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Comment Re:Build colonies on Earth (Score 1) 256 256

I honestly think we'll see habitable spaces being set up far more affordably and efficiently than ever before in arctic & desert climates within the next 20 years, easily-- and I'd expect a number of them to be self sufficient, at least beyond their initial setup (and some occasional long term maintenance). With all the money and research across numerous fronts being firehosed into energy storage, we'll have the power to get it done. I certainly agree that this is a necessary development before we can think about getting offworld, and I hope to live to see it happen.

Comment my experience (Score 1) 498 498

If I had been able to obtain a gun a number of years ago when I hit rock bottom, I would no longer be here. I'm still not certain if that's a net positive yet (or even how to define such), but I can tell you that I'm deeply glad for all the great experiences I've had in the time since. I expect this approach will help some people. People like me.

Comment Re:TLDR - here's the list (Score 1) 213 213

Overpopulation is less of a concern now than it was a few decades ago. For starters, research has shown that people on both ends of the spectrum - the affluent and the abysmally poor - tend to have fewer children. This alone makes the situation somewhat self-correcting.

Beyond that, with advances in technology which make more and more previously inhospitable environments habitable with fewer resources (a necessary development if we're going to spread beyond this planet anyway, an ultimate answer to overpopulation), the issue disappears entirely. I expect that cheaper ways to store energy from already-cheap-and-getting-cheaper solar panels will pretty much put an end to the threat-- indoor temperature & humidity control, lighting (for growing food), water extraction from the air, refrigeration and robotics all get much more affordable under a 'better battery' scenario, something I now see as inevitable given the number of fronts on which that problem is being worked.

Comment There is a niche for this (Score 1) 133 133

Most of the top comments I'm seeing are pointing out the clearly false statement that farming hasn't changed much.

The more interesting thing to me here is the obvious potential for smaller groups of people with smaller amounts of land and money to run much more sophisticated food-growing operations than would otherwise be possible.

If you read the TFA, you might realize that the application of CNC-type tech to maintaining a complex mixed garden and maximizing its output is actually a pretty damn interesting and potentially very useful idea. Decentralizing more of our food production is absolutely essential to increasing our chances of long term survival as a species-- the more time goes on, the greater the likelihood is that a central point of failure (especially in a giant swath of identical plants) will be compromised.

Comment Re:let me correct that for you. (Score 1) 619 619

> Nor is it likely to ever happen.

I appreciate the general sense of disgust at humankind's continuous and pathetically predictable foibles from which this remark emanates, but come on now. We have no way of knowing this. 'Ever' is a pretty damn long time.

There are a lot of very intelligent and insightful people who've been saying for a long time that a society without a powerful, centralized authority is the only kind ultimately worth striving for. Personally, I doubt we'll survive as a species unless we accomplish some form of this.

Comment Re:Bad media coverage (Score 1) 1330 1330

From what I understand, Chic-Fil-A financially supported groups in Uganda that were literally seeking to pass laws allowing for the *execution* of homosexuals solely because of their orientation. So yes, at least indirectly, I equate that with an attack on gay people.

Comment Did I just wake up in 1950? (Score 1) 453 453

Seriously, TFS could have been taken 60+ years ago, word for word, right out of some pulpy newsstand rag with respectability in the middling range. I mean, it's great stuff, and I'm glad we're adding to the conversation... it's just that the essence of the conversation doesn't seem to have changed much.

Comment Not useful enough yet (Score 1) 180 180

These things are a joke. Their shortcomings are much like those of consumer robotics-- not enough sensors, not enough automation, dumb software and finicky interfaces. Until I can slap one on my body with minimal to no manual configuration and get accurate, reliable data complemented by accurate, reliable, non-obvious analysis (plus an easy way to get it all in tabular form for my own uses), all they do is add hassle to my life with insufficient justification.

Comment Re:Why two wheels? (Score 1) 144 144

Furthermore, what specific value is there in paying $24k for a two-wheeled vehicle which only fits one person and is by all appearances far more dangerous than the four-wheeled, fuel efficient vehicle I can buy for half that price, which fits five people plus drinks, snacks, luggage and more? This thing is absolutely ridiculous and completely impractical for the vast majority of people.

Comment Re:FAR better than fossil fuels, and even better t (Score 1) 191 191

I still don't understand why so many people have their head in the clouds about battery tech. Yes, it's an extremely important, key, vital piece of the puzzle in terms of a better future. However there is absolutely zero reason to believe that advances in energy storage will be in any way similar (in scope or in pace) to advances in microprocessors. It's not magic.

Electric cars, as they are currently being marketed, will simply not be competitive with their ICE brethren in any remotely near-term scenario without advances that are extremely unlikely. Furthermore, if such advances were to occur, the disruption to the global economy would be immense, and there are a lot of major players with a nearly unimaginably tremendous vested interest in slowing - if possible, even stopping - such disruption.

It sometimes almost seems like the public is being lulled into a false sense of security about what sorts of things are going to be possible in the near future (and what aren't).

Comment bridging the abstract-practical gap (Score 1) 594 594

My biggest pet peeve about education - and the reason I think fewer kids are interested in math & the other sciences than should be - is that most of the time, there is little to no opportunity for the conveyance of useful or interesting knowledge about how stuff works.

Yes, this is a complicated problem, because it's very difficult to find the balance between illuminating the function of a device or program enough to spark interest and overwhelming a child with too much technical information (so much knowledge is dependent on so much other knowledge and it gets exponentially more complex at every layer), but I really think that if more effort was made to craft useful summaries of how their iPods, PSPs and phones actually function, at least some kids would be more excited about learning the underlying 'abstracts'.

When one has at least a glimmer of understanding about how a seemingly dry subject connects to something with a higher 'coolness' factor, it's motivating, as I'm sure most people here know. Once a student grasps that it will give them more control over the tech tools they love so much (whose underlying operation is usually obscured by their interfaces) to be more fluent in math & physics, I think it might just give them the extra push to pursue those subjects a litte harder.

In keeping with this idea, I also think more schools should teach a lot more software design a lot earlier... just the other day I was helping install a Cat-6 network for a local middle school, and I asked what kind of programming classes they offered kids. The answer? None. I think that really sucks. The technology world would make more & better advances sooner if we would just give young people a chance to peek into it under the guidance of properly-equipped teachers & curriculums instead of forcing those who wish to learn more about it to pursue that knowledge only in their distraction-packed free time. Whether on a PC or via chalk on a blackboard, content that relates directly to the fascinating things happening in the real world is something I think schools need to give their charges a lot more of.

Imagination is more important than knowledge. -- Albert Einstein