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Using straight line, linear or even expotential extrapolation rarely works in real life. Whole civilizations have risen and fallen with the huberus that linear thinking would have them conquer the world.

The article on singularity continues and offers a dissenting opinion which you ignored:

"While Singularitarians regard the Singularity as a positive event and work to hasten its arrival, some view the Singularity as dangerous, undesirable, or unlikely to occur. There is ongoing debate on how an oncoming Singularity could be influenced (or whether it could be influenced), what the most practical means for initiating the Singularity would be, and — if it is dangerous — how it could be made safer or avoided."

The concept of creating a "master race" was the theme of the Nazi's and politically completely rejected. Building Post Humans would have to overcome the inertia and politics to fund the research and put it into production.


The Singularity could certainly be dangerous. There are even many films devoted to this scenario.

The point is, anyone who thinks we have the power to control the singularity is fooling themselves. We are on this path, for better or for worse.

Civilizations may have risen and fallen, but the succeeding civilizations picked up where the predecessor left off, keeping the stream of technological advancement continuing on the trendline.

If China surpassed the US, it would have been through greater technological gains than the US...


Also note that there are two trendline projections, due to the limited datapoints available. The steep one hits light speed in 2075, while the more moderated one hits in 2500. The result is a pretty wide band in which the possibility might occur.

We already send radio transmissions at light speed. If intelligence can be combined with quantum computing in the mid-21st century, then high intelligence could reside in very small particles.

Time will tell...


I highly suggest you read Paul Kennedy's, The Rise and Fall of Great Powers...

When if China or India becomes the next great power, I suggest it will be because of our moral and financial or military decay. Yes the next civilization will probably advance technology. But what if the next civilization is a 14th century, backward looking Islamic culture. Islam is the fastest spreading culture in the world.

I look for a depression soon to start with the housing bubble bursting which has started:

The Metro West Daily News has this report on Massachusetts. “Housing prices are projected to drop 5 percent during each of the first two quarters of this year and Bay State residents remain highly concerned over the cost of housing, market analysts said yesterday.”

“A ’sharp’ drop in Massachusetts housing prices has begun, said Alan Clayton-Matthews, a professor at the McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies at UMass. ‘The same economic forces that led to very high and fast-growing prices here in the past are now working in reverse,’ he said. ‘Housing prices are almost certainly going to decline in the near future.’”

“‘When we do have this housing price correction it is going to help our economy just as it did in the 1990s and is one of the requirements we need for the Massachusetts economy to grow again and expand robustly and for population growth to return,’ said Clayton-Matthews. ‘The longer we avoid a correction in housing prices, the sharper that correction will be and the more steep it will be.’”

“‘The level of concern over housing costs in both Massachusetts and in Essex County housing remains quite high,’ said Michael Goodman, director of economic and public policy at the UMass Donahue Institute, noting the public cares as much about housing as health care and public education. ‘It’s clear that housing costs, housing policy and housing development remain a very relevant issue in Massachusetts public policy circles.’”


I believe the housing bubble decline will cause a long but shallow recession, but not a depression by any means. Only about 25% of the population lives in housing-bubble regions like CA, NV, or FL, and only a fraction of those bough houses in the last 4 years, at or above their means.

Anyway, I highly doubt that China can overtake the US (read the post from last week on this). India certainly cannot (I am Indian, take my word for it, they can't).

And even if China were to overtake us, they would simply pick up on the technological innovation that we left off. Let China be the one who generates the innovation to get us to launch a spacecraft at 1/10th the speed of light. So be it. It is still an innovation that fits high on the speed-time chart in the post.


What about Islam as practiced in Iran ruling for the next 500 years if they control the Gulf oil? Islam has over 1 billion members and is growing fast. Extrapolating, they will take over or at least control the world. The world has seen Islam control before and remember there was a Dark Ages.


That is even less likely. China will not allow Islam to encroach upon their society, and have no bones about the use of massive force.

Notice how China has been spared from Islamic terror all this time, because terrorists know that this is a target that would pound them in the event of an attack.

And India already has had 150 million Muslims living in it all along, with relatively few problems in proportion to their numbers. Proof that Muslms can adapt to Democracy, given time.

