Options

What is Today's View of the Perfect Outcome?

Over on the blog, Charlie Clingen wrote:

Let me ask in a slightly different way a question that has been raised above. There is a vast and rapidly growing collection of books, papers, articles, seminars, articles, etc. related to the topics targeted by Azimuth. There is a growing community of intelligent, technically articulate scientific experts in those areas as well; but each of them is probably incompetent (in the non-pejorative sense) in many of the areas being covered. Experience has taught me that effective human communication is probably the most difficult “technical” problem of all. Confronted with all that, now fast-forward two years. Wave the magic wand and assume that all roadblocks in pursuit of the ideal Azimuth outcome are instantly removed – funding, no problem; blog technology, solved; hours in the day to do the work, infinite; enthusiasm and acceptance within the target community, A+. In that idealistic world, what would the perfect outcome of Azimuth be? A carefully classified and well-structured (whatever that means) bibliography of everything ever written and otherwise recorded on the topic. A central archive for all relevant publications and activities, provided to the scientific community at large? A place where the top areas of contention are highlighted, with pro’s and con’s carefully articulated with comments on work being done to resolve the disagreements? A clearing house where scientists come before being interviewed by the press on what the latest progress is?

I’m just trying to get a fairly concrete picture of “the” ideal outcome of this ambitious and exciting new enterprise – not so much how it will function on a day-to-day basis, but rather what it will look like when one logs in two years from now. Of course, in the real world, nothing will work out as we expect, and the ideal outcome will change every few months. So these types of questions will have to be revisited often. But nevertheless, it is still important to have a fairly concrete target in mind for a major project such as this, even though we all know that the requirements will change, the budget will be exceeded, the schedule will slip, and the product will ship late. But that’s OK – the potential value of the outcome is worth the effort. Perhaps in the new blog, there should be a place for “Today’s View of the Perfect Outcome”, with a history of all the previous views available, just so we can see how all of this evolves as time goes on.

Comments

  • 1.

    Here is my view today of the perfect outcome of the Azimuth Project.

    As time passes, the climate will start getting noticeably bad, and popular pressure will begin push governments to get serious about global warming. The governments will wish they'd done something sooner. Politicians will do a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing. But hopefully they will start trying to do something. Some will say it is "too late". It will indeed be too late to prevent global warming, and very hard to reverse it. But nonetheless, it will not be too late to do something that has some useful effect.

    And at this point — not a sharply defined moment — it will be useful to have a bunch of scientists and engineers who know a lot about the problems and what to do about them. Ideally there will even be some sort of rough consensus about a lot of questions like:

    1) should we build a lot of nuclear reactors? what kind?

    2) should we produce a lot of biofuels? what kind?

    3) should we produce a lot of solar power? how?

    4) should we produce a lot of wind energy? how?

    5) how can we best conserve energy?

    and so on. And ideally there would be an overall strategy mapped out, and groups of people with expertise on different aspects.

    So, my idea is that the Azimuth Project should help:

    1) get lots of students interested in these issues

    2) get lots of scientists and engineers interested

    3) accumulate expert knowledge

    4) lay it out in a way that's very easy to absorb and navigate

    5) make it easy for scientists and engineers to find important projects to work on

    6) start figuring out an overall strategy

    7) make this strategy, and the reasons it's good, very easy to learn.

    Comment Source:Here is my view today of the perfect outcome of the Azimuth Project. As time passes, the climate will start getting noticeably bad, and popular pressure will begin push governments to get serious about global warming. The governments will _wish they'd done something sooner_. Politicians will do a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing. But hopefully they will start trying to do something. Some will say it is "too late". It will indeed be too late to _prevent_ global warming, and very hard to reverse it. But nonetheless, it will not be too late to do _something that has some useful effect_. And at this point — not a sharply defined moment — it will be useful to have a bunch of scientists and engineers who know a lot about the problems and what to do about them. Ideally there will even be some sort of rough _consensus_ about a lot of questions like: 1) should we build a lot of nuclear reactors? what kind? 2) should we produce a lot of biofuels? what kind? 3) should we produce a lot of solar power? how? 4) should we produce a lot of wind energy? how? 5) how can we best conserve energy? and so on. And ideally there would be an overall strategy mapped out, and groups of people with expertise on different aspects. So, my idea is that the Azimuth Project should help: 1) get lots of students interested in these issues 2) get lots of scientists and engineers interested 3) accumulate expert knowledge 4) lay it out in a way that's very easy to absorb and navigate 5) make it easy for scientists and engineers to find important projects to work on 6) start figuring out an overall strategy 7) make this strategy, and the reasons it's good, very easy to learn.
  • 2.

    In another thread, we both said we could imagine Azimuth becoming lots of things. Here are two things I thought of that you didn't say above.

    I like the way that Without the hot air exposes the arithmetic and makes it possible to design your own plan. But it is too UK-centric, and otherwise limited (eg no land prices) and it doesn't make things easy enough. So I have a germ of an idea that one could develop a program which would know the numbers and do the arithmetic, so that people could develop plans for their own areas. And if you didn't like the numbers ("I think PV is more efficient than that!") you could click your way to the relevant Azimuth wiki page.

    Second, Azimuth might become a place that science journalists visit for expert comment on relevant issues.

    Comment Source:In another thread, we both said we could imagine Azimuth becoming lots of things. Here are two things I thought of that you didn't say above. I like the way that [[Without the hot air]] exposes the arithmetic and makes it possible to design your own plan. But it is too UK-centric, and otherwise limited (eg no land prices) and it doesn't make things easy enough. So I have a germ of an idea that one could develop a program which would know the numbers and do the arithmetic, so that people could develop plans for their own areas. And if you didn't like the numbers ("I think PV is more efficient than that!") you could click your way to the relevant Azimuth wiki page. Second, Azimuth might become a place that science journalists visit for expert comment on relevant issues.
  • 3.

    I don't have much to add to what JB said, except that I don't see many places that have a similar aim. Maybe some subnets of Azimuth become online meeting places for research groups, like over at the nLab.

    Comment Source:I don't have much to add to what JB said, except that I don't see many places that have a similar aim. Maybe some subnets of Azimuth become online meeting places for research groups, like over at the nLab.
  • 4.

    I agree with Graham and Tim.

    I would really like to take Without the hot air, make it less UK-centric, and import it to the Azimuth project. This will take a lot of work, but maybe if we do it, I can become chief scientific advisor to something-or-other and hire you all!

    Comment Source:I agree with Graham and Tim. I would really like to take [[Without the hot air]], make it less UK-centric, and import it to the Azimuth project. This will take a lot of work, but maybe if we do it, I can become [chief scientific advisor to something-or-other](http://thegreenvillage.co.uk/news/decc-appoint-david-mackay-as-chief-scientific-adviser-931/) and hire you all!
Sign In or Register to comment.