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Essay contest: how should humanity steer its future?

The Foundational Questions Institute, which runs essay contests usually focused on physics, has suddenly chosen an essay topic perfectly suited to Azimuth:

I think we should contribute an essay! So, the first question is, what should we talk about. Here is some advice from the FQXi:

Dystopic visions of the future are common in literature and film, while optimistic ones are more rare. This contest encourages us to avoid potentially self-fulfilling prophecies of gloom and doom and to think hard about how to make the world better while avoiding potential catastrophes.

Our ever-deepening understanding of physics has enabled technologies and ways of thinking about our place in the world that have dramatically transformed humanity over the past several hundred years. Many of these changes have been difficult to predict or control—but not all.

In this contest we ask how humanity should attempt to steer its own course in light of the radically different modes of thought and fundamentally new technologies that are becoming relevant in the coming decades. In this vein we ask questions such as:

  • What is the best state that humanity can realistically achieve?

  • What is your plan for getting us there? Who implements this plan?

    • What technology (construed broadly to include practices and techniques) does your plan rely on? What are the risks of those technologies? How can those risks be mitigated?

(Note: While this topic is broad, successful essays will not use this breadth as an excuse to shoehorn in the author's pet topic, but will rather keep as their central focus the theme of whether information or “material” objects are more fundamental.)

I think the parenthetical remark is left over from a previous contest!

Here are some of the rules:

Submission: Essays and accompanying material must be submitted online using the webform between the dates of January 9, 2014 (commencing 4:00 PM Eastern Time), and April 18, 2014 (until 11:59PM Eastern Time). Applicants must provide accurate contact information, an abstract of their essay, a brief biographical statement, and their essay. Immediately after an essay application is submitted, the applicant will receive an application confirmation email containing this information at their specified email address. This confirmation DOES NOT mean your essay has been accepted into the Contest. All essays will be reviewed for rule compliance (see "Publication" below) and those that are eligible will be posted online within 10 days. Essays received on the deadline date will be posted in batches for up to 10 days after the contest ends.

Please note: You will be required to register an email address with fqxi.org and set up an account to enter the Contest. This information is available on the application page.

Acceptability: In order to be judged, essays must at least satisfy minimal professional standards of acceptability for publication, both qualitative and quantitative.

Format & length: Essays must be submitted as PDF documents via the webform.

Eligible essays must comply with these guidelines:

The body of the essay may not exceed 9 pages or 25,000 characters (not including spaces). To ensure your submission fits the character count, you can use our online character counter.

The length of the body of the essay must not exceed 9 pages, including figures and equations, calculated based on a standard 8 ½ x 11 inch single-sided page with 1 inch margins. The following can be appended to these 9 pages: one page of references, and up to two pages of technical endnotes. No essay text (such as textual footnotes), figures, notations, or equations can be included in the reference section. The technical endnotes are meant to provide an opportunity for additional technical detail while retaining a readable, accessible, and self-contained essay body; all essay reviewers, including the Expert Judges, will be encouraged to focus on the body of the essay, and use the endnotes only as a technical supplement to a self-contained work.

Color figures as well as hyperlinks within the document are acceptable.

Comments

  • 1.
    nad
    edited January 2014

    Enchanting Guidelines:

    All Prizes are subject to United States Income Tax. Winners are required to furnish FQXi with appropriate tax forms for reporting the Prize, and applicable taxes may be withheld from the Prize.

    For a german this seems to mean: the need to hire a tax consultant who costs more than you could probably ever win. Or in "entrepreneur-speak": This is a high risk investment and should thus at least promise the possibility of high wins. So viewed from the entrepreneurs side: the possibility of high wins wouldn't be here for a german given the amount of the price money and the to be expected tax difficulties.

    (I was a bit learning this entrepreneur-speak last year, like I was told that giving lectures in photovoltaics for 23.50 Euros the lecture hour (exam preparation due but not paid) was rightous "stupid" and "anti-entrepreneurial thinking" (added explanation to this:"Es muss ja auch nicht jeder Friseuse werden" (transl: "Not everybody needs to be a hair-dresser" (the wages for hair dressers are very low in Germany) )

    and again from the Guidelines:

    By submitting an entry in the contest, the author agrees to...waive any right to pursue....the use of the submitted essay, the author's name, and biographical information...

    and from the FAQ:

    Can I also post my essay elsewhere on the internet, like the Arxiv or a personal blog? No problem. But we do ask that you don't submit it to a journal, or otherwise publish the essay until after the Contest is completed, and if the essay wins a prize, only after consultation with FQXi.

    So if I understand this correctly this means further commercial applications like selling the text, like within a book might be rightous forbidden by FQXI, so one has to assume that indeed the price money may stay the only possible income source for the essay.

    Since I currently think about wether I should become an entrepreneur (even if my current entrepreneurial idea for selling certain household-goods, hasn't sofar really proofed to be on a sustainable footing) I thus unfortunately have to decline to work on this project (the household-good market is also sufficiently apart from the futorologists market, that even from an advertising viewpoint this seems to make no sense).

    But you can have some ideas from me: like I think it would be eventually good to start out with the premise that it would be good for humanity to transport the earth out of the solar system within the next 4 billion years (let's assume for the moment that the current scientific calculations about the solar systems life time are good enough......) and then work backwards, like wether (future) humans are in principle too stupid to accomplish this and wether one should better tinker around with singularity-AI's or eventually with high-boostpimped-up hybrid humans, and like what energy needs are required for this (like what is the current next possibly inhabitable galaxy and how much energy would one need to shoot the earth there by balancing this with the energy needs which are needed for shielding and sustaining at least some life on earth for the travel, what about space-time warps etc. and then one needs to discuss wether given the current circumstances such a plan would be at all approved with all the due restrictions this could imply. I mean there are enough people who prefer to settle down with their own colonies somewhere in space and there are enough religions who think that eventually some god-like avatars or what do I know will come down from the heavens to help out and that everything will work out without doing much - apart from maybe praying.

    Comment Source:Enchanting <a href="http://fqxi.org/community/essay">Guidelines:</a> >All Prizes are subject to United States Income Tax. Winners are required to furnish FQXi with appropriate tax forms for reporting the Prize, and applicable taxes may be withheld from the Prize. For a german this seems to mean: the need to hire a tax consultant who costs more than you could probably ever win. Or in "entrepreneur-speak": This is a high risk investment and should thus at least promise the possibility of high wins. So viewed from the entrepreneurs side: the possibility of high wins wouldn't be here for a german given the amount of the price money and the to be expected tax difficulties. (I was a bit learning this entrepreneur-speak last year, like I was told that giving lectures in photovoltaics for 23.50 Euros the lecture hour (exam preparation due but not paid) was rightous "stupid" and "anti-entrepreneurial thinking" (added explanation to this:"Es muss ja auch nicht jeder Friseuse werden" (transl: "Not everybody needs to be a hair-dresser" (the wages for hair dressers are very low in Germany) ) and again from the Guidelines: >By submitting an entry in the contest, the author agrees to...waive any right to pursue....the use of the submitted essay, the author's name, and biographical information... and from the FAQ: >Can I also post my essay elsewhere on the internet, like the Arxiv or a personal blog? No problem. But we do ask that you don't submit it to a journal, or otherwise publish the essay until after the Contest is completed, and if the essay wins a prize, only after consultation with FQXi. So if I understand this correctly this means further commercial applications like selling the text, like within a book might be rightous forbidden by FQXI, so one has to assume that indeed the price money may stay the only possible income source for the essay. Since I currently think about wether I should become an entrepreneur (even if my current entrepreneurial idea for selling certain household-goods, hasn't sofar really proofed to be on a sustainable footing) I thus unfortunately have to decline to work on this project (the household-good market is also sufficiently apart from the futorologists market, that even from an advertising viewpoint this seems to make no sense). But you can have some ideas from me: like I think it would be eventually good to start out with the premise that it would be good for humanity to transport the earth out of the solar system within the next 4 billion years (let's assume for the moment that the current scientific calculations about the solar systems life time are good enough......) and then work backwards, like wether (future) humans are in principle too stupid to accomplish this and wether one should better tinker around with singularity-AI's or eventually with high-boostpimped-up hybrid humans, and like what energy needs are required for this (like what is the current next possibly inhabitable galaxy and how much energy would one need to shoot the earth there by balancing this with the energy needs which are needed for shielding and sustaining at least some life on earth for the travel, what about space-time warps etc. and then one needs to discuss wether given the current circumstances such a plan would be at all approved with all the due restrictions this could imply. I mean there are enough people who prefer to settle down with their own colonies somewhere in space and there are enough religions who think that eventually some god-like avatars or what do I know will come down from the heavens to help out and that everything will work out without doing much - apart from maybe praying.
  • 2.

    This looks like an interesting side project to work on..

    Comment Source:This looks like an interesting side project to work on..
  • 3.
    edited January 2014

    Here's the sentence Nad abbreviated:

    By submitting an entry in the contest, the author agrees to release, defend and hold harmless the Contest Entities and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, agents, volunteers, the Contest judges, and their affiliates, heirs, successors and assigns from and against, and waive any right to pursue, any and all claims of any nature whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the Contest, the selection of Winners, and the use of the submitted essay, the author's name, and biographical information as authorized under these Contest rules.

    What you're waiving the right to pursue is "any and all claims arising out of in connection with the contest". I'm not sure what that means. Given the first part of the sentence it seems they're mainly worried about someone suing them. But, they might also interpret that to mean you can't sell the essay.

    Personally I wouldn't want to sell the essay; I'd just want to publicize it. I'd also want to write it in a public way, with the author being The Azimuth Project, soliciting comments as the essay gets written. After all, the process of thinking about the topic might be more useful than the final essay!

    So, I'll have to see if something like that is allowed. I'll email them.

    Comment Source:Here's the sentence Nad abbreviated: > By submitting an entry in the contest, the author agrees to release, defend and hold harmless the Contest Entities and each of their respective directors, officers, employees, agents, volunteers, the Contest judges, and their affiliates, heirs, successors and assigns from and against, and waive any right to pursue, any and all claims of any nature whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the Contest, the selection of Winners, and the use of the submitted essay, the author's name, and biographical information as authorized under these Contest rules. What you're waiving the right to pursue is "any and all claims arising out of in connection with the contest". I'm not sure what that means. Given the first part of the sentence it seems they're mainly worried about someone suing them. But, they might also interpret that to mean you can't sell the essay. Personally I wouldn't want to sell the essay; I'd just want to publicize it. I'd also want to write it in a public way, with the author being The Azimuth Project, soliciting comments as the essay gets written. After all, the process of thinking about the topic might be more useful than the final essay! So, I'll have to see if something like that is allowed. I'll email them.
  • 4.

