Graphene's 'Big Mac' creates next generation of chips

Oct 09, 2011
Artistic impression of graphene molecules. Credit: University of Manchester

The world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, has the potential to revolutionize material science.

Demonstrating the remarkable properties of won the two scientists the Nobel Prize for Physics last year and UK's Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has just announced plans for a £50m graphene research hub to be set up.

Now, writing in the journal Nature Physics, the University of Manchester team have for the first time demonstrated how graphene inside electronic circuits will probably look like in the future.

By sandwiching two sheets of graphene with another two-dimensional material, boron nitrate, the team created the graphene 'Big Mac' – a four-layered structure which could be the key to replacing the silicon chip in computers.

Because there are two layers of graphene completed surrounded by the boron nitrate, this has allowed the researchers for the first time to observe how graphene behaves when unaffected by the environment.

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko, the leading author on the paper, said: "Creating the multilayer structure has allowed us to isolate graphene from negative influence of the environment and control graphene's electronic properties in a way it was impossible before.

"So far people have never seen graphene as an insulator unless it has been purposefully damaged, but here high-quality graphene becomes an insulator for the first time."

The two layers of boron nitrate are used not only to separate two graphene layers but also to see how graphene reacts when it is completely encapsulated by another material.

Professor Geim said: "We are constantly looking at new ways of demonstrating and improving the remarkable properties of graphene."

"Leaving the new physics we report aside, technologically important is our demonstration that graphene encapsulated within boron nitride offers the best and most advanced platform for future graphene electronics. It solves several nasty issues about graphene's stability and quality that were hanging for long time as dark clouds over the future road for graphene electronics.

We did this on a small scale but the experience shows that everything with graphene can be scaled up."

"It could be only a matter of several months before we have encapsulated graphene transistors with characteristics better than previously demonstrated."

Graphene is a novel two-dimensional material which can be seen as a monolayer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice.

Its remarkable properties could lead to bendy, touch screen phones and computers, lighter aircraft, wallpaper-thin HD TV sets and superfast internet connections, to name but a few.

Explore further: Materials for the next generation of electronics and photovoltaics

More information: “Tunable metal–insulator transition in double-layer graphene heterostructures”

Related Stories

Seeing an atomic thickness

May 19, 2011

Scientists from NPL, in collaboration with Linkoping University, Sweden, have shown that regions of graphene of different thickness can be easily identified in ambient conditions using Electrostatic Force ...

Recommended for you

Research unlocks potential of super-compound

2 hours ago

Researchers at The University of Western Australia's have discovered that nano-sized fragments of graphene - sheets of pure carbon - can speed up the rate of chemical reactions.

User comments : 44

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nanobanano
1 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2011
Its remarkable properties could lead to bendy, touch screen phones and computers, lighter aircraft, wallpaper-thin HD TV sets and superfast internet connections, to name but a few.


Yeah, but when do we get Terminators and Transformers? With like Graphene-Titanium composite endoskeletons?

Might not be wise to make those, but when did wisdom ever get in mankind's way?

At some point, some intelligent fool is going to make something dangerously smart: a mere function or a "weak" general intelligence smart enough to "call" expert machines as appropriate could be dangerous.

Look how "smart" a forum script is, for example.

Who here has ever beaten a modern Chess engine on max difficulty level?

I beat Chess Titans on level 8 one time. Never beat level 9 or 10, but I know that it even inserts random mistakes for the computer even on level 10 so that it will be "really hard, but beatable".
Nanobanano
3.6 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2011
The robotic economy will clearly replace the majority of human beings, both in blue collar and white collar work places.

China is already taking massive steps for maximum automation in manufacturing.

Eventually, they'll even replace maintenance techs with robots.

George Jetson won't even have a "push the button" job.

They will replace human labor with some "Johnny 5" clones, which we are approaching the ability to make something like that now...

You could probably replace half the workers in a plastics manufacturing facility with just such semi-human robots, because the main things humans do is just un-jam the palletizer and conveyor belts, and double-check product rejects and either put it back on the line, or recycle it...wow, a robot could do that nicely.

