if ancient Athens had the internet then sure…) but not a complete change in concept.

    But transoceanic shipping, though it looks like a simple matter of degree, was actually a radical step that was not taken for thousands of years. People were happy to skirt the coastlines of Europe, the Mediterranean, the indian ocean, all the South East Asian island countries. But heading off into the deep pelagic nothingness was something that the Polynesians alone were willing to do for such a long time.

  6. Yes but these things you've listed are more in the nature of improvements (improved tools, improved government, improved trade, and so on), even if they were absolutely necessary improvements to get to where we are.

    Is all good, I don't claim my list is the last and final. Things like dogs, monotheism, and the Magna Carta are certainly open to being contested.

  7. Hunter-gatherer spent more than 3 hours a day for food and other activities necessary to sustain life depending on where they lived. They had less leisure time than you believe.

    //As Lee himself would later mention in his 1984 book on the Dobe !Kung, his original estimate of 12-19 hours worked per week did not include food processing, tool making, or general housework, and when such activities were included he estimated that the !Kung worked about 40-44 hours per week.2//

  8. The ice does not sit on the surface, most of it is underneath the shelves and icebergs. They no doubt recognize it. I also suspect it is sharp and once poked they probably avoid it. And this would also only be whales that spend time near the poles.

    One would assume birds are too smart to fly into windmills…but they do.

    One would assume dogs are too smart to run out into the street…but they do.

    one would assume that bull elephants are too smart to attack unoccupied cars but they do.

    Floating cities would also contribute to sea level rise as they displace water. You would need a lot of them to make an impact, but a lot of them is what we are talking about.

    Islands, however, can be built from dredge. That increases the holding capacity of the ocean by the volume of the fill above sea level…lowering sea level.

    I don't like the Chinese approach as they are damaging ecosystems that have a lot of life. I would insist on building on seamounts that the sunlight does not currently reach. A lot more has to be moved, but that should not damage the environment.

    Expanding from shore in many places would probably not entail a lot of environmental damage.

  9. Enjoy the good memories but dont try to relive them, you will always be disappointed. Other than the cloud comment provider being labeled as spyware at one point, I dont have a problem with the current system.

  10. I'd throw in a couple more
    Metals (copper at first) 4000 BC
    Iron 1000 BC
    Representative democracy 1500 AD (not sure about that date)
    Transoceanic shipping 1400s (First China, then Europe, 90% independently)
    Columbian exchange 1500s. As late as the 1770s it could be argued that the effect on Europe of the new plants from the Americas was larger than any direct effect of trade/emigration/looting. Yes, even including the gold and silver turning the Spanish into a major empire. And it also introduced the IDEA of moving different plants around the world to grow in different areas, which the English formalized into the Kew Gardens research centre, which was one of the main basis for the power of the British empire.

  11. If something dodgy happens with comments on this site, 99% of the time it's because it's a rubbish comment system, not anything deliberate.

    And Brian has swapped comment systems several times, they are ALL rubbish.

    Which leads to the question of why comment systems seemed so much better back in the early 2000s.

    AFAIK the issue is that predators arose to attack the new ecosystems (comment spam, trolls) and the constant arms race means that useability and stability is not the first priority.

    Which leads us back to the actual subject. Technology is not always a steady progression. Sometimes things go backwards because of having to deal with new problems that arise in response to earlier developments.

  12. Yes, microelectronics has smashed it out of the park. In terms of information processing that's not really a faster rate of development than occurred in the 50 years from 1919 to 1969, but at least it didn't slow down.

    Now name something else.

    Don't say internet, that's a result of the microelectronics. Don't say software, that's a result of electronics. Don't say AI, drones, communication, mobile phones, robots…. Come up with something that is not the direct result of microelectronics.

    It looks like everyone just sat back and let microchips do all the heavy lifting for the last half century.

  13. we're talking much more complex changes here… what really big changes, other than internet and cell phones, have happened since 1969?

  14. Keep in mind that these aren't hard and fast dates or points in time. In many cases the change, or the changes it engendered, occurred over a considerable period of time. Also, these aren't discovery dates, nor are they full implementation dates, they are merely approximates to when these things could be said to have begun changing the human condition. All of them involve such drastic changes that people who lived before them would have a very difficult job (in many cases perhaps impossible) imagining how much they would change the human condition. 
    Of interest is how each helps enable the next, and the next occurs in about half the time it took the preceding one to follow its predecessor.
    Tools (2,000,000 BC)
    Fire (960,000 BC)
    Symbolic Communication (480,000 BC)
    Human Language/Anatomically Modern Humans (240,000 BC)
    Trade (120,000 BC)
    Fine Tools/Projectile Weapons (60,000 BC)
    Dogs (30,000 BC)
    Animal Husbandry/Agriculture (13,000 BC)
    City-states (6,000 BC)
    Writing and Mathematics (2,000 BC)
    Monotheism 200 AD
    Magna Carta 1200 AD
    Printing Press 1600 AD
    Industrial Revolution 1820
    Electronics/Computers 1935 AD
    Internet 1993 AD
    Automation 2023 AD
    Strong AI, i.e. AGI 2037 AD
    Biological Singularity, a.k.a. Indefinite Life Expectancy 2045 AD
    Self-replicating Nanotech? 2048 AD
    Man-Machine? 2050 AD
    Accelerating Human Intelligence? 2051 AD
    Singularity 2051 AD

  15. Yes, but stability and even moderate growth begets more elites.

    And not all the elites will find a place on the ruler's wagon. There is only one ruler per fiefdom, after all.

    Therefore these unlucky elites will start conspiring to overthrow the established order and be the rulers.

    Usually, by allying with the disaffected hoi polloi, or taking their causes as theirs.

    This may sound as typical socialist revolution, but it's not always the case. The disaffected hoi polloi are simply the non-elites, whatever alignment and credo the elites have.

    Current elites in America are rich urban liberal leftists, and the hoi polloi are the unsophisticated rural, Christians or poor urbanites that mostly want to be left alone and free from the meddling of their urban liberal betters.

  16. In 1969 we could fit about 1000 transistors on a CPU. In 2020 we can fit 16 billion in the same rough space. The rate of development hasn't been inspiring, it's been *staggering.*

  17. Brian, I'm very disgusted to see you've deleted two of my comments, which weren't offensive or crude in any way. Hadn't noticed until today you practiced censorship, so bye-bye!

