William, I like the way your mind works, and the fault tree/failure analysis metaphor. I also completely agree about unintended consequences. And as far as the sci-fi aspects go, I'm happy to see almost *any* sci-fi that doesn't involve zombies!
Localized population densities alone don't tell the whole story. At the local level, much of the problem occurs when there's a big mismatch between population and resources. But standard of living is also not determined by only those two factors. High standards of living often are made possible in one area of the world because low standards of living occur in other parts--often, where the high-standard political entities are exploiting the heck out of the low-standard ones. On the macro level, many people working in this and related fields are convinced that there are just too many people on the planet, and that a high standard of living is not sustainable, evidenced by pollution, food shortages and environmental wastage. Obviously, there has to be a limit somewhere to both people and usage since the globe and its resources are limited, not infinite. Some think we've already passed it: http://www.whatnext.org/resources/Publications/Volume-III/Single-articles/wnv3_andersson_144.pdf
Theft of intellectual property? As in if Apple steals a concept from someone else, that would be an act of war? Is the future where corporations declare war openly I've read about in scifi books finally here? You might be on to something.
It's amazing to me how the definition of war has changed over the years and how we now fight wars; unmanned drones, cyber attacks, etc. I think theft of intellectual proper should also be considered warfare. I know this is a real stretch to some but billions of dollars are lost each year due to this activity and when we talk about theft from DoD facilities, there certainly could be lives lost. With ever-increasing acceptance of digital process, cyber warfare of any description will only increase.
Ann, it is one of those "unintended consequences" that are the secondary results of something that "seemed like a good idea at the time". They appear by a method similar to fault tree analysis, where we would consider each possible condition of something not being made exactly as designed, and then figure out what the result of that fault would be. Then sometimes we would need to determine what the result of the secondary fault would be. The purpose of all this analysis was to determine which manufacturing flaws had to be tested for and at what stage of production. Sort of like "Failure Mode Analysis" but more intense.
And since we know that computers often suffer frommviruses and other types of malware, it is completely reasonable that a computer linked to a brain would have that happen eventually.
That would probably be a good basis for a serious horror movie, or even a TV series. Much more believable than zombies, too.
William, thanks for an eloquent description. I have been close to men who served in Vietnam, as friends and boyfriends. My father was at Guadacanal in WWII. I know what bringing it home means. I also like your reference to Pandora's Box--good metaphor.
You are certainly correct about the idea of people dying in war being horrifying. It goes way beyond horrifying: remember, somebody said that " war is hell", but my opinion is that it is way worse than that. But please, don't anyone take that as a heresy or an attack on anybody's religious beliefs.
My assertion is based on the reality that you don't have to die to go to war, and that sometimes it sticks to you even if you do come back.
But as soon as there is found a way to link computers to our brains, which some are working toward even now, cyber warfare will take a large step toward being just as nasty as the gun and bomb type of warfare. That will be one of those "unintended consequences" that people were not thinking about as they blasted the lid off of Pandoras box. ( That reference to Greek mythology is a very handy way to describe a concept.) I hope that a few other people consider that reality. PLEASE!!
@Ann: There are definite social, economic, and ecological advantages to smaller family sizes. However, discussions of overpopulation are often problematic.
El Salvador, with 761 people per square mile, is often considered to be "overpopulated," while countries with higher population densities (such as Belgium, with 945 people per square mile, or the Netherlands, with 1287 people per square mile) are not.
Many of the countries with the highest population densities (Monaco, Singapore, Bahrain, Malta, Taiwan, etc.) have relatively high standards of living, while many of the countries with the lowest population densities (Mongolia, Western Sahara, Namibia, etc.) have very low standards of living.
That's not to say that there are no limits to population growth, but I think most of the resource problems in today's world are more related to the distribution of resources (wasteful overconsumption in some places, while others don't have enough), rather than the total number of mouths to feed.
The idea that there is anything good about people dying in war is rather horrifying.
In honor of Earth Day, the National Security Agency has launched the STEM Recycling Challenge in Maryland schools to encourage kids to think about where the garbage they throw out every day actually goes. The agency has also introduced “Dunk,” a muscular blue cartoon recycling bin wearing shorts and sneakers.
A slew of announcements about new materials and design concepts for transportation have come out of several trade shows focusing on plastics, aircraft interiors, heavy trucks, and automotive engineering. A few more announcements have come independent of any trade shows, maybe just because it's spring.
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