Semi-human robots could replace most humans in the auto industry as well, even after all the automation that already exists. Just take the human out and replace with "Johnny 5" right on the same assembly line....
Nanobanano
2.9 / 5 (7) Oct 09, 2011
You think 9 percent unemployment is bad?

Try 50 percent unemployment.

Try almost 90 percent unemployment.

Not just in America, but world wide, except maybe in 3rd world countries were they aren't high tech yet.
gareth_Ph
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2011
Hopefully we get to 100% unemployment, robots can do everything and us humans can just sit back and watch the ball game...
nizzim
5 / 5 (4) Oct 09, 2011
How did graphene go to robot revolution takeover?
Nanobanano
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 09, 2011
How did graphene go to robot revolution takeover?


It doesn't even take a robot revolution.

When all the low skill and entry level human jobs are replaced by robots, the corporations who own the robots or who produce the robots will have both the product markets and the labor markets cornered.

There will be no "income" for you to sit around watching football.

The people who own the robotic labor monopolies will control everything, and do you think they are going to PAY you anything?

People will be OBSOLETE and discarded like a piece of garbage.

Humans will be reduced to a caste system, where if you are lucky enough to own, or be born into a family who owns a significant part of these companies, you will be ok.

But everyone else will be reduced to poverty.

The republicans and tea party already complain about social programs as iit is.

What do you think happens when robots replace everyone?

Ron Paul will say, "that's freedom!" For him maybe,not average
eachus
5 / 5 (8) Oct 09, 2011
You think 9 percent unemployment is bad?
Try 50 percent unemployment.
Try almost 90 percent unemployment.

Not just in America, but world wide, except maybe in 3rd world countries were they aren't high tech yet.


If you have the math to follow modern Economics, you would understand that the only way to get to high levels of unemployment is to have a government that destroys wealth.

In a country where net wealth creation exceeds consumption, (And the US has traditionally been such a country.) Wealth creation directly leads to job creation. Over half of Americans have jobs that didn't exist 50 years ago. In many cases not only didn't the job exist, but people would have thought you were crazy to suggest that anyone could make money that way. (Computer programming is old hat today, the latest is protein folding or graphene transistor design. ;-)
Nanobanano
1.4 / 5 (9) Oct 09, 2011
You gotta be rich enough or lucky enough to own some robots.

They aren't going to GIVE you a robot. LOL,silly, that's not how this will work.

the monopolies who make the labor robots probably wont' even sell them. They'll LEASE them to companies for cheap enough to replace human labor, and normal folks will be SOL, with zero income.

Idealism would be everyone has a pet robot that works for them.

Unfortunately, that is not reality.

Reality is people like Ron Paul who are all about big business, and "tough shit if you're down on your luck. That's freedom. You should have had better luck..."

These people will own everything and you won't get to own your pet robot. they'll replace you. Normal people are going to be expendable: like those worker ants that don't get any sex, and when they die they aren't even missed. That's what normal people will be among humans. Less, because when robots do all the work, they won't even have a use for you. They'll get rid of you.
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 09, 2011
If you have the math to follow modern Economics, you would understand that the only way to get to high levels of unemployment is to have a government that destroys wealth.


Do you understand that automation replaces an exponential number of jobs?

Foxconn just announced they were firing 500,000 employees due to the fact they are going to have robots making robots that make the chips sort of thing going in the next few years.

If they had 1,000 engineers and 10,000 maintenance techs to buid, design, and service the new robots, that would leave 489,000 net jobs lost.

Do you get that?

Multiply that sort of thinking across the entire jobs market when everyone else catches on.

Because regardless of what some economist tells you, it does NOT make 500,000 new jobs in engineering or manufacturing when you replace 500k workers with robots.

It makes a few engineering jobs and a few maintenance jobs. The robots are made by other robots.
Deadbolt
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2011
If robots replaced everyone at everything there would be no need to work, since we would essentially become a (robot) slave economy.

And no, they won't rise up, because they won't be that smart (or have the drive for that, anyway). Just smart enough to do all the food, manufacturing, and maintenance tasks (including the healthy bots fixing the ones that have broken by following the blueprints and replacing the parts).

