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Old June 14 2012, 06:18 PM   #157
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Re: David Brin's latest novel, and a TED talk

Robert Maxwell wrote: View Post
You're still talking about nascent technologies that may not pan out.

We used to think nanotech would do all sorts of things for us. We've had to check our expectations numerous times in that area.

As for solar power: how do you store it? Don't say "batteries." Existing battery technology doesn't scale. I guess you could say "fuel cells," but those may not go mainstream either.

The bottom line is, you can't predict the trajectory technology will take. Technologies that look promising today may be dead in 5 years, or they may get stuck in R&D hell for decades, like fusion power. So many technological breakthroughs have been "right around the corner" for decades, and they still aren't here. Why do you think any of the stuff you post about will be any different? You don't know; I don't know. There are too many variables. You are certain we'll find a solution in time, based on extrapolations of current trends--and such extrapolations are so simplistic as to be meaningless. I recognize that nobody can know that for sure--either we will, or we won't.
Part of it is the exponential nature of these technologies, some have only taken off in recent years, and we can expect them to increase doing so. These include both the creation and adoption of clean technologies. Fusion technology (as mentioned at length in the sci-tech forum thread) as a brute force energy tech will take some time, but that is also an option. Fusion is not a fantasy, there have been recent breakthroughs, and the test reactor will be online a few years from now, with a working production reactor sometime after 2030.

Other technologies that have hit roadblocks before that are now experiencing both funding and technological gains, these include, AI, robotics, biogenetics, nanotech(in most cases, there seem to be advances almost every day if not every week in this field) , et al. In some cases, its the information tehnologies themselves that make the advancements possible.

Such roadblocks even in expanding technologies isn't unknown: The seven stages in the life cycle of a technology(listen to all of it):

Solar power storage: There's a lot of experimentation going on with this, but this looks very promising because it's inexpensive! From MIT:


. GTM Research estimates solar energy storage will be a $3.7 billion market by 2015.
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