[extropy-chat] [Bulk] Re: Forbes Magazine on Robotics

Keith Henson hkhenson at rogers.com
Tue Aug 22 02:23:51 UTC 2006

At 09:17 PM 8/21/2006 -0400, you wrote:
>On 8/21/06, Keith Henson <hkhenson at rogers.com> wrote:
> > >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?
>I have a BS in biology, an MS in biology, and am currently working on
>an MD.  I've taken college level physics and scored a 12 (91 - 96
>percentile) on the Physical Sciences section of the MCAT.
>You can be as technical as you want to be.

Unfortunately that might not help much.  Engineering is the practice of the 
paranoid, always worrying about thing like peak wind loads, icing, freeze 
thaw cycles, peak electrical system loading and the like.  Most of the 
time, most of the structure is just sitting there, unneeded.  Along comes 
Katrina and you discover how much more you needed.

Relative to earth, space is benign.  I would expect a power satellite to 
sit in orbit with little maintenance for decades

> > >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.
>I want to elaborate on the fact that cutting energy consumption should
>be part of the solution, and we already have ways of doing it.  A
>couple of 100 W light bulbs consume more energy than a computer
>(running routine tasks) or a television, and many other home
>electronic devices
>  Lights consume a considerable fraction of our home energy, and
>fluorescent lights with the same lux consume  75% less energy (I
>recently replaced some 40 W bulbs with 10 W fluorescent ones).
>Replacing all our lighting with fluorescent bulbs, using energy
>efficient appliances, heat pumps, etc., keeping the temperature low,
>keeping lights off when not in use, driving a car with > 40 mpg (or
>even > 50 mpg) fuel economy, these are all things we could do right
>now to cut our total energy consumption almost in half.  We may
>eventually be able to cut it 80%.

Some things like heat pumps that worked with 100% efficiency are still 
going to draw a lot of power just due to thermodynamics and the relative 
temperatures.  And while conserving is a good idea, such a path takes us 
out to where there is no slack in the system.


> > > > 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.
>There are lots of reasons why people go to war besides an evolved
>mechanism for profiteering being triggered by a blight.

Please name them.  I am not trying to be hard on you.  I am profoundly 
disturbed by the EP model and hope someone can come up with a way out of 
the dire future it predicts.

>[snip: predictions on the timing on Peak Oil]
> > I think you are not including the rapid increase in China's consumption.
>No, those predictions include the growth of China's and India's populations.

Consumption is growing much faster than population.

> > 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?
>Which ones are those?  I can think of many parts to the solution.
>Switching to renewable energy,

Satellite solar power is renewable and offers the prospect that it will be 
*much* less expensive than current or projected sources.

>though much more costly now, has hidden
>savings, such as decreases in smog-related incidents of disease,
>decreases in the attendant health care costs, reductions in military
>budgets needed to defend overseas oil interests, increased safety from
>terrorist threats when we decentralize our energy infrastructure, and
>the collapse of various despotic regimes when we are no longer forced
>to do business with them.
>Let's go.

You might consider that I have been in this business for over 30 years 
now.  Had we done power sats starting back then, the US would be a major 
energy exporter and we have no reason to be concerned about oil producers.

We didn't.  We are not likely to do anything useful about the energy 
problems unless someone can see huge profits to be made.

Keith Henson

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