Carlhole wrote:Predict when peak Science will occur and then come and argue with me. So far, nothing gives any indication that progress in Science & Technology is slowing down whatsoever.
I should say that I do not know when peak science will occur, and whether it will occur at all. We do not even know yet whether the volume of knowledge and information that our universe holds for us is finite or not. Any maths student will tell, though, that even infinite resources may peak, and that finite resources will always peak.
We can measure oil in barrels. Computer gurus invented bits and bytes to measure information. But how would we be able to quantify the pace of scientific development? A graph that you posted here
attempts to introduce metrics for measuring it, by plotting the pace of achievements/discoveries against the timeline on a logarithmic scale.
A few thoughts in this regard, "criticisms":
1. There was only 8 years between the first space flight and first landing to the Moon. But to date, we have never seen a space flight to Mars or another planet, and even missions to the Moon have long been abandoned. Assuming an exponential pace of scientific development, one may argue that the space flight to Mars should have already happened by now, and absence thereof is an indication of slowing of the scientific development, and by extension - of peak science.
2. Why personal computer, that was introduced at the end of 1970s, is a greater scientific achievement than the landing to the Moon that happened much earlier?
3. Arguably, in order to objectively benchmark one scientific discovery against another in terms of their impact on the pace of progress, we need to know all possible scientific discoveries in advance. But this means that we have already discovered everything possible, a presumption which is false by default. Therefore in this graph of yours we just arbitrarily and subjectively plot the discoveries that we have already made against the timeline, and then call it exponential growth.
4. The graph to substantial extent reflects the evolution of species, and only at the very end we could see some signs of what we call "scientific progress".
5. Based on 1-4, one could argue that the metrics for the objective quantification of the scientific development should introduce a special unit for measurement of the advancement of any possible discovery/achievement relative to its peers, rather than plot the pace of factual evolutionary landmarks against the timeline.
6. The products of the scientific progress are arguably no different from those of the evolution: in principle: machines, airplanes and computers empower humans in the same way as wings, legs, eyes etc empowered species in various stages of their development.
7. The Dark Ages came after the fall of the Roman Empire. Was the discovery rate faster during the Dark Ages than it was during the Roman times and antiquity?
8. Exponential scientific progress, if true, should necessarily lead to the development of a fusion reactor or another source of abundant energy in the near future. This will make the die-off redundant. The human population will be able to continue to grow, and the humans will be able to reach other worlds to get access to their resources once the Earth is exhausted.
Based on the above, a skeptic could argue, your graph actually measures evolutionary trends which have been generally in line with the species/human population growth trends. And that therefore what you call "scientific development" is in fact necessarily proportional to the evolution and human population growth, rather than their counter-trend independent from them. Some argue that this means that nowadays the scientific progress is therefore a function of the fossil fuels availability.
But I am not the skeptic. I tend to agree that the scientific development is possible on its own terms, though not necessarily exponentially.
I have not had a chance to read all your posts or other related writings, where the criticisms above may already have been addressed.
However, in my view, the perceived conflict between the potential danger of the overpopulation and the unstoppable scientific progress is somewhat misleading as a concept (that conflict, according to the theory that you described, should be resolved by a birth of a new planetary life form).
The scientific progress does falter now, and very seriously, and the points above illustrate it. What is now perceived as a rapid advancement of the scientific development is in fact mostly restricted to the consumer-related fields: number of functions in your held hand device, broadband connection speed etc. And to some military applications. This is why some observers talk about the "law of diminishing returns of technological advance", quite justifiably.
By contrast, the areas crucial to the fates of the humanity remain underdeveloped. But this is not as much a scientific problem as it is a human resource/management one. The existing organizational arrangements appear to be structurally unable to advance these areas.