[extropy-chat] Extinctions

Anders Sandberg asa at nada.kth.se
Mon Jun 12 00:25:07 UTC 2006

Damien Sullivan wrote:
> "It happens automatically but isn't morally doable"?  Mental skid. :)

:-) I meant that the population increase is indeed slowing down without
any coercive attempts in most parts of the world. But getting it to slow
down really fast would likely take fairly serious coercion a la China, and
that is unlikely to work morally or politically.

> Yes, it seems to follow female literacy and wealth (or just literacy),
> which is lucky for us, but it's probably also helped by access to birth
> control.  Contrast with current US government (and Catholic) policies
> which actively oppose birth control.  So push for a less obstructionist
> government, if not one which actively funds birth control, abortion
> access, and accurate information.

It is interesting to see that the numbers are down even highly Catholic
european countries, as well as many poorer countries that anyway seem to
be developing. Current US/Vatican interventions may be obnoxious, but I
don't think they can change the trend.

>> > Desalination has costs in brine disposal, but might still be a net
>> > positive if nuke- or solar- powered.
>> This is also a killer app for early nanotech.
> Mmm.  Reverse osmosis seems to be pretty good already, kilojoules per
> kilogram.

We need a better way of avoiding clogging, I think. And nanotech would
have a chance of making cheaper and perhaps more self-contained units.

>> I'm suspicious of the arcology idea, since most of its proponents have
>> made rather centralist assumptions and imagined that people would
>> naturally want to become good little homo sovieticus once they joined
>> the
>> collective. It would be interesting to design an agoric arcology that
>> actually used internal markets to be flexibly self-sustaining.
> "Just" roof (I imagine connected roofs or small domes are much easier
> than a Big Dome) over an existing city.  A moderately smart system could
> change albedo and ventilation, and presumably cut heating and cooling
> (and road clearing) costs a lot.  In summer have a mix of reflectors and
> open spaces, blocking sunlight and letting hot air escape; in winter
> have a transparent and greenhousey solid layer.

What about car exhaust smog and smoke from fires? Reducing the circulation
in the local microclimate might be a problem. Another issue is how to
direct rainfall, which is already a problem in cities (cities are great at
collecting and diverting rainfall, unfortunately polluting it in the
process). Most cities need it to keep clean and for the green areas.

I think roofing is not useful except when the costs of heating or cooling
the city are very high (far north, deserts). Hmm, combine it with a
stratospheric tower instead and use the city microclimate effect to power
the city as well as to condense out pollutants?

Anders Sandberg,
Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics
Philosophy Faculty of Oxford University

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