  18. In the 70s, biologist friends said the real threat was bio, as you mention. Unless we understand repression, neurosis and mental illness, Janov, we are doomed as you say.

  19. Can you give a short *this* definition, or reference, that a libertarian would share the terminology? Also, is "authoritarian/totalitarian" extreme socialism, also right and left versions?

  20. Authoritarians are historically *proud* of themselves, not merely out in the open. Pride in one's power addiction *success* is the most self humiliating of all neurotic conditions, no?

  21. Historically, right wing authoritarian states want troublemakers to leave, left wing totalitarian states want trouble makers to 'reform' or die.

    It's the difference between wanting your obedience, and wanting all of you.

    Currently we're facing a left-wing totalitarian threat. Usually we are, because right-wing authoritarianism seems to be self-limited by its limited ambitions.

    By this definition, of course, Nazism was left-wing. The left has trouble admitting that WWII was a fight between two competing left-wing evils.

  22. I agree with you about adding computers as a third item. I would also add a fourth item between agriculture and the industrial revolution and that is the invention of writing. The invention of writing approximately 5500 years ago enabled the transmission of accumulated knowledge and created the concept of history.

  23. there isn't a lot of point in establishing a police state if you let people leave

    That isn't really a problem. In many cases you WANT the trouble makers to leave.

    The problem is that this tends to include the hard working ambitious people who do things. You don't want them to leave. And they tend to want to take their assets with them. Which is also not acceptable.

  24. I'm seeing more and more attacks on Elon Musk. Really old fashioned things like inherited guilt from South African ancestors.
    I guess he's got more and more powerful people worried.

  25. It ignores that whales that go under it will need to surface. If it is too large, they will drown.

    Whales can deal with sea ice the size of small countries.

    We will also make land…islands. Lots of them.

    The Chinese are way ahead of you. And the Dutch.

  26. AI is getting away with it so far, I would say, BECAUSE the SF depiction is so far ahead of reality.

    Yes, the is general fear of a Terminator/Matrix type AI takeover. But what someone comes up with is a computer program that classifies cat images on youtube, or an automated phone answering system. Which is so far away from Agent Smith that it doesn't trigger any fear responses.

    Like as if in 900AD, people were telling each other horror stories of nuclear ICBMs, and someone invents a 20 cm long firework rocket. There would be no connection in people's minds between the two things.

  27. Induced demand isn't just people going for a drive for fun just because the road is there.
    Induced demand is people using that road to do things like commute from longer distances.
    So the existence of induced demand is the observation that indeed, people are using the extra transport capacity to do stuff. Which is what the extra capacity was build for.
    It isn't a counteracting force at all.

  28. We get too cheap to be metered, clean energy we'll never really make the giant strides needed to achieve these goals

  29. I think the way to look at it is that the HG had a higher average than the farmers, but also a much higher variance.

    So on average the HG ate better almost all the time. But the higher variance meant that just sometimes they had nothing at all for a while.

    So HG were bigger, healthier people. But every generation or so there was a nasty starving winter and half of them died so their populations remained much smaller. The farmers were low grade malnourished most of the time, but not to the point of dying until their population density reached orders of magnitude higher than HG.

    Confounding factor: HG were eating meat and fresh vegetables a lot more, rather than grain (gruel, porridge, ranging up to bread and pasta once cooking tech developed). So the HG would be getting a healthier diet, as well as more of it.

  30. So many optimists here! Please allow me to throw a wrench or two just to play devils advocate. I have too much faith in the duality of man, yin and yang, our capacity for self destruction as well as benign activities.
    Children in grade school are doing genetics work that was only accomplished by Nobel Prize scientists a decade ago. Parts for genetic code can be ordered online. This places potentially a lot of power in a small number of hands. I fully expect to see someone or government actors create a virus, or multiple virus, that will create a plague of Biblical proportions. Long onset times like AIDS with no symptoms, high transmission rate, high mortality rate, possibly integrating or changing our genetic codes. The easier it is to use genetics tools, the more it can be abused.
    Governments will try to "improve" the human genome, leading to either irreparable damage or a Khan from Star Trek. People unable to breed with each other, creating separate species. Strands of genetic code that may be detrimental to survival passing into our code through time.
    People will have a hard time finding work in this type of environment. Without the ability to improve human intellect, the average person will find it hard to compete in the labor market. It doesn't matter how cheap and plentiful things are if you have no marketable skills and money.
    Sorry to rain on your parade, but it had to be said. This is just for starters.

  31. Ok, this is interesting but will it ever be available to humans? And when? I don't have 20 years to spare… besides, I'm Portuguese and, in case you haven't heard, we're nº1 in the world in number of deaths by covid and in infected people per million inhabitants right now, so…

  32. Honestly, we have hardly started to colonize the land. We are limited to the edges of rivers and lakes. A few fed by aqueducts, but mostly as supplement to a community at the edge of a river or a lake that just needed more water to grow.
    When we build aqueducts to build cities where there is no water, and recycle water and all the nutrients, then there will be many new cities.
    Living on the ocean will definitely be a thing. Though that design above is poor. It ignores that whales that go under it will need to surface. If it is too large, they will drown.
    We will also make land…islands. Lots of them.
    And we will make domes or the equivalent in less hospitable places.
    And underground/underwater/under seafloor cities will also exist.
    And personally, I would rather live on a Moon colony than a space station any day. With a Moon Colony you have resources to expand. You will probably have to pay for birth licenses to have a child on that space station…because someone has to die to provide space. The slower the death rate, the more you will have to pay. Or you have to pay people to leave. Expanding something big and rotating is likely to be very hazardous.

  33. Yes. Though you can bet they worked many hours when they had trouble finding anything in the winter or the dry season or whatever, or their numbers would not have been so low.
    They almost certainly went weeks at a time with very little food. Probably a few times a year like we are trying to recreate with fasting. A few probably starving or just dying because they were more vulnerable to other things in that state each year.
    But, I agree, ordinarily they got the nutrients they needed fairly easily. Early farmers had a much harder time, and were a good foot shorter, which is probably where all the giant stories came from…interactions with the taller hunter-gatherers.

