Mencius Moldbug’s experiment for comparing 1950 to 2013:
But allowing (for a moment) this implicit assumption that the purpose of civilization is the satisfaction of human desires, we can refer only to Maslow’s pyramid of needs.
At the base of the pyramid are air, water and food. How does 2013 do at supplying oxygen, hydration and nutrition? How did 1950 do? Just fine. Gentlemen, a draw. (The food of 2013 is certainly tastier than that of 1950, at least in America. But this is not the base of the pyramid.)
Next up: safety and security. All right, gentlemen. Let’s have another thought-experiment.
Picture the Earth – our beautiful, blue, spinning globe. Take all the habitable land area and color it white – as a neutral background for our thought experiment.
Now, select the subset of this beautiful planet on which a sober, sensible, civilized person, such as Sam Altman, would consider it prudent and safe to wander, “on foot and alone,” carrying his iPad, at night. Leave that part white. Color the other part brown. Then, from the brown subset, select the further subset in which Sam Altman, carrying his iPad, would not consider it prudent and safe to wander in the daytime. Color that part black. (Why can’t Google Maps do this?) Then do the same for Sam Altman’s grandfather, in 1950, with his portable Smith-Corona. Then, repeat the exercise for 1900. (Part of the reason this is such a useful mental exercise, and unfortunately such a difficult one, is that it requires you to actually know what the world was like in 1950 or 1900. If your way of getting this information starts with statistical tables, ur doin it rong. There are these things called “books” which will help you out.)
If you perform this exercise accurately, or at least if you get the same results as me, you’ll see a 20C quite indistinguishable from Stage III melanoma.
P.S. It turns out you can get detailed maps on this. See here with my city as an example.