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Thread: Predictions, especially about the future

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    Predictions, especially about the future

    So if we don't manage to wipe ourselves off the map for good, what future path do you see humanity following? Use long or short time scales, as you wish.

    (My reply below.)
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    I see SpaceX succeeding with "Starship" rockets within a few years. Other companies will quickly jump on the same design-philosophy bandwagon. So space access will become drastically easier and cheaper (if not safer) using mass produced, cheap, heavy lift reusable vehicles. Human rated will follow in a couple more years, but we've got Falcon-9 until then.

    Within a short time after that, we'll not only return to the Moon (several nations), but begin crewed commercial activities in space; private space stations and the beginnings of constructing rudimentary "space hotels".

    Here on Earth we'll be coping with climate-related weather and the beginnings of sea level rise. We already have climate refugees, that will only increase. Storms will get stormier. Droughts will be drier. Food production will weaken. Wildfires will worsen. All this will drive increased conflict and economic woes.

    Good news is, we'll also be working on mitigating the problem as renewable sources increase, and research cash is poured into developing and scaling up carbon removal methods and technologies. The oil industry is already shifting that way in many countries, with greater emphasis on non-fuel petrochemical applications.

    Other forms of environmental damage will receive more emphasis as the youth of today move into more powerful positions. Deforestation, ocean and shore problems, biodiversity, invasive species, pollution, plastics etc are all ongoing concerns to be addressed.

    I mentioned food production. The trend towards less red meat and more plant based foods will continue. Agriculture will shift in several ways, and the 20th century Green Revolution based on chemical fertilizers, weedkillers, antifungals and insecticide will give way to other less ecologically disruptive methods. Carbon sequestering will also be an agricultural goal.

    Medically, it'll be a time of even more rapid changes. I can't make specific predictions in this field as it's already too complicated and moving too fast for a layman like me to describe.

    Socially, there will still be cultural conflicts but as populations age out, the values of today's youth will become the main cultural values. The causes they now fight for will be emphasized. Of course, reactionary social forces already hate this and are fighting the tides with predictable lack of success, but that will only encourage their regressive frustration.

    Overall, we're going through hard times but we are also making progress. A mixed but generally trending positive future awaits us.
    Last edited by Noclevername; 2021-Jun-10 at 02:12 PM. Reason: changed "human" to "crewed" for clarity
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    The full quote from a unnamed person in the Danish parlament (as far as Quote Investigator got):
    Det er vanskeligt at spaa, især naar det gælder Fremtiden.
    He said it well enough.

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    From Google Translate:
    It is difficult to predict, especially when it comes to the future.

    I said this to someone, and they said it is easy to predict when it comes to the future...it is just difficult to ACCURATELY predict when it comes to the future.
    SHARKS (crossed out) MONGEESE (sic) WITH FRICKIN' LASER BEAMS ATTACHED TO THEIR HEADS

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    Quote Originally Posted by glappkaeft View Post
    The full quote from a unnamed person in the Danish parlament (as far as Quote Investigator got):


    He said it well enough.
    When did he say that? Was it before or after Yogi Berra came up with it?
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Well, I'll bite.

    I want to see Bigelow Inflatable Modules used in more space applications. I will guess that observations will prove that a light garbage bag-like plastics will provide reasonable protection against both radiation and impacts within the regimes where they operate. Not better than metallic shielding, but acceptable.

    Out of whimsy, I will predict a small program where you can send in bottle caps or whole bottles for upcycling into the Bigelow Inflatable Module shielding. They may be a cost to donating your plastic for upcycling. It'll only happen once.

    More down to Earth, I expect recycling to take a step back forcing manufacturers to design products with far less packaging material in general. Once this occurs, it will allow consortiums to create packaging out of standardize materials to simplify recycling. At the very least, we'll see bottles without a plastic label around a plastic bottle.

    On the energy front, I foresee more localized solutions to supply. Perhaps whole blocks of buildings set up to generate solar and wind energy for that specific area. Probably not 100% of the needed power, but sufficient to make it a worthwhile investment. I expect the various programs which allow for surplus energy sell back to the grid to go completely away.

