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Thread: Just how advanced is modern technology?

  1. #1
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    Just how advanced is modern technology?

    If you had to score planet Earth as a whole on how advanced its technology is what would you rate it?

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    It's not the planet, it's humans.
    D-
    Could do better. Still burns valuable chemicals for fuel. Treats the environment like a dumping ground for waste. Doesn't play well with others.

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    Better than 100 years ago. Inferior to 100 years from now.

    Seriously, it's impossible to do such a rating because there is no standard of comparison.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    If you had to score planet Earth as a whole on how advanced its technology is what would you rate it?
    On what scale?

    From 0 (no technology) to 10 (the most advanced technology we know of) it scores 10, by definition.

    From 0 (no technology) to 10 (the most advanced technology we can possibly imagine or even technology that we can't imagine) it scores 0, I guess.

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    It’s a bit hard to rate it without any other technological civilizations to compare it to.
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    What does physics say the limit of technology is? And how close are we to it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    What does physics say the limit of technology is? And how close are we to it?
    I don't think it does, does it?

    Well, only in very general terms. We can't make machines smaller than a few atoms. We can't travel (or transfer information) faster than light. And so on. I'm not sure that tells us much about what technology is possible, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    It’s a bit hard to rate it without any other technological civilizations to compare it to.
    We are the most advanced technological civilization we know of.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebuchet View Post
    Seriously, it's impossible to do such a rating because there is no standard of comparison.
    And not all segments of technology are of equal advancement. How does one compare the state of let's say structural engineering to genetic modification?

    And, in all fields, there are big gaps between what the state-of-the-art is, what the most common practice is, and the least advanced, but still used level of technology is.
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    Iím going to go out on a limb and say maybe seven of what is possible. Now I may be wrong, and hope I am, but I think there are hard constraints posed by nature and that in many cases we are coming up against them. I can think of lots of examples but Iíll mention just a few.


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    If you look at superconductivity, the temperature achieved rose steadily from 1911, and then in 1985 there was a big bump, but in the thirty years since then it has pretty much plateaued, despite the fact that lots of people are working on the problem pretty intensely. It could be, though itís not known, that we could be approaching a hard limit.


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    Medicine is hard to predict, but I think that there were enormous advances made in the mid 20th century often based on very easy targets, but the body is very complex and it becomes more and more difficult to find such targets. Blocking the action of ACE is a very effective way to reduce blood pressure without interfering with other processes, but in lots of cases doing something creates other risks, so for example blood thinning reduces stroke risk but also raises bleeding risk. Hopefully work in areas like systems biology will help us to have more understanding of the complexity, but probably we will start running out of easy targets.

    I realize this sounds a bit pessimistic, and I hope that I am wrong and that there will be big breakthroughs.


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    And one really simple one. Balloons are a fairly old technology, and we have basically come up to a limit because hydrogen is the lightest gas there is. The only breakthrough that would give us a relatively minor boost would be a vacuum balloon, but then you need an envelope to resist the pressure, which adds weight to the structure.


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    Honestly it seems as though technology advancements have out paced their impact on everyday society. There are many breakthroughs that have had little to no effect on day to day life even decades after their development, from artificial blood (1979), Liquid breathing Fluids (1990's) to Graphene and Carbon Nano-Tubes (both of which were projected to have a HUGE influence on modern industry in the late 90's) just to name a few.

    Heck, bionic prosthetics that can be controlled via the user's neural commands have been around so long that there should be millions of users (mid 90's) by now, but I've never even seen one, or know anyone that has, outside of promotional videos hyping their impact on daily life for amputees.

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    How is our technology relative to The Expanse? What about Interstellar?

    Why can we not make wood in the lab? Trees make it out of air, so you would think it would be simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    How is our technology relative to The Expanse? What about Interstellar?

    Why can we not make wood in the lab? Trees make it out of air, so you would think it would be simple.
    I'm not sure what you mean by your first question. But regarding the second one, you might be able to make a tree in the lab (we can make a pretty good simulation of meat in the lab), but why would anybody want to? As you say, nature does it very well and cost effectively. Though it's not made out of air. It also requires water and nitrogen and some other things like sulfur. Having said that, though, growing a tree in a laboratory would not be trivial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    How is our technology relative to The Expanse? What about Interstellar?
    I see. I looked it up and see that The Expanse is a TV series. Now I understand the question, but I can't answer, never having watched it. I did watch some of Interstellar, and my vague recollection is that the technology level was not all that much beyond what we have now. The rockets used plasma engines, but I think that is plausible.
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    What is the most advanced technology known?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    What is the most advanced technology known?
    You mean comparing disciplines?
    How do you compare biology with rocketry?

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    Possibly a helpful reference:
    An old RPG called Traveller put some effort into defining technology levels.

    http://wiki.travellerrpg.com/Tech_Le...mparison_Chart


    That new chart seems more advanced than I recall.
    As I recall, tech levels used to go from 0 to 10 and was more eloquent in its brevity.

    It had a metric for each of a range of disciplines/industries:

    . . . . . . . . . . . . Weapons . . . . . . . Transport . . . . . . Medicine . . . . etc.
    Level 0: . . . . . . . sticks . . . . . . . . . . foot . . . . . . . . . . plants . . . . . . etc.
    Level 1-9 . . . . . . .... etc.
    Level 10: . . .poof you're dead . poof you're there . poof you're healed . . etc.

    Earth was Tech level 3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post
    You mean comparing disciplines?
    How do you compare biology with rocketry?
    I was going to post something similar, but somehow lost my message. I can definitely see talking about the most advanced propulsion technology (but even there it's tricky, because an ion thruster has a much different mission from a a missile engine), but how could you possibly compare say a fighter jet to a microscope? They have completely different purposes.

    I've heard it said for example that the LHC is the most complex machine in the world, but actually it's a combination of bolts and magnets and electric wires and CMOS detectors, some of which are very advanced but some of which are not so much.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    What is the most advanced technology known?
    I would have to say electronics, specifically in computing. The levels of knowledge needed to create ever smaller features while avoiding quantum effects and heat are incredible. Also, advances in other fields are generally led by advances in computing tech: better models, better forecasts, better imaging etc. Then of course there is information technology which has a whole other direction but is still based on electronics.

    Are smart watches classed as digital? If so, then I still think they're a pretty neat idea.

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    In a nice step backwards--manual controls make a return
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    How would I rate our modern day advanced technology? Since it's quite young I'd rate it as a baby starting to crawl.

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    We are way behind HAL 9000. Even thou they have learned to play chess and go but a lot of that is learning from old games played by humans, or simple pattern recognition but still far knowing how to weed a garden, or able to have voice recognition and search like WATSON on jeopardy they have a long way to go. I doubt they can even sing a bicycle built for 2 let alone ride one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Backroad Astronomer View Post
    I doubt they can even sing a bicycle built for 2 let alone ride one.

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by DaveC426913 View Post

    I said a bicycle built for two.
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    Only a matter of time before shopping carts ride Johnny Knoxville down a hill and get all hurt.

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    Does the fact that we can't even make wood, make steel without coal and rely on fossil fuels for the bulk of our energy needs mean we are technologically backwards compared with theoretical civilizations that can do these things?

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    Quote Originally Posted by cjackson View Post
    Does the fact that we can't even make wood, make steel without coal and rely on fossil fuels for the bulk of our energy needs mean we are technologically backwards compared with theoretical civilizations that can do these things?
    Are you sure we canít make steel without coal?

    With regard to energy, yes, I would say we are behind civilizations that rely on other more sustainable ways to get energy, for example nuclear fusion.


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