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What Will Happen in the 2020s (avc.com)
462 points by gz5 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 650 comments




Time is running out: please help the Internet Archive today. The average donation is $45. If everyone chips in $5, we can keep our website independent, strong and ad-free. That's right, all we need is the price of a paperback book to sustain a non-profit library the whole world depends on. We have only 150 staff but run one of the world’s top websites. We’re dedicated to reader privacy so we never track you. We never accept ads. But we still need to pay for servers and staff. If the Wayback Machine disappeared tomorrow, where would you go to find the websites of the past? We stand with Wikipedians, librarians and creators to make sure there is enduring access to the world’s most trustworthy knowledge. I know we could charge money, but then we couldn’t achieve our mission: building a special place where you can access the world’s best information forever. The Internet Archive is a bargain, but we need your help. If you find our site useful, we ask you humbly, please chip in. Help us reach our goal today! Thank you.

Please consider this. They are a real bargain and provide a real service to humanity. Instead of upvoting this comment, please give them $5 instead if you can.


If you buy a lot from Amazon, you can also choose Internet Archive as your supported charity.

(I was also going to suggest nominating Internet Archive as a charity for Humble Bundle purchases as well, but it seems like they no longer support choosing your own charities.)


This is a good idea. On AmazonSmile I currently support National Park Foundation but can think of supporting this one too in the future (maybe rotating basis quarterly). I am curious which other similar nonprofits HNers think are available on AmazonSmile to think of donating to?


I picked EFF


I found a couple of old scanned mathematics books on the archive, which I could not find elsewhere. Many times a web.archive.org link cut short a journey to an old blog post, that might have been lost in the ether.

Thanks archive, I'm glad I can support you a bit.


Totally agree and signed up for monthly recurring $10.


Thanks for the nudge. I donated.


Thanks for this nudge. I signed up for a recurring donation.


Why do they need 150 people to run a non interactive site?

I'm not against anything about them but if they want donations, their way of expense should be clearer.


"Non-interactive site" wtf, do you even know the trickery you have to do in JavaScript files to remotely work outside their intended domains? Or how hard was to create a working playable copy of hundreds of old games? Or how much people you need to handle an ever-growing data storage (e.g everyday bigger than the day before) while making it available over internet?


While the code needs maintenance to adapt to edge cases, it's build once and maintain feature. It's not user registering site that needs support for customers and no need to introduce new features to keep going.

Data storage is also single purpose job. While it needs technical capability to store huge amount of data, I still don't see how 150 people are needed to maintain the archive.

You say as if 150 is a small team but how are they used?


They provide an archive of THE INTERNET!

Please forgive my pithy comment, but the size of the task goes someway to explaining the size of the workforce in my mind.


> Please consider this. They are a real bargain and provide a real service to humanity. Instead of upvoting this comment, please give them $5 instead if you can.

What do users of the archive gain by it being independent of advertising?

And why can't it be a non profit and also offset expenses by selling advertising?

Look at it this way.

There are plenty of non profits that can only make money by donations. They can't easily make money off of advertising. Internet Archive can. So in theory any money that someone sends to them would not go to an organization that might have a greater need. Make sense?

Now of course you are saying 'give them $5 instead of upvoting'. So that is a small enough amount that you would say 'you still have $5 to give to someone else'. But I say when people (en masse) behave like that a portion will feel that they have done their 'good person' duty and not make another donation to another cause (that once again can't sell advertising).

By the way 'service to humanity'???

Edit: One other thing. I'd be glad to pay IA for 'service'. That is if I need to get a page taken down or I need to get something scraped more or less I'd gladly pay for being able to discuss with a real person and get something done. This idea that free means 'you take what you get and you don't get upset' to me is just nonsense at the core. Maybe have a free no ad service but then charge for things to raise revenue not just 'donate donate donate'.


It's more about being "independent of advertisers" than whether advertisements are practically hosted on the site. An archive should be a third-party, neutral source, and advertising jeopardises this.


It's not a newspaper (as only one example) where they hold editorial control over the content and are therefore (in theory) beholden to the people who pay the bills (the advertisers). Forgetting for a second whether it would have any major impact (I say it would not I mean they scrape web pages in a very clear fashion) it's hard to believe it could go the route of say YELP in their mission. Or that a minor impact to what they do would not be offset by not having to beg for money. (With PBS it was called a begathon when they had to raise money).

And even with donations they could in theory be 'corrupted' just the same. A rich person could give them a large sum of money (as a donation) and then would have some defacto say in how things were done.

Take as another example ball parks (to even counter my point). They sell naming rights. That does not mean that the entity who purchased the naming rights gets to decide who plays on the team or who coaches the team although you could argue that that could happen (and I would say it does not offset the benefit of not having that 'independence'.


I don’t really buy into 4-6.

I don’t see any benefit for a country to turn its currency into a crypto asset. Either they are relinquishing a great deal of control in democratizing their financial system (also exposing themselves to attack), or it’s a crypto in name only that doesn’t seem any better than digital cash through banks except for a buzzword.

Decentralization is hit or miss. You get economies of scale with centralization that are hard to beat. I only see decentralization being useful for certain applications (namely, anything that needs to be censorship resistant/ can’t rely on the centralized infra for some reason) like it already is being used for.

Meat won’t be a delicacy unless we are not counting lab grown meat. Absolutely no way. I would be willing to take a huge bet on this. People all over the world love meat, it’s one of the first things people start spending on when they hit middle income (globally speaking). Plant based alternatives will become a lot more popular especially once they become cheaper, and we will probably start eating mostly lab grown meat, but meat will be consumed, at least by stubborn, older red-blooded Americans wary of technology and set in their ways that the author likely has little exposure to.


Yes, the only way #6 will come true is if the replacement for meat looks, smells and tastes exactly like the real thing and it'll have to be cheaper too.

People all over the world love meat, especially US, UK and the Chinese. I've tried to convince some family members to reduce their meat consumption even a tiniest amount gets a huge amount of resistance. People aren't going to give up their meat: they may not even be willing to try alternatives.

Impossible meat has a great start and I think their market share will continue to increase. But, there's an immense amount of variety in the meat market and the alternative meat industry still has a huge amount of work to do to address it.


Faced with a choice between beef or fake beef that tastes exactly the same, most people will just go for the real beef. They don't want the highly processed fake stuff that contains who knows what.

The only way beef loses is if the alternatives are significantly cheaper. If a McBeef is $5 more than a McFakeBeef then you got a shot at converting people.


You are being downvoted, but I think that you are totally right. For an awful lot of people, eating meat is a matter of status; it's similar to why many people prefer having big cars even if they are less environmentally friendly.

There is also the fact that plant based diets are still associated to certain ideologies and because of that they will keep being scoffed at by people from opposing ideologies. Sure, you don't have to lean left to be vegan, but the vast majority of vegan people, or people seriously trying to reduce their meat consumption, do lean left (continuing with the car analogy: remember the rolling coal fad).

Dietary choices go way beyond their nutritional value. People feel attached to what they eat, and they will resist change. So, yes, a strong economic incentive is needed, and even worse, it might not be enough.


As someone who isn’t considering giving up my ways, red blooded meat eating American that I am, I actually appreciate vegans to some degree.

As long as there are an appreciable number of them, I will enjoy a greater variety of dishes and ingredients available to me, and oftentimes fresher ingredients too.

Insofar as they are making choices that benefit them, they also make choices that benefit me.

Where they lose me, and this isn’t all vegans, but the ones that lose me are the ones that try to convince me that I am a bad person for the dietary choices I make. Maybe I am, but I don’t think so. The ones that make me want to go out and eat two steaks just to stick it to them are the ones that want to take away my choices or introduce sin taxes onto meat. I’m cool with carbon/GHG taxes that make no exceptions, if the cost of my choices goes up because of a tax that applies to all levels of society in fair measure, I can live with that. I would argue such a fair tax is entirely theoretical, but in theory, it could work out. The ones that want to punish me specifically are the ones I can’t abide.

When someone introduces me to an entirely vegetarian dish or vegan dish that I like, I’ll probably add it to my menu and start making it myself, and I usually don’t modify it to add any additional protein. Good food is good food and I actually like tofu and some of those veggie patties on the market. I like them for that they are, not for what they pretend to be. It come down to making a different choice as to what to eat for dinner, rather than making a compromise.

Today, January 1st 2020, I’m not even thinking about lab grown meat. Maybe I’ll prefer it on January 1st, 2030, or maybe I’ll be paying a premium for my steak, or maybe the price of my premium cut steak will actually fall after checking against inflation and I’ll be eating even more steak. Maybe I’ll even lose my taste for meat, I mean I lost my taste for shrimp once upon a time, and I gained a taste for eggs in my early twenties. Vegans that practice veganism for dogmatic, ideological and religious reasons certainly aren’t going to win me over in ten or a hundred years by preaching to me though.

I make choices. Vegans make choices. Everyone makes choices. I think that’s a pretty good state of affairs.


As there seem to be very few comments actually defending the ethical vegan standpoint here I go.

Vegans who ask for „sin taxes“ don‘t want to piss you off, they simply have the belief (and actually quite well justifiable so) that meat consumption leads to quite a lot of suffering in the world. You don’t seem to be opposed to taxes on ghg emissions - presumably because you believe that they cause suffering. Why is it not reasonable to also punish/tax other behavior that causes suffering? Do you really believe that animal suffering doesn’t count?

I would really encourage you to reflect your position on this and maybe revise towards being more forgiving towards people who simply care about the suffering of animals.


Your assumption is wrong. The tax I would support is entirely theoretical and would raise the prices of all industrial products on the market from all forms of food to all forms of textiles and all forms of computers and machinery. I suspect that if it were ever implemented properly to begin with, it would become a target to steer into a kind of sin tax or luxury tax by doubling the rate on this or that product or zero rating it for others, so I can’t say I necessarily even would support it. Show me a policy proposal and I’ll say “maybe”.

Suffering doesn’t enter into it, but I don’t like subsidies. If the problem with climate change is that my lifestyle is being subsidized because the “true cost” isn’t in the purchase price, I’ll pay it, but so should everyone. I’ll be paying more for meat, but I’ll also be paying more for spinach, and coffee, and spices, and salt, and clothes, and every single industrial good that I buy. And so would everyone, because the net result would be to see the purchasing power of everyone decrease. I can live with that if you can, even factoring in my dietary preferences, I’m willing to bet money I have a lower net contribution to climate change than most in my country.


Sure, parent comment made a faulty assumption about your policy preferences and the reasons you have for them. In responding to this grievance, you've entirely missed their point: the consumption of meat is above all else a moral issue—yes, a sin—and making other lifestyle choices of below-average ecological impact do not make up for it.

