Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Golden Age of Mankind Is Behind Us

Here is a comment written by Anthony Tan to my last article, his words are well thought out and deserve review. Not everyone reads the comments section of this blog.
The golden age of mankind is behind us. We live in a finite world with finite resources, man kind should be looking at sustainability instead of growth and GDP. Our current financial system (usury and debt based money) is simply not in line with reality. It's also why all governments are so obsessed with growth, the moment you can't have growth, it all collapses.

Throughout the world, you'll hardly find a nice, humble and wise ruler/government. Nice people work behind the scene to better the lives of people, they are not interested in the limelight and power. Psychopaths crave it, and will do anything to get into power. For democracy to work, you'll need a well educated, wise and hardworking citizenry. This is not in the interest of the psychopath and they would rather have a dumb down and distracted citizenry and reduce the society to bread and circuses.

Technology will improve, but we've already reaped most of the benefits years ago. An inkjet printer and a car is a good example. After thousands of new improved models, it is still essentially the same as a decade ago. Technology has reached the point of diminishing returns and you won't probably see any major changes unless you are part of the elites.

I recall seeing a sci-fi show called "Space 1999" in the 70s about a moon base, this is 2016 and a moon base is still a distant dream. At the rate we've burning and wasting resources, I doubt if humankind can ever get their act together to go beyond Earth and spread out to other planets. Hopefully it'll be a slow crash and I'll be long dead before we reach the Max Mad scenario.


Anthony Tan said...

Wow, I'm on the front page, Thanks Jim ;)

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anthony

I thought you'd get a kick out of it. That's how this blog got started. I wrote comments to other blogs and when the author printed a new article, I realized that my remarks were buried forever. I started this blog and recovered those comments and reposted two of them.

Of course there is more to it than that, I takes me about 3 hours to write one article (after I have an idea of what to write). So now and then when opportunity knocks, you'll see someone else in print here.

You message was short and to the point and it will not be forever buried in the comments section of this blog. Just Google the title and there you are. Your "beginning" as a Journalist.

Welcome aboard!

dearieme said...

Jim, here's an analysis that might appeal to you.

Anonymous said...

Cars and inkjet printers are not the same as they were a decade ago. Vehicles have more efficient engines, common features installed in them like smartphone integration, more intelligent braking and warnings when you're going to back over something. It's just that you can only innovate so much before the additional upkeep needed make the gains incremental rather than obvious. However, there are incredible developments in new technologies like 3D printing, distributed computing, carbon nano-tubules, etc, which will give us things we can't imagine now but will be common in 20 years.

The phenomenon you're describing reflects the fact that technology is outpacing our ability to adjust to it because computing power is so ubiquitous and we use it to design everything now. Anyone can understand a car engine or an electrical panel if they get a 10 minute description. No one can understand why they reshaped the new football helmets to help against brain injury, it was all determined inside a computer model that a few dozen researchers fed data into and conducted trials with using heads made of ballistics gel.

Most people see the future as the Jetsons if they're optimistic and 1984 if they're not. I think the closest guess may be Logan's Run.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi dearieme

Thank you for the link. He's a little long winded, but he is spot on.

Anthony Tan said...

Hi Anon

In 1991 my first car is a Daihatsu Charade that got me 20km/litre. It has air conditioning and music system, cassette player though. 25 years later, with more efficient engines, my Audi clocks 14km/litre, has air conditioning and a music system, although it's called MMI. No flying cars and no teleportation yet. The core is the same, what's being added are the frills and bells & whistles. Same with inkjet printers, and digital cameras, and televisions and all other gadgets, though not on the same timeline. But they all hit a plateau at some point in time and remain essentially the same after, except for additional bells and whistles.

3D Printers are not new technologies, I came across it back in 1996, 20 years ago They were called Rapid Prototyping Machines then. Even the concepts were the same, UV light or UV laser curing on liquid resins/polymers, Laser sintering on metal powders, fused deposition of filament, so nothing ground breaking here. The progress being made recently in 3D printers are not in the tool (the machine itself) but in the material science and maturing/proliferation of supporting technologies (powerful PCs, 3D CAD softwares, 3D scanners).

With Nanotubes or even quantum computing, your iphone or any other gadget will still remain more or less the same, as the function determines the form. The technological innovation and improvement remains transparent to the end user and it won't drastically alter it's form and functions (software).

