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   What are some of the biggest problems we need to worry about in the coming future? Here's a short but important list

11 Dec 2012 11:34 AM   |   12468 clicks   |   Mother Jones
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Cythraul     
1) Climate change. Needs no explanation, I assume.
2) Robots. Explanation here. Even Paul Krugman is tentatively on board now.
3) Immortality. Laugh if you want, but it's hardly impossible that sometime in the medium-term future we'll see biomedical breakthroughs that make humans extremely long-lived. What happens then? Who gets the magic treatments? How do we support a population that grows forever? How does an economy of immortals work, anyway?
4) Bio-weapons. We don't talk about this a whole lot these days, but it's still possible-maybe even likely-that extraordinarily lethal viruses will be fairly easily manufacturable within a couple of decades. If this happens before we figure out how to make extraordinarily effective vaccines and antidotes, this could spell trouble in ways obvious enough to need no explanation.
5) Energy. All the robots in the world won't do any good if we don't have enough energy to keep them running. And fossil fuels will run out eventually, fracking or not. However, I put this one fifth out of five because we already have pretty good technology for renewable energy, and it's mainly an engineering problem to build it out on a mass scale. Plus you never know. Fusion might become a reality someday.

I see problem 4 fixing problem 3 for us, maybe even a combination of problem 1 and 4. Problem 2 will be easily fixed with the creation of Mentats.

11 Dec 2012 09:55 AM
jaylectricity    [TotalFark]  
#3

Imagine a world where we say, "Remember when we used to be able to die to solve our problems?"

11 Dec 2012 10:08 AM
Snarfangel     
#3 and #4 cancel each other out. Yay!

11 Dec 2012 11:28 AM
hogans     
I'm worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at Heathrow.

11 Dec 2012 11:37 AM
Langdon Alger     
C.H.U.D's anf Carnies

11 Dec 2012 11:38 AM
Galloping Galoshes    [TotalFark]  
1. It's going to change. Deal with it.
2. Bigger problem: remote control warfare. Already started.
3. Seriously? I want to laugh.
4. Yeah, that's a problem And small nuke/dirty bomb proliferation.
5 Call me in 50 years. It'll probably be long distance. REALLY long distance.

11 Dec 2012 11:39 AM
Galloping Galoshes    [TotalFark]  

hogans: I'm worried about the baggage retrieval system they've got at Heathrow.


That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.
That's not my bag.

11 Dec 2012 11:40 AM
mcreadyblue     
Immortality will never be available to the masses.

It will be reserved for people that "deserve" it and politicians.

Think the 99% Congressional re-election rate is bad? Wait until its 100%. Forever.

11 Dec 2012 11:40 AM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  
THERE ARE ONLY 10 DAYS LEFT!!!
WHY AREN'T YOU PEOPLE DOING ANYTHING?!?!?!?!?

curlymum.files.wordpress.comView Full Size


11 Dec 2012 11:40 AM
ChipNASA    [TotalFark]  

mcreadyblue: Immortality will never be available to the masses.

It will be reserved for people that "deserve" it and politicians.

Think the 99% Congressional re-election rate is bad? Wait until its 100%. Forever.


Meh

www.wikinoticia.comView Full Size

11 Dec 2012 11:42 AM
Thunderpipes     
Only immortality there is dangerous. I don't think we will become immortal, but if people live over 100 on average, the medical costs needed to keep them alive and/or healthy will be ridiculous, and age creep will kill economies. You need young people to support the old.

Climate change? It is called technology. If it becomes a real problem (it is not now) we will just decide to fix it, done.
Robots? Nah.
Bio-weapons? We have had nukes for 60 years, have they been a problem?
Energy? Nah. When there is a real need, we will simply decide to make it.

11 Dec 2012 11:43 AM
rgs1965     
Oh, by coming future I thought you meant .... okay, gotcha.

11 Dec 2012 11:44 AM
Nothing To See Here     
Destiny, destiny, there's no escaping Destiny . . .

11 Dec 2012 11:46 AM
skrewewe     
Biggest problem I need to worry about in the coming future? Apparently flying black robots with clamp hands and gigantic robot penis.