  34. "the proportional relationship between human labor and production" So, Criswell pg 8 has a plan that leads to *clearly*?? exponential returns on human effort, the launches of the factories("mfg units"), as long as they continue. OR until a factory to make the factories is launched, in which case it becomes an exponentiator IF it can make itself, too, the key thing. So, it will never be truly exponential forever if a limited (human) effort is required. But it cannot be anyway, as other limits soon arise. The question is how quickly can we get started on this growth pattern.

  35. So you are ok with the use of *exponential* even w/o it being an exponentiator? I'm willing to go ahead and do the exponential growth into O'Neill Settlements even if I have to do a little work.

  36. No, I did intend that: The only reason "exponentiators" have the potential to radically change our lives is because they break the proportional relationship between human labor and production. Thus allowing arbitrarily large and increasing amounts of production per human.

    Sure, humans are capable of exponential reproduction, but that doesn't do anything for the ratio I'm concerned with. 

    We could, I suppose, be 'exponentiators' relative to somebody else, if they had created us for some purpose, but never relative to ourselves.

  37. > Feeding ourselves with hunter-gathering used time and effort that left no time for improving

    That's not correct. Hunter-gatherers spent about 3 hours a day getting their food. What they could not do is accumulate more stuff than they could carry due to following the animals and where edible plants were ripe. They could not store up reserves in good times to cover bad times

  38. To mention the obvious, the game *ran out* and the natural fruit was *all eaten*. We had no choice but to starve to acceptable hunt/gather population levels or invent "more food per unit of land". As Will Rodgers falsely claimed "buy land, they are not making any more of that", we are about to make more land too, more Earth.

  39. I am certainly in favor of such things, but wouldn't we end up with a universe of cannibalistic paper clip machines? My goal is to show the O'Neill *bootstrap* aka ISRU idea as superior to only launches now, and even more so as Earth resources become inadequate for Space needs. You would think it is obvious!

    "In the last 200 years the population of our planet has grown exponentially, at a rate of 1.9 per cent per year. If it continued at this rate, with the population doubling every 40 years, by 2600 we would all be standing literally shoulder to shoulder.” Stephen Hawking, physicist

    One of the key ways to explain bootstrapping is to point out the *exponential* return on launching factories rather than product, which gives a linear return. Either way, the growth slows down when you stop launching. Or convert everything to paperclips. The launch product plan simply stops, the launch factory plan becomes linear growth without further launches. See Criswell pg 8 for sophisticated exponential growth plan, up to project desired size. You have to need a lot of product for the factory launch to make sense. So, the term "exponentiator" presents the (unattainable for actual objects, as they are not infinite) perfect, but I want to use the term *exponential* rather than "multiplier" to represent the good. As is common usage. BTW, the philosopher in me notices that your definition of exponentiator excludes humans as exponentiators, which is not intended, correct?

  40. Same thing happens with livestock.

    • This is a great herd to hunt, we will follow it and take animals when we are hungry.
    • The animals are much easier to catch if they aren't scared of us. If you are careful they don't associate you with the occasional death, and they get used to you from just hanging around.
    • Hey… some of those wolves are hunting "our herd". Get them!
    • Our herd, that we've been following and protecting for years is being hunted by predators at night. They are used to us, so we can put up barriers and push the whole herd inside at night time.
    • That pregnant animal is having trouble. Having it die now is a waste, can we help her out?
  41. I don't see how you could decide to make your conquered foes do farming, unless you already knew what farming was and how it was done.

    My impression from reading a bit on the subject is:

    • There were (and to a tiny degree still are) wild grains growing in some places in SouthWest Asia where you can have entire fields that might be 50% or more protowheat or ur-barley. A huntergather would start to gather such grains, and if they've made something like a stone sickle and some baskets they could gather maybe a years calories in a week's hard work. (I say calories because you still need some vegetables, meat etc to get a complete diet.) But anyway, most of your food need in a week, and it stores really well so you can eat it all year: totally awesome guys, we should come here every year.
    • Probably something similar applies to rice.
    • After coming back every year for a while, people get improved tools, improved techniques, now they can get a year's total in a couple of days, over the harvest period they can get enough for multiple people.
    • This is so rich that the tribe doesn't really need to move around much to get all their food any more. People being naturally lazy they stayed around, just hunting in the area to supplement their new grain based diet.
    • D'Oh, this year a herd of goats or something got into our favourite grain area and ate half of it before we got there. So we had roast goat instead, but how about we stop animals getting into "our field"?
  42. Things were getting worse all along in the background, all that has happened recently is that the worst of the authoritarians decided that they'd accumulated enough power that they could come out in the open and stop pretending. But you could see the background preparations pretty clearly in various metrics, such as partisan breakdown of university faculties, and test runs on 'deplatforming' to see if there would be any blowback.

    It will be interesting to see if they shut down Musk's Mars ambitions. I tend to think they'll try, there isn't a lot of point in establishing a police state if you let people leave.

  43. Which basically could mean that 100T models with some tweaks in NN algorithms could be not only as intelligent as human brain, but much more powerful.
    Human brain devotes a lot of calculation power to things that computer AI won't need (biological processes), so it theory it could use all 100T or so parameters to give us more interesting output than human brain that devotes only fraction of those 100T parameters to 'creativity', 'inventiveness' etc
    Not to even mention capabilities which 1000Quadrillion and bigger NN will have, 2000IQ?

  44. "Teleportation is almost functional today, providing you accept that the teleported you is actually inhabiting a robot body"

    What do you mean?

  45. Progress has slowed because we're more fearful of costs, roughly since the environmental movement.

    No one really took the risks of social media companies' power seriously – until they started censoring and making people non-persons online. Now we've got congressional hearings, laws are being examined, etc. The threat became real to a lot of people.

    AI is still progressing rapidly – because as much as people talk about AI overlords or robot rebellion, people don't feel the fear in their gut. They just haven't yet seen the evidence to take that risk seriously. Give them a few major AI problems that threaten them, and it'll get taken seriously and restrictions will be slapped on.

    Self Driving car tech has largely been given a free pass so far, but the window for Tesla et al to keep putting Level 3 cars on the road until they get L4 right is going to close if SD related accidents keep happening, even if it's usually the fault of a stupidly trusting driver.

  46. I used to think that the 'gotta get away' motivation for expansion into space maybe didn't apply so much any more – that things were just going to keep slowly getting better on the social/cultural side of things.

    Of late though…starting to see how it could become a thing.

