Are we nearing the limit of technology?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by samtara, Jun 3, 2010.

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  1. samtara Registered Member

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    Technology has progressed exponentially over the past 2 decades and it seems we need half as much time to double our prowess nowadays.
    Obviously there will get to a point when we cannot do much else with the current methods we use to develop new technologies (by methods I mean energy source and materials) and we need to think outside the metaphorical box.
    Do you believe that time is near? or do you think that the bounds of technology is endless?
     
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  3. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

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    The bounds of technology are the bounds of the known and unknown universes. First we learn to survive winters and wars, then star-systems, galaxies, dimensions, and finally (already?) time. That's the survival-impulse of intelligence wave that we're riding. There is (I expect) literally rapturous tech ahead, and I hope to stay alive to witness a new renaissance and a better world, and New Worlds in the bargain: It's what we thrive on.
     
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  5. joepistole Deacon Blues Valued Senior Member

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    This kind of reminds me of that famous quote from the man who ran the US patent office.

    "Everything that can be invented has been invented."
    Charles H. Duell, Commissioner, U.S. patent office, 1899

    I don't think we any where near exploiting all possible technology.
     
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  7. superstring01 Moderator

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    Damnit! You beat me too it!

    No. In fact, the limits of our technology--while not unimaginable anymore--are still well beyond what most people imagine.

    With the combination of nano & super-massive engineering, genetic technology and cybernetic technology, we are nearing a point where everything will change.

    And why shouldn't it?

    We stopped evolving the moment we stopped participating in the more grotesque portions of nature (tribal extermination being the worst of them). So, it's only logical that we take evolution into our own hands. Within the next 100 years, people will begin incorporating new genetic material and technology into their bodies. Nano technology will alter the power of computers by many, many factors. The only way for us to remain relevant in such an environment, is to improve ourselves.

    ~String
     
  8. francois Schwat? Registered Senior Member

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    I think I know what you're saying. There has to be a point where technological change ceases, or at least slows down and stabilizes some. That may happen, but before it does, many, many things will happen. Technological progress is going to continue to accelerate and it's likely that within 10 years, we'll find ourselves in a world that is completely different, flipped inside out. We'll wake up one day in 2020 and wonder to ourselves, What the hell just happened? As we try to get a grip of this new reality, change will only continue to accelerate.

    I think we have a way to go yet until things stabilize, if they ever do. The thing is, technological progress drives technological progress. If we were reliant solely on today's technology to make tomorrow's breakthroughs, yeah, stabilization might happen soon. But technology developed in 2040 will be developed with technology that existed in 2039, not technology that existed in 2010. We can't imagine what things will be possible with technology from the year 2039.
     
  9. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    It's not that we will run out of new things to learn, but we will discover the diminishing returns of technology. As things get more complex, they become more likely to break down. At some point, it doesn't pay to make things more efficient, more automated, less on the human scale of things in which we evolved.
     
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2010
  10. DNA100 Registered Senior Member

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    Every time the old paradigm runs out of gas,comes a paradigm shift.

    It's like horizon.Every time we feel that we are near the end of the road,we get closer ,to find that there is still a long way left.

    My personal view is that humans are very very very stupid.We over-estimate our intelligence and knowledge.We have only been civilized a few thousand years ago.If we have come this far in that little time.And if we have been learning exponentially,imagine what happens in a million years from now!No one can even imagine that.
     
  11. Danny G "Listen.. you smell something" Registered Senior Member

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    And out of those few thousand years, its only been the last 100 which we have seen the greatest leap in thinking and technology.

    I reckon that our thinking and intelligence is actually a hundred years ahead of what we can do with current technology, the thoughts there for a lot of things, but not the technical know how to be able to put those ideas in action.
     
  12. DNA100 Registered Senior Member

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    yeah probably.

    But in exactly what way do you mean that our intelligence is a 100 years ahead?Do you mean that if people had the technical knowledge ,they would be able to built anything from year 2100AD?
     
