Re: Supporting civilization

From: Keith Henson (
Date: Tue Jan 17 2006 - 09:37:56 MST

At 03:34 AM 1/17/2006 -0800, Daniel wrote:
>Keith said:
> > Without *serious* physical support from AIs or
> > similar level automation it
> > would rapidly become very hard to live in the
> > physical world in any
> > comfort.
>High levels of automation are already occurring.
>productivity has doubled in 13 years:
>John Deere is developing robotic farm tractors:
>If we have a couple of decades before people disappear
>'down the rabbit hole', then the physical infrastructure
>will be able to support us.

That might be if we have serious self replicating nanotechnology. The
current infrastructure would not provide support following 99% of the
population vanishing. There was an SF story that had the electrical power
grid staying up for weeks after a near total die off in a biowar. That
just isn't in the cards unless it is being operated (and repaired!) by at
least human level AIs (or humans).

Otherwise, we would have been better able to cope with a 99% reduction in
the population 200 years ago.

I speak with some authority in this area, being an electrical engineer with
interest that spans from power plants and transmission lines to industrial
automation and integrated circuit design. I have incidentally worked at
several John Deere plants.

Productivity gains are driven by huge markets.

>Besides, what's to prevent
>people from managing the world from inside the
>Heck, some people play games now that simulate
>managing a civilization. I would expect some people would enjoy
>running the real world even if they live in a sim.

Again, *maybe.* Depends on such things as the relative perception of time
inside and out.

Keith Henson

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