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Thread: Evidence for ET is mounting daily, but not proven.

  1. #301
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    The question is, How long do technological civilizations last? If it's a short time, that may explain the Fermi paradox. If it's a long time, that makes the Fermi paradox more acute.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post
    Two words. Or four if you count "nuclear winter." That seems like an awfully brief defense of such a comprehensive conclusion concerning civilization.
    You asked for a scientific study that showed a connection between technological advancement and societal collapse. I referenced a well-known and studied mechanism, first formulated by Carl Sagan himself.

    Instead of retyping the entire study into this forum, I chose to provide an HTML link to a wiki page which provided a detailed description and citations to further scientific studies. My apologies if you are unfamiliar with hyperlinks and were confused by this.

  3. #303
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post
    World oil production could easily exceed 15 or 20% of pre-nuclear catastrophe levels. Since I am assuming that 95% of the population will have died, 15% seems like a surplus.
    I just wanted to quote that for emphasis. The hubris is mind-boggling.

    Here's a challenge. Go just 5 days without food and then maybe you'll have a better idea of the priorities of the remaining 5% of the population in your scenario.

  4. #304
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    You asked for a scientific study that showed a connection between technological advancement and societal collapse. I referenced a well-known and studied mechanism, first formulated by Carl Sagan himself.
    Nuclear winter has indeed been well studied, but those studies don't support your conclusion.

    A plausible nuclear war wouldn't even cause societal collapse in most countries, and even a major global thermonuclear war wouldn't cause a global technological collapse.

    As I have noted, modern homo sapiens hasn't even been around all that long as a species. Even a hypothetical "technological collapse" apocalypse would need to also be an extinction event to prevent rebuilding to modern day levels within tens of thousands of years.
    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    Regardless, I have little need to speculate upon the extent of technological collapse caused by a nuclear winter,
    That's okay, because we have done it for you. Bottom line is it doesn't cause technological collapse.
    which is just one of a myriad of ways human civilization can snuff itself out while learning to grapple with increasing amounts of power.
    What are some other ways? I can think of a couple ways (killer robots and killer bugs), but not "myriad" ways.

    Honestly, I'd be more concerned with natural events causing extinction than man-made events. An extinction level comet coming at us from our blind spot around the Sun is a scary possiblity (albeit one with a very low probability).
    I originally stated that I have reason to believe that technological civilizations are short-lived, and have done so. You are free to disagree.
    Fair enough. You have stated a few reasons you believe that technological civilizations are short-lived (nuclear winter, climate change, resource depletion), but these reasons don't stand up to scrutiny.

  5. #305
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    I just wanted to quote that for emphasis. The hubris is mind-boggling.

    Here's a challenge. Go just 5 days without food and then maybe you'll have a better idea of the priorities of the remaining 5% of the population in your scenario.
    The survivors won't be the ones who have been starving. Most of the survivors will be in countries which were not affected or less affected by the war. Their main priorities in the immediate aftermath of the war will be to dig machine-gun trenches to secure their borders against desperate hordes of people from the affected regions. (Don't think it can be done? Look at Europe in WW1.)

    There's going to be an advantage to self sufficient island countries like Taiwan, since they only need to secure their borders against boaters.

  6. #306
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    That's okay, because we have done it for you. Bottom line is it doesn't cause technological collapse.
    Yes, in a world of supermen where only 5% of the remaining population can provide 15% of the world's current oil supply, and hydroelectric plants run themselves, then there would be no technological collapse.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    The survivors won't be the ones who have been starving. Most of the survivors will be in countries which were not affected or less affected by the war. Their main priorities in the immediate aftermath of the war will be to dig machine-gun trenches to secure their borders against desperate hordes of people from the affected regions. (Don't think it can be done? Look at Europe in WW1.)

    There's going to be an advantage to self sufficient island countries like Taiwan, since they only need to secure their borders against boaters.
    Ummm.. the whole point of nuclear winter is that it creates global climactic effects that cannot be guarded against with trenches and guns.

    Taiwan, in fact, is a perfect example of an extremely densely populated region that would suffer heavily from famine. Crop failures would be worse in the northern hemisphere.

  7. #307
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    Yes, in a world of supermen where only 5% of the remaining population can provide 15% of the world's current oil supply, and hydroelectric plants run themselves, then there would be no technological collapse.
    Did you read the list of the countries provided by Bobunf? Who is going to be nuking Brazil or Madagascar? Heck, he doesn't even include the Middle East--which consists almost entirely of non-nuclear states. Even if we assume the nature of the conflict involves a nuclear exchange between Israel and Iran, most of the Middle East's oil production will remain (note that Israel produces no oil).
    Ummm.. the whole point of nuclear winter is that it creates global climactic effects that cannot be guarded against with trenches and guns.