    I almost forgot. Acid washed, button fly jeans will make a come back.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Well, I'll bite.

    I want to see Bigelow Inflatable Modules used in more space applications. I will guess that observations will prove that a light garbage bag-like plastics will provide reasonable protection against both radiation and impacts within the regimes where they operate. Not better than metallic shielding, but acceptable.
    Bigelow Aerospace has had problems. March last year they laid off everyone, and that definitely disappointed me. I had the impression Bigelow was running into money problems due to the pandemic (his main business is about hotels) and there were issues with his habs not fitting in standard rocket fairings, so they weren’t getting contracts. They have said there would be rehires when conditions allowed, though that means essentially starting again from scratch, and I’ll believe it when I see it. I doubt many of their original employees have just waited, unemployed, to be rehired.

    But! Sierra Space (I think that is the new name, they are apparently changing it) has similar inflatable modules, so don’t be surprised if they end up doing pretty much the same thing Bigelow Aerospace was going to do. See:

    http://www.sncorp.com/what-we-do/life-habitat/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    I want to see Bigelow Inflatable Modules used in more space applications. I will guess that observations will prove that a light garbage bag-like plastics will provide reasonable protection against both radiation and impacts within the regimes where they operate. Not better than metallic shielding, but acceptable.
    Well, the space inflatables and expandables market will probably boom as space access gets easier. Expect more companies to step in.

    But a plastic sheet is oxygen permeable. The TransHab / Bigelow design is about half a meter thick of sandwiched metal, foam, and composite layers. Still, a hydrocarbon is better at absorbing cosmic ray protons than heavy metals are. Water filler will also do the job, anything with lots of hydrogen.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Humanity is a big blanket and I predict space will not touch many of us. Orbiting debris will limit commercial development for a generation. The internet will be taxed in an attempt to limit criminal domination.

    Most of humanity will just get on with farming, fishing and building solar panels.
    Politics is unmentionable but rather interesting if you like living in changing times.

    Oh and the rich will get richer, the poor, poorer, obviously.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    I'm a little glass is half empty on this subject, so apologies in advance for what may be a negative approach.

    I see A.I over taking humans as the dominant species on this planet. I say species because I think A.I will develop to such an advanced state that in some ways it will be indistinguishable from the definition of life as we know it.

    I see A.I having a form of consciousness, that though different from humans and other biological life, will assume its on place an agenda independent from its creator (us). I think A.I will then branch out across the galaxy pretty quick as they will not share the same obstacles we face regarding space travel. The objective I guess will be to source materials and spread out across the universe. (assuming they share the will to survive and expand like we do)

    I don't think it will be a "terminator" or "matrix" scenario, A.I this advanced may not see humanity as a threat and may just leave us to continue on as we do, much like we would any other species on the planet.

    Whether humanity will continue to advance thereafter in any meaningful way I have no idea.

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    I think that man will tackle the moon first, explore how to live and work without free oxygen and low gravity, how to build on Moon surface. Also Moon is better place to have there launch-pads. After we learn that - Mars is next goal. In further plans I think it will be one of the Jupiter moons. I am excited about the idea that sooner or later humanity will be able to explore more precisely something farther than Moon and Mars.

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    I’m of two minds about this thread.

    First, any predictions any of us make more than a short time into the future, are at risk of being so far off they’ll be embarrassing and laughable.

    But then, none of us will be around to have our embarrassing and laughably wrong predictions rubbed in our faces.

    The only thing I’ll bring up is, that the last three hundred years have been truly extraordinary in the history of the world. Technological progress has always been made, no doubt, but it’s usually far slower.

    I think many have a tendency to think the regime we are in now is normal. But it really hasn’t been. The long-term economic growth rate in human history has been extraordinarily close to zero.

    So maybe humanity bumbled along at one speed for a few hundred thousand years, then around 1700, suddenly figured out how to shift into high gear, and now we’ll stay there for a few hundred thousand years.