I could elaborate, but I don't expect to change your mind; you've already stated outright that you're determined not to. In any case, I'm not here to cast blame on you personally for eating meat. I still do it, too.

It's a shame about your stubbornness, though. You seem to be smart enough to engage in careful, reasoned analysis about a complex issue. In fact, I'd wager that you'd scoff at an anti-vaxxer or a Holocaust denier who shared the strength of your convictions. Of course, scientific and historical truth are a little more objective than basic moral principles—but when it comes to the way animals are manufactured in America today, not by much.


I didn’t engage his point because I’ve taken it as a given that we’ll have to agree to disagree. There’s too much conviction on both sides to take that one in any meaningful direction. To some, to you and to the one I replied to, it is a moral issue. I’m not going to convince anyone that it isn’t a moral issue anymore than they will convince me that it is.

There isn’t a lot that is objective, even scientific and historical truths are often less scientific, less historic and less truthful than we think they are. I take a live and let live approach to the voluntary choices of others precisely because I’m not morally superior, nor do I endeavor to be. In return, I don’t accept that the choices they have made are morally superior to my own. They’re just living their lives according to their beliefs and I don’t want to take that away from them, nor do I want them to take away my choices nor to be punished for them. Life is too short, fleeting and full of suffering and choices to start making choices for other people. I do not, and I would wager you do not, have the status, position or occupational license to cast judgements upon others that aren’t our children, charges, employees or elected representatives. Even these limited forms of subordination have their limits.


The point that I was trying to make is to try to show you that I am pretty sure that you actually do care about moral questions in the case of climate change (on the surface you seem to argue it’s a matter of justice and paying for the true cost of your actions but the very reason that carbon is being priced in the first place (and you accept that price) is that it causes suffering in the world, right? You wouldn‘t accept an arbitrary oxygen tax, would you?) but somehow don’t extend that concern to the suffering of animals. However, similar to how scientists have shown that ghg emissions cause human suffering, scientists have shown that factory farming causes animal suffering.

Of course you can have reasons for denying the importance of animal suffering but most of those accounts are easily shown to be inconsistent and simply self-serving. People who accept animal suffering as real and probably a bad thing tend to have a much easier time to articulate a consistent world view. If you don’t agree with that claim show me how I am wrong and coherently articulate why the suffering of animals doesn‘t matter... it’s really surprisingly difficult to not reach for arbitrary distinctions like „they are not human“ but have substantial arguments grounded in empirical evidence that justify your opinion.

In the end my goal was not to convince you of becoming vegan (that’s generally a quite difficult task due to current societal indoctrination) but to simply make you reconsider how you view vegans who actually care about animal suffering. It’s a totally reasonable position and it’s generally much more coherent and aligned with evidence then other positions. Even if you don’t care, you don‘t need to judge other people who do.


I won’t judge them for caring, I won’t even judge them, but I do find being preached at to be generally unenjoyable and I don’t enjoy the company of people who wish to preach to me rather than engage me. You’ve engaged me, but that’s not what I have come to expect from vegans who are of an evangelical type, and I say that without it meaning to be disparaging, merely descriptive.

For what it is worth to you, I purchase the best meat I can find and afford at the local market. The more room to roam, the better. Absolutely no hormones, pointless antibiotics, or other growth techniques that degrade the meat. I’m under no illusions that what I purchase is cruelty free though, it’s livestock which was raised for slaughter, from a species that was cultivated to be raised as livestock, slaughtered and turned into various meat and leather products.

I buy better meat because it tastes better, I don’t do it to spare the animal. I advocate for better farming practices where possible because I want better and more pervasive products to be available and at a lower cost and to more people.

I do in fact care more for the lives of people than I do for most animals. I don’t care for needless deaths, nor do I like unnecessary cruelty, but when I eat an animal, it wasn’t needless or pointless. It lived until it died, and was recycled into my body. I too will live until I die and am recycled into other living creatures.

Laying it out, I sound more callous than I intend, but I don’t know that there’s a less brutal way to put any of that and keep it honest, but more than sounding callous, I don’t want to be or sound like a hypocrite, even unwittingly.

Thank you for engaging me, actually laying out my views allows me to solidify in my own mind what it is I’m thinking, and figure out how to communicate it better the next time.


Thanks for your reply. It's good to see that you reflect your own thinking and attempt to articulate a coherent position. If you enjoy this type of engagement, I can also recommend you the following short youtube video (~3 min) with a philosophical thought experiment that turns the table on you and asks whether you would still hold your position in that case: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tSUz6Rj5oo4.

Would be interested to hear your reply to that :)


> I’m not going to convince anyone that it isn’t a moral issue anymore than they will convince me that it is.

This is really unfortunate. An anti-vaxxer knows that it’s a question of science, just as a Holocaust denier knows that it’s a question of historical record (even if they lack the scientific/historical literacy to see through the counterfactual narratives they’ve bought into). There’s insurmountable conviction on both sides—but one is right and the other is not (for all practical purposes, as elusive as objective truth is).

To refuse to even consider the moral angle—I’d be tempted to call it bad faith, but I don’t get that impression from you at all. Rather, it seems to be this:

> I take a live and let live approach to the voluntary choices of others precisely because I’m not morally superior, nor do I endeavor to be.

Taken to the extreme, the live-and-let-live / agree-to-disagree philosophy exhorts us to put down difficult questions simply because they are difficult (or seem unactionable), and to simply accept the status quo for what it is. But the moral implications of your actions do not go away simply because you choose not to examine them, or because they were the default configuration presented by the time and place you were born in.

---

You’re right though; I’m not qualified to pass moral judgment on anyone, and that’s not what I mean when I say it’s a moral question. Moral virtue isn’t a contest or a report card.

Am I morally superior to a 19th-century plantation owner? (Were all slaveowners equally bad?) If I were raised in his family, as part of that society, what reason do I have to believe I’d do any different? If the answer is “none”, then why do we study history? and what makes me better than that guy?

It's not within my power to change the way things are. But the willingness to consider that the way things are isn't right might be a start.


I considered the morality of eating meat for a decent portion of my life. The conclusion I came to is such things like ethical vegetarianism is an ethical and intellectual dead end which disregards the nature of the beast, and the beast is the most violent and violently omnivorous apex predator to ever grace the Earth. If there’s a landmass we haven’t walked, it’s because it is literally underwater having been foreclosed upon by some glacier or the Ocean, and we’ve walked some of those lands too once upon a time.

If the way things are isn’t right, then it is besides the point because the way things are is so deeply rooted into our psychology that you can’t change it without violently changing what it means to be human, so you essentially have to have humans become something other than human, and that doesn’t seem like a winning survival strategy in the long term.

When we’re not eating God’s creatures, we’re burning down the forests and fields they live in and pouring concrete over them so we can sleep better at night in little towns and villages and hamlets with other people who participated in the festivities, or at least their ancestors did, or at least they bought the house from someone whose ancestors did etc. We also do it to grow more food, all those plants we’ve selected for over the entire history of agriculture that we’ve deemed to be beneficial to us to keep around? We burned down other species, even to extinction with no regard as to whether the burning mass over yonder was plant or fungus or animal flesh or insect.

I can’t seriously consider ethical vegetarianism or ethical veganism a serious argument for not eating meat because it goes so deeply against the violent nature of humanity that it disregards what we are entirely. Given it is probably the most defining characteristic of Homo sapiens, it is a fairly massive characteristic to overlook.

I can seriously consider reasons for eating less meat that include things like “this meatless dish is delicious”, only you don’t emphasize the meatless bit, or “methane emissions are a pretty serious concern, is there something we can do about that?” or “cows actually use up a large amount of resources that might be better spent on something else.”

I can consider those seriously, I just don’t think they’re winning arguments. But, at least they’re willing to try to work with the nature of the beast rather than against it. People who consider themselves “ethical vegans” can make a better case than starting from a position that eating meat is morally wrong, even if you believe it! It’s okay to believe something like that, I don’t agree with you, but so long as you or someone else isn’t trying to use state force to enforce their belief on me, I think we’ll get along just fine.


I appreciate you taking the time to respond here, especially when your ultimate position is a foregone conclusion. I share your pessimism about the overall trajectory of human progress, and there are parts of me that believe that the destructive patterns of human settlement are themselves an expression of the unique but entirely natural phenomenon that is our species. Finding optimism in spite of these facts is an exercise in mental contradiction.

But I am curious to know what you think: couldn't you have made this same argument about slavery two hundred years ago?

"The conclusion I came to is such things like ethical emancipation is an ethical and intellectual dead end which disregards the nature of the beast, and the beast is the most hierarchical, socially stratified, and conquest-driven species to ever grace the Earth. If there's a people that hasn't been dominated by another, it's because they're so remote as to be beyond the reach of civilized society.

"If the way things are isn't right, then it is besides the point because the way things are is so deeply rooted into our psychology that you can't change it without violently changing what it means to be human..."

Again, I'm not saying you should stop eating meat. I'd like to, but even I haven't. I'm also not saying that I would have asked a 19th-century plantation owner to just give up his slaves voluntarily. But I think the Civil War was the single most defining struggle in the building of our nation's moral character. Would you rather live in the America we have, or in the alternate-universe America where our great-grandparents skirted this question so that they could "live and let live"?


Yeah, you should really have a look at the youtube video I linked to in my sibling comment. What you buy into with your position is the right of strong or the law of the jungle which is something we as humanity have been trying to overcome and shown to be less effective than cooperation.

If you don't buy into this for your own species, why do you cling to this world view in relation to other species? Have you ever considered that the universe is evolving and old practices which have worked at one point can/should be replaced by more effective ones? Just because we had cruel practices at one point, doesn't mean we should hold on to them if we notice that there are better alternatives.


I elaborated the reasoning behind my statements in another comment to your child comment. Would love to hear your response!


I just got home, I got some chores to finish up, but I see your comment and I will read and respond.


There are so many nice dishes that don't have or need meat. I think a large thing is that people don't experiment much with their food. I have to travel a lot for work and especially in Asia and Africa, there are tons of dishes which are easy to make but very rich in flavour and much more 'refined' (in my opinion) than having a slab of meat on my plate. I sometimes think I want a steak, but after 2 bites I start thinking how much better that would've been 1/3 of it in an Indian curry (which of course is blasphemy but I'm not religious or from India) or in a thai curry dish. And once you properly make it into a dish which is one melange of integrated tastes, the 'real meat' thing becomes far less pressing. Same with meat in potato oven dishes, Lasagna or Pizza => unless you are into those overkill hard tastes (which I personally don't like), you can learn to cook them without meat while they still have the texture and taste for (open minded) meat eaters.

