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Critique of future history? (Earth in 2105)

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I'm challenging myself to try to make 2105 as different from 2005 as 1905 was. Given the end result I'm aiming for, does the sequence seem plausible? I've included a general and specific ordering of events. Comments on either greatly appreciated: General Worldbuilding End Goal The general goal is a radically altered Earth as a kind of "phoenix rising." I'm aiming for a bitter-sweet environment, almost a mix between Star Trek and Mad Max, where much has been lost and much on the way to being restored. I don't want any one side to be all good or right, though. Most of Earth is made of either massive, sealed cities, wilderness, ruins, or wastelands. The major groups by 2105 are the monolithic Common Culture, borne of a human-AI social revolution based on rejecting the sins of their elders; several religious and ethnic interests trying to hold on to their identity; and scattered scavenger tribes, some who have access to nuclear weapons (shades of Old West / Mad Max). There are also several dozen space colonies of ethnic or Common origin. This future depends on the rise of nanotech, AI and fusion. (You may detect influences of Phillip Jennings and Ian Banks, btw-- it's well tread ground, so I'm more focused on logic than originality)
General Sequence
  • Civilization collapses due to energy crisis, but not totally
  • Nanotech city-states accelerate rebuilding, become superpowers
  • World becomes split between megacities and wastelands
  • Nanotech and AI employed in atrocities involving mind-alteration
  • Revolt allows youths to take over city-states; leaders expelled
  • Movement to tear down old cultures and start over
  • Nanotech Renaissance, and expulsion of ethnocentric communities into space

I've posted the future history details here, if you're interested.

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1) No sufficiently advanced (and large) civilization has wastelands. Large affluent populations require huge amounts of resources to support themselves, that means using every inch of land to support that population. Even in smaller populations, whatever you don't use, you can easily sell to somebody else. One might argue that with Nanotech you can just synthesize it all, but remember that you can't make something out of nothing, you still need elements to assemble into more complex shapes. (So even in the future you can't turn lead into gold)

2) The world has already seen two secularist cultural revolutions, one was an utter failure (Soviet Union) the other was an failure until they accepted capitalism (China), the fact is secularist thinking is not necessarily a sign of advanced civilization, "scientific thinking" can be just as stupid and contemptable as religious dogma. (Look up phrenology, or eugenics if you don't believe me)

3) I think the unification of different cultures is already happening, you notice that EVERYONE wears jeans, Japanese culture is increasingly on TV and movies,(Chiaki Kuriyama in Kill Bill vol I, yeowza!) and you can't cuss at Americans in spanish because they know what you're saying. I don't think a common culture would come out of a revolution, but though years of subversive things like clothes, TV, and the internet.

4) There are a number of alternatives to fossil fuels, they have found that certain types of agricultural oils can be used in diesel engines, and the Germans experimented with a coal based synthetic alternative during WWII (Though I don't know if it was a success or not) So whatever energy crisis there will be, I doubt it will have very dramatic effects.

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1) I believe the above poster was right in the point that there would be no wastelands, with the exception that regions of extremes (deserts, tundras) would probably still exist in your world, because no major terraforming would have occured in the time of crisis. It is therefore possible to have many large wastelands depending on background events in your world (global warming rampant for 30-40 years 2015-2050 for example could engourage the formation of deserts. Although I don't really like using global warming, it seems a bit overused as an environmental disaster).

Edit - reading your history explains a mix happens - temerature drops, so tundras, polar caps expand, however drought -> desert growth.
Edit - limited nuclear war between China and India -> nuclear wastelands where nothing will grow, but could be possible for people to survive in ( rad suits etc).

2) Exactly how major is this common culture? The way you have described it, it almost seems like Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty Four by Georgr Orwell, just not quite as controlling (but ever present in the majority of peoples' lives).

3) I'd like to point out that the Soviet Union (or communist Russia) wasn't an utter failure in terms of what it managed to achieve while it existed. Granted, it did collapse as it could not compete with the consumer goods and personal freedom inherent under democracy ( or capatilism), it did manage to do, in one 10th the time, what took every major European power 100 years to achieve, industrlisiation. It took only 10 years for Russia to go from a mainly agrian based society to a manufacturing society. So it was not an utter failure in itself, but the idea (communism) was.

