Saturday, August 11, 2007

You Say You Want a Revolution...

A few years ago I had a debate with my friend Jenn over what it would take to revolutionize the world. What sort of paradigm shift would be necessary to completely rework the fabric of human interaction. Being an MBA she argued along economic lines, whereas I went for a more fundamental approach. It seems to me that the primary driving force of nearly all human endeavors involves the production, distribution, and use of energy. Aside from artificial markets like diamonds or greeting cards, the most lucrative fields involve the procurement and production of energy, ie electrical and locomotive forces. This had been long percolating in the back of my mind as a somewhat different thought experiment as I tried to figure out what one factor of the Star Trek universe was fundamentally different from our own world. Then it dawned on me. It wasn't the technology, it was the readily available terawatts of power that everyone in the Star Trek universe could access. On a very basic level most of the technology in Star Trek is feasible, but most require more energy than can be reasonably generated. (although that nasty little Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle makes transporters highly unlikely) So it seems to me that a clean, renewable, and readily available energy source would completely re-weave the fabric of human existence. Once the quest for control over energy was moot, what loftier ideals could be pursued with equal vigor?

Of course, I don't have any idea what that source might be, but this is just a thought experiment, not a model for reality. Tell me what you think. What ways do you imagine the world could be changed for the better?



Monkey said...

I think man is inherently greedy- I believe we would find some way to screw this up

keith said...

You are both right. A clean renwable energy source would transform our lives at all levels, however those currently in power of energy have economic interests which they will guard to the end. So until we figure out a way to make a profit without exploitation of the masses, the paradigm will move in fits and starts. Evolution is slower, but it is less bloody.