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The World of Tomorrow


I'm thinking of writing something set in the mid-21st century and asked Charlie if he had any good resources for futurism on a ~30 year time scale. And lo and behold, a guest post appeared.

Now, I'm not much of a futurist, or really any kind of futurist in the formal sense. But I like to think I can see where things might be going, so here's a brief rundown of what I'm anticipating we'll see by mid-century.

TECHNOLOGY - A fractured Internet and radically decentralized social media are the name of the game. This is the cyberpunk dystopia you were promised, but without all the messy brain surgery and skulljacks. Getting data across certain national borders will be difficult. Getting news out during a blackout might, in some countries, be worth your life. Most countries that style themselves as free may resist government control of the Internet, but it’s unlikely that they will be able to do much more than maintain zones where the old rules apply. The Great Firewall of China is going to be a popular model. Alternative national networks that are inherently biased in favor of the state might prove to be another.

Even in countries that prefer to be mostly hands-off about their networks, legislation and policy changes will be put in place to harden their population against psy-op attacks like the one that has crippled America. The dream is already dead: in 30 or 40 years we’ll see what has grown from the corpse. Drones will be ubiquitous of course, as will anti-drone technologies to clear the airspace in an emergency.

POLITICS - Expect socialism, anarchism, and other direct challenges to capitalism to make a roaring comeback in the developed world.

The Washington Consensus relied upon Washington to be a reliable broker, and the loss of faith in American leadership due to the Trump Administration will be seismic in scale. By 2050, America has vastly degraded herself from her position of supremacy in January of 2001, but she is likely to retain a cultural influence that is far out-sized compared to her paltry 460 million citizens (already in fourth place after China, India, and the EU).

The global cultural impact of a resurgent Left in the famously right-wing United States may end up being one of the signature features of the new era, if for no other reason than our cultural productions might be one of our few remaining viable exports. It might not be cinema and TV shows by then. It might be hepatic enabled VR that let’s YOU fight the strike breakers in front of the Ford Motor Company gates! Feel that Pinkerton’s skull crack under your Louisville Slugger! Oh yes, the resurgent American socialism is going to be drenched in Americana, tip to tail. (At least it will be if I have anything to say about it!)

But, of course, America will as usual be a trailing indicator.

This shift is well underway in Europe already, and with a few more decades to develop it may become a big deal, historically speaking. I haven’t seen much discussion of how this dynamic will play out in Asia. It may be in places where the economy is still developing to a Euro/American level, these appeals will be less persuasive, but I kind of doubt it. It’s going to be a major controversy everywhere. International boundaries will continue to blur but will not disappear.

WAR - Modern war is horrifying in its expense and violence. This will be ever more true, and the extreme costs of the highest end weapon systems might paradoxically make them less vital in a strategic sense. Sun Tzu identifies the highest form of strategy as learning how to win without fighting, and when a single squadron of fighters costs a sizable fraction of a country’s GDP, their incentive to get creative with how they achieve their contested objectives has never been higher. We see that with Russia’s campaign of election meddling already. This will formalize as new type of international conflict. Perhaps there will be a new word for it, or perhaps we will simply change the definition of war to “a political conflict in which one side has decided the other’s interests are immaterial and not to be considered.”

When it does come to violence, I think we will see a pattern where much of the fighting will be conducted with low to medium cost weapons systems, and a few high end bits of kit meant to act as a force multiplier. How might this look in practice? Consider an urban guerrilla outfit which manufactures its own ammunition out of smuggled raw ingredients and feeds this into their 3D printed infantry weapons. They have as many riflemen as they want, but for antitank defense they rely on foreign missiles dropped off in the night by friendly special forces helicopters.

One caveat to this: many of the world’s most powerful economies have been sheltering under the enormous US defense budget for generations. With Washington no longer reliable, that may not be the case for much longer. But 2050, we may see large standing armies with fully modern equipment in places where they haven’t been seen in generations. If that’s the case, expect the first three weeks of any major conventional war to be an absolute bloodbath…and then the guerrilla phase starts.

For a historical example, look at the Battle of the Frontiers in World War 1. A lot of illusions were shattered at enormous cost of human life, and both sides then scrambled to improvise new tactics and technologies to counter the revealed status quo. Think of that, but without the trench warfare. Imagine instead if France had been conquered, and then immediately gone into a kind of medium-high insurrection against the occupation forces instead of surrendering. Now add in the Internet, foreign meddling, long-standing internal conflicts coming to a boil, and that will be the pattern for major conventional conflict.

And if fourth generation nuclear weapons ever get off the drawing board…it’s not gonna be pretty.

ENVIRONMENT - The shift to renewables will be all but complete, and pollution cleanup technologies might be a big growth industry, pushed heavily by China, who have a real strong incentive to figure out how to pull heavy metals out of the water and soil.

Antarctica is past the point of no return. Many coastal cities have flooded. To openly be a global warming denialist in some places on Earth is to take your life in your hands. By 2050, I expect at least high profile one climate related assassination to have occurred. Carbon capture technology is one of the highest priority areas of research, and scientists are also scrambling with a way to capture the other greenhouse gasses as well. Geo-engineering initiatives have significant political clout by now. People see the problem and they want it FIXED. Animals are being sampled so they can be cloned back into being after they go extinct. In some places, eco-preservation is almost a mania. The last few stubborn hold-outs in denial are likely to be radicalized and violent by now. See above for how that’s gonna work out for them.

I don’t expect the panic reactions to the Earth visibly starting to fall apart to work. We’re gonna get several nasty surprises. Kim Stanley Robinson’s 2312 had a plausible future history for how this argument might play out. Green cities of vertical farms, a smaller human population living in automated comfort, and a re-wilded countryside is an ideal that’s already attractive to some. It will only get more attractive as time goes on.

HEALTH - The permafrost has already begun to melt. Surprise, it’s smallpox! Or if not smallpox, some other damn thing nobody’s had to have antibodies for at any time in the past half million years. The death toll might be high, but one hopes a crash program of inoculation keeps this from being the civilization killer that some fear and others hope for. See the movie Contagion for what I’m thinking will happen. We get pandemic scares all the time (We’ve had like three just since I graduated college nine years ago) and sooner or later the bugs will get lucky. Stem cell therapy, 3-D printed organs, CRISPR, etc, are really coming into their own and helping people live longer and at a higher quality than ever before, if they have the money.

I do not expect much in the way of sci-fi flavored biotech, if only because the real problems that these technologies will be bent toward will be more subtle, but more important. Developing a new way to culture bacteria, for example, would be an obvious application of biotech that doesn’t exactly move the average heart to excitement, and yet would be as consequential as the discovery of penicillin.

Look for several medical breakthroughs of this sort in the next few decades, but be warned you may not live to see their full benefit because immortality isn’t fucking happening for people who are already alive. Who is the most enthusiastic about cheating death? Silicon Valley types who have never met a real limit in their life, that’s who. Don’t let their privileged delusions pollute your thinking. What is much more likely to happen is that upper class people will begin living much longer than has historically been the norm, but lower class people will find their life expectancy cut. Hey, remember when I said socialism was gonna make a comeback?

And that’s it. That’s my list of thoughts about where we will be by mid-century. I think there’s going to be at least one really big black swan event, and probably at least one major conventional war like the one I suggested above. What did I leave out? What did I get wrong?


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I think you have the politics wrong, specifically for the Anglophone countries like US, UK, OZ. My current feeling is that we are experiencing a false dawn that will come screeching to a halt from over-idealism, and an inability to respond to the Rights twin weapons of Lower Taxes and Authoritarianism (want to be protected? Surrender your will to us).

It will take Kilo or Mega deaths directly attributable to the policies of the Right to change that narrative and gut feel suggests that will be more likely 40-50 years out. It will also require fundamental changes in the nature of the media - again Social Media being a complete false dawn whilst its being driven by advertising.

One potential interim stage is Left-leaning Authoritarianism, which may be a necessity for dealing with Climate


I think there are potentially two interesting effects coming out of a move to renewables.

The first is that if renewables succeed in displacing fossil fuel generation it will be by being cheaper. Renewables tend to be capital intensive and so once built the price of inputs shouldn't have much effect on the price of outputs. There's no gas price to spike. So I think future scenarios probably have cheap and abundent energy.

The second factor is that renewables probably shift economic and security activity. States that had to consider energy security in the past such as the USA and the EU are probably producing almost of all their energy needs domestically. The resource constaints for building new renewables stop you expanding your energy networks rather than shutting down existing infrastructure. You can stock pile several years worth of rare earths in a way you can't stock pile oil and gas.

Renewables favour large, deeply interconnected electricity grids and markets. Pan-European (probably including North Africa), pan-North American, pan-African etc. All things being equal this probably binds nation-states and people together.

Industrial production and employment will likely shift to sunny or windy parts of the world. Economic areas with both sun and wind are in for a win.


I think a big feature of 2050 will be that the economic centre of the world will have shifted to Asia. A combination of renewable energy, new industrial models and demographic factors will mean large populations, with stable-ish political systems and growing levels of eduction and productivity will have advantages that are hard to compete with. Europe and the US, with ageing populations, legacy industrial models and an economic system founded on hydrocarbon consumption will struggle to keep up.


Somewhere on the way, any kind of intersectionality gets dubbed an "extremist ideology" by at least one major western government because it's a challenge to divide&conquer and the usual media bullshit alone isn't working.

There's a generation of disabled adults who're wondering where their elders are even for well-understood conditions. No overt genocide, just a lot of people who didn't survive welfare deform.

Depending on which country you're in, "Universal Basic Income" is either obvious or the means by which the above happened. It's just one of many cultural barriers, but it exacerbates network fragmentation - much as it's often Not Fun when US and UK members of a given minority discuss how to fix things without comparing baselines.

In certain circles there is a heightened awareness of low-tech solutions to what everyone's taught to think of as currently-high-tech problems - only surveillance means this only gets talked about in the context of Officially Acceptable Activities where there's plausible deniability. Quite what that does to eg martial arts, I don't know - but it probably looks more like periods of Chinese than Japanese history.

How does the future taste? How much diversity of produce can be maintained within acceptable transport distance? How much in the way of manufacturing/producing and supply still runs Just In Time and how much is kept as a stockpile? Is warehousing cheap or expensive? I get the impression the average lifetime of much consumer tech has gone up again - the technical side of computer games should be at least as stable as film-making is now, with the equivalent of CGI as a game-changing factor being something firmly non-visual.

What's the future of the arts? How popular do you have to be to have a tolerable life as a musician/writer/... on your own? How big a scale are our largest productions (Marvel films, big-budget games etc etc)?


Scarily plausible, and the source for a large handful of really interesting novels. Can't wait to see what you come up with!

A quibble about Europe: I think large parts of Europe are dangerously close to a right-wing rebellion that may occur long before the socialism you described. Whether social or fascist forces win is an open question. The recent victory for the good guys in France is reassuring until you realize that 1/3 of voters voted for Le Pen. Other countries, particularly in eastern Europe, haven't been so lucky. Such seismic shifts in culture can easily take more than a generation to overturn. So I speculate that we'll see potentially large pockets of European fascism thriving amidst socialist pockets (e.g., the Nordic countries) and across an ocean from American social revolution with its own pockets of reactionary rebellion. To do gross injustice to Piketty, history is a long series of examples of the 1% getting just a tad too smug and being slaughtered by the justifiably resentful poor. We'll undoubtedly see that again -- repeatedly.

Re. war, there's a hoary cliché that the military establishment is always fighting the last war rather than looking to the current or future situation. One can quibble with *many* details of that description, but it's certainly true now in an age when ever more expensive tactical weapons (e.g., billion-dollar ships and aircraft) are being purchased despite being largely useless against the growing problem of urban warfare. (I don't think warfare between major powers is gone for good, but it's probably less likely than at any previous time in history. Battlefield nukes really do change the rules of the game.) Most militaries around the world recognize this shift, but continue to throw billions of dollars at cool toys that won't be all that useful in the majority of future conflicts. As you note, the better solution is to win by avoiding such wars. Can you propose a future (via a novel!) in which American diplomats finally get a clue and begin fighting wars by combating poverty and disease and oppression instead of distributing high-tech weaponry to unreliable allies, and ending up fighting the warriors spawned by those conditions? The "military-industrial complex" won't give up their cushy nest easily, so there's an interesting "us vs. them" political thriller implicit in this suggestion.

I'm a severe skeptic about carbon capture and sequestration. Like fracking, it looks good on paper (or based on computer simulations). I'm less sanguine that it will work in practice; deep subsurface geology is complex. It will only take one large "burp" that releases a few kilotonnes of sequestered carbon and kills a few thousand people downwind to end that technology -- even if a little more testing and development might find ways to make it safe. NIMBY will also be a particular problem. I sure as hell don't want to live downwind from such a repository.

Pandemics will be a huge issue if we don't start taking international travel more seriously. We've already seen hints of the potential problem (e.g., SARS), and the responses thus far (creation of infrastructure/networks and mobilization of medical resources to detect and deal with the problem) are a promising beginning. But they may prove to be too little/too late. A friend who has worked in this area (preparing epidemic-response plans in the U.S.) told me, off the record and grossly oversimplified, that we simply don't have the resources to defeat a major domestic epidemic, let alone a pandemic. In Canada, for instance, the medical system crashes every year during flu season, when ERs are flooded with sick people. It's not hard to imagine a really bad flu tipping the system into complete failure mode.

Global warming will spread more exotic diseases around the world by air travel until we insist on medical screenings, at the airport, for all travellers -- including diplomats. (That's not going to happen even if we develop much better diagnostic tools. Star Trek tricorders, maybe.) But what really worries me are two things: (i) non-exotic diseases like influenza, which are viral, spread rapidly, and are exceedingly difficult to treat, and (ii) antibiotic resistance, since we have few viable antibiotics left in our toolkit and Big Pharma has no economic incentive to create new ones. Tuberculosis, one of the biggest killers in history, is now resistant to most drugs. We're dangerously close to the time when what we now consider to be largely harmless infections become life-threatening once more. The old killers are already there, and new ones (e.g., MERSA) are running hard to take the lead.