    I don't really understand why (even with the internet) so many stupid ideas would attract so many rigidly authoritarian adherents so quickly. Something has gone badly wrong, somewhere.

    Now, all I can say is "Work Faster, Elon!"

  47. Google translation to English for the reader's convenience:
    I do not agree with the fact that just increasing the parameters is enough for the emergence of an AGI, there are already groups of researchers who managed to reproduce an AI like the GPT-3 using much less parameters and resources, I believe that the focus in the short term is to achieve smaller neural networks but with more capacity than the current giants, we are not yet close to neural networks with high generalization power.

  48. I think the uniform brick is much more interesting. Maybe the first example of manufacturing. The reason I don't include the wheel is because farmers did not need it, animal back works fine. It was for a tool of war…the chariot. War does not really add anything. If I were to include it, it would be for pottery. And the chariot was made obsolete by the saddle.
    Some things are invented by nature. Roads were made by migrating heards way before there were people. There are natural steps. Vines are natural ropes. Spiders make nets and doors. Even the boat was probably made in nature first and copied…a log hollowed out by fire or animals. And there are natural rafts made of trees, roots and vines that have grown and fallen together from unstable banks into the water, or smashed together as hundreds fell into the water at the same time from a flood. Sowbugs/pillbugs roll into a ball. Many seeds are spherical and roll well. Logs roll. 
    I don't think the wheel was really that inovative. I think the idea existed for a very long time. At least as rollers. And I think the roller was incrementally changed into a solid axle with 2 wheels all as a single continuous piece of wood, then held in place with pins, then additional small improvements made. And heavy wheels have probably been used to crush stuff for ages.
    Spokes are brilliant, but incremental. They just make it a bit better. The tension spoke such as in a bicycle wheel is truly brilliant, and I think, quite unintuitive.

  49. I'm pretty sure that some people in power are going to be thinking "Oh, crap, we've got potential competition out there! We'd better pick up our pace and make sure we secure our stake on the solar system in case they come calling and want to claim a planet or oort cloud!"

  50. I've wondered if maybe agriculture got started as a result of slavery.

    Your nomad tribe conquers another tribe, disarms them, and takes their herd and traditional hunting/herding grounds. You set them to planting and harvesting in one spot so you can keep track of them and come take some of what they produce. Lacking any other way to feed themselves, they do so and eventually get good at it.

    This works out well for you and your tribe flourishes, so you keep repeating it (and eventually other tribes see your success and emulate it). Soon you're spending more time watching and collecting from your slave farmers than you spend herding, and you've moved some of their best crafters into one location to make nice stuff for you and to build a stronghold to store it.

    You tell the slaves that they need you to protect them from those other nasty tribes that occasionally raid your turf, and congratulations, you have become "noble" and to the extent they accept that story they become loyal serfs.

  51. Teleportation is almost functional today, providing you accept that the teleported you is actually inhabiting a robot body.

    Rubber forehead aliens? Humans are already altering themselves to be hideously ugly, but appealing to fellow members of their local little social subgroup. By the 22nd century I expect that we'll have groups with MORE divergent looks than we see on Star Trek.

  52. I suspect that ruling elites have always valued stability over societal wealth (at least stability of the elites).

    But WWI & II and the early nuclear standoff, with the sputnik moment, was a direct threat to such stabilty, and hence the nation as a whole needed to grow and become wealthier to be safe from that. Without any such existential threat they could revert back to internal status competition and keeping their lessers in their place.

    To put it in less conspiracy theory terms: When you had traditional national leaders getting shot (Russia), or made homeless, powerless and fairly poor (everywhere from China to France), and/or centres of century old wealth getting vaporised (Dresden, London, Tokyo, Hiroshima….) then even the most vapid Great Gatsby is going to pull their head in and, if not actually supporting the war effort, then at least not make waves.

    But once the monsters have gone away, then it's back to making sure that bastard Keith doesn't get to pass legislation that affects your oil wells and not letting anyone who doesn't say the right thing at parties ever get a place on the corporate board. "Because honestly dear, she spoke about attending a truck rally. Who can abide such a bore?"

  53. I don't think things will progress quite as fast as many futurists would like, unless we are more brave. I think our rapid progress of the last 150 years was due to the advent of electrical and chemical technology. The low hanging fruit was grabbed fast. It becomes harder to find the extremes of materials, batteries, adhesives, whatever. These limits tend to slow/paralyze our ambitions. We have to involve the new revolutions to expand the frontier fast. That means a lot of A.I., genetics and nuclear thrown into the mix. The things that people think are too hot to handle.
    There is also the issue of the average age getting older. Life extension is great…but…older people are less ambitious and more willing to shut down the young in new pursuits. People are terrified of AI. But everyone in AI knows there is no consciousness, no actual understanding, no mind in the box. And current approaches are not likely to yield that. Without that, it is just a tool. Nuclear power has been vilified for decades, but with no real grounds. CRISPR and other genetic editing tech is exceedingly feared. People are afraid to eat a GMO, exaggerating the impact of one gene on nutrition and safety. The science/technology comprehension of the public is worse than ever because the amount of knowledge has grown so much to even understand at a very rudimentary level. Every preposterous plot devise and slippery slope in science fiction is taken seriously and as a natural path.

  54. We became wealthy enough as a society that the ruling elites started to value stability over increasing wealth. A rapidly growing economy threatens the stability, society might be better off, but the elites risk losing their positional advantage.

  55. No, I was living on a beach with razor sharp broken clam shells, and the road nearby was crushed rock.

    But, as I said, if it gets below freezing, shoes of some sort absolutely are needed. In warmer climates, they're more of a convenience.

