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Comment: Re:It's geopolitics, not just simple spy flap (Score 1) 219

by 32771 (#47427461) Attached to: After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

Given that we may be nearing some energy crisis you could think about what it might cause. Looking for it here:
you can find talk about decentralization which means a break up of a system into smaller units. I think this is what might be happening, Europe is basically used up having an aging populace and diminishing resources, whereas Asia has lots of young people and some ambition to get their hands on resources. Since there have been signs in the past that energy demand has been outstripping energy availability, I would guess that for the US to keep its position in the world it has to find new resources and keep competition and resource use low. With the current system the finding of new stuff has long been passed, so its hampering other peoples development and reducing energy expenditure now.

Europe is a competitor but not as much as Asia, I would expect Europe to become some kind of backwater and less useful to the US in the future, which would mean the fracturing of NATO. This spy scandal and Ukraine appears to be the start of this process.

Comment: Re:The Asimov opinion (Score 1) 124

From the little I know about the story I would say the robot had a remarkable sense of ethics. After all he decided for the patient to be more independent after the operation not less so. To make the point differently, If you had two options, either mechanical prosthesis or organ replacement made in the lab, the mechanical part would make you more dependent on society providing for replacement parts whereas biological replacements are repaired by yourself. The latter would give you far more freedom to be yourself so to speak. Conversely I would suspect that robotic societies have the room for far higher degrees of integration than is possible with biological beings right now. (I would not say though that biological beings are not integrated into a society at all just in case anybody gets this crazy idea.)

Comment: Asimov wasn't so deluded (Score 1) 339

by 32771 (#47113471) Attached to: The Singularity Is Sci-Fi's Faith-Based Initiative


Let me add as a teaser:

And out there beyond are the stars.

And the interesting thing is that if we can get through the next thirty years, there's no reason why we can't enter into a kind of plateau which will see the human race last, perhaps, indefinitely...till it evolves into better things...and spread out into space indefinitely. We have the choice here between nothing...and the virtually infinite. And the nice thing about it is that you guys in the audience today, when I say guys I mean it in a general term embracing gals...when you guys in the audience today will still be barely middle-aged when you will know which choice has been made.

See, I've been so shrewd that I fixed it so that I was born in 1920.

[group laughs]

Which means I'll be safely dead."

Comment: Re:Translation... (Score 1) 784

by 32771 (#47043587) Attached to: Scientists Warn of Rising Oceans As Antarctic Ice Melts

Both statements may turn out to be wrong. The first, because we already see global warming/extreme weather events affecting harvests and people with less money to spend, tend to riot when hungry, which I would call a sign of the beginning chaos (so far people blame oil prices, but this is changing).

The second because lets admit it we will follow the BAU and worst case scenarios regarding CO2 output since nobody will screw up the economy on purpose. Since we will have exponential CO2 growth at ~2% according to the following article:

You can conclude that we have our contribution doubling every ~35years, which means that as the 35year younger you can not complain since your own generations contributions are just as large as the older.

So while the world may only officially end in 2100 (some say 2050, due to feed backs and societies inability to deal with cognitive biases and understanding complex non-linear systems) there is a fat chance that an uncomfortably large number of people will get some raw deal much earlier.

Comment: Re:Because ... (Score 1) 150

by 32771 (#46953599) Attached to: Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery

Sure, you can come up with a better model for industrial society. The main point I tried to make is that people have connected machines with slavery for quite some time now mostly to illustrate the role machines fulfill in society and to provide some proportion. My main interest is related to energy flows in industrial civilization so I nudged the discussion into this direction, any more thorough discussion would probably not deal with slaves all that much.

You could also argue that slavery deserves more mention as a topic on its own, other people have made remarks toward that end already.

