Did You Know? The future is better than you think!

Sources and justification for the claims made in Did You Know? The future is better than you think!:

In 1900 US life expectancy at birth was 48

From a table in one of Ray Kurzweils power-point presentations. He´s a trustable guy with stats like these, and this is fairly consistent with all the simular estimates I´ve read on life expectancy. After googeling “life expectancy at birth 1900 US” I found several sites confirming the number, including this: http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0005140.html/. Notice that this is life expectancy at birth. Due to high mortality of young and newborn children this number does not represent the age you would expect to reach if you already had gotten past this stage, but it does say something about the standards of living back then compared to now.

In 1800 Europe and US it was 37

Same as above.

In 1400 Europe it was roughly 30

Same as above.

Around 1950 the price of computing was cut in half every two years

From Ray Kurzweil. Here is an old version of one of his graphs that show the same thing (with a table, etc): http://www.singularity.com/charts/page67.html. Here is a newer version of this graph (bit without the table): http://howisearth.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/eksponensiell-forbedring-av-datamaskiner-i-108-ar-moores-lov-utvidet-fc3b8r-og-etter-silisium.png.

Now the price is cut in half every 11 months

Same as above.

Few decades ago mobile phones were for rich people only

Common knowledge.

In 2011 more than half of Indians had access to mobile phones


And soon almost all indians will have one.

The wireless revolution is accountable for roughly half of the increased economic growth Africa

This is estimated by African Infrastructure Country Diagnostic.

“About half of Africa’s improved growth performance in the early 2000s was attributable to this wireless revolution: one extra percentage point of growth per person per year.”

I didn´t specify in the video that this was for the early 2000s, but there is no reason to assume (as far as I know) that this estimate would be any lower for the growth Africa has had more recently.

The human genome project finished a working draft of the human genome in 2000

Google it or check Wikipedia.

The human genome project cost  3 billion dollars

Same as above,

Now, in 2012, you can now sequence your genome for less than $1000











The rich are getting richer…


But with the recent, and perhaps future, economic turmoil, it has to be said that this upward-pointing graph is bumpy.

…while the poor are getting richer

Look up the economic growth the continent Africa, and the great majority of its countries, has had in recent years. It´s common knowledge that the economies in most of Asia are growing. And look at the next fact.

Between 1990 and 2004 the amount of people living in extreme poverty was reduced by 270 million

Look here for stats on extreme poverty/absolute poverty: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty#Absolute_poverty

The average Botswanan earns more than the average Finn did in 1955

The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley

I´m sure finding the numbers this statement is based on wouldn´t be impossible either. One would have to look for PPP GDP per capita.

Infant mortality is now lower today in Nepal than it was in Italy in 1951

Same as above

The average Mexican now lives longer than the average Briton did in 1955

I looked this up on WolframAlpha, as well as several tables that I found online.

38 % fewer children under five lost their lives in 2010 than in 1990

Look here to find facts on child mortality (children being kids under five): http://www.globalissues.org/article/715/today-21000-children-died-around-the-world

How much work on the average wage is needed to earn one hour of reading light?

1759 BC: More than fifty hours of work (sesame oil lamp)

1800: Over six hours (tallow candle)

1880: 15 minutes (kerosene lamp)

1950: 8 seconds (conventional filament lamp)

Today: Half a second

Matt Ridley did these estimates and write about them in The Rational Optimist.

One and a half hour of sunlight provides Earth with as much energy as humanity spends in a year

The cost of energy from solar panels in 2009 was less than a thirteenth of what it was in 1980

Several studies predict that electricity from solar panels will be cheaper than electricity from fossil fuels before 2020

I have written about all of this here: http://howisearth.wordpress.com/2010/02/03/solar-energy-renewable-energy/

Dirty water that flows through Lifestraw filters becomes as clean as tap water

If this doesn´t convince you then I don´t know what will: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ycEnu9p1GPE

Currently this technology can provide a family of four with drinking water for three years for $25


The research on Vertical Farms is described in detail in “The Vertical Farm” by Dr. Dickson Despommier

Google it :)

These farms would not need pesticides, could work all year, and would use several smart techniques to boost productivity

Same as above.

It is estimated that a 30 story building could feed 50 000 people using the proposed techniques

Same as above.

It´s an estimate, obviously.

If you are sceptical about vertical farms, read more about them. This video could be a good start: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EvY1qLzwRg

It is said that nanotechnology will bring around a second industrial revolution

No joke.

A group of top scientists has published “Productive Nanosystems – A Technology Roadmap”

Look it up

This publication provides a step-by-step guide for how we can get from where we are today to the point where we can make products molecule by molecule

This would enable us to turn materials now considered worthless…

…into everything we need…

…at almost no cost

For more about this you could start with these two videos:



According to Eric Drexler, by many considered the father of nanotechnology, this technology would also make it cheap and practical to pull CO2 back from the atmosphere…

…enabling to reduce CO2-levels to pre-industrial levels within a short amount of time

He has his own blog: http://metamodern.com/2009/01/01/greenhouse-gases-and-advanced-nanotechnology/

Nanotechnology will also give us extremely small robots that can cure our bodies from within,

super-cheap and super-efficient batteries and solar cells…

Uncontroversial claims.

…and ketchup-bottles that lets all the ketchup come out


In 2011 IBMs computer Watson won against the best human players in Jeopardy

Common knowledge.

The $10 million Tricorder X PRIZE will be awarded for creating a mobile device that can diagnose patients as well as or better than a panel of doctors


Jeff Hawkins thinks HTM, his machine-learning model based on the neocortex, once will be as important as today’s non-brain-like software


Any person with Google connection has better access to information than the US president did 20 years ago

Just think about it.

Ebay was started from home

Facebook and Dell were started from dorm rooms

Apple was started in a garage

So was Microsoft

…and Amazon

…and Google

Just google it ;)

These people were young at the dawn of the revolution in personal computing…

…and the world wide web

We are now at the dawn of the revolutions in…


…3D printing…



…artificial intelligence…

All these are are things I encourage you to look up. You will find much by looking up the theories of Ray Kurzweil (his books, his talks, etc).

We are a young species…

…only just beginning to discover our true potential…

…surrounded by gazillions upon gazillions of yet uninhabited planets…

…in a universe full of yet unknown possibilities

I speak about this in another video of mine: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUOB4tdFDYM

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