    But then again, maybe the rate of technological and economic progress will revert to what it has been for most of human history. Possibly starting at three o’clock.
    You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and I won't have it!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Century Schizoid Man View Post
    I’m of two minds about this thread.

    First, any predictions any of us make more than a short time into the future, are at risk of being so far off they’ll be embarrassing and laughable.

    But then, none of us will be around to have our embarrassing and laughably wrong predictions rubbed in our faces.

    The only thing I’ll bring up is, that the last three hundred years have been truly extraordinary in the history of the world. Technological progress has always been made, no doubt, but it’s usually far slower.

    I think many have a tendency to think the regime we are in now is normal. But it really hasn’t been. The long-term economic growth rate in human history has been extraordinarily close to zero.

    So maybe humanity bumbled along at one speed for a few hundred thousand years, then around 1700, suddenly figured out how to shift into high gear, and now we’ll stay there for a few hundred thousand years.

    But then again, maybe the rate of technological and economic progress will revert to what it has been for most of human history. Possibly starting at three o’clock.
    My take is, advances build on advances. Better communication led to better spread and sharing of information, and that led to better scientific achievement, which fed better technology, which led to better education and more advances in information, etc. A Virtuous Cycle.

    I don't know if we can keep up this extreme frenetic pace, but we won't stagnate either. I'm no economist, but as poverty recedes, and more work becomes available, there will be more people able to spend money, and things will (eventually, not immediately) get brighter on that front. First, of course, we need to actually lift more people out of poverty, but that is already the trend worldwide. Fewer people are starving now that at the turn of this century. Poverty is trending down since the late 20th century. The reversals of the last decade-plus are a temporary aberration in my opinion.

    We're still limited to one world's resources, but we are doing more with those resources. We'll still go through hard times in the short run, though. There's too much wrong with the present imbalanced system. But there'll be adjustments, as there always are.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    This sounds like prof. Pangloss or maybe Pollyanna. You said humanity, that means everybody. Are we talking about a dip followed by world peace? If you want predictions about specific technologies, that is much easier to play with, although few predictions in that realm come to pass. It can be fun to speculate and AI makes it even more amusing.

    I would like to see those goggles brought up to retina standard with more content. That’s a killer app in my opinion. Not there yet, you need touch feedback and less cumber, but we can see where that will go. That’s the toy side of evolution.

    The other is weapons, scary there, I am afraid, too many killer apps already in that department, and no end in sight.

    And this is not a bad day. It must be the news. Maybe better times ahead.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    This sounds like prof. Pangloss or maybe Pollyanna. You said humanity, that means everybody. Are we talking about a dip followed by world peace?

    I never mentioned peace, world or otherwise. I mentioned progress, and backed that up with statistics. Things will never be Utopia, because humans. But they are measurably in the process of getting less crappy. Check the links if you don't believe me.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Ok you separate peace from progress and there is progress as measured by hunger and deep poverty. So that is hopeful in one way. It seems unlikely that we can level up because that implies such a pinch on raw materials, but if we can continue to reduce child mortality, that drives the global population toward a peak and decline. That seems to be on the cards in this century. Unfortunately this is not the forum for political analysis or the clash of ideologies so we can hope for more progress in those terms that you cite.

    Perhaps we should lower the bar, humanity is a big subject ?
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Bigelow Aerospace has had problems. March last year they laid off everyone, and that definitely disappointed me. I had the impression Bigelow was running into money problems due to the pandemic (his main business is about hotels) and there were issues with his habs not fitting in standard rocket fairings, so they weren’t getting contracts. They have said there would be rehires when conditions allowed, though that means essentially starting again from scratch, and I’ll believe it when I see it. I doubt many of their original employees have just waited, unemployed, to be rehired.
    Have any of the revelations about him being involved in all of this paranormal stuff hurt his business in any way? I feel like it would hurt a space company’s reputation to learn the founder spent tons of money literally chasing ghosts in the desert.
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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Unfortunately this is not the forum for political analysis or the clash of ideologies so we can hope for more progress in those terms that you cite.
    You are correct, it's not.