11 Dec 2012 11:47 AM
Reverend Monkeypants     
POPULATION?

There's already enough people on this blue marble to make it overly-complcated

11 Dec 2012 11:48 AM
Deep Contact     
The lack of really hot cheer leaders.

11 Dec 2012 11:48 AM
Valiente     
Immortality or Zombie Apocalypse? From certain angles, they look alike.

11 Dec 2012 11:49 AM
spentshells     
1) Climate change climate won't stop changing it never has
2) Robots could potentially handle problem 3
3) immortality> it won't affect you you are not rich enough
4) other peoples children will make the mistakes of the father
5) We have sources of endless energy namely geothermal and tidal energy clean and everlasting but instead lets just mine and extract everything and leave future generations toxic holes in the earth everywhere and poison the groundwater as well it's a really good plan

11 Dec 2012 11:49 AM
GRCooper     

Thunderpipes: Only immortality there is dangerous. I don't think we will become immortal, but if people live over 100 on average, the medical costs needed to keep them alive and/or healthy will be ridiculous, and age creep will kill economies. You need young people to support the old.


I will *never* understand when someone brings up possible immortality, some people associate that with "aging forever and ever".

Think cell regeneration. *Never* aging. Only dying of non-aging related issues (accidents, uncured diseases). Being 25 years old *physically* forever.

Sorry, not trying to be a pedantic dick. Try reading some Science Fiction to see some possibilities. I'd recommend "Old Man's War" by Scalzi as a starter.


/again, sorry - just a pet peeve of mine

11 Dec 2012 11:50 AM
kindms     
2 3 and 5 go together

2: The robot bodies is what we will upload our minds into
3: see above

5: the stupid people become batteries like the matrix

11 Dec 2012 11:50 AM
nmemkha     
#3:

upload.wikimedia.orgView Full Size

11 Dec 2012 11:50 AM
ttc2301     
Hippies...

11 Dec 2012 11:51 AM
Biness     
i don't know what the hell a mother jones is, but i call bullshiat

11 Dec 2012 11:51 AM
pkellmey     
Where is the Zombie Apocalypse? I've been training for years and they don't consider it one of my biggest problems?

//Maybe immortality? I'm not sure if that is broad enough topic to cover the details like zombies or not.
//DNRTFA - I really can't be bothered when there is so little time to prepare before the end of the world.

11 Dec 2012 11:52 AM
GRCooper     
5: the stupid people become batteries like the matrix

Will they have a neural stint in place? Yanno, so they can still post in the Politics tab.

11 Dec 2012 11:52 AM
USP .45     

Reverend Monkeypants: POPULATION?

There's already enough people on this blue marble to make it overly-complcated


Pretty much this.

Energy/food/resource demands are in no small part a result of exponential population growth, and the risk of conflict/pandemic/excessive CO2 output/etc is compounded by the fact that most of the growth is by the poorest and dumbest people in places least capable of supporting a positive outcome.

The fact they put climate change at 1 is farking laughable.

11 Dec 2012 11:53 AM
Homer Nixon     

Thunderpipes: Only immortality there is dangerous. I don't think we will become immortal, but if people live over 100 on average, the medical costs needed to keep them alive and/or healthy will be ridiculous, and age creep will kill economies. You need young people to support the old.


It will be important to break the stigma against re-indexing senior services as the bell curve shifts right. 60 is the new 40 and soon 70 will be. You need to keep pushing up the retirement age to avoid bankrupting things like social security and other pension funds.

11 Dec 2012 11:53 AM
FarkingReading     

Deep Contact: The lack of really hot cheer leaders.


They keep dying off or getting injured: Link

What we need is to develop immortal, energetic robot cheerleaders to suck up our bio-weapons and blow off climate change.

11 Dec 2012 11:54 AM
Nightsweat     

Thunderpipes: Only immortality there is dangerous. I don't think we will become immortal, but if people live over 100 on average, the medical costs needed to keep them alive and/or healthy will be ridiculous, and age creep will kill economies. You need young people to support the old.

Climate change? It is called technology. If it becomes a real problem (it is not now) we will just decide to fix it, done.
Robots? Nah.
Bio-weapons? We have had nukes for 60 years, have they been a problem?
Energy? Nah. When there is a real need, we will simply decide to make it.