    John wrote:

    What you’re waiving the right to pursue is “any and all claims arising out of in connection with the contest”

    there is a comma behind that and the following text contains no other verb that means this has to be understood as:

    -waive any right to pursue, any and all claims of any nature whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the Contest .

    -waive any right to pursue the selection of Winners .

    -waive any right to pursue the use of the submitted essay .

    -waive any right to pursue the author’s name, and biographical information as authorized under these Contest rules.

    this means they may in principle even forbid the publication in Azimuth. They say in their FAQ (be careful this is NOT the Guideline and thus of less juridicial value!!!) that they wouldn't do that, but that one has to "ask" "only" in case of commercial use, again from the FAQ:

    Can I also post my essay elsewhere on the internet, like the Arxiv or a personal blog? No problem. But we do ask that you don’t submit it to a journal, or otherwise publish the essay until after the Contest is completed, and if the essay wins a prize, only after consultation with FQXi.

    You may email them but I don't know how juridicially reliable this is if some employe assures you something, which is not in the guidelines.

    I was loosely thinking of writing something in this direction in the connection of my "game project", which might partially end up in a blog post but which I would eventually also like to sell. I currently don't have an income as you John, so I can't really afford too much publishing without some kind of payment. I haven't sofar figured out how to generate that income, so I often "publish" for free instead of doing nothing, but in the long run that's not good.

    Due to the costs for tax consultants and strange health insurance rules here in Germany I would acutally loose money by winning the contest if I wouldnt win the first price. That is like if I would work once a year as I did like at HTW then I can still life on Tims health insurance, because the income is so low. If I however win then this price then I would need to pay the minimum health insurance for a freelancer* which is at least 356.69 Euros a month (there are exeptions where it s a bit cheaper for "founders", but you can use them only once) for a whole year, which is 4280.28 Euros. The price money of 5000 Dollars is of today only 3695 Euros. If I don't find work during this year we would thus have a minus of around 600 Euros....if we assume that there are no tax deductions..... Which is really a lot for us. More optimistically seen, if I find work this means that I would at least have the possibility to do other freelance work for a 50 Euro/month health insurance. BUT then I have to declare that income in the US AND here, and this is rather unthinkable without some consultancy (We went through this once). So I would in addition need to pay for tax consultants and then the minus gets I dare say probably already existential.

    *I should also mention that professional journalists and designers in Germany are elegible for a special social insurance (the "artists insurance"), which is cheaper. But you can enter this only if you have been working (means generated income) in such an area or if you like come from a design or journalist school. So this doesn't apply to me.

    After all, the process of thinking about the topic might be more useful than the final essay!

    No in a discussion or during brainstorming there are usually many options and I think it is important to summarize and to filter out essentials. I find that the most strenous part.

    Like for example if you carry on with my above proposed ideas. Then you have to go on and think about possible realizations, and which to take like for example for the journey you could put clouds into the sky which would mirror light from the earth, powered by nuclear fusion to keep up photosynthesis or you could develop beings which don't need photosythesis or you could demand life to shrink to a small habitat under a dome...

    This looks like an interesting side project to work on..

    So if you think about these things in all scope then even without details this actually requires quite some work and I wouldn't call this a side project.

    Comment Source:John wrote: >What you’re waiving the right to pursue is “any and all claims arising out of in connection with the contest” there is a comma behind that and the following text contains no other verb that means this has to be understood as: >-waive any right to pursue, any and all claims of any nature whatsoever arising out of or in connection with the Contest . >-waive any right to pursue the selection of Winners . >-waive any right to pursue the use of the submitted essay . >-waive any right to pursue the author’s name, and biographical information as authorized under these Contest rules. this means they may in principle even forbid the publication in Azimuth. They say in their FAQ (be careful this is NOT the Guideline and thus of less juridicial value!!!) that they wouldn't do that, but that one has to "ask" "only" in case of commercial use, again from the FAQ: >Can I also post my essay elsewhere on the internet, like the Arxiv or a personal blog? No problem. But we do ask that you don’t submit it to a journal, or otherwise publish the essay until after the Contest is completed, and if the essay wins a prize, only after consultation with FQXi. You may email them but I don't know how juridicially reliable this is if some employe assures you something, which is not in the guidelines. I was loosely thinking of writing something in this direction in the connection of my "game project", which might partially end up in a blog post but which I would eventually also like to sell. I currently don't have an income as you John, so I can't really afford too much publishing without some kind of payment. I haven't sofar figured out how to generate that income, so I often "publish" for free instead of doing nothing, but in the long run that's not good. Due to the costs for tax consultants and strange health insurance rules here in Germany I would acutally loose money by winning the contest if I wouldnt win the first price. That is like if I would work once a year as I did like at HTW then I can still life on Tims health insurance, because the income is so low. If I however win then this price then I would need to pay the minimum health insurance for a freelancer* which <a href="https://www.tk.de/tk/bei-der-tk-versichert/selbststaendige/selbststaendige/346546">is at least</a> 356.69 Euros a month (there are exeptions where it s a bit cheaper for "founders", but you can use them only once) for a whole year, which is 4280.28 Euros. The price money of 5000 Dollars is of today only 3695 Euros. If I don't find work during this year we would thus have a minus of around 600 Euros....if we assume that there are no tax deductions..... Which is really a lot for us. More optimistically seen, if I find work this means that I would at least have the possibility to do other freelance work for a 50 Euro/month health insurance. BUT then I have to declare that income in the US AND here, and this is rather unthinkable without some consultancy (We went through this once). So I would in addition need to pay for tax consultants and then the minus gets I dare say probably already existential. *I should also mention that professional journalists and designers in Germany are elegible for a special social insurance (the "artists insurance"), which is cheaper. But you can enter this only if you have been working (means generated income) in such an area or if you like come from a design or journalist school. So this doesn't apply to me. >After all, the process of thinking about the topic might be more useful than the final essay! No in a discussion or during brainstorming there are usually many options and I think it is important to summarize and to filter out essentials. I find that the most strenous part. Like for example if you carry on with my above proposed ideas. Then you have to go on and think about possible realizations, and which to take like for example for the journey you could put clouds into the sky which would mirror light from the earth, powered by nuclear fusion to keep up photosynthesis or you could develop beings which don't need photosythesis or you could demand life to shrink to a small habitat under a dome... >This looks like an interesting side project to work on.. So if you think about these things in all scope then even without details this actually requires quite some work and I wouldn't call this a side project.
  • 5.
    nad
    edited January 2014

    I should also may be point out that I did the calculation of how much of my "social benefits" from my husband Tim would be left if I would need to pay the minimum health insurance for freelancers with my HTW income. That is for calculating my 2012 "wage with benefit" I took Tims and my salary from HTW and the child benefits (164 Euros per child) from 2012 deducted taxes, "his health insurance", his pure living and commuting train costs, deducted a rent of 1200 Euros for a German city appartment (e.g. approx. price for 90 sqm at a loud street in munich) which is approx. the allowed social benefit household size and divided this by the number of members of this household. If I deduce from this the minimum health insurance of 356.69 Euros I would be below the official minimum social benefits money for a "work searcher" called "Hartz IV" which are currently 391 Euros a month for an adult in Germany (here rent and heating go extra). But since I wouldn't be registered as receiving social benefits I wouldn't however be elegible to reduced public transport, museums, music schools etc.

    For someone outside of Europe 391 Euros may sound a lot. However if you take into consideration that for example apples currently cost -if you do time consuming price hunts around 2 Euro a kg, if you go to a normal supermarket they cost 3-5 Euros the kilogram then this may eventually sound less. If you want to buy organic food than apart from cabbages and carrots vegetable prices start at 3 euros/kilo. A kilogram organic red pepper costs in Berlin currently 7 Euros. That is it is rather tough to life on that. But yes you don't (yet!) need to starve like it is the case in some other countries, but things are tightening up already within Europe, that is restrictions like for migrant workers from eastern Europe are currently considered/taking place.

    Comment Source:I should also may be point out that I did the calculation of how much of my "social benefits" from my husband Tim would be left if I would need to pay the minimum health insurance for freelancers with my HTW income. That is for calculating my 2012 "wage with benefit" I took Tims and my salary from HTW and the child benefits (164 Euros per child) from 2012 deducted taxes, "his health insurance", his pure living and commuting train costs, deducted a rent of 1200 Euros for a German city appartment (e.g. approx. price for 90 sqm at a loud street in munich) which is approx. the allowed social benefit household size and divided this by the number of members of this household. If I deduce from this the minimum health insurance of 356.69 Euros I would be **below** the official minimum social benefits money for a "work searcher" called "Hartz IV" which are currently <a href="http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zweites_Buch_Sozialgesetzbuch">391 Euros</a> a month for an adult in Germany (here rent and heating go extra). But since I wouldn't be registered as receiving social benefits I wouldn't however be elegible to <a href="http://www.berlin.de/sen/soziales/sicherung/berlinpass/allgemeines/">reduced public transport, museums, music schools etc. </a> For someone outside of Europe 391 Euros may sound a lot. However if you take into consideration that for example apples currently cost -if you do time consuming <a href="http://www.supermarktcheck.de/product/88833-tafelaepfel-rot">price hunts</a> around 2 Euro a kg, if you go to a normal supermarket they cost 3-5 Euros the kilogram then this may eventually sound less. If you want to buy organic food than apart from cabbages and carrots vegetable prices start at 3 euros/kilo. A kilogram organic red pepper costs in Berlin currently 7 Euros. That is it is rather tough to life on that. But yes you don't (yet!) need to starve like it is the case in some other countries, but things are tightening up already within Europe, that is restrictions like for migrant workers from eastern Europe are currently considered/taking place.
  • 6.
    nad
    edited January 2014

    ...for the journey you could put clouds into the sky which would mirror light from the earth, powered by nuclear fusion to keep up photosynthesis or

    is there enough fusion material on earth for that journey?

    or maybe if mankind would have figured out the code of reality and if it would have figured out how to access it and how to modify it then it could eventually just beam itself and the earth to another Galaxy....if it still exists until then....