4) In regards to point 4 above, he maintains that the energy crisis would not have many dramatic effects. Since the most popular fossil fuel today is oil, it seems inevitable that it would run out (this you have suggested). However, instead of this causing an energy crisis, consider the following:
"Manufacturing plastic in petrochemical factories consumes about 270 million tons of oil and gas every year worldwide. Fossil fuels provide both the power and the raw materials that transform crude oil into common plastics such as polystyrene, polyethylene and polypropylene. From milk jugs and soda bottles to clothing and car parts, it is difficult to imagine everyday life without plastics." - exerpt from http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Biodegrade/Green-PlasticsAug00.htm
So possibly the oil crisis leads into a plastic shortage, which has much more drastic effects.

Edit - "First world consumer economy in shambles" shortage in plastic could cause this to happen.

5) Are your city states remnicissant of Ancient Greece? i.e. part of the same country, but not thinking of themselves as one country (e.g. Spartans, Athenians, Thebans were all Greeks but they never thought of themselves as Greeks), also is it common for your city states to be at war with one another (war could possibly be covert subversive messaging, not open conflict).

Edit - I see they do

Well from what I can see, it seems you have based your ideas on part on Earth as depicted in the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamiltion (great books btw) and partly on Fallout (humans grouped together in clusters with large areas of wasteland in between).

I take it that there are hidden subversive elements in some/all arcologies that do not agree with the common culture, but have not been found.

Edit - I'd like to point out that I wrote most of these comments before reading your history (stupid, yes I know) and I found it ammusing that we both picked the same timeframe for the end fossil fuel and start of new energy source. I guess the date (2015) means we are both pessamists aye.

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As a start, I would consider doubling or tripling the figures for the population in a century. About 20 billion people on the planet, mostly in Southern Hemisphere.

This would require an ENORMOUS amount of food and energy. As well as housing and clothing, but back there in a minute, I am merely beginning to expand.

Probably at about 10 billion people on Earth, there won't be enough food produced, so it's either finding new sources of food, or finding a way to modify the crops in order to have a better production, or finding new grounds to produce on.
The first will probably involve turning to the sea to develop edible algaes, and transform them into something more apetizing to the eye.
The second will probably boost the genetic research, and cloning animals and Genetically Engineered Organisms should be aplenty by the time. It should therefore show progress in terms of medecine.
The third will potentially be the most critical. In order to get more fields, Brazil will start to cut trees down at an alarming rate, which would trigger an intervention by UNO, in order to stop that. Famine calling, and war starting anew in Middle East, for arable land, a scientific program to "terraform" the desert will be created. Within 5 years, the other half of the research which is not interested in growing bigger crops will have to create a way to make the deserts greener. Programs of Forest creations will be made throughout the world, in order to maintain the CO2 level, and reduce heat raising. If not, envisage flood.

25 years after the results of the terraforming program, most of south Africa, and other savanah coutries have learned to grow heat resistant crops, and are beginning to rid themselves from dependance on Northern crops and food. African Economy is steadily raising. Creation of the First Pan-African Union, which regroups about 70% of Africa South of Sahara. The deserts' borders have been pushed, and trees and crops are now growing where there was almost nothing thirty years before.

Middle-East is ablaze with wars for the land. The Israelo-Palestinian conflict is still going strong, for none of them is ready to admit that now, they are not fighting for their land anymore. They are fighting to push the other out, out of sheer pride. Arabian countries of the Middle East are now coalizing behind Palestine, and USA is forcing the rest of Northern World to fight behind its banner, in order to bring Israel forth, and possibly gain possesion of the last dregs of Oil in Middle-east. They have stopped pumping it down in Texas and Alaska, and are considering pumping it out, in years to come. USA is the last country sitting on barrels of Oil, Minus the new PanRussian Alliance, which still has the Bakou Petrol Fields, now near depleted, and the reserves in Kamtchatka, and in Syberia. They won't last long.