War and Politics both:-

This isn't really my comfort zone as such, but I think a lot will depend on whether Wahabism collapses with the decarbonisation of the World economy, and the consequent loss of market for heavy crude oil (light crude is useful for making plastics, and the deplasticisation of the World economy still seems unlikely).


Renewables have a large human cost per megawatt-hour of generation, so high the boosters of renewables actually boast about it with recent press reports about the millions of jobs wind and solar installations have brought to the US. That's a lot of paychecks to provide something like 6% of America's electricity demands. Assuming a linear expansion by the time renewables get to 50% of grid supply something like fifty million adult Americans will be employed installing, maintaining and decommissioning millions of solar and wind plants.

It's a bit like boasting about full employment of agricultural labourers in the mid-seventeenth century. On the other hand a pair of nuclear reactors can be operated by a couple of hundred staff to produce about 15TWh of electricity annually.


More jobs for more workers, and STILL safer than coal? What's not to like?

Automation is the great job killer, and it will cause real social problems down the line. Solar and wind would be worth pursuing as a jobs program alone. There is no inherent virtue in getting by with fewer headcount. That's a value that capitalism likes to promote because it increases the bottom line, but it's not actually worth fighting for on its own merits.


I hadn't quite realized things were so dire relating to pandemics. That might end up providing a grizzly solution to overpopulation.


Not just pandemics, either. If we don't do anything about the tidal wave of antibiotic resistance, all our old friends are coming back. At the end of the antibiotic era, the words 'it's infected' will be as welcome as 'it's cancer' (again). Minor trauma and childbirth and all forms of surgery will kill lots of young people (again). Infancy will be a lottery (again): the winners get to grow up.


AI will be limited to "Practical Dialogue Systems," which are able to hold a conversation as long as you stick to their subject area. Think systems that book plane and hotel reservations.

No more use of fossil fuels, but between solar and wind and maybe next-generation nuclear, cheap energy will no longer be a problem in most of the world, and the impact of climate change will still be fairly small unless you live in Miami, New Orleans, Venice, or some other place that's right on the edge. However, the implications for the 22nd Century will no longer be in doubt, and people will be trying to figure out how much of places like New York and London can be saved. (Most people seem to overestimate the impact of climate change over the next 50 years but then underestimate it over the next 150 years.)

Some countries (like China) may adopt a semi-democracy, in which only accomplished people are allowed to vote. (E.g. college graduates, millionaires, celebrities.)

As China and India complete their rise to the first world, Africa will start to take off, although it'll struggle with population problems.

Th end of the petro economy will stabilize the middle east a great deal.


I'm a bit more optimistic about the left than you are. We can expect three things that will push us towards the left, and they are, in no particular order:

1.) The carbon crash. I think that's a done deal, and the only thing left to hash out is the timing. As oil/coal companies go bankrupt many sources of right-wing funding will dry up. This means less money for campaigns and buying politicians. It will also bankrupt Russia.

2.) The Trump investigations. So many high-ranking people will go down bigly. I believe that even if Congress, the President, and the Supreme Court all collude to squash the investigations, someone in the Intelligence Community will publish and distribute a full report, one that may even reveal sources and methods. This will be devastating to the American Right. And you bet that the intelligence agencies in Germany, Greece, France, and the U.K. are all following up on Russian money, though what they do about it will vary from country to country.

3.) Any big weather/flooding/heating event which is attributable to Climate Change, particularly if it kills a lot of people or destroys a lot of property.

In Trump's worst nightmare all these things will happen within the same thirty days.

BONUS ROUND: MSNBC now has better ratings than Fox News, mainly due to their hard-hitting Trump coverage, and Fox News is mired in multiple scandals, including advertisers pulling out of Sean Hannity's TV show. This has already happened. Going forward, Fox will be less influential over the next couple years as they reorganize, and may lose influence permanently.


The third factor of a move to renewables is that the U.S. will no longer need to kowtow to the Arab world. The politicians haven't figured it out yet, but when they do it will revolutionize how the U.S. does business. Specifically, we'll no longer have to put up with any shit from the Saudis, such as funding Al Quaeda or ISIL.


I keep seeing reports of renewables as being cheaper than coal/gas/hamsters in wheels. The figure of merit I'm getting at is MWh/employee per annum. If it costs 50,000 bucks each year to employ a renewables builder/engineer/fitter and they're only responsible for supplying 500MWh of output over the same year then that electricity is going to cost about a hundred bucks per MWHr in personnel costs alone. Coal, nuclear and gas-generated electricity on the other hand is about $50 per MWhr at the customer switchyard for everything including plant, personnel, fuel etc. Either renewables have a small staffing requirement or they're going to be expensive, you can't have both absent slave labour or a return to serfs and feudalism.


I am far from a military historian but urban battlefields with expensive toys (tanks, helicopters) plus cheap, largely printable drones sounds like a nightmare to me.

You have someone with an "off" drone waits for the big anti-drone measures, then pilots it up and over a building, a hill or whatever and has it drop an IED down the barrel of a tank's big gun and boom. To paraphrase Gerry Adams, as long as the pilot gets away most of the time, and the drones really are pretty disposable (I guess the guidance systems are the hardest part) "We only have to get lucky once, the tanks have to get lucky every time." The maths won't work out quite like that, but it will be close to.

If the drones can get to decent speed and are disposable, crash them through the tail rotors of the enemy's helicopters.

Those special forces helicopters won't be dropping missiles, they'll be high-flying aircraft dropping drones carrying guidance chips for more drones and 3D printer plans for better drones...

Can you propose a future (via a novel!) in which American diplomats finally get a clue and begin fighting wars by combating poverty and disease and oppression instead
I suggest a glance at Harry Harrison's pretending-to-be-a-Vietnam-War story "Commando Raid." :-)

Quick point of pedantry, there's no E in MRSA, it stands for Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus so you just take the initial letters. In the US where CA-MRSA is quite common, as well as the HA-MRSA strains, the acronym that's normally pronounced as a set of initials in the rest of the world has been smeared into a word so there's a schwa sound in there, but you still don't normally write it.

For those of you who want to add to your nightmares, read up on Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci. Some ICU's/ITU's (the name depends on the hospital) run at 30% nosocomial infections with VREs and there is already resistance to the recently introduced new antibiotic designed to treat VRE and MRSA infections. But the end of the antibiotic era has suddenly really come into sharp focus for a lot of people.

If you want some hope... quorum quenching might be the way to go. There's a patent for a quorum quenching signal in use in the UK and depending on your brand of toothpaste you might already be using it!


As for the "evil disease from out of the depths of time escapes from the permafrost" scenario, I don't think it works. Bacterial and viral diseases are parasitic on their hosts. They need very specific conditions to affect them and replicate, the right kind of protein coatings and half a million years is enough time for evolution to diverge to the point of mutual incompatibility between disease and host. The pandemics that worry folks today (Ebola, H1N1 bird flu etc.) are part of our current biosphere, bursting out from reservoirs in animal populations in places like Africa and Asia to infect humans. They're not long-dormant diseases that lurk under the melting icecaps.


(Most people seem to overestimate the impact of climate change over the next 50 years but then underestimate it over the next 150 years.)

I think there are two reasons for this. First, we keep hearing the climate change is happening faster than the previous predictions. Five years ago I would have happily agreed that we won't lose Florida until 2060. After five years of hearing about how much faster its happening than we thought, I expect it by 2030 or so (and we're already getting flooding in Miami.)

Second, I think that people believe that there will be some kind of incident which makes it clear that the Climate Change believers are correct, after which there will be a WWII-level effort to end climate change, and that this effort will reverse climate change. When viewed coldly, this idea seems a little thoughtless, but it's not completely unreasonable.


It would be nice if the carbon crash simply led to a reorganisation of the global economy around renewables, but all the evidence suggests that big oil (which includes the Russian government for practical purposes) will fight to the last hydrocarbon molecule to defend their rents. It will be very ugly in all sorts of ways that aren't apparent yet as well as the ones that are. In the long run the survivors may learn the lessons, but in the long run, as Keynes remarked, we are all dead. If we're discussing a thirty year perspective, I think the carbon power base will still have plenty of tricks up its sleeve.

It's interesting that the Saudi royal family is beginning to make preparations for the post-oil world. I wonder if the people who run Exxon are as far sighted (No I don't, they're obsessed with shareholder returns to the point where they're completely paralysed.)


The US is self-sufficient in oil and gas, it doesn't need to kowtow to the Saudis and hasn't had to for decades. They just like telling people what to do.


That's one of the implications of the changing security situation I mentioned. I think it's one of the big specifics but it also affects the EU and Russia and the relationship of the EU and USA.


I think it's the price that's the issue. Self-sufficient at $150 a barrel is different from self-sufficient at $45 a barrel.


The problem here is that ten years ago it looked like the smart thing to do was to be the last country with usable oil and gas reserves; it was good strategy to let the other countries pump, purchase oil from them, and keep your own reserves for later. Thus the case for keeping the Saudis happy even if they were contributing to some terrorist organizations.

Renewable energy plus climate change kills that strategy, but I don't think the power players have figured that out.


The US is third in worldwide oil production, behind Russia (the current leader) and Saudi (a close second) and that's with oil at $50-$60 a barrel. From Wikipedia via the IEA:

Country Production (bbl/day)
1 Russia 10,250,000
2 Saudi Arabia 10,050,000
3 United States 08,744,000

The US buys in very little oil and gas and by law can't export it because America and oil (insert voiceover of Gollum, "My Precioussss!" here). The US doesn't kowtow to Russia because of oil, I don't see them kowtowing to Saudi Arabia for the same reason. Why the US wants to spend money and blood acting as the self-appointed military dictator of the world is another matter. I figure it might be some form of potlatch thing.


On the politics front I think there is a question about the relationship between liberalism and democracy and long term economic performance.

Is there a postive correlation between liberal / social democracies with good institutions and economic growth? If so,which way does the causal arrow point? Or is the cause a third factor like a large, well educated middle class?

If there is a strong causal relationship between liberal democracy and economic growth in high income technology frontier economies then that might give you an interesting checkerboard of rich free countries and poor unfree countries.

Or something else if the correlations are weak or the causal factors are different.


Interesting if depressing view ... OOC, normally how optimistic vs. pessimistic are you?

Decided to post top of mind reactions/ideas before reading others' posts, so apologies if any were already mentioned.


Fractured internet – also means no more free exchange of ideas (or travel, post-docs) between universities. Therefore an increase in the uneven distribution and uptake of tech. Possibility of a brain drain for the US esp. in STEM.

Feel that Internet and TV are very closely tied culturally. Demise of TV networks as we know them, esp. only one program schedule across regions – leading to fracturing of cultures. No more national culture because no shared experiences - the past 3 generations got most of their collective cultural experience/national identity off TV. Instead, programming including news and music will target specific demographics and regions to fine tune these folks into whatever emotional or rational response wanted. Even weather reports would be targeted to only the local area: who needs to know what’s happening elsewhere because no one would be able to afford to travel. Plus, no more historical weather comparisons because (1) the old weather models no longer work, and (2) USians don’t want to know about climate change or what’s happening on the rest of the globe anyways. (And, as the US slides into a climatic and socio-economic vortex, tourism declines so even less reason to know anything about the world.)

Politics - Online voting with most-likely-to-actually-get-elected candidates selected via programmed competitions based on current reality TV show formats. As part of the voting process, ratings on candidate traits would be collected that would both help segment the viewers/voters as well as assist in developing the ideal candidate. Reality TV style gov’t would also include 24/7 coverage of elected officials throughout their working day – policies would be discussed (scripted) for each day. Real decision making would be done by backroom scriptwriters preparing several different script versions each written using whatever arguments would best fit the various different segments. The only commonality is the getting endorsement for that particular action/decision – how that is accomplished is irrelevant. World politics news coverage is unnecessary because there’s no more free internet. Long range more complex policy – economic and social - may also be first presented and market tested via favorite TV shows.

War – AI is already being used to make kill decisions according to journalist Jay Tuck. What I haven’t heard anyone talk about is what happens when each country/polity decides to develop and run its own deep-learning combat AI. (This is a serious question/topic.)

Artificial Intelligence: it will kill us | Jay Tuck | TEDxHamburgSalon

Environment – Once Elon Musk can show there’s tons more money to be made in renewable tech than oil, pols will be scrambling over themselves to show voters that they’re pro-environment. I’m assuming that EM is also developing his own Internet-connected AI which will be freely available in every Tesla car and under every solar roof* – available in three different looks and importantly actually look gorgeous! (Guessing the panels were designed in consult with an architect.)

* Tesla might be the only gateway to the ‘freedom Internet’.

Health – As the US loses its hold on the world economy and suffers a brain drain other polities and their cultural standards will kick in. Provided PRC and India don’t go capitalist crazy in the next 10-20 years, there may be hope for a saner and more humane distribution of wealth including access to meds worldwide. However … while China might make it through the climate upheaval, India is likely to lose about 25% of its arable land. And India is already seeing climate refugees arriving from Bangladesh. China has good natural barriers against climate refugees (Gobi) and is unlikely to see NKoreans or Siberians arriving at its gates. (Rising water levels might finally force the Taiwanese to agree to a reunified China.)


The end of the petro economy will stabilize the middle east a great deal.

Well, yes. Eventually. But I wouldn't want to live there today (hello tranny travel restrictions!) and I wouldn't want to live there any time in the next thirty years, or the next hundred for that matter.


But what happens if phage therapy comes back (mostly abandoned with the discovery of antibiotics) with the added tool of genetic modification?

