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Comment: Re:Biodiesel (Score 1) 480

'Low-head nondestructive hydroelectric power' isn't enough energy to provide a significant amount of power unless you're looking at powering a tiny village.

True, at the current scale. I think what all this points to is that we need better energy storage technology. Chemical storage is currently the most efficient (i.e. petroleum fuel), but in the long run, what's needed is better battery technology - something equivalent in energy density and price to petroleum. It's a tall order, but at least there's some progress.

The downside, of course, is that this isn't likely to happen soon enough to provide enough cheap power to run a global "just-in-time" supply chain. Transportation energy is the major problem, or at least it is if you don't want a lot of people to starve.

Comment: And garbage, construction and sewer workers! (Score 4, Interesting) 634

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49568953) Attached to: How To Increase the Number of Female Engineers

Not to mention special ops, infantry combat, mining and ditch digging. These professions are all mostly male. I guess we'd better go figure out how to get more women there too.

Equality doesn't mean you just get to do the nice, clean, fun stuff. It means you do *all* the stuff.

Comment: Re:Biodiesel (Score 1) 480

No, you've moved from "displacing farmland" to "destroying an ecology you don't care about because you don't live there." As someone who's been to Death Valley and lived in New Mexico, I can tell you that the "deserts" are rather delicate, unique ecosystems.

Look, there are just better ways to get industrial scale energy than by harvesting biomass. There's quite a bit of sunlight. There's thorium. There's conservation and efficiency. There's low-head, nondestructive hydroelectric power (no dams required). There's geoengineering to bring heat to the surface - lousy for generating power, but great for temperature control.

And all of these work with minimal ecological impact.

Comment: Energy density, price and scalability... (Score 1) 480

These are always the questions when talking about new energy sources.

Gasoline currently has 114,000 BTUs per gallon, at about $2.33 a gallon at my local station. It's being produced from source materials that don't require farmland, or blocking sunlight to local ecologies. It's stable at room temperature and portable.

While biodiesel typically comes in at 118,300 BTUs per gallon, and may be cheap to make *today,* if we were to try and scale up to current industrial scale use, the price would climb remarkably (and quickly) and the resources needed to make it (i.e. farmland, water and sunlight) would soon push up food prices as more and more land was diverted to energy production.

Biofuels have a place in the energy picture. It's just never going to be a very big one. What we need are batteries that are worth a shit (i.e. cheap and with about 20x current energy densities) and a mix of solar/nuclear/low head hydro/wind and so on.

Comment: Too much information = noise (Score 1) 56

There's always going to be an optimal balance between information and cognition. Our problem now is that we are gathering too much information for any automated or natural cognition equipment to handle in a useful way. If the NSA were made up of smarter people, they would be focusing far more heavily on AI and crowd-cognitive analysis techniques using humans, not big data.

Comment: Sounds like the beginning of a *bad* scifi movie. (Score 1) 133

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49551899) Attached to: Liquid Mercury Found Under Mexican Pyramid

The preserved ship was found underneath the tombs, hidden safely in a pool of mercury from those who sought its destruction millennia ago. But now the pool has been emptied, and the ship's beacon detected, awakening the ancient enemy, who even now races to their final destination, readying massive engines of destruction, pointing them at a small, insignificant planet, called... Earth (zoom out to stock photo of Earth in space - Cue "threatening alien" theme).

Comment: AIs have no inherent motivation (Score 1) 197

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49523735) Attached to: Concerns of an Artificial Intelligence Pioneer

We tend to anthropomorphize them. Or perhaps Life-omorphize them.

They are not the product of self-replicating chemicals. Unless specifically designed to do so, they will not be concerned with their own survival or personal welfare. Even if they are conscious, they will have no organic instincts, whatsoever, unless we give them that.

They will also not be concerned with *our* survival.They will be perfectly benign as long as they can't *do* anything. The moment we put them in large robot bodies, however, we had better be very, very careful, and if we can add emotion to their cognitive repertoire, they had better love and respect us above all else.