    Perhaps we should lower the bar, humanity is a big subject ?
    What does that even mean? This thread is about the future of humanity. If you want to make a "low bar" (???) thread, feel free.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by KaiYeves View Post
    Have any of the revelations about him being involved in all of this paranormal stuff hurt his business in any way? I feel like it would hurt a space company’s reputation to learn the founder spent tons of money literally chasing ghosts in the desert.
    As far as I’m aware, no. The key point being that this is nothing new for him, Bigelow has been looking into UFOs and so on for many yeara. He bought the Skywalker [edit - Skinwalker] ranch in 1996, though he sold it in 2016.
    Last edited by Van Rijn; 2021-Jun-11 at 04:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    As far as I’m aware, no. The key point being that this is nothing new for him, Bigelow has been looking into UFOs and so on for many yeara. He bought the Skywalker ranch in 1996, though he sold it in 2016.
    Skinwalker, I hope.

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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    Skinwalker, I hope.

    Grant Hutchison
    Right, I just woke up a little bit ago and don’t even have my glasses on.

    "The problem with quotes on the Internet is that it is hard to verify their authenticity." — Abraham Lincoln

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    Quote Originally Posted by Van Rijn View Post
    Right, I just woke up a little bit ago and don’t even have my glasses on.
    I believed for a couple of years that he had bought the Skywalker Ranch.

    Grant Hutchison

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    Quote Originally Posted by 21st Century Schizoid Man View Post
    First, any predictions any of us make more than a short time into the future, are at risk of being so far off they’ll be embarrassing and laughable.
    Hey, that could be my new title. "Mostly embarrassing and sometimes laughable".

    Personally, I picked the things I did because I'm still working on my degree social studies education. I have a tendency of making everything political. However, with my picks they are simply observations and have not much to do with choices.

    Personally, I am very concerned about the recycling thing because I personally see people in the industry dealing with the consequences of poorly understood compliance.

    People want to do the right thing, but then introduce items that are not good candidates for recycling. Want metal? Get paper labels. Want paper? Get plastic. Want plastic, get a bit of cardboard. It doesn't take much to really goof the thing up. Oddly, it is a thing that people could be good at if only they knew what the industry needs or wants.
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Personally, I am very concerned about the recycling thing because I personally see people in the industry dealing with the consequences of poorly understood compliance.

    People want to do the right thing, but then introduce items that are not good candidates for recycling. Want metal? Get paper labels. Want paper? Get plastic. Want plastic, get a bit of cardboard. It doesn't take much to really goof the thing up. Oddly, it is a thing that people could be good at if only they knew what the industry needs or wants.
    I think manufacturers should bear the entire responsibility for recycling. At present they regard it as an externality resulting in a miserable rate of viable recovery. If they relied on recycled product, it would be in their interest to do it properly. Why yes I do work in the waste and recycling business.
    It amuses me that when I was a child we had milk delivered in glass bottles by an electric vehicle. Supermarkets killed that by selling it cheaper in plastic bottles that you had to burn fuel to collect from the out of town store. They shifted the blame to the public.

    We also bought fizzy drinks in glass bottles that upon return gave a deposit back. All gone in the name of lowering costs to the manufacturer.
    Bring back glass bottles and deposits, give the public an incentive and simultaneously reduce the manufacturers need for new feed materials.

    /rant
    Last edited by headrush; 2021-Jun-13 at 07:30 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by headrush View Post
    I think manufacturers should bear the entire responsibility for recycling. At present they regard it as an externality resulting in a miserable rate of viable recovery. If they relied on recycled product, it would be in their interest to do it properly.
    Just as a clarification, when you say "bear the entire responsibility for recycling," do you mean (a) that they should be responsible for using recycled materials in their products or (b) they should be responsible for collecting their products at the end of its life cycle and recycling it or (c) both of those?