Humans would then have no need for jobs or money, because machines would be the ones doing all the jobs we need to do, and then everything would become essentially free. We'd become a resourced based economy, rather than a financial one.

Yes, getting to that stage could be difficult, because people can be replaced in an economy where they still need work, but in the long run it will be a good thing.

Oh, and Graphene burgers are pretty cool too.
gareth_Ph
3 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2011
Right on, Deadbolt - Automation of repetitive tasks is something to be hoped for, not feared.
jamesrm
4 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2011
"How did graphene go to robot revolution takeover?"

Paranoia

What will happen though is the mass uploading of Human consciousness to the cloud, but only if Arch-Angle of iHeaven (Steve left us to prepare the way) lets you in.

The Graphene-nanobots will run the servers that contain our digital analogues, its going to be just like posting on this forum, but hopefully omatumr and his ilk will be "left far behind".
pauljpease
4.3 / 5 (6) Oct 09, 2011
I'm surprised with all this discussion of robots taking over human jobs no one has updated their thinking from the 1980's. You're all talking about manufacturing jobs, or "automation of repetitive tasks". That is so 1980. What we're seeing now is that computers/software are starting to take over THINKING jobs, not just manual labor jobs. Did any of you see Watson trounce those dim-witted humans on jeopardy? Did you know that they are now training Watson to take over the job of doctors, and probably lawyers soon as well. Computer programs already do most of the financial trading and business. See the NY Times article about how they're trying to figure out how to regulate automated high-speed trading. It won't just be manual labor jobs that are taken over by machines, in a decade or two at most, even the smartest human will be a moron compared to artificial intelligence. Heck, they've already made artificial scientists that can perform their own experiments...
gareth_Ph
2.3 / 5 (3) Oct 09, 2011
Robots and computer programs have no creativity - they can only process instructions, not initiate thought. The most powerful supercomputers today still struggle to emulate the brain of an earthworm. There's no immediate danger of robot revolution. There's no such thing as a robot scientist that autonomously performs experiments; unless it's on a repetitive loop a robot requires every action to be programmed by a human.
droid001
3.5 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2011
By around 2015, retail stores will begin using robotic systems that specialize in various tasks such as cleaning (floors, parking lots, etc.,) stocking shelves and managing inventory, helping customers (via vision and voice recognition systems,) returning shopping carts, and of course automating checkout lines.
The first completely automated retail stores will become a reality around 2020. All of the large retail chains will start to adopt these various forms of robotic automation at roughly the same time, dumping upwards of 10 million workers in just a few years.
Sebastien_Gagnon
4 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2011

In a country where net wealth creation exceeds consumption, (And the US has traditionally been such a country.) Wealth creation directly leads to job creation. Over half of Americans have jobs that didn't exist 50 years ago. In many cases not only didn't the job exist, but people would have thought you were crazy to suggest that anyone could make money that way. (Computer programming is old hat today, the latest is protein folding or graphene transistor design. ;-)


Totally true, happy to see there is as much wise ppl that there are trolls out there. Plus would anyone agree this is a good thing? Are you not feeling that by being human and being capable of so much more than working like a robot you would celebrate such developments for it is creating much more complex and meaningful jobs and needs?
gollygosh
not rated yet Oct 09, 2011
I read a free online ebook all to do with the comments in this thread - called "heaven or hell it's your choice" - can not put in links so use a search engine. Brilliant and insightful book and it is endorsed by both the top A.I. scientist in the world and one of the worlds best hackers.
AWT
5 / 5 (1) Oct 09, 2011
two layers of boron nitrate are used
boron nitrate should be boron nitride apparently
Pete1983
4 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2011
Robots and computer programs have no creativity - they can only process instructions, not initiate thought. The most powerful supercomputers today still struggle to emulate the brain of an earthworm. There's no immediate danger of robot revolution. There's no such thing as a robot scientist that autonomously performs experiments; unless it's on a repetitive loop a robot requires every action to be programmed by a human.