  56. Let's see:

    • Replicators: 3D printing to the umpteenth power. Atomic precise manufacturing of goods and organic matter. Maybe even at cell levels of detail. Seems pretty feasible for goods, food and medicine/drugs by 2100.
    • Teleporters: plausible farther in the future, if we ever learn to scan and 3D print full brains and bodies at the cellular level. The brain is the most important part to get at the right level of detail (full connections).
    • Scanning and printing a person from data could be very slow and cumbersome but probably non lethal for the source, though, unlike TV teleporters. But if it's possible at all, it allows things like interstellar travel for people as information or as data files, and making backups of yourself, for being restored after death (thus no 2 of you claiming the same goods). But I hope this to happen much, much later.
    • Time travel. Only what relativity allows, but not by the 22th century.
    • Warp drive: Nope as well.
    • Common place space travel: yep. Interplanetary, with earlier interstellar plans started (STL probes).
    • Space cities and settlements: of course. Eventually thousands or more.
    • Telepathy: possible through Neuralink and related tech. May end up being forbidden, if it causes more problems that it's worth.
    • Rubber forehead aliens. Nope, but new branches of humanity and sentient provolved animal clades may emerge.
  57. It is hard to come up with something that was revolution level that was not due to the proliferation of some new technology.
    There have been social changes but they were fueled by surpluses created by new or expanding technologies.
    Perhaps you can present an exception I am ignoring. I just can't come up with one. Maybe I see things as inventions that others might not include, like the scientific method, philosophy, mathematics, logic, statistics (I don't include in math because there are assumptions that the part will reflect the whole, and that chance is distributed and random…which is independent of math), methods of representing things visually (perspective, graphs, blueprints), scale modeling (wind tunnels, earthquake testing, even a change of laws/policy in one town to identify unforeseen issues).

  58. There are other ways I could have gone, ways which look cleaner, but sometimes reality is not clean. These revolutions differ one from another. Some are us changing the environment, others we are changing ourselves to deal with the environment. And we can't even neatly put those changes in 2 columns. Fire for example did both. We don't need as much jaw muscle, so more of our head can be brain. But fire also provides warmth modifying the environment nearby allowing us to survive where it would otherwise get too cold at night, and making poisons breakdown in some foods.

    And we did not neatly transition from one step to another. There are still up to half a billion pastoralists: "As of 2019, 200-500 million people practice pastoralism globally, and 75% of all countries have pastoral communities."

    The more Biological/Ecological approach is to look at the expansion of the number of niches and the size of the populations they can support. But that too can miss the impact of some revolutions like movable type and A.I.

    I don't think there is any nice neat list that does not ignore very large impact developments.

  59. In many parts of Africa and Australia there are no rocks and such to hurt your feet. Grasslands are generally easy on the feet as well. And people do fine there without shoes in traditional lifestyles.
    Children are light, and there is much less force those sharp objects can exert. Neanderthals were 30 lb heavier than modern humans. That is a lot of force from those objects. And I am guessing you did not live in a forest with sharp twigs everywhere to stumble upon.
    Things also tend to be dryer in the summer. When you add moisture from rain or snow those calluses will soften like dishpan hands. These Neanderthals were living through an ice age. Just how long can you stand to have your feet in the snow and ice? And it is not even about pain, it is about injury. Freezing burst cells killing those cells. There is no healing those cells, they are dead.

  60. If there's no longer a rush hour, then people are not meeting at a common time in the office, in which case: Why go to the office at all? Let's not fight the last war. Remote work is here to stay, and going to the office will be sporatic and for specific functions in the future. So the roads will clear on that basis, but at the same time, the car will be less important as cities plan for more pedestrian and micro-mobility space. Mass transit works only when there are masses to move, so it may not be needed as much as it was before either. But here in NYC, I'll believe that when I see it, and we should keep the trains and buses until it's clear poorer, carless people in the outer boroughs no longer need to come to the inner city to work. What makes the city affordable is not having to own a car and pay a second rent for a garage space.

  61. The way I imagine the 22nd century is very simple: Star Trek, but without warp drive. Instead of humanity living on hundreds of planets several light years apart, we'll be living on hundreds of colonies within the solar system. But with that one modification, everything else is basically Star Trek.

  62. Not necessarily true. If you assume a shift to flexible work hours where you don't have an artificially imposed rush hour, then this is what happens:

    Suppose in 50 years the urban population is double what it is now, but commute-radii are twice as big. ASSUMING the roads are built, you get something like 2-4x the road surface for only 2x the population. I say 2-4x because roads are fractal in dimension, they expand with something like 1^k of city radius, where k is between 1 and 2.

    In short: longer commute distances means fewer cars per mile of road. Again, this is assuming there's no longer a rush hour and the roads are built as needed.

  63. My personal suspicion is that the distinction is largely irrelevant, that the whole ball of wax is nothing but logical relationships at the bottom. The universe is in some general sense computation, but everything we actually see is just an epiphenomenon on the surface of it, not some deliberate simulation.

    Computation without a substrate, as it were.

  64. That doesn't actually meet my definition of an exponetiator, not multiplier. Your orbital plant doesn't produce exponentially increasing amounts of fuel. One plant produces a fixed output.

    The difference is that multipliers still require some amount of human labor to get some amount of output. The multiplier just increases the ratio of product to labor.

    The 'exponentiator' doesn't produce a fixed ratio. You make the investment, and the amount of product keeps increasing at an accelerating rate without further action. Your computer makes the guy using it more productive, but take the guy away and you stop getting more product eventually. The AI once built can produce ever increasing amounts of product over time without further input.

    You build the first self-reproducing factory, a month later you have two, without having to have built the second. By the time the year is out you have 4,000. A few years later you're disassembling planets for building material.

    The promise of this is that it enables developments like low population density space habitats or manned interstellar flight, that require absurdly high amounts of infrastructure per person.

    The threat is that, if you screw up, the universe gets converted to paperclips.

  65. "How could Neanderthals not have them? Cold, rocks and twigs everywhere. Shoes, I believe, were fundamental to the spread of humans out of Africa."

    Seriously, shoes are nice, and you do kind of want them if you're going to live somewhere with snow and ice. But human feet actually ARE capable of dealing with rocks and twigs, and worse, on their own, if you don't coddle them. In the natural state, human feet are very tough.

    When I was a child we'd run around shoeless all summer, and by the end of the summer could run over crushed rocks and broken seashells without noticing. Surfaces that would have badly cut us at the beginning of the summer. The bottoms of your feet will get to be like horn if challenged.

  66. I don't know. Personally, I won't be very shocked. I doubt you and the scientific community will be either. We kind of expect this to happen already.

    The religious community will have some things to think about because the people founding their tales couldn't imagine anything like that. I guess they will try to deny a signal. Close encounter will be more fun.

    The not-so-religious general public then? Panic? Yawn? Probably depends on how spectacular the event is. Electromagnetic signatures emitted before the dawn of human civilization will not create much panic or fluctuations in the stock markets, which is probably the biggest concern to the general public.

