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Limits to technology

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanNovember 2, 2011 12:27 AM


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A few stray thoughts, which might be worth having a discussion about. Unless one wants to go Soylent Green or Logan's Run both the proponents of stable/declining world population and continued growth have to look to technology. More people means more economic productivity to keep everyone afloat ahead of the Malthusian trap. But even if the population stabilizes, there is still the major problem of the rising dependency fraction due to aging. The only way that we can keep up is by increasing the productivity of the work force. This is especially going to be an issue in a nation like China because of the one child policy (which practically turned out to be a 1.5 child policy). Either "working age" people have to work more productively, or health care has to reduce late in life morbidity so that people can work longer and get the ratio of retirees to workers reasonable. Secondarily, I'm kind of getting sick of the fact that everyone's battery is dying. My battery is dying, your battery is dying. "Hey, can I call you later? My battery is dying." With the rising penetration of smartphones batteries are dying all over the place. I remember a time, back in 2006, when I must have been charging my phone once a week or something! The days. I know that smartphone technology is a step forward, but it goes to show how difficult it is to make a good battery, insofar as we've taken a massive step backward in terms of the battery life that we had come to expect. There's a creeping element of zero sum in all of this; more features means less juice per feature.

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