I think this is a very limited view. Computers are already incredibly "smart" just within very limited areas. Every day the scope of computer intelligence widens just a little bit more, and I think it's only a matter of time before we're left in the dust.

Although the biggest problem in all of this is that the current system doesn't allow for technological unemployment. Our current economic setup is somewhat eugenical, in that if you can't work, you're really supposed to die and let everyone else get one with it. 50% unemployment could mean a lot of deaths!
gareth_Ph
5 / 5 (2) Oct 09, 2011
Over the past 200 years or so machines have been steadily replacing physical labour in a wide variety of fields. The result? Steadily increasing productivity and employment. Many jobs simply don't exist anymore due to machinery and yet we still manage to find jobs.

If this robots-sending-us-to-the-poorhouse logic is correct then third-world countries that are mostly bereft of modern technologies should be surging ahead in leaps and bounds, with full employment (in manual labour) while wealthy countries degenerate into a stagnant morass of idle humans and rusting robots. I'm not booking my ticket to Yemen just yet.
GaryB
4 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2011
First: You doom and gloomists are getting ahead of yourselves. Robots can't even yet pick their noses ... they don't even have noses for the most part. It's going to be awhile before they can even be safe and sane Walmart greeters.

Second: These things tend to work themselves out. Robot economies will just die if people don't have the means to buy things. Economies are built on the wants and needs of humans and we're not even at Ver. 0.000001 of self actualizing machines, so that wants will come from humans for the far foreseeable future. By the time machines become sentient, humanity will have merged with them.

These paranoid thoughts sound like left wing fears ... it's the right wing that should be afraid. Robots are more likely to bring about idealized socialism than dystopian death to the lower class tea party politics.
PieRSquare
5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2011
I'm not going to be afraid of a robot takeover until they manage to invent a working spam filter algorithm for these forums.
MediocreSmoke
not rated yet Oct 10, 2011
Robots and computer programs have no creativity - they can only process instructions, not initiate thought. The most powerful supercomputers today still struggle to emulate the brain of an earthworm. There's no immediate danger of robot revolution. There's no such thing as a robot scientist that autonomously performs experiments; unless it's on a repetitive loop a robot requires every action to be programmed by a human.


I don't think you read articles from this site very often. They've made a hive of small robots that problem solve by sharing information, I think they used mouse brain tissue for that.
gareth_Ph
not rated yet Oct 10, 2011
Sharing information is not problem solving, and brain tissue is not a computer. I strongly doubt any robot/cyborgs currently exist with implanted biological brain tissue. But I'd love to be shown otherwise because that would be most righteous, indeed
Thex1138
not rated yet Oct 10, 2011
John Connor: I need a minute here. You're telling me that this thing can imitate anything it touches?
The Terminator: Anything it samples by physical contact.
John Connor: Get real, like it could disguise itself as a pack of cigarettes?
The Terminator: No, only an object of equal size.
John Connor: Why doesnt it become a bomb or something to get me?
The Terminator: It cant form complex machines, guns and explosives have chemicals, moving parts, it doesn't work that way, but it can form solid metal shapes.
John Connor: Like what?
The Terminator: Knives and stabbing weapons.
Pkunk_
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2011
Do you understand that automation replaces an exponential number of jobs?


So what is your solution ?
Ban all research and scientific advancement so that we stagnate in our job rich paradise without computers and robots?
Where things like the credit card , Internet and other things we take for granted today are no longer possible since everything including Banking and communications are done manually ?

About 20 years back I remember how bank staff were against any form of computerization and they lost the debate. The subsequent boom in Banking has been fueled by the ease of setting up branches through computerization and use of ATM's.

If you don't like technology you are always free to take the highway and go hippy.
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2011
Over the past 200 years or so machines have been steadily replacing physical labour in a wide variety of fields...

If this robots-sending-us-to-the-poorhouse logic is correct then third-world countries...should be surging ahead in leaps and bounds, with full employment.


You're being ridiculous, and you mis-understand the nature of the problem.

In the past technologies were invented which replaced manual labor, but that made room for more people to work in OTHER sectors that did not exist at all: more doctors and lawyers mostly.

