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Top 10 inventions of the past and future


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#1
Maximum7

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What are the best 10 inventions mankind has come up with and what do you predict are the next 10?



#2
Yuli Ban

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  1. Electricity
  2. Fire
  3. Civilization
  4. Wheel
  5. Internet
  6. Steam engine
  7. Organized language
  8. Printing press
  9. Penicillin
  10. Digital computers

 

 

As to what will be the biggest innovations of the future, we can only guess.

 

Without any modicum of hyperbole, #1 is general synthetic intelligence. Once we master strong AGI, it will undoubtedly rank up there with fire, the wheel, and electricity because one of our tools will finally be imbued with enough intelligence to create its own tools. 


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#3
Sciencerocks

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Probably molecule assemblers

Designer babies

Enhanced intelligence

etc



#4
Equinoxium

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Anti aging and true virtual reality will definitely be some of the important ones.



#5
Roh234

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Past:

 

1) Fire

 

2) Wheel

 

3) Printing Press

 

4) Animal Husbandry

 

5) Agriculture

 

6) Gun powder

 

7) Electricity

 

8) Oil and Petroleum derivatives

 

9) Computers

 

10) Factories

 

For the future:

 

1) Nuclear Fusion

 

2) Carbon Nano-tubes

 

3) Whole-body genetic engineering + designer babies

 

4) Nanobots 

 

5) Quantum computing

 

6) Hyper-realistic virtual reality

 

7) 3-D printing

 

8) Artificial Intelligence

 

I can't really predict past this based on what we know by science.


What is true, just, and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy, and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty. -Hans Hermann Hoppe


#6
Mike the average

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For the future, 1. is AI and 2. is neural/brain uploading, by a very long way.

this is basically the handing of the torch from mankind to machine and the unknown.
'Force always attracts men of low morality' - Einstein
'Great spirits always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds' - Einstein

#7
Infinite

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1) Artificial Intelligence will completely turn this world on its head.

 

2) Genetic engineering. We will be taking evolution into our own hands, and changing our physical form at our discretion, something that has never been seen before in the animal kingdom. 

 

3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

 

4) Mass produced fully reusable form of spacecraft. What if everyone could go to space, themselves? A huge boom would take place in space, orders of magnitude greater than the expansion into the wild west. 

 

That's all I have for the moment...


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#8
Jakob

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3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

I always hear this and it never makes any sense. The fuel is limitless, but the energy isn't. Do fusion reactors just spring up out of the ground like weeds? Does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities?



#9
Infinite

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3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

I always hear this and it never makes any sense. The fuel is limitless, but the energy isn't. Do fusion reactors just spring up out of the ground like weeds? Does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities?

 

 

Well the way I looked at it was that a huge amount of power could be granted to each small community or even individuals for large scale projects at their own discretion. During the industrial revolution huge power was given to cities, and look how much we have developed because of that. Now imagine a revolution where this huge energy power is given to the individual. Limitless potential.

 

Also fusion provide an abundance more energy than coal or oil. It can also be generated in much smaller spaces, thus making it so much more accessible. Decentralizing fusion power to the individual will be groundbreaking. 

 

That was my thinking anyway. I don't know what you mean though, "does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities"??


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#10
Maximus

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3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

I always hear this and it never makes any sense. The fuel is limitless, but the energy isn't. Do fusion reactors just spring up out of the ground like weeds? Does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities?

 

 

That was my thinking anyway. I don't know what you mean though, "does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities"??

 

 

I agree with Jakob; fusion reactors will still cost billions to build, and whoever happens to invest that amount of money in building the reactor, isn't exactly gonna be giving away the generated energy for free. It'll be fission's safer and more efficient cousin, and that might bring down some costs, but it definitely won't be anywhere close to free. 


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#11
Yuli Ban

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^ You say that now, but we haven't yet built a fusion reactor. It's possible, even probable, that there's a way of bringing down the cost of fusion generators into the tens of millions range. If not further.

 

http://www.washingto...aper-than-coal/

 

http://spectrum.ieee...eaper-than-coal

 

But, as I said, we've yet to create a single working reactor. It possibly could be cheaper than coal, or it could be so impossibly expensive as to be useless. We have yet to see. But the physics for it being cheap still work out.


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#12
Infinite

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3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

I always hear this and it never makes any sense. The fuel is limitless, but the energy isn't. Do fusion reactors just spring up out of the ground like weeds? Does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities?

 

 

That was my thinking anyway. I don't know what you mean though, "does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities"??

