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Comment Re: Uh, no. (Score 1) 384

Given that there is "disparity between socioeconomic status of different races" it may be worth asking why?

Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis may have an answer. It's a painful one. Some groups of people were subjected to genetic selection over 20 generations or longer that was as intense as that the Russians applied to make tame foxes over the same number of generations.

Google "genetically capitalist" to read his fascinating paper on the topic.

Comment Re:OK, well, maybe. (Score 1) 111

It's hard to say. After some 30 years of knowing about nanotech/AI/singularity, I wrote a story "The Clinic Seed." If you have 15 minutes and want to read it, it's here:

It's an ambiguous story about the interactions of humans in a tiny African village (tata) and an extremely powerful medical AI. Wasn't saleable because it didn't have enough violence in it, though one scene has a 12 yo girl shot through the spine with a high velocity rifle.

Comment Re:In summary, evening is okay, cloudy weeks aren' (Score 1) 504

There is a way to beat the cloudy week problem, move the collectors up to 20 km.

That's the proposal for StratoSolar.

They also get relatively cheap storage by lifting weights into the sky when there is extra energy available and lowering them at night.

Estimation (which I didn't do) is 5 cents per kWh for base load power.

Another alternative is power satellites. Those could scale to 15 TW or more and displace fossil fuels entirely. Setting up the infrastructure to manufacture them in large numbers is expensive, on the order of $100 B. for more. Long term cost gets down to 2-3 cents per kWh, and synthetic oil made from off peak power would be $30-50 per bbl.

Comment Re:Not Infinite but Still Useful (Score 1) 431

I worked this out a few years ago for David MacKay (RIP). It took about 4% of the area of the UK to bring down enough power.

On the other hand, the rectennas can be put over farmland (20%) or pasture (40%).

Re expensive, they are to get started, order of $100 B, but constructed for $2400/kW ($12 B for 5 GW) they make power for 3 cents a kWh, and could go down to 2 cents. The trick here is to get the cost to lift the parts out to GEO down under $200/kg and the mass down to 6.5 kg/kW. Both look to be doable. Reaction Engines in the UK is working on Skylon and its engine. At the flight rate needed, their estimate is around $100/kg to LEO. From there up, it's arcjets using power beaming at 25 GHz to get the rectenna size down. Couple of videos are linked off (for design to cost).

Comment Re:All Grown Up (Score 1) 227

Your point about the engineering being tough is correct. I have been looking into maintaining a few hundred people in a 6 hour orbit. It takes about 6 meters of polyethylene to get the galactic cosmic ray does down to where people could live there long term.

Why people? They are there to deal with the unknown unknowns, i.e., unjamming the automation and fixing the machines that build power satellites. If some government or group of governments decides that we have to get off fossil fuels, that one of a very few options that scaled large enough to replace fossil fuels. Takes about 3000 5 GW power satellites to equal current fossil fuel production.

There are a couple of videos linked off If you want to take part, there is a google group you can join, power satellite economics.

Comment Re:Techies ARE improving the world (Score 1) 537

"We have gone 70 years without a major war."

Why did people fight in the stone age?

Over resources (mostly food).

When did they fight?

When things looked so bleak that fighting was better (on average) for their genes.

Low birth rate and any economic growth keeps the future from looking bleak and the mechanisms off that lead to wars and related social disruptions. This is the what happened in first world for most of the second half of the 20th century.

Most depressing science subject I know.

Comment No need (Score 1) 983

From the standpoint of economy, the cops did the right thing. In the end, the shooter probably would have killed himself rather than be captured. You have to be suicidal to get in a fire fight with the cops.

But they didn't have to go this direction. At some degree of risk, they could have waited till he went to sleep and captured him.

Comment Re:Shills, Shills Everywhere... (Score 1) 133

Shouldn't some blame be placed on the review sites, for not purchasing cards at retail? That's SOP for reviewing products in many industries.

High end video cards are pricy enough that reviewer are understandably not going to buy them. However, they could get same effect if they swapped the review card for an off the shelf one at retail.

Comment Something you can do. (Score 1) 281

Most of the time you can't do anything to counter such behavior in governments. But when it is companies . . . .

I had been an AT&T customer for decades, but when this happened I dropped them forever and told them why.

Looks like Citi will go into the same bin, though it's just stupid and not the kind of pain they caused Len Rose, his wife and kids.

Comment Re: If this is correct it should be easy to check (Score 1) 299

If someone can make a reactionless drive, then they have solved our energy problems as well. It's a simple thought experiment to see how a constant force can generate arbitrary amounts of power since the energy you can get out of a moving object is the product of the force and the velocity. Unless the power input goes up related to velocity, you can let it accelerate till it is going fast enough to tap for whatever amount of power you want. If the power input does depend on velocity, velocity with respect to what? And how would the device know how fast it is going?

Someone made a comment that EM drives could move power satellites to GEO. They didn't think it through. If they work, we can use them to create energy and not bother with power satellites.

Comment Simulations (Score 1) 951

The current cottage industry in philosophy departments of speculation about our living in a simulation stems from a conversation I had with Hans Moravec at the Artificial Life conference in 1987. (I was invited because I knew the organizer, when he was a volunteer at the L5 Society.) Hans was rapping about the ever falling cost of computation and waving around a two inch thick paper draft of “Mind Children.” On the spur of the moment, I stopped him and said, “Hans, do you realize how unlikely it is that this is the first time we have had this conversation?” Hans gave me this really blank look, rare on one of the brightest people I have known. I explained that, given the ever falling cost of computation, we would eventually simulate history, including this conversation. And like Civil War reenactments and SCA, we would do it many times, making the chances of this being the first time virtually zero. Hans went away sandbagged. He later wrote “Pigs in Cyberspace,” references here:

We also discussed the conversation and the topic on the Extropian mailing list in the early 1990s.

Thinking back, I must have had in the back of my mind a book, Simulacron-3, that I read many years before.

Elon Musk doesn’t take this speculation seriously because he consistently works hard to make our world a more interesting place. You can’t take a chance that this is not the base reality.

On the other hand, perhaps making the world more interesting is a way to keep the simulation sysops from turning it off. :-)

PS Speaking of making things more interesting
Shorter version that was shown at the White House recently

Comment Power satellite videoes (Score 1) 418

Rapidly ending the use of fossil fuels *without* something to replace them would result in a world wide famine. Fusion or some large number of fission plants could replace fossil fuels, or there is this

Shorter version that was shown a the White House recently

It's about power satellites as a solution for CO2


Comment Re:This is great (Score 1) 173

"Root causes" are not hard to understand given a background in evolutionary psychology.

Why do chimps and prestate people fight? It's over scares resources or a pending shortages. Humans were selected in the stone age for a behavior switch and to detect conditions where it was advantageous to their genes to switch into "war mode." For background: (Peer reviewed version behind a paywall)

How do you move the behavior switch to "peace mode" or keep it there? Steady or rising income per capita seems to do the job. Remember the IRA? The model notes that the Irish women cut the number of kids they had to about replacement. Economic growth got ahead of population growth and rising income per capital shut off the population support for the IRA. Due to their one child policy and rising standard of living, China is very unlikely to start a war. Iran has reached 2 children per woman and should become a reasonably peaceful country.

Prospects are not good for the rest of the Arab world. It's not just the high birth rates and low economic growth, it's the difficulty in changing either one either from inside Arab culture or outside it.

If you have any ideas, please email me. hkeithhenson at gmail dot com

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