In modern times, the technology replaces everyone from top to bottom.

Chess engines are better at chess than the person who wrote the program, because the computer has perfect memory and can try all possibilities and rank them.

It doesn't need what YOU call "intelligence" because it can try all possibilities and solve a problem by brute force, and still do it faster than you and more accurately, every time...
Nanobanano
1 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2011
So what is your solution ?
Ban all research and scientific advancement so that we stagnate in our job rich paradise without computers and robots?


What you do not understand is robots are not the problem.

Even if the robots never rebelled, you think the aristocracy that owns all the PATENTS to this technology is going to let NORMAL people benefit from this?

Just look at modern conservatism and Tea Party in the U.S. today.

Pick any one of 50 republican politicians, and imagine them as a CEO of the company that has a monopoly on the labor robots in the future.

You think they are going to "share the wealth"?

I mean, how naive are you guy?

The technology per se is not the problem.

The problem is human nature and aristocracy will make the general population into an Orwellian state. Which we are already there, but when unemployment is 50 to 90 percent, it will be much worse. You will be expendable. The pigs will ship your ass to the glue factory.
Nanobanano
2.3 / 5 (6) Oct 10, 2011
The typical republican party's response to unemployment in the U.S.?

Paraphrase:
Tough luck. You should have tried harder, you lazy good for nothing.

They want to end unemployment benefits and social security (even though you pay for that all your life, and yes I know it needs fixing badly,) but they want to end it outright, and fault people for being on it.

Do you think the "haves" are going to share what they have in the future any more so than now?

Don't you realize htat the top few percent already own almost everything now?

Whenever unemployment gets that high due to automation, do you think they're going to share what they have?

Absolutely not.

I mean, absolutely nothing in modern history supports the notion that the corporations or CEOs and other wealthy people would do that.

They used to hire thugs to kill people who asked for a raise as recently as the 1920's and 30's. If not for minimum wage laws and things like that, it would still be that way.
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2011
But you say new jobs will replace the old ones.

Really?

What jobs?

What should somebody be going to school to learn now?

around 18 percent of COMPUTER SCIENCE majors are unemployed right now, because they aren't needed, because all of the basic and even advanced stuff has already been done, and about all people ever do is add one stray feature or add-on to something now.

Where do you make ~489,000 jobs to replace FoxConn's labor market?

What will that be so that anybody who needs a job can know what they need to be in school to learn to do it?

Nobody has a damn clue what to do with themselves, because "some college" or even a college degree is useless. They graduate college, even 2 year and 4 year universities, and cannot get a job, because the degree is obsolete.

The "Invisible Hand" mentality to economics simply does not work. We know it does not work, but we still do it, and that's why markets collapse and one goes bankrupt while another has a monopoly.
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2011
But again, where do you make the 14 million jobs Americans need?

What will they be making?

I mean, we already have more than enough computers and phones and cars and pretty much everything else.

Just normal people can't get money to buy any of it anyway, because labor isn't necessary any more, so they don't have a job. No job, no money. No money, no rent, no food, no bling, no babes, nothing really.

But hey, you know we are all going to have "magic jobs" that exist just because people want them to, I guess, since you won't need humans to do labor or most thinking for that matter.

What will humans be making?

Let's say they invent a new nanotechnology. Do you beleive there will be 500k jobs in any new nanotech?

Wrong.

They will mass produce this stuff, so again, a few thousand engineers and maintenance techs will make everything the entire world will need. Ok, so that's 10k to 20k jobs in nano tech.

We still need 470k jobs to replace foxconn alone...
Nanobanano
2.7 / 5 (7) Oct 10, 2011
You can create an entire new tech sector, and entire new mega-corporations, and STILL will not make 500k jobs, especially not if a forward thinking CEO and board plans for maximum automation to begin with. Just see Amazon, a place that is almost entirely machines, with a few humans to pick up stuff the robots can't do yet. They will be able to replace their human "pickers" shortly, if they haven't already since last time I was refreshed on it.