    Comment Source:>...for the journey you could put clouds into the sky which would mirror light from the earth, powered by nuclear fusion to keep up photosynthesis or is there enough fusion material on earth for that journey? or maybe if mankind would have figured out the code of reality and if it would have figured out how to access it and how to modify it then it could eventually just beam itself and the earth to another Galaxy....if it still exists until then....
  • 7.

    is there enough fusion material on earth for that journey?

    Depends on how picky you make your system. Ideally, you could scoop up fuel to fuse through gas planets if you aren't demanding only specific isotopes of hydrogen to fuse, or if you have efficient ways of turning the hydrogen and helium into those specific isotopes.

    So if you think about these things in all scope then even without details this actually requires quite some work and I wouldn’t call this a side project.

    It's a side project in the sense that it's smaller than my main projects and I'd be doing this on the side.. o_o

    While I do like the idea of spreading humanity everywhere via generation ships, I feel like any good direction toward this would also require a parallel or prior step of a near unanimous common state on Earth such that we could institute something akin to the Space Race during the Cold War, but on a much, much grander scale.

    Comment Source:>is there enough fusion material on earth for that journey? Depends on how picky you make your system. Ideally, you could scoop up fuel to fuse through gas planets if you aren't demanding only specific isotopes of hydrogen to fuse, or if you have efficient ways of turning the hydrogen and helium into those specific isotopes. >So if you think about these things in all scope then even without details this actually requires quite some work and I wouldn’t call this a side project. It's a side project in the sense that it's smaller than my main projects and I'd be doing this on the side.. o_o While I do like the idea of spreading humanity everywhere via generation ships, I feel like any good direction toward this would also require a parallel or prior step of a near unanimous common state on Earth such that we could institute something akin to the Space Race during the Cold War, but on a much, much grander scale.
  • 8.
    nad
    edited January 2014

    Depends on how picky you make your system. Ideally, you could scoop up fuel to fuse through gas planets if you aren’t demanding only specific isotopes of hydrogen to fuse, or if you have efficient ways of turning the hydrogen and helium into those specific isotopes.

    Yes incidentally I read today in the newspaper (article in german: http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wissen/gaswolke-seltener-blick-auf-kosmisches-riesennetz,10808894,25942996.html Seltener Blick auf komisches Riesennetz based on an http://www.nature.com/news/light-from-ancient-quasar-reveals-intergalactic-web-1.14550 article in Nature) that the group of http://www.astro.ucsc.edu/about_department/people/singleton.php?&singleton=true&cruz_id=scantalu Prof. Cantalupo found a giant gas cloud with a size of two light years next to a quasar. So if this thing is along your route and if you can escape the black hole while harvesting hydrogen for the fusion process then picking up fuel might apriori be an interesting option.

    It’s a side project in the sense that it’s smaller than my main projects and I’d be doing this on the side.. o_o

    Well I don't know how fast you are, but at least for this essay the question of how humanity has to steer its future has to be decided by April 18, 2014 (until 11:59PM Eastern Time).

    so regardless how the relative size of your other projects is this is quite a short time for such a question and at least I would probably need to drop quite a couple of my "projects"/work for some while in order to adress this question in an at least halfbakedhalfwaythoughtthrough way. Like people haven't yet really managed to get nuclear fusion going in a sustainable way and then it is not such an easy question to think how for example such a stellarator engine could be used for keeping up photosynthesis. And in particular one would have to do at least some research on which materials could be reflective enough to be put into the Air for the cloud mirror. Then given the relection coefficient one should do eventually little ad hoc estimations on how much radiative energy one would need to shoot up , or wether it makes eventually more sense to built giant towers, from where the light is beamed down or both. etc. One would also need to think about the "rocket engine"....and especially where to place it, I guess no country would like to have this thing in it's backyard.

    Comment Source:>Depends on how picky you make your system. Ideally, you could scoop up fuel to fuse through gas planets if you aren’t demanding only specific isotopes of hydrogen to fuse, or if you have efficient ways of turning the hydrogen and helium into those specific isotopes. Yes incidentally I read today in the newspaper (article in german: http://www.berliner-zeitung.de/wissen/gaswolke-seltener-blick-auf-kosmisches-riesennetz,10808894,25942996.html Seltener Blick auf komisches Riesennetz based on an http://www.nature.com/news/light-from-ancient-quasar-reveals-intergalactic-web-1.14550 article in Nature) that the group of http://www.astro.ucsc.edu/about_department/people/singleton.php?&singleton=true&cruz_id=scantalu Prof. Cantalupo found a giant gas cloud with a size of two light years next to a <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quasar">quasar</a>. So if this thing is along your route and if you can escape the black hole while harvesting hydrogen for the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_fusion">fusion process</a> then picking up fuel might apriori be an interesting option. >It’s a side project in the sense that it’s smaller than my main projects and I’d be doing this on the side.. o_o Well I don't know how fast you are, but at least for this essay the question of how humanity has to steer its future has to be decided by April 18, 2014 (until 11:59PM Eastern Time). so regardless how the relative size of your other projects is this is quite a short time for such a question and at least I would probably need to drop quite a couple of my "projects"/work for some while in order to adress this question in an at least halfbakedhalfwaythoughtthrough way. Like people haven't yet really managed to get nuclear fusion going in a sustainable way and then it is not such an easy question to think how for example such a <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8e/Interior_of_W7-X_stellarator.jpg">stellarator</a> engine could be used for keeping up photosynthesis. And in particular one would have to do at least some research on which materials could be reflective enough to be put into the Air for the cloud mirror. Then given the relection coefficient one should do eventually little ad hoc estimations on how much radiative energy one would need to shoot up , or wether it makes eventually more sense to built giant towers, from where the light is beamed down or both. etc. One would also need to think about the "rocket engine"....and especially where to place it, I guess no country would like to have this thing in it's backyard.
  • 9.

    Nad wrote:

    You may email them but I don’t know how juridicially reliable this is if some employee assures you something, which is not in the guidelines.

    I'm not very worried about these things since I'm a member of the FQXi and a sort of well-known scientist, so they're not likely to sue me: it would be cost them too much bad publicity, especially since I'd be giving them an essay for free, and only wanting to publicize it.

    For me the main question is not any sort of legal matter: it's whether anyone else on Azimuth is interested in writing up a paper related to Plan C. (Of course everyone can do what they want, but that's what I'm interested in.) So far there seems to be no interest.

    Comment Source:Nad wrote: > You may email them but I don’t know how juridicially reliable this is if some employee assures you something, which is not in the guidelines. I'm not very worried about these things since I'm a [member](http://fqxi.org/members) of the FQXi and a sort of well-known scientist, so they're not likely to sue me: it would be cost them too much bad publicity, especially since I'd be giving them an essay for free, and only wanting to publicize it. For me the main question is not any sort of legal matter: it's whether anyone else on Azimuth is interested in writing up a paper related to [[Plan C]]. (Of course everyone can do what they want, but that's what I'm interested in.) So far there seems to be no interest.
  • 10.

    Hi John, I'm interested. I only didn't volunteer since I feel behind on things related to the book etc. and don't want to take on any more projects until we finish it. It's also such a nice chance to write something with you, which I've already had the pleasure of doing I thought everyone would jump at this.

    Comment Source:Hi John, I'm interested. I only didn't volunteer since I feel behind on things related to the book etc. and don't want to take on any more projects until we finish it. It's also such a nice chance to write something with you, which I've already had the pleasure of doing I thought everyone would jump at this.
  • 11.

    it’s whether anyone else on Azimuth is interested in writing up a paper related to Plan C.

    John I think we won't agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context.

    Apart from this I really think for the question of how humanity should steer it's future one shouldn't only
    consider the short to intermediate future into account, although it is of course important too, but it may be important to sidestep and really think about what humanity means, what our culture and development means even in this long term perspective of 4 billion years and what we would like that should happen with this planet.

    Comment Source:>it’s whether anyone else on Azimuth is interested in writing up a paper related to Plan C. John I think we won't agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context. Apart from this I really think for the question of how humanity should steer it's future one shouldn't only consider the short to intermediate future into account, although it is of course important too, but it may be important to sidestep and really think about what humanity means, what our culture and development means even in this long term perspective of 4 billion years and what we would like that should happen with this planet.
  • 12.
    edited January 2014

    John I think we won’t agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context.

    Right, I know we don't agree on that and are unlikely to reach agreement - at least, not by April 18. So here's a question: would you be willing to work on this essay if we focus on the idea of Plan C instead of specifics like nuclear fission?

    Here's my rough idea:

    The idea of Plan C is, very roughly, that people not affiliated with governments should start developing "backup plans" for dealing with global warming, mass extinction, resource depletion and the like.

    When I say "backup plans", I mean: plans that don't assume best-case scenarios. For example, Jacobson and Delucchi have a paper:

    • Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, A path to sustainable energy: how to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030. Summary and critique on Azimuth.

    but this paper doesn't discuss how hard it would be to make this transition by 2030. For example, no economic or political considerations are discussed! Similarly,

    claims that we need to "lower global carbon emissions by 80% before 2020"... but he does not discuss how we'd convince so many people to change their behavior so rapidly. It's insanely optimistic.

    These authors are considered to be fairly smart people, and Lester Brown in particular worked quite hard with many people to develop his Plan B. But if these plans are hopeless unrealistic, we need people to develop "Plan C". And first, we need to develop a strategy for developing Plan C.

    For example, despite its name, I don't think Plan C should be a single plan. It should really be a mechanism for developing and evaluating a bunch of plans: plans for different situations, based on different assumptions. Some of these plans could be big (global, tackling all issues together in a very rough way), while others could be small (local, focused on specialized issues).

    Right now it seems that mainly governments and business do this sort of planning. What about the rest of us?