    Taiwan, in fact, is a perfect example of an extremely densely populated region that would suffer heavily from famine. Crop failures would be worse in the northern hemisphere.
    The effects of nuclear winter would be mainly in temperate climates--which is really bad news for North America and Europe, and much of China. But Taiwan has a tropical climate and would be less affected.

  8. #308
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Did you read the list of the countries provided by Bobunf?
    Bobunf was talking about civilization surviving after a 95% population drop -- a drop that has never occurred in the history of the entire species -- and yet he thinks we're still pumping oil.

    I'm not sure how I am expected to take any of that seriously at all.

  9. #309
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    You asked for a scientific study that showed a connection between technological advancement and societal collapse. I referenced a well-known and studied mechanism, first formulated by Carl Sagan himself.

    Instead of retyping the entire study into this forum, I chose to provide an HTML link to a wiki page which provided a detailed description and citations to further scientific studies. My apologies if you are unfamiliar with hyperlinks and were confused by this.
    Actually, the theory of nuclear winter provides a potential mechanism, but even this mechanism does not indicate that there would be a permanent end to the potential for our species or civilization to cease emitting communicative signals. It may argue that periods of interruption should be expected, but I see no compelling evidences that even a large scale thermonuclear exchange would do more than temporarily dim our output.
    Last edited by Trakar; 2011-Jan-17 at 08:38 PM.

  10. #310
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post
    The question is, How long do technological civilizations last? If it's a short time, that may explain the Fermi paradox. If it's a long time, that makes the Fermi paradox more acute.
    and my answer is... For how long have we been a technological civilization... ? and we are not on the brink of extinction.

  11. #311
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    Bobunf was talking about civilization surviving after a 95% population drop -- a drop that has never occurred in the history of the entire species -- and yet he thinks we're still pumping oil.

    I'm not sure how I am expected to take any of that seriously at all.
    Everyone else participating in this discussion has no problem taking it seriously.

    Bobunf gave a list of countries which are unlikely to be targets of the nuclear war. Sure, 95% of the global population is going to die due to mass starvation in highly populated countries, but in the meantime oil is more important than ever. Why would guys in Madagascar keep on pumping oil? Gee, maybe because their survival depends on it!

  12. #312
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    Quote Originally Posted by astromark View Post
    and my answer is... For how long have we been a technological civilization... ? and we are not on the brink of extinction.
    A technological civilization, in this context, is one that can be detected as such by some other distant SETI organization.

    Someone else with expertise on the power requirements for signal transmission will have to weigh in on whether we have reached that threshold.

  13. #313
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Everyone else participating in this discussion has no problem taking it seriously.
    No, seriously. Name any time in the history of human civilization where the entire world has experienced a 95% population crash and survived.

    You can't. There are zero data points with which to form a reasonable opinion on something remotely this catastrophic. You are free to believe that everything will be back to relatively normal in a few decades, and I am free to believe otherwise. But let's not pretend that it's anything more informed than belief.

    I stated that there is reason to believe that technological civilizations are not long-lived and, as support, provided a link to one studied mechanism (which we have already narrowly avoided twice) which everyone seems to agree would result in a significant population crash. Bobunf asserted a 95% drop and you assented. That number is frankly quite a bit more than I had in mind so, from my perspective, you have both inadvertently validated my reasoning on this.

    You are free to believe otherwise.

  14. #314
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    No, seriously. Name any time in the history of human civilization where the entire world has experienced a 95% population crash and survived.
    Name any time in the history of human civilization where the entire world has experienced a 95% population crash and didn't survive. You can't. This is a terribly weak argument, which does NOTHING to support your arguments.
    You are free to believe that everything will be back to relatively normal in a few decades,
    Straw man. No one claimed that for a major global thermonuclear war. What we have done is claim that the mankind will still continue to use modern technology even in the event of a major global thermonuclear war.
    But let's not pretend that it's anything more informed than belief.
    Certainly you have offered nothing to defend your belief other than vague appeals to incredulity.
    I stated that there is reason to believe that technological civilizations are not long-lived and, as support, provided a link to one studied mechanism (which we have already narrowly avoided twice) which everyone seems to agree would result in a significant population crash. Bobunf asserted a 95% drop and you assented. That number is frankly quite a bit more than I had in mind so, from my perspective, you have both inadvertently validated my reasoning on this.
    No, it was quite on purpose for us to use numbers on the high end of the scale. It's to show that even in the case of extreme reductions in global population, there would not be a technological collapse.