Let's see, we need 14 million jobs in America alone, not counting Europe and Middle East.

Let's see, that's 140 microsofts worth of jobs.

That's 8 Wal Marts worth of jobs.

Just for the U.S. alone.

But we don't need more retailers. LOL. We have more than enough now, and they don't even "compete" anyway, they just set their price and everyone pays it...

Google has only 26,000 employees.

So 14 million jobs is equivalent to 560 Googles.

Catching on yet?
Nanobanano
1.8 / 5 (5) Oct 10, 2011
Sharing information is not problem solving, and brain tissue is not a computer. I strongly doubt any robot/cyborgs currently exist with implanted biological brain tissue. But I'd love to be shown otherwise because that would be most righteous, indeed


Actually, that's been done several years ago.

I'm surprised any regular on this site wouldn't know about it.

Some robotics scientists took neurons from a rat brain and trained them to control a "robotic mouse" body in a room using both sensory and motor neurons with sensory feedback.

The culture of neurons showed evidence of "learning" basic concepts of it's environment, such as collision.

http://www.slashg...1413902/

Now imagine a hybrid neural enterface with a conventional computer and THAT.

Replace YOU on the assembly line and elsewhere too.

IBM are working on massive parallele systems mimicking artificial neural nets now.
icedogma
3.7 / 5 (3) Oct 10, 2011
@Nanobanano: As an avid reader of all things technological and scientific, I agree with the main aspect of your argument. Yes, there is strong indication that most repetitive and non-creative jobs are getting eliminated. I am grateful to you for providing some actual numbers.

I also agree with Pete1983's referral to this process as eugenic. But let's face it: progressives are hypocrites, too - firstly, with their own selves. How can one believe in evolution in the past and yet deny that evolution is taking place right now? What I mean is that the current replacement of humans with technology means that we need much less humans to have a functioning economy.

(continued below...)
icedogma
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2011
One would hope that natural evolution into socialism-via-capitalism as was described by economist Joseph Schumpeter and hinted at by GaryB of this forum will be made possible. *Alas* there is one tiny problem that neither he nor none of you seem to be taking into account. The population of the world, especially in low-IQ, violent/despotic countries keeps increasing. Even in the U.S. it is the low-IQ segments of population that have TFR (total fertility rate) above 2.2 - i.e. higher than replacement level.

Actual numbers for the U.S. the TFR for Whites is 1.8, while it's almost 3.0 for Hispanics. Granted, the are plenty of smart people and morons on both sides. We, however, need only to look on the average IQ difference. I'm not going to be delving into it too much, but you should check out Dr. Richard Lynn's work on this subject.

(continued below...)
icedogma
3 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2011
My question is: taking into account such huge differences in culture and IQ, do you think that the socialist model is _sustainable_? Bear in mind, with robots or without them, the resources of this planet are finite (even if we switch of fusion power). I'm not even touching the question of what one will be doing in a world modeled after "The Marching Morons"/"Idiocracy".

So, does the solution consist of "spreading wealth around," forcing extraction of ever more resources to feed an ever growing population of ever-diminishing IQ and morals, or is the laissez-faire capitalist model the natural solution - at least, until the world population stabilizes and matures enough to evolve into a sustainable socialism?

If you are so keen to move into socialism, I'm afraid, further societal segregation and violence leading to high mortality rate may get to be the alternative solution.
icedogma
5 / 5 (1) Oct 10, 2011
Oh, let me post some sources for the worrying numbers:

The article about TFRs of U.S. working professionals vs the poor was originally posted by U.K.'s Daily Mail, but was removed (censored):
http://www.amren....ne_a.php

TFR's in the U.S., by race:

http://blogs.disc...rtility/
gwrede
5 / 5 (2) Oct 10, 2011
Seems the world of Star Trek will stay unreachable until we get rid of money.
Standing Bear
1 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2011
All this talk about economics is depressing as given the apathy and disunity among the proletarian classes we are all heading for slavery of one form or another. The alternative is a kind of civil war akin to the skynet of the "Terminator" movies except the big business cartels will be controlling the robots. Given that those robots cannot yet self replicate, labor will be required for their construction in nazi like slave factories......slowly. The end result will be a national 'Somalia' scenario. The losing 'financiers' will eventually, be driven out, leaving an America not worth having....and with a greatly reduced population with dropouts in critical skills. We will then find the real value of 'free trade', as it is 'free trade' at the root of our problems.
Back on topic..Graphene could maybe be of use for the space elevator tether if mass produced and 'reformed' into long strands.
MarkyMark
not rated yet Oct 11, 2011
Seems the world of Star Trek will stay unreachable until we get rid of money.