Climate Change - I think you're overly optimistic. We won't act until it's too late and only if there's a buck to be made from it.
Robots - huge fricking threat on two fronts - 1. They will tend to exacerbate income inequality as low skill jobs or even some medium to high skill jobs go away. Also, they'll make wars easier since sending a bunch of robots over to kill some brown people doesn't endanger our troops so there's a lower barrier towards launching an attack.
Bio-weapons - you can see where a nuke was launched from. Can't do that so easily with a virus. If a state actor decided to create a virus that targets some gene found only in white people, how would you know who to attack back?
Energy? - Yeah, you're pretty much right here. Just a question of money and time, really.

11 Dec 2012 11:54 AM
cgraves67     
1,2,4, & 5 are all good things. They help prune down surplus humans.

3 will probably be so prohibitively expensive that very few will utilize it. What's the point of living forever anyway? Most of us have a hard enough time paying to keep ourselves alive and finding things to keep us occupied for 60-80 years. It's not like it would be an eternity of sex. It would be an eternity of watching other people grow up, grow old, and die. Are you going to be an Enoch Root type who mysteriously wanders the globe era after era encouraging savants? Only if you manage to find enternal youth to go with your deathlessness. Immortality would probably mean sitting in a nursing home for hundreds of years while ever-advancing technology and culture increasingly escapes your understanding.

11 Dec 2012 11:55 AM
MindStalker     

Cythraul:
2) Robots. Explanation here. Even Paul Krugman is tentatively on board now.


I see problem 4 fixing problem 3 for us, maybe even a combination of problem 1 and 4. Problem 2 will be easily fixed with the creation of Mentats.


I think we can solve problem 2 by a stern talking to Pual Krugman, I mean really be should know better than to cause the downfall of society.

11 Dec 2012 11:56 AM
USP .45     

Nightsweat: We won't act until it's too late


what happens at the too late mark?

11 Dec 2012 11:56 AM
CheekyMonkey     
Only thing that needs to be on the list is 'Too many humans on the planet'. All other problems stem from that.

11 Dec 2012 12:00 PM
Thunderpipes     

Homer Nixon: Thunderpipes: Only immortality there is dangerous. I don't think we will become immortal, but if people live over 100 on average, the medical costs needed to keep them alive and/or healthy will be ridiculous, and age creep will kill economies. You need young people to support the old.

It will be important to break the stigma against re-indexing senior services as the bell curve shifts right. 60 is the new 40 and soon 70 will be. You need to keep pushing up the retirement age to avoid bankrupting things like social security and other pension funds.


Without people retiring though, there are far fewer jobs for the young. Who really wants to work for 50-60 years?

11 Dec 2012 12:02 PM
Nightsweat     

USP .45: Nightsweat: We won't act until it's too late

what happens at the too late mark?


Starvation, loss of whole countries like Bangladesh to the ocean, tropical diseases in New York, London, and Chicago, shortages of fresh water all over the place, mass extinctions accelerate, desertification of currently fertile land, floods elsewhere in places that don't flood now, probably increased global conflict over resources like water and agricultural land, cats and dogs living together, real wrath of god like stuff.

11 Dec 2012 12:03 PM
bluefoxicy     
The list is out of order.

Bio-warfare up at the top--it's easy to engineer smallpox with a hundred bucks of shiat you can find on the 'net today. Some college students did it a decade ago. You think we can't make superviruses and plague carriers? Imagine a cross between HIV and rhinovirus.

Energy following, but only because people are too stupid to trim down. Energy includes food production.

Immortality, not really. But longevity is a reality, and useful age extension seems less likely because people think after 50 years they're entitled to retire. They think they're old, old men shouldn't work, their bodies are getting frail. The cost of healthcare to keep them functional increases, but we'll push to make them work if they're going to stay alive.

Climate change and robots go on the bottom, at the same level. Climate change is an adaptation problem; robot apocalypse is laughable.

11 Dec 2012 12:03 PM
Kibbler     
Nanotechnology will also pose a threat, as well as a boon.

Genetic engineering ditto.

And the ever-accelerating rate of the ability to spy on all of us, all the time.

