My code is trying to kill me

Project Economix 4


In previous articles I defined and explained the Malthusian trap. But somehow we avoided it and the conditions are improving for humanity. What happened?

Let's try the island example from previous example. When people discovered agriculture, island could support 3000 people. Current 1000 inhabitants had to work harder but they lived comfortably and multiplied. When they reached population of 3000, conditions again dropped to bare survival, they still had to work hard and destroy the environment. How could they avoid that?

First and obvious option is to stop multiplying. But without harsh imposed limits on personal freedom that wouldn't be possible. But if in period of time when population was between 1000 and 3000 when island could support its population, somebody invented even better technology that could support even more population, they could avoid Malthusian trap. When population reach 3000, new population limit is 4000. When 4000 is reached, new limit is 5000. And so on.

Exactly that happened in Europe. From neolithic revolution to first industrial revolution (6000 - 10000 years), average living conditions didn't improve significantly. Break from Malthusian trap started with industrial revolution around 1800. Technology improved significantly and average income and wealth increased. As always, population increased; but before living conditions dropped, technology improved again. And then again, thus allowing us to keep or improve standard of living although the world population grew six time.

It seams we are now dependent on technology. Not only on current state of it, but we are dependent on growth. Without constant technological development we would return to bare survival. The question is, how much further can technology grow?