    Comment Source:> John I think we won’t agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context. Right, I know we don't agree on that and are unlikely to reach agreement - at least, not by April 18. So here's a question: would you be willing to work on this essay if we focus on _the idea_ of Plan C instead of specifics like nuclear fission? Here's my rough idea: The idea of Plan C is, very roughly, that people not affiliated with governments should start developing "backup plans" for dealing with global warming, mass extinction, resource depletion and the like. When I say "backup plans", I mean: plans that don't assume best-case scenarios. For example, Jacobson and Delucchi have a paper: * Mark Jacobson and Mark Delucchi, A path to sustainable energy: how to get all energy from wind, water and solar power by 2030. [Summary and critique on Azimuth](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/A+path+to+sustainable+energy). but this paper doesn't discuss how hard it would be to make this transition by 2030. For example, _**no economic or political considerations are discussed!**_ Similarly, * Lester Brown, _Plan B_. [Summary on Azimuth](http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Plan+B). claims that we need to "lower global carbon emissions by 80% before 2020"... but he does not discuss how we'd convince so many people to change their behavior so rapidly. It's insanely optimistic. These authors are considered to be fairly smart people, and Lester Brown in particular worked quite hard with many people to develop his Plan B. But if these plans are hopeless unrealistic, we need people to develop "Plan C". And first, _we need to develop a strategy for developing Plan C_. For example, despite its name, I don't think Plan C should be a single plan. It should really be a mechanism for developing and evaluating a bunch of plans: plans for different situations, based on different assumptions. Some of these plans could be big (global, tackling all issues together in a very rough way), while others could be small (local, focused on specialized issues). Right now it seems that mainly governments and business do this sort of planning. What about the rest of us?
  • 13.

    @nad,

    a giant gas cloud with a size of two light years next to a quasar. So if this thing is along your route and if you can escape the black hole while harvesting hydrogen for the fusion process then picking up fuel might apriori be an interesting option.

    I was assuming that if we can control fusion to the point of using it to fuel generation ships, we probably would at least have a decent idea on a target to move toward with probable paths to take which are less risky for capturing fuel for fusion.

    Like people haven’t yet really managed to get nuclear fusion going in a sustainable way and then it is not such an easy question to think how for example such a stellarator engine could be used for keeping up photosynthesis...

    I don't think we should go in the direction of photosynthesis for plants or foodsources using nuclear fusion. Plasmas for controlled fusion don't exactly emit the right frequency for plants on Earth.

    John I think we won’t agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context.

    Do you oppose nuclear fission energy in general, or if not, could you clarify? I'd like to learn more about the other views on this.

    Comment Source:@nad, > a giant gas cloud with a size of two light years next to a quasar. So if this thing is along your route and if you can escape the black hole while harvesting hydrogen for the fusion process then picking up fuel might apriori be an interesting option. I was assuming that if we can control fusion to the point of using it to fuel generation ships, we probably would at least have a decent idea on a target to move toward with probable paths to take which are less risky for capturing fuel for fusion. >Like people haven’t yet really managed to get nuclear fusion going in a sustainable way and then it is not such an easy question to think how for example such a stellarator engine could be used for keeping up photosynthesis... I don't think we should go in the direction of photosynthesis for plants or foodsources using nuclear fusion. Plasmas for controlled fusion don't exactly emit the right frequency for plants on Earth. >John I think we won’t agree on the nuclear (fission) energy part. I guess you know that I am opposing energy generation from nuclear fission energy in a commercial context. Do you oppose nuclear fission energy in general, or if not, could you clarify? I'd like to learn more about the other views on this.
  • 14.
    edited January 2014

    I'm potentially interested in helping out (particularly in the brainstorming and proof-reading stages) but as experience last year suggests there's a good chance I may not be able to put in the requisite hours.

    Comment Source:I'm potentially interested in helping out (particularly in the brainstorming and proof-reading stages) but as experience last year suggests there's a good chance I may not be able to put in the requisite hours.
  • 15.

    Okay, I'll see what we can do given the energy level I see here...

    Comment Source:Okay, I'll see what we can do given the energy level I see here...
  • 16.
    edited January 2014

    And given the energy level here, one may wonder what it will be for the average citizen...

    I think a realistic plan C should divide humanity (theoretically) into those who want to act (up to certain limits), those who may follow up given enough of the previous category, and those who won't do anything unless really forced. Then one should think how realistic one can force the third category (given that they also vote) and assuming some numbers for these categories, one might get an idea of what could be feasible.

    Basically, if the third category is large and stubborn enough, all fossil fuels that can be dug up will be burnt (as long as its energetically rewarding) so then one focus of plan C could be to slow down the rate of climate change, allowing more species to adapt. The problem is how large this "slowing down" could be for a given size/stubbornness of the third category, given that people in the second category are not likely to give up comfort if not everybody is willing to cooperatie...

    I'm not sure if these throughts were useful for your essay.

    Comment Source:And given the energy level here, one may wonder what it will be for the average citizen... I think a realistic plan C should divide humanity (theoretically) into those who want to act (up to certain limits), those who may follow up given enough of the previous category, and those who won't do anything unless really forced. Then one should think how realistic one can force the third category (given that they also vote) and assuming some numbers for these categories, one might get an idea of what could be feasible. Basically, if the third category is large and stubborn enough, all fossil fuels that can be dug up will be burnt (as long as its energetically rewarding) so then one focus of plan C could be to slow down the rate of climate change, allowing more species to adapt. The problem is how large this "slowing down" could be for a given size/stubbornness of the third category, given that people in the second category are not likely to give up comfort if not everybody is willing to cooperatie... I'm not sure if these throughts were useful for your essay.
  • 17.

    That's interesting.. At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?

    Comment Source:That's interesting.. At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?
  • 18.
    edited January 2014

    At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?

    I would like to rephrase "whatever necessary force" to "whatever necessary taxation".

    The easiest answer would be if category I reaches 50%, but that doesn't seem very realistic... Perhaps if category I and (part of) II together reach 50% it would also suffice. Less than 50% doesn't sound very democratic. So category I should do its best to convince (with words) people in category II to cooperate (and perhaps even people from category III could be convinced)

    (actually, my classification is more of a thought-exercise because of course these categories are just "bins" of a continuous spectrum. It's just meant to ponder how effective one can row forward if part of the rowers rows in the opposite direction)

    Comment Source:> At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force? I would like to rephrase "whatever necessary force" to **"whatever necessary taxation**". The easiest answer would be if category I reaches 50%, but that doesn't seem very realistic... Perhaps if category I and (part of) II together reach 50% it would also suffice. Less than 50% doesn't sound very democratic. So category I should do its best to **convince** (with words) people in category II to cooperate (and perhaps even people from category III could be convinced) (actually, my classification is more of a thought-exercise because of course these categories are just "bins" of a continuous spectrum. It's just meant to ponder how effective one can row forward if part of the rowers rows in the opposite direction)
  • 19.
    edited January 2014

    These thoughts are interesting but questions like

    At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?

    are precisely the ones I want to avoid getting involved in! Expressing opinions about this kind of issue tends to damage ones credibility when it comes to stating facts about science or engineering issues. This is why the Azimuth Project founders decided to avoid "politics", or at least many things called politics.

    Comment Source:These thoughts are interesting but questions like > At what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force? are precisely the ones I want to avoid getting involved in! Expressing opinions about this kind of issue tends to damage ones credibility when it comes to stating facts about science or engineering issues. This is why the Azimuth Project founders decided to avoid "politics", or at least many things called politics.
  • 20.

    So, assuming that it becomes necessary and obvious to act by 2050 that means that children around 5 - 15 will be around 45. I think a good idea might be to discuss how education of kids now affect the numbers in those 3 categories.

    I think an interesting related study looked at how nearby agents and environment influence the decisions of other agents. That is, looking at how to use and shape mob mentality-esque situations. It could be useful in figuring out how to best guide category 2 to follow category 1.

    Comment Source:So, assuming that it becomes necessary and obvious to act by 2050 that means that children around 5 - 15 will be around 45. I think a good idea might be to discuss how education of kids now affect the numbers in those 3 categories. I think an interesting related study looked at how nearby agents and environment influence the decisions of other agents. That is, looking at how to use and shape mob mentality-esque situations. It could be useful in figuring out how to best guide category 2 to follow category 1.
  • 21.
    edited January 2014

    This is why the Azimuth Project founders decided to avoid “politics”, or at least many things called politics.

    Yes, but a really realistic plan C does also involve thinking about how humans (re)act when decisions are made in a group.

    I think Calvin Lau has some good approaches:

    I think a good idea might be to discuss how education of kids now affect the numbers in those 3 categories.

    As a first guess I think education may either drive children to category I or III. On the other hand, I think it would be difficult to really explain the problem to children, since they may lack some of the reasoning skills. In children I suppose a lot of (informal) education is emotional. E.g. you grow up with people who care for something and you pick it up from them.

    I think an interesting related study looked at how nearby agents and environment influence the decisions of other agents. That is, looking at how to use and shape mob mentality-esque situations.

    Yes, I expect humans should be especially "vulnerable" to nearby agents. In some sense, one could promote the "stewards of the earth" approach to a kind of religion (albeit with some scientific foundation)

    Comment Source:> This is why the Azimuth Project founders decided to avoid “politics”, or at least many things called politics. Yes, but a really realistic plan C does also involve thinking about how humans (re)act when decisions are made in a group. I think Calvin Lau has some good approaches: > I think a good idea might be to discuss how education of kids now affect the numbers in those 3 categories. As a first guess I think education may either drive children to category I or III. On the other hand, I think it would be difficult to really explain the problem to children, since they may lack some of the reasoning skills. In children I suppose a lot of (informal) education is emotional. E.g. you grow up with people who care for something and you pick it up from them. > I think an interesting related study looked at how nearby agents and environment influence the decisions of other agents. That is, looking at how to use and shape mob mentality-esque situations. Yes, I expect humans should be especially "vulnerable" to nearby agents. In some sense, one could promote the "stewards of the earth" approach to a kind of religion (albeit with some scientific foundation)
  • 22.
    edited January 2014

    Frederik wrote:

    Yes, but a really realistic plan C does also involve thinking about how humans (re)act when decisions are made in a group.

    I agree — and this seems like a great subject for us to investigate, at least if we had people with the expertise to do so. What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like "at what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?" There really are no recognized experts on morality, and no amount of scientific expertise seems to help; on the contrary, we'd just wind up looking like arrogant jerks.

    As a first guess I think education may either drive children to category I or III.

    I guess you've probably seen me talk about this:

    • Lawrence C. Hamilton, Education, politics and opinions about climate change evidence for interaction effects, Climatic Change (2009).

    In the US, for Democrats and independents, more education goes along with greater acceptance of the scientific consensus on climate science. But Republicans who are college graduates are less likely to accept the scientific consensus on climate change than those less educated.

    But this study was US-centered and didn't involve children!