Even Muslims rapidly start using the Internet and cellphones when available to them. They can't fight technology when they too are getting absorbed in it.

You are just too pessimistic, and trying too hard to find things that will go wrong.

Tell ya what, why don't you tell me what you are optimistic about, and I will tell you what I am pessimistic about.

I am pessimistic about terrorism. The West is still too complacent, and excusing just too much of the terrorists' barbarism and hypocrisy. Terrorists will get a bit too lucky one day, and kill 2-3 million Americans in a major city. This will cause Americans to have a massive, extreme counter-reaction.

I am also pessimistic about bird flu and other such superpathogens. Nature is constantly trying to find a way to reduce human population, and is generating pathogens that evolve at faster and faster rates, to stay ahead of our preventive drugs.

So, what are you OPTIMISTIC about?


The decline in house prices has already started.

Rates going up will deflated the housing asset bubble faster leading quickly to falling asset values.HeliBen has no where to go to avoid the deflationary collapse. He must raise rates because the economy is relatively strong with lower unemployment. He must raise rates because commodities are going ever skyward. He must raise rates because the Fed hates rising gold prices. Rates have started to rise because the Japanese have started selling our bonds.

As rates rise, the adjustable mortgages ( I/O & ARMs, plus HELOCs) raise monthly mortgage payments and default and foreclosures go up. As houses held by flippers and investors try to liquidate prices decline. As prices decline the MEWs (Mortgage Equity Withdrawals) disappear. Greenspan stated the MEWs added $700 billion to the 2005 economy or 70% of the 2005 growth.

Investors and flippers were 24% of the housing purchases in 2005 nationwide. 50% of mortgages in 2005 were adjustables which will easily be underwater with a 14% decline. The subprime lenders disappear when house owners cannot borrow when they have no equity. No subprime lenders means not MEWs for cars, vacations, educations, etc. As unemployment rises and more houses go into default, the mortgage backed bonds (MBS) default or become impaired. The GSEs (Freddie and Fannie) go from not reporting their earnings to the NYSE. The pools of MBS which become CDOs and become sold outside the Fed's control and regulation as derivatives worldwide in the hundreds of Trillions. Half the volume of the US stock market comes from derivatives. -- end game worldwide.

The first to feel the declines in price are the sellers. The second ripple is the MEW's (mortgage equity withdrawal, home equity loans, HELOC's, etc) which depresses renovations and major purchases. The foreclosures and REO's come third because the laws give months and months of grace period. Oh, did I mention the defaulting mortgage backed bonds, especially derivatives.

In Europe and the US, instruments are growing ever more sophisticated and complex, as investment banks and exchanges - most of which have now floated to become aggressive profit-seeking concerns - offer an array of new derivative products. While valuations are always controversial, prices are not as excessive as they were in 1999 and 2000. To the pool of patient capital that has long been provided by pension funds has been added a much more active pool of money from hedge funds, which now account for more than half of the daily volume in the US stock market.

The fear is that the sheer pace of the growth in credit derivatives has outstripped both the scope of the existing regulation and the development of infrastructure to manage exposures in the sector. According to the International Swaps and Derivatives Association, the total notional volume of credit default swaps outstanding had reached $12,430bn by the end of June - a growth rate of 48 per cent in six months. The market had scarcely existed in 2000.

Collapsing mortgage backed bonds and derivatives, plus stock derivative and a declining economy will overwhelm the Fed. The central bank of Japan in 1990 failed. This is my reason to conclude that prices will fall in a severe deflation.


I am optimistic that after the next depression America will survive and adapt to the changed world. It may take 25 years or more. The US constitution provides a moral and flexible framework that has gotten us through 4 depressions. It will get us through the next one too.


But you still think the depression will be 25 years and that America will no longer be the top nation in the world?

That is still pretty gloomy.

Anything else you are optimistic about? Technology? Productivity increases?


Technology. The Austrian school of economics calls this creative destructionism. Industries disappear during the long down period and technologies that have been simmering in R & D or academia are applied to the new facilities and services that emerge on the other end of the depression.

The definition of productivity in economics has some usual and strange effects. When a company fires workers and the output remains the same, then productivity increases. But often this is like eating the seed corn because R&D are usually the first to go.

