Friday, 21 December 2012

It's the end of the world (as we know it): Part 2

So, how is the end of the world going for everyone? Do you feel fine? :)
We are continuing with our optimistic predictions that concern some possible scenarios that might be brought about (or come shortly afterwards) the end of the world that is due today. 
Let us consider the two remaining scenarios we outlined in our previous blog: telepathy and psychokinesis.

Telepathic abilities for humans

Scenario number two (telepathy) might be a reality in the nearest future. Mossbridge et al. (2012) conducted a meta-analysis of 26 reports published between 1978 and 2010 and found that for stimuli of two or more types that are presented in an order designed to be unpredictable and that produce different post-stimulus physiological activity, the direction of pre-stimulus physiological activity reflects the direction of post-stimulus physiological activity, resulting in an unexplained anticipatory effect. In another words, sometimes humans can anticipate or even know the future (the concept of premonition).
Although the predicted future would range from a speck of a second to several seconds, the possibility to anticipate future events might have broad consequences for the world trade. Consider for example stock market trading. Scientists have long been waging a debate whether the stock market prices follow the “random walk” or are, on the contrary, non-random and might be understood and studied using some algorithm (knowing this algorithm would be like possessing a modern-day philosopher’s stone, since it would provide its possessor the way to the unprecedented wealth).
While most of the economist and statisticians in the 1960s or 1970s agreed that the random walk hypothesis was the only way to explain the behaviour of stock prices on the stock markets (see e.g. Fama (1965), Cootner (1964), or Malkiel (1973)), the economic science of the 1990s and 2000s started to uncover the non-randomness in the stock prices (see e.g. Lo (1999)).
Telepathic abilities and the possibility of premonition would undoubtedly lead to the total non-randomness of the stock market trading. The brokers would know all about the stocks and the other brokers’ behavior  therefore it will not make any sense to speculate, engage in insider’s trading or do any other usual tricks.
The discovery of telepathic abilities in humans would also lead to another interesting outcome – there will no longer be any need for cellular telephony or the Internet. Of course, everything very much depends on the level of telepathic abilities and the range of the telepathic bounds between humans, but let us to consider for a second that it would be on a planet-scale. This provision would mean that all humans will be connected in one large global network that would enable to share, store, share, pass, or transmit any information all around the planet. The brains of all human (and possibly the animals) will be linked together forming a giant “supercomputer” able to run calculations of an unprecedented depth and complicity. The arrangement was partly described in James Rollins’ “Altar of Eden” (Rollins, 2010), where an experiment linked several animals’ brains and increased their mental abilities to an unprecedented level.
The scenario (however unlikely it might be) was shown in the 2009 Hollywood blockbuster “Avatar”. Planet Pandora was such a giant supercomputer and all pandorians were plugged in into the global network of the planet.
It might as well be that this scenario will become a reality in the nearest future. For instance, Von Radowitz (2012) describes recent experiments where scientists were able to read and decode the electromagnetic impulses in the human brain, turning them into single words and then coding them back again. The technology that was developed to help patients with speech disorders might pave the road to global telepathy and interconnectedness but will mean that some re-arrangement would have to be made in the world’s economy.

Unleashing the power of phychokinesis in humans

The 2012 fiction film “Chronicle” shows a trio of high-school teenagers who encounter a mysterious vibrating and glowing crystal in the underground cave and gain psychokinetic abilities. Starting from lifting small objects into the air, they progress towards lifting boxes and cars and end up lifting themselves.
Although the film has a sad ending (only one of the teenagers survives his newly gained abilities), it portrays what would have happened if everyone had this abilities. First of all, psychokinesis would alter the transportation sector. The ability to lift objects only with the power of one’s mind would surely help the moving and loading industries which would cut the costs of work and create a small army of unemployed manual workers.
In addition, this would mean that the traditional means of transports (e.g. cars, trams, metro) will be abandoned in favor of flying. Imagine a sky full of people running (or flying) errands, going to and from work, chatting on the rooftops and the like!
Nevertheless, it is easier to see that this scenario of no transportation costs of goods and labor would not be as perfect, as in “wormholes model”. People would still need to spend time and energy to move from place to a place and the border controls might still be effective (although, in most of the cases, they would become the airspace controls). The discovery of telekinetic abilities will not necessarily lead to the fall of the states and the governments, since they will still be able to provide public goods and protection to their citizens. Military powers would still mean something and the rule of law would be quite easy to execute.
Let us see what would happen to the economy and the global trade. Well, fist of all, telekinetic abilities would surely mean smaller transactions costs for trading and shipping goods than in the real world. There might be a sharp decrease in the transaction costs for labor and services but to a very limited range. For instance, labor migration might take place from less wealthy countries to their more wealthier neighbors and it is even possible that this migration would take up the form of commuting, however there still would be considerable costs associated with commuting (or flying) to work every day. The distance would still matter, since no cheap labor from Mexico would be able to travel to, say, New York City back and force every day in a row. In short, equalization of factor prices would not be as quick and smooth (as in “wormholes model”). This scenario would be more like a real-world case, but, in a way at least, more efficient, although some implications might be considered (see e.g. Frankel, 1975).
Another non-negligible effect would be the losses of transportation sectors, producers of cars, trains, and airplanes. Although it seems unlikely that the public and private transport would disappear entirely (some individuals might get injured and unable to fly, and long-distance flights might be beyond the abilities of some people), a sharp decrease followed by the fundamental changes in the industry would follow.
There is also a question what would happen to all those people who would be made redundant in the sectors of transportation and heavy industry, but it might be that this would not create massive unemployment, since new possibilities in the other sectors would also arise.


Whether the end of the world happens today or some time later, major unpredictable planetary events can possibly happen any time and disrupt the existence of humanity. These events might bring substantial changes altering the world we live in and making it a very different place.
In this paper, we discussed the possibility of three “end-of-the-world” scenarios: a) collision with the parallel universe and opening of passages or wormholes, b) discovery of telepathic abilities in humans, and c) unleashing the power of psychokinesis in humans. It becomes apparent that these scenarios can be ranked by the scale of their impact on global economics and trade. With regard to this, we can nominate scenario c) psychokinesis to be the “optimistic” scenario, scenario a) telepathy to be the “realistic” scenario, and scenario a) “wormholes model” to be the “pessimistic” scenario.
It is easy to show that while the possibility to move around goods and people without no visible costs would only slightly alter global trade on Earth and the discovery of telepathic abilities in humans (which might be a reality in the nearest future) would only lead to the demise of global communication systems, cell phones and the Internet, the scenario of a collision with a parallel universe and opening of multiple “wormholes” or passages between various spots on Earth or in the parallel Universe, would make global trade and economy redundant. The possibility to be in various places or to carry goods or services to multiple locations within seconds would undoubtedly mean the end of the world’s economy (as we know it) which would make many of us feeling far from fine.