    Are there any known protocols for first contact that would make it possible for leadership to cover up and contain a situation? They can't hide a mothership the size of a city hovering over the White House but maybe sensor data publications from a SETI program. Looks like SETI is very distributed these days and only partially sponsored by tax money.

    (If that mothership shows up, I'm pretty sure they will somehow blame Trump for it.)

  67. Again, I think it's more useful to come at it from the "changes between key phases of human civilization" angle. Something like:

    0 – Animal to Human – organized scavengers
    1 – At-risk human species to thriving nomadic tribal hunters
    2 – Hunter to domesticator and herder of animals
    3a – Herder to farmer (unstable, farmers stuck in one place, easily dominated)
    3b – Farmer to serf/slave – elites 'farming' the masses and taking surpluses
    4a – Serf to factory worker (mechanized capitalism)
    4b – Factory worker to info worker – (information capitalism – now)
    4c or 5 – ?

  68. Unless you mean flying cars, the perils of induced demand mean that just building more roads to handle more cars won't do anything more than create more traffic. It's hard to believe today, with all the remote working going on, but NYC (where I live) and other major urban areas, used to be clogged with cars. The question during rush hour is whether cars can move at 20mph (or even 2mph), not 200mph. The speed limit in NYC is 25mph and always will be. The trend is towards fewer cars and more bikes, e-everything, and pedestrian-favoring malls, "open streets," and super-blocks. Urban planners everywhere recognize that cities built around the car have been a mistake and that people don't want to live in them.
    Deliveries are increasingly "last mile" by smaller e-vehicles, like the delivarator:
    Working against trend is the retail apocalypse where everything that can be bought online, is. This doesn't mean the end of cities, because people do still need to be physically together, but they will have to get over their fear/phobia of disease first. There may not be a vaccine that can cure that, only Darwin.

  69. VR just missed a big chance in this pandemic – if the tech and apps had been a few years more mature and if there'd been a sufficient critical mass of users, it could have been a real contender for virtual socializing, maybe even for business meetings.

    Those who had to join VR enabled meetings on a PC would have felt left out, wanted to get 'into' VR. Education seems like a natural fit, but until nearly every kid has a compatible headset, that's not likely to happen.

    As it was, I think VR got a boost, but mainly for entertainment and maybe a bit of virtually getting out of the house.

    Sorry VR, maybe next pandemic…

  70. There were until very recently peoples that survived without shoes.

    In benign climates, thick calluses form at the feet soles and those with them can walk for a long distance without significant bruises.

    But for places getting icy in some seasons, it is indeed necessary to have some kind of shoes.

  71. I have to disagree with Bostrom. The first revolution was fire. The second clothing and especially the shoe. They haven't found shoes but they must have had them. How could Neanderthals not have them? Cold, rocks and twigs everywhere. Shoes, I believe, were fundamental to the spread of humans out of Africa.
    The third revolution was the boat. That allowed us to spread all over the planet tens of thousands of years ago. I think the land bridge thing is exaggerated. Travel keeping the shore in sight…probably without sails. People got to Crete 130k years ago. Maybe by accident or swimming, but boats seem well within possibility. Australians almost certainly used boats 40k years ago to get to Australia. Some Australians use cardinal directions rather than your right or your left in their languages. I think that is a holdover from those early times of boats. We may not have recovered any boats remotely that old, but deduction says that must be what happened.
    0. Spear (start rather than rev.)
    1. Fire
    2. Shoes
    3. Boat-fishing tech
    4. Wolf-Human co-evolution cooperation (displaced Neanderthal probably)
    5. Agriculture
    6. Pastoralism (I think before Ag, but no evidence)
    7. Plow/irrigation
    8. Metallurgy
    9/10. Sail
    9/10. Writing
    11. Concrete
    12. Movable type printing
    13. Cylinder engine, fossel fuels: Steam etc.
    14. Electricity
    15. Chem (materials explosion, coatings, dyes, drugs, cleaners, electronic components, batteries)
    16. Computer
    17. Rocket
    18. Nuclear tech
    19. A.I.

  72. "Being able to travel to a destination at up to 200 mph means travel would be used for increasingly unimportant reasons. " Robot cars with 200+ mph cruise speeds will allow workers who can't telecommute to live in affordable houses outside of expensive urban areas with dysfunctional housing markets.

  73. If it's just an electromagnetic signature barely detectable by sensitive instruments, maybe not so interesting.

    Don't think I agree with that. Even if we just pick up the faintest signal that is decoded to be empty election slogans from K'org!an^3 the Merciless to be reelected Dread Empress of the Crab Nebula, that is going to be a major shock to so much of our thinking.

    Where it would have little effect is if we can't decode it, but mathematicians and physicists spend 30 years arguing whether the signal stream shows enough enthalpy that it must be the product of an intelligent entity, and the actual arguments in information theory need an appropriate PhD to even understand what the arguments are about… that will fade into the background the way those maybe, perhaps, could-be micro fossils in that meteorite from Mars did.

  74. Agriculture multiplied the productivity of food gathering by arranging for it to be plentifully in a predictable location, but food still scaled with labor. The fixed need for food per person just meant labor left over for other things.

    I believe the current archeological thinking is that this is not true.
    The shift from hunter/gatherer to farmer did not result in more food per amount of labour. The labour requirement to feed themselves went UP, and up a fair bit.

    What they got was more food per unit of land. This was a huge multiplier. By a factor of orders of magnitude.

    And they got much more certainty in food supply. A store of grain will last for a year or so (depending on climate and storage tech). You know from month to month what you will have, and excepting a crop failure you know from year to year as well. Hunting can go from great to nothing in a couple of days, and meat and fresh vegetables don't store well outside of weird conditions such as it being frozen.

    They also got a lot more government* (small boo) and taxation (BOO, HISS). It is so much easier to go to a farmer during harvest once a year and take a % of the grain "for the good of the people" than to keep track of each hunter-gatherers daily haul.

    *For certain definitions of "government", but that's for another rant…

  75. You have hit upon my theory for the departure and spreading out from Africa. Just don't carry the disease with you. Power addiction is the most dangerous addiction of all, esp to others.

  76. And we seem well in route to form hegemonic groupthinks, intolerant of others (even if they profess the contrary), probably dominating whole countries or regions soon.