The problem, of course, is that someone, somewhere, will eventually build one of these things without those safeguards. Something malevolent. The machine isn't the problem. The people will be.

Once they're built, we'd better use them to get some humans off planet ASAP or that, as they say, will be that.

Comment: Thank goodness the NSA is looking our for us (Score 1, Insightful) 327

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49481859) Attached to: Gyro-Copter Lands On West Lawn of US Capitol, Pilot Arrested

So, this guy published the the fact that he was going to do this on his blog and in email before he did it. Here's the quote from "Thehill.com":

On the webpage thedemocracyclub.org, he wrote: ''My flight is not a secret. Before I took off, I sent an Email to info@barackobama.com. The letter is intended to persuade the guardians of the Capitol that I am not a threat and that shooting me down will be a bigger headache than letting me deliver these letters to Congress.''

Tell me again, what our incredible spying and surveillance program is supposed to be doing? Because, I'm pretty sure this is the definition of "intelligence failure" in all senses of the phrase.

Comment: All taxpayers are forced to subsidize religion (Score 1) 700

Religious institutions own business and property. They don't have to pay taxes on any of this, which means that while *my* business and property taxes go up, they're free to continue on their merry way, polluting the airwaves with drivel, owning prime real estate forever without fear of confiscation by the authorities due to unpaid taxes, and so on. Nice deal, that.

If a religious organizations want to start a fan club with a big building, it's their business, but let them pay their share for the surrounding infrastructure (i.e. roads, law enforcement, flood control, sewage, etc.).

Comment: Re:Missed the obvious alternative (Score 1) 365

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49473569) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

Well, yes and no. You can produce electrical energy that way, but it's not a direct translation to the cheap portable transportation fuel which is what hydrocarbons provide and on which globe spanning supply chains depend.

You can make hydrogen, of course, but hydrogen isn't as energy dense, is hell on metals and sure isn't as easy or safe to handle as liquid hydrocarbons. You can make these as well, but the net energy return is abysmal, even compared to our ever shrinking net energy return from extracted hydrocarbons.

Moreover, if there's a serious economic/social breakdown glitch due to war or ignoring the hydrocarbon net energy depletion problem for too long, we won't be building nuclear power plants, or even maintaining current ones.

Comment: Worst candidate ever, except for all Republicans. (Score 1) 676

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49473513) Attached to: Hillary Clinton Declares 2016 Democratic Presidential Bid

Do I like Hillary Clinton? No?

Do I trust her? No, she's a career politician.

Is there a Republican candidate that's better? Right now, there's not one that doesn't make me want to spit on the sidewalk and curse.

As usual, we have the choice of the least awful. It may be a marginal difference, but it's what we have in our current oligarchy pretending to be a democracy.

Comment: Or perhaps MS wants out of the language biz (Score 0) 125

What better way to no rid themselves of an annoyance than to open source everything? Microsoft's treatment of their own development community over the last decade has ranged from apathetic to clueless to abusive. No automated migration path to move code from one platform to another. Dead ending VB6. Effectively dead-ending Winforms. Basically telling ISVs with established businesses and skill sets that their only option is an expensive recoding project, after they re-educate themselves.

I'm pretty sure this is the beginning of the end. Of developer support, and eventually, of Windows as a desktop OS.

And good riddance. You're a damn fool if you invest in any Microsoft technology at this point.

Comment: Re:It would speed up.. (Score 1) 365

by gestalt_n_pepper (#49471115) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

More likely, it would change in character. Solar panels are dependent on high tech, petroleum dependent factories. More likely, mirrors and lenses would become the solar power devices of choice, employed as steam generators, smelting devices, water purifiers and pumps and so on. While they'd be intermittent, their maintenance and manufacture are within the abilities of relatively low tech societies and they'd be good enough to charge the batteries, keep the crops watered, provide a constant supply of potable water (a very big problem) and allow for the recasting of all that refined metal still laying around.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.

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