The planet's temperature is now seriously rising, and water level has begun to raise of about two meters. About 6 percent of europe is now under water, and there is no turning back. People have now to live cramped in huge cities, trying to reach in height whatever width they lack. The building industry is pretty happy with this. Destruction of too small buildings take place every day, and new buildings are being constructed meanwhile. And that is beginning to happen everywhere on earth. It has begun in Asia, nevertheless. India and China have been the first to yield to demographic pressure, and have enforced sever laws to reduce demography, with only ONE child per couple. The number of opposnats is incredible, and European countries as well as Northern American countries are not ready yet to accept the same conditions. China has started to impose a wider repartition of population, and has begun a new colonization of the inner continent. WIth temperature rising, Syberia is not frightening anymore for everyone, and make an acceptable alternative to life in Moscow and St Petersburg.

Very soon, water cattering becomes an industry in full speed, and ship builders are giving jobs aplenty. Some weird projects of colonizing the bottom of the oceans, in order to gain some room are envisaged. The same project is envisaged about moon and Mars. But the feasablity of such projects require much more money than Governments can spare. Citizen groups and Pension funds are placing their money on these projects.

10 years later, the pension funds and investors are seriously afraid it might never work, and start calling in their debts for cash. The enterprises cannot cash back, so the banks ask that too, and ultimately, in order to satisfy everybody's demand on that part, the banks have to call in the State debts. 92% of the states go bankrupt. Stock Holders are masters on a sinking board.

The project about a moon station, with viable environment has begun to take shape. There is already about five hundred persons, all scientists living there, and they are having good results, although they tend to become crazy. The animals brought there didn't survive long, and they are searching ways to adapt them to lwoer gravity environment. They are curently envisaging to bring birds, mostly, that will be easier to deal with. Most new governments order levies to fund moon colonies for themselves. And as a result, most economic alliances shatter. Individualistic behavior becomes the most prominent.

Aviation and space shuttling has become a big prime industry. The effects of research can be seen in armies that are now gathering near the borders to protect each countries surviving populations. A war is predicted in the near future.

Worried, many peoples rebel against their auhtorities. Massacres are witnessed around the globe, against those "seditious citizens, trying to shatter the morale of [their] nation[s]". Curfew and siege state are declared almost everywhere, to protect interest rates and income for the stock holders.

The Stock holders decide to gather, and form a unified government of earth, and place the whole world under breaking tensions. Workers are sent back to work with extreme force, strikes are broken in blood, field workers are now recruited by the army, and replaced by soldiers (often the same, but with a contract and a pay...), fields are bought for pennies...

The Independant scientific underwater project is now workable, and the sea statino is prepared to be launched, but then the citizens fight over it, in order to escape the dictatorship of the Stock Holders. The Army intervenes, and secures the Sea Platform for the Stock Holders. They will be the ones living on the water, and won't have to fear the cramped life on the ground.

The moon station has been declared officialy insane, and forces have been unofficialy sent to kill the survivors of the famine. no mention of this is made in the medias.

By the end of the first quarter of the 22nd century, 20 billion people are now toiling for the leisure of about 100 couples living on huge platforms on the ocean, along with their privileged "employees", starvation has been eradicated, but to a cost, overpopulation can be seen, even in the most desertic places, including former oriental sahara, war has erupte almost everywhere.

Only a handful of people, still know nothing about that: those that have been sent away to Mars. And when they arrive, they will have to make do with whatever they find there...

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Original post by Horatius83
1) No sufficiently advanced (and large) civilization has wastelands.


I'm not sure I agree with this. The normal pattern throughout history has been to spread into arable land and farm it; then they build cities where there initial communities are (often displacing the best land, ironically).

The biggest problem I have is explaining why development supposedly concentrates in the arcologies, rather than spreading out. What I'm assuming is that rogue nano, a rash of genetic plagues and an insular mentality keeps them from doing so long enough for them to develop the Common Culture.

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Large affluent populations require huge amounts of resources to support themselves, that means using every inch of land to support that population. Even in smaller populations, whatever you don't use, you can easily sell to somebody else.


The equation changes a bit with nanotech, I think. I'm imagining a society that starts approaching sustainability through recycling, not so much as a philosophy but as a matter of practicality. This seems plausible if you accept the premise of a collapse of global trade and violent balkanization of the landscape. It's might be better to stay home and reform material than fight off warlords, plagues and rogue nanotech.

