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I oscillate between the doom porn stuff ThatBritGuy mentions and something rather more hopeful.

On the whole, whilst I do think that the situation of our civilisation is a little too close for comfort to the Easter Island analogy Jared Diamond uses in 'Collapse', I spend more days in an optimistic frame of mind than I do anticipating a Mad Max-esque apocalyptic wasteland. Partly this is because, like technopolitical, I have a gut-feeling (I'm not sufficiently close to the cutting edge for it to be more than that) that there is a strong pipeline of advances in materials science that will synergise with the emergence of ubiquitous, distributed computing networks and which will have a subtly profound effect over the next two or three decades on the way that our civilisation does things on a day-to-day basis; and partly because I have a healthy respect for the basic durability of the societies (complex and interdependant as they are) that we have made.

Luckily for us, the step change I mention seems likely to kick in at around the same time that the world community takes peak oil on board and starts to get serious about climate change - so there's a middling fair chance that we'll 'spend' the benefits of this transformation on adaptation/ mitigation of our energy usage patterns, rather than on suborbital flights to Cape Town for stag parties or similar.

Turning to the shiny future of Gernsbackian rockets and manly men solving problems with sliderules and superior firepower that DeAnander alludes to - I don't think that'll come to pass. Space seems to be pretty bloody unpleasant for a standard 'spam in a can' human. The high frontier will be colonised by our probes I think - why mine the asteroid belt in person if you can do it by directing a swarm of mining robots over an internet link?

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Mon Apr 10th, 2006 at 12:32:09 PM EST

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