    There would be little point for us to use an example of a more plausible limited nuclear war. If we did, then you'd just protest that we're being optimistic about what sort of nuclear wars there would be.

    BTW, you still haven't listed any of the supposedly "myriad" ways that a technological civilization could destroy itself.

  15. #315
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Name any time in the history of human civilization where the entire world has experienced a 95% population crash and didn't survive. You can't. This is a terribly weak argument, which does NOTHING to support your arguments.
    Sorry, this is not ATM. I said I had reason to believe and presented it as such.

    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Certainly you have offered nothing to defend your belief other than vague appeals to incredulity.
    I could say the same about your opinion. This is not even N=1. It's N=0. This is uncharted territory for both sides so there's really no reason to get worked up over it. A 95% drop in population is basically a reset button for humanity. It's a near-extinction threshold. I think it's neat that you feel otherwise, but I'm pretty sure I would never want you in charge of disaster recovery.

  16. #316
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    I could say the same about your opinion.
    You could say it but you would be wrong. Unlike you, we have presented actual reasons why there would still be technology--the factories and tooling and even the manuals are still there. The hardware is still there. The expertise is still there, at least for countries not obliterated by the war (of which there will be many).
    This is uncharted territory for both sides so there's really no reason to get worked up over it.
    You seem to acknowledge that the threat of man-made climate change is significant. Despite it being "uncharted territory". Why do you consider it a threat--even an inevitability?

    I would dare say that you take some stock in actual reason and scientific studies. I would dare say that you accept the idea that it's possible to predict and plan for things that have not occurred yet.

    When it is convenient for you, you try to use studies of nuclear winter as evidence. So you accept the idea that it's possible to study something that has never happened.

    But now? Now you claim no one can have anything beyond an unjustified belief, because it has never happened before.
    A 95% drop in population is basically a reset button for humanity. It's a near-extinction threshold.
    Nonsense. 5% of the world's population is still 350 million. That's 15th century population levels. Near-extinction would be something like the Toba event.
    I think it's neat that you feel otherwise, but I'm pretty sure I would never want you in charge of disaster recovery.
    Why not? Because I would do what it takes to get the job done, even if it means using the resources available?

    You seem to think that humans will simply throw up their arms and give up. But humans will struggle for survival. If there's a nuclear war, then the countries which aren't obliterated by the nukes will do what it takes to survive the aftermath. That includes mowing down desperate refugees at their borders with machineguns, if that's what it takes. That includes continuing to pump oil so they can keep troop transports, military helicopters, tanks and warships running.

  17. #317
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    Everyone else participating in this discussion has no problem
    taking it seriously.
    I disagree. I agree with Baric on this. Any disaster which kills
    or incapacitates a large fraction of the world population would
    be very likely to push the entire world's technological level back
    to essentially that of the 19th Century. Oil stocks would run out
    and could not be replenished, making oil too expensive for most
    uses. If the power grid went down, it might not be possible to get
    it working again. (And I thought the Y2K scare was completely
    silly. I'm one of probably very few people in North America who
    didn't even have a flashlight with fresh batteries!) Together they
    would mean a cascade of collapsing technologies.

    I don't think any such thing will happen, but a rapid loss of even
    50% of the world population would likely mean a catastrophic
    technological collapse.

    -- Jeff, in Minneapolis
    http://www.FreeMars.org/jeff/

    "I find astronomy very interesting, but I wouldn't if I thought we
    were just going to sit here and look." -- "Van Rijn"

    "The other planets? Well, they just happen to be there, but the
    point of rockets is to explore them!" -- Kai Yeves

  18. #318
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    With the Roman empire fell europe lost plumbing technology for a thousand years. People abandon the cities when order collapses, the Mayan civilisation fell in a similar mode, though for different reasons.

    "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
    Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.
    -Shelley

  19. #319
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Root View Post
    I disagree. I agree with Baric on this. Any disaster which kills or incapacitates a large fraction of the world population would be very likely to push the entire world's technological level back to essentially that of the 19th Century. Oil stocks would run out and could not be replenished, making oil too expensive for most uses. If the power grid went down, it might not be possible to get it working again. [...] Together they would mean a cascade of collapsing technologies.
    Thank you for your comments and explanation.

