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June 20, 2008

The economic singularity is coming

An interesting article in the New York Times.

Malthus vs. the Singularity

By John Tierney

Before any other readers post another comment about "overpopulation" and doomsday scenarios, I suggest they take a look at my colleague Donald McNeil's excellent article on Malthusian mistakes. As he notes, the current forecasts of energy and food disasters sound just like the ones made during the 1970s. Similar apocalyptic forecasts were made in the 1940s (in books like "Our Plundered Planet") and in other eras by prophets following in Malthus' tradition.

These prophets have always claimed to be seeing the big picture, but they ignore thousands of years of history during which the prices of natural resources fell and the wellbeing of humans improved. [...]

You can see this trend nicely in an an article by Robin Hanson in the IEEE Spectrum's special issue on the Singularity. Dr. Hanson, an economist at George Mason University, takes a long look at economic history and sees fairly steady growth punctuated by two "economic singularities"–the invention of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution–that caused dramatic accelerations in growth.

Dr. Hanson extrapolates from these trends to suggest that we're due for another economic singularity sometime between now and 2075.

Posted by joke du jour at June 20, 2008 06:12 PM

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Not only did you provide some weekend reading, it turned into a writing assignment as well! See my blog post for this morning (21 Jun)...

Be well,
Dave H.

Posted by: Dave H at June 21, 2008 07:51 AM


I wondered when I posted it whether that NYT article would provoke a response from you.

(For other readers, you can find Dave's post here.)

Posted by: JdJ at June 21, 2008 09:24 AM

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