Monday, April 02, 2012

The Hunger Games


Just saw The Hunger Games with the family. Not bad, Donald Sutherland's awesome. The consumate pro doing a menacing turn as President Snow makes the picture crackle along with the angst of the adolescent tributes who sacrifice their lives for the good of Panem, the ruined remains of America set approximately 100 years in the future, a future reminiscent of Rome, the corrupt and totalitarian state ruling over all who live within its borders. Of course this is not about the flick but rather about the possibility of the world devolving into something as dystopian as this, a resource poor and savage place devoutly to be avoided if at all possible given the grave situation we find ourselves in as we move further into the 21st century.

What's the betting pool for this type of world? 50/50?,  75/25? or odds less then 30, one never knows but conjecture's not a bad thing in light of the hellish environment Panem represents.

Variables on the + side:
  • Cheap and truly efficient solar is coming along with graphene laced batteries and capacitors promising to store and release power at levels unimagined just one year ago. 
  • Artificial photosynthesis is also becoming doable, a tech able to make solar a viable substitute to coal and oil in the long term production of energy needed to drive the world.
  • Fabbing at both the micro & macro scale using new materials is accelerating, thus beginning to change the equation regarding huge manufacturing entities needed to create products society uses on a daily basis.
  • AI and the implications it has for medicine, industry and healthcare will be disruptive to the max.
  • Ditto for nano-tech, robotics and biotech for all things related to digital.
  • Quantum computing is beginning to emerge from the lab. Implications of same, as often stated in BRT, goes beyond imagination.
  • People are beginning to wake up thanks to tech and the ubiquity of the web. Loss of privacy is a given but so is universal communication freed from the limits of space and time, trade offs yours truly will accept in order to gain the transparency we absolutely must have if we are to survive as a viable civilization in these most uncertain times.
 Now the -
  • Peak oil, been there, done that. There are no cheap sources of energy, period. Shale oil = non starter as the so called panacea to peak oil while the notion of drilling in the arctic chills the mind in terms of pollution and the inevitable spills that will issue forth from that hostile part of the world. Ditto on coal, the accelerant supreme for global warming.
  • Environment degradation - need we say more as the forests, prairies and oceans of the world continue to be plundered at unsustainable rates, something to consider in terms of the food, clothing and shelter needed to meet the needs of an over crowded and increasingly violated world.  
  • Global warming, the 900lb gorilla no one wants to talk about, is beginning to make it's presence felt with rising sea levels and increased acidification of the oceans due to higher levels of CO2.
  • Financial and governmental malfeasance, or the ponzi scheme run amok, is nearing the tipping point of collapse as a system predicated on debt and incompetence cannot be sustained forever. What happens next is anyone's guess. 
  • The continued lack of transparency in all things related to finance and governance kills innovation, true capitalism and democracy as efficiently as a bullet kills a soldier on the battlefield. If this institutional opacity, controlled by the status quo continues, Panem awaits.
  • God is not great - Christopher Hitchens
51/49 sounds about right in keeping a Panem type entity at bay at this point in time but then again, no one truly knows, do one?
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