Sunday, December 9, 2012

Any New Breakthroughs to Save Modern Civilization?

Bruce Charlton makes an excellent point:
Essentially, modernity relies on many and frequent sci-tech breakthroughs to generate economic growth to fund ever-escalating levels of bribery/ distraction; until bureacratic parasitism and sclerosis kills the whole thing.

So the question is: are there any new breakthroughs left to save modern civilization?

You must remember, we depend not merely on sustaining the current levels, but the entire foundation of our modern civilization is intrinsically and essentially dependent on constant growth in technology, population, and thus economy.

What we require to even sustain our modern way and prevent imminent collapse: new energy technologies (e.g. effective and cheap solar panels), new ways to cheaply and effectively clean water, new ways to grow more resilient draught-resistent genetically-modified crops. On top of all that we also need to keep turning resources into products to sustain the consumer-based economy. Additionally, these technological advancements must always be of an ever-increasing scale and an ever-increasing increment to sustain an exponential growth of population.

So assuming we have the available geniuses, who despite all bureaucratic incompetence somehow rise to positions of influence, who actually make new significant breakthroughs: we must still accept the total collapse as inevitable. It is not a matter of whether or not it happens, but a matter of when.

To not collapse we would require limited resources to somehow become unlimitedly processable in ever-increasing quantities. This is an impossible contradiction. Additionally we require not just some geniuses, but an ever-increasing number of geniuses capable of ever-increasing feats of technological development not to collapse (all in a society that is both opposed to geniuses and purposefully subsidizes the growth of the least intelligent segments).

So do we have the necessary technology to postpone collapse another century? At this point, we certainly do not. It will be interesting to watch for significant new breakthroughs, but as time drags on and nothing is discovered the collapse will get ever closer.

There does seem one "hope" for the modern world: a large war, disease, or disaster which allows us to restart from a lower level with a far smaller population to resource ratio.  At the same time it would need to have the largest reductive impact on the most resource intensive and least intelligent population segments. We might then be capable another century of "growth" - like when the stock market begins rising again from a large setback where many bad companies went bankrupt. That is: the only hope for the modern world appears to be large-scale suffering which is exactly what the modern world is most inclined to avoid.

In the long run, the collapse of modern civilization appears unavoidable. No matter what happens in the short-term, we are on a dead-end path. Paradoxically the more we run from addressing these issues, the more we run from suffering, a greater and more painful suffering of an ever-increasing number of people will be the only result: starvation, war, selfishness for mere survival, etc.

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