  13. Danny G "Listen.. you smell something" Registered Senior Member

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    No, i mean, that we are thinking about things that we cant build... yet, but the thoughts there.
    Super massive 3 mile high sky scrapers, Hypersonic Airliners. etc etc
     
  14. DNA100 Registered Senior Member

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    So you mean that we can 'imagine' everything that can be logically built around 2100AD?
     
  15. Danny G "Listen.. you smell something" Registered Senior Member

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    Not everything, but things like the examples i mentioned, i don't see as impossible, not possible yet.. but soon, with different building materials, and better research, the sky (literally) is the limit.
     
  16. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

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    If anything, we're nearing the verge of an era that will see unprecedented technological growth.

    Quantum computers will be infinitely more powerful than the current-day silicon-based processers, and let's not forget upcoming biotechnologies, et cetera

    I do not think that the world will be recognizable in only the next one or two hundred years.
     
  17. PieAreSquared Woo is resistant to reason Registered Senior Member

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    we are running out of resources ... we will need to utilize what's left better
     
  18. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    I believe this thread touched on the "acceleration" component of technological progress, but maybe we can expound a little on that idea. It's actually a concept I have thought about at considerable length, but don't know how to find the answer(s) to.

    To whit, let's take a hypothetical example:
    Imagine if the sum total of mankind's knowledge of technology doubled, say from 500 years ago to 250 years ago, then again from 250 years ago to 125 years ago - 62, 31, 15... (Kind of similar to Moore's law, only curved)

    It seems to me that this trend exists, no matter what point in time you start and no matter the intervening intervals - as long as this interval is decreasing over time.

    Wouldn't this set up a situation where the doubling of our technology is approaching a limit of 0 time units?

    Obviously, that is impossible as it would seem to lead to a "singularity". Something will slow down this acceleration, or perhaps level it off. But what, and at what point?

    Imagine the implications of the knowledge doubling every year - if you are adventurous, imagine doubling every day. We would truly be facing an entirely brand new world every year, week, day, whatever.

    How do humans keep up with this? Even with quantum computing or some other "super" method of recording information, well... I still don't see how an accelerating rate could be maintained indefinitely.


    So, main questions:
    • Do we agree the rate of progress is accelerating?
    • If so, does anyone know the actual acceleration factor over the past 500 / 1000 years or so?
    • Will it stop? When? Why? Or is the consensus that it will continue to approach 0 because of modification of our own bodies / brains in some way?

    Alternatively, perhaps we will just blow ourselves off the face of the planet and self destruct...

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  19. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    So far we have also not been limited by energy. That is changing. Technology isn't energy.
     
  20. hypewaders Save Changes Registered Senior Member

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    Technology harnesses energy, and the universe sizzles with it. Thousands of years ago we discovered/hailed/recognized a perfectly-situated fusion reactor, and we're still developing the ways to sustainably plug into father Sol, who showers us with energy abundance and surplus every day for the next 4 billion years or so.
     
  21. kmguru Staff Member

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    When I was working for a Research company in 1990, I had 60 ideas as part of my research program. 20 years later only 4 has been realized. So we have a long way to go just what we know now. 40 years from now when computers are more like artificial intelligence units, we can do much more.

    We still have not developed anti-gravity nor FTL type drives....

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  22. Randwolf Ignorance killed the cat Valued Senior Member

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    Ummm....

    I don't suppose by chance that any of this was in reply to post 15:

    Anyone? Any ideas? Please? Thanks...

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  23. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    We might be close to the limits of theoretical knowledge. Even some TOE uniting GR & Quantum theory would not have much effect on our knowledge at the theory level.

    Note that in physics, only cosmology has advanced at the theory level since about 1950. Since 1950, there have been more advances in biology, medicine, & genetics than in theoretical physics.

    Technology is a different animal. While advances there might not keep up the exponential rate of the past 100 years, we do not seem to be close to the limits.
     
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