A slab of meat like steak will be many years before that comes from a lab for a decent price. But worked into a nice curry or some usages for sausages etc, I say we are close or even there already.


It’s all about the spices and sauces. Doesn’t matter if you’re cooking steak or tofu, it doesn’t have to be boring.


Well some people, including the young me, would send steaks with spices and sauces back. I liked them thick, bloody and without anything. Somehow I always thought that most cooks put way too much salt on really good meat so I asked, in restaurants as (annoying) little boy, to leave the salt and spices and would send it back if it had any. It was a short phase I guess. Now I find it boring.

But you are right; you can make exciting food with mostly anything. Even, god forbid, veggies! (seems that angry meat eaters are also dead against anything that resembles a vegetable; they eat the steak, leave everything else on the plate).


> I’m cool with carbon/GHG taxes that make no exceptions, if the cost of my choices goes up because of a tax that applies to all levels of society in fair measure, I can live with that.

Kudos to you, but this opinion would make you exceedingly rare among people for whom eating meat is an identity issue.

> Maybe I’ll even lose my taste for meat, I mean I lost my taste for shrimp once upon a time, and I gained a taste for eggs in my early twenties.

It's less about you individually than the economic policies that enable the mass production and consumption of meat. Beyond the science, which pretty convincingly make the case that industrial meat is behind a huge amount of environmental damage, the politics of this are very much about personal beliefs about whether or not that situation should continue in the same form, or be biased more towards plant based foods (via the carbon/ghg tax you proposed). And politics are grounded for better or worse in beliefs and dogma, just like religion.


A GHG tax is one that prices in externalities and will hurt trade over long distances in more or less equal measure, I’m not the biggest fan of it because I fear it would be used for policies other than mitigating the effects of a changing climate, but it would at least raise the price of everything from leaves to meat to automobiles to fish to computers and candles and essentially anything that is industrially produced or raised or caught. The net effect is to depress the purchasing power of everyone, and possibly, maybe even likely making the repair of a widget more price competitive with the replacement of a widget. I wouldn’t be able to buy as much meat with my current grocery budget, but I also wouldn’t be able to buy as much spinach or apples or garam masala or coffee without increasing my grocery budget. This would be true of anyone and everyone within a jurisdiction that actually implemented it properly.

In pricing out the tax, you would need to compute the global warming potential of the emissions for every piece in the supply chain, as well as their half life to measure their short term and long term impact and finally put a price on all of that. You could limit it to certain classes of emissions to keep it simpler, but you would want to cover all the known major transportation, industrial and agriculture emissions including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, methane, and so on.


This is probably the most balanced comment about meat-eating I've ever read.

I think the tax thing is key - I eat meat and I fly a lot. I know both of those things contribute to the climate crisis - therefore I'd be completely ok with paying some more money as tax that goes towards offsetting the environmental damage from those activities.

Lots of people think we needs to go back in development of technology and stop enjoying the things humanity has worked for a long time to achieve. Instead we should think about how we can make technology work better together with the environment and enable even more comfort and prosperity. Not force us to go back, rather find ways of moving even further forward.


I think the main issue is that money alone won't stop the greenhouse gasses from entering the atmosphere.

We just need to stop flying so much, and stop eating as much meat.

It's unfortunate and inconvenient.


Increased price pressure would incentivized a bit more ingenuity. There’s a number of things that are cheaper to purchase a replacement for than to maintain and repair. That has its pluses and minuses, but you could change up the cost equation, and plow the extra revenue into reforestation and artificial reef construction.


I think you're absolutely right that the status symbol aspect of meat consumption is going to be a large factor in people's decision-making.

That said, there are inflection points at which certain products switch from being seen as status symbols into more questionable signals - wearing fur springs to mind as one example.

I don't think it's at all guaranteed that traditional meat would end up in that category; it's a long way from it currently. But it's within the realm of possibility.


Fur is a fashion meat is a core pillar in many cultures and changing that will take longer than 10 years.


>Fur is a fashion meat is a core pillar in many cultures and changing that will take longer than 10 years.

I think you are probably right... but I want to bring up the counterexample of smoking.

I mean, smoking was never as widespread as eating meat, but I feel like there was a tipping point in the '90s, where it went from something almost every red blooded american would do to something very rude and even forbidden in most indoor spaces.

Smoking became... divorced from manhood.

I remember as a kid I had an IT job; sort of an internship type deal fixing computers for the local county department of public health. I got credit for going to this job instead of taking the last two classes of the day in high school; There was nobody else in the building who wasn't old enough to be my parent. It was so much fun.

I remember when the city passed the 'no smoking in bars' ordinance. The office was super excited. a few people (who I'm pretty sure never went to bars) said they were going to the bar after work. (I was maybe 16, and not invited) I thought it was pretty funny at the time, but now that I'm old, I go to bars, too... and you know? I probably wouldn't if they smelled the way they smelled walking past them in the '90s.


Some friends and I ran a weekly poker game at a local bar for a few years in the mid-00s, before an indoor smoking ban was implemented here. Every night when I came home, my clothes absolutely reeked of smoke, I couldn't even hang them inside my apartment.


I'd go even further than that and argue that the reason vegan and vegetarian diets have taken off as much as they have is because they became status symbols in the 90s / 2000s.


> eating meat is a matter of status

Chicken mcnuggets are barely chicken. The market already demonstrated that "real meat" is a matter of availability and marketing, not a matter status chasing (not that there aren't exceptions, which are a statistical minority).

I'm not sure why anyone thinks this is a compelling argument. SMH


I think the OP is taking about beef and pork for making his point.

Does raising chickens even have the same impact as raising cattle on the climate?


Yes, I was thinking mostly about beef. Which seems to be the most environmentally impactful meat, by the way. Pork is less impactful and poultry is even less.

Obligatory wikipedia link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_p...


>...beef... the most environmentally impactful meat... Pork is less impactful and poultry is even less

This is largely because pork is raised in factory-farming conditions that are awful for the animals, and poultry even more so. Environmental "benefits" are countered by animal welfare drawbacks.

Here is a good analysis, you need to scroll around a bit to find pork and poultry info:

https://slatestarcodex.com/2019/12/11/acc-is-eating-meat-a-n...


I think impact is largely based on lifespan required to rear the animals.

Beef is more carbon intensive, because it takes longer to raise beef cattle (and therefore more resources to feed).


and insect protein is even less than that!

but you'd be hard pressed to find people who would substitute their animal protein with insect protein.


Not sure if it’s the brand, but I tried frozen patties based on insect protein here (in Germany, IIRC the producer was dutch). I was excited to try it, but besides being more expensive than beef, it tasted bland. Now with beef, it’s neither frozen not pre-assembled into patties, so that might also be a difference, but for now I’m holding out for lab-grown meat.


I don't think they necessarily eat meat and drive big cars because of the need to signal their ideology. I agree that their ideology means they don't care about their impact on the environment, which means they don't have the incentive not to drive a big car or eat meat; since they don't have disincentive, the positive reasons to do those two things win out.


It doesn’t help that I get headaches when I eat my garden grown tomatoes. No such reaction to eating a ribeye. How tall will my children grow up to be on a plant based diet? I want my children to grow up to be stronger than those around them.


>How tall will my children grow up to be on a plant based diet? I want my children to grow up to be stronger than those around them.

Well, oxen manage to be strong as an ox on a 100% plant-based diet. Giraffes get pretty tall too.


Lions, sharks and polar bears are also very strong, on a carnivorous diet. What does that says about human nutrition? Absolutely nothing.


How about gorillas they are 4-9 times stronger than a human on a vegetarian diet (some termites and ants) and they are pretty close to humans genes wise


We’re also about 60% similar to bananas by genome.


I think you reinforced their point.


> oxen manage to be strong as an ox on a 100% plant-based diet

What an absurd analogy; cheetahs eat a 100% meat-based diet and they're very fast.


Feed them a well-balanced plant-based diet and they’ll be fine. No guarantees on them being stronger than those around them, because if everyone wants this someone’s got to miss out due to chance ;)


Even within a much smaller price margin, there'd still be plenty of reasons to make kill-free meat the default preference.

Abattoir and meat-processing facilities might not be able to achieve the same quality bar for hygiene as lab-developed meat cultures. That should ultimately translate into better food safety for consumers.

There are also strong ethical and environmental arguments for choosing kill-free meat as opposed to high-methane[0] animal-based meat products. It's not the entire solution to environmental problems by any means, but it's a large opportunity.

A good chunk of meal decision-making comes down to the way that food is marketed and the way that we talk about and discuss our food options.

As determined and evidence-led entrepreneurs and technologists, all of us in the HN community can do a lot to advocate for and influence public opinion and behavior in whatever direction we choose.

[0] - https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/sources-greenhouse-gas-emis...


Hey if they can develop lab-meat cultures with the same(ish) makeup of real meat then yes I'd love that stuff. If I can get the same product but without suffering of animals then I'm 100% on board.

What I don't like is this current crop of fake meat. I don't know what it's made of and I don't want to eat something with a list of ingredients as long as my arm pretending to be something else.


When you say that you don't know what it's made of, is that because you haven't actually looked it up? The Impossible Foods site goes into solid detail on what goes into their product, more than you'd find on other commonly ingested products like ice cream or whatever where the website is purely an appeal to taste buds. Many of us would be eating daily a variety of things with long lists of ingredients.

What if that long list is the cost of trying to engineer an alternative to something that evolved over millions of years? Why would that matter?

(Typical meat eater here, but interested in trying lab meat sometime.)


I don't buy anything that has a list of ingredients on the package. I buy the ingredients individually.


Consider that "subjects raw plant matter to complicated chemical processes to produce something meat-tasting" is equally true for fake meat factories as it is for cows. Just because the recipe for real meat has come about via evolutionary (and not laboratory) trial-and-error, doesn't necessarily make it healthier.


We've been eating meat for thousands of years.


But what if it's not "highly processed" due to advancements in tech? Personally I would always choose the fake (lab grown or plant based) over the real meat. Real meat and three industrial farming process just has too many ways that the product is prone to contamination, not even to mention the cruelty/ethics. I say this as an avid meat eater as well. I love the taste of meat but I'd switch in a heartbeat once there's an alternative that compares.


This is a bit shocking and I'll get downvoted for it but:

Not to mention that red meat is a class 2 carcinogen (Source: WHO). And processed meat, is a class 1 carcinogen, right up there with Plutonium, according to the World health organization.


That statement is factually correct but worded in a way that suggests a misunderstanding of the WHO classification system. "The lists describe the level of evidence that something can cause cancer, not how likely it is that something will cause cancer in any person (or how much it might raise your risk)."


