Hyperpat\’s HyperDay

SF, science, and daily living

From Little to Big

Posted by hyperpat on July 25, 2006

My wife is, in PC speak, “vertically challenged”. This causes her some problems in everyday life, with shelves too high to reach, gas pedals too far away, etc. She has ways to cope with these problems, but it highlights an aspect of modern mass market industry that targets only the middle of the demographic. While some things are available for people who fall outside that middle (usually at exorbitant extra cost), other items have no available models for such problems. This would seem to be an area where software, programmable robots, and assembly lines engineered for more flexibility are needed. But probably no one is working on such things as there is no financial incentive for them. One of the downsides of a capitalistic system.

I remember a short story I read many years ago that had a solution to the world overpopulation problem – a secret government program in genetic engineering to make everyone ‘small’, who would require less of just about everything (less fabric in clothes, lower calorie intake requirements, etc.), and would help solve the problems of extremes in the range of size of people. The reality is, however, that people are actually getting larger (both vertically and side-to-side). And the world population continues to climb at an alarming rate. At some point we will reach a condition where there simply are not enough resources, no matter how efficiently we use them, to support everyone. When that day arrives, we’d better have a much better way of handling conflicts, or the solution that we get will be global war, or plagues that would make the Black Death of the Middle Ages look like a picnic. I’m not too optimistic about it, given the current world political picture.

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