Georgehants yesterday raised a question here that has stuck in my mind — about what kind of world do we want to bring cold fusion into. In my mind the kind of world we want to bring the world into is much different to the kind of that cold fusion will be coming into.
I would love to live in a world where everyone was looking out for each other’s benefit, and there was no greed, hatred or exploitation. In such a world cold fusion, or any other radically superior technology would be smoothly incorporated and could help in making a near paradise on earth.
But I think cold fusion is coming fast and it will come into the world that we have now, with its poverty, injustice, conflict, corruption, and a host of other problems. Maybe the more important question is how are we going to handle cold fusion and make the best use of it to help solve some of the pressing problems we face?
And there’s also the issue of who would decide how cold fusion is going to be used, and under what circumstances. If private companies introduce it (which seems likely), in free market economies it will be paying customers who will set the agenda of where and how it is to be used (with likely governmental oversight). We might see in countries like China, governments making those decisions. If industrial applications of cold fusion come first (Rossi’s plan), and domestic cold fusion devices are not available, the general public may not have much of a role in the early dissemination of the technology.
But maybe there would be a role for the public. In countries with democratic political systems, if citizens know and care enough they could vote for representatives who support cold fusion as an alternative energy source, and promote cold fusion-friendly policies. Citizens could also find ways to raise awareness and lobby leaders in business and government through various channels such as advocacy groups — and of course the internet is a channel through which cold fusion can be supported and promoted. Media attention will be also critical in bringing awareness to cold fusion — the media can play a great role in shaping public perceptions (as we saw in 1989 the first time around).
While cold fusion has the potential to solve many problems, there will almost certainly be resistance from certain quarters because where it will be seen as a threat to various interests. Bitplayer put it well yesterday here on ECW when he wrote, “the problem is not so much the ideal end state as how to get to the ideal end state.” A transition from what we have today, to where cheap and abundant energy can take us is going to be challenging, difficult, and unpredictable and we could see major disruptions taking place which could threaten incomes, industries, and even whole nations.
I’d love to see cold fusion embraced far and wide as a major energy source unless something better comes along), but I expect it will not be smooth sailing ahead. It could take a lot of work by proponents to see it adopted on a wide scale. Maybe there will be a growing realization that a far superior energy source will take us beyond the economics and politics that we have today, which are built on the assumption of scarcity of resources, to where new political and economic systems develop built upon the availability of an abundance of resources. It would certainly be a delicate situation to handle and it would take vision, wisdom and leadership at all levels to do it well.