Wednesday, October 14, 2015

What would HAL think of politics?

Both the leftist New York Times and the gradually right trending Washington Post both thought Hillary dominated the Democratic debate. I'd really like to know their scoring methods because it was very clear to me that Bernie Sanders and even Webb (though he seemed awfully out of place) ran rings around her.

Maybe they were going by the rapturous applause she received in answering how her presidency would differ from Obama's:

Anderson Cooper's priceless follow up: "Is there any policy difference?"

To be fair, she was Obama's Secretary of State for a number of years and was largely uncritical of the administration during that time so highlighting major policy differences would be inappropriate.

Anyway I was thinking about Freeman Dyson's likening of the pre-WWI early 20th century our current early 21st century. Does he believe there will be another world war? Total war seems inconceivable among nuclear armed nations. Only the Swiss, and maybe the Finns are prepared for that. It's a little ironic that those nations are probably among the least likely to need the huge blast shelters they've built. Makes a bit more sense for the Israelis and Singaporeans though.

A popular theme among historians is that a resurgent China is going to vie with the US for hegemony or whatever. Doubtful. China's population is rapidly aging; there aren't enough children to both support the elders and sacrifice to war. Maybe there'll be a showdown in the Spratly's. The US might lose a carrier group (and despite official policy to the contrary, wouldn't go nuclear in response) but China is literally surrounded by wary rivals. Russia, India, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, the Koreas, Taiwan, and Australia all have China as a top national defense priority. When China increases its military, so do its nervous neighbors. When the US increases its military, there isn't any incentive for Canada and Mexico to do the same.

Hans Rosling believes that if China and India can avoid going to war, they will reach parity with the US in terms of GDP per capita on the 27th of July 2048.* Of course if Ray Kurzweil's prediction comes true, i.e., that the Singularity will occur in 2045, all bets are off.


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