The big problem with finding new antibiotics was the high cost of development against the financial returns they gave. The shortage of effective antibiotics happening so quickly caught pharm companies out; if they had forseen it they might have started research for entirely new forms earlier.

But if you have phages, that the "manufacturers" can constantly tweak with gene mods, that gives a constant income stream for a product hard to stockpile and in constant demand.


Why would the end of the petro economy stabilise that region? It's been in turmoil for centuries, millenia even before petroleum was anything other than an odd thick gunk that bubbled out of cracks in the ground here and there.


Who said anything about the dawn of time? 1918 could be quite long enough ago to make things awkward.


The question could be missing confounding variables; in the examples that come to mind immediately the correlation could be between a huge frontier to grow into, an empire to exploit, or a wartime boom rather than the political system.


Factor in the discovery of more things like Teixobactin and I'm unconvinced that Antibiotic Armageddon is here just yet. Expect Big Pharma to get a knock back if they get in the way of either megadeaths or cheap drugs. Making generics is only going to get easier.


I rather suspect it has very little do do with oil but more to do with being a massive market for the US mil-industrial complex.

Everything else being static I'm expecting Iran to be the new champion* of freedom and democracy in 30 years time.

*America's biggest export market for guns and ammo.


You left out a bunch of things, not that I blame you. It's a book length question. Here's a few big ones:

1. MIGRATION: Most of the human population lives within a few hundred kilometers of the coast, so one meter level sea rise means that there are hundreds of millions to a billion climate migrants in need of resettling. That's why I was (not) joking about Bangladeshi cuisine being popular, simply because Bangladesh will be largely under water and those people will be somewhere.

The big problem with massive migration is that it breaks down the idea of nation-states. If there are so many people on the move that no one control their borders, keep their citizens secure within those borders, or protect those coming in, the whole social contract that makes nation-states works starts to fall apart. Walls won't help, really, and it has nothing to do with the supposed violence and anarchy of migrants (most of whom are non-violent and just wish they still had their homes). It's a way nation-states fail, simply because they're not designed to handle this problem unless they are in rapid expansion mode (cf: the US in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, when the sign on the Statue of Liberty made sense).

This is where there are some parallels with the late Roman Empire (cf: Those barbarian slaves who built the empire were in part migrants from disruptions happening all over Europe, some caused by Rome, some not.

2. CLIMATE CHANGE: the big problem is that there's enormous inertia built into the relevant systems, both biogeochemical and political. The oceans will keep rising and the Earth will keep warming, even if we stop injecting greenhouse gases into the air. It's going to take centuries (up to 100,000 years) for the system to return to 20th Century normal. Humans will largely be along for the ride.

Second point: it's not just sea level it's that stuff gets bigger: bigger storms, deeper droughts, and so forth. There's more heat in the air, which makes it hotter and drier, unless there's water available. In this case, hot air takes up more water than cold air (this is the whole point of relative humidity), so this is why hotter atmosphere leads to bigger storms. Additionally, the Jet Stream will grow increasingly erratic and slower as the Arctic warms (it's powered by the temperature gradient between the Arctic and temperate regimes) so storms will wander, Arctic conditions will continue to drift south, and storms will move more slowly, so a big storm will sit around for days rather than blowing through.

Third issue is disruption of food systems (well, ecosystems everywhere, but I'm going to worry about food): you're trying to feed more people with less land and less predictable temperatures, and oh yeah, crop yields decline precipitously at the upper end of their temperature tolerance ranges. I'm quite sure that there will be more heat tolerant corn and other crops, because they're working on that problem now, and they were studying heat shock proteins back in the 1990s. If it can be done, it will be done. Still, keeping everybody fed is going to be a big problem. Keeping all the other things (wood, bamboo, rubber, coffee, tea, chocolate, sugar) in anything like current amounts is going to be a real problem.

Fourth issue is that politics will matter enormously. We're in this mess in large part because the fossil fuel industries chose to double down on production rather than shifting their industry to run on renewable power. That was purely a political decision, and it was done starting in the 1950s. Don't misunderestimate the ability of human evil to make things worse for the world to temporarily slake the power addictions of the few.

I could go on, but you can read my book Hot Earth Dreams if you want more. It's more about the 22nd Century and after, but it will help you with the 21st Century.

3. THE FOUR HORSEMAN. There's a reason these dudes ride together in Revelations: basically, when you have war, famine, or disease outbreaks, you almost inevitably have the other two: any of them lead to the breakdown of social order, leading to unrest (war), the breakdown of food supplies (famine), and the breakdown of public health (disease). As a result people die (Death). I saw this in the context of the Mayan collapse, where Richard Gill (The Great Maya Droughts) pointed out that the unending arguments among the Mayanists about what brought down the Maya were about trying to figure out which of the three (war, famine, epidemic) came first or was the ultimate cause. He pegged drought, because the area is prone to rare but devastating droughts, and there's ample historical records (as well as archaeological records) of what happens before, during, and after when the rains fail for three years or more. But crucially, he also pointed out that the ultimate cause doesn't particularly matter, since the proximal causes are inevitably linked. This is one thing I think the Bible got right, and it's worth remembering the Four Horsemen as a mnemonic for the misery that societal breakdowns cause.

As for permafrost releasing smallpox, we should be so lucky. Like most people, I'd bet on influenza first. Smallpox, if it shows up, will have been released from a lab or reversed engineered by an apocalyptic terrorist. Zoonotics are also possible, but it's really worth reading Quammen's Spillover if you want to go here. Still, remember the Four Horsemen: it's not just a pandemic, it's famine and war killing people too.

4: CRISPR and biotech. We're within a few decades of when an idiot in his garage can create a genetically modified eukaryotic organism, and like the idiots we are, we're stepping on the development accelerator even as people trying to grapple in the most brittle and abstract ways with the ethical and practical outcomes. What I expect to see is a lot of failed bioengineering attempts along with a bunch of successful ones. The main target will be pests and pathogens. We've already got a bunch of forest-killing bugs, fungi, and other organisms unleashed in the US, Australia, and presumably worldwide, due to massive shipments of garden plants and pallet wood without proper biocontrol. California's recording a new pest every few months right now. Since social controls are proving utterly ineffective (have you seen one of the many "don't move firewood" campaigns? I haven't, aside from a few meetings), I expect people will start engineering viruses and epiparasites to try to kill everything from Polyphagous shothole borer to various weeds, even pests like mosquitoes and rats. The problem is that the biocontrols will spread too. Attempts to engineer eucalypts out of California won't just result in the deaths of all the koalas in the San Diego Zoo, once the control agents get to Australia, they'll start wiping out forests there until they are controlled, at which point that bug gets back to California get the picture. Attempts to control weedy mustards in California inadvertently wipe out all the kimchi in Korea (cabbage is a mutant mustard, as are broccoli, brussel sprouts, kale, collards, etc.). The reason I'm so pessimistic is that the gene jockeys aren't required to take general ecology any more than doctors or tech billionaires are, so they don't know all the lessons about failed biocontrol that should have gotten drummed into their heads. Since the USDA process for licensing new biocontrols is slow, burdensome, and expensive, I'm sure that a lot of feckless young gene jockeys will decide that they'll just save the world by bypassing the whole process and hacking the world, with predictably bad consequences.

And this doesn't even get to the people who decide that smallpox is just the thing to kill of a few billion refugees so that they can keep living their comfortable lives in the US (and possibly elsewhere).

Oh yeah, and we'll probably be eating a lot of insects. Cricket curry, Bangladeshi style?


On renewables: Currently renewables are PR. That influences everything about how they are built and how they are used. Solar energy deployed as an actual solution for electricity will look nothing like what solar currently looks like. Instead, what we are going to get is a bunch of money flowing into places with actually favorable physical geography and some loooong HVDC cables.
Because paving over a few square kilometers of the Sonoran and Sahara deserts is just a whole lot cheaper than faffing around on rooftops. I think this means at least some of the southern edge of the med gets run through the Aquics Communitaire.

Not that rooftops will go unfaffed with. They will just get green or white instead of black - In a world of rising temperatures and changing climate, on very straightforward answer is micro-climate engineering. Cities currently form micro-climate zones that are hotter than their surroundings. It is possible to change this by changing the way rooftops and other aspects of the built are put together - Green roofs - roofs things grow on, cool things down and make the air quality higher. So I expect the more well organized cities of the future to be a riot of life - plants everywhere. This probably also means wildlife that is adapted well to living in the human ecosystem that is a city will do very well indeed.

Agriculture will be revolutionized by the robot "peasant" and the requirements of mitigating weather changes There are all sorts of things you can do with autonomous machines clever enough to navigate a field, and the agricultural lands are also a micro-biome that can have its own weather altered by deliberate effort - For example, changing an area from open wheat fields to mixed fruit and nuts threes, bushes and vegetables will cool all of it and put a dampener on local wind speeds. With the wast bulk of the work mechanized this also be far more economic - Much higher total caloric harvest, even if this sort of thing being common will crash the price of vegs, fruits and nuts. That in turn will change the entire way we eat - for the better.

Lets see, what else.. The kind of automated psychological modeling that Cambridge Analytica does will see wide ranging uses. And then reactions and restrictions. It certainly looks like it is at least potentially an answer to the question of how the surveillance state can ever actually do something with the flood of data it collects, because, well the kind of radicalization that makes bombs is probably detectable. So, we get thought-crime. In civilized nations, a visit from concerned social workers and/or quiet increased surveillance. In not-so-civilized nations, radicals just quietly vanish in the night.


Phage therapy might work. It's been 'the answer' that's about 10-20 years away for the last 35 years or so. Can I point you to reading about CRISPR? And refer you to a light dose of fusion power as another technology that's been "10 years away" for all my adult life too.

Bacteria have a lot defence mechanisms against phages, and 90% of sequenced archaea have CRISPR sequences for resistance to phages in the genomes. If you don't kill them all (which is the problem with antibiotic resistance) there's a really powerful mechanism to generate resistance to phages too - that we didn't know about 10 years ago. Can we circumvent it? Maybe but I wouldn't like to bet a lot of money on it.


Re: War – deep-learning combat AI

Something to think about ... your DLC-AI will not be subject to any historical or cultural biases which means that given the command: get rid of X many enemies within Y budget and by Z time, the AI could easily model away until it hits upon a variety of different strategies and tactics that would work, e.g., mess up your GP'S and Rx computer and send targeted 'enemies' incorrect meds (type of dose) or send major food retailers and restaurant chains foods laced with a number of different toxins. Or, it could start messing about with the electricity/programming in homes, streets, cars, hospitals, etc. And because these deaths would be distributed across a very large number of different causes, it could look very normal and the humans who gave this command could go to sleep feeling secure against being found out as the actual mass murderers.

Time for the UN to say the same thing to combat AI as they have to chemical warfare - absolutely NOWAY, NEVER justified!


Dangle a weighted line from the drone, or link a pair with a few metres of something, and fly the cable into the main rotor so it tangles in the hub. Bigger target than the tail rotor.

And the drone plans will be on the net, the black helicopters will be dropping off boxes of motors and reels of feedstock for the 3d printers.


Re. your point 4: have you read Graydon Saunders' Commonweal series? It does a lot of work around what colossal, long-term ecosystem interference could result in.


One of the interesting questions is how non-violent political action will develop.

There are two trends here. One is the research on the traditional, left-wing side, showing that non-violent action is approximately twice as effective as violent action in achieving political goals. We've known this intuitively for decades, which is why laborers strike rather than sabotaging their plants. The problem is, especially in America, we're so drenched in images of gun violence that this doesn't feel intuitively correct, even though the data support it worldwide.

The reason non-violence works is that you can literally mobilize everyone, since they don't have to be trained to fight. Ninety year-old grannies and young children make great non-violent activists. The critical disadvantages are that you need organizers (most non-violent activists, myself included, are extremely disorganized), and you can't use the threats of violence to coerce obedience, as you can with an armed insurrection.

This information is out there, publicly available, and there are a lot of people trying to get it distributed more widely. So we may see a revolution in conflict, IF people get organized, simply because it will be more effective. Tens of millions of non-violent migrants could take down any government, if they were properly organized. Imagine this happening to, say, China.

The flip side of non-violent action is that the authoritarians have been more assiduously reading this stuff than you have, and they're ahead of you. Look at the 2016 US election hack and Brexit debacle. How much of that was non-violent action by Russia and the oil industry? Probably quite a lot, but we're still sorting it out. The Bad Guys can act non-violently as well, and the results are just as profound.

Don't expect non-violent action to be a panacea leading to a peaceful, democratic world. That won't happen. However, I do suspect that we'll see more non-violence, which means life will become a war. While it won't be a violent war, the effects on our societies and psyches will be profound. As Mary Roach noted, war denatures people.


Most countries that style themselves as free may resist government control of the Internet

Will they also resist private control of the internet? I'd be worried about Facebook/Google/et al as well (shielded by laws that allow 'proprietary algorithms' to escape scrutiny).


It would probably take a year to vet all the major elements on this list

Couple pieces of feedback

1: fractured internet is really "government control of internet". It's actually pretty hard to pull off from s technical perspective. It only works with extremely strong totalitarian governments ready to bring down the hammer on offenders

2: as other commenters have pointed out you are massively massively underestimating the impact of sea level rise on virtually everything . If you postulate that level of rise you are deep into at least a collapse of society scenario


How silly. We just installed 32 kWh of solar panels on our roof (that's our daily production on an average spring day) for about 25% less than the cost of what our friend spent on 18 kW of solar panels two years ago. We're already selling energy back to the grid, but our intention is to get an electric car for commuting and a wall battery, and even with the Bolt's 60 kWh battery, we can easily afford to run it off the sun. At that point, we'll be very close to off the grid, with the exception of the one gas car kept for hauling heavy stuff. Granted we live in San Diego, where we can get away with this fairly easily, and also granted that we're going to take about 5 years to phase out all our gas appliances, since that involves remodeling the kitchen to put in the electric range. But still, it was shocking how easy it was. And solar prices are still going down.

