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A futurist model on the economic impact of Respirocytes - Matt Leeburn

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This paper has been written to gain a greater understanding of the cause and effect relationships of a theoretical nanotechnology, called a Respirocyte, on the economy. The result of this paper will give the reader a high level indication on some of the potential positive or negative effects of commercialisation of this technology, which can provide a basis for further thought on expediting or preventing certain variables over time.

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A futurist model on the economic impact of Respirocytes - Matt Leeburn

  1. 1. A futurist model on the economic impact of Respirocytes Matt Leeburn
  2. 2. CONTENTSIntroduction ..................................................................................................................................................... 3 What is a Respirocyte? ................................................................................................................................. 3The economic impact of Respirocytes: a Causal Loop Diagram .......................................................................... 5Understanding the model ................................................................................................................................. 6 Behaviour over time ..................................................................................................................................... 6 Deaths from respiratory problems............................................................................................................ 6 Change in Population growth ................................................................................................................... 7 The rise and fall of Sports industries ......................................................................................................... 7 Casual relationships ..................................................................................................................................... 8 Sports and Tourism .................................................................................................................................. 8 Economic stability .................................................................................................................................... 9 Casual loops ................................................................................................................................................. 9 Balancing Loop B1 .................................................................................................................................. 10 Balancing Loops B2 – B5 ......................................................................................................................... 10 Reinforcing Loop R1 ............................................................................................................................... 11 Reinforcing Loop R2 ............................................................................................................................... 11Policy Interventions ........................................................................................................................................ 12 Sports industry innovation ..................................................................................................................... 12 Over-population..................................................................................................................................... 12 Health care ............................................................................................................................................ 12 Pollution ................................................................................................................................................ 13Summary........................................................................................................................................................ 14References ..................................................................................................................................................... 15 2
  3. 3. INTRODUCTIONThis paper has been written to gain a greater understanding of the cause and effect relationships of atheoretical nanotechnology, called a Respirocyte, on the economy. The result of this paper will give the readera high level indication on some of the potential positive or negative effects of commercialisation of thistechnology, which can provide a basis for further thought on expediting or preventing certain variables overtime.This paper uses a combination of Behaviour over Time graphs, Closed Loop Diagrams and Stock & Flowdiagrams to demonstrate the author’s thinking. No data has been collected or used in this paper; it is purely anexercise in divergent and convergent thinking.WHAT IS A RESPIROCYTE?The Respirocyte is a theoretical nanotechnology designed by Robert A. Freitas Jr., a Senior Research Fellow atthe Institute for Molecular Manufacturing in the United States.Respirocytes were designed to act as artificial mechanical red blood cells which can deliver 236 times moreoxygen to the tissues per unit volume than natural red cells while simultaneously managing carbonic acidity(Freitas, R. A.). FIGURE 1These nanomachines (shown above) were intended to duplicate all of the important functions of the red bloodcell. The technology is also thought to be able to: serve as a universal blood substitute preserve living tissue 3
  4. 4. eliminate “the bends” allow for new sports records; and provide treatment for anaemia, choking, lung diseases, asphyxia, and other respiratory problems (Freitas Jr., R A).Although the medical applications for Respirocytes sound quite exciting, it won’t be some years before we seethem in production. This is because until nanotechnology advances greatly, we do not have the technology tomanufacture them. However, once molecular assemblers have been developed, these nanomachines could bemanufactured economically and abundantly. 4
  5. 5. THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF RESPIROCYTES: A CAUSAL LOOP DIAGRAM Figure 2 below displays the mental model of the economic impact of respirocytes. 5FIGURE 2
