Are we over the the tipping point of technological growth
While numbers like Mooreâ(TM)s Law have kept amazing us for the past decades, and the number of scientific articles published each year almost exponentially explodes, my question is: are we really getting that most smarter? Is technology really growing that fast?
The 20th century, and the ones before, have been amazing. Cultural revolution in the 16, industrial revolution thereafter, and high-tech evolving with the coming of electricity in the 20th. However, sometimes we tend to over-estimate the latest inventions. No, the iPod is not the highest product that we could possible produce, itâ(TM)s more in the natural line of technology, such product with such specifications was expected to happen, sooner or later. Ask Moore. Well, there are other factors, battery industry, for example. But in general, the amateur engineers among us could predict such evolvements reasonable well for, say, a 10-15 year timescale period.
Our real technologies are a lot more fundamental to that. Take concrete and steel production. Concrete sure has been improved, but the concept of steel-inforced concrete is maybe one of the best inventions of modern architecture. And speaking of steel. The skills of hardening steel are even a lot older. Heating. Cooling. Re-heating, basically. Itâ(TM)s one of the fundamental technologies that we rely on daily.
Most modern alloys. Were already invented around the 1950â(TM)s. Same for most other technologies like atom craft, and semiconductors. The principals were quickly laid, and despite recent and future improvements the basics technology goes way back.
Itâ(TM)s quite obvious that the 20th centory has brought a lot of discoveries. But, to me, it appears we are loosing speed. We get more involved in political aspects, often rightfully, than that really new things are discovered. Optics? Yes, theyâ(TM)ll get improved. Quantum computers? The principal around a 100 years old by now, waiting for someone to make it just-works. Of course thereâ(TM)s a lot of theoretical research going on. Like at the LHC, the Large Hedron Collider. Yet, the principal of colliders is over 50 years old already, too. Itâ(TM)s just another evolving technology, like steel.
Astronomy, you might counter. Space expeditions. DNA research. Molecular biological research, whatever. Yes, sure itâ(TM)s steadily improving and thereâ(TM)s a lot of fundamental knowledge coming out of it. But, once, a popular saying among scientist was: âan answer raises more questions than it answersâ(TM). We seem to be beyond that point, we are directed looking for answers, within an context we already know or assume to know. Sudden new stuff still pops up, for sure, and will always be. Yet, the more we understand the less there is to discover.
But with all this knowledge. Did our engineers manage to make our life quality much improved. It more seems that economy did, not engineering in itself. Economy hired the engineers. And very interesting things were produced.
But in an ideal world. Weâ(TM)d not worry about pollution, cause we didnâ(TM)t make any. No plastic waste in oceans. No CO2 pollution. Better treatment for the elder. No continents with starvation issues. Good food for everyone. Etc. Itâ(TM)s all technologically perfectly feasible, yet we donâ(TM)t do it. Engineering canâ(TM)t solve everything thatâ(TM)s for sure true, itâ(TM)s society that need to solve it. Society, politics, industry.
If we look at the raw numbers, it is ridiculous that we have a food problem in certain countries. Scientist predict the earth is, with current technology, capable of maintaining about 35 billion people. Yet, we are only we 7 billion as we speak, so there is really no technological reason at all we shouldnâ(TM)t be able to produce enough food. Political situations like civilian wars taken out, thereâ(TM)s no reason at all why we shouldnâ(TM)t have excellent food production at _any_ place. We got the money, plenty of, even. Got any technology needed. Got the knowledge to scale up or down, you donâ(TM)t have to industrialize Africa instantly, you can grow the efforts with society. Really, seen from an engineering point of view there would be no problem at all.
We see political influence on technical issues grow everywhere. Internet being the most recent example. But also taxes like electricity tax. Or simply car speed limits. Of course politics need to draw the outer lines of what is acceptable, and must adapt to technological progress.
Iâ(TM)m sorry to lost topic a bit into politics, as i was really talking about science itself, mostly. My gut feel sais, our rate of improvement is slowly decaying. We manage to make more, of everything. but not necessarily better. We ignore fundamental problems like waste, pollution, or general wellbeing like traffic or sound hindrance, recreating, at the cost of âeconomyâ(TM) which basically involves a big marionette involving suits and ties and fuel-consuming smell engines. Eventually most office and social work nowadays is done behind the pc, so it shouldn't really matter where that pc is. Except for social purposes, technologically there is no need to go to office 9 to 5 on a daily basis per se, so thereâ(TM)s hardly any need for forensic car usage either.
Weâ(TM)r heading into a new middle age. We found our new witches, too. Terrorists. Extremists. We are scared of a terrorist killing 100 people. Yet our modern society sacrifices thousands of lifes daily. But we lost our vision. Cause we have no other goals. Thereâ(TM)s no renewed goal now âthat we got it allâ(TM). There is no higher goal to reach in current society, there is just âfearâ(TM) and âsurvivalâ(TM) which are both, practically, totally displaced emotions.
Our goal should be to reach this higher society. This Utopia we spoke about so long. Not debating about the last pennies for whatever, there really should be no need for nibbling on all such details, itâ(TM)s a decadent behavior. Decadent, yes. We float in luxury. All our problems are close to virtual. We make them to have one. Again, from an engineering point of view there is really no reason why we cannot live perfect lives. Have perfect health care. Etc.
Internet makes it possible i can write this and distribute this. Thatâ(TM)s why i like the internet. Please keep up the good ideas and let us all define some higher goals society should strive after. Cause despite extremists, i believe most people have just âcommon senseâ(TM) and like almost agrees on best possible solutions. Itâ(TM)s not the agreement thatâ(TM)s missing. Itâ(TM)s the flow of new fresh ideas. Idealists. Modern Voltaireâ(TM)s. Einsteins. We are more people than ever. So, where are they... Where are our thinkers.