[extropy-chat] Forbes Magazine on Robotics

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Mon Aug 21 19:09:38 UTC 2006

At 12:29 PM 8/21/2006 -0400, Martin wrote:
>On 8/20/06, Keith Henson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:
> > >High altitude wind power is sufficient to supply the world's energy
> > >needs, according to many estimations.
> > The engineering problems for this are *worse* than a space elevator and
> > hundreds of power satellites.
>I disagree that it is /worse/.  Many things are hard until they are solved.

I don't know what level I should try to explain this.  Can you tell me 
where you are in technical background?

> > >Other than that, energy needs will be met with resources available
> > >locally: hydroelectric where rivers are available, solar at low
> > >latitudes, etc.  With advanced photovoltaic technology, every building
> > >could be energy self-sufficient.
> >
> > I agree with you, but I think you are talking post nanotechnology to do
> > it.  I don't see this inside what can be done pre singularity.
>I think this can be done NOW, without transhumanist technology like
>nano or AGI.  It takes a combination of alternative energy technology
>AND new efficiencies so that we cut energy consumption at the same
>time.  It should be enough to be wasteful, instead of really, really,
>really wasteful.

> > Do you understand the EP model of wars?
>Yes, but the model that you like to tout only accounts for a
>percentage of the variance.

Ok, based on evolutionary biology (you can include memetics) explain the 
rest of the variance.

>Also, I don't believe we will face the energy blight that you suggest,
>so the subsequent argument is moot.  It really depends on when Peak
>Oil happens.  In the worst case scenario, it happened on 5 December
>2005 (or somewhere around there -- they calculated it to the day).  In
>the best case scenario, we have 50-100 years, so if the experts know
>anything, your probability distribution is somewhere between there.
>But oil won't just dry up overnight.  It will decrease along a low
>slope over decades as the oil fields we find become smaller and
>smaller (by necessity it's easier to find the biggest ones), and the
>cost of extraction will increase.  We have some empirical data on how
>far supply has to drop below demand before catastrophe occurs.
>In the early 1970s, when OPEC decided to cap its oil production,
>supply fell behind demand by about 10%, and the price of gas
>quadruped.  In California, when natural gas supply fell about 10%
>behind demand, the cost of NG also  quadrupled.  We can conclude that
>supply only has to fall behind demand by about 15% before we reach an
>economic catastrophe.  That would happen about 20 years after Peak

I think you are not including the rapid increase in China's consumption.

>So even in the worst case scenario, we have another 20 years.  But
>looking at the probability distribution, the *most likely* time of
>Peak Oil is in about 20-30 years, which gives us 40-50 years within
>which alternative energy must take over.
>That's probably enough time, but we shouldn't be sitting on our hands
>at this point.

I agree.  I see two approaches that don't contribute to the greenhouse gas 
problem and are on a scale to replace oil.  Do you see others?


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