Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Sionnach Glic » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:47 am

Back in the fifties and sixties, people seemed convinced that by now we'd have cities on the moon and Mars, flying cars, robot butlers and we'd all be eating pills for dinner. Obviously, they got quite a lot of that a bit wrong. But I thought that it would be interesting to discuss how things might be in the next fifties and sixties. Specifically, how science and technology will progress.

So, by 2060 will we have cities on the moon and Mars, flying cars, robot butlers and will we all be eating pills for dinner? How do you think things will change in the next fifty years?
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Mikey » Mon Jan 03, 2011 12:47 pm

I think daily technology will get more personal. AR, built-in web access and broadcast devices, etc., etc.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby RK_Striker_JK_5 » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:05 pm

Like the iMplant? ;)
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Mikey » Mon Jan 03, 2011 11:12 pm

Something like that. I was imagining more of a Banks-ish neural lace, but you get the idea.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby IanKennedy » Tue Jan 04, 2011 11:49 am

We can pretty much guarantee that it won't be like anything you suggest here. Such predictions invariably turn out to be wrong.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Mikey » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:14 pm

IanKennedy wrote:We can pretty much guarantee that it won't be like anything you suggest here. Such predictions invariably turn out to be wrong.


You're right, of course. Maybe I should try predicting global disaster and massive culling of our species, and hope that I continue to be wrong.

Of course, there's also always the chance that Einstein's prediction about WW4 will come true - that our next technological leap will be stone tools.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby shran » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:42 pm

I doubt that. If there occurs an event that would set us back to pre-stone age levels, there would still be the rubbish of the previous era lying around. It may be a plastic tools age, or perhaps on going straight into primitive metalworking, with all the scraps lying around.

Besides, Stone age tools were sometimes made from mined flint, indicating that even that early stone deposits near the surface were already running low. There may not even be enough resources to restart such a train of advance for quite some time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flint

The level of a civilization is hopefully higher than that of its landfill.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Tyyr » Tue Jan 04, 2011 2:54 pm

There would be stuff laying around which would support a scavenger economy for a few generations but after that it's about what you can sustain, and in the scenario Einstein was envisioning, a massive nuclear exchange, we'd kill off too many people to sustain anywhere near the technological level we're at.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Jan 04, 2011 3:56 pm

In his book, the Next Hundred Years, George Friedman speculates upon the kind of technology that our society will develop within the next decades based on what he thinks will be the logical steps taken by our economical and military needs.

First of all, he projects the occurance of a massive labor shortage crisis during the 2030's, which will help push longevity technologies. But longevity aimed at lengthening the average worker's career, not aimed at making people live longer. He also speculates the labour shortage will also boost the biggest leaps in robotic technologies, but these leaps won't actually be fulfilled until about a decade or so too late, way after the labour shortage problem will be resolved with an alternative, but radical, solution (US and western countries becoming agressive promoter of immigration from poorer countries, rather than having quotas).

Also, he speculates that since Russia's current re-emergence use mainly its energy production as the main leverage to secure loyalty from allies and client-states, the US are probably going to be investing heavily in alternative energy development and production in order to rehaul their allies' economy so they will stop being vulnerable to Russia's blackmail. In short, the world stopping fossil fuel will be achieved not because of any environmental motivation but merely geopolitical incentives (which, I believe, is a stronger social force than any appeal to the people's goodwill and conscience).

Another field that he expects will be developped is a more casual space travel, with an increase in the level of satellite technology will make it an ever greater strategic concern for the US and any power that wishes to have any kind of influence. Global-scale firepower will probably be fielded through a fleet of hypersonic bomber drones acting on the intelligence of satellites, and controlled remotely with a developped satellite communication network.

Since satellite integrity will because vital in maintaining national security, there is a good chance that strategically critical satellite will be defended by a security cordon of defense satellites with lasers and other weapons of the kind. Like there is currently a whole fleet sourrounding a carrier, there is going to be a whole satellite fleet sourrounding the spy/communication sats.

But with time and bad luck, satellite always breaks down. The increase of number and importance of satellites will eventually make the cost of re-launching replacement satellite prohibitive, and the US will probably start to try to repair their damaged satellite rather than outright replace them. However, launching a new manned shuttle every 3 months to repair half a dozen sats will also end up being prohibitive, and so will probably be born the first manned space stations with having an economical purpose. These space stations will be used as the core of the satellite repair effort.

With time and with the proper economical incentive, these manned stations will grow in size and in scope as the technology used will be perfected, until they end up being geostationnary installation. They will probably be built, owned and used mainly by the US.

The biggest leap from there is as such: when we reached a technological level where we can safely launch manned space missions on a casual basis and built large-scale space installation, it can be safely assumed we could then build massive mirror arrays in the Lagrange Orbital Points (which will become key strategic locations). These massive mirror array will focus the continuous available solar energy and redirect it toward earth in the form of microwave beams, which will be caught with arrays meant to distribute the energy on earth. And thus we have the ultimate source of unlimited solar power, easily distributed everywhere in the world (where the solar array can reach with a beam, obviously).


