Futurists Robin Hanson and Brian Wang talk about how the global population crisis can send the world into an innovation and economic dark age which could ruin all hope for other positive future scenarios.
Nextbigfuture has had many articles about the important topic of the fertility crisis. A shrinking and aging population can lead to a permanent global great depression.
I am writing about it because it has already been happening in Japan. Japan’s population peaked in 2008 at over 128 million and they are now at 122 million and will be under 100 million in 2050. The median age in Japan is now 48 and will be about 55 in 2050. Japan’s GDP peaked in 1995 at $5.5 trillion. It is now 28 years later and its GDP is 20% less.
China could see its population drop from 1.4 billion today to 1.1 billion in 2050. This happens without the birthrate in China dropping more. It is about not being failing to increase births dramatically.
Japan should have grown from $5 trillion to $10 trillion or more. The US more than tripled its economy from 1995 to today. 30% of the world economy (China at $19 trillion) could hit worse than what Japan experienced fro 1995 to today from 2023 to 2050.
I cite the movie Inception where the Japanese character Saito offers the hope of the main character reuniting with his children by taking a risk. Japan is the nation that is leading the way into a fertility crisis with not enough babies or children. The lack of children and families is increasing the percentage of people who are growing old and dying alone. Kodokushi (孤独死) or lonely death is a Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time. NLI Research Institute, a Tokyo think tank, estimates that about 30,000 people nationwide die this way each year. However, there is a far larger number of solitary and lonely elderly in Japan. A study on Japanese older adults reported that 31.5% were socially isolated. In addition, it has been reported that 27.0% of older adults in the United Kingdom and 24% of older adults in the United States are socially isolated. People cannot unite with children that they never have. They have to take a leap of faith to have children.
For Japanese women born in 2000, between 31.6% to 39.2% will remain childless throughout their life according to estimates from the Tokyo-based National Institute of Population and Social Security Research (IPSS). The statistics in Japan and countries with 1.0 total fertility rate is that 40% of women and 50% of men will be childless. Research in Europe shows that childless individuals in family-oriented countries are more likely to become isolated.
As Inception says, do you want to take a leap of faith or become old filled with regret. Waiting to die alone.
30% of the World Economy for the next 30 year will get hit as bad or worse than Japan’s prior 30 years.
Look where Japan and where Japan went relative to other large developed economies.
This is the likely cost needed for an egg freezing and surrogate strategy to maintain 80% of fertility up to age 45. If the world used this for 30 million births per year it would cost $1.5 trillion per year. This combined with Sweden style pro-natal policies and tax code punishment and reward could solve the problem. There could be other aspects of Robin Hanson solution options to improve the situation.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.
When does strong anti-aging occur and get widely deployed. Not just life expectancy to 110+ but extend fertility to 60+ and vitality to 100. Might not be in the first major wave of SENS.
First major wave might only cure 95% of cancer and boost fertility to 50 but with decline still at about 40. Maybe halving or quartering deaths in each year.
The other thing is choosing not to have kids can overwhelm anti-aging. Say people live to 200 but still only have 1 child per women. Fertility still stops at 45. The collapse in fertile women and overall population is only delayed. In 2200 there are still only 100 million fertile women. Population is 300 million people below 80 and a few billion 81-200. It then in 2300 we are at 20 million fertile women and world population still collapses under 200 million. 2400 and we are under 10 million.
We need to have life extension so powerful that people live hundreds of years and are fertile hundreds of years and people choose to use fertility to have 2+ children over their lives.
I am also thinking long term. When we meet technology aliens. We should have Max tech and sent out multiple colonization waves at over 60% light speed. Ideally colonizing for over 1000 Years and have uncounted trillion people.
We should be colonizing the galaxy over 100k to 150k years. We need a trillion trillion people and out Ai and robotic companions to do it. And then colonize the local group and beyond.
Robin Hanson left one scenario out. Widespread role out of anti-aging life extension renders the whole issue moot. I fail to understand for the life of me why so many of those obsessing over demographic decline don’t consider anti-aging life extension as the solution or, in some cases, are actively hostile towards it (Elon Musk, etc.).
Robin Hanson is supposedly a “transhumanist”. Surely he is familiar with SENS as well as cellular reprogramming work such as that of David Sinclair.
Old Moms: If tech allows longer lives, then female fertility might be greatly increased at older ages, with older parents retaining sufficient youthful energy to raise kids, and so kids after early career prep might become common. This tech must arise before economy shrinks.
Source: Next Big Future