VR is on the same path as the internet was in the 1990s

I recently compared the percentage of American users of virtual reality to the internet in the 1990s and discovered the trajectories have been about the same:

Internet users in the U.S. (at least once a month)

1990 1%
1991 1%
1992 2%
1993 2%
1994 5%
1995 9%
1996 16%
1997 22%
1998 30%

2000 43%
2001 49%
2002 59%
2003 62%
2004 65%
2005 68%
2006 70%

2016 89%

VR users, U.S. (at least once a month)

2016 10 million (3%)
2017 22 million (7%)
2018 37 million (11%)
2019 49 million (15%) est.

Internet users, worldwide (at least once a month)

1995 0.4%
1996 1%
1997 2%
1998 4%
1999 4%
2000 6%
2001 9%
2003 11%
2005 16%
2007 20%
2009 27%
2011 33%
2013 39%
2015 46%
2017 55%

VR users, worldwide (at least once a month)

2014 0.2 million
2015 6 million (0.1% of the world)
2016 43 million (0.5% of the world)
2017 90 million (1% of the world)
2018 171 million (2% of the world)

You can see where this is going…

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per capita growth rates since the end of the Cold War

Here are the per capita growth rates since the end of the Cold War (1990):

Italy 0.5%
Russia 0.6%
Japan 0.9%
Spain 1.0%
France 1.0%
The People’s Republic of Denmark -2.7%
Germany 1.4%
UK 1.5%
US 1.5%
Poland 4.0%
India 5.0%
China 9.0%

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How wealthy was the Roman Empire during its peak?

Philosopher John Gray was interviewed by economist Russ Roberts on Econ Talk today, and he made the observation that those who lived in Rome at its peak were much more highly developed than those who lived there 500 years early. This seems to be a common misconception about how wealthy the Romans were and has a parallel with the common but incorrect view that Chinese who lived during the Song Dynasty (960 to 1279) were quite a bit wealthier than Europeans at the time.

John Gray:  “If you look out through the longer perspective of human history, you find many examples of civilizations that grew up and achieved higher levels of material progress than they had in the past. I mean, Rome at its peak was much more highly developed than it was 5- or 600 years before it reached its peak. They had what we call central heating; they had public baths; they had large libraries.”

My reply with the GDP per capita estimates:

If you read about what Roman public baths were like, you realize that they would all be shut down in the U.S by even 1920s standards. While Rome did become somewhat wealthier at its peak, to say it was “much more highly developed” than it was 500 years prior to the peak isn’t correct. This misunderstanding is also often stated about China’s Song dynasty.

In today’s dollars, economic historian Angus Maddison estimated that Rome and the region that is today Italy had a GDP per capita of $1,700, Northern Africa $1,100 and $800 to the north, including the British area. So Rome was about two times as wealthy at its peak from 500 B.C. and about where Haiti and Togo are at today in terms of standard of living but without modern appliances. Further away from Rome within the Roman empire, the GDP per capita at the peak was the same as Congo today.

In contrast, the U.K. toward the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in 1820 had a GDP per capita of $3000 and grew to $45,000 today using 2018 dollars, a 15 fold increase.


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William Nordhaus’ tests for an economic Singularity

I looked at recent Nobel Prize winner Nordhaus’ paper on a possible economic Singularity, which he defnes as yearly growth over 20%, that economist Tyler Cowen linked to and saw that his seventh test was on wage growth. Nordous says it doesn’t show any signs of a coming Singularity, but I would counter that Nordaus didn’t properly test wage growth because his time period is much too short, 1960 to 2013 and because it includes the Great Stagnation.

Interestingly, this ties in with a graph that fellow Nobel Prize winner Paul Romer has said was the inspiration for him to study economics. It plots the GDP per capita of England/the UK from 1270 to the 1970s when he saw it, where growth seems to accelerate from 1840.

Nordhaus shows recent real wages as:

1960 – 1990 1.8%
1990 – 2000 2.0%
2000 – 2013 1.1%

Since estimated GDP per capita growth is easy to find (Angus Maddison, 2003), I would plot that and begin at 1750 where productivity has been found to be at 0.3% a year and increased to 0.5% a year in the late 1700s according to a couple of Harvard economic historians.

There is a clear acceleration from 1760 to 2010 in the UK:

1760 to 1790 0.4% estimate from paper
1790 to 1820 0.4% estimate from paper
1820 to 1850 0.4% Maddison
1850 to 1880 1.4%
1880 to 1910 0.6%
1910 to 1940 1.5%
1940 to 1970 1.4%
1970 to 2000 2.3%
2000 to 2007 2.7%  OECD
1760 – 1820 0.4%
1820 – 1880 0.9%
1880 – 1940 1.0%
1940 – 2000 1.8%
2000 – 2007 2.2%

That is a clear acceleration. Now, what to do with the pesky low growth of the Great Recession years….

2000 – 2017 1.1% but the overall picture is still a clear acceleration over the long term. Singularity 2045 or bust! Actually, I thought in 1989 when daydreaming in a Mathematical Physics class that a non-AI (or possibly AI) based Singulaity might happen between 2040 and 2060. This was an extension of what occurred to me in junior high school in the early 1980s when I kept doubling computer clock speeds every two years and noticed that the numbers were getting really big from the 2030s and ridiculously large the decades after that. So in 1989 I thought a 50% chance that a Singulaity would happen by mid-centry.

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Raising NAD+ levels may benefit high-risk hospitalizations

A de novo study in Nature Medicine published today shows raising NAD+ with NAM (although NR is probably more effective) may help with accute kidney damage.

De novo NAD+ biosynthetic impairment in acute kidney injury in humans

The abstract begins: Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) extends longevity in experimental organisms, raising interest in its impact on human health.

(The details)

The conclusion of the abstract: NAM was well tolerated and was associated with less AKI. (Acute Kidney Injury) Therefore, impaired NAD+ biosynthesis may be a feature of high-risk hospitalizations for which NAD+ augmentation could be beneficial.

“These findings are very early, but the results suggest that we could one day have a non-invasive test for NAD+ status and perhaps even treat acute kidney injury by boosting NAD+ levels.” – Samir M. Parikh, MD who is also an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

By the way, Elysium’s study of NR on acute kidney disease will be completed in December so maybe published in a year.

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Can NR eradicate fatty liver?

Here is a follow up to NR removing 20% of fat from those with fatty liver:

Charles Brenner, an NR expert at the U of Iowa, recently emailed someone about this study. The 2000 mg of NR a day study stopped after 12 weeks, so it isn’t clear if more fat would be removed with another 12 weeks or 24 weeks.

Brenner replied:

“There is every indication that a study setting out to clear fatty liver with high dose NR for 26 weeks would succeed.”

That is a stunning statement if he is correct. To reduce the fat in liver of those people, it would cost $200 a month at 2,000 mg of NR or $600 for the 20% reduction. So “to clear fatty liver with high dose NR” would cost $1300 over 24 weeks, which is pretty cheap to eradicate a pretty serious condition.

There is also reason based on previous studies that note NAD+ levels drop significantly at doses over 500 mg to think maybe only 1000 mg of NR would be is as effective as 2000 mg so then the cost would be just $700.

30 million Americans have non-alcoholic fatty liver at a more serious stage.

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NR reduced fat in liver of obese men by 10 percent

Dr. Drew interviewed Charles Brenner who said that the NR Copenhagen trial to be released soon shows a 10% decline in fat in the liver of obese men from 11% to 10%.
The subjects took 2000 mg of NR for 12 weeks, but it isn’t clear that much is needed based on the first Elysium trial.

(Podcast #333)

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