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2) The world has already seen two secularist cultural revolutions, one was an utter failure (Soviet Union) the other was an failure until they accepted capitalism (China), the fact is secularist thinking is not necessarily a sign of advanced civilization, "scientific thinking" can be just as stupid and contemptable as religious dogma. (Look up phrenology, or eugenics if you don't believe me)


I'm glad you mention this, it's exactly where I want to take some of the storythreads for the game. The creators of the Common Culture would have seen a failure of both religious and scientific thinking in their own lifetimes, because they would know of religious and politically-inspired atrocities.

But the equation is different here, based on the ability to transfer experiences and sensations. So on an ontological level, this Common Culture is bound together in a way that we can't really classify. Is it technological? Is it religious? What happens when the two merge?

I want th Common Culture to both create optimism and unease, though. They end up being highly ethical, but not above expelling or even (in the case of what they consider war criminals) radically modifying the minds of people. I don't want the Star Trek "we've overcome ourselves" results, I want these people to still be struggling with their demons.

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3) I think the unification of different cultures is already happening, you notice that EVERYONE wears jeans, Japanese culture is increasingly on TV and movies,(Chiaki Kuriyama in Kill Bill vol I, yeowza!) and you can't cuss at Americans in spanish because they know what you're saying. I don't think a common culture would come out of a revolution, but though years of subversive things like clothes, TV, and the internet.


I think cultural diffusion would probably be more effective, and I think that's what the Nangineers and AI would have pulled off a combination of. But I'm also throwing in a lot of apocalypse to mess things up. What's not explained really well is how much cross-communication these arcologies have. On the one hand, they're sealed against disease, weather and nano; OTOH, they're connected enough to have a revolution. (Have to work on that...)

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4) There are a number of alternatives to fossil fuels, they have found that certain types of agricultural oils can be used in diesel engines, and the Germans experimented with a coal based synthetic alternative during WWII (Though I don't know if it was a success or not) So whatever energy crisis there will be, I doubt it will have very dramatic effects.


We've got biodiesel, hydrogen, wind, hydro, solar and some others, but for every one opinion that says we won't have an energy crash, there's another that says we will. So this is completely moot.

Rather than just a pessimistic ("we all die") or completely Pollyanna-perspective ("oh, we'll be fine, nothing bad will happen"), I wanted to strike a balance that says somehow we survive, but it's not going to be pretty.

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Original post by Stuckey
Edit - reading your history explains a mix happens - temerature drops, so tundras, polar caps expand, however drought -> desert growth.
Edit - limited nuclear war between China and India -> nuclear wastelands where nothing will grow, but could be possible for people to survive in ( rad suits etc).


Yes, I'm also going to factor in nanotech-based environmental poisoning to add in to the mix. So this adds to the effects by climate disruption bringing harsher weather in many places, and radiation.

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2) Exactly how major is this common culture? The way you have described it, it almost seems like Big Brother in Nineteen Eighty Four by Georgr Orwell, just not quite as controlling (but ever present in the majority of peoples' lives).


I definitely don't want the Common Culture to be all pervasive, but they have an ideologically viral nature to them that makes them powerful (in that they very rapidly welcome and incorprate different cultures and ideas). They have the Nangineers behind them (kind of like AI-human Jedi Knights); they're start off being popular among the young, which gives them a generational perch to command from later; and they're also ethical, in that they won't force their ideas on you, but will exile you if you can't live in peace with them (or change you, if you're a criminal as they define it).

They would still find themselves plagued by sympathizes of the former arcology rulers on one hand, and by "rogue" arcologies on the other. (Note that rogue may simply define a power like Jubilee, that wants to stay staunchly fundamentalist Christian.)

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Edit - "First world consumer economy in shambles" shortage in plastic could cause this to happen.


This is great, thanks. Because we essentially eat petroleum (pesticides, tractor power, processing, trucking) I can assume that as supplies become too expensive to extract, we shift to food production and maintaining our alternative energy base, and away from consumer goods like cell phones and cars.

