Thursday, October 25, 2007

Redefining Limits

There are two fundamental limits to future growth in ideality and population: power and knowledge. The apparent inability of adjusted power to get much above 50 in a period when energy has been cheap implies that the entire population is constrained in meeting more than one-fourth of its needs or at least half the population is destined to remain ignorant.

Power, the fraction of needs met, can be improved through technology, social cooperation (coordination of activity), and increased energy. Technology and energy have been ample, while cooperation has had a mixed record (consider, for example, the wars that have occurred since the 1920s, which exemplify attempts by a minority to horde resources and constrain the behavior of the majority). As we approach limits to energy and other resources, maximum power will tend to drop. Increasing levels of waste in our environment, which includes toxic chemical compounds and climate changing gases, are driving down the populations of most species and limiting ours through deterioration of health, natural disasters, and our dependence on those other species.

The ability of people to perceive the action required to meet their needs is a function of innate intelligence, access to complete and accurate information, and understanding of how the world works. This can be maximized through education (sharing knowledge), research (expanding the total amount of knowledge), and honest communication (sharing current experience). In my studies of theoretical populations, increasing everyone’s knowledge is the most reliable way to maximize happiness.

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