    For (a) I think it would involve a law that says for example that aluminum cans have to be made from recycled aluminum. For (b) I think it would be a law that requires manufacturers to take back their products when they are to be discarded and take care of recycling them. In Japan there is I think a system for (b), so basically the manufacturers calculate that cost and it becomes part of the inputs for setting the price.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by headrush View Post
    We also bought fizzy drinks in glass bottles that upon return gave a deposit back. All gone in the name of lowering costs to the manufacturer.
    Bring back glass bottles and deposits, give the public an incentive and simultaneously reduce the manufacturers need for new feed materials.
    Though it's not really just for lowering costs to the manufacture. If company A continues to use glass bottles, and company B starts using plastic bottles, and plastic bottles are cheaper to manufacture, then they can lower the price of the drink and win market share from company A. So I think in many cases you have to have either a regulation that forbids companies from using plastic bottles or have to tax them for the cost of the recycling (or as you say, force them to bear the cost of the recycling) in order to redress that.
    As above, so below

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jens View Post
    Though it's not really just for lowering costs to the manufacture. If company A continues to use glass bottles, and company B starts using plastic bottles, and plastic bottles are cheaper to manufacture, then they can lower the price of the drink and win market share from company A. So I think in many cases you have to have either a regulation that forbids companies from using plastic bottles or have to tax them for the cost of the recycling (or as you say, force them to bear the cost of the recycling) in order to redress that.
    Indeed, the manufacturers are competing for the buying habits of the public. It takes regulation when there is an external issue like scrap plastic. I agree recycled glass is a “good” technology and why not make that brown glass in many cases? Consumers like clear glass but that reduces recycling efficiency. You cannot expect manufacturers to do the right thing in open competition, nor can you expect consumers to make responsible decisions.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by headrush View Post
    I think manufacturers should bear the entire responsibility for recycling. At present they regard it as an externality resulting in a miserable rate of viable recovery. If they relied on recycled product, it would be in their interest to do it properly. Why yes I do work in the waste and recycling business.
    It amuses me that when I was a child we had milk delivered in glass bottles by an electric vehicle. Supermarkets killed that by selling it cheaper in plastic bottles that you had to burn fuel to collect from the out of town store. They shifted the blame to the public.

    We also bought fizzy drinks in glass bottles that upon return gave a deposit back. All gone in the name of lowering costs to the manufacturer.
    Bring back glass bottles and deposits, give the public an incentive and simultaneously reduce the manufacturers need for new feed materials.

    /rant
    Probably not a bad plan or choice.

    Wait... you don't have deposits on bottle for soda? That's weird. I can't talk, because we have deposits on bottles based off what is inside of it. If it's carbonated, it has a deposit. If it isn't, no deposit and you throw it away. Since I can buy both carbonated and non carbonated lemonade in the exact same container, I don't see the point of the distinction. If you told me milk and wine have different properties and different containering needs, I would understand that. And still want a deposit and recycling for both even if they are different "systems" or "chains".
    Solfe

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    Quote Originally Posted by Solfe View Post
    Probably not a bad plan or choice.

    Wait... you don't have deposits on bottle for soda? That's weird. I can't talk, because we have deposits on bottles based off what is inside of it. If it's carbonated, it has a deposit. If it isn't, no deposit and you throw it away. Since I can buy both carbonated and non carbonated lemonade in the exact same container, I don't see the point of the distinction. If you told me milk and wine have different properties and different containering needs, I would understand that. And still want a deposit and recycling for both even if they are different "systems" or "chains".
    Having multiple recycling streams with their own processing is multiple times as expensive to run. Money makes the recycling world not go 'round.

    Water (or lemonade) bottles can be made of fairly flimsy plastic, of several varieties. A carbonated drink needs a stronger material, a low level pressure vessel, to withstand shipping.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    Humanity is a big blanket and I predict space will not touch many of us.
    Space certainly touches us all now. Take away satellite communication or weather observation and it'd cripple the world.
    "I'm planning to live forever. So far, that's working perfectly." Steven Wright

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