In fact all three may converge. Programmed microscopic organisms that could literally invade your body and then report back. Without you even knowing it.

On top of that, another big one that's coming before long is computers, or clusters of them, with so much computing power that all of our current online security schemes will be rendered useless. Of course we can build more powerful ones, but that means that online activity has to be made continuously more robust. How will you know if the site where you enter your credit card is sufficiently protected?

11 Dec 2012 12:04 PM
nexxus     
6.) Progressive Liberalism. With unchecked growth in government and increasing regulatory control of every aspect of our lives, freedom will wane and will eventually be replaced with global collectivism. Individuals will be but cogs in the wheels of each nation-state, doing as they're told for fear of losing what little bit of whatever they have left at the hands of their rulers; innovation will suffer and then cease, weakness will replace strength, the class gap will increase, happiness will fade, and the human spirit will be crushed. The world will descend into a deep and lasting darkness.

/forgot one!

11 Dec 2012 12:04 PM
Nightsweat     

nexxus: 6.) Progressive Liberalism. With unchecked growth in government and increasing regulatory control of every aspect of our lives, freedom will wane and will eventually be replaced with global collectivism. Individuals will be but cogs in the wheels of each nation-state, doing as they're told for fear of losing what little bit of whatever they have left at the hands of their rulers; innovation will suffer and then cease, weakness will replace strength, the class gap will increase, happiness will fade, and the human spirit will be crushed. The world will descend into a deep and lasting darkness.

/forgot one!


7. Conservaderp, as noted above.

11 Dec 2012 12:05 PM
Sticky Hands    [TotalFark]  

GRCooper: Think cell regeneration. *Never* aging. Only dying of non-aging related issues (accidents, uncured diseases). Being 25 years old *physically* forever.


25 works.
I sure as hell don't want to pay the car insurance premiums of an 18 year old man forever....

11 Dec 2012 12:06 PM
Reverend Monkeypants     

USP .45: Reverend Monkeypants: POPULATION?

There's already enough people on this blue marble to make it overly-complcated

Pretty much this.

Energy/food/resource demands are in no small part a result of exponential population growth, and the risk of conflict/pandemic/excessive CO2 output/etc is compounded by the fact that most of the growth is by the poorest and dumbest people in places least capable of supporting a positive outcome.

The fact they put climate change at 1 is farking laughable.


Wellllll... TECHNICALLY overpopulation is a form of climate change... right??

11 Dec 2012 12:07 PM
mcreadyblue     

cgraves67: 1,2,4, & 5 are all good things. They help prune down surplus humans.

3 will probably be so prohibitively expensive that very few will utilize it. What's the point of living forever anyway? Most of us have a hard enough time paying to keep ourselves alive and finding things to keep us occupied for 60-80 years. It's not like it would be an eternity of sex. It would be an eternity of watching other people grow up, grow old, and die. Are you going to be an Enoch Root type who mysteriously wanders the globe era after era encouraging savants? Only if you manage to find enternal youth to go with your deathlessness. Immortality would probably mean sitting in a nursing home for hundreds of years while ever-advancing technology and culture increasingly escapes your understanding.


The said the same thing about penicillin when it was first invented. Now it's pretty cheap.

11 Dec 2012 12:07 PM
USP .45     

Nightsweat: USP .45: Nightsweat: We won't act until it's too late

what happens at the too late mark?

Starvation, loss of whole countries like Bangladesh to the ocean, tropical diseases in New York, London, and Chicago, shortages of fresh water all over the place, mass extinctions accelerate, desertification of currently fertile land, floods elsewhere in places that don't flood now, probably increased global conflict over resources like water and agricultural land, cats and dogs living together, real wrath of god like stuff.


right, so a bunch of stuff that doesn't happen overnight, or has already happened with or without the existence of anthropomorphic climate change and therefore does not qualify as a "too late" scenario.

11 Dec 2012 12:12 PM
GRCooper     
Without people retiring though, there are far fewer jobs for the young. Who really wants to work for 50-60 years?

Devil's advocate:

In my case, saving for retirement has not been an issue. I'd rather have fun while young than worry about old age. If, however, the payoff for 50-60 years of work was many times as many years of retirement with the body of a 25 year old, I'd be a saving/investing fool.

