Phil Bowermaster writes:
In a recent essay in the Globe and Mail, futurist Peter de Jager writes about the unexpected problems that result from abundance:
What do traffic jams, obesity and spam have in common?
They are all problems caused by abundance in a world more attuned to scarcity. By achieving the goal of abundance, technology renders the natural checks and balances of scarcity obsolete.
So we're fat because our bodies were designed to alternate between scarcity and abundance, and we never give them the scarcity side of the equation. All the dieting that goes on is really just an attempt to reintroduce scarcity. We have traffic jams, de Jager claims, because we have an abundance of speed, which kills the constraint of distance. (Personally, I'd be more inclined to say that traffic jams result from the combination of an abundance of cars and a scarcity of lanes.) We have spam because spammers can send out e-mail in vast quantities justified, from their perspective, by even a minuscule return.
Any technology which creates abundance poses problems for any process which existed to benefit from scarcity.
Let's take one of our favorite emerging technologies, life extension, and see how it might affect the interplay between scarcity and abundance. Continued