The Underpopulation Bomb

Kevin Kelly on what we should be worried about:

The picture for the latter half of this century will look like this: Increasing technology, cool stuff that extends human life; more older people who live longer, millions of robots, but few young people. Another way to look at the human population in 100 years from now is that we’ll have the same number of over-60-year olds, but several billion fewer youth.

Here is the challenge: this is a world where every year there is a smaller audience than the year before, a smaller market for your goods or services, fewer workers to choose from, and a ballooning elder population that must be cared for. We’ve never seen this in modern times; our progress has always paralleled rising populations, bigger audiences, larger markets and bigger pools of workers. It is hard to see how a declining yet aging population functions as an engine for increasing the standard of living every year. To do so would require a completely different economic system, one that we are not prepared for at all right now.