Would we be better off if some roles like "teacher" were held by retired volunteers? Should be plenty to go around. You retire at 70 or 80, get a free course in how to teach the knowledge you've accumulated, then spent your time voluntarily teaching. If you like that kind of thing.

Personally, I'm signing up for a decade long Mars mission...

11 Dec 2012 12:12 PM
Nightsweat     

USP .45: Nightsweat: USP .45: Nightsweat: We won't act until it's too late

what happens at the too late mark?

Starvation, loss of whole countries like Bangladesh to the ocean, tropical diseases in New York, London, and Chicago, shortages of fresh water all over the place, mass extinctions accelerate, desertification of currently fertile land, floods elsewhere in places that don't flood now, probably increased global conflict over resources like water and agricultural land, cats and dogs living together, real wrath of god like stuff.

right, so a bunch of stuff that doesn't happen overnight, or has already happened with or without the existence of anthropomorphic climate change and therefore does not qualify as a "too late" scenario.


You're an idiot if you get that from that list.

11 Dec 2012 12:13 PM
bluefoxicy     

Kibbler: Nanotechnology will also pose a threat, as well as a boon.



The Grey Goo thing is a silly myth. The programming and ability to dismantle anything and assemble it into anything else is laughable--you need specific raw materials (metals, silicon) to do this molecularly, and you need energy to do it atomically, and a hell of a lot of energy to do it nuclearly.


On top of that, another big one that's coming before long is computers, or clusters of them, with so much computing power that all of our current online security schemes will be rendered useless. Of course we can build more powerful ones, but that means that online activity has to be made continuously more robust. How will you know if the site where you enter your credit card is sufficiently protected?


That won't actually happen. At 4096 bits DH or some 384 bits symmetric you need a conventional computer bigger than the whole universe and operating at atomic scale (1 proton per 1 bit of information processing power should be appropriate...) to break encryption in a reasonable time. A quantum computer of appropriate width can do it in polynomial time, but we have other algorithms that are immune to those attacks.

You'd have to prove P=NP and then apply it to the basis that your encryption algorithm is founded on to render encryption useless--and honestly if you could render a hard problem easy, you could prove P=NP; knowing the hard problem is in fact easy doesn't help you work out the correct strategy for solving it easily.

11 Dec 2012 12:14 PM
fiver5    [TotalFark]  
Hahaha stupid hand wringing leftists never fail to amuse.

11 Dec 2012 12:14 PM
hdhale     
1. The likelihood of theater level nuclear war in Asia and the Middle East means that Climate change will be irrelevant, unless you are dealing with a low level nuclear winter.
2. With the US military increasingly relying on robots as a cheaper alternative to the political fallout of dealing with body bags (and other nations following suit), and with regulations making it increasingly difficult to employ humans in dangerous/unhealthy/unpleasent work, robots are here to stay, sorry.
3. Immortality will be for the fortunate few and it's unlikely that it will be common--indeed choosing exactly how long you have and going out own your own terms will be the popular choice.
4. Humans have been able to exterminate themselves since the early 1900s and have failed to do so despite a few very good opportunities. Bio-weapons are a worry, but not a top 5 worry. Nuclear weapons will remain the biggest mass killing tool for some decades.
5. Advances in energy technology will hopefully save us. In a world light a billion or so after many of the cities in the Middle East and western Asia have been vaporized, and along with them vast oil fields irradiated, humans will be forced by economic necessity to get serious about alternate energy sources, including fusion. The alternative is a slide toward global anarchy.

11 Dec 2012 12:17 PM
Aidan     

nmemkha: #3:

[upload.wikimedia.org image 300x418]


Ironically my husband just watched that and told me what an AMAZING story it was... Ruined utterly by the shiatty acting/production. I think I enjoyed it more by him telling me the plot than he did watching it.

11 Dec 2012 12:19 PM
fiver5    [TotalFark]  

CheekyMonkey: Only thing that needs to be on the list is 'Too many humans on the planet'. All other problems stem from that.


Haha seriously?

The left stopped being hysterical about overpopulation sometime in the late 1970's because even they finally got them memo that it is a non issue.

But it is cute to bump into an anachronism.

11 Dec 2012 12:21 PM
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