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5) Are your city states remnicissant of Ancient Greece? i.e. part of the same country, but not thinking of themselves as one country (e.g. Spartans, Athenians, Thebans were all Greeks but they never thought of themselves as Greeks), also is it common for your city states to be at war with one another (war could possibly be covert subversive messaging, not open conflict).

Edit - I see they do


Yes, I can see this arising as a result of waxing of national power and an "every man for himself" attitude. And just like in Ancient Greece, you'd have tyrants, democracies and philosopher-king (corporate-king?) equivalents trying to unite large swaths of territory, which would lead to lots of wars.

I also think, even though we would have tiptoed on the brink of extinction, you'd still have tens of thousands of morons who still want to settle old scores just as soon as their wounds heal; so that's another basis for fighting.


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Well from what I can see, it seems you have based your ideas on part on Earth as depicted in the Night's Dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamiltion (great books btw) and partly on Fallout (humans grouped together in clusters with large areas of wasteland in between).


I have JUST discovered Peter F. Hamilton's Reality Dysfunction! [smile] Thanks for another series reference, as soon as I finish this and the Neutron Alchemist books I'll get that one.

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I take it that there are hidden subversive elements in some/all arcologies that do not agree with the common culture, but have not been found.


Yes, but there are two forms to this. There are the destructive elements, and then the thwarting elements. They're aggressive against those who would bring down the arcologies, but they encourage a wild profusion of diversity and activity in the form of human, AI, and human-AI factions.

(Some cynically theorize that this effectively creates gridlock because there are so many fractured voices, and that maintains the status quo [wink]).



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Edit - I'd like to point out that I wrote most of these comments before reading your history (stupid, yes I know) and I found it ammusing that we both picked the same timeframe for the end fossil fuel and start of new energy source. I guess the date (2015) means we are both pessamists aye.


Haha, this is funny. Maybe we're reading the same websites. [smile]

Something that annoys me a bit about this energy debate, btw, is how both sides ignore each other on something so important. That was my main impulse for creating a history where both get to be partially right.

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Original post by Fournicolas
As a start, I would consider doubling or tripling the figures for the population in a century. About 20 billion people on the planet, mostly in Southern Hemisphere.
...


You've got a well thought-out future! I think having certain groups constantly in conflict is a nice touch, along the line of "some people never learn."

One challenge I have in worldbuilding is that I don't have the resources to model a freeform Earth that you can travel over at your leisure, so I've got to remake the world. I still want to have familiar cultures and conflicts, but I don't want the massive load of putting them in place.

By lofting cultures to the stars or isolating them in patches on the Earth, I can fill in the procedurally generated megacities and wasteland outposts more easily than could be done were Earth intact.

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Original post by Wavinator
General Sequence

  • Civilization collapses due to energy crisis, but not totally
  • Nanotech city-states accelerate rebuilding, become superpowers
  • World becomes split between megacities and wastelands
  • Nanotech and AI employed in atrocities involving mind-alteration
  • Revolt allows youths to take over city-states; leaders expelled
  • Movement to tear down old cultures and start over
  • Nanotech Renaissance, and expulsion of ethnocentric communities into space



Hmm, as I mentioned in one of your other threads, I still don't think the whole "nanotech as a cheap excuse for magic that lets me do anything I want" is the least plausible.

Other than that, a couple of points:
1) How likely is it that nanotech is going to be developed in a world that has all but collapsed due to lack of energy? I'd figure that to develop something like nanotech, you need an advanced civilization that's actually capable of supporting theoretical scientists, and supply them with *lots* of energy and whatever else they need. And even assuming they do develop nanotech, I don't see it being that useful in their situation. It could be massively useful in a world with access to plenty of power, but which is running out of resources. You have the opposite situation. The world just collapsed due to an energy crisis, not because of resource depletion.
Isn't one of the basic points about nanobots supposed to be that they can use just about any raw material to construct anything? But they'd obviously need energy to do so.
2) I don't believe for a second that there'd ever be a powerful movement to "tear down old cultures". People are traditionalists more than anything. A few maladjusted youths generally want to tear down the "old" system, yes, but I doubt you'd ever see a system where a mass movements wants to disband the culture they grew up in, the culture that more than anything defines their world.
3) Back to my original point about nanotech. How plausible is it really that you can use it for mind alteration? Think about the amount of information you have to cram into the thing just to be able to recognize a brain, never mind manipulating it. Then imagine the amount of information + power it'd take to make it communicate with thousands of other nanobots in order to coordinate their efforts. Nope, I just don't buy it. ;)

