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Comments

Dee

As soon as the Bird Flu shaves 3-4 billion people off the planet THEN we can enter the golden age.
Posted by: Ibid | January 11

Haven't you heard? Animal health authority says risk of bird flu pandemic was 'overestimated' http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22590181/updated 7:40 a.m. CT, Thurs., Jan. 10, 2008

Sorta like the swine flu epidemic that DIDN'T happen in the 1970's I reckon.

This is an interesting entry from Wikipedia about the swine flu vaccine: An immunopathological reaction to the vaccine in some people is believed to have caused about 500 cases of Guillain-Barré syndrome resulting in death from severe pulmonary complications for 25 people. More people died from the vaccine than died from the swine flu itself.[7]

Some more of those unforeseen consequences of medical technological advancement apparently.

You appear to be stating that if only 3-4 billion people would have the good grace to die then the golden age could be ushered in for the rest of humanity.

I think your statement highlights my concern regarding the probability that humans aren't particularly predisposed to sharing the gold all around.

So I continue to ponder upon the possibility or probability that humans are the greatest obstacle to bringing about a golden age.

Chris Hulley

Hey Scott,

Great post about Alzheimers. As you probably know, Terry Pratchett (Discworld) was recently diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimers. This may be of use to him, and you would probably be able to get the info to him given your ranking in the "published writers" world. Please try.

joel

Its only a golden age if you like your neighbours. And I happen to like people who are not jerks. Granted, people behave less like jerks when they have a content life style, but that only goes so far. In my experience with North Americans, income and access to a luxury lifestyle are not a good measure of a person's character. Why would it be different anywhere else?

Blacklander

With new non-profit economy so to speak, yes. Otherwise..

Paula

My post appeared with Jerry W.'s name on it, and my name appeared on the next guy's post. Where's the golden age of technology for this blog?

Dawn

love mental masturbation! Having life is golden.

Johnny Ouais

We are entering a new Moron Age.

Though we never quite quit the previous one.

Internet will only help people download more free stuffs than to be better informed. You desesperatedly tried to prevent that before, blogging about copyrights. Remember?

As soon industrial countries will not have enough water or food for their people, WWIII will come.

Technologies will only help a few very rich guys. For those a Golden Age is already here.

For the rest us, we are still in a Moron Age.

Joshua

Dude, there is a 150 inch TV out now, of course its the golden age.

But seriously, we might be entering a golden age, but as far as technology is concerned, we can't really be there until technology slows down some. Each product that comes out is just a step towards that promise of wireless, limitless energy and information. But, if people are still afraid to buy something because they know it will be obsolete in a half hour, we're not there. I used to be up on electronics, ahead of the curve, then I took a nap, and I am now useless when it comes to that stuff.

When everybody is comfortable/knowledgable enough to use all the things you mention, then we're there.

And anybody who suggested a bunch of people disappear before we possibly get to the golden age, seriously, are you really that horrible a person?

rat

"We are living in the future
I'll tell you how I know
I read it in the paper
Fifteen years ago
We're all driving rocket ships
And talking with our minds
And wearing turquoise jewelry
And standing in soup lines
We are standing in soup lines"
- - john prine

Rand

A Golden Age? I am not so confident. When the cost of energy is zero and autonomous robots build everything the vast majority of jobs in the world will be eliminated. You state that anyone will be able to afford anything, but where will they get the money when they can't get a job because a robot can do anything they'd do instead? Until now, people have always been able to trade labor for money. But in the Golden Age you describe, that won't be true. I think it is very difficult to predict how society will evolve at that point, but here's an interesting take on it: http://marshallbrain.com/manna1.htm

Zesty Pete

Dear Rita Mae

A bird in the hand gathers no moss. Or something.

ZP

PS Scott, people today are not pessimistic, they're terrified. The former is a privilege (you have to know the good to expect the worst), the latter is a product of our times (terrorists – both political and ideological - have succeeded).

PSPS Despite the above, I would still very much like to believe that we're heading for the good times.

Jim Gramling

I think people for the most part are destined to believe that their 'age' promises to be the best ever - that technology, art, and general prosperity will spiral upward - leading to 'The Golden Age'. I believe spirals go two ways. Isn't it possible that we could enter another 'Dark Age'? Religious belief presents a powerful force. The Christian 'Right' - the Islamic Extremists. History has proven that nearly all wars are fought over religious differences. We're not in the Middle East because of oil - and The Twin Towers didn't crumble because Islamic Extermists wanted to stop America from taking oil - they simply want to destroy all non-Islamics.