And have a third world nuclear war creating what historians will call the post war horror. Then some drunk living in a mssile silo will cob together a spaceship capable of warp speed from spare parts like some future episode of Junkyard Wars.
Pete1983
5 / 5 (1) Oct 11, 2011
@icedogma - Thank you for your thoughts. You've clearly thought about this in depth, and your knowledge of the subject is significantly better than you usually see on here (most people can't get past the idea that capitalism isn't the greatest system ever created... ever.)

As to the question you posed at the end of your comments - I think most of the world will end up in a highly socialised system, however it will take a few decades to get there. Fast forward occupy wall st say 20 years, and you'll have violent demonstrations, not the peaceful ones we see now. It will require a lot of deaths to get through this period of time, but I don't think people will allow the alternative (capitalism) to continue, purely due to the lack of work that will be available to go around. Once we hit say 25% unemployment, and it's a 25% that will never be employed again, THEN we'll have our war against money.

Forget the machines taking over, it's the enlightenment of humanity that wiil be the most fun.
icedogma
not rated yet Oct 20, 2011
@Pete1983: I'm not sure that the rosy predictions of eager futurists, socialists, and transhumanists like you and Brain Marshall will come to fruition as soon as they hope and claim.

One of the reasons for it is the diminishing EROI (energy return on investment) of major fuel sources. This is related to the peak oil argument, but it goes even further. In essence, slowly but surely the quality (roughly speaking, energy invested vs. energy returned) of fuels is decreasing. This, by the way, is very possibly one of the reasons of the current prolonged recession and lack of recovery. Here is a link:
http://www.scienc...3617.htm

Where do we go from that? Robotic revolution requires a major increase in fuel consumption. In fact, we owe our progress, including our lack of need in slave labor to the steady and sure increase in energy. Any stumbling stones in this process - and we can forget not only about our dreams about robotic servants

(continued below...
icedogma
not rated yet Oct 20, 2011
...Any stumbling stones in this process - and we can forget not only about our dreams about robotic servants, but also start worrying about further decrease in quality of life.

So, intelligent robots serving humanity will need to wait. However, that doesn't mean that automation of manufacturing and further consolidation of industries will cease. Such processes improve efficiency, including energy, and therefore it will continue.

The real cost of energy expansion comes from, again, personal luxuries such as personal appliances, individual homes/mansions in suburbia and exurbia, the cost of maintaining extensive infrastructure to get to/from there, including shipping goods and providing amenities like water, heat, and electricity.

What's going to be happening is that, yes, under the veneer of increased free/cheap baseline services (including food and shelter), American society will increasingly follow the European model of high-rise apartment buildings and city dwelling).(continued...
icedogma
not rated yet Oct 20, 2011
We're talking about true urbanization. Perhaps, among all the cities in the U.S., NYC is the closest that comes to modeling the situation.

Pending a revolution in energy production, that's the scenario I see taking place within the next three to five decades. The enlightenment of humanity will have to wait, although there probably will be some kind of reform to guarantee minimum standard of living for citizens who join the hyper-urbanization program. We're probably going to see an increase in gated communities.

When it comes to the _whole_ of humanity, I'm much more skeptical. We still see societies that exist in the same way that European ones existed during the Malthusian era: i.e. maximize individual fertility to a point of hitting resource constraints, have war to decimate numbers, repeat the cycle again. I'm remaining skeptical until I see a statistics showing TFRs of around 2.

For more info and data on this topic, see Gregory Clark's "Farewell to Alms." A truly seminal work.