 

 

I agree with Jakob; fusion reactors will still cost billions to build, and whoever happens to invest that amount of money in building the reactor, isn't exactly gonna be giving away the generated energy for free. It'll be fission's safer and more efficient cousin, and that might bring down some costs, but it definitely won't be anywhere close to free. 

 

 

Oh yeah, they will definitely cost billions to build for the near-ish future at least. But I think the real spectacle will happen when we are able to miniaturize it down to the size of say a small sized car and drive the costs down. Obviously this won't be happening soon, but don't you think it will be revolutionary when huge amounts of power become DECENTRALIZED and available for individual use, or the use of small communities of people. If in the far future one looks back in time, I think they will mark any event that permits huge energy consumption for the individual as an extremely important event. 

 

Yes, you could use some other source of energy production, I don't know antimatter or something, but what I was really going for was huge amounts of energy being decentralized and fusion seems most apt for that imo. Lol although we have to actually achieve sustainable fusion first...


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#13
Jakob

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Yeah, there are blueprints for fusion reactors the size of a small truck, but those wouldn't produce as much energy as full-size ones. We're never going to have this sitting on our countertops.

 

And all of these reactors will be limited by how much helium-3 or whatever we can collect.



#14
Roh234

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3) Nuclear Fusion. Near limitless energy, a new industrial revolution almost, lol

I always hear this and it never makes any sense. The fuel is limitless, but the energy isn't. Do fusion reactors just spring up out of the ground like weeds? Does the fuel harvest itself in arbitrarily large quantities?

The reactors are not but the fuel is highly abundant or can be easily be made with Electrolysis on Earth itself. Pretty easily too. A 1.5V battrery worth of energy ( only to get the fuel not to heat it up for fusion)could be used to release 135MJ of energy. Now if each reactor goes through a few kg a day they'd have so much excess power. The 1.5v battery was literally a slightly more than a gram of water.

What is true, just, and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy, and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty. -Hans Hermann Hoppe


#15
Yuli Ban

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Yeah, there are blueprints for fusion reactors the size of a small truck, but those wouldn't produce as much energy as full-size ones.

They don't have to. They just have to produce enough for each localized place so that we can have larger reactors dedicated to other purposes. 
 
You have to realize, "not producing enough energy as full-size ones" is an overstatement. Lockheed's compact design is said to produce upwards of 100 megawatts, and that's to be a prototype (should it work, of course). I've yet to factor that into megawatt hours, but I'll get back to you on that.

 

As we've learned, these compact designs can fit on the back of trucks and (theoretically) pump 100 megawatts of power into a system. That one fusion-truck can power my town of 21,000 people four times over. 

 

You need roughly 10 GW to power a city of one million people. That equals about 100 of these fusion trucks. Let's say we can get the cost for these fusion-trucks down to about $500 grand. Altogether, that equals an investment of $50,000,000 (not including the costs of fuel). $50 million in modern times is such a trivial number that some people worth that much money don't even see themselves as being wealthy.  A medium-sized business with a $50 million market cap is said to be 'functioning' rather than healthy. And in this hypothetical situation, $50 million is all it takes to power a large city. 

 

And note, that's considering a decentralized plan. 

 

To put that into perspective, a coal plant that generates about the same amount of power (10 gigawatts) would cost about $30 billion. And fission power plants might cost around $8 to $10 billion, but in perspective, that's like telling a less-than-minimum wage part-time student worker that it's cheaper to buy a Bugatti instead of a Lamborghini. 

 

Assuming this scales properly, a centralized fusion power plant that generates 10 GW might cost slightly less. Maybe $45 million instead. But let's say you want to spend $10 billion building a new plant for whatever reason. You can get 222x more bang for your buck in that case. That's 2 TW of power from one plant. But let's scale that back, because the costs of fuel are obviously going to go up a bit. So let's put it closer to 1.2 TW. That's still over a terawatt for $10 billion. It's not generating 222x more power than fission— fusion brings out about 3 to 4x more power than fission. If fusion was no less expensive than fission, $10 billion would net us 40 GW at most (which, let's face it, is still an incredibly massive and world-changing improvement). The difference is in how cheaper it is to generate power since getting fuel is so much cheaper. It will likely be an inferior quality to helium-3, which is why I believe we'll need to increase fuel costs for a little while.