Human innovation (aka 'technology') will continue to deliver advances that will heighten prosperity. And populations will continue to migrate. How will a new Golden Age deal with a total transformation of some nations - benefiting one at the expense of another? America is willingly giving up all vestiges of a productive economy in return for a consumptive economy. No one has yet explained exactly how this is going to work in the long term. When there are no jobs, we won't need robots, but we will need more prisons.

Bertram

The three constants you once stated will continue to work against it: Selfishness, stupidity and horniness make sure that any new invention will only provide new things to be selfish about, new things not to understand and new ways of having sex.

Spooky

Logan's Run comes to mind.

Also, Copyright, unless the inventor is Ben Franklin - I don't see this stuff being given away.

Ibid

As soon as the Bird Flu shaves 3-4 billion people off the planet THEN we can enter the golden age.

Tim

I read that the amount of computing power one can buy for a dollar doubles every 27 months;

Granted we don't yet have medical immortality or flying cars, but compared to just 50 years ago ...

When I was young we had three channels on TV and had to go to St Louis for McDonalds.

We're already in a golden age.

Suki the Ocicat

Still it is easy to brainwash youngsters to hate a group of people. The Platinum Age would arrive only after Homo Sapiens Sapiens managed to discriminate all the discrimination from this lovely planet. That is why it is important to have pepole like Scott, Prof. Dr. Richard Dawkins, and brilliant comedy writers/satirist who can laugh at oneself AND ridicule the sheer evil arrogance and perfectionism. If you can laugh at yourself, you are reconciled with yourself and you are in peace and humble.

May the humourist (and the majority of them belong to Dogbert's ruling class, knowingly or unknowingly, int'it?) triumph over the evil self-righteous fatheads!

Julian Morrison

A dangerous golden age. I'm reminded of the genie in Disney's Aladdin. "Phenomenal cosmic powers - itty bitty living space". We need a backup planet or three.

redblue

Cheap energy, specially zero cost energy, is not necessarily a good thing. Think about what a bomb is for a moment. It is an energy storage device that releases its payload in a very short amount of time. If you have unlimited energy available at low cost, conceptually you can play the bomb-blast backwards slowly over time to build very powerful bombs at low cost. There are many other variations of this scenario, all of them with various degrees of lethality, e.g. devices that "blow up" in a minute as opposed to microseconds.
Another scenario is that with cheap energy, there will be a quadrillion people on the planet in no time with nothing better to do other than farm-eat-breed-kill-die-repeat.
I want people to consume oil like there is no tomorrow, so that we can get to the next phase before even more damage is done to the environment.

Rack

Greater advances in technology will allow society to further its goals. i.e, spreading misery, limiting the availability of products, performing pointless menial tasks and consolodating capital.

checkm

We've been in the golden age for about 50 years now. This is the best time ever for humans and the best is yet to come.

Marco

No, no, no. Before WWI they believed that there would never be great wars among people again. After WWI they thought that that had been the war to end all wars.

Sure there will always be people who say, "yes, but it's FOR REAL this time!" But the meaning of "this time" remains unclear. Your evidences for cheaper energy and better education, health care, and international relations are double-edged swords; if things are looking so rosy, why is the dollar still falling? (This is a real question I'm asking. I figure the economist should be able to tell me, because I don't know anything about economics.)

The internet could make lying to the citizens harder, but it could also make it easier. Go into some of the political blog networks and see those demagogues rile each other up with half-truths. Sure, there are also political blog networks representing "the other side", but who's gonna bother reading the blog of someone who disagrees with you?

fajensen

"""
One view of the near future is that terrorists will get nukes and set the atmosphere on fire, or global warming will kill us all, or bird flu will create a pandemic, or the world economy will melt down, or all of those disasters will happen at once
"""

Since the creators of the Taliban - Pakistan - indeed have nukes and the Economy is already melting all the way to China, I thought I might add my own contribution, however small:

I am home sick today with the flu so I decided to cough on the bird food. THAT will teatch the little buggers!

Muahahahahaha.

astrorishi

Technological advances are great. But are we able to fathom their side-effects in advance? Industrialisation made lives easier and longer for people - and in all probabilities we may think of it as a golden age compared to medieval times - but only now are we realising its effects such as global warming. We may percieve that we exist in a golden age. But can we say the same about future generations? If there is indeed a golden age then by definition it should be available for all.

Will they have to pay for our profligacy?
Will further technological advances only take us on a downward spiral while we hallucinate about a golden age?

But then again as you say Scott, maybe this pessimissm itself is the good part.

Georg Buehler

Computers <> Education

Why do so many people think that putting computers in the schools will somehow magically make everyone educated? People once had similar delusions about the educational power of television, but as far as I can tell, for every one person made smarter by watching TV, it made twenty people a lot stupider. I predict similar outcomes for the computer.

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