  6. 6. UNDERSTANDING THE MODELBEHAVIOUR OVER TIMEBehaviour Over Time Graphs (BOTG) are simple diagrams to assist in demonstrating a particular pattern ofchange over a period of time. These have been used to identify 3 central changes as a result of thecommercialisation and adoption of respirocytes.DEATHS FROM RESPIRATORY PROBLEMS 10 9 8 7 6 Deaths 5 Deaths from 4 respiratory problems 3 2 1 0 1 2 Time since technology launch8 3 4 5 6 7 9 10 FIGURE 3The biggest impact of respirocytes to the human body will be their ability to prevent deaths caused fromrespiratory conditions such as asphyxia, choking, anaemia and lung disease.This will have a considerable impact on the growing population of the human race as it will reduce the totaldeath rate each year.Deaths caused by respiratory conditions will decline significantly in line with the adoption of respirocytes as apreventative nanomedicine. 6
  7. 7. CHANGE IN POPULATION GROWTH 10 9 8 Net change in Population 7 6 5 Deaths 4 Births 3 2 1 0 1 2 3Time since technology launch 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 FIGURE 4As a result of declining deaths caused by respiratory conditions, the human race will consist of a much largerpopulation. This means that there will be more people alive to procreate, thus influencing total populationgrowth.An increase in population growth creates a raft of potentially negative impacts on agriculture, housing,employment and resources. These casual effects will be discussed further in a following section.THE RISE AND FALL OF SPORTS INDUSTRIES 10 9 8 Net change in industry revenues 7 6 Exisiting sports 5 industry 4 Next generation sports 3 industry 2 1 0 1 2 3 Time since technology 8 4 5 6 7 launch 9 10 FIGURE 5Respirocytes will give human beings a new edge. These nanomachines will enable humans to perform harderand achieve more in a shorter amount of time.Freitas estimates that replacing ten percent of your red blood cells with respirocytes will enable you to do anOlympic sprint for 15 minutes without taking a breath, or stay underwater for four hours. This could mean the 7
  8. 8. end of Olympic competition as we know it. However, it would also give rise to a new form of next generationsporting events. In order for existing sports industries to continue, they must innovate and adapt to this newgeneration of transhumanism.CASUAL RELATIONSHIPSThis model represents thinking around the casual effects on the economy post the release of respirocytes.Some of these key cause and effect relationships are discussed following.SPORTS AND TOURISM Scuba Diving S Net change in Scuba Safety Innovation Diving Safety Existing S Sporting Net change in Existing S Industry Net change in Existing Sporting Industry Revenue Sporting Industry Spending Next Gen S Sporting Net change in Next Industry Generation Sporting Industry development S S S Tourism Net change in Tourism spending Respirocyte Commercialised FIGURE 6As per Freitas’ estimates, humans who have been injected with the nanomachines will be able to moreefficiently manage oxygen and carbon dioxide absorption and delivery.As a result it is believed that injected humans would no longer suffer the ‘bends’ (decompression sickness), acondition scuba divers can get, caused by the formation of nitrogen bubbles in blood as a diver rises to thesurface (Freitas Jr., R A). This will significantly decrease diver risks and in turn make the sport much safer. As aresult of safe, easier sport, tourism spending will rise as divers explore more territories around the world.Freitas also believes that respirocytes would create entire new records of major sports achievements. That isbecause the devices can deliver oxygen to muscle tissue faster than the lungs can provide. This would meanthat kids or even asthma suffers could easily beat the current records of the world’s greatest athletes.If this was the case, our hero’s would be shamed and our sports events would no longer have fans. Fans wouldnow be able to perform better in their own backyards.Existing sport industries would decline and new types of sports will rise to meet the new demand for modifiedhuman sports. 8
  9. 9. As expected, increased tourism would also influence pollution and tax contribution.ECONOMIC STABILITY O Agriculture B5 Net change in Agriculture Availability Respirocyte Commercialised O O Resources B4 Government Net change in Policy Resource availability Net change in Government Policy O O Housing B3 Asphyxia Net change in Net change in Housing availability Asphyxia curability O Jobs O Net change in Job B2 Anaemia O Availability Net change in Human S Anemia curability S S Births S S Population Deaths O O Lung Net change in Lung Disease B1 Disease curability SS S S O Economic O Stability Choking Health Care Net change in Net change in Availability R1 Economic Stability Net change in Health S Choking occurances Care Availability S Pollution O Net change in S Polution Peace Net Ochange in geo-political relations O R2 Military Spending Net change in Military spending S OS S Tax Net change in Tax Net change in Contributions Government Spending FIGURE 7By reducing deaths from respiratory related conditions, respirocytes will have a significant impact on theeconomy, simply through influence on population growth.As the death rate slows, we will begin to see a squeeze on certain areas of our economy such as agriculture,housing, employment and resources. This is because our economy would not currently be able to handle thesudden shift in population behaviour.As a result of this, economic stability would crumple as each country would start to actively change theirimport/exports strategies in order to sustain this new growth. Poorer countries would be violated by thewealthier as attempts at securing land for agriculture and resources for development devastate relations andalliances. This would create further instability in geo-political relations, thus raising the prospect of conflict orwar.As the prospect of war grows, government spending on military and defence would increase in preparation forpotential conflict. This spending could be mistaken by neighbouring countries as an indicator of their plans,which in turn will create further hostility.Population growth would also impact the health care system as it would create more humans to service. Thiswould drive tax contributions as the government spends to manage the growth.CASUAL LOOPSFollowing are descriptions on the casual loops occurring in the Causal Loop Diagram. These are listed asBalancing Loops (B) and Reinforcing Loops (R). 9