    Comment Source:Frederik wrote: > Yes, but a really realistic plan C does also involve thinking about how humans (re)act when decisions are made in a group. I agree &mdash; and this seems like a great subject for us to investigate, at least if we had people with the expertise to do so. What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like "at what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?" There really are no recognized experts on morality, and no amount of scientific expertise seems to help; on the contrary, we'd just wind up looking like arrogant jerks. > As a first guess I think education may either drive children to category I or III. I guess you've probably seen me talk about this: &bull; Lawrence C. Hamilton, <a href="http://www.researchgate.net/publication/226722589_Education_politics_and_opinions_about_climate_change_evidence_for_interaction_effects/file/e0b49516bf5e5109af.pdf" rel="nofollow">Education, politics and opinions about climate change evidence for interaction effects</a>, <i>Climatic Change</i> (2009). In the US, for Democrats and independents, more education goes along with greater acceptance of the scientific consensus on climate science. But Republicans who are college graduates are <i>less</i> likely to accept the scientific consensus on climate change than those less educated. But this study was US-centered and didn't involve children!
  • 23.

    John wrote:

    I guess you’ve probably seen me talk about this

    Yes, I saw about that on the blog, and I couldn't resist "extrapolating" the US-adults results to children, although that answer would really be my first uninformed honest guess too. I would tend to explain it as follows: as soon as people get slightly more educated, they first fail prey to the Dunning-Kruger effect because they don't know yet that they only know a little bit, and they feel confident to take more pronounced points of view, because they can rationalize these better than completely uninformed people, who may rather retain a neutral point of view. (Perhaps my explanation here falls prey to the same effect ;-) )

    What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like

    Yes, I agree we shouldn't try to be moral experts, and we could certainly use here some experts in social behavior. I only answered with 50% because at that point one has a democratic majority, so it was more of a practical answer than a vain exercise in morality.

    Comment Source:John wrote: > I guess you’ve probably seen me talk about this Yes, I saw about that on the blog, and I couldn't resist "extrapolating" the US-adults results to children, although that answer would really be my first uninformed honest guess too. I would tend to explain it as follows: as soon as people get slightly more educated, they first fail prey to the [Dunning-Kruger effect](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect) because they don't know yet that they only know a little bit, and they feel confident to take more pronounced points of view, because they can rationalize these better than completely uninformed people, who may rather retain a neutral point of view. (Perhaps my explanation here falls prey to the same effect ;-) ) > What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like Yes, I agree we shouldn't try to be moral experts, and we could certainly use here some experts in social behavior. I only answered with 50% because at that point one has a democratic majority, so it was more of a practical answer than a vain exercise in morality.
  • 24.

    I'd also like to point out that while it might be nice to motivate people directly, we should also consider that the main goal would be to motivate the people in positions that can pass or deny laws and policies.. That is, for example, Congressmen in the US. If that's where we want to put most of the effort of an education campaign, then we can figure out the details of who to target.

    A quick google search gave me an average of 53--63 years of age (taking the min and max of both Senate and House of Representatives). Using 2050 is a guesstimate of when a Plan C should be implemented means that, if our future Congress follows the same trends for age, our future government is around the ages of 17--27 right now. So, any education plan we form now should target people around the age of high school to the beginning of their careers. If we relax our guesstimate to 2050~-2060, we can also extend this range to 7--27.

    We can also maybe limit this target area even further if we take certain assumptions (at least, for the US). For example, what is the average career that a Congressman has prior to Congress? I couldn't really find specifics in a detailed google search, but my guess is that, in the US, most members of Congress go along the route of either law or business. So, we target pre-law/pre-business students in undergrad, target law/mba students, and target entry-level lawyers and entry-level management.

    What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like “at what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?” There really are no recognized experts on morality, and no amount of scientific expertise seems to help; on the contrary, we’d just wind up looking like arrogant jerks.

    That is a good point, and I really just asked that because I don't think I really have an answer for that either, but I do think it can become necessary as time passes. In any case, forcing people to act doesn't always work out the way you want anyway (I almost always go any path except the one that I'm ordered to go).

    Comment Source:I'd also like to point out that while it might be nice to motivate people directly, we should also consider that the main goal would be to motivate the people in positions that can pass or deny laws and policies.. That is, for example, Congressmen in the US. If that's where we want to put most of the effort of an education campaign, then we can figure out the details of who to target. A quick google search gave me an average of 53--63 years of age (taking the min and max of both Senate and House of Representatives). Using 2050 is a guesstimate of when a Plan C should be implemented means that, *if* our future Congress follows the same trends for age, our future government is around the ages of 17--27 right now. So, any education plan we form now should target people around the age of high school to the beginning of their careers. If we relax our guesstimate to 2050~-2060, we can also extend this range to 7--27. We can also maybe limit this target area even further if we take certain assumptions (at least, for the US). For example, what is the average career that a Congressman has prior to Congress? I couldn't really find specifics in a detailed google search, but my guess is that, in the US, most members of Congress go along the route of either law or business. So, we target pre-law/pre-business students in undergrad, target law/mba students, and target entry-level lawyers and entry-level management. >What seems bad is would be for Azimuth to tackle questions like “at what point do you think people are morally justified in forcing those of the third category to act with whatever necessary force?” There really are no recognized experts on morality, and no amount of scientific expertise seems to help; on the contrary, we’d just wind up looking like arrogant jerks. That is a good point, and I really just asked that because I don't think I really have an answer for that either, but I do think it can become necessary as time passes. In any case, forcing people to act doesn't always work out the way you want anyway (I almost always go any path except the one that I'm ordered to go).
  • 25.
    nad
    edited March 2014

    Calvin Lau wrote:

    Do you oppose nuclear fission energy in general, or if not, could you clarify? I’d like to learn more about the other views on this.

    I do not oppose nuclear fission in general, but I oppose to use nuclear fission in the given nowadays economical context, i.e. for commercial applications. That is I do think that research in nuclear fission should in principle be further made, but that this has do be done in a rather well controlled way (means better han some already made research projects) and in particular that the wider dissemination of this technology shouldn't take place in the current given world. If it should however turn out that the use of that (rather new) technology can't be controlled then one may be has to think of stopping research. Moreover I think that that research shouldn't obstruct research in other less dangerous technologies.

    I would love to see an overview on the money which went into nuclear research and the money which went into the research of e.g. solar energy.

    Some major reasons for my opinion are that future nuclear fission technology will be with breeders (because of uranium peak) - a rather untested new technology (I should may be point out that despite that I had not been in favour of nuclear fission energy generation, I wouldn't have had expected to see a catastrophe like Fukushima again in my life time. That is it seems things are worse than I was expecting even in all my criticism) which will rather probably lead to a rather bad waste problem that is it is rather possible that the technology creates an out-of-control plutonium market. Compare this to the CO2 problem: energy generation from fossil fuels created a CO2 problem (CO2 seen here as "waste product"), that is the "reuse" of CO2 is commercially (yet?) not attractive. Similar things hold currently for nuclear waste that is reprocessing etc. is rather expensive, complicated and dangerous. And there are currently way less dangerous technical alternatives for energy generation with a definitely smaller waste problem (especially with respect to biohazards).

    You can find a summary of my critisism of nuclear fission technology (a lot was written before Fukushima) on our blog here.

    Comment Source:> Calvin Lau wrote: > Do you oppose nuclear fission energy in general, or if not, could you clarify? I’d like to learn more about the other views on this. I do not oppose nuclear fission in general, but I oppose to use nuclear fission in the given nowadays economical context, i.e. for commercial applications. That is I do think that research in nuclear fission should in principle be further made, but that this has do be done in a rather well controlled way (means better han some already made research projects) and in particular that the wider dissemination of this technology shouldn't take place in the current given world. If it should however turn out that the use of that (rather new) technology can't be controlled then one may be has to think of stopping research. Moreover I think that that research shouldn't obstruct research in other less dangerous technologies. I would love to see an overview on the money which went into nuclear research and the money which went into the research of e.g. solar energy. Some major reasons for my opinion are that future nuclear fission technology will be with <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor">breeders</a> (because of uranium peak) - a rather <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breeder_reactor">untested new technology</a> (I should may be point out that despite that I had not been in favour of nuclear fission energy generation, I wouldn't have had expected to see a catastrophe like Fukushima again in my life time. That is it seems things are worse than I was expecting even in all my criticism) which will rather probably lead to a rather bad waste problem that is it is rather possible that the technology creates an out-of-control plutonium market. Compare this to the CO2 problem: energy generation from fossil fuels created a CO2 problem (CO2 seen here as "waste product"), that is the "reuse" of CO2 is commercially (yet?) not attractive. Similar things hold currently for nuclear waste that is reprocessing etc. is rather expensive, complicated and dangerous. And there are currently way less dangerous technical alternatives for energy generation with a definitely smaller waste problem (especially with respect to biohazards). You can find a summary of my critisism of nuclear fission technology (a lot was written before Fukushima) on our blog <a href="http://www.randform.org/blog/?p=3249">here.</a>
  • 26.

    @Calvin Lau

    I am sorry but there are some invalid XML commands in the above and I don't have the time to search for them. May be you can read this nonetheless or may be you find the invalid commands.

    Comment Source:@Calvin Lau I am sorry but there are some invalid XML commands in the above and I don't have the time to search for them. May be you can read this nonetheless or may be you find the invalid commands.
  • 27.
    edited February 2014

    Hi Nad,

    This is the markdown + ltex site, not the html blog. Iirc "> " ie. a less than symbol and at least 2 spaces denotes

    a block quote.

    Comment Source:Hi Nad, This is the markdown + ltex site, not the html blog. Iirc "> " ie. a less than symbol and at least 2 spaces denotes > a block quote.
  • 28.
    nad
    edited February 2014

    @Jim

    I did a ">" sign, however I didn't leave 2 spaces, it seems one doesn't need to leave 2 spaces, at least the below "test" works also without spaces. So it seems this wasn't the error. The blockquote command which appeared in the error message comes from the system. Thanks anyways.

    test

    Comment Source:@Jim I did a ">" sign, however I didn't leave 2 spaces, it seems one doesn't need to leave 2 spaces, at least the below "test" works also without spaces. So it seems this wasn't the error. The blockquote command which appeared in the error message comes from the system. Thanks anyways. >test
  • 29.

    @nad,

    If I read through correctly, it seems you have a problem with the waste caused by nuclear reactors, correct? Personally, I think that energy generation on Earth could very be limited to mostly renewables, if we also implement smart and more efficient networks for passing power.

