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August 16, 2011

World Transformed and the need for faster innovation and GDP growth

The Hamilton project has shown that US productivity growth has stalled since about 1973. The underperformed of 2% per year has resulted in the US being half as rich per capita as it could have been if we had maintained the 1948-1973 trend

I was on the World Transformed interview series and discussed existential risks (along with Michael Anissimov and Alvis Briggs) - Our Fears Transformed

Alvis Briggs - Social futurist, writer and stealth groupcasting startup CEO Alvis Brigis focuses on the social aspects of convergent accelerating info, tech, comm and capability growth.

Michael Anissimov co-created the Singularity Summit and writes at Accelerating Future. He is a leading thinker and proponent of Friendly AI.

The one thing that I want to focus on for the World Transformed is the need to get organized to develop as fast as possible.

Change attitudes and plans for faster technological development. If we consider human civilization stuck on earth as a teenager living in his/her parents basement. We have to hurry up and grow up and develop the solar system. Move out and get a job and achieve ambitious things.


A Dozen Economic Facts About Innovation by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney (26 pages)

What should we be doing about it?

* Follow recommendations to regain the 2-3% per year of innovation (total factor productivity) growth that we should be getting

There are other ways to look at Total Factor Productivity which indicates improvements were better



* Fund projects with technological risk (things that can fail) but which would change the world if they succeed. DARPA and the old x-plane and skunk work projects worked before. Use x-prizes and other funding methods.

* Do not be scared of funding what is controversial – The big technological transformations are mainly controversial in some way or another. Mainstream people do not believe they can happen or there are those who do not want them to happen or they dispute various specifics.

* Things that is worth taking a risk to fund and try to make work. Try different ways and different projects. A little waste by funding some losers is not that big a deal. A trillion was spent on space over the last 50 years but usually on small projects that did not move the needle in terms of advancement. Only 520 people launched into space and the price per pound did not come down. In the same span of time postal delivery service enabled aircraft to move to a mainstream service that moved millions of people each year.

Extreme life extension (SENS) – dispute the goal and the feasibility

Cold Fusion (Rossi/Focardi, Piantelli, Brillouin, Brian Ahern, Arata etc…) – a lot of claims of fraud or bad science

Regeneration and tissue engineering

Nuclear fusion (General fusion, Helion Energy, EMC2 , Tri-alpha energy, focus fusion

Quantum computers (dispute of the quantumness of Dwave Systems, lack of openmindedness to faster non-academic paths)

Molecular nanotechnology (criticized feasibility and yet no shift even when experiments show feasible)

What’s in it for us if we get it right?

We get better technology sooner that can help speed the transformation.Currently we have 55 million people dieing every year and we are still stuck on earth. If we did things right in 20-30 years we could be flying the solar system as easily as we fly around the world today and have lifespans and health that are radically better. The transformed world would be better and more of us around now would live to see it if it happens sooner. If it happens in 2081 instead of 2031 then 3-5 billion more would have died before it happened.

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