Skip to main content

View Diary: The End of Economic Growth (188 comments)

Comment Preferences

  •  it's just a lost decade (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, OHeyeO

    Economic growth is not "ending", we're just entering a lost decade.  This is due not simply to bad resource management, but also to bad economic management across the board.  We should expect things to be very hard until the 2020's.  

    Why do I expect things to improve during the 2020's?  Well I have a couple of reasons.  First, trends in solar energy.  

    The amount of energy produced by solar power globally is currently quite small as a percentage of the whole, but that amount of production has been doubling every two years.  Also the efficiency of solar cells continues to improve.  These trends indicate that solar energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuels at some point in this decade, and that world energy could be completely met by solar power in the 2020's.  So we're approximately a decade away from a new era of cheap energy.

    The second reason I'm optimistic about the future in the long run is the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.  This field as been advancing steadily for decades, and the economic implications of these advances are staggering.  We should expect to see increasing levels of automation in industry over the next couple of decades, leading to lower and lower production costs for manufactured goods.

    The upside to these trends is that cheap energy and cheap manufacturing mean lower prices for manufactured goods, and thus greater purchasing power and a higher quality of life for average people.  The down side, particularly to automation, is the gradual pricing out of human labor throughout most of the economy with effects on the working class similar to what we've seen with outsourcing.  

    The real challenge for our society after this decade will not be finding ways to sustain growth.  Rather the greatest challenge will be to reform our systems of political economy to ensure that growth is more widely distributed,

    When you vote, you are exercising political authority, you're using force. And force my friends is violence. The supreme authority...

    by Thought Crime on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:33:08 AM PDT

    •  Hmm...maybe. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sparhawk
      The amount of energy produced by solar power globally is currently quite small as a percentage of the whole, but that amount of production has been doubling every two years.  Also the efficiency of solar cells continues to improve.  These trends indicate that solar energy will be economically competitive with fossil fuels at some point in this decade, and that world energy could be completely met by solar power in the 2020's.  So we're approximately a decade away from a new era of cheap energy.

      The thing is, solar isn't substitutable for oil in almost any of its uses today.  Principally, as a transportation fuel or as an input in manufacturing or agriculture.

      While solar may be able to provide relatively cheap electricity, transportation is what makes our (global) economy work, and that's thanks to cheap oil.

      The second reason I'm optimistic about the future in the long run is the ongoing advancements in artificial intelligence and robotics.

      As it happens, we're likely to not just hit peak oil in a few years, but also the end of Moore's law.  (I spoke with an expert on the subject not long ago, and he says there is no plan B in the chip industry, so processors will soon no longer get better by leaps and bounds every couple of years.)  This will put a major damper on projections about AI and robotics that depend upon Moore's law.

      contraposition.org - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

      by barath on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 06:38:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And what humans will be doing (0+ / 0-)

      when robots replace more and more jobs. Idle minds and idle hands are the devil's workshop, so the saying goes. Especially in the hands of incompetent and/or evil power-hungry politicians.

      There has never been a protracted war from which a country has benefited. The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting. - Sun Tzu

      by OHeyeO on Mon Oct 03, 2011 at 08:45:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site