Defined as: The relationship between production of an output and one, some, or all of the resource inputs used in accomplishing the assigned task. It is measured as a ratio of output per unit of input over time. It is a measure of efficiency and is usually considered as output per person-hour.


Notice that the foreclosures are not just California and Florida, ie Colorado, Utah, Illinois, Michigan....

Nearly 847,000 Properties Enter Foreclosure During The Year; Florida, Colorado and Utah Post Nation’s Highest Foreclosure Rates.

Irvine, Calif. – January 23, 2006 – RealtyTrac™ (www.realtytrac.com), the leading online marketplace for foreclosure properties, today released year-end data from its 2005 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report, which showed that 846,982 properties nationwide entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005, and a 25 percent increase in the number of new foreclosures from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

RealtyTrac publishes the largest national database of pre-foreclosure and foreclosure properties, with more than 550,000 properties in nearly 2,000 counties across the country, and is the foreclosure data provider to MSN House & Home, Yahoo! Real Estate, AOL Real Estate and HomeGain.com.

“Overall U.S. foreclosure numbers climbed steadily over the course of the year, with more new foreclosures reported in every quarter,” said James J. Saccacio, chief executive officer of RealtyTrac. “This trend appears to be moving the real estate foreclosure market back to its historic levels.”

Saccacio noted that the number of 2005 foreclosures needed to be kept in context. “Even with almost 850,000 properties entering some stage of foreclosure across the country over the course of the year, this represents less than 1 percent of all U.S. households. And the increase in U.S. foreclosures from Q3 to Q4 was just below 5 percent.”

Report Highlights

• Despite a 29 percent decrease in new foreclosures from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, Florida documented the nation’s highest foreclosure rate and accounted for more than 14 percent of the nation’s new foreclosures in 2005. The state reported 121,843 properties entering some stage of foreclosure — 1.67 percent of the state’s households.

• New foreclosures in Colorado decreased 4 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, but the state’s annual foreclosure rate ranked second highest nationwide thanks to consistently high foreclosure numbers throughout the year. A total of 29,630 Colorado properties entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005 — 1.62 percent of the state’s households.

• 1.5 percent of Utah households entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005, the nation’s third highest annual foreclosure rate. The state reported 11,536 properties entering some stage of foreclosure during the year, but new foreclosures dropped 27 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter.

• New foreclosures in Texas increased 54 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter, and the state documented the nation’s fourth highest annual foreclosure rate. A total of 115,643 Texas properties entered some stage of foreclosure in 2005 — 1.44 percent of the state’s households and more than 13 percent of the nation’s new foreclosures in 2005.

• Other states with foreclosure rates ranking among the 10 highest nationwide were Georgia, Arizona, Indiana, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee. All of these state documented annual foreclosure rates of at least 1 percent of total households and reported new foreclosures increasing from the first quarter to the fourth quarter

• Although their foreclosure rates ranked below the nation’s 10 highest, California, Illinois, New York and Michigan were among the 10 states reporting the most new foreclosures in 2005. California reported 61,563 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and new foreclosures increased 16 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. Illinois reported 46,723 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and new foreclosures decreased 14 percent from the first quarter to the fourth quarter. New York reported 37,068 properties entering some stage of foreclosure, and the state reported more than twice as many new foreclosures in the fourth quarter as in the first quarter.

“Over the past few years, we’ve seen historically low mortgage rates, consistently escalating home prices and steady, strong employment,” Saccacio said. “This has translated into relatively low levels of foreclosure properties — particularly bank-owned properties. With interest rates rising and an apparent slowing of property valuations in most markets, we’ll be watching closely to see if there’s a material effect on the number of foreclosures in 2006.”

The RealtyTrac 2005 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report provides the total number of homes entering some stage of foreclosure nationwide and by state for each quarter of 2005. RealtyTrac’s report includes properties in all three phases of foreclosure: Pre-foreclosures – Notice of Default (NOD) and Lis Pendens (LIS); Foreclosures – Notice of Trustee Sale and Notice of Foreclosure Sale (NTS and NFS); and Real Estate Owned, or REO properties (that have been re-purchased by a bank).