Anyway, that's not my point, what I'm trying to say is that we probably won't be able to innovate/tech our way out of the problems we face today, which I termed as finite world.
But this can be expanded to
1) Growing population
2) Hitting a plateau in resources. (Crude, Fresh Water, Energy, Farm land, Fresh Air, Minerals, depleting fish stocks, complexity/diversity of our biosphere)
3) A financial system that demands growth at all costs.

I do have faith in technology. We'll need to perfect fusion which can potentially give us unlimited energy, which will in turn allow us to perform unlimited material recycling, resource morphing (C and H to polymers), water and air filtration/purification. And we'll need to GM the shit out of everything, maybe even including ourselves.

What I do not have faith in is our current financial system and humanity. Our current financial system will likely lead to collapse because it is not sustainable. Our political system have been highjacked by corporations and being lead by psychopaths who does not care about the sufferings faced by the common people. And humanity, who in their last bid to survive or maintain their lifestyle is more then willing to destroy any last hope and the world.

Anthony Tan said...

"As an economist, it is a mystery to me how any economist can think that a population that does not produce the larger part of the goods that it consumes can afford to purchase the goods that it consumes. Where does the income come from to pay for imports when imports are swollen by the products of offshored production?"

The income, USD, comes from debt. And there is demand for that debt because it is a "reserve" currency, enforced by the big guns of US of A. Whoever post a threat to this system will be squashed and destroyed. This privilege is paid for in blood by the young throughout the world. Whoever had the power to "create" money enjoyed a huge advantage economically. Sadly, the state did not get to enjoy such benefits as the profits are privatised. But it's the people who are the ones who will be paying the price for such a system eventually.

Like all technology, weapons technology has reached a plateau and the rest of the world is catching up rapidly. US is running itself into the ground economically trying to maintain the wide lead in conventional warfare technology it had traditionally enjoyed. In spite of all the technology, what is most important is the will to fight. The rest is pretty basic and easy to come by, an assault rifle and a RPG. Quantity is a quality of it's own

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your comment. I understand what you are saying in terms of technologies being around forever, but the ability to create something and the ability to create something in a mass production line cheaply is all that matters. Actually, the ability to create carbon nano-tubules has been around since I've been in grade school, and I'm by no means young. As soon as we figure out a way to mass produce them, I think we will all be amazed at the revolution that comes from it.

As for "Our political system have been highjacked by corporations and being lead by psychopaths who does not care about the sufferings faced by the common people."

I think psychopaths is a strong term, but yes, our leaders are more interested in keeping power than serving the public. But think about why they are allowed to retain this power. They are able to stoke fears in people who have been brought up all their lives to believe in them and trust them as authorities. I already see a new generation that does not believe in the same limitations that they preach (while the Daily Show is not my cup of tea, it was trusted more than CNN and NBC amongst the youth), and even previous generations understand a paradigm shift is coming.

The reason we have big brains is that we are able to learn and grow as a species. Every empire on earth has believed that innovation stopped with them and their structures would last 1000 years. It's human nature to be resistant to change and to assume things will happen on the safe and known plan forever. We have to relearn over and over that there is something new and better on the horizon and it will not halt simply because we want it to.

Anthony Tan said...

I am serious about the psychopath, though I don't mean batshit crazy. Few good men and women would aspire to be a politician, and those few that do, don't make it. Cos they are unable to lie through their teeth and make alliances against their conscience. Let's see the definition of psychopath.

" Psychopath:

A person with an antisocial personality disorder, manifested in aggressive, perverted, criminal, or amoral behavior without empathy or remorse.

Psychopaths tend to lack normal human emotions such as guilt. They are also often highly intelligent and skilled at manipulating others.

Also, psychopaths seem to appear normal. You would probably never guess there was something wrong with them.

Note, not all psychopaths are serial killers. "

CEOs and politicians have to step on the back of hundreds at least to reach the position they have today, definitely not for the meek and Mr nice guy.

The new gen and change that you are speaking of, I believe some refer to it as the 4th turning. I subscribe to it and agree with it. Hope we can make positive changes before things go too far south.

AIM said...

We are dealing with regimes, ideologies, philosophies, societies, systems, etc. We can't confuse them with man's existence. These things come and go through the centuries. I believe man is capable of big strides in technology. And I believe that he can and will solve all the problems that he has created or is confronted with. Unfortunately his solutions are usually executed on a RUSH/URGENT basis instead of through preparing earlier in time for a predictable future situations. There will be crises, resets, upheavals and there will be brilliant technical innovations and solutions too. Barring a meteor, nuclear war, disruption of the solar system, etc. I believe man still has some "staying power" as regards his life and civilization on this planet.

