[ExI] FW: How Electricity Became a Luxury Good

spike spike66 at att.net
Tue Sep 10 23:02:01 UTC 2013






From: extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org
[mailto:extropy-chat-bounces at lists.extropy.org] On Behalf Of Kelly Anderson
Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2013 3:00 PM
To: ExI chat list
Subject: Re: [ExI] How Electricity Became a Luxury Good




On Tue, Sep 10, 2013 at 8:14 AM, spike <spike66 at att.net> wrote:

There is a good possibility we will not start on it until it is too late.


>Yes Spike, please do define too late.


>In Utah, Colorado and Wyoming, we have more fossil fuel BTUs than Saudi
Arabia, though it does exist in hard to mine and transform rock shale form.




Ja, all of these, but I was looking at the long term in the event that there
is some fundamental reason why a singularity is impossible.  For the record,
I think a singularity is both possible and inevitable, but there is value in
mapping out a future in which it is not, or a future in which the
singularity takes longer than we thought, analogous in a way to nuclear
fusion power.  We have coal and we have oil enough for now and the next
decade or two, but then what?


The notion of a poverty trap is real.  I have some distant cousins who are
trapped in that now: they live way the hell out in a holler in West
Virginia, and have only a vague notion of what a computer does.  I can't
even communicate with them: I have no intentions of writing on paper and
sending stuff with stamps on it.  I did that with their grandparents, will
not do it now.  That represents a group of people genetically similar to me,
who are in a poverty trap.  They do not use the internet; they are on the
other side of a chasm which I cannot or will not span.


We can imagine scenarios where humanity gets caught in a poverty trap, or a
memetic trap similar to what grips much of the middle east today.  The
collective dedication to Mormonism in those places traps both the believer
and unbeliever alike, slowing progress and causing retrogression.  If we
don't get something sustainable long term off the ground, I can easily
envision most of humanity being far more concerned with their next meal than
advancing science.


Regarding oil shale, oil sands, fracking, sure we can do all that, but what
I am looking at is a long term solution in the event that the singularity
doesn't happen.  These other things will work for our lifetimes perhaps, but
what then?  Also note that oil has made us comfortable and conservative.  We
don't want to change things when they work so well.  But China and India are
coming, and they read the internet too.  They want to live like we do.
Imagine that.  What happens to our oil reserves then?  Our coal reserves?


As an exercise Kelly, map out a future with optimistic models of current
energy resources, and anticipating the technological rise of China and
India.  Where does it lead?  Use top level estimates of greenhouse warming,
just using top level first order approximations, and include increased
radiation of heat with Boltzmann's law.  Where does it go?  What happens if
a billion Chinese people and another billion Indians want to drive SUVs?
Then a billion more middle easterners get tired of being poor?






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