Below are foreclosure market statistics nationwide and by state:

(available at source, doesn't format well)


You know that at no point did I say that there is not a housing bubble, and have said that there is one many times.

I just don't think it will cause a 15-20 year depression. Maybe a 2-year recession, nothing more.

Some people will be hurt by it. Many will be unaffected, and some will even be helped (young people who previously considered a home beyond their reach, but now can buy one).

Plus, a housing bust would in no way slow down very-long-term technological advancement, whether in energy, computing, or space. An argument that it would result in trimmed research budgets and risk aversion merely means some of this will be done overseas in the meantime, returning back to the US after that.

The dot-com bust slowed innovation for a time, only for it to surge back and return to the trendline after that.


Let us agree to disagree.

But I want to state that Japan's real estate bubble burst and has been in deflation for 15 years and has not stopped. The US Great Depression included a real estate bust and took 25 years and a world war to end it. The US had other depressions. Busting real estate bubble often create crashs.


Why limit yourself to extrapolating into the future?

Why not also extrapolate into the past, and prove the ridiculous result that no human could run at 10 miles per hour in 1750?


There's one glaring problem with the 'data points' in that chart. The satellites, which are solely responsible for the extrapolation of FTL speeds by 2075, reach their top speeds through gravitational effects, not by accelerating via a manmade form of propulsion. An inert rock in the same orbit would have the same speed.



Travel approaching light speed may continue to depend on gravity wells or slingshot effects, perhaps of the sun or even black holes.

The ability to use this aspect of physics is itself a form of technology, one that we will harness to greater and greater extents as our capabilities improve.



That is just a silly statement from you. That is like saying that before humans evolved, intelligence of other creatures present at the time, like horses, camels, and elephants, was zero.

Do you understand the concept of second derivatives?


""What about Islam as practiced in Iran ruling for the next 500 years if they control the Gulf oil? Islam has over 1 billion members and is growing fast. Extrapolating, they will take over or at least control the world. The world has seen Islam control before and remember there was a Dark Ages.""

This post is really uninformed. The Dark Ages never happened because of muslims. It happened because the Roman Empire was declining and then it died. The result was chaos because The romans destory any civilization that was nearby. There fore there was no one to fill the void left by the empire. This left Europe in the dark ages because so many roman and greek stuff were destoryed by the tribes attacking the empire. The muslim how ever had a store of greek essays (most of the surviving medical knowledge we know about the greeks came from the muslims). They went through a golden age which was a scientific and artistic renniasance for them. Until they just like the romans were attacked on my fronts and there golden age went (e.g. Mongols sacking Baghdad the centre of Knowledge and health in the islamic world).


There's one glaring problem with the 'data points' in that chart. The satellites, which are solely responsible for the extrapolation of FTL speeds by 2075, reach their top speeds through gravitational effects, not by accelerating via a man made form of propulsion. An inert rock in the same orbit would have the same speed.


Ideologues will surely call this small thinking that misses an opportunity to impose some much-needed discipline on our runaway federal budget.

Utah Reverse Mortgage

It would be amazing if the human race ever reached the speed of light for travel. We could all live forever, assuming the theory of relativity is true.


Voyager and sputnik are fundamentally different from cargo carrying vehicles. And your graph of manned, relatively massive, not-one-off vehicles stops in 1950 for a reason - the trend topped out. Chemical energy, which is what all our current propulsion technology is based on, does not allow anything faster to exist as a fundamental part of our civilization (as opposed to one-offs like 100kg spaceprobes). Without some application of nuclear or other extremely high power-density propulsion system, we will remain saturated in this area. Exponential growth in this field then is conditional on politics, and advances in the power production field, and the power density that our equipment is able to handle (also at saturation, as far as thermodynamic fluids in physical contact are concerned), and not inevitable.


"In 1977, the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft were launched on an interplanetary mission, reaching peak speeds of 55,000 mph. However, in the 29 years since, we have not launched a vehicle that has exceeded this speed. "

In 2018 the Parker Solar Probe reached 430,000 mph. Still using chemical energy, but supplemented with gravitational energy, and a reduction in mass.

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