    However, I also don't particularly like the idea of having to "harvest" energy instead of "creating" energy ourselves. (Yes, technically, we're not "creating" energy, but hopefully you know what I mean by that.) I also view nuclear fission as a stepping stone because I am still optimistic for nuclear fusion research. NIF is probably not going to go anywhere in terms of fusion success, but the tokamak route is, at least, somewhat successful. While ITER is kind of a bureaucratic mess and likely to be plagued by delays due to the governments involved, I'm hopeful that its energy output will be greater than its energy input (though, of course, not at an economically viable rate). There are also other less popular routes toward fusion research..

    In addition, the number of private companies conducting fusion research is somewhat increasing. Now, we have Helion Energy, Tri-Alpha Energy, General Fusion, and some others I can't quite remember. General Fusion even has the Canadian government's backing in addition to its private funding.

    So, while I do agree that nuclear waste by fission reactors is not a favorable aspect (which is why I personally am focused on fusion research), I do not oppose its use as it is a great halfway point for us, assuming that the contractors who build the plants are not cutting corners to make a slightly higher profit.

    Comment Source:@nad, If I read through correctly, it seems you have a problem with the waste caused by nuclear reactors, correct? Personally, I think that energy generation on Earth could very be limited to mostly renewables, if we also implement smart and more efficient networks for passing power. However, I also don't particularly like the idea of having to "harvest" energy instead of "creating" energy ourselves. (Yes, technically, we're not "creating" energy, but hopefully you know what I mean by that.) I also view nuclear fission as a stepping stone because I am still optimistic for nuclear fusion research. NIF is probably not going to go anywhere in terms of fusion success, but the tokamak route is, at least, somewhat successful. While ITER is kind of a bureaucratic mess and likely to be plagued by delays due to the governments involved, I'm hopeful that its energy output will be greater than its energy input (though, of course, not at an economically viable rate). There are also other less popular routes toward fusion research.. In addition, the number of private companies conducting fusion research is somewhat increasing. Now, we have Helion Energy, Tri-Alpha Energy, General Fusion, and some others I can't quite remember. General Fusion even has the Canadian government's backing in addition to its private funding. So, while I do agree that nuclear waste by fission reactors is not a favorable aspect (which is why I personally am focused on fusion research), I do not oppose its use as it is a great halfway point for us, assuming that the contractors who build the plants are not cutting corners to make a slightly higher profit.
  • 30.
    nad
    edited March 2014

    If I read through correctly, it seems you have a problem with the waste caused by nuclear reactors, correct?

    Amongst others yes.

    Personally, I think that energy generation on Earth could very be limited to mostly renewables, if we also implement smart and more efficient networks for passing power.

    I am not sure wether this would be enough, especially not if the future world scenario displays a growing population with growing energy demand.

    However, I also don’t particularly like the idea of having to “harvest” energy instead of “creating” energy ourselves. (Yes, technically, we’re not “creating” energy, but hopefully you know what I mean by that.)

    No sorry, I don't really understand what you mean by that. Even for fusion you need resources.

    Comment Source:>If I read through correctly, it seems you have a problem with the waste caused by nuclear reactors, correct? Amongst others yes. >Personally, I think that energy generation on Earth could very be limited to mostly renewables, if we also implement smart and more efficient networks for passing power. I am not sure wether this would be enough, especially not if the future world scenario displays a growing population with growing energy demand. >However, I also don’t particularly like the idea of having to “harvest” energy instead of “creating” energy ourselves. (Yes, technically, we’re not “creating” energy, but hopefully you know what I mean by that.) No sorry, I don't really understand what you mean by that. Even for fusion you need resources.
  • 31.
    edited March 2014

    I fixed Nadja's comment: I believe the problem was writing something like

    < a href = "stuff.html">stuff</a>

    instead of

    <a href = "stuff.html">stuff</a>

    Unfortunately I removed some links containing funny symbols before discovering this was the problem. I'm sorry for this "brittleness" in the system.

    Comment Source:I fixed Nadja's comment: I believe the problem was writing something like `< a href = "stuff.html">stuff</a>` instead of `<a href = "stuff.html">stuff</a>` Unfortunately I removed some links containing funny symbols before discovering this was the problem. I'm sorry for this "brittleness" in the system.
  • 32.

    I have decided not to write an essay for the FQXi competition, because it doesn't seem like many Azimuth members 1) want do this, 2) agree roughly on what this essay should be like, 3) have the energy to start doing it.

    I am increasingly convinced that for now, Azimuth will be most effective as a place for pushing forward "network theory" and its applications, e.g. applications to "Markov models of social change" and other models. The reason is simply that I don't see a lot of people with the time and energy to carry out other more ambitious projects, and my own energy is focused on network theory.

    However, this could change. In particular, this week I'll talk to people at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation... and with a lot of luck, the Azimuth Project might get some funding from them.

    Comment Source:I have decided not to write an essay for the FQXi competition, because it doesn't seem like many Azimuth members 1) want do this, 2) agree roughly on what this essay should be like, 3) have the energy to start doing it. I am increasingly convinced that for now, Azimuth will be most effective as a place for pushing forward "network theory" and its applications, e.g. applications to "Markov models of social change" and other models. The reason is simply that I don't see a lot of people with the time and energy to carry out other more ambitious projects, and my own energy is focused on network theory. However, this could change. In particular, this week I'll talk to people at the Laura and John Arnold Foundation... and with a lot of luck, the Azimuth Project might get some funding from them.
  • 33.

    No sorry, I don’t really understand what you mean by that. Even for fusion you need resources.

    That's a good point. What I mean is that with fusion, theoretically you could just grab hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes, then you're set to inject fuel to your reactor whenever you want. With solar/wind/etc. you have to harvest the energy, limited by your efficiency, your number of machines, and so on, then store it in some battery or battery-like object.

    IF we could harness fusion energy, then its limiting factor wouldn't be in its fuel. It is something we can "turn on, turn off" when we choose. In the case of energy we harvest from a naturally occurring process, there isn't really a "turn on" factor.

    I guess I'm also thinking more in the long term that I can't foresee a space vehicle that would use anything but plasma and fusion technology for travel.

    Comment Source:>No sorry, I don’t really understand what you mean by that. Even for fusion you need resources. That's a good point. What I mean is that with fusion, theoretically you could just grab hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes, then you're set to inject fuel to your reactor whenever you want. With solar/wind/etc. you have to harvest the energy, limited by your efficiency, your number of machines, and so on, then store it in some battery or battery-like object. IF we could harness fusion energy, then its limiting factor wouldn't be in its fuel. It is something we can "turn on, turn off" when we choose. In the case of energy we harvest from a naturally occurring process, there isn't really a "turn on" factor. I guess I'm also thinking more in the long term that I can't foresee a space vehicle that would use anything but plasma and fusion technology for travel.
  • 34.

    I am not sure wether this would be enough, especially not if the future world scenario displays a growing population with growing energy demand.

    True, but I also think that better, smarter, and more efficiency energy distribution networks would help decrease the absolute energy demand by having to push less energy in because there is less energy loss. Hopefully. D:

    Comment Source:>I am not sure wether this would be enough, especially not if the future world scenario displays a growing population with growing energy demand. True, but I also think that better, smarter, and more efficiency energy distribution networks would help decrease the absolute energy demand by having to push less energy in because there is less energy loss. Hopefully. D:
  • 35.

    John wrote

    I fixed Nadja’s comment: I believe the problem was writing something

    thanks John.

    Calvin wrote:

    That’s a good point. What I mean is that with fusion, theoretically you could just grab hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes, then you’re set to inject fuel to your reactor whenever you want. With solar/wind/etc. you have to harvest the energy, limited by your efficiency, your number of machines, and so on, then store it in some battery or battery-like object.

    IF we could harness fusion energy, then its limiting factor wouldn’t be in its fuel. It is something we can “turn on, turn off” when we choose.

    Unfortunately it's not really just grabbing. Like if you look at the most common Fuels, you'll see that e.g. Tritium is very rare, one would probably need to produce it then in fission reactors. And deuterium has to be extracted, where extraction processes like the common Girdler sulfide process use e.g. chemicals like the very toxic hydrogen sulfide. deuterium extraction seems to be rather expensive. Like Wikipedia writes that

    Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is currently researching other more efficient and environmentally benign processes for creating heavy water. This is essential for the future of the CANDU reactors since heavy water represents about 20% of the capital cost of each reactor.

    The world production of lithium is currently soaring and wikipedia writes:

    Another 2011 study by researchers from the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company found that there are sufficient lithium resources to support global demand until 2100, including the lithium required for the potential widespread use of hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles.

    Helium3 appears also to be rare and boron as well. So even for fusion fuel can be a limiting factor.

    Comment Source:John wrote >I fixed Nadja’s comment: I believe the problem was writing something thanks John. Calvin wrote: >That’s a good point. What I mean is that with fusion, theoretically you could just grab hydrogen and hydrogen isotopes, then you’re set to inject fuel to your reactor whenever you want. With solar/wind/etc. you have to harvest the energy, limited by your efficiency, your number of machines, and so on, then store it in some battery or battery-like object. >IF we could harness fusion energy, then its limiting factor wouldn’t be in its fuel. It is something we can “turn on, turn off” when we choose. Unfortunately it's not really just grabbing. Like if you look at the most common <a href="en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fusion_power#Fuels">Fuels</a>, you'll see that e.g. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tritium">Tritium</a> is very rare, one would probably need to produce it then in fission reactors. And <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deuterium">deuterium</a> has to be extracted, where extraction processes like the common <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Girdler_sulfide_process">Girdler sulfide process</a> use e.g. chemicals like the very toxic <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydrogen_sulfide">hydrogen sulfide.</a> deuterium extraction seems to be rather expensive. Like Wikipedia <a href="en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heavy_water#Production">writes</a> that >Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is currently researching other more efficient and environmentally benign processes for creating heavy water. This is essential for the future of the CANDU reactors since heavy water represents about 20% of the capital cost of each reactor. The world production of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium"> lithium</a> is currently soaring and wikipedia writes: >Another 2011 study by researchers from the University of Michigan and Ford Motor Company found that there are sufficient lithium resources to support global demand until 2100, including the lithium required for the potential widespread use of hybrid electric, plug-in hybrid electric and battery electric vehicles. <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3">Helium3</a> appears also to be rare and <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boron">boron</a> as well. So even for fusion fuel can be a limiting factor.
  • 36.

