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World & Current Events > Are you a techno - pessimist/optimist or maybe just a fan of a techno music? -:)

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 16061 comments These are real trends with optimists believing that technology will save the world and help eradicate poverty, diseases and that maybe humankind will one day be suntanning with a pina colada in our hand while friendly robots will clean up the mess and do something productive. The pessimists, as you can imagine, believe in precisely the opposite.
And those in love with techno music maybe just take some brain stimulating substance and get tuned with the tech -:)
Which side of the scale do you belong?

message 2: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan Somewhere in the middle.

I think that technology will continue to advance at a rapid rate, perhaps there will be a "technological singularity," but the key idea I have is that no amount of technology can solve "being human."

On the flip side of that, sufficient technology may render being human a moot point - if it transforms (some of) us into something else.

message 3: by Matthew (last edited Aug 31, 2018 09:45AM) (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) I used to consider myself a techno-realist, but lately, optimism has been breaking out. After having looked at humanity's relationship with technology over our long history, I have realized that it's easy to become cynical and critical and think that every new invention is only going to have downsides. I also understand that such attitudes are a necessary flipside to the coin, since new gadgets and "the latest thing" are always been pushed as being somehow necessary.

However, I think on balance, technological progress has always been for the better - at least when it comes to humanity. With every major breakthrough, which was inspired by the need to sustain our growing numbers and level of activity, human beings have become less reliant on drudgery to survive; per capita literacy, numeracy, and standards of living have all improved exponentially, and social systems that are dependent upon poverty and ignorance for their continuance (i.e. autocracy and dictatorship) have been undermined.

Of course, it has come at a great cost to the planet itself and our reliance on its systems and resources. But then again, it is this same drive to sustain our numbers and use our resources more wisely that has led to the technologies that could ensure that we make it out of this century in one piece. If only we're willing to commit to making the change happen!

message 4: by Michel (last edited Aug 31, 2018 12:05PM) (new)

Michel Poulin One technological breakthrough I am fervently hoping for is thermonuclear fusion. The day we will be able to have working, efficient thermonuclear powerplants, we will have a nearly infinite, non-polluting power source and we will then be able to close all fossil fuel powerplants. The extra electrical power will allow us to economically extract potable water from seawater, thus cutting on droughts and helping our agricultural output, while the elimination of carbon pollution from old coal and oil/gas powerplants will give a chance to the planet to fight back and absorb the excess CO2 causing global warming.

Oh, I nearly forgot: thermonuclear fusion, by giving us highly efficient propulsion engines, will open the exploitation of the Solar System to us.

message 5: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Michel wrote: "One technological breakthrough I am fervently hoping for is thermonuclear fusion. The day we will be able to have working, efficient thermonuclear powerplants, we will have a nearly infinite, non-p..."

Amen to that! I do believe that nuclear-thermal rockets (fission reactors heating hydrogen fuel) will make regular missions to Mars a reality. But with thermonuclear rockets, we could finally tap the resources of the outer Solar System. Post-scarcity economy, here we come!

message 6: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11781 comments As a scientist, I guess I am naturally in favour of technological advances, but there is a price: once on the horse, so to speak, and the horse is galloping forward, you can't get off. Unfortunately, some politicians think we can, as seen with global warming. I believe the current times are the best overall for humanity - we have the best control over disease, famine, etc that we have ever had, but the price has been a population explosion that is killing much of what is on the planet. That is controllable, but politicians are not controlling it.

I agree thermonuclear fusion would be a great advance, but it is not quite the solution to everything because it is not entirely clean - you always make some neutrons and not all of them are going to be contained in stable nuclei. As Michel notes, it would permit space travel, but all vehicles must remain in space, due to the mass required to shield from those neutrons - there remains the problem of getting to space, and unless we can fins some confined way of doing this fusion, that includes constructing the fusion motors and ships in space.

My personal view is the two most pressing problems are the atmospheric CO2 and the population. The last time Earth had this level of CO2, oceans were 17 meters higher. Take a look at all the cities and food producing areas than get lost if our seas rise 17 meters.

message 7: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Williams (houseofwilliams) Ian wrote: "As a scientist, I guess I am naturally in favour of technological advances, but there is a price: once on the horse, so to speak, and the horse is galloping forward, you can't get off. Unfortunatel..."

That is the plan, have the ships assembled in orbit and remain in a parking orbit between trips. Getting to and from it would involve a small launcher that would take people to and from the surface. Not only is it more safer, its more cost-effective than launching a massive rocket from the bottom of the gravity well.

message 8: by Michel (last edited Sep 01, 2018 01:47PM) (new)

Michel Poulin The two most efficient methods to launch loads into Earth orbit are in my opinion:

- A space plane carried to altitude by a mother aircraft (à la Virgin Galactic, but with bigger planes), then released and rocket to orbit.
- A long electro-magnetic jump ramp that would impart an appreciable velocity to a space plane before it even left the ground. Edwards Air Force Base, with its vast dried salt lake surrounded by hills, would be an ideal place to build such a long ski jump ramp.

Any new technology that could help make space travel easier, cheaper and safer would have a huge impact on the future of Humanity.

message 9: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11781 comments In one of my novels I opted for the electromagnetic ramp to get initial velocity, then when going fast enough, hit the front of the craft with radiation from a space station (obviously this is second generation) to make a plasma in front of it, then use a magnetohydrodynamic drive to shove the plasma behind the craft. The atmosphere provides the thrusting material, thus saving weight. That will work until the atmosphere gets too thin, and then it is chemical rockets for docking. My guess is space travel is inevitable as long as we don't do something very stupid in the meantime.

On interesting thought is what would the fuel be for fusion. My current guess is D2O. Easy to make, it holds the deuteriums in place, overcoming the bending vibrational energy his rather trivial in context with the energy of fusion, and the oxygen would be a good neutron scavenger for when 3He is inadvertently produced. I wish I could live long enough to se if this actually works.

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