The revolution's already here, and it's taking off. The thing to ask yourself whenever you consider gas, is whether the convenience now is worth the suffering of the kids and grandkids.


"Don’t let their privileged delusions pollute your thinking."

I think the question of more or less radical life/healthspan extension in our lifetimes comes down to whether there are any low-hanging fruits to pick in already long-lived organisms. If some combination of senolytics, telomere extension, muscle mass increase via myostatin inhibition, assorted other gene hacks via CRISPR or whatever, gets people an additional 15-20 years of healthy life, then the first person to live to 500 might be alive today -- and I see no reason why such procedures should remain prohibitively expensive (and I bet George Church would agree with that).If we get nowhere without full-blown, absolutely comprehensive SENS-type damage repair, then I suspect people alive now are screwed, wealthy or not.

It doesn't matter how execrable are the views of the privileged Silicon Valley douchebags leading the cheers. Biology doesn't care.


No I haven't read it, and I probably should. Thanks.


You know, I started wondering if future historians (assuming they exist) may talk about the period of "the first internet," possibly "the second internet," and so on. What I'm thinking is not the social media revolution, but the internet backbone being splintered, possibly rebuilt years to decades later, broken again, and so forth.

I can think of any number of reasons why this might be desirable, from any number of political and psychological viewpoints. Social media hasn't made us more free, and it's not clear whether it's made life better. While we're currently all addicted to it (and this blog!) so that talking about the demise of The Internet is verboten, I could easily see someone trying to destroy it either to control the flow of information and/or to free us all from the thrall of everyone else's ids and viral memes, and/or to stop Web War 1 from destroying global civilization.

If that happens and the internet is broken, I can see people trying to build a second, better internet to take its place. And that being broken too. And...

So perhaps we could talk about a story "set in the time of the second internet..."


You have a roof? You must be rich. Thankfully the government will force the electricity company to buy your solar electricity at a lot more than the market rate so you can get even richer. Us little people will have to pay the extra costs of giving you money but hey, that's what we're here for after all. We know our place.


I've been toying with the thought of artificial intelligence, specifically with a system that designs something like an FTL stardrive, but which can't communicate to us how it works in a way that we understand.

The AI system doesn't have to be humanly intelligent, it simply has to be given a problem and resources to solve it through genetic algorithms and fitting the data.

This problem has started cropping up with increasing frequency: computer systems can fit equations to data sets, but it then turns out that the equations, while being wonderfully predictively accurate, make no intuitive sense to the people using them. Perhaps the problem dates back to quantum mechanics (as in "don't think about what the equations mean in real life, just crank the numbers and check if the results work")? What should we call these things? I think of them now as The Blasphemous Equations, but perhaps that's too melodramatic.

That would be the ultimate irony of science: if we have a convincing demonstration (such as a genetic algorithm designing a working FTL drive) that human brains simply can't understand the way the universe works at all useful levels. And worse, we can design systems that can derive more than we can understand, but these systems are not in themselves intelligent in a human-enough way to explain their results to us. Nor are they capable of solving all our problems...


Re. Climate refugee migration, don't forget that even internal migration within a country's borders can have major social, political, economic and environmental effects. The Indonesian government has been encouraging the poor of over-populated Java to migrate to remote parts of the country for decades, paying for the trip, granting them land etc. End result: ethnic conflict, deforestation, heavy handed repression of various unhappy indigenous groups, etc. etc. It's kinda internal colonialism.

Even in a first world country, building millions of new homes, deciding who gets to live where and so on will be enormously disruptive. Consider the politics, opportunistic corruption and graft, racism etc post hurricane Katrina. Think of the carbon emissions from all that construction.

Then there are the politics of which coastal towns do and don't get levee banks, pumps etc to keep the waters at bay. Trillions of dollars of real estate makes for powerful vested interests.

Semi OT but semi relevant, the account of the wasteful, constant rebuilding of US East coast sandbar barrier islands towards the end of this article is astonishing:


I've actually thought a little about surveillance states, and the nightmare of course is that the surveillance state becomes a nation run on blackmail or some kind of tough-on-crime thing where the cops watch monitors all day and arrest everyone who commits any kind of crime whatsoever.

But what if there was a surveillance state that didn't do blackmail or tough-on-crime? Where if you had sex in a TAAS car the only "crime" would be not cleaning up after yourself and the record would vanish once the car was clean? Where if you wrote a check the day before your paycheck ends up in the bank they didn't arrest you? Where ALL surveillance was kept by a responsible private party under the control of the courts and law enforcement had to apply for a warrant to check out any surveillance?

How would people feel, and would the benefits exceed the risks?


April, there was a lot of discussion of the future of cars on the "Rejection" thread from a couple weeks ago.


I hadn't. Some of the biggest trouble spots are places like the DelMarVa peninsula and Hong Kong, as well as coastal Bangladesh. And Newark, NJ.

We'll see how it all works out. I agree that it's a great opportunity for more carbon emissions. After all, emergencies always justify the suspension of normal rules. Back when I wrote the book, I figured that adaption to climate change was going to be one of the big causes of greenhouse gas emissions. Now I'm not quite so sure, but that's simply because I've seen calculations that in San Diego, about 55% of emissions are from transportation, while


The irony is that I suspect a lot of the property law around the Kilauea lava flows also will apply to coastal real estate. Just because a property is buried under lava doesn't mean you still don't own the land. And just because a lava flow has cut off access and utilities to your house, it doesn't mean that you've lost the house. And just because a lava flow has come between you and the ocean, it doesn't mean that you can claim loss of beach-side real estate. I suspect that similar rules will be in place when people lose their beach homes to the rising tide.

That said, I was looking at a model map (, and it's hard to see precisely how much damage one meter of sea level rise will do. The US East and southeast coasts will be badly hit (deep red irony there), so will Hong Kong, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire in England, the Netherlands if they have an oopsie, the Nile Delta, the Mekong Delta, coastal Bangladesh, all the atolls, and parts of the Philippines. However, a lot of other areas won't be so affected, because they aren't on low-lying coasts. Thing is, there could ultimately be 50 meters of sea level rise in a few thousand years, and that really would rework a lot of the coasts.


"There is no inherent virtue in getting by with fewer headcount. That's a value that capitalism likes to promote because it increases the bottom line, but it's not actually worth fighting for on its own merits."

Couldn't disagree more; it's one of the things most worth fighting for on its own merits.

The idea that "everyone must work, all the time" is itself a value promoted by capitalism. Modern working hours are bad enough, but they would be a whole lot worse had it not been for anti-capitalist forces such as trade unions fighting to get them down. They are still as bad as they are because capitalism is not concerned with need (except insofar as it likes to create illusions of need to make people buy more stuff), but with greed, and the amount of work that must be done to satisfy greed is vastly greater than the amount required to fulfil need, because need is self-limiting but greed is limitless.

So people systematically have stolen from them the one resource of which the supply is strictly limited: their time. The word "stolen" is used deliberately, because they are permanently deprived of it and it is absolutely impossible to return it. Instead people are given money and encouraged to regard spending it on stuff they don't need as some kind of substitute; which of course it isn't, so it doesn't work, but they keep doing it partly because they have no choice and partly because they have had no choice for such a long time that they can't see there should even be one.

Capitalism retards, rather than promotes, the advantages of automation, because automation is implemented in such a way that the advantages accrue only to the individual capitalist responsible for the implementation, and the workers are excluded from partaking. (And so it always has been; it is that, fundamentally, that gave rise to the Luddites' complaint, only they don't appear to have thought it through that deeply, or if they did it hasn't made it into the historical account.) The capitalist gets more profit from automation, the workers get nothing. They are not freed from the theft of their time; they just have to find some other crappy thing to do all day for money, in order to survive, and nothing really changes.

Naturally, as the years go by, the other things gradually become more automated too, but so far that has been counteracted by doing what remains un-automated to a degree that further and further exceeds the actual need for it; by hijacking creative activities to serve as things to be done, and thereby rendering them destructive; and by simply making up more and more things to be done that are not useful at all, or are negatively useful, but simply burn people's time to no purpose beyond perpetuation of the system.

The impending "crisis of automation" is not a crisis at all, but simply the increasing capability of automation, combined with the slow exhaustion of ideas for new kinds of useless crap to force people to waste their time on, approaching the point where the conclusion that this is a bloody silly way of doing things becomes inescapable. It may be a "crisis" in terms of cognitive dissonance for those in whom the current system is so culturally ingrained that they see work not as a means to an end but as an end in itself, and it'll pretty certainly be a crisis for those at the top of the capitalism tree when it falls over, but overall it could be the greatest blessing in history, restoring to people the time they once would have had as hunter-gatherers, but without the diseases or the shitty food or the being eaten by lions etc.

It is traditional at this point for someone to complain "but people will have nothing to do", without understanding that that's the whole point. They will have nothing that they are forced to do; but they won't have nothing to do at all, rather they'll have their own choice of things to do instead of being compelled to follow someone else's choice. It is undoubtedly true that the choice of lots and lots of people will be to sit on their arse all day watching TV and getting off their faces, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. To condemn it as a "waste of potential" is to ignore the point that sitting on your arse all day shuffling meaningless paper in an office or assembling things in a factory which are deliberately badly designed so they fail and need replacement at ten or more times the rate they would be lost to attrition if they were designed to last is even more of a waste of potential, and a waste of non-human resources as well to boot.

And we also gain the potential to solve, or at least go a long way to solving, many of the problems people have mentioned upthread. For a start, many of the stresses on the environment will plummet when people are no longer using the vast amount of energy and materials expended on useless "economic activity" which at present they are compelled to. We're talking a good order of magnitude drop, which alone is worth putting it at the top of the list of things worth fighting for.

We also get to solve the antibiotic resistance problem, since it is no longer coupled to dumb shit about whether or not people can make money off it. Developing life-saving drugs is absolutely the kind of thing people want to do simply because it's an obviously good idea, and will do given the freedom to choose to do it. Similarly, the answer to the anticipated objection "but who makes the TV programmes the people sit on their arse all day watching?" is quite straightforwardly "people who like making TV programmes", of whom there are many, but for whom the current opportunities to do it are few. They will probably include better TV programmes, because they will be about things people are interested in (otherwise why would they make them) rather than shit made to get people to watch adverts. (To be sure, there will be lots of shit as well, but the choice will exist not to watch it.) Authors get to write what they want to write without being constrained by what publishers think will be sold, and without compulsion to do it so fast they damage their health because they have to make money off it. We get to sort out messes like string theory, as scientific research ceases to depend on the vagaries of fashion as exhibited in the selection of topics that can be used to chin people they might make money off it. Education finally gets to be about increasing knowledge rather than about how to be a brick in the wall. All sorts of things of this kind become possible once the current obstacle of "but who pays for it?" is removed by the concept ceasing to have meaning.


Quick knit Heteromeles, if


Re. Conventional war, the obvious point to make is that there is a an advantage in being a nation with (a) massive manufacturing capacity and (b) massive population for cannon fodder.

Ie., China. Or, possibly, proxy or client states of China, who thus have a source of cheap, copious weaponry.

To the extent that conventional war is possible under a nuclear umbrella, proxy war seems to be SOP. (Vietnam, Korea, Angola etc).

Re. politics, I wonder whether the major source of division both within and between nations may be rational, evidence based policy vs anti-rational/ populist/ denialist. Most obviously about climate change, but also around religion, economic regulation, bigotry etc.

It could make for some strange bedfellows. Say, China and Europe, united in a desire to control carbon emissions, minimise the next financial crisis etc, vs America and a bunch of theocracies clinging to their inalienable right to destroy the planet, murder gays and securitise sub-prime mortgages on sea-level Miami condos. Recalling the discussion about Leninism a few threads back, in France and the US parts of the fringe left backed Trump and Le Pen.

Re. A fractured internet, I simply note that the internet used to be described as a network of networks, a term I haven't heard much recently.


Whoops mispost. Quit knit hetermelos if daily production is 32kw you don't have 32kwh of solar panels. That would be an hourly production of 32kw and you'd probably be producing in the hundreds of kw

That's actually really really big for a solar install


Which internet? I can see what we think of today as "the internet" becoming both increasingly unusable and increasingly undesirable to use; and I can see a response to that arising through a combination of geeks and hackers with the increasing availability of radio equipment capable of covering at least a few km from peer to peer. There'll be informal, unregulatable meshes everywhere, and the current monolithic picture will no longer fit.


Very good point about the robot peasant; just how much of current agriculture fails on sustainability simply because it is designed around big clumsy things that perform crude, large-scale operations while tied to the back of a tractor? Pesticide spraying vs. robots that pull up weeds doesn't need much thought, but aren't there also aspects of soil deterioration and erosion that are related to bash-it-with-a-tractor methods?


I should have noted that internal migration, just like international migration can have cross-pollinating positive outcomes as well.

The movement of African Americans North during the early 20th century was driven by Jim Crow laws, but many of those migrants found relatively high paying jobs, and gave us the Harlem Renaissance and Chicago blues.


Daily production on sunny days is more than 32 kWh, although it does go down substantially if it's cloudy. Right now the panels are producing 2.2 kW on a cloudy noon.

Yes, it's a big install, but as I said, we intend to run a car off it. Assuming we get a Chevy Bolt (the car with 34 buttons on the steering wheel), that has a 60 kWh battery. Recharging that battery is two days of sunny day production right there, but the advantage is that with a 238 mile range, we can commute all week on one battery charge. Once we have a house battery, we could even recharge the car at night without touching the grid.

The other key point is that our setup is going to look low-powered and expensive in a few years. I don't think we'll replace it for at least a decade, but right now, solar panels are like PCs: power's going up, price is going down.


