On Mon, 11 Jun 2018 10:11:51 -0700 (PDT), Panthera Tigris Altaica
>On Monday, June 11, 2018 at 9:35:11 AM UTC-4, Quadibloc wrote:
>> On Monday, June 11, 2018 at 7:21:38 AM UTC-6, James Nicoll wrote:
>> > Why Are There So Few SFF Books About the Very Real Issue of Population Decline?
>> > https://www.tor.com/2018/06/11/why-are-there-so-few-sff-books-about-the-very-real-issue-of-population-decline/
>> My first reaction, even before reading the article on your page, was that the
>> answer was obvious.
>> The population explosion has obvious dramatic consequences: people starving to
>> death. And people are already starving in India and China.
>> Usually, when I hear about the very low birthrate in Greece, for example, it's
>> in the context of someone raising fear and alarm... not about poor people in
>> Third World countries going hungry, but about people from Third World countries
>> being let into our countries, and thus diluting their whiteness. (This doesn't
>> mean that the mentions are always done by racists, but that at least a
>> perception as racist is easy to come by.)
>> Generally speaking, not long after the Second World War, *that* sort of attitude
>> rightly became unfashionable, and so the obvious hook to hang such a story on is
>> So the demographic transition isn't seen as causing a problem - even if, say, in
>> Japan some problems due to temporary adjustments are seen - but as solving a
>> problem. If the world's population shrank enough, everyone, even the people in
>> China, India, and Africa, could sustainably live at U.S. standards of material
>> consumption. Something to cheer about.
>> John Savard
>There is, I understand, a minimum population level required to sustain a technological civilization. Technological civilizations require enough people to:
>1 Mine and process the assorted ores and minerals to make tools to make tools to make whatever else is necessary. That would be things such as oil or coal or other organic feedstock for plastics. That would be light metals such as aluminum and magnesium and titanium. That would be heavy metals such as iron and gold and lead and uranium. That would be silicates and carbides and assorted nitrogen and phosphorus compounds. And a whole lot more.
People are only needed to do this if robotic technology is not up to
the task. Right now it isn't. At some point in the future it
probably will be.
>2 Build machine tools and other tools to make things. These tools would range from big metal cutters and grinders and such to lasers for etching integrated circuits to electrical and electronic devices used in manufacturing processes to ball bearings.
>3 Feed, clothe, transport, and otherwise support the workers doing the above. This would include farmers, construction workers, bus drivers, truck drivers, sailors on ships large and small, aircrew, waitstaff in eateries large and small, public works people, public utility people, and many more.
>4 Office staff. Administration, project management, programming, research and development, more.
Believe it or not, more robots. My employer is laying people off and
replacing them with robot paper-pushers.
>How many people does the world need in the electronics industry to sustain modern electronics, including computers and consumer goods?
How good are the robots? With good enough robots the answer is
> How many people does the world need to provide the materials just for that industry?
Again, how good are the robots? With good enough robots, the answer
> How many to deliver those materials and to take away scrap or waste?
Again, at some point in the future, the answer is "none".
> Recall that the electronics industry uses chemicals such as chlorine-fluorine compounds during the manufacturing process.
And no human in his right mind wants to be anywhere near such
compound. More work for robots.
>Those chemicals require proper handling or there will be serious consequences.
People are more likely to screw up the handling that are well designed
> You can't just dump them.
> You can't just dump the arsenic and lead and mercury used in assorted electronics systems manufacturing, either.
So? How you dispose of something is a different issue from how many
warm bodies are needed to do the disposing.
>Newspaper and magazine and book printers use plates on their presses, and those plates require silver nitrate and nitric acid and assorted assorted other lethal chemicals.
A dying industry.
> Explosive manufactures use sulfuric acid and nitric acid and more.
Better handled by robots. If a robot gets blown up its family isn't
going to file a lawsuit.
>There's a _lot_ of support staff required for virtually all modern industries, and most industries depend on other industries.
But how much of it actually requires human decision-making?
>electronics industry depends on the iron and steel industry or they wouldn't have buildings in which to work or vehicles in which to transport their product.
> Ball bearings, by definition, require the iron and steel industry. Motor vehicles require ball bearings. Virtually all industries require motor vehicles.
You think ball bearings are machined one at a time by a human running
>If you drop the population by too much there won't be enough hands to do the work, even if some of it can be automated.
How about if all of it can be automated?
>The world could get along with a lower population than it has now. The question is... how much lower? Another question would be... at what cost, economically and socially, can this reduction be made?
The issue is the cost. What happens if there is no work for anybody
but everything one needs is being made by robots?