    I'm a little confused about the power grid comment. The world does not have a single global power grid.
    I don't think any such thing will happen, but a rapid loss of even 50% of the world population would likely mean a catastrophic
    technological collapse.
    Well, 50% of the world population could mean China + India + USA + Pakistan + Nigeria + Bangladesh + Japan. Or the rest of the world (including Europe, South America, Russia, the Middle East). Certainly, if either of those halves were to have their populations starve to death, it would cause a massive economic disruption to the other half. But I would expect oil production to continue in the other half, and I would expect electricity to still be produced.

    Awesomely bad in terms of the human tragedy and severe economic impacts to the rest of the world. But I wouldn't expect a technological collapse.

  20. #320
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    You seem to acknowledge that the threat of man-made climate change is significant. Despite it being "uncharted territory". Why do you consider it a threat--even an inevitability?
    The "uncharted territory" is the effect of such a population collapse on a society. This is not something that can be easily modeled as societies would be panicked beyond levels seen before. My opinion is that governments would lose their ability to impose order on populations and collapse. It would literally be anarchy. Armed groups would take control of necessary resources, leaving others to fend for themselves.

  21. #321
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    Quote Originally Posted by IsaacKuo View Post
    But I would expect oil production to continue in the other half, and I would expect electricity to still be produced.
    What is your expertise in the production of oil or electricity?

    I work in the semiconductor industry and I can tell you that it would be at least a century, probably much longer, before another integrated circuit could be attempted. That means every piece of electronic equipment would be completely unuseable within 20 years (or so) of the catastrophe.

    edit: when I say "at least a century", I am talking about the optimistic scenario in which there is NOT a technological collapse.

  22. #322
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    You asked for a scientific study that showed a connection between technological advancement and societal collapse. I referenced a well-known and studied mechanism, first formulated by Carl Sagan himself.

    Instead of retyping the entire study into this forum, I chose to provide an HTML link to a wiki page which provided a detailed description and citations to further scientific studies. My apologies if you are unfamiliar with hyperlinks and were confused by this.
    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    you act as if you've never heard of nuclear winter
    I guess that was a bit too subtle for me.

  23. #323
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post
    I guess that was a bit too subtle for me.
    Please accept my apologies for my earlier sarcasm. I mistakenly took your post as dismissive!

  24. #324
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    Quote Originally Posted by transreality View Post
    With the Roman empire fell europe lost plumbing technology for a thousand years. People abandon the cities when order collapses, the Mayan civilisation fell in a similar mode, though for different reasons.
    I'm glad you know why it was that both the Roman empire and the Mayan civilization fell and how those causes differed. After years of studying these histories, I became convinced that nobody really knew. Now, after all this time, I find you with the answers. I know quite a few people who are really interested. Could you enlighten us?

    In the case of Rome, was it over expansion, bad monetary, economic, or tax policy, bad military doctrine, Christianity, social instabilities associated with slavery, lead, resource depletion, technological disadvantages, plague, something else, a combination? Then how does one explain the persistent of Byzantium (including modern day Greece and much of the Balkans, Turkey and various parts of the Near and Middle East), complete with Roman plumbing and much else, for a thousand years or so after the collapse of Rome.

    By 1453, Western Europeans were well on the way to a technological civilization that came to dominate the world; although they weren’t very good at plumbing for quite a long time. Also, there are issues like archeological evidence that average nutrition improved after the collapse in many parts of the former Roman Empire. Plumbing or food?

    In the case of the Mayans, was it conquest, over expansion, plague, resource depletion, religious issues, social unrest, climate change, something else, a combination? Those archaeologists who refer to it as the second biggest mystery in archaeology really would like to know.

    We all have been mired in ideas of continuity, incredible complexity, confusion and ignorance about these matters.

  25. #325
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    What is your expertise in the production of oil or electricity?
    One does not have to an expert in the production of electricity to doubt that electricity production would be much affected by a 95% reduction in the world population in very isolated places that were not affected by the cause of the 95% reduction. I gave a large number of examples of such places. New Zealand, for instance, gets most of its electricity from hydro. Spare parts would eventually get to be a problem to the extent they were imported, but assuredly the 4 million people of New Zealand could figure that out some way: repair, make substitutes, revisions, find other sources, etc. They should be able to keep producing electricity without much difference for a very long time.

    New Zealand could certainly produce more than enough food to feed their population, from both land and sea. They have some industrial capacity (over a quarter of the economy is devoted to manufacturing and construction) and would have decades to sort out ways to develop sources or substitutes for materials whose supply was affected by the global disaster. Especially since global communication would still be viable. Many other refuges would survive and could be sources for such materials.

