February 6th

This morning, while lying in bed, I realized that I need to reincarnate the High Technology factor, which I had removed early in January. (Yes, I think about Balance of the Planet all the time. However, the trick is not to think about it every single moment. The trick is to internalize the problems so deeply that my mind naturally wanders back to them at random times, coming from random angles. These random approaches occasionally provide new insights. I might be thinking about the turtle I found in the creek last summer and then my mind will make an oddball connection between the turtle and Balance of the Planet, a connection that opens up a new possibility. This technique requires that you drive a problem deep into your consciousness, a process I have used so often that it is now second nature to me. You buy this talent not with time but with emotion. Yes, you have to spend time worrying about it, but that’s a consequence of what really counts: FEELING the problem in your gut. It’s got to be emotionally important if you hope to recruit the deep subconscious processes inside your mind.)

Anyway, I realized that High Technology will give me a means to provide natural economic growth that has some causality to it. I can also use it to reduce pollution levels, carbon emissions, and increase energy efficiencies. Yes, it will increase complexity – always a bad thing – but I think it’s the best alternative to having a flat discount rate that just makes the economy grow at a fixed rate.

So this brings back High Technology as well as the Research Subsidy. I must also add High Technology as an input to Electric Car Use, Solar Energy Production, Sulfur Dioxide Emissions, NOx Emissions, Particulate Emissions, Global GDP, Radioactive Emissions, and Agricultural Productivity.

But there’s a more important issue: how is technological progress to be measured? My original approach was to measure it as a ratio to the level of technological progress at the start of the game. Thus, it starts at 100%, and rises from there. That makes it easier to understand the causality: a 200% level of technological progress yields twice the benefits of a 100% level.

But there’s a nasty catch: technological progress suffers from diminishing returns. The more advanced we are, the more expensive the next 1% becomes. Should I build the diminishing returns into the formula for technological progress? Or should I measure technological progress in absolute terms: “whiz-bangs”? Then would the diminishing returns apply to the creation of more whiz-bangs or to the benefit of more whiz-bangs?

I think that the best solution for now is to retain the percentage measure and apply diminishing returns to that. Thus, every year we get 1.9% of the Global GDP spent on research (that’s the current figure), which translates into dollars, to which are added the dollars from the player’s research subsidy, and then those total dollars buy percentage points of technological progress, but at a diminishing rate of return.

Yep, that’ll do it.

I think.

Well, the Technological Progress factor seemed to improve everything, but now I have a new problem: the simulation is too optimistic. The BAU scenario yields a score of +4 million! The endgame Quality of Life score is +219,000, Global GDP at $212 trillion, Tech Progress at 468%. Violent Conflict at a mere 273K deaths. I don’t think that there’s any single factor at work here; I believe that the problem is disbursed among many factors, which means that I can fix it by tweaking the coefficients. I’ll make some adjustments.

I came up with some adjustments that improved the situation, but it still needs more work. I’m going to add a link from Sea Level to Farm Land, because rising sea levels will inundate some of the most productive farmland in river deltas around the world: the Nile, Irrawaddy, Mekong, Pearl, and Yellow River deltas.

I implemented this but I’m not sure that it really works right – the effect is so small that the player might not really notice it. Besides, isn’t sea level rise merely a matter of additional costs? I might strip it back out.