Anonymous said...


Contrary to what you see in movies, real psychopaths are rarely capable of long term planning. Some of them can be skilled con men but most people will recognize them for what they are eventually, they can simulate emotion but they don't feel things the way other people do. All they do is seek thrills. The worse truth is that these people's lust for power is completely human and they are manipulators on a grand scale.

People tend to remember pain more than pleasure and think recent trends last forever. The economy has been terrible for a very long time and peoples' hope is at an ebb, there are young people who have never experienced an economic boom in their working age. Things will turn around eventually and then we will be back in Neverland. Unfortunately we will go through some trials between then and now.

Anthony Tan said...

Both Anon,

Thank you both for your thoughts and contribution.

I believe in cycles as well.

But I'm afraid crude oil is a one shot thing. There are people who believe abiotic oil, but to me, crude represents millions of years or stored solar energy. We started exploiting it in earnest in the 1900s and our population boomed from 1 billion to 7 billion today. The population, the technology and the standard of living we are enjoying today would not have been possible without oil. Oil is not only energy, but also a raw material used for all plastics, fertilizers and pharmaceutical components. Oil is a one time boost that allows us to get to where we are today. If we are to collaspe, I'm afraid there won't be another chance for us to perfect fusion nor reach to the stars on our own ever again.

Civilizations rise and fall and rise again. But in the past, they are considered isolated local events. The world is becoming a much smaller place and since the 1900s, we've had 2 world wars. That's before wide availability nuclear weapons, so I can't imagine what the next one will be like. The next collapse might include a huge swath of the world population. If we lose enough knowledge and technology, it'll take us a long long time of stability to get back what we've lost.

The world has also changed in another aspect. Technology has become so complex that no one is able to master it all. Knowledge, skill and labour is highly divided and specialized. A town of 500 can be self sufficient in the past, a city of 500,000 today will not be able to muster the knowledge and resources to produce all modern day necessities and technology.

If we are to have a world wide collaspe, I'm afraid we'll be unable to surpass what we've achieved in the 80s before we run out of boost from oil. That's what made me think the golden age of mankind is behind us.

AIM said...

We still have a lot of oil in the ground and reserves to enable us to bridge to other energy sources (we've already begun with nuclear, solar, fusion and wind). It will be an difficult, disruptive, expensive and historical transition and in the not too distant future oil will be the energy source of the past.

What I agree with is the concept that technology has and continues to advance at an amazing rate (Moore's Law, etc.) yet, key aspects of The Humanities stalled out a long time ago. So much of man's thinking and methods are still based in "the dark ages".

Hoping that a politician or leader will resolve the maladies of society or humanity is a losing proposition. It has never happened in the past, why would it happen now. We are having the same societal, economic and governmental problems today that we had in all earlier civilizations or empires (British, Spanish, Roman, Greek, Egyptian, Chaldean, Assyrian, Babylonian, etc. etc.). Nothing ever changes because progress has only been made in technology, and NOT in what truly counts: culture, sociology, philosophy, economics, mental health, religion, etc. Man continues to repeat himself from one civilization or empire to the next as they all continue to fade out into history.

I believe the key to all of this is the human mind and more basically the human spirit (the spirit uses the mind in order to function in the physical universe). The resolution of all of man's and society's problems depends upon the resolution of the human mind. This is why depending upon politicians, leaders, engineers, physicists, etc. to solve our problems has always ended up in disappointment. Man must know himself; understand what truly makes him tick; what are his true motivations; what is the source of his evil and/or destructive intentions and purposes; how is he the same and different from his fellow man; what is the source of him impulse to cooperate; what is the source of his impulse to disassociate or individualize; etc. etc. These are the questions that need to be answered with truths. Then man can be "fixed". Rehabilitated. The source of evil, destruction, war can be confronted and eradicated. Until man understands himself and the human mind he is doomed to repeat himself like he has been doing throughout recorded history and beyond.

Until then, elections, presidents, prime ministers, parliaments, congresses, ideologies, political parties, etc. are all a waste of time. To solve life man has to look within.

Denalo Zecon said...

I agree that Humanity needs to "look within" to become wiser with the probable benefits of wisdom. However there is a "chicken or egg first?" issue. Issue is only a small percentage of Humanity desires or puts in the effort to be wise and ethical...most focus on short term concerns or ask a 'leader' to give them both a 'solution' and orders also.

Also if you do not grok my comment?
Website called Question Everything