> This is a bit shocking and I'll get downvoted for it but: Not to mention that red meat is a class 2 carcinogen (Source: WHO). And processed meat, is a class 1 carcinogen, right up there with Plutonium, according to the World health organization.

I downvoted you not because of what you wrote, but because what you wrote is directly refuted by your (unlisted no less which I find intellectually lazy) source.

Processed meat being a class 1 carcinogen doesn't mean that plutonium = read meat! It simply means there is a likely link between it and cancer. Not that they are equivalent. This statement is scaremongering at best, unsupported by the classification. Also "cancer" is vague, the WHO organization, IARC, listed colorectal cancer as the specific cancer.

Ref: https://www.who.int/features/qa/cancer-red-meat/en/

And for red meat being a class 2 carcinogen, they listed as probably not that its known.

From their FAQ:

    This recommendation was based on epidemiological studies suggesting that small increases in the risk of several cancers may be associated with high consumption of red meat or processed meat. Although these risks are small, they could be important for public health because many people worldwide eat meat and meat consumption is increasing in low- and middle-income countries. Although some health agencies already recommend limiting intake of meat, these recommendations are aimed mostly at reducing the risk of other diseases. With this in mind, it was important for IARC to provide authoritative scientific evidence on the cancer risks associated with eating red meat and processed meat.
Note that phrase: "Although these risks are small"

If you want to paint red meat with a broad "bad for humans and whatnot" brush. At least get your facts straight. I can't look at the paper cause its behind the elsevier paywall but it should be here for anyone that can get it.

https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanonc/article/PIIS1470-2...

I bet the 18% more chance of colorectal cancer listed in the study amounts to for 500 people instead of 4 getting cancer, maybe 5 do now. One of my biggest pet peeves with all of this is the focus on whatever number is higher without contextualizing it.


I'm on your side here, but by what you are saying, doesn't that amount to an additional 600,000 cancer cases just in the USA. Is my math wrong?

That's nothing to sneeze at.


My back-of-the-envelope numbers are close to yours, but I think a very big caveat is the confidence of these associations from epidemiological studies. 18% percent is quite low by most standards. Most epidemiological studies expect 100%-400% to draw strong correlations. Smoking, by example, is in the thousands of percent increase risk.

"In adequately designed studies we can be reasonably confident about BIG relative risks, sometimes; we can be only guardedly confident about relative risk estimates of the order of 2.0, occasionally; we can hardly ever be confident about estimates of less than 2.0, and when estimates are much below 2.0, we are quite simply out of business." [1]

The estimate of 1.18 would probably be regarded as low. While the numbers we calculated may be nothing to sneeze at, I think we should be extremely cautious about our confidence in interpreting those values to real-world conclusions.

[1] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15255093


The 18% and 4/5 in 500 is just an example I pulled out of my butt. I didn’t do a scihub search to find the study but 18% is pretty weak. It’s also more for an assessment at a personal level how much risk you could expect as an individual, which most people care about. Even if that means 600k more cancer patients than before, you’d have to compare that against the null hypothesis to even see if you’re still in the territory of what random chance could arrive at.

An example I can off the top of my head remember is related to how much risk there is for women to have children post 40. It is a 100% increase in birth defects. From 0.5% to 1.0%, sounds bad right? Well its out of like 100 000 people and was based off of 1600’s era French women. Always take studies like this with a grain of salt and look at the numbers to assess personal risk.

Making lifestyle changes purely off of these studies is premature in my opinion. But you do you.


Repeat after me: “correlation does not equal causation”.


I think you're right, but there might be another way. What if there were a Tesla-like company? Tesla didn't just produce cars that are better for the environment, they made them awesome in every other way as well.

I imagine that meat will eventually be replaced by lab-grown meat that had been engineered to be as delicious (or moreso!) as the highest grade beef, but perhaps more healthy & cheaper. The fact that it would be better for the environment and animal rights needs to be listed as a benefit, but not the focus.


> Tesla didn't just produce cars that are better for the environment, they made them awesome in every other way as well.

as a former tesla owner, i dispute both of these assumptions.

> ... lab-grown meat ...

tesla builds cars. cars are a recent human invention. cattle on the other hand is a product of millions of years of evolution. i think it will take a bit more time to get lab meat that is as good as the real thing.


On the other hand, those million years of evolution did not select specifically for ”delicious and nutritious”.


It did plus it's healthy (to an extent)

It didn't select to be environmentally friendly. Humans scaled up animal growth fairly recently too, so we hadn't had enough time to figure out pathogen issue and ethics.


I disagree. Evolution has created signals -- "tasty" -- for things that are good for us. Fats, salts, and sugars are comparatively rare in a wild environment, and thus they taste good.


Sure, but that's us evolving, not the animals, right? We have made quite a few other nutrient-dense foods that hack those signals. Evolution did not make cheese or chocolate in all these years, because it doesn't target our palate, rather the other way around. (Notable recent counterargument is the selective breeding of cattle for food, but that's thousands, not millions of years.)

I don't think the evolution of cattle is a good indicator of the difficulty of creating great plant protein products.


I think this is inevitable if #1 is true. It may seem politically infeasible now, but if governments get really serious about climate change, then the price of many meats but especially beef will increase significantly, and that alone will give the fake beef a cost edge.


> Faced with a choice between beef or fake beef that tastes exactly the same, most people will just go for the real beef.

How can you say that with certainty? There isn't any fake beef that tastes similar that I am aware of.


People tend to choose what they are familiar with over the new/unknown.


I guess there's no reason veggie meat wouldn't become much cheaper than real meat. It takes a lot less resources to grow a bushel of soy or wheat or GMO super-grain than a quarter pound of a cow.


It takes basically no resources to graze cattle on grasslands. Plus, as a bonus it sequesters carbon and creates topsoil.


Grass fed cattle produces more methane than grain fed thoug (and methane is a much worse greenhouse gas).

But it does (possibly) help sequesters carbon.

The truth is that it's hard to tell which is better, but neither is great environmentally.

it’s hard to say whether grass-fed or grain-fed beef is better for the Earth – in part because they’re both pretty bad.

“No matter how you slice it,” he wrote, “eating beef will never be the greenest thing you do in a day.”

He cites an estimate by the National Institute of Livestock and Grassland Science in Japan that producing 2.2 pounds of beef emits more greenhouse gases than driving 155 miles.

Oregon Department of Environmental Quality’s study of the greenhouse gas emissions associated with consumption in Oregon found red meat and dairy products have the highest carbon footprint of all the foods Oregonians eat.[1]

(Needless to say the Cattlemen’s Association dispute these, and claim it only (?) produces 2.8% of greenhouse gases in the US).

[1] https://www.opb.org/news/blog/ecotrope/which-is-greener-gras...


Methane is short lived in the atmosphere. Also, North America historically had about 300 million ruminants, before human intervention: bison.

The other issue is we’re basically running out of topsoil. Modern agriculture is an extractive process, and the result is we have maybe 60 years left until the topsoil is gone and we can’t grow any more crops.


Indeed, methane is shorter lived than CO2 on the atmosphere. Taking that into account:

The 20-year global warming potential of methane is 84.[5][6] That is, over a 20-year period, it traps 84 times more heat per mass unit than carbon dioxide (CO2) and 32 times the effect when accounting for aerosol interactions.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atmospheric_methane


Most of the meat we eat doesn’t come from cattle on grasslands.


> If a McBeef is $5 more than a McFakeBeef

Ironic choice to use McDonalds "beef" as the example of real meat.


Australian McDonalds beef patties contain exactly three ingredients: Beef, salt, pepper. That's it.


Interesting. Did a little reading. It does seem that in the last few years, McDonalds has cleaned up it's food a bit.


Time to Google "lab grown meat"


As someone from the UK who has tended to eat meat a lot in the past - I do agree with your reading of culture in the UK historically.

But I also think it's remarkable how quickly public opinion in the UK has been shifting with regard to environmental concerns.

Traveling by train as opposed to air travel, reduction of single-use plastics and plastic packaging, and reduced-meat diets all feel like much more common discussion topics and lifestyle choices than they were even five years ago.

Shops and restaurants have also shifted to meet changing demands. There have been mistakes (incentives around long-life plastic shopping bags haven't worked out exactly as planned) but overall it feels like a wave of change.


1. trends come and go.

2. we all live in our bubbles.

both meat consumption and air travel have increased YoY over the past 25 years in the UK.

and sticking with the UK, current estimates point to an almost 100% increase in air passenger numbers in the 2030s, and Heahtrow still being in the top ten busiest airports in the world.

anecdotally, my flights have increased 2x every year for the past 5 years. this year it's been 50 flights, 40 of which intercontinental (no train availability).


Good food for thought, thanks.

From a little more digging to try to break out of my bubble, here are some reading references:

Of beef, pork, lamb, poultry, and fish -- only poultry has seen any broad increase in expenditure by UK households over the past few years (and slim, at 2%); all others have decreased or remained the same[0]. I'm not claiming that's related to environmental concerns directly but it shows some changes in behaviour.

Air travel passenger numbers are certainly on the rise[1], although interestingly the number of flights ('air travel movements') appears to be somewhat more muted. Even so, greenhouse gas emissions from aviation have certainly increased a lot since the 1990s.

Brexit and the prospect of a high-spending majority UK government could both have impacts on these over the next decade, no doubt - but in what direction I'm not sure.

[0] - https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/food-statistics-p...

[1] - https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/...


Perhaps, but fashions change fast. I remember the first environmentalism craze of the 90s, it didn’t last.


If an effective carbon tax is introduced (see #1) then the price of meat will rise astronomically, which will make reduced consumption inevitable.

In many places, climate change will make existing agriculture unsustainable, so there'll be massive upheaval in the industry at the same time.

If that's combined with a cultural movement similar to flugskam, I think drastically reduced meat consumption is possible.

Of course, there'll be counter forces -- likely primarily cultural. "Only libtards don't eat meat" etc. So it goes.


There would likely be unintended consequences to raising the price of meat through a carbon tax. It creates a market for cheaper meat that there will be no shortage of producers or consumers for. How that meat is made cheaper is an open question. It could be through carbon offsets but it could just as well be through worse conditions for the animals or importing the meat from countries where production is cheaper.


The same argument is made against raising the taxes on tobacco products, that "people will smuggle in cigarettes from countries without the tax", but it never seems to actually happen to any significant degree.

People are lazy, and if the only source of cheap meat is the black market of illegally-imported products, only a very small segment of people will bother.


I live somewhere with high taxes on tobacco products and illegal cigarettes are a big problem. It's not a small segment of the smoking population either but it is disproportionately those who are more economically disadvantaged. People are lazy but they are also motivated by economic pressures. It's easy for something like that to become an 'invisible' problem to people who aren't in those economic or social groups while still having severe negative effects on a large number of people.


