[extropy-chat] MARS: Because it is hard

Dan Clemmensen dgc at cox.net
Thu Apr 15 19:02:50 UTC 2004

Samantha Atkins wrote:

> On Apr 15, 2004, at 6:25 AM, Dan Clemmensen wrote:
>> Logically, we should redirect all R&D into nanotech and computing. 
>> One of
>> these two will get to the SI, and the SI will achieve any other 
>> research goal
>> sooner than we can achieve it without the SI. We do need to define 
>> nanotech
>> and computing fairly broadly. On the other hand, we cannot really use 
>> all that money
>> effectively, so it may be just as well to let most of society pretend 
>> that other
>> research is relevant :-)
> Why should we do any such mass redirection?  There are countless 
> pressing needs that we can address more than "good enough" without 
> nanotech.  A very large percentage are not even clearly helped much by 
> MNT.  Why wait for this magic bullet?    Ah, the smiley.  So what do 
> you really think?  :-)
What I really think is that there are a set of low-probability, 
long-payback projects that should be abandoned. I do not, however, 
believe that we should simply sit her, or that we should take the money 
we save and use it to reduce taxes. Instead, we should redirect that 
money to support of increasing our computer capacity and effectiveness.

Projects to kill:
    Advanced weapons procurement (some R&D is okay: procurement is a 
total waste.)
    Plasma and inertial fusion
    manned spaceflight
    large-scale alternative energy.

Projects to fund:
     Software tools
     Singularity research
     Small-scale, quick-turn chop manufacturing methods
     Real nanotech (not just any project that is buzz-phrase compliant.)
     Data communications (last mile.)

Please note: I put the projects on the "kill" list because of my 
estimate of their payback times. This has absolutely nothing to do with 
politics or the intrinsic merit of the project. In my opinion we will 
achieve results in those areas sooner of we direct research to the 
project in the second list.

For the "fund" list, I think that massive and ubiquitous computing 
capacity will drive an efficiency improvement in nanotech and computer 
research, and as a side effect will improve efficiencies in just about 
everything else. In my opinion most of the rest of computing is already 
funded as well as we can expect. I picked these particular areas because 
there are structural disincentives int he current economy that "pure" 
research might help overcome.

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