Humans and technology go hand in hand. The discovery of fire has affected the history of mankind drastically. Not only has it allowed humans to exercise more control over their living environment, it also functioned as a catalyst in the development of humanity.
Inventions such as the eyeglass and the printing press allowed for significant productivity increases. The development of vaccines and antibiotics enabled humans to extend their productive lives significantly from the 18th century onwards. Electricity, the invention of plastic, the steam engine and many more machines and robots have drastically improved efficiency and productivity in the past few centuries.
Our new briefing looks at likely scientific developments the world will face in the future, and discusses the impact these could have on our societies. Technology offers us considerable advantages, but it also has the capacity to cause negative impacts. Whilst robotics may help humans in a wide range of areas, and new technologies could lead to a lower demand for certain resources, innovation could also allow humans to exploit the earth more efficiently or indirectly result in increased unemployment.
This briefing argues that a future in which technological advancements are utilised widely offers great advantages to ageing and falling populations, because robotics could fill the gaps this creates in the workforce and help humans where necessary. At the same time, falling populations would allow for the development of sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels.
Population growth will intensify the crises that the world already faces, and people in crisis do not have time to wait for the development of sustainable technologies. This will force technicians to focus on the development of technologies that solve a crisis quickly, but these are often damaging to the environment. It would, at the same time, force humans to compete with robotics in the job market — a competition humans are increasingly likely to lose.
In conclusion, it seems clear that only smaller populations can lead to a sustainable future.