I buy carbon offsets based on a questionnaire about lifestyle. It works out to about $180-220 USD per year, depending on whether I take a vacation by flying to Europe. If that were factored into prices as a tax I don't think it would count as an astronomical increase.

But perhaps the questionnaire and algorithm from terrapass is deficient in some way. What are you basing your calculations off of?


A quick look at Terrapass, and their individual calculator, doesn't seem include any information about diet? Perhaps I was looking at the wrong one?


You're right. Looking at it again, it doesn't. However, this site says that a vegetarian diet saves about one ton of CO2 per year over an average American diet: http://shrinkthatfootprint.com/food-carbon-footprint-diet

That still isn't very expensive in terms of offsets - about $10/year (Terrapass sells the offsets for $4.99 per 1,000 lbs). Why do you think that's astronomical?


I was coming from the other end. I've repeated seen claims that livestock contributes a significant fraction of global greenhouse emissions. eg. most recently, a claim of 17% in this article https://a16z.com/2019/12/30/life-in-2030/ from HN yesterday.

I assumed that eg. 17% of the global total meant the individual allocation would be large, and thus very expensive to offset.

Note that there's a CH4 vs. CO2 conflation in the mix here, which probably doesn't help.

But it still doesn't seem to add up: if I can eat a "meat lovers" diet and that's only $10/year to offset, and it's roughly 15% of global emissions, that'd suggest that around $70/year could offset 100% of global emissions.


Well, no. The difference between an average American diet (2.5T) and a vegan diet (1.5T) is ~$10/yr to offset. In total, a "meat lovers" diet (3.3T) would be about $33/year to offset. If that's about 15%, that works out to about $220/year per individual offset on the high side, which is consistent with what I purchase.

Still not what I would call astronomical.


Yeah I don't see our species evolving into pure herbivores anytime soon. I'm from Africa and the only vegans I know there are either allergic to meat or just can't afford it yet. Eating meat is actually something we work towards aggressively. Meat is also a status symbol, as a result. We will be eating meat for a very very long time.


> People aren't going to give up their meat: they may not even be willing to try alternatives.

That's the problem; they will say it's not the same even if it is 100% the same. I bake a lot of pizzas for friends and I tend to do real sausage and Beyond sausage and have people taste. I tell them upfront that some are real and some are fake meat but not which are which. Yesterday I did almost 50 pizzas on a hangover party (it's a hobby...) and the most 'angry' meat eaters taste fake when it's real, real when it's fake, but once they think that they have the fake one (even though it was the real one), they simply leave it. And that I really don't understand. Little disclaimer about tasting: I don't load my pizza's up with that 'meatlover' amount of (fake or real) meat. I like subtle tastes, so there won't be a lot of sausage on a pizza.


Tyson changed from a meat company to a protein company. Can make veggies taste like chicken or beef.

I didn't have an Impossible Whopper yet but it costs a lot of money. For $12.99 with a coupon I can gt a family meal of three Whoppers, three cheeseburgers, and 3 fries. I hear the Vegans are mad that the Impossible Whopper is grilled on the same grill as the regular Whooper.

I suppose the reason to turn away from meat eating is to save the environment? Animals exhale CO2 but not as much as factories with smoke stacks burning coal or oil.


Animals also output methane, and there are land-use issues with meat production.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Environmental_impact_of_meat_p...


Only a very small segment of loud'n'proud vegans on social media complain about the cooking method of the impossible whopper. And you can have it microwave cooked if you want it to not touch the grill.


It's also funny he compares it to caviar which today is almost all farmed and is as cheap as it's ever been in living memory.


The reason a country would want to use a crypto asset for their money supply would be to own the private ledger completely; they wouldn't utilize the decentralized, public, blockchains we see today.

All financial activity and transactions can easily be monitored on a blockchain; the movement of money could be tracked from it's inception to it's current location on one ledger. Each private key can correspond to a citizen (much like a social security ID) and citizens can be taxed more easily and efficiently. This is why China is leading the pack here and is already developing a PBOC digital currency[1].

[1]=https://fortune.com/2019/11/01/china-digital-currency-libra-...


Yeah, but if you own the private ledger completely, what advantage do you have over just having that kind of control over banks? It seems you can just do all of that with heavy handed banking regulations.


The cryptographically proven history built in rather then attempting to lay on on top


In any democracy this would kill the banks and government and central bank's ability to lie about spending and liquidity ... (because the ledger would be accessible to the justice system)

I find it hard to believe any central bank will risk that.


I don't think any major currencies will get turned into crypto assets either, there's no reason for a government to do that. Instead what's happening is that traditional banking systems are being upgraded to allow instant and person-to-person transfers of money. This is one of the main benefits of crypto - being able to instantly send money to anyone. If you can just use your existing online banking system, so much easier. And the government still gets to track it all and make sure we're not cheating on our taxes or funding terrorists or whatever.

I'm not an expert but I believe many EU countries now have instant P2P bank transfers. Australia just got their system going in the last few years too. The US is a bit behind but I'm sure it's coming.


All the big consumer banks in the US also have instant transfers to phone numbers or email addresses:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zelle_(payment_service)


The Australian system does not require signup from the recipient (or the sender for that matter) and there's no transfer limits beyond what your bank already had on your accounts previously.


Ditto for the UK and European systems. Give destination routing number and account and amount, press some button. Done. No fees, ever, and transfer is more or less instantaneous.


doesn't apply to all European systems.


Canada's mint already created a crypto-currency.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MintChip

It didn't exactly explode in popularity, and has since been sold to a private corp.

China won't be the first country to issue a crypto-currency because it's already been done by other countries. If China does issue one, people likely won't trust it and will avoid it like the plague. China's only real advantage here it is to leverage their authoritarian state to force their own citizens to use a state-approved crypto-currency and hope it catches on elsewhere as a result.

As for China becoming the world's sole super-power in the next decade... I am skeptical. Given China's demographics (i.e. greying), current political problems (e.g. Hong Kong), exodus of manufacturing (e.g. Samsung), and increasing resistance to their influence from other states, I would predict China's global power is near its peak and will soon begin declining, likely being substantially lower at the end of the decade than it is now.


I predict china will hit a ceiling in growth as a result of it's imhumane policies, and eventually authoritarianism is going to hit a line where the people rise up. China may go to far in it's ethnic cleansing or other bad things might come up and unless they change, they will never rise above a certain growth level. Not saying they'll become democratic, but at least better stewards over their own people. Also, I think and HOPE their social credit program fails miserably, that's the last thing we need other countries to start adopting.


Meat will also be eaten by people who are tired of the carb and sugar filled garbage that passes off as food but leads to obesity and death. Like the impossible burger and all the garbage like that. The worst part of a hamburger, as far as diet is concerned, is the bun which in America has tons of sugar. Assuming they didn't add sugar to the meat. The irony is that meat is some of the healthiest food available that's also tasty. People will be eating it way after global warming has given us a few degrees Celsius rise in temperature.


I agree with you.

I don't think country is going to give up their control of currency and all those monetary tools that they know for something new. These monetary policies have been evolving base on past mistakes.

I can only see decentralize internet if the world crack down on the internet and put more pressure in it. Or more fragmentation like how bit torrent is rising because there are more streaming services.

Meat is not going anywhere either. China, Korea, etc.. place status and emphasize on meat. It's also ingrain in culture too.


the trend of the world has been to decrease transaction friction and costs. Crypto increases both.

And moving to crypto is like going back on the gold standard. No way to expand or contract monetary supply.


> Crypto increases both.

Not _exactly_. This is kind of the whole point of Stellar, and why IBM invested in creating World Wire. Crypto can make this problem easier, especially if you're looking at it internationally rather than in day-to-day transactions. I also think for auditability there is an advantage here, which can't be brushed away. Tracing down international currencies can be very hard.

That said, what the article is describing is definitely not this, but seems to predict (at least based on the text) something more akin to a stablecoin that corresponds to a given fiat currency. So yeah, in that case, you'd probably be correct, but I don't think we can generalize that to every type of cryptocurrency.


I had to make a payment in Bitcoin for the first time in years.

I honestly can't see the average person dealing with this complexity. Even the basic math is hard to grasp for the average Joe.

Try asking a normal person to quickly add 0.0005 to 0.0461. The former was the fees for my transaction.


Which wallet forced you to do the math in your head? Don't they all just display the result of that calculation as the total transaction cost?


Also 7/10

7 - I can't see massive exploration suddenly over 10 years. And when this boom does come governments will be very involved, like in the colonial periods, there is massive national advantage to get people to go stake claims. I can only see it being a similar blend of govt/private.

10 - we will see progress but anything groundbreaking in the cancer fight this seems too short a time scale.


For point 6, as the article mentions in a different place, there will be fewer baby boomers "dominating the conversation". Sure, that's meant mostly politically, but it applies to other sections too.

Calling it a delicacy is a stretch, it not changing that fast.

But the "set in their ways" people are becoming the minority and those of us who are open to trying new stuff slowly change to stop eating meat and shifting towards plant-based.

I used to love a good steak, burger, chicken, etc. I stopped eating meat in early November 2019 to see how long I can go without it. Still going, and I don't have any need to eat it, so it's effortless.

When eating meat, I sometimes had this bad feeling in my stomach, and now it doesn't happen anymore. Sure, they use pesticides on plants and soy is said to be heavily modified and whatever. I get that from my family, who are set in their ways. I'm not trying to convince anyone, it's just what feels better for my body.

Also, I'm lucky to have a supply of home-grown vegetables so I can be sure of the origin. Tastes much better than the stuff they sell in stores too.


I do hope for #5 and there are countries currently planning (not sure how serious, but we've been in tenders) for #4.


Please check my other comments on prediction 5, which I think is the most probable of the lots


Muslims, 24% of the world's population, have the following requirements to eat meat:

- They sacrifice a goat (or sheep, cow, camel, etc.) once a year on Eid.

- They sacrifice a goat, etc. upon every baby's birth.

- They are encouraged to sacrifice an animal for atonement, blessings and other reasons.

Read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal_sacrifice#Islam

I don't think animal consumption is going down that soon.


The vast majority of those Muslims are in poorer countries (think Indonesia and Bangladesh, and not Saudi Arabia), and could never afford to eat meat in the daily quantities eaten in the West, the Gulf, and increasingly in the wealthier population of China.

Their regular diet consists largely of cereal grains, legumes, vegetables, and small amounts of meat to supplement, and even that is mostly cheaper to produce/acquire meat like chicken and eggs, or small riverine fish.

The religious observances you mention account for a tiny portion of overall meat consumption in the world, and to use them as an example why meat consumption can't be reduced is at best an abuse of statistics, and at worst a cultural scapegoat.