    Unfortunately it’s not really just grabbing. Like if you look at the most common Fuels, you’ll see that e.g. Tritium is very rare, one would probably need to produce it then in fission reactors. And deuterium has to be extracted, where extraction processes like the common Girdler sulfide process use e.g. chemicals like the very toxic hydrogen sulfide. deuterium extraction seems to be rather expensive.

    All very true. There are different ideas concerning this, some including using Lithium blankets to breed the right isotopes.. And also, using fission reactors to breed other isotopes. Of course, since an economically fusion reactor has not yet been achieved, I think it's a bit pre-mature to say that we're only going to use D+D, D+T, D+He3. The process I was thinking of was the goal of Tri-Alpha Energy, p + B, but I didn't realize that boron was rare as well.

    But, despite this, I still don't see it changing why "natural" sources are not attractive to me, at least, not until we have good enough energy storage technology to allow comparable energy density to fusion fuels.

    Comment Source:>Unfortunately it’s not really just grabbing. Like if you look at the most common Fuels, you’ll see that e.g. Tritium is very rare, one would probably need to produce it then in fission reactors. And deuterium has to be extracted, where extraction processes like the common Girdler sulfide process use e.g. chemicals like the very toxic hydrogen sulfide. deuterium extraction seems to be rather expensive. All very true. There are different ideas concerning this, some including using Lithium blankets to breed the right isotopes.. And also, using fission reactors to breed other isotopes. Of course, since an economically fusion reactor has not yet been achieved, I think it's a bit pre-mature to say that we're only going to use D+D, D+T, D+He3. The process I was thinking of was the goal of Tri-Alpha Energy, p + B, but I didn't realize that boron was rare as well. But, despite this, I still don't see it changing why "natural" sources are not attractive to me, at least, not until we have good enough energy storage technology to allow comparable energy density to fusion fuels.
  • 37.

    Calvin Lau wrote:

    But, despite this, I still don’t see it changing why “natural” sources are not attractive to me, at least, not until we have good enough energy storage technology to allow comparable energy density to fusion fuels.

    It appears to me that high energy density is are rather "fascinating" than "attractive". Let me explain why I would want to make such a distinction. I am not a native english speaker (I am german) but as I understood the word "attractivity" is in english mostly used in the context of beauty, comfort etc. if we disregard some scientific applications. As I understood the word "Fascinativity" doesn't exists (sofar), it would describe a more ambivalent "tantalizing" notion of being drawn to something else rather than attractivity (only). If you have nouns and verbs which are similar to what I look for let me know. I think the word fascinativity is however rather matching. It comes from the latin word "fascis" i.e. bundle, gerbe, sheave. That is a fascinating thing draws other things into a particular direction and may make those things eventually align and move in unisono. The word fascism by the way has the same origin.

    I am on and off writing on a rather very experimental section which compares electromagnetism and human behaviour (see sofar subsection polarization). In that comparision energy density, which would compare to "fascinativity" would be related to both namely to magnetism ("attractivity") and electricity and electrical "charges". That is I might be fascinated by nuclear power generation via e.g. the beauty of it's Cerenkov radiation, but also by the shear danger and power it encompasses. And analogously if energy density (or eventually energy flux) compares to fascinativity, one could eventually compare plastic surgery, brainboosters and sugardaddies to some kind of special Lorentztransformations-analogs. :) (as I said this is really just some very experimental section).

    Comment Source:Calvin Lau wrote: >But, despite this, I still don’t see it changing why “natural” sources are not attractive to me, at least, not until we have good enough energy storage technology to allow comparable energy density to fusion fuels. It appears to me that high energy density is are rather "fascinating" than "attractive". Let me explain why I would want to make such a distinction. I am not a native english speaker (I am german) but as I understood the word "attractivity" is in english mostly used in the context of beauty, comfort etc. if we disregard some scientific applications. As I understood the word "Fascinativity" doesn't exists (sofar), it would describe a more ambivalent "tantalizing" notion of being drawn to something else rather than attractivity (only). If you have nouns and verbs which are similar to what I look for let me know. I think the word fascinativity is however rather matching. It comes from the latin word "fascis" i.e. bundle, gerbe, sheave. That is a fascinating thing draws other things into a particular direction and may make those things eventually align and move in unisono. The word fascism by the way has the same origin. I am on and off writing on a rather <a href="http://www.azimuthproject.org/azimuth/show/Surplusses+and+Exchange">very experimental section which compares electromagnetism and human behaviour (see sofar subsection polarization).</a> In that comparision <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poynting%27s_theorem">energy density</a>, which would compare to "fascinativity" would be related to both namely to magnetism ("attractivity") and electricity and electrical "charges". That is I might be fascinated by nuclear power generation via e.g. the beauty of it's <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C4%8Cerenkov_radiation">Cerenkov radiation</a>, but also by the shear danger and power it encompasses. And analogously if <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poynting%27s_theorem">energy density</a> (or eventually energy flux) compares to fascinativity, one could eventually compare plastic surgery, brainboosters and sugardaddies to some kind of special Lorentztransformations-analogs. :) (as I said this is really just some very experimental section).
  • 38.

    Interesting! I think it'd also be interesting to be able to come up with statistical approaches to modeling human behavior.. and it's an idea I revisit once in a while.

    I don't really agree with the definitions though, at least, in Californian-styled English. "Attractive" is a quality of something that appeals to a set of values (whether it is based on appearance, comfort, money, etc.). For example, people can describe options as "attractive" which might be based on how those options' results appealed to their values. So, scientific applications could form one set of such values which is why high energy density is "attractive" rather than "fascinating" to me. Of course, that's just a difference in values..

    Comment Source:Interesting! I think it'd also be interesting to be able to come up with statistical approaches to modeling human behavior.. and it's an idea I revisit once in a while. I don't really agree with the definitions though, at least, in Californian-styled English. "Attractive" is a quality of something that appeals to a set of values (whether it is based on appearance, comfort, money, etc.). For example, people can describe options as "attractive" which might be based on how those options' results appealed to their values. So, scientific applications could form one set of such values which is why high energy density is "attractive" rather than "fascinating" to me. Of course, that's just a difference in values..
  • 39.

    Calvin Lau wrote:

    Interesting! I think it’d also be interesting to be able to come up with statistical approaches to modeling human behavior.. and it’s an idea I revisit once in a while.

    Did you see the last Azimuth posts of Vanessa Schweizer and Alastair Jamieson-Lane? They go into that direction. I think that there are certainly quite some occurences where human behaviour is rather predictive that means in particular where it is "modeling-able" i.e. figuline and eventually even manipulable. This seems to be especially the case for mass behaviour, but I think their are also strong limitations to that. In particular you often need to know a lot of parameters which may be rather different depending on cultural context. Like even for such comparatively "simple" things like road traffic and traffic jams there may be quite some cultural differences. Like I recently heard about a japanese study where traffic jams where mitigated or averted via inserting self-driving cars into traffic lanes, like every 50 cars in a lane or so and wondered wether this would work in some other specific countries, where vehicles would be more diverse in speed and where vehicles would switch lanes rather rapidly. But modelling human behaviour is of course also a moral question, especially if it comes to manipulation.

    I don’t really agree with the definitions though, at least, in Californian-styled English. “Attractive” is a quality of something that appeals to a set of values (whether it is based on appearance, comfort, money, etc.). For example, people can describe options as “attractive” which might be based on how those options’ results appealed to their values. So, scientific applications could form one set of such values which is why high energy density is “attractive” rather than “fascinating” to me. Of course, that’s just a difference in values..

    What I described above was meant as a kind of differentiation between different notions of attractivity/fascinativity which I think is actually not just a difference in values alone. That is in the example of the Cerenkov radiation the intense blue colour will be mostly perceived as attractive if you like the colour blue (that is if you value blue things rather high), regardless wether you are a proponent of nuclear power generation or an opponent. The ultimate perception of things, like at the basic stage of Qualia is rather subjective. And these perceptions may be linked to your inner "values", like you may like the colour blue or not. Or you may not be able to differentiate between colours, like if you are colour blind.

    In this context - as a side remark - it is actually interesting to remark that for example extreme shortsightedness can only be mitigated in the early years of childhood (see Amblyopia. That is the eye and the brain develops in early childhood connections for seeing and if those are not formed in early childhood, like because the other eye "does most of the work" (because of the shortsightedness of the other eye) then this means that this extreme shortsightedness will stay and can't be "trained away" and mitigated by glasses or surgery at a later adult stage. Accordingly I have strong problems with the assumptions in the inverted spectrum thought experiment:

    The argument dates back to John Locke.[1] It invites us to imagine that we wake up one morning, and find that for some unknown reason all the colors in the world have been inverted. Furthermore, we discover that no physical changes have occurred in our brains or bodies that would explain this phenomenon.

    That is colour perception is rather "hardwired", like the three cones in the eye respond to different physical wavelengths and the perception itself (i.e. what colour is seen, the processing in the brain) is usually taking place in certain brain regions, which offer some plasticity, but nevertheless this (more or less) "hard"wiring will probably limit the possibility to drastically change colour perception, without physical intervention. That is if you want to keep the differences between the colours (the colour information) within the brain you have to process the colours differently (that is according to their colour) and there may be some symmetries in the processing, but the question is how strong are these and how big is the the probability that you could swap processes like just by invoking a trigger signal ("a thought") - it deems small (apart from this a trigger signal could also be seen as a "physical intervention" - even if small).

    So concluding there are rather subjective and fixed perceptions. The linking to the values is however not as hardwired. That is the linking to the feelings (seen here as assigned values) invoked with the colour blue will though probably also be rather "hardwired", since this perception is a very basic one - but still- people may change once in a while their favorite colour during their life time. And that linking to feelings and accordingly the assignment of "values" may of course be much less hardwired than assigning a value to your favorite colour.