Comment: Re:thanks for posting that (Score 1) 150

by 32771 (#46946691) Attached to: Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery

While I did contemplate things on my own when starting on the energy/thermodynamics trip I soon noticed that other people had done a lot of work before me. The post above covers some range of views over time, it begins with a Victorian at the start of the fossil fuel age, continues with Rickover at the dawn of the nuclear age, and implicitly ends with some people at that are heavily influenced by "The Limits to Growth". I could have gone the Terence McKenna Route on the other hand which would have given me the opportunity to point out how thoroughly he understood our situation and spun it forth into his "humanity must achieve transcendence" theme.

Regarding your view that "civilization cannot exist without cheap labor", I could imagine that one could rephrase that as specialization/increasing complexity needs increased energy inputs. From here "This means that growing complexity implies growing energy consumption.". Since we appear to be in the process of failing with that (net energy wise) I'm really frustrated with news about a new gilded age, this is exactly the opposite of McKenna's "universe as novelty generator" view (Non-equilibrium thermodynamics doesn't sound flamboyant enough), also it just means decline.

So please go forth and continue to be original, also note that going Native American may not be possible due to our waste problem called global warming.

Comment: Because ... (Score 4, Informative) 150

by 32771 (#46944027) Attached to: Why Hollywood's Best Robot Stories Are About Slavery

"The fact is, that civilisation requires slaves. The Greeks were quite right there. Unless there are slaves to do the ugly, horrible, uninteresting work, culture and contemplation become almost impossible. Human slavery is wrong, insecure, and demoralizing. On mechanical slavery, on the slavery of the machine, the future of the world depends."

OSCAR WILDE, The Soul of Man Under Socialism

Supposedly the greeks had 30 slaves per citizen and we have around 100 slaves energy wise. The topic has also been mentioned here:

Comment: Re:TSA-like Money for Fear (Score 1) 271

by 32771 (#46810105) Attached to: Expert Warns: Civilian World Not Ready For Massive EMP-Caused Blackout

You should also add that around 100 nuclear power plants (in the US) have to survive such an event. If they are not going to survive it then you have to prevent your opponent from taking over your country or provide some credible deterrent while you have not sunken into chaos yet, i.e. with some nuclear assault.

I have strong doubts that anybody openly just starts an EMP attack and then does nothing (apart from the sun), I would rather expect this to happen after some conventional warfare has not yielded results and a nuclear attack is next on the list (the one out of Kahns book).

Given that previous high altitude tests all used fairly large yields in the 100kt to Mt range I would doubt that terrorists would be able to pull this of credibly. Assuming some conventional conflict is already taking place I would think that the countries involved would have some time to prepare for nuclear escalation. Also there is some chance that your economy will have tanked some time before hostilities break out, just because the global economy might have fallen apart that provides access to foreign resources. So from that end I would rather expect some slide into disaster instead of some catastrophic event.

Actually I would rather worry about net energy decline and climate change since those issues will kill more people with greater certainty and in agonizingly slow motion.

Comment: Re:Farming (Score 1) 737

by 32771 (#46741111) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

Not just that, also note the scale at which western societies are not farming societies anymore. In my neck of the woods we have 2% aging farmers that are on average 40 years old. Comparing that with Thailand's 50% I would expect quite a bit of restructuring to be necessary if we were ever to return to a farming society, not to mention the event of some catastrophic decline.

Comment: True (Score 1) 737

by 32771 (#46739357) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

The twenty minutes will turn into a few hours when people have to walk out of the traffic jam. This might give you some time to flee.
For the shits and grins I actually tried the walking part for my particular city and the 20minutes turned into 2-3 hours. It was an incredibly pleasant day for the hike, but my feet hurt like hell afterward due to inappropriate footwear (sandals).

Comment: Why now? (Score 1) 869

They could have thought about a study like this when they first started thinking about the green house effect and climate change:

But no, temperature recordings normally start mid 19th century, that is tardy. Now if they had actually started doing something against climate change around 1950

that would have been wise, alas ...

Programmers do it bit by bit.