    The only places left outside the countries and cultural blocks are at sea, which have the problem of not really being that far away, or in space.

    The traditional human solution of emigrating will again be there, whenever we can actually move elsewhere outside the hegemonic powers sphere of control.

  77. The biggest reason, besides Musk's lifeboat justification, is the reason that has driven so many colonists: To get away from the control freaks back where they came from, and be able to do what they want.

    or 66 years but you are sure such changes cant happen in 79 years.

  79. I think traditional VR and AR will be there, and they'll be trivial, commonplace technologies with unobtrusive devices providing it. I already have a couple of VR systems at home and my family does too, so the idea of using it even more, for work or social interaction is not a stretch.

    If Neuralink and related tech advance enough, VR/AR could be directly fed into the brain. But that's a risky route for several reasons, so probably we better not trail it.

    Mind uploading is not happening anytime soon IMO. Not in the 21th century at least. Probably never, if we find philosophical dualism has some actual physical basis.

    Nomadism can become a bigger thing, but would be assisted by ever present automated systems watching over us, keeping us always connected. New energy sources can assist with this as well, the same as trivialized VR/AR tech and drones delivering what you need wherever you are.

    Uplifting animals is risky. It can create a Pandora's box of new actual racial and inter-species tensions, with the uplifted animals holding serious grudges against historical human treatment. But I imagine the easy access to DNA/ARN editing tech will make this very likely to happen even unofficially, done by hobbyist Dr. Moreau copycats.

  80. 100 trillion parameters in 2021? Don't think so.

    It cost about 6 million USD to train 175 billion parameters for GPT-3. Now, the computational cost scales as at least the square of the number of parameters [1], i.e. it would cost about (100000/175)^2*6 million dollars, or about 2000 trillion dollars.

    And if that is not a sufficient damper, GPT3 was trained on about 45 TB of text data. For 100 trillion parameters, you need at least 26 000 TB of data. That would be about 13 000 billion pages of text…which does not exist.


  81. It is, but it is so feasible.
    Engineers just should only change their mindset to micronize and automate our production technology with the aim of making all of it accessible to small community production.
    The rest will ripple into place.

  82. My reading of O'Neill is that he avoided future tech by intentionally and explicitly limiting his examples to '80s (by the later editions) tech, as a way of showing the basic Physics of the situation. However, I mix K. Eric Drexler into the O'Neill concept, so I would not say they were out of the loop, either.

  83. I see no need to go beyond cislunar for any but scientific purposes or eventual economies of scale. Now, a few survivalists will take out to the belt, but for now, there is *Space* avail nearby.

  84. If we find physical phenomena which aren't computable in the mathematical sense, that would put a halt to simulation or "all is computing" Dust theories.

    My personal belief is we aren't in a simulation.

  85. O'Neill was right to believe that creating living communities in space is an endeavor that will consume humanity's creative impulses for the foreseeable future. Creating worlds for yourself and others, going on forever and ever farther from Earth, until the Solar System is full of millions of mostly self sufficient, but also gossipy/trading communities of thought and goods. Planets will be quaint tourist spots in comparison.

    He was just short on imagining automation could take such a big place on it (a matter of forecasting from the epoch he lived).

    But whatever future of post-scarcity we imagine thanks to automation of production, makes a post-scarcity future of highly desirable living spaces more likely to happen too.

    Either on Earth or outside of it. There is plenty of place for hyper-technological arcologies of leisurely living on Earth, that could actually end up being less environmental impactful than merely living on the range. Earth could sustain trillions of lives one day, but why fight for space?

    Waiting for that to happen, humans and mostly humans still have plenty of work to do. The 21th century ought to be our preparation for the rest of an eternity of sentient life.

  86. Mars CH4 being put in the back of a timberwind style NTR.

    Future space expansion will really need to confront longer distances. Apart from Direct Fusion Drive or something like that it will be difficult to reach Jupiter.

    Space is big and hard to access quickly.

  87. I like Musk's salvation of life concept, just not his location. It will be popular to try to re-create an Earth like continuation of what is here, in Space. Also, we can eat the asteroid instead of the asteroid eating us.

  88. Good thing is there aren't many living things to kill in space, as far as we know.

    Overall, bringing some alive things there will be a net improvement.

  89. A very simple example of "An exponentiator, not multiplier" would be for Musk to set up a C extraction and CH4 plant in orbit, using lunar resources as LCROSS seems to have found, *rather than* launching fuel from Earth for refueling on the way to Mars. The launches for the CH4 plant etc would lead to exponential amount of fuel being produced, rather than the launch multiplier just launching fuel provides.

  90. Wheeler's theories account for the same *math* that leads to simulation theories. Super entanglement. Back to the beginning.

  91. I think he missed the importance of synergies between these events. The agricultural revolution + the industrial revolution led to the Green Revolution 1920s-2010s where the mechanization of agriculture made food surpluses so common that obesity overtook undernutrition as a world health concern. The Transportation Revolution we're in mates the Computer Revolution with the Industrial and Green Revolutions.

  92. Não concordo com o fato de apenas aumentar os parâmetros seja o suficiente para o surgimento de uma AGI, já tem grupos de pesquisadores que conseguiram reproduzir uma IA como a GPT-3 usando muito menos parâmetros e recursos, acredito que o foco a curto prazo é conseguir redes neurais menores mas com mais capacidade do que as gigantes atuais, ainda não estamos pertos de redes neurais com alto poder de generalização.

  93. Most technological advances function as multipliers of human labor.

    Agriculture multiplied the productivity of food gathering by arranging for it to be plentifully in a predictable location, but food still scaled with labor. The fixed need for food per person just meant labor left over for other things.

    Industry multiplied the productivity of hand labor, but production still scaled with labor. Still, got us more things per person, and better.

    Still, both were multipliers.

    The real game changer is a technology which isn't a multiplier.

    Self-reproducing factories, take a fixed amount of labor, and result in an exponentially increasing amount of product. An exponentiator, not multiplier.

    Genuine AI takes a fixed amount of human intellectual labor, and again results in an exponentially increasing intellectual product.

    These are the things that will really change society beyond recognition.

    Or utterly destroy it if we do them stupidly.

  94. I would add first contact as a possibly life changing event depending on how it happens. If it's just an electromagnetic signature barely detectable by sensitive instruments, maybe not so interesting. However, if there is close contact or deliberate communication, life will never be the same.