    Comment Source:Calvin Lau wrote: <blockquote>Interesting! I think it’d also be interesting to be able to come up with statistical approaches to modeling human behavior.. and it’s an idea I revisit once in a while.</blockquote> Did you see the last Azimuth posts of <a href="http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/markov-models-of-social-change-part-2/">Vanessa Schweizer</a> and <a href="http://johncarlosbaez.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/markov-models-of-social-change-part-1/"> Alastair Jamieson-Lane</a>? They go into that direction. I think that there are certainly quite some occurences where human behaviour is rather predictive that means in particular where it is "modeling-able" i.e. figuline and eventually even manipulable. This seems to be especially the case for mass behaviour, but I think their are also strong limitations to that. In particular you often need to know a lot of parameters which may be rather different depending on cultural context. Like even for such comparatively "simple" things like road traffic and traffic jams there may be quite some cultural differences. Like I recently heard about a japanese study where traffic jams where mitigated or averted via inserting self-driving cars into traffic lanes, like every 50 cars in a lane or so and wondered wether this would work in some other specific countries, where vehicles would be more diverse in speed and where vehicles would switch lanes rather rapidly. But modelling human behaviour is of course also a moral question, especially if it comes to manipulation. <blockquote>I don’t really agree with the definitions though, at least, in Californian-styled English. “Attractive” is a quality of something that appeals to a set of values (whether it is based on appearance, comfort, money, etc.). For example, people can describe options as “attractive” which might be based on how those options’ results appealed to their values. So, scientific applications could form one set of such values which is why high energy density is “attractive” rather than “fascinating” to me. Of course, that’s just a difference in values..</blockquote> What I described above was meant as a kind of differentiation between different notions of attractivity/fascinativity which I think is actually not just a difference in values alone. That is in the example of the Cerenkov radiation the intense blue colour will be mostly perceived as attractive if you like the colour blue (that is if you value blue things rather high), regardless wether you are a proponent of nuclear power generation or an opponent. The ultimate perception of things, like at the basic stage of <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qualia">Qualia</a> is rather subjective. And these perceptions may be linked to your inner "values", like you may like the colour blue or not. Or you may not be able to differentiate between colours, like if you are colour blind. In this context - as a side remark - it is actually interesting to remark that for example extreme shortsightedness can only be mitigated in the early years of childhood (see <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amblyopia">Amblyopia</a>. That is the eye and the brain develops in early childhood connections for seeing and if those are not formed in early childhood, like because the other eye "does most of the work" (because of the shortsightedness of the other eye) then this means that this extreme shortsightedness will stay and can't be "trained away" and mitigated by glasses or surgery at a later adult stage. Accordingly I have strong problems with the assumptions in the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inverted_spectrum">inverted spectrum thought experiment:</a> >The argument dates back to John Locke.[1] It invites us to imagine that we wake up one morning, and find that for some unknown reason all the colors in the world have been inverted. Furthermore, we discover that no physical changes have occurred in our brains or bodies that would explain this phenomenon. That is colour perception is rather "hardwired", like the three cones in the eye respond to different physical wavelengths and the perception itself (i.e. what colour is seen, the processing in the brain) is usually taking place in certain brain regions, which offer some <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plasticity_%28brain%29">plasticity</a>, but nevertheless this (more or less) "hard"wiring will probably limit the possibility to drastically change colour perception, without physical intervention. That is if you want to keep the differences between the colours (the colour information) within the brain you have to process the colours differently (that is according to their colour) and there may be some symmetries in the processing, but the question is how strong are these and how big is the the probability that you could swap processes like just by invoking a trigger signal ("a thought") - it deems small (apart from this a trigger signal could also be seen as a "physical intervention" - even if small). So concluding there are rather subjective and fixed perceptions. The linking to the values is however not as hardwired. That is the linking to the feelings (seen here as assigned values) invoked with the colour blue will though probably also be rather "hardwired", since this perception is a very basic one - but still- people may change once in a while their favorite colour during their life time. And that linking to feelings and accordingly the assignment of "values" may of course be much less hardwired than assigning a value to your favorite colour.
  • 40.
    nad
    edited March 2014

    When I made the distinction between attractivity and fascinativity I was referring to attractivity and comparing it with magnetism, while a distribution of charges is related to electricity. Due to relativity theory the electrical and the magnetic field can be "seen differently" (please excuse this bold simplification) via the choice of a reference frame. Charges (electricity) in a societal context are rather instances, where a "lot of movement" may take place, where however it is not so clear wether those "changes" or "movements" would really be attractive or really non-attractive. That is you could feel drawn to look at an ugly (i.e. non-attractive) person because that may invoke "mixed" or "changed" feelings in you, this person "electrifies" you. That is you are (negatively) drawn to that person not because of it's non-attractivity per se, but because of this possible ability to have an (negative) impact on you. Simplified one could say in the case of the societal analog of magnetism you are rather sure that something "feels" good (is attractive) or bad (is negatively attractive), in the case of electricity you "feel" that it may have/will have/has an impact. "Electricity" challenges your "values" and you may eventually need to readjust them. So the possible danger of nuclear power would here compare rather to electricity than magnetism, likewise does money, as with money you could do attractive and non-attractive things (where the amount plays of course also a role). So in particular a rich person would in this sense not automatically be attractive, but often at least fascinating. With plastic surgery one may try to make oneself look more positively attractive that is good looks are usually positively perceived in humans as they are usually related to health (extreme good looks and beauty can however also invoke feelings of jealousy etc.). That's why I compared plastic surgery to special Lorenz transformations. And plastic surgery can go quite wrong, i.e. the corresponding plastic surgery victim may look rather ugly and unhealthy - "depending on the reference frame".

    Comment Source:When I made the distinction between attractivity and fascinativity I was referring to attractivity and comparing it with magnetism, while a distribution of charges is related to electricity. Due to relativity theory the electrical and the magnetic field can be "seen differently" (please excuse this bold simplification) via the choice of a reference frame. Charges (electricity) in a societal context are rather instances, where a "lot of movement" <em>may</em> take place, where however it is not so clear wether those "changes" or "movements" would really be attractive or really non-attractive. That is you could feel drawn to look at an ugly (i.e. non-attractive) person because that may invoke "mixed" or "changed" feelings in you, this person "electrifies" you. That is you are (negatively) drawn to that person not because of it's non-attractivity per se, but because of this possible ability to have an (negative) impact on you. Simplified one could say in the case of the societal analog of magnetism you are rather sure that something "feels" good (is attractive) or bad (is negatively attractive), in the case of electricity you "feel" that it may have/will have/has an impact. "Electricity" challenges your "values" and you may eventually need to readjust them. So the possible danger of nuclear power would here compare rather to electricity than magnetism, likewise does money, as with money you could do attractive and non-attractive things (where the amount plays of course also a role). So in particular a rich person would in this sense not automatically be attractive, but often at least fascinating. With plastic surgery one may try to make oneself look more positively attractive that is good looks are usually positively perceived in humans as they are usually related to health (extreme good looks and beauty can however also invoke feelings of jealousy etc.). That's why I compared plastic surgery to special Lorenz transformations. And plastic surgery can go quite wrong, i.e. the corresponding plastic surgery victim may look rather ugly and unhealthy - "depending on the reference frame".
  • 41.

    Regarding the above Wikipedia citation. The given citation of John Lock, doesn't say that the inversion needs to take place in one human, but that it might be different in different humans, as far as I understood.

    The Figure 5 Section 2.2. in this encyclopedia displays a socalled Munsell solid and the text explains some symmetries in color space:

    The lightness dimension corresponds to the central vertical axis, with white at the top. The hue and saturation dimensions correspond, respectively, to the angle around the vertical axis, and to the distance from it. Thus the shades of maximum saturation are on the outside of the solid. Notice that the yellows have their maximum saturation at higher levels of lightness than the reds and the blues. So, assuming that Invert's judgments of the relations between colors are — modulo the inversion — normal, a possible Lockean 180° hue rotation scenario would be behaviorally detectable. Invert would judge the maximally saturated colors she calls ‘shades of blue’ to be lighter than the maximally saturated colors she calls ‘shades of yellow’. Further, there are more distinguishable hue steps between blue and red than there are between yellow and green — a fact that is reflected in the Munsell space, whose hue circle has five hues equally spaced: red, yellow, green, blue, purple. (Contrast the NCS space mentioned in the previous subsection.) Hence the Lockean inversion function I, assuming it is defined on all hues, would map some distinct hues (in particular, some bluish reds) to the same hue (in particular, the same yellowish green). The range of I would therefore contain fewer hues than its domain. Invert would not be able to distinguish some stimuli (those she calls ‘bluish red’) that Nonvert could tell apart, and so again the inversion would be behaviorally detectable.

    That is by looking at the solid it really looks as if a hue inversion could be detected, I am not so sure however how this looks if the operation would not only include hue and may not be necessarily a rotation. The Munsell solid has some more recent counterparts, like here is one from 2002, but unfortunately only in formulas and few diagrams.

    Comment Source:Regarding the above Wikipedia citation. The given citation of John Lock, doesn't say that the inversion needs to take place in one human, but that it might be different in different humans, as far as I understood. The Figure 5 Section 2.2. in this <a href="http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-inverted/">encyclopedia</a> displays a socalled <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munsell_color_system">Munsell solid</a> and the text explains some symmetries in color space: >The lightness dimension corresponds to the central vertical axis, with white at the top. The hue and saturation dimensions correspond, respectively, to the angle around the vertical axis, and to the distance from it. Thus the shades of maximum saturation are on the outside of the solid. Notice that the yellows have their maximum saturation at higher levels of lightness than the reds and the blues. So, assuming that Invert's judgments of the relations between colors are — modulo the inversion — normal, a possible Lockean 180° hue rotation scenario would be behaviorally detectable. Invert would judge the maximally saturated colors she calls ‘shades of blue’ to be lighter than the maximally saturated colors she calls ‘shades of yellow’. Further, there are more distinguishable hue steps between blue and red than there are between yellow and green — a fact that is reflected in the Munsell space, whose hue circle has five hues equally spaced: red, yellow, green, blue, purple. (Contrast the NCS space mentioned in the previous subsection.) Hence the Lockean inversion function I, assuming it is defined on all hues, would map some distinct hues (in particular, some bluish reds) to the same hue (in particular, the same yellowish green). The range of I would therefore contain fewer hues than its domain. Invert would not be able to distinguish some stimuli (those she calls ‘bluish red’) that Nonvert could tell apart, and so again the inversion would be behaviorally detectable. That is by looking at the solid it really looks as if a hue inversion could be detected, I am not so sure however how this looks if the operation would not only include hue and may not be necessarily a rotation. The Munsell solid has some more recent counterparts, like here is one from <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CIECAM02">2002</a>, but unfortunately only in formulas and few diagrams.
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