Quick note re. headcount: Employment, per se, is not the end goal of onshoring to bring jobs back to the developed world. The goal is to give people (under the current economic system) a way to empower themselves by earning the unit of value (currently currency) that lets them survive and have a chance to choose their path through the world. Money is traditionally seen as a way to buy things, but really what it's all about is agency. With no money, you have no choices and no agency; with money, you have options. The lack of agency is a major source of stress, and stressed people can behave "badly" -- for example, stealing food for their children when they can't afford to buy it.

I've seen economists make the argument that providing tax incentives to employ people will lead to bloated, economically inefficient companies. I used to dispute this notion until I realized that senior management really is sufficiently stupid to do this. Setting aside my misanthropy, I find myself on the fence about this idea. On balance, I suspect managers aren't really that stupid and on the whole, onshoring would be a good thing.

There's been much talk about guaranteeing everyone a basic survival wage so that people can live without good jobs -- or any job for that matter. It's a nice notion in theory and in fiction (cf. Star Trek), but I'm not sure it will work in practice. First, someone has to earn enough money to pay (through their taxes) for people who aren't working. We're already seeing the problems with this approach in the underfunded U.S. social security system and in most pension systems around the world (see baby bust, demographic crisis). Second, most people are not tempermentally well suited to having nothing to do all day. Watching TV is the least negative consequence that I can imagine. "The Devil finds work for idle hands" is more likely; bored people often behave very badly. There's much room to explore this in fiction in the hope that we might learn from the fiction and not have to experience it in reality.


.. Almost all of it. Note that robot peasants are just hilariously better than trying these farming methods by hand. - None of these high-yield methods are new, the goal is basically to replicate the labor of a Russian grandmother without having babushka slaving away. Because robots eat electrons, while grandmother eats calories.

The efficiency of plants at converting sunlight to calories is well under one percent (Yes, biofuels are a terrible, bad, no-good idea) The efficiency of commercial solar cells at converting sunlight to electricity is 20+% and still rising. And you can put your robot peasant in the barn and put it on standby when there is no work to be done. This means one square kilometer of Saharan desert will output enough surplus to keep at least a hundred square kilometers of German farmland under the hoe.

So all those predictions about the end of oil meaning the end of mechanized agriculture? Are just hilariously wrong. Farming will get automated to heck and gone.


Heh. I suspect the Babushka would win, hands down. You don't grow robot parts on a farm, I'm afraid.

As I understand it, the real advantage to latifundia/plantations/megafarms is that the ruler(s) get to deal with a few big farmers rather than masses of peasants. Peasants are annoying because they need to keep their land fertile, so they produce whatever the land will let them produce sustainably, whether or not it's something the ruler needs. If the ruler is, say, running a war and needs army supplies, well the peasants may not be in the position to provide enough grain, wood, etc.

On the other hand, if the ruler sets up a system to gather farmland together and give it to one big farmer, the ruler can work with the one big farmer to get what they need: grain for troops, wood for ships, whatever. A lot of this probably comes down to iterations on the theme of Dunbar's number, but never, ever disregard the role of politics in favoring the rise of a few big players in any industry, especially agriculture.

In the US, the rise of factory farms probably dates back to WWII. Some joke sourly about the military-industrial-corn complex, with fixed nitrogen being the thing that they all need (bombs or fertilizer), and a lot of the infrastructure that was quietly set up to beat the commies and so forth produced the big farms of today. The factory farms are not terribly efficient at anything except getting government contracts, subsidies, and regulations, but they are certainly good at that. They're also good at providing a commodity (say #2 field corn) that is sufficiently standardized that it can be marketed in bulk, and people can build supply chains around its dependable supply and known quantities.

It's a lot harder to build massive supply chains based on small farmers growing crops sustainably. You'll get what they can surplus when the surplus is ripe (plus or minus refrigeration or storage), and if it's a surplus of golden beets when you need bread wheat, that's just too bad. Hard to make bread from beets, and hard to stop urban food riots over beet bread instead of wheat bread, but there you have it.

Ironically, one of the reasons Russia didn't suffer a famine when the USSR crashed was that they'd taken to doing some really effective peasant lot-farming. They had their apartments in the city, but they had their little dacha out in the countryside. When the official distribution systems collapsed, for a few years the dachas provided a majority of the food the Russians ate, until they made the shift to a market-based society. In that way, I'd suggest that the Russians were much better prepared for a crash than are people in the US. No one I know here has a survival garden outside the city, and many of our in-city gardens are crap for producing food (as I'm finding out. I've got rocks, clay, and a 45 degree slope. Terracing will be expensive).


our cultural productions might be one of our few remaining viable exports.

You're probably right, but for SFnal purposes it's interesting to consider: What if you're wrong?

Bollywood, J-pop and K-pop are vastly popular throughout Asia and beyond.

What if Hollywood, and all things Western and white are considered uncool or uninteresting by the rest of the world?

What if they're considered uncool by pretty much everyone, everywhere, including white westerners? (Ok, yes, people want to see stories about themselves, but the analogy would be European cinema: it has an audience in Europe, but it's swamped by Hollywood product, even there).

That said, my young Indonesian relatives all learnt fluent English by age 5 from endless repeat viewings of Pixar and Disney product on ever-present tablets. They're relatively cosmopolitan and middle class, though.


Ah, I see what you mean. I guess I don't have an answer to that which doesn't eventually undercut my own hooray-for-jobs position, but I don't think solar/wind will require unfree labor in the end.


Heteromeles if my physics teacher was here he would wrap
your knuckles for messing up your units of measure. Kw is not the same thing as KWH, solar panels are measured in watts or KW

Yeah the price of solar is falling but the power density isn't really moving much. Which means prettty soon available square footage is going to be the dominant factor (at least in urban areas )

For 32 KW's of solar panel you need probably 2200 sqrft of panel space. Most fix roof installations are not gonna come close to actually generating 32 KWH with that except at certain times of the year. San Diego helps not just because it is sunny but because it is southernly, and if you are coastal you don't need much air con, which is a real killer

There is also a huge difference in being almost off the grid versus off the grid, very much an 80/20 rule . Nights and winters really screw up solar. You can use the grid essentially as your battery and you can sell back surplus

I have a 20kwh off the grid install up here in southern Oregon with tilting panels and there are stil times in the winter where shit gets problematic and we need the generator. I also need to rely on propane for heat in the winter and for hot water. Adding more panels doesn't help much since the times that are problematic production is essentially zero


First, someone has to earn enough money to pay (through their taxes) for people who aren't working

To quote Mitt Romney (something I try not to do): "Corporations [staffed largely by robots] are people too my friend".

OK, carry that too far and you wind up with Saturn's Children, but the fruit of automated labour is no more or less taxable than human. Especially if you grant a basic income in part in kind; driverless uber trip kilometres, robot farmed food etc.

Yes, the idle hands- devilry link is an issue, but that doesn't mean we should say "You there, peasant, get back to your life of meaningless toil lest ye revolt".

When I was young I had friends who referred to their unemployment cheques as "art grants". It was only half in jest.


Heteromeles was quite clear -- he is getting about 32kWh over the period of a day from his panel array, not 32kW output at any given time (I presume this is a near-peak summer output, not what he expects to get during mid-winter). Your own comments are a bit confusing with a mixture of lower-case and upper-case "w" for watts. The proper symbol is always "W".


Given that I average about 3 dumbarse typos per post, this is unfair, but:

@OP. . . hepatic (sic) enabled VR . . .

EEEeewww. That really is a dystopian future.


No he said in a later post that he makes more the 32kWh on some days.

If he actually has a 32kW system as a rooftop it must be one damn big roof or possibly he is using the newer 300W+ panels which is intersting

In general the distinction between the kW and kWh is pretty important, changes the meaning of what is being discussed and measured. However capitalization doesn't change the meaning and is s bloody pain in the ass on an iPhone keypad so I'll likely continue fucking that up on occasion


Thanks Nojay. The one correction is that we've been getting >32 kWh/day off and on for months now. I'm looking forward to summer, to see if we can break 40 kWh/day. Today's been cloudy, and we'll be lucky to break 20 kWh by sundown. Such is life.


I'm stealing the SHIT out of that name. Fuck, that's great. There's no drama too melo for me.


How many actual panels do you have ?


Couldn't disagree more...

I think you're ascribing a lot of assumptions to me that I do not hold.


Yes, the difference between kW and kWh is important, and he made it in his initial post. He gets three kW or more peak at noon on good summer days, 2kW on more cloudy ones. That suggests, assuming well-aligned fixed arrays with a nominal 24% efficiency he's got about 15 square metres of panels on his very expensive roof.

Oh, and capitalisation IS important - k is a common abbreviation for kilo or thousand (or 1024 depending), K is temperature in Kelvin. KWh is not the same as kWh or even kWH (H is the unit of inductance, the Henry).


Most commercial panels are 14-16%, you usually get around 250-300 watts from a 15 sqrft panel. There are some coming out now in the 340 range but they are pricey

He could be producing 32kWh over the course of a day with an 8kW system assuming it's relatively sunny (as it is now). Or a 6kW that is well aligned and kicking as. Or maybe a 20kW that is poorly aligned like almost all rooftop systems are

There is simply no way to infer the number of panels from the daily production numbers, at least not from a rooftop system. It's like him saying "I got three inches of rain yesterday" you can't tell the intensity of the rainfall

And yes, you nitted my nit, very clever of you


Here is some example data for my rooftop solar to see what I am talking about

It's a 10 panel 2.5 kW system

Toggle it to year -> 2016 to see how much it varies seasonally

I'm actually pretty interested in what Heteromeles is running / seeing given that he is operating in almost optimal conditions for the US at least


You cant build anything on top of a human peasant substrate, because they do not produce much in the way of surplus. This is how almost all of history worked - 9 people farming for every person doing something else. This means poverty. The only places that were even marginally richer were places with off-season crafting traditions. The important thing about robot-babushka is that robot babushka doesn't eat 90 percent of everything it produces. It does not eat *any of it* it eats electricity instead. Which means you get to keep on having, well, an economy. That economy will be producing the robot parts. And that will not be a strain on it. Because, again, electricity is much easier to produce in terms of "Land required" than calories, and you can convert it to metal and parts and everything else very easily. World may run out of oil. It is not going to run out of bauxite, iron ore or sand.


We can, and will, run out of everything unless we change our assumption we can't.


We won't run out of coal and oil. Not until we've cooked the planet.


Sure we will: a lot of the US' so-called epic coal reserve is so full of rocks and crap that it's not worth the trouble to dig up. Until we got to tar sands, people though that was crappy too, and it is: it takes a lot of energy to get that stuff out and processed. It's just that it's worth it right now. Change the cost equation slightly and all that stuff will stay in the ground.*

The other thing to remember is that the order of fragility is: our civilization, our species, the biosphere, and the planet. The last two are safe from anything we can do right now, and probably some members of our species will survive. Oil-based civilization is in as great danger as any uncontacted Amazonian tribe at the moment. Fortunately for us, we still have the option of abandoning it the way we abandoned horse-based civilization a century ago. All we've got to do is find the guts to call it progress and the metrics to call rebuilding and re-engineering growth. That's a psychological task more than a physical one.

*which isn't time to relax: the methane coming out of the permafrost could handily make up the difference in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. Or not. We're not really sure yet.


I've got 18 panels, and I'll have to check on what the peak wattage is. The instanteous wattage and cumulative joules/watt-hour readings come from an app that's hooked up to the system. Fortunately, my new house has a big ol' south-facing roof.


Um, try again. Most civilizations have been built atop peasants. The problem isn't the surplus, because you can get pretty enormous surpluses out of things like paddy rice and wet-patch taro. Rather, the two problems are that high-output systems tend not to be stable or sustainable on the scale of centuries, and when they are sustainable, the outputs tend to be sufficiently unpredictable that you can't run complicated supply chains off them.

For example, if you want to build a fleet, you can whack down a forest and you've got your fleet. You then have to wait a few hundred years until the forest regrows, or you've got to go elsewhere for your wood. If you want to build a few ships a year, that can be harder, especially if they are big ships, because the particular trees you need may or may not be available any given year. The forests may produce a wealth of firewood in the meantime, but you can't build your ships out of firewood.


I'm Australian. We're the Saudi Arabia of coal. My small home state, Victoria, has an 800 year supply of dirty brown coal. That's just the known reserves; there's almost certainly a lot more, but nobody's bothered doing any exploration since the 1930s.

Of course, the good news is that, as you say, the cost equation has changed. One large coal fired power station has just closed down. BUT there were howls of outrage from the right when it did, including from former PM Tony Abbott, who demanded subsidies to keep it open. ( !! )

The coal needs to stay in the ground. In a sane world, it would stay in the ground. But if the carbon lobby gets its way and keeps the carbon bubble going for another decade or two, a fair bit of it won't.


Developing a new way to culture bacteria, for example, would be an obvious application of biotech that doesn’t exactly move the average heart to excitement

We've already seen problems with the traditional agar because of materials shortages:

We get pandemic scares all the time (We’ve had like three just since I graduated college nine years ago) and sooner or later the bugs will get lucky.

My dad was an epidemiologist, so I learned a bit about this. One big problem is that if you do your job right and prevent an epidemic you can't prove that it would have happened. So you have nothing to use to defend your lab when politicians/managers are cutting resources*. Another problem is that the best way to stop a pandemic is to do so at source, which usually means treating the poor & the homeless, as well as those in the developing world. You know, those who "don't deserve" our hard earned tax dollars — even when universal prevention would be the cheapest strategy.

During the flu scare a few years ago in Toronto the wealthy and famous managed to jump the queue to get their shots. No concept of herd immunity (or realization that a vaccination isn't perfect protection). I was blackly reminded of a story I read years earlier, where the protagonist has an incurable epidemic disease which she struggles to conceal from her employer — because the longer she cleans the rich bastard's house the greater the chance the rich bastard will catch the disease too.