 

People saying that fusion is limitless are referring to the fuel. Its fuel is essentially water. This alone will bring costs down tremendously. People behave as if it'll solve all our energy problems because it damn well may. If fission had no side-effects, we'd be heralding it the same way we currently do fusion. The only reason we don't have more nuclear reactors today isn't because they're so expensive— as I've mentioned, they're actually not much more expensive than coal plants, and we have loads of coal plants. It's because of anti-nuclear hysteria. Some of it no doubt funded by the coal/oil industry, but much of it being grassroots reaction thanks to the hippies and the early environmental movement in the days of the Cold War, when nuclear weapons threatened to kill us all any day now.

 

 

 

This is all hypothetical, of course. The $500,000 cost for compact reactors isn't based on anything in particular; it'll likely be 10 to 100x that at first. It's just a thought experiment detailing how different this is and how singular units not producing the same amount of energy as larger centralized units is a moot point.


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#16
Jakob

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What kind of fusion reactor uses regular hydrogen? The only ones I've heard of use deuterium/tritium or helium-3.



#17
Alislaws

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I don't think anyone is arguing that low cost Fusion is close.

 

Stars mostly fuse protium very slowly, which would make it very difficult to fuel a fusion reactor with it. I did find this though:

 

https://www.iter.org/sci/FusionFuels

 

Which at least makes it sound like fuel would be plentiful. It would not be quite the "pour water in one end, get electricity out the other" people are maybe envisioning though. 

 

 

I'm not sure fusion will ever be a cheap distributed power source some people are hoping for, (unless some form of catalysed or "cold fusion" process is one day worked out) the ability to build a safe, clean, powerful power plant, with relatively low cost, plentiful fuel will make fusion everyone's first choice.

This means we can expect to see some serious economies of scale in the production of these plants as they'd be in demand everywhere, even if they are all on similar scales to the large fission nuclear plants today.

 

Even if its not quite "free energy" even just a 10X reduction in electricity cost and no more pollution/FF dependency would be pretty game changing. 


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#18
Roh234

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What kind of fusion reactor uses regular hydrogen? The only ones I've heard of use deuterium/tritium or helium-3.

The Sun. It's a doable reaction that can be mastered.

 

Even with tritium and Deuterium the supply is still very vast. The 1.5v battery was only talking about the deuterium not the entire mass of water. Tritium is limited to the supply of Li-6 which is not exactly too rare either. Once a working reactor is created we can work on further reactors eventually moving to H-1. Physics is not my strong part but the energies make sense. I'm also sure we can use other fusion fuels to obtain temperatures required to fuse them together..

 

It's kind of like how an H-bomb works. It works by chemical explosions that set off, fissile material in the warhead, that set off the fusion material.


What is true, just, and beautiful is not determined by popular vote. The masses everywhere are ignorant, short-sighted, motivated by envy, and easy to fool. Democratic politicians must appeal to these masses in order to be elected. Whoever is the best demagogue will win. Almost by necessity, then, democracy will lead to the perversion of truth, justice and beauty. -Hans Hermann Hoppe


#19
Jakob

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What kind of fusion reactor uses regular hydrogen? The only ones I've heard of use deuterium/tritium or helium-3.

The Sun. It's a doable reaction that can be mastered.

 

Even with tritium and Deuterium the supply is still very vast. The 1.5v battery was only talking about the deuterium not the entire mass of water. Tritium is limited to the supply of Li-6 which is not exactly too rare either. Once a working reactor is created we can work on further reactors eventually moving to H-1. Physics is not my strong part but the energies make sense. I'm also sure we can use other fusion fuels to obtain temperatures required to fuse them together..

 

It's kind of like how an H-bomb works. It works by chemical explosions that set off, fissile material in the warhead, that set off the fusion material.

 

Protium fusion is much harder though.



#20
Alislaws

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This is from a reddit thread discusing this issue:

 

 

For clarification, the most common reaction pathway in the sun is as follows:

1) H + H -> Helium-2
2) Helium-2 -beta plus decay-> Deuterium + positron (very rare) OR H + H (extremely common)
3) (if option 1) D + H -> Helium-3
4) Helium-3 + Helium-3 -> Helium-4 + 2 H
To provide some clarification why this is so slow, and why step 1 and 2 are rate limiting, you have to know what happens when two protons fuse. There are multiple decay pathways, but the desired one (well, the only productive one) is beta-plus, which yields deuterium + a positron. This only happens a small fraction of the time though, because the average time before this decay takes place is far longer than the average time before Helium-2 decays back into 2 protons. The deuterium generating step takes literally astronomical periods of time to occur, and the rest of the chain is more or less instantaneous.
 
EDIT: forgot to link
 
So it doesn't look like protium fusion will be practical, unless we can find out some special way to make a much more fusion friendly environment than the sun. 





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