Sta Hungry Stay Foolish

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

A blog by Leon Oudejans

Technology and Minimum Viable Population

In yesterday’s blog on the Minimum Viable Population, I hinted that technology has a negative impact on the MPV.

The historical world population growth (graph) has been very low compared to today. The acceleration in the growth of the world population started around 1500.

A closer look reveals that the upward curve has been accelerating significantly since the start of the Industrial Revolution (1760-1820/40), the 1st wave of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100.

The relation between the current world population (growth) and the Technological Revolution is simple: more jobs, more money, more & better food, more & better medicine, better hygiene, better housing and so on.

This resulted in a significantly increased life expectancy; also see my 2016 blog. However, birth rates decline much later. 

Hence, the 3 UN world population scenarios for 2100 in the graph to the left: 7 billion (low), 11.2 billion (median), and 16 billion (high). Today, we are in between 7 (2011) and 8 (2024) billion people.
The 3rd wave (see my recent blog) of the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 is introducing Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics. However, we are still away from supercomputers like HAL 9000, J.A.R.V.I.S., KITT, and Skynet (see Wiki list of fictional supercomputers). Hence, the current state of our technology may require tens of thousands of people and perhaps many more.

In the meantime, Homo sapiens is vulnerable as we have lost the (Neanderthal) ability to be self-sustaining. We are dependent on electricity, food purchases, fossil fuel, heating, internet and money. Our Knowledge base could be wiped out during the glacial periods of a new Ice Age.

Despite popular belief, Homo sapiens was “lucky” that the anticipated glacial periods in the 19th and 20th century of the current Ice Age, have been delayed by excessive CO2 emissions following the Technological Revolution of 1800-2100 (eg, Bloomberg-2016, NYT-2003).

It’s hard to imagine how humans could or would survive global cooling, like the Neanderthal did over 700,000 years and 8 Ice Ages (eg, Quanta). It’s easy to imagine how humans could and would survive global warming. We probably need to relocate some megacities that were built (too) close to (rising) oceans and seas (my 2017 blog).

We Built This City (1985) by Starship – artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

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