[extropy-chat] Name that system

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Wed Dec 20 17:51:41 UTC 2006

At 05:35 PM 12/19/2006 -0800, you wrote:
>Keith Henson wrote:
> > At 10:54 AM 12/19/2006 -0800, Jef wrote:
> > >Over our evolutionary past, the individual always focused on its
> > >individual needs, and cooperation emerged unintentionally and
> > >sporadically, but persisted due to synergetic advantage.
> >
> > That's not exactly a correct model of the past.
>I know, and I thought of you when I wrote it, but my focus was not to
>describe the process of selection for inclusive fitness, but rather that
>it is so powerful that it has worked despite virtually all individuals
>acting out of narrow self-interest.

Heh.  Evolution holds *all* the cards.  It *defines* what we consider 
self-interest.  Consider the enjoyment of sex for example.  Is that 
*really* in your self interest?  But it doesn't matter, people with the 
genes for lacking interest in sex don't contribute such genes to the next 
generation.  So we have them (with rare exceptions).


> > If you want to exploit positive sum interactions,
> > understanding deeply wired in human motivation (such as the
> > universal human psychological trait to seek higher status) is
> > a good place to start.
> >
> > Payment in status is all people get from working on the
> > Wikipedia for example.  And it explains why so many people
> > try to be actors or writers.
>I agree with you about the motivating power of status, but I'm even more
>interested in positive-sum interactions of a substantial, tangible
>nature because these can form a robust foundation for not just growth by
>accumulation, but new kinds of growth.  This kind of second order
>benefit leads to doing more with less and carries a fitness advantage
>beyond that of just doing more of the same or even doing the same thing

I agree.  But let me give you a current example of how difficult it can be 
to overcome established biases.

You would not think the space elevator would be subject to "established 
biases," after all, there is no such thing and won't be for a decade or 
more even from the most optimistic viewpoint.  But (because the original 
concepts required taper, people thought they had to go up the elevator with 
a climber.

This led to Rube Goldberg concepts of electric motors and lasers beaming up 
power for the motors.  Plus going up slowly--which you have to do because 
of power and weight problems with motors--loads the cable much more than 
going up fast, not to mention that it subjects you to a long time in the 
Van Allen belt.  Projected efficiencies are in the 1-2% range.

Now as an engineer, I can tell you that's just awful, especially if you 
want to move enough cargo to displace the coal and nuclear plants with 
solar power satellites for baseline power.  (It's in the range of 2,000 
tons per day and takes about a Gw at 100% efficiency.)

So I was working on a book which included space elevators/solar power 
satellites last summer and came up with a way to effectively get step taper 
from a constant cross section cable with a mess of pulleys.  You can power 
it from the ground and/or GEO with mechanical power which right out of the 
box gives you 50 to 100 times energy efficiency improvement.

Not surprising the concept gets ignored to denigrated by the 
"establishment."  :-)

Picture here.  http://www.liftport.com/forums/showthread.php?t=538&page=1&pp=20

If it doesn't work, I can email a copy or attach to a post if that is allowed.

> > However, I must warn you that recognizing these motives may
> > get you into deep trouble with others.
>Except on the extropian list where we are all hard-core rationalists, if
>not followers of Crocker's Rule, and we love nothing better than for
>someone to help us see our true nature, right?  ;-)

People are *so* blind, present company probably not excepted.  Talk about 
hard-core rationalists, the Libertarians were so offended in ways they 
could not even verbalize by "Memes, MetaMemes and Politics" that the entire 
topic of memes was anathema to them for over ten years.  This was discussed 
in considerable detail here back in March 2006.  Search that month for 
"Lynch."  http://lists.extropy.org/pipermail/extropy-chat/2006-March.txt

> > Recognizing this feature in my own motivations (if only in a
> > theoretical
> > way) and writing about it got me lambasted from the bench by
> > a Federal Judge.
> >
> > Which in away was very amusing--because there is no more
> > obvious example than a federal judge for someone who has
> > traded income for high status.  (Federal judges typically
> > make less than half what they did as lawyers before being appointed.)
>You are soooo right about that.  But are you suggesting that there are
>people on this list who are similarly motivated by and vulnerable to
>issues of status?  ;-)


Of course, what's really amusing is *why* we seek status by such things as 
posting or  writing books or science papers.

Spending our time in singles bars would probably be much more 
efficient--though if quality is a consideration . . . .

But we live right at the end of the gene era so perhaps spreading memes 
instead of genes is the wave of the future.

Keith Henson

PS.  The space elevator cable is an early nanotechnology product.

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