[extropy-chat] Nuke 'em

Technotranscendence neptune at superlink.net
Mon Oct 24 01:47:50 UTC 2005

On Sunday, October 23, 2005 12:52 PM Robert J. Bradbury
bradbury at aeiveos.com wrote:
>> Which is not to say I'm against it.  Just
>> allow a free market in energy production
>> and if nuclear plants pop up all over...
> This may be a classic example where the
> "free market" may not be the right solution.
> Ideally one would like to mine the uranium,
> concentrate it into fuel, use it to generate
> electricity, breed any future fuel sources
> and transmute any radioactive "waste"
> materials into non-radioactive materials
> all at the same site.
> I.e. one only has non-dangerous materials
> going in and non-dangerous materials +
> energy coming out of such facilities.  Due
> to the different specializations in free market
> societies however (the mining companies are
> not the reactor builders are not the waste
> disposal companies) it is difficult to envision
> this without strong government incentives (or
> regulations) to promote the development of
> such energy production centers.

I'm sure you don't mean to say it's merely a lack of imagination.  :)  I
find it easy to envision either different firms (or individuals)
cooperating together via a market to achieve this or for one firm to
bundle these operations together.  Unlike you, I don't see a need for
heavy regulation.

Anyhow, if such regulation is going to be part of the process -- for
whatever reason, but most likely because some influential people want it
regulated and want government incentives (most like people in the energy
industry, who can use the regulations to lower competition and the
incentives are, well, a pure rent, no?) -- then when figuring out the
costs of nuclear power, one must figure this in.  In general, this
drives up the cost, don't you think?

> Also, it is worth noting as an aside, that once
> robust MNT becomes available, the problems
> currently being dealt with in Iran at this time
> (countries that want to enrich their own uranium)
> become much more widespread.

Well, that might be a "blessing" according to:


> One does not require large centralized facilities
> with specialized centrifuges for uranium
> enrichment.  It would be moderately easy for
> terrorist organizations to design, manufacture
> and distribute small nanotech based enrichment
> facilities (think along the lines of home shop tools).
> The only way out of this that I can see is massive
> education and economic "uplifting" efforts that
> would go hand-in-hand with nanotechnology
> development that would make terrorism as a
> whole a rather undesirable course to follow.  This
> is where Greg's concerns about government
> "intrusiveness" into private lives becomes a
> concern.  Detecting small home-based enrichment
> facilities would probably be a non-trivial problem.
> (It can be trivial if you allow nanorobot detection
> systems to run around searching for them -- but then
> you get into the intrusiveness problem.)

I think a better strategy is dispersal.  Sticking to one planet and
hoping that a government with that intrusive capability with both
succeed in prohibiting nuclear (and MNT) weapons and yet not become a
threat to humanity itself seems like a recipe for failure to me.  The
government could fail, in which case the costs are very high -- loss of
freedom plus having nuclear mayhem -- or it could "succeed," in which
cases the cost might be the total loss of freedom until someone can
overthrow it.

I'd also be more afraid of the equivalent of a 14-year-old hacker with
the weapons technology.  Terrorism might be easier to stop than some
teen that just wants to destroy a city or a biosphere for kicks.



"History is a selective recreation of the events of the past, according
to a historian's premises regarding what is important and his judgment
concerning the nature of causality in human action.  This selectivity is
a most important aspect of history, and it is this alone which prevents
history from becoming a random chronicling of events.  And since this
selectivity is necessary to history, the only remaining question is
whether or not such judgments will be made explicitly or implicitly,
with full knowledge of what one considers to be important and why, or
without such awareness.  Selection presupposes a means, method, or
principle of selection.  The historian's view of the nature of causality
in human action also is determined by a principle of selection." -- Roy

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