And finally, a few odd points about the detailed timeline you linked to:
"US first nation to use remaining resources on restoring national train networks, mass transit; early foundations for vacc train networks that will span the globe" - Really? The US? The country that is by far the least suited for mass transit, has never before used it much, and where everyone lives so far apart mass transit is all but impossible? Why would *they* be the first to restore something like it? (And why would other countries get rid of it in the first place? True, in an energy crisis it'd be tricky to maintain, but if a country has a working mass transit system, wouldn't that be a top priority to keep running in a crisis like that? (Apart from that, the whole "US saving the day/showing the way/doing the right thing" is getting a bit clichéd, isn't it? ;))

How exactly does an impoverished world with no organization, and where everything is literally falling apart, unite to build "sealed, armored, nanotech-driven megacities"?
That sort of thing requires cooperation and organization, doesn't it? In other words, it's a bit unlikely in a world where countries are splitting up and everyone are infighting.

I think that's it. On the whole, your timeline doesn't seem to fit very well together as I see it. I don't see how you can simultaneously make people invent new fantastic technologies, build huge massive cities all the while fighting their neighbors over the last scraps of energy that couldn't possibly be enough to fuel even one of these amazing achievements.

And finally, I might just be a cynical pessimist, but I really don't see how people could so quickly embrace radical new philosophies, lifestyles, ethics and technologies. Change usually sneaks up on you slowly without anyone really noticing. If it happens too quickly, people will reject it and turn traditionalist/conservative, clinging to the past or to the way they used to do things.

On the whole, it just sounds a bit cheesy, like a quick story patched together to allow you to fit in all the sci-fi bits you need. More like independent snippets of different background stories, than an actual coherent history of the world.

Ok, this might sound a bit harsh, but eh, after all the really clever threads you've made, you can probably take it. And I figured you didn't need telling which parts actually made sense, as much as you needed to know which parts didn't ;)

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Sorry if I may have confused you, Reality Dysfunction, Neutronium Alchemist and Naked God ARE the Nights Dawn trilogy (I only found this out after reading them, I can't remember seeing it actually on the books).

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Original post by Spoonbender
Hmm, as I mentioned in one of your other threads, I still don't think the whole "nanotech as a cheap excuse for magic that lets me do anything I want" is the least plausible.


Yes, I agree that it needs limits, but I'm not really explaining how nanotech works other than pairing it with AI (whose power also isn't explained).

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Other than that, a couple of points:
1) How likely is it that nanotech is going to be developed in a world that has all but collapsed due to lack of energy? I'd figure that to develop something like nanotech, you need an advanced civilization that's actually capable of supporting theoretical scientists, and supply them with *lots* of energy and whatever else they need. And even assuming they do develop nanotech, I don't see it being that useful in their situation. It could be massively useful in a world with access to plenty of power, but which is running out of resources. You have the opposite situation. The world just collapsed due to an energy crisis, not because of resource depletion.


This is a good point, but what about a reversal of the premise: How much power does it take to run a nanobot versus "macroscale" objects like a construction crane or vehicle? I'm assuming that nanotech is still being developed as things are declining, hence the "quiet revolution." I'm assuming that it doesn't make it to the consumer, but military / government uses go ahead anyway (as they always would, population be damned).

As to the scientific base, that's something I thought a lot about. Certainly that base declines, but it doesn't go away. Using Russia's model, the knowledge probably follows the wealth. If some cities remain wealthy (those in temperate zones, probably with ports), then the knowledge probably goes there. So, too, might any remaining technology base.

There's also the issue of self-replicating technology that still can be deployed, even if it can't be improved (or even reasonably understood). Depending on how many strains, how much ambient power they could draw, and what their controlling mechanisms were, you might have a lot of "rogue nano" that leaks out as well.