    Is there something that they likely couldn't handle that would cause the collapse of New Zealand's social and governmental structures? They wouldn't have to spend much effort repelling boat people since they are nearly 2,000 kilometers over open sea from any other heavily populated area.

    Assuming they did not suffer from the hypothesized population loss, there's no obvious necessity for New Zealand to devolve into chaos. If New Zealand were affected, there are many other possible refuges, about which similar comments could made.

    So, I don't think electricity would be a problem in many areas of the world.

    I think similar comments could be make about the necessity to be an expert in the production of oil.

  26. #326
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    I work in the semiconductor industry and I can tell you that it would be at least a century, probably much longer, before another integrated circuit could be attempted. That means every piece of electronic equipment would be completely unuseable within 20 years (or so) of the catastrophe.

    edit: when I say "at least a century", I am talking about the optimistic scenario in which there is NOT a technological collapse.
    The first integrated circuits were built less than 80 years after the first electric generating plant. Thomas Edison and all that jazz. In between had come Max Planck’s quantum hypothesis, Bohr’s quantum model of the atom, quantum surface physics and lots of other theory and practical knowledge. The materials are widely available.

    It’s really hard to understand why it would take longer (more than a 100 years) for people with all the knowledge, practical and theoretical, of exactly how it could be done, than it took people stumbling around not knowing what they were doing nor what to expect.

    Also, isn’t it possible that there might be an IC production plant that would survive the disaster? As with electric and oil production? Maybe in Ireland, the Philippines, Singapore or Taiwan? Even assuming every facility in Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, India. Indonesia, China, the United States, Europe, including Russia and Israel has been destroyed. And assuming that the laboratory type fabrication facilities that exist in academic centers in many countries (e.g., Australia, Brazil and South Africa) would not be able to manipulate themselves into making any contribution.

    Also, I have some computers that are more than 20 years old. They still work. I think the IBM XT, AT and the Apple IIE used ICs. We wouldn't want to use those today, but if nothing else were available in 20+ years, I imagine we could still manage with what would then be 20+ year old Windows 7 machines.

  27. #327
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    Wow... Open the doors wider my head is swollen. Your synopsis of New Zealand is reason enough to live here.... Oops cancel that thought.
    We just had another earthquake.... ( just reminding us who is boss... )
    I can see we have gotten a long way from the OP... could we remind me what this connection might be... signs of life ?
    Its a interesting conversation but hardly really this 'Evidence' is it, a... ?

  28. #328
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobunf View Post
    The first integrated circuits were built less than 80 years after the first electric generating plant. Thomas Edison and all that jazz. In between had come Max Planck’s quantum hypothesis, Bohr’s quantum model of the atom, quantum surface physics and lots of other theory and practical knowledge. The materials are widely available.

    It’s really hard to understand why it would take longer (more than a 100 years) for people with all the knowledge, practical and theoretical, of exactly how it could be done, than it took people stumbling around not knowing what they were doing nor what to expect.
    Because when the first IC was invented, society had an established class of academics and scientists, public schools & universities.

    The technological underpinnings to something like SC fabrication are tremendous. There is a lot that would have to be rebuilt from the ground up and much of the scientific information would have to be relearned.

    As electronics broke down, any surviving oil and electricity production would grind to a halt within a few decades.

  29. #329
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    The "uncharted territory" is the effect of such a population collapse on a society.
    Not all societies will suffer population collapses.
    This is not something that can be easily modeled as societies would be panicked beyond levels seen before. My opinion is that governments would lose their ability to impose order on populations and collapse. It would literally be anarchy. Armed groups would take control of necessary resources, leaving others to fend for themselves.
    This actually isn't uncharted territory. We have plenty of examples of armed groups taking control of necessary resources. The strongest armed groups tend to be the ones which succeed--and the strongest armed groups are national military forces. While many governments will fall, they will tend to fall to their own country's military forces. The civilian populations will be far more afraid of hungry invaders and/or the possibility of anarchy than their own military forces. They'll accept the authority of military coup leaders, as there is no other alternative with the capability of providing security.

  30. #330
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    Quote Originally Posted by baric View Post
    Because when the first IC was invented, society had an established class of academics and scientists, public schools & universities.
    The integrated circuit wouldn't need to be invented again. It was already invented. The factories, tooling, manuals, books all would still exist.
    The technological underpinnings to something like SC fabrication are tremendous. There is a lot that would have to be rebuilt from the ground up and much of the scientific information would have to be relearned.
    Any people doing the "relearning" would make far quicker progress by reading existing books and computer records, and restoring existing tooling, than it took mankind to learn everything the first time around.

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