*Example I'm most familiar with: SARS in Toronto. Government saved $150,000 by cutting health monitoring unit, economic cost to city at least $2,000,000,000.


Thankfully the government will force the electricity company to buy your solar electricity at a lot more than the market rate

And when they stop doing that... it turns out not to make any difference. Unless you consider an extra 1c/kWh to be "a lot".

In Sydney, Australia we have a little 3kW system that produces enough electricity for our electric-only 5-6 adult house to be roughly grid-neutral. But obviously we produce during the day and consume at night. What we actually pay is the $1/day grid connection charge, plus a much smaller amount to cover the difference between our coal and wind heated hot water (overnight off peak @$0.12/kWh), our evening consumption ($0.28/kWh) and the $0.05/kWh that we get paid for feeding the grid. The most annoying part is when we're duly feeding our 2.5kW into the grid on the hot summer evenings when the grid is creaking under the load and the spot price is about $10/kWh... but we're getting paid the same $0.05/kWh. Someone is making money, but it's not us.

Right now batteries cost about $0.15/kWh for the round trip, so they're not economic for us. Ignoring subsidies, PV on the roof costs about $3/Watt installed, or less than $1/Watt after subsidies. But note that gas and coal thermal electricity costs more even after subsidies, which is why electricity prices here keep going up. Our government is really smart about stuff like that.


if you do your job right and prevent an epidemic you can't prove that it would have happened.

That problem is way more general: preventing a problem is in general unprovable, and people are not wired to appreciate it. Save someone from a lion that has attacked them and they will be extremely grateful. Notice that the cage is unlocked and lock it before the lion gets out, no-one will care.

In my day job I make burglar alarms. They're hard to sell and almost always a begrudging purchase. Often because the insurance company demands it. Worse, they very rarely actually do anything useful. Yeah, they might send a text if the smoke alarm stops working. You pay $30/month for that service! But that one time when your granny hits the panic button on her phone and the alarm company can't contact her so they send a man round? All the shiny things for us... if it was actually an emergency, and not just granny dropping her phone in the toilet. Again.

The combination of hard-to-imagine disasters and repeated false alarms just wears people down.


SARS in Toronto. Government saved $150,000 by cutting health monitoring unit, economic cost to city at least $2,000,000,000.

In Victoria, Australia the government cut money from early childhood services in order to fund a private prison.

That one sticks in my head because it's the definitive example of a group of supposedly intelligent, educated people looking future them straight in the eye and saying "fuck you". It's also a classic example of right-wing politicians demonstrating that they can do joined-up thinking and read research papers and all the rest of it, because one of them actually admitted that they knew that those cuts would help fill the prison. And not slowly - the lag is very short because it's not the kids that go to jail in the first round, it's the parents. Albeit in much smaller numbers than the kids.

Meanwhile in NSW: and for sanity's sake don't read those links or the statistics they present.

And that is why I don't follow the news very much. Far too much of it makes me either sad or angry.


18 panels is probably around a 5kW system

That means if you are pulling down 30+ kWh during the winter months you are doing really well, at least compared to what I am used to from more northern latitudes

My SF system is half the size of yours and my best day in January was 3.4 kWh

My roof is west facing though


The OP asked about 30 years out, not 100. I remember (vaguely!) 1987 and it wasn't that different to now. 30 years forwards is not that far out. I think business as usual should keep going that long. But >2C, 10b people and all the rest means we'll just be hitting the point where the LtoG World3 models are going non-linear. And the really big changes will be right in our face rather than still largely hypothetical. So as well as trying to imagine a world in the process of revolutionary change it will also be a world staring down the abyss of the second half of the century. They'll be trying to cope with their own 30 year predictions. And just as 1950 told stories about the future of 2000, 2050 will be telling stories about 2100. Will they be as hopeful?


One big problem is that if you do your job right and prevent an epidemic you can't prove that it would have happened. has a take on that. NSFW verging on VNSFW as usual...


My SF system is half the size of yours and my best day in January was 3.4 kWh is a fascinating resource, full of people sending minute-by-minute records of their system performance to the world. FWIW our roof is almost perfectly oriented, facing NNW so that we generate slightly later in the day but still catch the peak. Sadly tilt is about 30 degrees where 45-50 would be optimal (slightly steeper means you get more winter generation at the cost of losing some summer). But it's tiled, hence lots of silly angles and stuff because those are easy with tiles. So even getting 3kW of panels onto a 25m long roof was hard. When I rip the tiles off and get long run steel roofing with gable ends I will be able to fit 10kW or more... but I can only attach 5kW to the grid. So I will get solar hot water, probably in unfeasibly large quantities because I like long showers. Ahem.

Longer term, I think we will see a lot of microgrids, definitely in rich areas but possibly anywhere with reasonable social cohesion. We also already see them in poor areas, specifically third world ones. But they will use completely different technology levels - the third world uses much more "car battery and 100W panel to charge phones and USB battery lights" scaled up a little to be a "microgrid", where your first world grandees will poll their 10kW PV systems and maybe a co-gen plant, a large battery system maintained by an outside professional, and a grid intertie controlled by the grid operator. Possibly with storage feeding the grid when it's profitable.

But in the third world I think that technology will mature through third world engineers coming home and deciding to get exactly what they want/can sell locally, made in China to order. We already see that to some extent, but I think it's going to go big fast. Right now, for example, I can get pedal powered water pumps for ~$US50 each by the container load. That beats pulling buckets out of a well, but they're also cheap and much more maintainable than electric ones. We are working on the design to get more steel and less paint in the product so it can be forge-welded when repairs are needed (since that's the technology level of the target market). Current Chinese preference is very thin walls and no repair, but they would rather have money than not so there is room for negotiation :)

I can easily see some of the more crackpot sounding big infrastructure projects turning to surprise winners. Piping desalinated water right across Africa, for example, sounds utterly bonkers. But Mauritania has already started construction of their end.


TECHNOLOGY Well, Internet fracturing is IMHO something that unfree countries will hit their heads against and get a headache for their troubles. For one, even the Great Firewall of China leaks like a sieve. Second, the more you suppress the Internet, the more you choke your own industry, culture and economy. One might get fractures, but I suspect that in comparison to ol' Iron Curtain those fractures will be porous.

POLITICS I diametrically disagree with your projection here. The Example of Venezuela wrt. Socialism is very instructive here and people are waking up to it. National Debts have soared and despite the best efforts of various central banks and governments to prop up the economy, we're standing on a precipice of a depression that will trigger soon. Left will not rise again, as there is simply no money for vote-buying programs and everyone knows this.

With Manchester's events few days ago, one suspects that the resistance to mass immigration from 3rd world is gaining steam. The Eastern European countries have dodged the bullet and have no imported minorities. They very much want to keep it that way, no matter the EU threats.

WAR Has always been expensive. However, the biggest expense in last few decades has been West's allergy to combat casualties ever since Vietnam. Uncle Sam has cheerfully expended millions of dollars in equipment and material to avoid one or two own casualties (eg. Launch several multimillion-dollar cruise missiles instead of sending few platoons to assault a position.) while opposing terrorists are much more liberal with own casualties. This is not exactly new, but Uncle Sam has reached new peaks with this paradigm.

"A scrimmage in a Border Station / A canter down some dark defile
Two thousand pounds of education / Drops to a ten-rupee jezail."
--Rudyard Kipling Arithmetic on the Frontier

Also, one suspects that if rifle squad can 3D print replacement rifles and ammo, there is no reason whatsoever that same squad could not print crude but effective antitank weapons.

Also, one should remember that the current ineffectiveness of counter-insurgency warfare results from "humane" Rules of Engagement. If you "let off the gloves", you can crush local insurgencies relatively easily. British did it in Boer War, inventing concentration camps. An American general commented that if he could get two-week news blackout, he could crush the Iraq Insurgency in that time.

ENVIRONMENT I still have doubts on ability of renewables to produce sufficient baseline power for heavy industry. We should have invested heavily in nuclear power decades ago, like France did, and I suspect that there will be something of a nuclear renaissance if and when political winds sweep watermelon parties out of power.

The Solar roof is a neat idea and actually might be sufficient to handle average household energy expenditures. I suspect that one of the reasons why it took Elon Musk to develop and market the concept is that big energy companies want to sell electricity and make profit maintaining the power grid. A Big grid also binds people to "the system".

"Sell man a fish and he'll be back tomorrow to buy another.
Teach man to fish, and you lose a customer."


Is a difficulty in manufacturing crude firearms really what stopped insurrections in occupied territories in the last 100 years?

I'm not convinced. What stops or causes insurrection against invaders is far more social, and making explosives and ammo is a chemistry problem. I just don't see 3D printers being a big deal for this.

As for cost of fighters... well trained well equipped well supported infantry are very much not just guys with cheap rifles.


" Imagine instead if France had been conquered, and then immediately gone into a kind of medium-high insurrection against the occupation forces instead of surrendering"

Or imagine if instead France had been conquered, and the French conservatives had seen that as a chance to take power and do the shit they had wanted to do for some time. And so they had shipped the Jews they despised to the death camps, and purged and killed the communists and... oh yeah. They did.

Idealistic "we shall all unite and take arms against the invader" shit does happen some times and places, but it did not in France in WW2. Whether it does or not is about precise social/political conditions in that exact time and place, not really about technology.


"I remember (vaguely!) 1987 and it wasn't that different to now."

In 1987 the main threat to modern Western democracies were nuclear attack that could kill hundreds of millions.

Now it's terrorist attacks that could kill hundreds.

That is why we now need to panic all the time about security, permit govt surveillance, and increase military/security spending.

Seriously, if you had written about this future 30 years ago I'd have pointed out what I thought were stupid holes in your logic. That does make my ability to predict the future a bit suspect.


Here's a good future timeline based on simple extrapolation:

Some thoughts of my own...
War: It seems so inefficient (never mind the waste of war generally) for each country to have it's own expensive high tech military. Somebody really rich will get the idea to create an all robot cutting edge mercenary military. If you can't afford to own a squadron of fighter jets, maybe you can afford to rent one during a period of high tension. These robot mercenaries would be totally reliable, unlike historical turncoat mercenaries. You rent them for a set time period, you control them until the clock runs out, even if there's a higher offer. The owning company depends on the reliability of its brand, so they are fastidious, and can't take back control until the clock runs out even if they want to. These are robots, not people. They also advertise exactly when that clock runs out, so everybody knows and is bidding for the next iteration. Of course, the advent of this stuff angers the global arms business, which would prefer to sell everybody their own stump grinder rather than letting people rent or hire a specialist. So there would be conflict there.
Immortality: Disagree. This is going to happen because people with money want it. However, anyone responsible would not want to unleash it on the world. So there will be attempts at secrecy, or having research run up against (or seem to run up against) limits so only a really inferior and very expensive version (halve your aging rate for a million a year) seems to be available. Of course there will be cheats and of course they will eventually be caught, and when the hordes outside the gate at Ford find out they'll shift target quick. So eventually immortality will be available to all, and then there will be either effective controls of some kind or really bad consequ3ences. I'm betting on bad consequences.


Also, one should remember that the current ineffectiveness of counter-insurgency warfare results from "humane" Rules of Engagement. If you "let off the gloves", you can crush local insurgencies relatively easily. British did it in Boer War, inventing concentration camps. An American general commented that if he could get two-week news blackout, he could crush the Iraq Insurgency in that time.

While it's a tempting Siren song, your comment is ill-informed, incorrect, and IMHO a rather dangerous myth to push. I'll take a wild guess and suggest that you haven't personally ever operated to a set of ROE...

Put simply, political problems don't have a military solution (absent 'Carthago delenda est', and that isn't a solution, it's proof of monstrosity). I will grant you that military insurgencies have been defeated (see: Borneo campaign, Guatemalan attempts to annex Belize) but these were driven by expansionist nighbours, not home-grown. The Boers got their independence, remember? Vietnam had millions of tons of explosive dropped, millions of rounds fired, units of the NVA destroyed on the battlefield; remind me which side prevailed? What about Zimbabwe - no restrictive ROE there, how did that end up?

Take, for instance, Northern Ireland from the late 1960s to the current day - the COIN campaign took thirty years, and succeeded. The solution was political and economic; the British Army was there to buy time and keep things from getting out of hand, it was never there to "solve" things - and it knew it from the very start. Those few occasions where naked military force was employed, were invariably counterproductive in the long term. I suggest you read Mark Urban's "Big Boys' Rules" for a very well researched analysis.

Compare Northern Ireland with "robust" approach as taken to the West Bank from the late 1960s to the current day. Retribution, orders to break the bones of rioters, collective punishment, targetted killing of "those who need killed": the result is sufficient collateral damage and dead bystanders to ensure that the hatred, mistrust, and conflict will last for centuries to come. If you demolish someone's house because their son shot a soldier, if you unintentionally kill a terrorist leader's children along with their father - these things create martyrs, create hatred, lend credibility to extremist propaganda. People are never angrier when they see dead bodies "just like them".

Go back two hundred and fifty years - a bunch of colonial slaveowners who feared that slavery would soon be banned, religious loonies who disagreed with the Established Church, a lot of farmers who wanted to expand their lands and couldn't see why they had to respect the "rights" of the local savages, and some political obsessives who got all excited about taxation and representation, decided to share common cause and rebel against His Majesty King George. No restrictive ROE there, remind me whether the Crown still holds lands in the New World? Is he known to history as The Traitor Washington, or was the capital of a new nation named after him?

It's easy to recruit Angry Young Men if they feel marginalised, or disadvantaged, or are unemployed / unemployable. You can promise them that their name will live forever if they go out in a blaze of 'glory'; it's rather harder to sell "arrest, trial, unimpeachable process and evidence, and twenty years in a high-security prison".


