Gene Expression

The great Malthusian race

The rise in eczema, or asthma, or the general return of infectious disease, reminds one that though we live in a post-Malthusian Age generally, many of the truths of earlier times hold. While with physical technology we can rest assured that the feature-set and power will increase monotonically over time as if it is a natural law, biological or social processes are much more halting and subject to reverse. I recall several years ago that some steakhouses were heartened, so to speak, about the widespread usage of statins, since they assumed that this would result in greater comfort with eating red meat in the population.

Comments

  1. #1 John Emerson
    March 23, 2009

    “Natural law”. Joke, right?

  2. #2 razib
    March 23, 2009

    yeah, more of a metaphor. i didn’t actually mean ‘natural law’ in the philosophical sense, but in the scientific sense; e.g., laws of thermodynamics. phenomena of such regularity or predictability that you rely on them even without deep understanding.

  3. #3 Dunc
    March 24, 2009

    While with physical technology we can rest assured that the feature-set and power will increase monotonically over time

    No, we can’t. We started hitting the buffers years ago, which is why you can’t buy a computer with a 5GHz processor. We’ve already had to start finessing to try and maintain the appearance of monotonically increasing power.

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