Off course, it's all speculation. But it's speculations based on projected economical trends, and I like to believe economy, military and social forces have a big say in the direction and speed of technological development of our specie.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Mikey » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:03 pm

Speculation based on one man's guesses, more like. Russia already leverages its fossil fuel reserves, and the U.S. has done sweet F.A. about alternative energy - in fact, the U.S. has actively ignored developments like fast reactors and small-pellet reactors, for which the technology is already extant. Instead, we have things like Yucca Mountain stuck in interminable litigation by the most short-sighted of enviro-nuts, all at the expense of both geopolitical intent and big-picture environmental concerns.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby SolkaTruesilver » Tue Jan 04, 2011 4:06 pm

Mikey wrote:Speculation based on one man's guesses, more like. Russia already leverages its fossil fuel reserves, and the U.S. has done sweet F.A. about alternative energy - in fact, the U.S. has actively ignored developments like fast reactors and small-pellet reactors, for which the technology is already extant.


Well, since Russia is using its fossil fuel reserve as leverage is only just a bigger point as to why it's in the US's best interest to deprive them of that leverage.

What about solar/wind/geothermal power development? I heard there are big progress into those recently. Specially geothermal. My GF is currently training in a call center, their maindate is aimed at proposing geothermal installation for residential complex. Isn't that, like, much more commonly available than it used to?


Edit: Oh, well, I don't know how far you can go with "a single man's speculation". The guy has a pretty big apparatus backing him up in STRATFOR. He ain't pulling his speculations out of this air.

Aside from the element you just pointed out, what do you think of the other speculations regarding economical space development?
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Mikey » Tue Jan 04, 2011 5:22 pm

SolkaTruesilver wrote:Well, since Russia is using its fossil fuel reserve as leverage is only just a bigger point as to why it's in the US's best interest to deprive them of that leverage.


This speaks to what I'm saying - the geopolitical impetus to develop alternative energy already exists, and it hasn't made the U.S. do much of anything.

SolkaTruesilver wrote:What about solar/wind/geothermal power development? I heard there are big progress into those recently. Specially geothermal. My GF is currently training in a call center, their maindate is aimed at proposing geothermal installation for residential complex. Isn't that, like, much more commonly available than it used to?


I haven't heard to much about private geothermal development, but solar and wind are definitely much more available than they used to be. However, "much more" than nil doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as "widespread."

As far as space development, we've already stepped foot onto that road. Private development in that field may be fraught with all the dangers that the left cites - lack of government control, etc. - but it's definitely the way to get things accomplished. Governmental programs are bound by politics and by the sentiment of "What material gains have we gotten for our investment?" Private development is constrained only by how much a developer is willing to spend before realizing something liquid - and even then, that doesn't need to stem directly from the development itself.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Tyyr » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:40 pm

SolkaTruesilver wrote:What about solar/wind/geothermal power development? I heard there are big progress into those recently. Specially geothermal. My GF is currently training in a call center, their maindate is aimed at proposing geothermal installation for residential complex. Isn't that, like, much more commonly available than it used to?

No.

Solar and wind are mature technologies. Don't let people try and tell you that they'll "Get cheaper when they are mass produced." They are being mass produced, they're just fucking expensive. They're also not ready for base load. The only way to make them even potentially viable for base load is for mass power storage. You need some way to store the energy they generate intermitantly so you can release it continuously. That's where the break through is needed to make solar and wind viable as more than a publicity stunt.

Geothermal is awesome but it is also limited. To be cost effective you need a shallow hotspot you can tap. Your also limited in the size of a geothermal plant you can land. It's not scalable like other power types. So geothermal is a great option if you live in places like the ring of fire or Iceland. Where there's no faults it's a non-starter.

No, if you want real alternative energy we already have it. It's called nuclear. Right now everything else is a feel good circle jerk for hippies.

Aside from the element you just pointed out, what do you think of the other speculations regarding economical space development?

Space development and economical don't really belong in the same sentence. At least they don't until we stop using single use disintegrating totem poles to get up there. Certain things are profitable enough to make the thousands of dollars per pound price tag something you can deal with but they're limited. For a true space boom we need low cost access, probably with some form of single stage to orbit (SSTO) reusable vehicle. Once that happens you can really start to open up space to a lot of development but what we've got now isn't capable of doing it.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Reliant121 » Tue Jan 04, 2011 7:51 pm

We had a massive debate about this in geography last year and I got slaughtered for effectively being pro nuclear. I cant think of anything that is readily available, relatively safe and can produce such an extent of power that Nuclear can. As far as I am aware, Solar/Wind technology doesn't produce anywhere NEAR enough to compensate for its relatively high cost. Wave is an option, but the technology is not well developed. HEP is fine if you have a strong enough river nearby. Then we are left with nuclear. even that has its faults however.
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Re: Science And Technology Of The Near-ish Future

Postby Tyyr » Tue Jan 04, 2011 8:01 pm

If you mandate fuel reprocessing and combine it with a secure storage site like Yucca mountain there's very little downside to nukes. The only two major nuclear accidents in history are Chernobyl, which was horrible reactor design coupled with turning off most of the automatic safety systems, and Three Mile Island, in which an entire reactor melted down with no appreciable release of radioactivity into the surrounding environment. Hell, the other reactors at TMI are still running today. Nuclear is safe and it releases no greenhouse gases, mercury, no sulfur dioxides, no nitrous oxides, nada.
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