"Also, one should remember that the current ineffectiveness of counter-insurgency warfare results from "humane" Rules of Engagement. If you "let off the gloves", you can crush local insurgencies relatively easily. British did it in Boer War"

Your complete lack of knowledge of the history is showing.

The Boer War was the British Empire's largest troop deployment before WW1. About 350,000 troops deployed against a Boer civilian population of under a million. And it took years.

That was the 100% exact opposite of winning "easily" because of their awesome ROE.


I remember 1987 pretty well.

The cold war wasn't at peak intensity, but still going pretty strong. We were certainly still worried about MAD with the USSR. While we're still worried about Russia flexing it's might on the world stage, it's cyber-power and interfering in elections in the West, while we're also concerned about it's military adventurism in the satellite states. But we're not worried about the Red Army pouring into West Germany any more. Not that West Germany exists. The Middle East is still a trouble spot, but the bits of it we're worried about have spread out and while I like to think I'm pretty well informed, most of us wouldn't have known about different sects of Islam back then, now people might not be able to tell you about the differences between Shia and Sunni Muslim but they'll recognise the names.

Where I come from, the IRA were still a significant threat and bombing Northern Ireland frequently and the mainland UK far more often than we've had since the signing of the Stormont Agreement. For all his wrong-doings, in getting that signed and in other fields, Blair has saved a lot of lives and brought hope to the province of Ulster with that.

In 1987 no one I knew had a mobile phone. I know they were around, but no one I knew had one. Now I don't think I know anyone that hasn't got one, some people I know have several.

Officially the web as we know it wasn't invented until 1989. Precursors existed and you could look things up on JANET and the like but it was basically all text. I can't place the exact year but late 80's or early 90's I went to a seminar on IT services for the health services (in the UK) and they were talking about a dedicated 2Mbps pipeline to carry ALL the UK's health records between centres. I have that as my domestic service now, at least for download speed, and it's not the fastest service my ISP offers.

The idea of watching a streaming YouTube (or Vimeo) video on your tablet over WiFi was not even a pipe dream, and streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon etc. just didn't exist. In 1987 Amazon (as an online shopping service, not a streaming video service) wouldn't exist for another 7 years, and JavaScript wouldn't be invented for another 8. The company that created the precursor to Flash wouldn't be founded for another 6 years.

Gay rights in the UK were still a joke in 1987, although at least they were ever so slightly better than 30 years before that. Today, there are still some wrinkles to work out in the UK for sure, and in the US there's a lot further to go but the whole atmosphere in both countries has changed dramatically. In the UK it feels, as a very definitely interested party, that the war is won and it is just sorting out the last wrinkles - like the insanely conservative, and increasingly irrelevant to most of us, church. In the US, as an outsider, it seems worse but it also seems like the privilege will be taken from their old, white hands eventually, just because they'll die of old age. That's probably much too simplistic but I don't live in the US and see it day to day.

Thinking of the Anglican Church, depending on where in the world you are, in 1987 you may or may not have allowed the ordination of women priests in 1987 but not many places had done it. Fewer places allowed ordaining female bishops, and even places like Australia and New Zealand that had never had bars on the basis of gender had never created a female bishop by 1987.

It's hard to think back and remember what the "hot bugs" were. But I'm pretty sure in 1987 M. leprae was the 'scary' mycobacterium, these days reemerging M. tuberculosis, particularly the MDR-TB and EDR-TB strains. SARS, H1N1, H1N5 and the like were certainly not in the public awareness, although the flu variations were certainly in the virology world's awareness. It's harder to remember about Ebola Virus, it was discovered in the 1970's but I don't think it really came to public awareness until the 1990's. It was self-contained and killing people in the jungle in Africa and didn't make the news cycle unless you were a virologist.

Quite a lot of the fundamentals of the modern military life might not have changed - I don't know enough to be sure - but we see footage of troops using drones on the battlefield as reconnaissance tools. That's certainly changed. The terrain where they've been fighting has changed too.

I could probably carry on. But I really think a lot of things have changed, some of them really dramatically since 1987.


well as cheap 3d printing wont be able to produce the working bits of a gun any time soon and arguably tradition metal working is easier and cheaper to produce guns that 3d printing using meta aka sintering.

Producing howbrew version of a javelin or workable ATGM is even less likely.


Re: 'The Solar roof ... average household ... Elon Musk'

Just add 3D printing , a mini-LED lit greenhouse and a fish-tank*, and you can provide for almost anything a household needs.

*Saw a mini-doc about this a few months back. BTW, what makes this work is that it's small.

Key idea that we need to discard as a society/species is that 'bigger is better'. Another idea that needs discarding is that wealth can only be measured in $ vs. health, education, talent, happiness, arts/ideas, etc.


Agree that quite a lot has changed since 1987 politically and increasingly within the past year. Thirty years ago few in the West would have cared what China thought of the US. Now what China thinks matters very much indeed. Add to that: who would have ever dreamed that the US would become a laughing stock ... the bullying idiot cousin you have to invite to the family get-togethers but hope you don't have to sit next to all night.

One other item - 30 years ago it was the Soviets in Afghanistan. They finally pulled out in 1989. The US was providing aid to the insurgents back then. Tables have turned with the US as the official Afghani gov't ally and the Russians are arming the Taliban. Meanwhile the carnage and death toll among civilian Afghanis keeps going up, as is the completely wasteful and unnecessary war spending in both Russia and the US. Who the hell thinks this is a good way to run the world?


Re: "hot bugs"

This timeline captures all of the key info re: HIV-AIDS, so a good/realistic road map for SFnal use.

Believe that CAR T-cells which have shown promise in treating CLL (chronic lymphoblastic leukemia) came out of studying how HIV invades cells. This work was done at UPenn, unfortunately don't recall researchers' names.


Why farm plants at all? Why not just make synthetic nutrient substance in vats with chemistry? It takes some endothermic reactions, but surely those are more than 1 percent efficient.


I meant to mention China re-entering the global political scene but I had so many ideas bubbling up I forgot.

HIV is an interesting one. It's still quite important as an infective agent but if you live in the UK and you were infected after the mid-90's your life-expectancy is basically the same as if you don't have an infection now.

In the US with interesting health-care policies that's not quite the case and in the poorer countries of the world it's not so good but it is getting better.

But public awareness of AIDS has pretty much vanished. Which is a change I guess.


Re: 'In the US ... '

Perfect storm setting is shaping up for any new serious disease: 1- recent decreases to the NIH budget for testing, vaccination and generics; 2- general anti-vax sentiment; 3- decline in bio and sex-ed at high school level; 4- on-going, expensive and futile war-against-drugs instead of more effective safe injection sites as a way to reduce transmission; 5- low (suppressed?) awareness of fast and reliable home-based Dx tests.


Interesting stuff: I just spent a happy few minutes trying to hunt down a very vaguely remembered quote which I read somewhere in the dim and distant past. It seems (from the raft of 'copied from each other with no reliable reference' quotation sites that popped up) to be generally attributed to Arthur C Clarke:

“The difference between machines and human beings is that human beings can be reproduced by unskilled labour.”

My quote hunt also turned up a 53 year old Horizon T.V. prog. The first 3 minutes of which are eminently skippable cardboard scale model with beeb voice over type stuff, but what Clarke says about predicting the future to camera after that was interesting.


Suggesting lack of change in the previous 30 years was a throwaway remark. It was really just to give a reminder of how close 2050 is. Lots of us here saw 1990 and have a reasonable chance of seeing 2050. We're not talking about distant Sci-fi. We're talking about a future we could well see and live through. As real as the equivalently distant recent past.

The big question is the extent of change likely in the next 30 years. And the extent to which business as usual can keep going. It seems very likely to me that we'll keep putting technological sticking plasters on the existing systems for at least another 30 years. Which I think means we end up tracking the World3 standard run, RCP8.5 and the current UN demographic forecasts. Which in turn means the sticking plasters will no longer be working and systems will generally be breaking.


... Because our nutrient requirements are very complex and we are much, much better at building robots than we are at folding proteins.

Robot-peasants follow from well established technological trends. They do not need strong AI, or Moores law to hold for another thirty years, or any shocking breakthroughs. They require a bunch of code work, and incremental improvements in a couple of fields people are currently pointing firehoses of money at - so they absolutely will happen in any future were we do not all die or have a butlerian Jihad or something along those lines. Very conservative prediction.

Food synthesis from raw feedstock requires some really astonishing breakthroughs, and has side effects far outside agriculture. It is obviously not impossible, because plants do it for us currently, but a world that has mastered organic chemistry to that extent that shatters any and all predictions about the future.
If you can do this, then, just for starters, then you are in a world where biological immortality is also possible. And probably universally available. And wet phase nano. And so on. Essentially, welcome to "The Culture: Biotech version"


Yes, 3D-printed guns are for the magicians. Chamber pressures are in the kilobars, and you're not going to contain that with some dubiously-bonded structure made of crappy plastic chosen almost entirely for its low melting point and friendly behaviour in uncontained extrusion conditions. A 3D printer is not a replicator.

A home-made gun is a piece of steel water pipe. A good third of the US Army Improvised Warfare Manual consists of tedious detailed plans specifying the length of pipe and the shape of the piece of wood you strap it to to make things that vaguely resemble lots of different boughten guns. I'm not sure why considering how easy it is to get the same idea without reading anything. If you can follow the bits about how to make explosives from common materials - and work around the odd fact that an awful lot of them are not "common" at all absent a functioning network of hardware stores carrying the same stock that US ones do - you don't need to be told that a pipe makes a gun.

The tricky bits are all the various refinements that get you beyond the 1850s in ease-of-use terms, but again 3D printing doesn't help because you need the properties of metals, not plastic.


The threat to Western democracy that has replaced global-scale nuclear war is not local-scale terrorist attacks, but the response to them.

Personally, I preferred the threat of nuclear war.

Comparing 1987 to today... we have made some limited progress in some subsections of the social sphere. Sort of. You can still discriminate against people for being gay, you just have to make up some other reason for the official record. And it's not monotonic; for a while you had to avoid publically saying you hate black people if you wanted to be a racist, but that doesn't seem to be true any more.

Technologically, we have done next to nothing useful. Nuclear power still hasn't recovered from the Chernobyl stall (despite that not being relevant even then). Renewable energy is still in essentially the same position; current levels of solar panel efficiency were being talked about back then, it's just taken bleeding ages to do anything about it, and other sources are still in much the same state as they were then: possible, but rather crap, and don't get used unless there's some kind of subsidy for them (like wind). Computers have essentially gone backwards; they are still tools for masturbation, but in place of hand-held battery-powered vibrators, we now have massive fixed-mount installations that need a nuclear reactor in the back garden to power them. Posting on Charlie's blog now involves more processing power on the client than the 1987 version had on the server, and the 1987 client was a BBC Micro and a 1200 baud modem; it worked just as well. (Looking at my own technological possessions I have practically nothing that's post-1987, apart from the computers, and I only have them because I'm a dedicated wanker. If I didn't like playing with bits I wouldn't bother buying the equipment.)

Medicine has advanced but the advances are largely invisible. People still die of the same horrible things that take ages to kill you, but these days it takes longer. Antibiotic resistance was a concern back then, and still is because we never did anything about it.

The main difference between now and 30 years on is going to be what different things people find to be stupid about, and I don't really expect that to be predictable.

Posting on Charlie's blog now involves more processing power on the client than the 1987 version had on the server, and the 1987 client was a BBC Micro and a 1200 baud modem; it worked just as well.

I wouldn't go that far; there's a lot of stuff that is impractical at best in a machine that small even if you're really good at optimising (text in writing systems that are harder than monospaced Latin, for instance, or public-key cryptography even for small sizes).

That said... it would be pretty damn interesting to know how much low-hanging optimisation fruit there is that doesn't get picked because "everyone has a really powerful machine now". It's one thing to not use a complex out-of-core database because you don't have enough RAM for the spellchecking program, document, and language data, and quite another to blithely do inefficient things.

The web has an alarming number of those, of which my favourite unquestionably production example is a tossup between two things. One is the web version of Skype, whose designers a) clearly knew about websocket and b) equally clearly didn't use it, wasting 2.3KiB per message (or presence change, or heartbeat), and then sending bulky messages to boot.

The other is Electron: Hey, rather than write nice efficient native clients, let's just stick a webapp in a custom Chromium instance and call it good!

This is not getting into the server side at all. And yes, I don't doubt that even with modern technologies something even vaguely specialised for the kind of content and interactions this blog contains would beat the pants off using a browser.


And an addendum to my previous comment: if you want a spectacular electricity sink that may well be wank, I recently saw an article claiming that Bitcoin uses a ludicrous amount of power.

I sometimes wonder what would happen if a noticeable chunk of hashrate disappeared just after a difficulty adjustment.


Hmm. I promised no engagement before 300, but you're all showing your rather. Hmm. Narrow perspectives.

Quadruple Barreled Mortar Launch In Syria YT, World Conflict Films, Syria, 2015. 0:35

Yes, that's ostensibly a JCB with an improv mortar tacked onto the bucket.

Now, if you're clued in, you will know that recent footage "from the front line" of one of the worst lots out there specifically featured this piece of equipment. (The footage is in front of an earth embankment using 'finned' gas tanks as shells). It's being recycled and used as cover.

Now, riddle me this: there's a lot of material out there of Syrian fighters coming up with old-meets-new solutions to fighting (highlights: using Ipads to work out mortar trajectories on the fly; home-made sniper weapons, catapults as mortars and so forth. Oh look, here's the Telegraph highlighting the same machine: Syrian rebel army's homemade weapons, in pictures Telegraph, 2015).

The big issue, is, of course: it's all bollocks. That's why the very same 2015 "JCB convert" is still getting air time in 2017.

