More People, Better Earth — Part 4

{Read part 3 here.}

In his extended comment, Ghost of Hamlet wrote:

…  More innovation leads to better quality of life. … But is this relationship truly infinitely scalable? Can we have 50B people on earth and have an exceptionally advanced society ?

Is anything infinitely scalable? No but some things can be indefinitely scalable for practical purposes. With 10th century CE technology, the world could not have supported even 10 million people at the average level of consumption that 7.8 billion people currently enjoy. And with 21st century technology, it is reasonable to expect that the average standard of living (which is another way of saying consumption) will continually increase — barring the insanity of some global nuclear conflict.[1] Continue reading “More People, Better Earth — Part 4”

More People, Better Earth — Part 3

{Read part 2 here.}

How much of the great scientific advances involve random guess work and wild conjectures? Would that be zero percent or 10 percent? How much of technological progress depends on luck, serendipity and accidental discovery? Would that be 20 percent?

The answer is 100 percent. Scientific progress is made by pure guesses. The process is simplicity itself. Some random person makes a random guess about some random subject that happens to interest him. Then he works out the logical implications of that guess, and then announces that the world is this way, and people try to prove the whole thing wrong, and if nobody is successful in proving it wrong, it gets accepted to be true of the world, and the guy who started with that random guess is called a scientist.

The popular perception of science and technology as enterprises where luck and guesswork are not involved is 100 percent wrong. Continue reading “More People, Better Earth — Part 3”