  10. 10. BALANCING LOOP B1 Human Births S Population Deaths B1 O Health Care Availability Net change in Health Care Availability FIGURE 8This first balancing loop shows the relationship between population growth and health care availability. As thehuman population increases, health care availability decreases. As health care availability decreases, birthrates could potentially decrease.This could be a result of: 1. Government placing tighter controls on births until the proper infrastructure becomes available. 2. Future parents holding off on conceiving until the proper support is available to them. 3. Less access to fertility clinics to assist people with conceiving (IVF, etc).Inversely, abortion clinics could also become less available, which would increase birth rates.BALANCING LOOPS B2 – B5 O Agriculture B5 Net change in Agriculture Availability O Resources B4 Net change in Resource availability O Housing B3 Net change in Housing availability O Jobs Net change in Job B2 Availability S Human Births Population Deaths S S Economic S Stability Net change in Economic Stability FIGURE 9 10
  11. 11. As described in the Casual relationships section above, an increase of human population would have asignificant impact on the stability of the economy. An increase of humans would decrease the availability ofagriculture, resources, housing and jobs.As a result of this, the economy will become unstable and confidence will drop in the marketplace. Media willbegin promoting doomsday content and the populations will begin to worry about their futures.Economic destabilisation would cause people to reduce spending, work harder and “buckle down” for the badclimate ahead. During these times of doubt it is estimated that birth rates will decline, thus creating abalancing loop.REINFORCING LOOP R1 Economic S Stability Net change in R1 Economic Stability S Peace Net change in geo-political relations FIGURE 10The first reinforcing loop depicts a frightening cycle of ever declining, or ever rising, global economic stabilityand geo-political relations. As economic stability decreases (perhaps by over-population or environmentaldisaster), peace decreases. Then as peace decreases, economic stability decreases. Inversely, however, ifeconomic stability increases, peace increases. Then if peace increases, economic stability increases.REINFORCING LOOP R2 Peace Net Ochange in geo-political relations R2 O Military Spending Net change in Military spending FIGURE 11The second reinforcing loop represents the reactionary caution that would be undertaken by government ifpeace was in decline; military spending would increase to prepare for potential conflict. Therefore as peacedecreases, military spending increases. Then if military spending increases, peace decreases. Inversely,however, if peace increases, military spending decreases. Then if military spending decreases, peace increases. 11
  12. 12. POLICY INTERVENTIONSSPORTS INDUSTRY INNOVATIONIn order to reduce the negative impact of respirocytes on the existing sports industry, capital expenditures oninnovation and R&D must increase so that the industry can quickly learn how to adapt and compete in the nextgeneration of sports. Innovation Existing S Sporting Net change in Existing Industry Net change in Existing Sporting Industry Revenue Sporting Industry Spending FIGURE 12OVER-POPULATIONGovernment policy must be introduced in order to reduce the likelihood of negative impacts on the stability ofthe economy, agriculture, housing, employment, resources and health care.This can be intervened in two ways: 1. The government could introduce a respirocyte deployment strategy so that it is slowly released into the population, thus creating a manageable effect on population growth. 2. The government could introduce a restriction on births per couple, thus reducing the overall birth rate. Respirocyte Commercialised O Government Policy Net change in Government Policy O Human Births Population Deaths FIGURE 13HEALTH CAREIn order to increase availability of health care, the government could increase taxes by revising their existingtax contribution policies and budgets. 12
  13. 13. Government Policy Net change in Government Policy Health Care Availability Net change in Health S Care Availability Tax Net change in Tax Net change in Contributions Government Spending FIGURE 14POLLUTIONIn order to counter the increase of pollution into the atmosphere, the government could introduce higher taxcontributions for larger families. This money could then be spent on offsetting the pollution through R&D ingreen technologies. Government Policy Net change in Government Policy Pollution O Net change in Polution S Tax Net change in Tax Net change in Contributions Government Spending FIGURE 15 13
  14. 14. SUMMARYIn summary, respirocytes will cause a significant impact to the economy. It will be up to those whocommercialise this technology to understand how and when they will need to intervene, so that the impactsdo not become negative influences on the economy.Respirocytes will disrupt the economy by seriously impacting human deaths due to respiratory conditions.However, it is believed that this disruption could be managed by intervening with government policy on eitherthe release of the technology into the marketplace or by capping total births per couple.The launch of the technology will also cause disruption to existing industries such as sports and tourism. Ifmanaged properly, these industries could easily innovate and adapt in order to sustain revenues, jobs andtheir future. 14
  15. 15. REFERENCESAmato, Ivan. "A U. S. Lab Opens Doors to the Nanoworld." Science. Vol. 254. 29 November 1991: 1302-1303.Drexler, K. Eric. Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology. New York: Anchor Press / Doubleday,1986.Freitas Jr., R A. (2002). Respirocytes. Available: http://www.kurzweilai.net/respirocytes. Last accessed 11 April2011.Freitas Jr., Robert A. "Respirocytres: A Mechanical Artificial Red Cell: Exploratory Design in MedicalNanotechnology." Respirocytes: A Mechanical Artificial Red Cell. 1996-1999. Foresight Institute. 17 January2000. <http://www.foresight.org/Nanomedicine/Respirocytes.html> 15

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