If anything, other cultures could perhaps learn from them to treat the consumption of meat as a sort of sacrament to be appreciated on special occasions, like the birth of a child. Prior to the era of industrial scale food production, that is how most non-aristocratic people consumed meat of larger animals, regardless of their culture or religion.

The far bigger factor driving meat production and the associated environmental issues is my kid ordering a 1/4 pound hot dog and then throwing away half of it.


Well, that's an interesting angle, i.e their consumption of meat can be looked as a one time / 2 times a year treat at special occasions, with non-meat products for the rest of the year.


It could even be once a week and it would still have a dramatic effect on GHG emissions. But as others have noted, it's too big a problem to rely on individually motivated behavior change. The price has to go up for it to be considered precious.


There are plenty of religious observances from various traditions where an historical literal act has been replaced by a symbolic representation.

I don't think it's a problem, if the economics are in place.


So, I have a problem with a large number of these points. Each point alone requires a long rebuttal that no one would read. I think Fred is way off here. The bullet points:

1. There will be no global change in human behaviour and activity that is against the short term interests of those people. Period. The way to replace fossil fuels with renewables is by them being a cheaper source of power. We're well on the way here for solar.

2. Until someone can devise a safe way to processor nuclear fuel, transport the fuel and waste and process and store the nuclear waste nuclear power is just not making any kind of resurgence. It just isn't. Believing otherwise is a pipe dream that ignores the significant externalities of nuclear power (as in the waste products from the reactor and refinement processes).

3. Why Fred thinks China won't have the same short term self-interest that every other country does seems fanciful at best.

4. Crypto currency doesn't solve any problems that most people care about. Bitcoin surged in value for two reasons:

- So wealthy Chinese people could escape their country's capital controls and move their wealth out of China. Mine Bitcoin in China, sell overseas for USD, profit.

- For illegal activity.

Traditional currencies have reversible transactions (which most people actually want) and aren't subject to 51% attacks. Nor do they require technical proficiency to safely use.

5. Decentralized Internet is a pipe dream.

6. Plant-based diets by the end of the decade? Not a chance.

I look forward to having a chuckle at this list in 2030.


> Each point alone requires a long rebuttal that no one would read

I'd like to sell you a solution for that. Brief bullet points like the one you made are readable, but when people disagree you need hypertext links to your supporting arguments. I made a web app for creating such trees of arguments. Here's an example in which you'll see I think the dangers of nuclear waste are debatable: https://en.howtruthful.com/o/nuclear_power_is_a_crucial_comp...


Cool idea, but I don't completely understand the interface. It's not clear what the 1-5 buttons up top are: does clicking on it record my rating of the claim?

What are the numbers next to each of the links in Pros and Cons? They look like they correspond to the ratings above, but I didn't understand how those were derived.


You're on a link that's my opinion, so the numbers next to each link are my ratings. Clicking the buttons on top saves your rating to local storage, and makes a 'You' link to your opinion, where you can put pro/con arguments with your own ratings.

Putting your ratings on the site requires a paid account. I'm making this in my spare time and would have a hard time controlling spam if such accounts are free. I still think the free version is useful for exploring your own opinions.


Reminds me of arguman https://en.arguman.org/


Yeah, there's definitely a resemblance, also a resemblance to kialo. Notice how arguman had to temporarily shut down due to bot accounts. This is a major reason why howtruthful requires payment to be used socially. https://en.arguman.org/blog/new-user-registration-disabled-s...


There's some good ideas here.


> 5. Decentralized Internet is a pipe dream.

I think that nightmare is being realized right now - China & Russia have a head-start. I see balkanization of the internet as inevitable. Unless there's a breakthrough on the securing internet-connected devices and equipment, the strategic importance of defending local systems from foreign attacks cannot be ignored, and the most effective way is to sever international connections entirely (even temporarily) without disabling local connectivity which would be disruptive.

Look at the long number of countries that turned off the internet after social unrest in the 2 years alone (mostly to block protesters organization via social media) - if those countries had the technical capability to keep the localnet up, they would have.


It happened long ago. We had a decentralised Internet, with end-to-end communications the norm. Money is more easily made with centralised control of users, though, so money is more readily spent on centralisation of services.

Ultimately, Discord/Slack/Whatnot succeeded over Jabber because far more money was put into services that can be commercialised than was put into something that's very hard to make a buck out of.

The run-out of IPv4 has massively exacerbated the problem, because with carrier grade NATs now the norm, protocols have to work via a central server to connect two end users. There won't _be_ a new decentralised killer app.

Well, if social unrest gets really bad across the globe we might see something like mesh networking with a mesh social media system spring up, I suppose.


I do think nuclear will have a resurgence. You don't have to make nuclear as safe as clear air to use, only reasonably safe with a plan to handle the waste. Nuclear is already safer than coal in terms of people killed by power generation.

Finland is building the world's first long term storage depot for nuclear waste and I think the same could be done in many other places.

Plus, all the push for nuclear is for new nuclear with better efficiency in the fuel used and passive safety futures. I don't think that a significant part of the grid will be powered by nuclear in 2030, but the newer models should be coming online by then.


I think nuclear will have a resurgence... in some places. I keep hearing that nuclear is safer than coal but coal won't make entire regions uninhabitable if something goes REALLY wrong. I'm thinking terrorist attacks, natural disasters, missile strikes, etc.


I have mixed feelings about the predictions; I get the sense that significant change is in the air, at least in the US, whatever direction that takes. I see some of these things as being realistic, especially on a global scale.

That said, I think he might be wrong about (3) (among other things) and (5) is related in my mind. China is certainly growing, in part because of problems in the Euro-American world, but it is also brewing problems and unrest with increasingly autocratic behavior, and a number of other economic problems are showing.

I do see increased adoption of decentralized technologies, in part because of increased political volatility and mistrust of involved centralized IT corporations. That is, I see (5) happening in part because I think (3) might be a bit of an overprediction.

It won't just be China though, and hasn't been. People will increasingly be dealing with censorship and monitoring, and trying to bypass it, and will also become increasingly distrustful of things like Facebook, which correctly or incorrectly has been implicated in things like Russian-UK-US subterfuge. Adoption of decentralized tech is already happening with Hong Kong and Catalonia protests; I suspect it will grow to become more mainstream.

I don't see the traditional centralized internet going away, but I do see people gravitating toward a more hybrid system. Maybe where more critical, and more intimate communications with close others moves to more decentralized architectures, along with other stuff that doesn't depend on speed so much, whereas other mass communications remains more centralized.


> 3. Why Fred thinks China won't have the same short term self-interest that every other country does seems fanciful at best.

I think the reason would be that most countries that make short-term decisions are ones that have democratic elections every few years and need to avoid pissing off too many people. China's authoritarian system may have more leeway with short-term pain for longer-term strategic initiatives not resulting in societal upheaval.


People seem to overrate Xi's standing in the long-term. It is easy to keep a population docile with double digits economic growth. Once that trend terminates though...


Our evidence from the 20th century shows that the only countries that are successful are democratic. The list of authoritarian countries that crashed and burned is longer than the list of democratic countries that did the same.


Singapore is fairly authoritarian and they've had outsized success going from third world to first.

I think the root cause is pretty simple: having no checks and balances lets you move faster, no matter what direction (either up or down), and it's a lot easier to mess things up than it is to do everything right.


Again, countries like Singapore are poor models to follow simply because of their size and population. It is drastically easier to govern a country you can cycle across in a few hours, than a country like India or China.


I think that's certainly a factor but your initial claim was:

> the only countries that are successful are democratic

And you're supporting it by excluding all counter-examples. Maybe a more accurate statement would be "most successful countries are democratic".

And since you mentioned China and India, India is a democracy, China is ruled by an authoritarian single-party. Both have huge populations, yet China has grown its GDP better? Assuming good economy = successful here. http://statisticstimes.com/economy/china-vs-india-economy.ph...

Let me present an alternative thesis: democracy has little to do with good governance. It acts as a buffer against discontent, it's in many ways moral, but it is not by itself sufficient to create prosperity.


China is a kind of democracy and a very meritorious one at that already.

Just because they aren't copy cat 100% clone of US/UK democracy, it doesn't mean they aren't a democracy.

Also countries like Great Britain, France and all other big European powers made bulk of their super power status when ruled by Monarchs. The democracies later carried the inertia of those eras. Which is understandable. Once you build a sound educational ecosystem, with a great economy with an industrialized economic base, democracy works like a charm. There is a long term supply of good leaders and educated masses to vote for them.

Also democracy is not a process designed to produce good leaders. It's only a process that elects them in a system where they are already present, with a populace that can recognize.


Qatar has been doing rather well, I’d say.


Qatar and most middle eastern countries are anomalies in that they have access to the world's most important resource.


Happy to consider other examples, but it does feel like the combination of China's capitalistic reforms while maintaining its authoritarian rule and the state control of information is fairly unique in the 20th century.

And any comparables likely failed due to war with democratic countries, and that seems unlikely given China's role in the globalization of trade as well as it being a nuclear power.


I don't think he knows enough about any of these things to make big predictions. He should stick to his day job. Not that I'm better, but I see these themes come across from my wide selection of Twitter followers and regularly see highly convincing arguments which would go against them. And that's no me seeking out an answer, it's just scrolling.


Actually, one more significant problem with nuclear power is that there isn't enough manufacturing capability to build reactor cores. Most existing reactors are decades old, and although we have a lot of theoretical knowledge on how to build reactors, how to build more modern reactors than the existing ones, we globally lack the practical know-how, there's no assembly line that we can just pick up reactors from. So the cost of a new reactors is almost unknown. How much does it cost to build the factory that builds the reactors?

Handling nuclear waste is much easier, because we're actively working on that problem, there's practical know-how in spades.


"Modern" reactor designs would indeed solve many problems with nuclear energy. But nuclear reactors are for the most part extremely expensive projects with high risks, so only conservative designs that are well tested are actually being built. This has been a problem for the last four decades, and I don't see why it would suddenly change. If anything risk appetite probably decreases as civilian nuclear reactors stop making financial sense.


I believe that China has the appetite for it and will pursue new reactor types unlike the luddites that we have here in the USA. Luckily they will probably sell them to us for a profit.


Luddites or not, I fully expect this pattern to repeat in every country that has any kind of an accident/disaster: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_power_in_Japan#/media/...


Cheaper power would just lead to greater consumption of power. If cheaper solar and wind power replaces fossil fuels in some areas, the fossil fuels will just get used in others instead. Such as bigger vehicles and more long-distance tourism.

Edit: perhaps coal would be phased out, without government intervention to save it. I don't think oil production would go down on its own.


All cars will be required to have dashcams. Either by insurance companies or by governments.

