Artificial intelligence has some big risks. When you set a machine to learn its job and program itself, you will soon not only not know how the machine actually works, and if it goes wrong you may not be able to understand its workings well enough to fix it. For many issues this won’t be a big, or possibly even noticeable problem, but when it affects your medical diagnosis or how your pilot can control the plane you’re on, this fundamental problem of artificial intelligence can become very serious. Continue reading
Tag Archives: science
Major disaster or creeping decay? A huge, amorphous disaster like an Extinction Event can last anywhere from minutes (asteroid impact) to 500 million years (volcanic eruptions). The current extinction event, thought to be the sixth, began at least a century or two ago and may continue for another century or two, though that period could be drastically shortened by a number of potential events such as nuclear war or climate change. Human events are rarely severe enough to cause drastic, lasting change unless they are supported by many other, seemingly less significant situations and events. For instance, a small change in the climate can favor some microorganisms over others, and result in sudden, unexpected die-offs of particular species such as starfish, with unpredictable environmental consequences. Terrible typhoons killed hundreds of thousands of people in Myanmar and China, and the Sichuan earthquake killed tens of thousands, but these countries’ populations barely showed the difference a decade later. So how can we expect the next century to play out? Continue reading
This is an interesting question, especially from an earth science perspective. And this article is excellent scientific reading if you want to better understand the effects of global warming. Unfortunately, this is only one aspect of the effects of our runaway overpopulation. This might become a major problem by the end of the century, but if the oceans rise ten feet before that the disruption will be so devastating I wonder if deaths from heat and cold will be noticed.
Enjoy the pinnacle of civilization, everyone, and prepare if you can for the big Die Off. I, for one, fully expect to be one of the first to starve to death, and I’m not looking forward to it.
Good luck to us all – Tim
This article from the Weather Underground folks pulls together several study results to show how farmers around the world are finding new methods that reduce the negative effects of climate change and provide sustainable, productive agriculture. We need a LOT more of this kind of thinking, and hopefully it will help buy us time until we can see our way to controlling the population explosion. We will never be safe and our civilization will never be sustainable in the long run without that.
Thanks for reading — Tim
As the planet warms, and as scientists have predicted for decades, weather events have become more severe, more quick to develop, and the costs have skyrocketed. This past hurricane season included two with over a billion dollars in damage. Our infrastructure is already in bad shape generally, and rising sea levels are compromising more and more of that infrastructure in the most populated areas of the planet. What next? Continue reading
Advanced technologies will give us excellent data on future disasters. As we plunge headlong toward a time of population-driven crises, struggling to put band-aids on climate change, pollution, and other results of the population explosion, I see rapid development of new technologies that may not slow the disasters but will provide much better information on them and may connect us each far more intimately to them. Information technology may not save us, but it will make us much more aware of the details. Continue reading
Food systems are going to be of primary importance as population peaks. If, as the UN says, population will reach more than 9 billion in the 2040’s before beginning a steep decline, the causes of that decline are important to consider today. A historical review of population reductions shows that neither war nor the natural disasters we’ve seen so far make a noticeable difference, but suggests that famine and possibly disease have the potential to make major reductions in the population. Decades ago I expected that we might pollute our world so badly that average lifespans would fall, but there has been some progress on preserving the environment and it appears that energy and food shortages created by overpopulation are bigger concerns. (Of course, the primary concern SHOULD be overpopulation itself, as these other problems are results of it.) If organic food and farming methods are more costly than agribusiness’ methods now, why would they replace the hugely productive methods used to produce most food in the developed world today? Continue reading