    On the opposite end of the scale, if we discover that consciousness is just an illusion emerging from complexity or if we discover our universe is just a simulation, our drive for expansion and exploration will fizzle out and we will turn our attention inwards. This may actually be the "big filter" that explains why we don't see advanced civilizations very much.

    Theory: At some point, a technological civilization discovers they are not for real and all efforts are directed towards proving or disproving that fact or trying to communicate with the intelligence running the simulation.

  95. More technological and scientific progress will happen between 2021-2030 than happened between 1900-2020, we will have AGI/ASI this decade. Impossible to predict how the world will look like and what tech and capabilities we'll have beyond 2030. In 2100 we will probably be type 5 civilization

    We will have model with 100 trillion parameters(as much as in human brain) this or next year, will be 500x larger than GPT-3 which is most advanced model we have today.

    I bet it will prove that intelligence arises from complexity. This 100 trillion model will pass Turing test, will be so insane in capabilities that it will ultimately convince even sceptics that AGI is years away not centuries. At the same time new theoretical improvements in models will be made, so every couple of months we will have not only larger models but also more efficient. Some genius somewhere will find a way how to connect it to the web so it can update its database in real time, using newest scientific, technical publications will discover tons of new things. We will run those models soon on quantum and optical computers. Optical first.

    Type 5 civ by 2100 seems crazy? As soon as we will have AGI/ASI(this decade) it will accelerate progress probably million fold or more, so having this in mind it doesn't seem that impossible and far away
    Even without AGI/ASI, 10 000's of narrow AI's will be enough to accelerate progress thousands of times compared to today's speed of progress which is already quite decent

  96. A lot of the things Brian lists won't be civilization changers, but incremental improvements that keep things mostly organized the same fundamental way.

    I'd come at it from the other end – what fundamental change might look like:

    • Nearly everyone spends nearly all their time in VR – physical location and material wealth has far less significance.
    • Humanity uploads to the cloud – VR-heaven.
    • Cities shrink dramatically as the masses move to self-sufficient micro-estates – large scale social organization wanes.
    • The majority of humanity can and do have all their physical needs met by tech that fits in a light backpack, supplied and powered by biomass and occasionally spreading a solar blanket for a power boost. Many just roam, some settle lightly in places they like but welcome visitors.
    • Billions of people live in a cloud of space colonies, each colony experimenting with new societal modes, sometimes altering humans genetically, chemically, digitally, etc. – different off-shoots of humanity eventually no longer recognize each other as truly human.
    • Animals are uplifted, becoming equals and partners with humans, but still uniquely different and expanding the mental/social landscape in ways we cannot anticipate.
  97. "100 million people in orbit or beyond " The O'Neill Truth is starting to penetrate the thought process. Of course, this cannot happen all at once without great stress, sort of a religious experience, so backing into it by thinking there is something "beyond" orbit is quaint. Orbit is our home, not a place on the way.

  98. "there's at least as much of a chance of a dystopian future as a utopian one" The entire future rests upon the race between understanding Janov as a species, thus understanding ourselves, and our destroying ourselves. Which will happen first??

  99. Being able to travel to a destination at up to 200mph means travel would be used for increasingly unimportant reasons. Therefore, it's a question whether one would want to go to the destination at all. Maybe for a change in climate, but we can already do better than that by plane, and the holdup there is not the plane but getting to and from the airports, and that aspect won't entirely change unless there are more airports and less security, or else personal "jet planes." But business travel to an airport convention center for a few hours meeting may be dead in the age of Zoom and its successors. We have to be careful not to "fight the last war."
    Speaking of the last war, there's at least as much of a chance of a dystopian future as a utopian one. Look how badly humanity botched a simple coronavirus and the health and economic fallout of it. It's actually reduced the lifespan of Americans by a year, or more if you're a minority.

  100. I totally agree, but only after we also stop abusing babies and children, have Primal Therapy understood and used, and remaining neurotics, esp power addicts, tagged for caution. Not for political power.

  101. No need for separate structures for wind or Earth solar. Roof/shingle solar maybe. Build that stuff on Earth? Why?

  102. Language that included "when" and "where" ~ 70,000 years ago led to us Africans leaving Africa and killing everything else we could. And all the other stuff mentioned.

  103. Wind power is not really an option for an energy richer world.

    Earth solar, of course. But I ran out of characters.

  104. The different types of technological revolutions that progressed humanity to bring affluence and ease of living have already reached their goal. They also brought with them control hierarchy and desolation. The next stage of human evolution is neo tribalism. At one point we will see the need to micronize the technology we have so the mega societal and economic structure we have will no longer be needed. Everything we have and needed will be created with ease by small groups of people independently and interpedently using high forms of technology. We will stop working for money motivated by fear because there will be no need for money, rather for ourselves and the people we are affiliated with. We will create a social structure of an interconnected, participatory, egalitarian and resource sharing communities that being are mostly self sustaining and nature based that can evolve in a more organic and meaningful ways than the current structure. The means of production will not be controlled again as they will be super available again. This is how we originally were and still meant to be. Predominantly we are not competitive nor solitary specie, but a social and a participatory, these are just secondary traits.

  105. No idea how 2100 will be, just wishes. I expect for it to be significantly richer, bigger in space and energy, faster in movement and computation and with humans still going on, just with several new tricks.

    I am a space fan and I do hope space industrialization and settlement will be big things by then.

    I hope SpaceX plans pan out and quite more than a million humans live out of Earth by then, in Mars or elsewhere, with all the requirements for self sufficiency in place, so they can live on if something goes awry on Earth for any reason. I imagine millions will be actually going to space and returning to Earth every year by then.

    If people in general can live more years or decades, that would be great too. But I hope it is with better health, both mental and physical alike and not with excessive and medically intrusive therapies.

    I'm not a believer in hard AI, and I don't expect for it to be solved for centuries, because I do believe the hard problem of consciousness is harder than we think.

    But I do expect that automation will do incredible advances this century, allowing near complete automation of production here on Earth and possibly on space, as well as widespread robotics on daily life, finally.

    Neuralink and related tech may or may not be a big thing, depending on how good they become and how unobtrusive, easy to deploy they get. We should see in a decade or two.

    Fusion should be solved, at last. With most energy coming from it, nukes and even space solar.

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