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2) I don't believe for a second that there'd ever be a powerful movement to "tear down old cultures". People are traditionalists more than anything. A few maladjusted youths generally want to tear down the "old" system, yes, but I doubt you'd ever see a system where a mass movements wants to disband the culture they grew up in, the culture that more than anything defines their world.


Ah, well on this one I'm going to have to stretch credulity, then, because I'm pushing this based on something no culture has ever experienced (sharing experiences with the "I/You Ethic"). I try to capture what you're talking about, though, by dividing the reactions up, even among those within the arcologies. But I was really thinking both of a Soviet/Chinese revolutionary experience (which heavily changed the culture) and the 1960s movement in the US (which beget Poststructuralism, a way of tearing down the culture of "dead white European males.")

It's hard to gauge what near collapse and radical change would have done. I was thinking, though, that maybe, as with the 1960s movements, the majority of people are silent and inert. They go with the flow as long as it puts food on their plate. This would somewhat balkanize the arcologies, which might not be a bad thing for conflict and narrative options.

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3) Back to my original point about nanotech. How plausible is it really that you can use it for mind alteration? Think about the amount of information you have to cram into the thing just to be able to recognize a brain, never mind manipulating it. Then imagine the amount of information + power it'd take to make it communicate with thousands of other nanobots in order to coordinate their efforts. Nope, I just don't buy it. ;)


But we already had this conversation, I think. You're not conducting large-scale pattern recognition, you're targeting receptor sites, chemical triggers and other molecular signifiers. Now if this future increasingly has mind-machine interfaces (as we've recently invented and tested with monkeys), and we now already know how to block receptor site with things like GABA (for alcohol) and SSRIs (helping ease depression)-- and we can do that now with TODAY'S chemistry, why is it beyond the pale to think that we will improve this process with nanotech? Right now, you can give someone delusions, religious rapture hallucinations, memory loss (versaid), increased trust/desire/affinity (ecstacy, marijuana), etc. with existing pharaceuticals.

Now I'm assuming both that the understanding of brain function increases and that the ability to target specific areas with nanotech also increases. Since I'm not really specifying the magnitude of how much civilization crashes, I also think it's fair to expect that life goes on, even during calamity.


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And finally, a few odd points about the detailed timeline you linked to:
"US first nation to use remaining resources on restoring national train networks, mass transit; early foundations for vacc train networks that will span the globe" - Really? The US? The country that is by far the least suited for mass transit, has never before used it much, and where everyone lives so far apart mass transit is all but impossible? Why would *they* be the first to restore something like it?


[smile] All it takes is one visionary leader and you can put a man on the moon. Nobody else has done that, so I don't think it overly unfair to imagine a Green-leaning president revitalizing an isolationist America into restoring its train network, precisely for many of the reasons you site.

Of course, I expect Europe and Southeast Asia to have several well integrated mass transit systems, given that cars begin to go away. India and the inland of China are a little more iffy, as is the non-urbanized portions of Latin America and Africa. (Not sure about Australia, either).

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(And why would other countries get rid of it in the first place? True, in an energy crisis it'd be tricky to maintain, but if a country has a working mass transit system, wouldn't that be a top priority to keep running in a crisis like that?


That wasn't supposed to be implied, only that the US modernized its system.

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(Apart from that, the whole "US saving the day/showing the way/doing the right thing" is getting a bit clichéd, isn't it? ;))


Don't worry, Japan invents fusion and AI credit goes to multiple other countries, spread by technological espionage. But there's only so much you can note.

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How exactly does an impoverished world with no organization, and where everything is literally falling apart, unite to build "sealed, armored, nanotech-driven megacities"?
That sort of thing requires cooperation and organization, doesn't it? In other words, it's a bit unlikely in a world where countries are splitting up and everyone are infighting.


No, I'm assuming it happens on a city-state basis out of necessity, and with varying degrees of success.

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I don't see how you can simultaneously make people invent new fantastic technologies, build huge massive cities all the while fighting their neighbors over the last scraps of energy that couldn't possibly be enough to fuel even one of these amazing achievements.


Yeah, it might not work, but much depends on how rigid you believe the parameters are. But you do show me that I'll need to work harder to explain more of the initial premises. There are a lot of assumptions I'm making which are debatable, and that should be noted.

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