All cars will be required to have GPS, and be tracked in real time. This is already the case with the majority of commercial vehicles.

Incremental steps in autonomous cars, first starting with 'drone' cars. Cars and trucks that are operated from a remote location. This will be piggy backed on existing technology. Cheap cameras, cheap cell networks etc. Think of delivery car, one person drives a truck from a remote location and one person is inside sorting packages, carrying them to the door. People with kids can work from home as Uber drivers and delivery drivers.


Our current cellular data infrastructure isn't nearly reliable enough to allow routine use of remote operated vehicles in public roads. What happens when a construction crew accidently cuts the backhaul fiber and takes out a whole group of base stations? And no, that problem won't be solved by 5G networks or satellite service.


That problem already occurs! How many of us stopped working for hours when github went down? When aws went down? When some construction cut a wire and took out some of the internet?


I really doubt dashcams and gps will be required in the next decade but I bet installing them will get you a discount of some kind.


The eCall system - which automatically phones the emergency services with your position after a crash - is already mandatory on new cars in the EU. The GPS is already there. Making further use of it, perhaps to assist self-driving cars, doesn't seem like such a stretch. (Which is not to say I welcome it.)


I don’t like this. I’m okay with dying in a cold river or a burning car after a crash if it means I don’t have to be worried about being tracked every second of my life.

At some point, its going to cost extra to buy cars without GPS trackers, houses without police-force endorses surveillance nets, or phones with an actual “off” button. This is much more pressing, in my opinion, than people buying into heavily processed meat substitutes.


I think there's quite a gap between, 'built into every car' and insurance companies requiring access to it. GPS is in every customer phone but insurance companies don't require access to that either.


I'm curious if you happen to know -

Is it only mandatory to ship it with new cars, or is it mandatory to have it installed?

Would it be legal for me to remove, similar to what I've done with Onstar/Starlink in the past?


I'd be surprised if cars didn't come with cameras built-in as a standard. Think Tesla Sentry mode.


They should. It wouldn't be hard for carmakers to add a camera at the top of the windshield. The US already requires every new car to come with a backup camera.


It's arguable that dashcams are "required" now as insurance in many ways already. At least as much as adequately insuring your vehicle, and arguable to reduce the likelihood of police abuse.


The GPS thing is a no-brainer, as we need it to replace fuel excise taxes.

As for the rest, no way. The GOP has pivoted to being the rural party, and rural folks can not afford drone cars and will be paralyzed without them.


I recall a discussion of this point on HN a long time ago, but GPS is only one way to charge taxes based on vehicle miles traveled (VMT) - another, which is less invasive, is just to read the vehicle's odometer on some regular basis, either by hand when doing an annual vehicle safety inspection, or automatically by having the vehicle transmit the data. Certainly those have risks of tampering, but so does GPS.


Or report your odometer reading every time you renew your registration with steep fines for lying.

Or simply add a tax on new cars. Those who drive a lot will have to replace their vehicles more often and pay more tax.


Taxing newer, more fuel efficient vehicles is counter productive.


Your last point got me thinking about people sitting in a dark room waiting for autonomous cars to have trouble on the road then alert them to intervene, turning 1 driver:1 car into 1 driver:20 cars.


I can see that. Or, even simpler, a delivery person hopes out with a package and the remote driver circles the block. Garbage trucks might be the first to have this system installed. You need two people to operate a truck currently, a driver and a guy in the back. It drives slow along the road, very predicable routes. Needs to be driven back to the yard once filled, and another truck to take over the route.


Many garbage trucks have only a driver now. The guy in back was replaced by a mechanical arm that grabs and lifts the garbage cans.


Also the ability to drive the truck, at least to some degree from controls at the back of the truck. In my neighborhood there are too many parked cars to be able to let the robotic arm do everything. I often see the driver at the back of the truck moving it forward and hoping off to position trash cans where the robotic arm can pick them up.


I feel that this was the big trend that people missed; instead of AI we simple rebuilt the system to mechanically function better. First with standardized shipping containers, then progressed to other boring stuff.


You’d need a pretty good AI to be able to detect that it’s in trouble quickly enough for a human to react in time.


Sounds like a soul crushing job.


There are all sorts of people. To some art is “boring”. To some being a refuse truck operator is interesting or being a remote crane operator is exciting. I’ve met people who straight up love “cold calling”. I cannot cold call for the life of me. Some people are excited by engaging with strangers and trying to get them excited about a product or service.


Sure, some people may find being a garbage man to be even erotically stimulating, but that doesn’t mean the majority of garbage men think it’s all that great. It’s a relatively pointless observation.


Sounds more interesting than driving trucks


If this happens, I bet police cameras and trackers are still unreliable at convenient times while all the other commodity cameras and trackers work 100% of the time.


The GPS thing is unlikely, what would be the rationale of that? This would be a very unpopular policy.


That ship has already sailed.

In Europe all new cars, since 2018, must be able to automatically call emergency services and provide GPS coordinates in the case of a collision.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECall


If you ride a rented scooter from e.g. Lime or Bird, your GPS location is being streamed in real-time to many of the departments of transportation in the cities in which they operate[1][2]. It's not a quantum leap to assume cars will follow, especially if they're autonomously operated by some central service, doubly so if they're rented (e.g. from Uber) and not individually owned.

1. https://slate.com/business/2019/04/scooter-data-cities-mds-u... 2. https://blog.remix.com/mds-gbfs-and-how-cities-can-ask-for-d...


The rationale is taxation. As more cars go electric they have to replace the gasoline tax.


I would think it should be the other way around where gas cars would need to pay carbon tax. Or we can just call it even. Or in a hopeful scenario, stop oil and gas subsidies.


Depending on location, we already pay carbon taxes. In gasoline, tax on the new car, green sticker for being able to drive into low emission zones. Electric cars have none of that, yet they contribute heavily. For example by using electricity produced from coal. It’s just that the owner does not see the emissions.


In most of the world, gasoline is mostly tax already. The US is an exception.

E.g. in the Netherlands the "raw" price of gasoline (a few months back) was 0.61 euro/liter to that, add 0.6 gasoline tax and then add VAT, to come to the price at the pump (pump costs + profits come are included in the 0.61 raw price) of 1.46 euro/liter.

So about 58% of the cost of fuel is tax.

This is ignoring various other taxes that have to be paid, such as foreign taxes on the gasoline, profit tax, company tax, transport tax, road tax, approval tax, vat on the vehicle you're powering, ... All those taxes are either included in the raw gasoline price or are paid separately by the customers. So let's minimize that and say that 70% of the cost of gasoline really funds government (though not necessarily the local one), and should be considered tax (I do believe it'd be closer to 80% if you went really deep). Now of course, a number of those taxes are implemented on electric vehicles as well.

There's no way the government is going to let that tax income lower when it starts eating into their budget, so there will be some sort of tax, probably doubling the price of electric vehicles in the next 10 years or so.

And this is tax. It doesn't matter that you're not doing anything negative to the environment. Already the government is taxing companies generating their own electricity (the Netherlands) in various ways, and they're talking about taxing people who cut their grid connection.


In a lot of countries the gas tax makes up 5% or more of the total tax income.


What country is this intended to be in? I can see it, possibly, happening in more forward minded societies... but certainly not the United States.

If anything because there’s no way in hell they can cost effectively retrofit the vast amount of old vehicles we all tend to drive here.


The cash for clunkers program paid $4k to everyone with an old car. A couple of hundred dollars for GPS trackers (and transmitters, which is presumably what is meant) seems well within the collective budget of all parties who pay for cars in the US.


If I had to implement it, I’d do a two stage system. If you install a tracker you pay ten cents per mile. If you don’t have a tracker you have to report mileage every year and pay twelve cents per mile plus a $40 processing fee.


Not everything is done for a rational choice, or even moderately good reasoning. Insurance companies what to know where you drive, when, and have a dashcam video if you get into an accident. Government want to experiment with different forms of taxation. Police and courts want to track people convicted of crimes. Employers want to know that their company car is being used responsibly. Car companies get sued for making fast cars, start to install GPS for liability. Municipalities want to fine/tax speeders. Cars that are on lease can be tracked and shut down remotely if payments stop. All these reasons start to add up.


> The GPS thing is unlikely

How so? Why would a new car not come with GPS navigation on the dash? Why would a new car not come with a data connection? These are commodities, your phone has them.


Taxes and demand based tolls.


Why limit it to tracking? Why do we put these powerful machines in the hands of users that we know with certainty will kill themselves and others at a predictable rate and then just ask them nicely not to do harm?

The technology required to geofence, speed-regulate, and otherwise control where, when, and how fast cars can go already exists. Why aren't we using it? We don't need fully autonomous cars. There are all kinds of things we can do incrementally. I have to imagine some jurisdictions are going to realize this, eventually. And once they do the totally predictable savings to life and property will be unignorable.


Good point but could get tricky for edge cases. Medical emergencies where every second counts for example or escaping violence.


Put appropriate limiters in the vehicles, with a button to disengage all the limits that also notifies the police that you have done so, so that they can decide whether they need to come help, whether (as they later review the case) there was appropriate cause, &c.


"appropriate cause" sounds ripe for abuse. Cops will be able to disable this "feature" in their personal cars, naturally. without consequence.


I predict the 2020's will turn out to be the most difficult-to-predict decade yet. The predictions of the OP in my mind fail to account for several yet-to-mature disruptive technologies that will potentially transform our society to the degree the Internet and web have. The only prediction I'll make is in the domain where I work:

By the end of the decade, most people will be wearing some kind of immersive computing device (glasses, contacts, perhaps neurological etc) all day which allow software to proxy most aspects of their visual and audio perception, perhaps more.

Among the many results of this change, the most profound will be the loss of physical co-presence as a factor for interacting with other people. People will routinely 'beam in' each other (similar to FaceTime conceptually, but with no visual or auditory perceptual deficiency vs being together in person) in varying contexts for varying purposes.

The technical miracle aside, this will cause a fundamental shift in the way we think about what it means to "be" with other people -- the dependence upon physical co-locality will be no longer something we place highly in our mental model for spending time with others, other than children.

This will affect nearly every industry in terms of economics, some sectors potentially catastrophically like long distance transportation, but the biggest effect will be degree to which we will become able to empathize with others around the world and create novel, deeply impactful forms of interacting with others in a physical and emotional sense.

I suspect, perhaps hope, that the dominating result will be that, in combination with new forms of media based upon these new technological marvels, we will be able to greatly reduce or eliminate the tribalist tendencies we have for one another when those 'others' are out-of-reach for us to talk with, hug, dance with, and learn from.

In 2030, you'll be able to hug anyone on Earth instantly, and that's something to be optimistic about.


