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Comment Yup, very sad (Score 1) 477

Humanity rarely seems uglier then when seen through the lens of Internet comments. Yes, it's very sad. That said, this post asks "what to do". And there's really nothing one can do in that narrow context. Raise your kids well. Set a good example. But is there a particular way to respond to unhelpful Internet comments that will magically make them go away? I don't think so...

Comment Correlation, not causation (Score 1) 356

The article almost (?) seemed to imply that Elon targets industries where he can get government money. This seems to be a classic confusion of correlation VS causation. The reason he is in these industries is that he is a big thinker who is drawn to what he views are the most important problems that face humanity. And yes, those are also industries where, not surprisingly, there are subsidies.

Comment Likely Not Distopian (Score 1) 692

One premise that may need re-examination is that the earth doesn't have enough resources and space. A relatively small percentage of the earth is saturated with people, so there is lots of space to go around for the medium term of earth's future. What we are more constrained on are resources, and space does come into play there in terms of farm land, etc. But even there, the maximum potential of the earth to produce food is quite enormous. And while significant areas are currently unusable for food production (ex. the Sahara Desert), it's possible that in the future some of those areas may be transformed into productive areas. On the energy front, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about the future. Will nuclear fusion be a big player? Will solar efficiencies and costs come way down? While I may be an optimist, my sense is that it is likely given the rapid advancement of technology that in the long term we will have much more energy available per capita than we do today. Given the huge surface area of the earth, and the incredible amount of energy that shines on the earth each day, it's hard for me to imagine an energy scarce long term future, even with a population far greater than we have today. To talk specifics, imagine a "fully automated" solar infrastructure where the factory that produces the panels is 100% automated, the installation of panels is fully automated, the process of receiving orders and scheduling them is fully automated, etc. And imagine that at massive scale. That possibility alone, even with 20% efficient panels, is quite significant. On the flip side, thinking about curing the aging process. I'm highly skeptical that any one "trick" is going to stop the aging process. Yes, a discovery could be made that suddenly increases life spans to an average of 200 years or 1000 years, but I find it unlikely that human life spans could be extended beyond 10,000 years any time soon. I think the most important point, though, is that it seems very unlikely for human life spans to be infinite. Even if they are 10,000 years, that is very different than infinite. Another thing to consider is that with very long (but finite) life spans, the birth rate still needs to be 2 births per couple in order for the population of the earth not to decrease. It just means that your child rearing years become an increasingly short period of your life. Yet another important factor here is that for a long time now people have had the ability to choose how many children they have. Routinely in developed countries men get "snipped" after a couple has 2-3 kids. If we lived in a world where the average life span was 10,000 years, I think the most important change would be added social responsibility to get "snipped" after having a second child. And if people chose to have additional children, there might need to be some kind of financial cost (etc) so that people are appropriately incentivised to act in altruistic ways when planning family sizes. Such possibilities aren't really "pretty", but they're not exactly distopian if you ask me. What is most likely? Here are my best guesses for the future: - In the next century - Life spans increase further towards 200 years - The developing world's GDP grows very significantly, including food production (net positive food production) - The global birth rate drops very significantly, partly due to wealthy people having fewer kids, partly because of "social responsibility" - Automation and intelligent systems for the most part handle increases in world population, etc. (ex. making solar power much cheaper) - Further out - Life spans increase beyond 200 years, but 10,000 years - Diminishing returns: Further advances in life expectancy take longer to be made - The earth provides abundant energy via solar (as it does now, just not harnessed) - The earths surface is highly utilized (as opposed to now) - Couples have on average about 2 children, and their child rearing years become a smaller and smaller percentage of their lives - Significant social responsibility to get snipped after 2 kids. Social incentives to limit family size. All in all, my sense is that increased life spans don't automatically imply a distopian future, and in fact I think it's unlikely that they imply a distopian future. One facit of this that makes me sad, however, is that I wonder whether abortion will become more and more common in the future. I'm on the side of the fence that views abortion as a terrible thing, so increased abortion rates are not a happy thought...

Comment Re:Plenty to go around (Score 1) 692

Good thoughts. One possible tweak though is the premise that feeding corn to SUVs significantly reduces food supply. I don't know much about that in general but I watched an interesting documentary on Netflix yesterday called something like "The Pump" that argues that most corn gets used to feed animals, and that the process of turning corn into animal feed produces ethanol as a byproduct. The years that ethanol production was highest in the USA also saw huge excesses in corn. The sentiment is that food prices shot up because of high oil prices, not because of ethanol production, but people wove a story that implied causation of ethanol to food prices to discourage ethanol use. (and thus promote oil interests) Not sure how true that is, but it sounds like it could have merit.

Comment Genious! (Score 2) 131

This is such a great idea. Here is my 2 cents: When I was in high school, university, and then even in the working world, I started to notice a pattern: When I'd get stuck on a problem and I'd then go to get help, the act of describing the problem would lead to this light bulb moment in my head, and then I'd say "Sorry, actually, I think I just figured it out", and I'd impishly go back to my desk feeling badly for having bothered someone. My theory for why this happens so often is that the act of using the language parts of your brain to communicate something have significant affects on your ability to understand something and to gain insight into it. Exactly why this happens in such a powerful way, I'm not quite sure, but the affect seems to be pretty evident. Perhaps it even has to do with the part of your brain that tries to guess how someone will respond to your communication -- I think it's well understood that we have a powerful feature in our brain that tries to predict just prior to us saying something how another person will react, so that we presumably can avoid unwanted outcomes. But what happens when that predictor says "oh, duh, I know what they're going to say", and that happens to be a suggestion that leads to the answer. It almost seems connected to the "I want to avoid being embarrassed" impetus in our brain -- that as I'm explaining the problem, there's this fearful part of my brain that say "oh crap, this is probably something simple and I'm about to be embarrassed by how easy it is for them to correct my mistake", and then it frantically does some quick computations to figure out what silly little insight I missed that is going to lead to embarrassment, and then it comes running to my consciousness in the nick of time and say "WAIT WAIT, I have it!". Simply sitting at your desk stumped by a problem, and perhaps bored, don't elicit that same jolt of mental frenicity.(nice, I just made up a new word -- frenicity) I can definitely imagine that live streaming your coding and having to explicitly defend why you're doing something a certain way, etc, etc, could lead to some really nice benefits. This is also one advantage of working at home like I do... you can "talk to yourself" in various ways -- encourage yourself, defend your ideas to yourself as the judge, etc, and that all involves the explicit linguistic circuitry that normaly lay dormant if your'e sitting in a cube farm being quiet.

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