Today, in America right now, we only can think of growth in quantitative terms. And in a resource-constrained environment, how frickin’ stupid is that? You’re actually imposing your own death sentence by not being able to get over the grip of this quantitative dynamic.
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It’s interesting and scary to think about an Earth that could be completely controlled by humans, but it seems like it’s definitely possible. I could find fun thinking about living under the sea or all the places that humans really haven’t been able to sustain themselves in very well. Like, if we could really get control of that. I mean, it’s definitely a dark future, but I think something that I could embrace if we did go there.
Sure, cyberspace is about people and data. But it is also about applications. And devices. And the indirect and non-obvious relationships between all of this. It creates a very complicated and exciting ecosystem. One that is capable of dramatic innovation, and dramatic exploitation.
Google just has to grow. It has to keep growing. But Google grows at its own peril. Google grew so much that what happened? It outgrew Google. Google had to become what? Alphabet. Now what is Alphabet? Alphabet is not Google. Alphabet is a holding company. So Google’s new business as Alphabet is to do what? It’s to buy and sell technology companies. So, once a company becomes just too big to flip anymore, it becomes a flipper of other companies.
Machines generate waste heat when they do work for us. And this year, seven billion of us will use twenty-five trillion kilowatt hours of electricity. An awful lot of that will end up as waste heat. So, we treat waste heat as a problem. We see it as a challenge to design how we can manage it. We don’t think of it as a resource. If we thought of it as a resource, that would be results we are just throwing away.
I think we need to take a look at what we find to taste good. And I think a lot of people throw away food. As Juergen mentioned, we throw away 1.3 billion tons of food a year. That’s a third of the food that is produced. Which is just probably the easiest way to reducing hunger in the world. Being more resourceful, much more frugal about it.
You’re dealing with timescales that are beyond humans’ interest. I mean, it’s sorta like global warming. The heat that we have now built up, that carbon was burned thirty years ago. It’s going to take a while for the correction process. So, if you have the elements of the phosphorus, the potassium, the manganese, and so on, it can be built back pretty fast. But a shorthand way of putting it is that soil is as much of a non-renewable resource as oil. And, more important than oil. I mean, we’re talking about stuff we’re made of. So that’s why I’ve said that the plowshare has destroyed more options for future generations than the sword.
I see a set of constraints facing us in the future, and they’re all going to be very expensive. First is funding retirements for the Baby Boom generation. Second is continuing increases in the costs of healthcare. The third is replacing decaying infrastructure. The fourth is adapting to climate change and repairing environmental damage. The fifth is developing new sources of energy. The sixth is what I see as in all likelihood continuing high military costs. The seventh is the costs of innovation.