The internet is already a huge step up in communication from 20 years ago. Turns out people use that to find ideologically likeminded people meaning tribalist movements everywhere are stronger now than before internet came along. 90's were full of optimism about how tribalism could be overcome that is completely vanished now.

From the same technological situation you describe I can only think of how people would use that only to further isolate themselves. At least today, physical location sometimes dictate you have to interact with people outside of your own social class and background. What you describe could reduce that, making every one retreat even further into their echo chamber.

People already live in close proximity to millions in cities. They generally don't hug each other; more fixated on rushing past each other, avoiding eye contact.

Humans just aren't made for having 7 billion friends...


Yet in these same cities people meet in places, and have the positive experiences we often define as being human. Consider how many of these are currently possible to have through the Internet, and how likely that is to change if social presence and shared spatial awareness are deliverable remotely.

The greatest institutions, large and small (schools, libraries, churches, etc) all orbit the constraints of physical coproximity. If even a modest set of these experiences can have a true digital analog that replicated it decoupled from physical copresence, the opportunity for these kinds of institutions to form at a whole higher level, across great tribal boundaries, seems high.

It’s hard or impossible to make specific, concrete predictions on a ten year timeline. But my view is that the 20’s will see a radical departure from physical copresence mitigating human activity, and we will all agree that this change happened in 2030. I hope that people capitalizing on it build good social systems to bring out the best in people and replicate what we have learned from our best institutions and examples of positive human gathering.


I guess what I'm saying is that many people had that exact same hope, for the same reason, 20 years ago -- and that hope ended up being extremely wrong; the exact opposite of what actually happened.

Of course we cannot extrapolate. Noone can know. But are there any specific reasons why the ongoing tide of political, ideological, social polarization would suddenly turn around?

You say "across great tribal boundaries". To me, physical proximity seems to be the main thing left now that still counteracts tribal boundaries.

Can you provide examples/scenarios perhaps?

As my counter-example, I just moved out to the country-side. As a result, I start to now see different opinions in my Facebook feed from when I lived in a city, simply due to Facebook-friending new people due to physical proximity. Due to this influx of "random" impulses in my Facebook feed, I think am likely to have less polarized views politically (I can see different friends arguing both sides of a topic) than if physical proximity didn't play a role in who I friended.


The Internet had temperately killed technical clubs like HAM radio, wood working shops etc., as people got into coding and could collaborate remotely. Around 2008 lots of Makerspaces started to open, but not nearly enough, the maker movement has stalled though.

We need to rethink the ways schools operate, from 8am-3pm they can be for kids. After 4pm they can be adult learning hubs, maker spaces, DIY bicycle repair shops etc.


I think libraries are a better fit than public schools, and some already have maker spaces, seed banks or gardens, and opportunities for continuing education. With funding provided by a dedicated library district (which is increasingly common) in addition to private foundation support, these institutions can have a significant positive impact in the communities they serve.


School are normally significantly larger and mostly unused outside of their normal operating hours. Realistically it shouldn't be an either or thing but rather both.


Ham Radio is far from dead, and it isn't a "technical club". It is an activity with many varied subinterests from public service to exploration of extremely efficient low-power communication modes to bouncing signals off the moon. There are 750,000 licensed amateur radio opeators in the United States.


Beaming in might be popular for some use cases, however physical presence will still be the gold standard. VR/AR will always represent a big drop in information density compared to reality. In human conversation even a 75ms lag would be noticeable compared to real-time. I highly doubt looking at a vr projections eyes can match the same intensity as looking at a real person’s. Also, VR completely removes items such as touch and smell.

How much data does a human 6 feet away from you project to you? How much of that data enters your conscious? How much enters your subconscious? With Moore’s law dying we can’t hope to match that amount of information, much less accurately record and transport it in real time. Lossy capture and output mechanisms will still be present in a decade.


I think framing face-to-face vs remote copresence as a hierarchy is a poor mental model. Existing remote communication media can be equally effective as face to face in very narrow, specific contexts. My argument isn’t so much that remote embodied communication will be a panacea, but that it will radically shift the constraints around copresence for a wide variety of contexts. Ultimately, face to face will be vastly superior for some contexts, but I would not underestimate how far that set will drop proportionally over the next decade. And it certainly seems possible that new forms of communication may become only possible in a virtual context, much like the very one we are participating in right now.


> People will routinely 'beam in' each other (similar to FaceTime conceptually, but with no visual or auditory perceptual deficiency vs being together in person) in varying contexts for varying purposes.

This made me laugh. We haven't even figured out how to do telephone conferences reliably. I'm still waiting for a telco that does not have the obligatory "You're breaking up" or "I cannot see the screenshare" or "Oh sorry, my microphone was still on mute" or whatever somewhere in between.


Teleconferencing has issues not due to technical issues typically. Though that was common up to relatively recent history, modern audio and video teleconferencing software seems reliable and robust. The main deficiency, which can not be mitigated through technology, is the low bandwidth for human communication it has, which yields a lot of the dynamics you mention. Simple things like turn taking and taking awareness of the emotional states of others is largely impossible to do well vs in person using these tools.

This is a well researched area, and embodied communication through VR/AR stands poised to solve many of these deficiencies by allowing the expression of non verbal cues, body language, spatial referencing, etc.


> In 2030, you'll be able to hug anyone on Earth instantly, and that's something to be optimistic about.

This sounds sad and absurd. Hugging someone in person is a much more visceral experience than via AR/VR.


It was metaphorical. In ten years, it will make more sense.


> This will affect nearly every industry in terms of economics, some sectors potentially catastrophically like long distance transportation, but the biggest effect will be degree to which we will become able to empathize with others around the world and create novel, deeply impactful forms of interacting with others in a physical and emotional sense.

Careful. I remember reading similar sentiments about the web in the 90's. Turns out it's true, to a degree, but also unleased all the misinformation we see today. I can imagine something similar in the future where you can't tell what's real, not only news, but also what you see in front of you.


I remember when Second Life was predicted to transform everything from Education to basic human interaction.


It would be great if somebody could link to an analysis of what happened with Second Life.

I remember the early hype, but then read a few interviews with users/losers who were just escaping reality.


I had a coworker that worked on the fraud team at Second Life. He said the engineers ran the place and would work on stuff that was technically interesting to them, rather than working on stuff that users wanted or needed. That probably didn't help.


What happened: nobody needed it.

Too slow (latency is inevitable), too limiting, too hard to do or show anything non-trivial.

You could do interesting things if you put it a lot of time. But few have the time to spend on unclear benefits.


> I can imagine something similar in the future where you can't tell what's real, not only news, but also what you see in front of you.

I'd argue that this is the situation humanity has been in forever, to varying degrees, mainly for the former (the news), but also the latter.

What I hope to see is a greater realization of this, and willingness to consider the degree to which this affects disagreement and polarization (ie: perhaps the situation isn't that our ideological opponents are idiots, but rather the situation is more complex than we perceive).


> In 2030, you'll be able to hug anyone on Earth instantly, and that's something to be optimistic about.

Or instantly punch anyone on earth in the face. Based on how the last decade went, I’m not optimistic.


A coworker and I were discussing this trend as it relates to the physical workspace. We imagined a psuedo-virtual cubical which you can “decorate” in any theme you’d like - jungle, sci-fi, steampunk, tropical beach, etc. - which would be rendered by your coworkers’ AR wearables/implants.

My favorite concept of that discussion was virtual guardians to protect your flow - look, you can interrupt that developer but you’re gonna have to defeat his virtual dragon first.


I, for one, make my physical workspace disappear from my view as much as possible. When I'm at my desk, 99% of what I see is my screen, 1% goes for the occasional look at the tea cup.

No room, or need, for decorations and fluff.


In a sense, you are already virtualizing your workspace in macintosh-chic :)

Perhaps your coworkers would be required to execute a perfect Japanese tea ceremony before interrupting you.


What's the deal with this videogamey bullshit you're proposing? Why would anyone want to participate in this? First thing I'm doing is installing an adblocker/augblocker to byoass this sort of thing.


Dude, it’s to prevent people from interrupting you when you’re trying to work. It would literally be designed to keep shitty coworkers like you away from my desk.


I don't want to annoy people/be annoyed, either: if you want to be left alone, put up a sign. But you can't force people to participate in a virtual fantasy dragon battle- they'll just refuse and look at you weird!


The main usage will be porn.


Steam achievement unlocked: <insert whatever is in your imagination here lol>

Indie games are gonna get a lot weirder... pray for our overloaded dopamine receptors and shriveled serotonin ones. Pornhub will probably roll out their own game store steam clone lol


Most humans on Earth don't want to be hugged by a stranger. Privacy and all that.

And for those few we really care to hug, we most often care enough for to be around anyway.


While its correct that telecommunication will become much important at work, i dont see why people will be stuck in VR outside work. If all work is remote, why would anyone choose to live away from loved ones?


This is a good point — the elimination of physical co presence as a requirement for most forms of interaction other than intimate ones may lead to a world where people physically return to be nearest their kin, and interact with all other institutions they are in remotely (not just work, but for school, entertainment, worship, etc)


What are your thoughts considering that VR was supposed to be the next big thing in the 90s already (at least from what I remember hearing...) and what are your thoughts regarding human chemistry?


The tech track towards full perceptual override in this current generation of VR is fairly well understood and has been on track, though slightly delayed, for approx 7 years now, with the current Oculus Quest device being the best available, and something many of us in the industry felt was almost a dream possibility a few short years ago. So I'm fairly optimistic that the tech will mature to a point where it is effortless to have fully convincing perceptual software proxying all day in 10 years.

I think the bigger unknown questions are around the impact of this technology. It seems hard to understate how much of a change it will be, particularly if there is a path towards young people being able to use it at a young age.


The problem with all these predictions about VR taking over, is they seem to pretend that visual sense is the Holy Grail of VR immersion we've all been waiting for. But that's a far cry from what was imagined in The Lawnmower Man or The Matrix. In reality we have 4 other senses to take care of first.

In the mean time you just have a display that obstructs your view and which can't be tolerated for more than a couple of hours.


Think farther. In ten years incident photons and sound pressures to your senses will likely be possible to fully software modulate. The other senses I agree are harder to speculate about, but on a ten year horizon imagining the existing status quo of form factor and method (headsets) is the wrong way to think about it. Likely these things will be effectively invisible or weightless. At the ten year point I’m imagining these to be lightweight over-eye lenses/goggles or even contact form factor. The analog would be legacy, large headphones vs modern earbuds.


“Full perceptual override”?


The parts of the real world that are still perceived by our senses but ultimately completely hidden/masked by AR.


Incident photons and sound to your perception will be fully proxied by a software/hardware interface.


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