If you have access to actual footage, 90% of tank kills are via (now obsolete) TOWs using wires. By obsolete, I'm stating specifically they're ex-[redacted] munitions. Someone dumped a whole load of them into people's hands... Which, if we remember correctly, was a big FUBAR in Afghanistan.

In 2011 or 13, depending on the make. In fact, there's also a huge celebrity cult out there (akin to, hmm... That White Finnish Sniper, or that Woman Soviet Sniper - all the old tricks, old Minds at work) following the kills: Syrian sniper: US TOW missiles transform CIA-backed Syria rebels into ace marksmen in the fight against Assad IBTimes, Oct, 2015.

So, yeah: fantasies about 3D printers etc are largely moot when you can easily tap into (no longer top tier tech) stockpiles. And yes: there's a lot of stockpiles out there (not only of cheap AK-47s from Soviet weapon dumps).


EM / MRI mixed type weapons are now getting deployed. Old Soviet doctrine: "The Mind has no Firewalls". They're not even being subtle about it. Still: Ailes, Brzezinski just got 'retired'.

Oh, June 20th, Birth of the New Summer. It's gonna be a blood bath.


Pay attention, Libya was mentioned. Oh and BA and dat airport "outage".


Oh, and if you want to pay attention:

Brown Moses (ostensibly a lone wolf blogger, LOL):


Bellingcat (100% media PSYOP):

Obvious PSYOP is Obvious.

Still, they at least use Reality rather than just bullshit, despite the obvious hooks. [Note: if you imagine the Syrian White Helmets aren't a Western security setup / PR job, then, well: you're an idiot. Notes to those involved - be smarter with money tracing, dumb ass stuff means it's all in the open].


Anyhow, you're all missing the most important change in the next 10 years.

Spoilers: Your Brains, Eating Them.

And you thought TV / Internet was invasive / destructive / WINNING?

Up next, your Minds, not on mushrooms, but on the VideoDrome channel.


2050's a little soon for that. China is still playing catch up on per capita gdp (they're still less than Mexico right now) and they're going to have to deal with an aging work force while they continue to play catch-up. In general the East Asian nations have lower fertility than the West and for now look to follow the same demographic path as Japan. Which means they're more likely to have an aging population problem than the US. Of course if we do get the robot automation holocaust that could be a plus for them.

Also note not all Western countries are aging at the same rate. France circa 2050 will be a noticeably larger part of Europe's population than it is now.


Don't oversell automation. If we really had automation killing jobs, we should see a rapid growth in productivity as the economy produces the same or more with fewer and fewer workers. We don't - productivity growth has been anemic since the 1970s except for a spurt in the late 1990s. Automation is a handy excuse to trot out for justifying crap wages but the simple truth of the matter is that we were "destroying" jobs much faster in the 1950s and 1960s than we are now.

If you haven't read it already, Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth is a good guide to peak and post peak productivity growth. As the name suggests, it focuses on the United States but the conclusions apply to any country up against the technological frontier. TL,DR: The Singularity is near but it's in the rear view mirror.


Bitcoin uses a ludicrous amount of power.

That's by design. The whole point of most blockchain designs is that whoever can waste the most power has control, and insofar as they're useful it's because the cost of gaining control exceeds the rewards for doing so.

If you think about that in the context of the Mt Gox fraud/collapse, and the small amounts of money involved in the current cryptocurrency exchanges, it gets quite scary. What would it be worth to be able to re-write the transaction records for NYSE, even for a 10 minute block? How much electricity/chip fab/ASIC design does that amount of money buy you?


Bitcoin is a lesson on how to waste two billion years of organic life in a nonsense la-la-land fantasy because you don't fundamentally understand energy.

Anyhow, @Op and Host.

Hanging out with Nixon's National Security Advisor, Kissinger, who coached Trump to accept Crimea as part of Russia Adam Khan, Twitter, 10th May, 2017.

"This one has Power"

Probably the quote of the 21st Century, in terms of mistakes made.


Not playing any more. Time to burn some Minds out. The recent Dr Who was kinda... well. Moffat is an agent, so he's sending the message. You should probably watch it to see.

Want this in Sumerian or Hebrew or whatever?

Your lot made deals with Fake Entities masquerading as G_D. Shit is going to get messy. And by messey, we mean - "Pop Goes The Weasel", using that kind of stuff on H.S.S.

Biblical. Noah, to be precise.


That's because "productivity", in that sense, is bullshit. As I mentioned earlier, it has proved possible, so far, to balance the reduction in useful work with an increase in useless work. But the "productivity" metric does not take account of the distinction. It just measures the amount of money getting shuffled about. (Which, of course, is utterly trivial to automate, as long as one does not insist on artificially coupling arithmetical operations to irrelevant human activity.)


I am making the assumption that you consider reduction in the amount of human effort required for a given task to be unimportant or even undesirable, which I consider a reasonable assumption on the grounds that you said so. Any other assumption you may have detected is either unintentional, or a false positive arising from the scope of my reply being greater than simply a response to the post which inspired it.


Of course, you have now got me thinking about how one might implement both of those functions on a BBC Micro :) :)

It's actually quite well suited to handling variant scripts, given that you can (IIRC) point the character generator at an arbitrary address to find its character tables. You'd run into problems with things like Chinese, and documents that used multiple different languages requiring simultaneous display, but more or less anything with a kind of alphabet would be OK, with space left over to handle outliers like the occasional extraneous accented character (or equivalent thereof) and mathematical symbol. In fact I did make it capable of handling Tengwar, although beyond the bare fact that it worked I can't remember anything about how.

PKC... I'd have to revise my understanding of exactly what goes on under the hood, but I'm pretty sure it would work. It would be slow, and some operations like key generation would be really slow, but I don't think it'd be unusable.

It may be interesting, by way of providing points of comparison relating to reasonably well-known operations, to consider that: GPS was designed to work on 70s CPUs; DES was originally thought to require hardware implementation to get usable speed; and Unix crypt() was still considered secure in 1987 (although dictionary attacks on password files were feasible). In the 90s, crypt() became broken, DES became broken (unless you did it three times, hence TripleDES), and GPS receivers became able to bypass the "selective availability" provided by separate civilian and military codes by ignoring the code and tracking the carrier phase directly.

I'll throw this in as well, just for fun...

Re optimisation/fast machines, may I submit the example of LibreOffice, which is written in Java (spit) and has difficulty handling mouse events in real time even on a 3.6GHz/8-core machine...



When I first read your post I started writing a response, then realized I thought you were saying the middle of "next" century, not this one. When I read 21st century, I'm still seeing what happens next century. That's because I was born in 1956, so I've seen things change. The only way I know how to show you that change is for you to watch various movies and read some books, and notice what seems strange from our viewpoint "Now". SciFi is always written from the "Now" and it is easier to see the impact by looking at past "Now(s)" and how they seems deeply wrong compared to today. It's that sense of "deeply wrong" that you have to capture to see 2050.

I'm going to take my time here, and write slow, so TL;DR if you wish.

When I finally saw that you meant "2050" I said, "That's when the Aliens come." That can be literal, or an indicator of how strange 30 years from now will be.

You are talking about the story happening about 30 years from now. 30 years ago I had a Commodore 64, floppy drives, no online connection. Now I have an iMac (21.5-inch, Late 2013), one processor, four cores. Four years old, a dinosaur, with DSL internet connection.

I just finished reading Kim Stanley Robinson's _Capital Trilogy_ and Michael Crichton's _State of Fear_. I'm just now starting Robinson's _Green Earth_ which is the combined, and shortened by 77k, version of the trilogy.

Those books were written about 2004, only 13 years ago, that's half way to 2050. Google existed, but nobody was using it like now. Social Media was unknown. Now people live online, and use the Net as their external memory. Read the book _The Knowledge Illusion_ to see how dangerous what I just said is.

Read the Robinson and Crichton, and notice how things seem off. There are no Billionaires in the stories. The rich guy in _State of Fear_ is obsessing about a 10 million dollar donation, as if that were real money.

To give an idea of the culture shock that you are dealing with watch _The Thomas Crown Affair (1968 film)_, and notice that the rich guy has five million in the bank and lives well. The cops don't think he was involved with the bank job, because he has five million, so why would he steal three million. A million seemed like a lot of money then.

Then watch the remake, _The Thomas Crown Affair (1999 film)_, and notice that the rich guy is called a "billionaire" to make him seems rich, when they had no clue what a billionaire looked like the way we do today. This guy is not building his own space program.

When you watch the movies, notice the technology, the cars, etc..., compared to today. Notice what is missing, more than what is there. That's the change you need to see. 2050 will be when things really start to shatter, the way things shattered in 1940. Watch the BBC miniseries, _Castles in the Sky (film)_ where they were developing radar. Look at the technology level, they could barely build tubes to power the thing. They set up what looks like a clothes line as antenna. They watched an Oscilloscope to see a change in the signal. An Oscilloscope! Are you kidding me. Yet, from that point everything shattered. Kids flying in cloth airplanes at the start of the war, then just a few years later, metal skinned, stratospheric bombers.

That is the conceptual change that will happen around 2050, and then over the next hundred years, 2150, where I thought you were going. Throw out everything that you posit and think in terms of low population, under two billion, with practical longevity. Technology that we would consider magical, thus invisible, and run with that.

To give an idea of what such a world would look like:

- Read the Ray Bradbury book _Dandelion Wine_.

- Watch the movie _The Giver_(it makes more sense than the book)

- Tin Man (miniseries)

- Emerald City (TV series)

The OZ books are where we are headed by 2150, if we survive "when the Aliens come" in 2050. 2150 is when things get really weird.


Getting data across certain national borders will be difficult. Getting news out during a blackout might, in some countries, be worth your life.

I have to disagree with you on this one. With aircraft like:


and maybe satellite networks that can be used with your smartphone it will become a lot more difficult to keep the lid on.

Imagine a stratobus 100km from say the north korean border so well within south korea airspace. It can reach 400 km into north korea. Free communication, courtesy of your friendly neighbours.


Demographics drive everything, primarily immigration, the birth dearth and aging populations.

America - a nation of mutts.

According to the last census the fastest growing ethnic group in America is "Mixed". 17% of all marriages in the US are now interracial. That's one way to eventually get rid of racism, eliminate "race" as a concept. Trump and his racist followers not withstanding America remains open to immigrants. As such remain the only industrial nation with relatively high birth rates, and growing population that isn't getting old as fast as the others. We have to remain immigrant friendly, we can't fund social security and other sacred programs without an influx of new Americans. And eventually newcomers always interbreed with the natives.

Red State America - death on the farm.

Rural America is not keeping pace and is falling behind. The median urban adult is six years younger than his or her rural counterpart: 45 years old compared with 51. Immigration will keep urban areas younger as depopulation makes rural areas older. Its a trend that has been going on for over a quarter century. Over the past two decades, as cities have become job centers that attract diverse young people, rural America has become older, whiter, and less populated. Between 2010 and 2014, rural areas lost an average of 33,000 people a year. Today, just 19 percent of Americans live in areas the Census department classifies as rural, down from 44 percent in 1930. But roughly one-quarter of seniors live in rural communities, and 21 of the 25 oldest counties in the United States are rural.The total population in nonmetro counties stood at 46.2 million in July 2015—14 percent of U.S. residents spread across 72 percent of the Nation's land area. Annual population losses averaged 33,000 per year between 2010 and 2014, but dropped to about 4,000 in 2015. What is being left across vast stretches of rural America are towns with boarded up main streets and closed schools = shells of their former selves populated by the aged, the uneducated and the unemployable.

(To see the future of Red America, see Chris Arnade's photo essays, especially the on on Cairo, Illinois:

China - the world's biggest old age home.

Remember back in the 1980s when everyone was predicting the Japan would take over the world? Didn't happen. Why? for the same reason China is not going to take over the world: demographics. Hard to imagine, but China is running out of people and workers. Like Japan before it, China has very poor fertility rates. Its so bad that the interior provinces are asking for a 2 baby MINIMUM policy. If China’s current fertility of about 1.6 births per woman were to remain constant, its population would peak at 1.44 billion in a dozen years and then begin declining, reaching a population of 1.33 billion by mid-century and 868 million by the century’s end In addition, constant fertility would reduce the proportions of children and the working-age population and nearly triple the proportion of elderly to 25 percent. As a result, China’s current potential support ratio of 8.3 working-age persons per retiree would fall to 2.5 persons per retiree by mid-century. China’s fertility could also decline further, perhaps approaching low levels of Germany, Hong Kong, Italy and Japan. Further reduction in Chinese fertility to 1.3 births per woman – the low variant - would accelerate population decline, shrinking labor force and aging, with China’s population peaking at 1.40 billion by this decade’s end, then declining to 600 million by 2100. In 50 years, one-third of the population would be elderly and the potential support ratio would fall to an unprecedented 1.6 working-age persons per retiree.

Russia - a giant Potemkin village.

Aside from being a corrupt, oligarchic, mafiya state whose only source of income is ever cheaper oil, Russia is demographically doomed. By mid century there will be 50 million fewer Russians due to collapsing birth rates, a FALL in life expectancy. High rates of smoking, alcohol consumption, drug use, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, obesity, heart disease, violence, suicide and environmental pollution contribute to Russians’ poor health. Russia’s current male life expectancy at birth of 64 years is 15 years lower than male life expediencies in Germany, Italy and Sweden. It's a sick country. Putin wasn't grabbing territory in eastern Ukraine and Crimea - he was grabbing ethnic Russians. Russia’s aging population has placed strains on the economy that will impact numerous sectors including agriculture, manufacturing, the armed forces and retirement schemes. In the next decade, Russia's labor force is expected to shrink by more than 12 million, or around 15 percent.


The two biggest geopolitical stories of the 21st century:

Africa Rising ( with diffuse technology (cell phones, solar energy, etc.) allowing it to leap frog the need for expensive infrastructure in order to modernize.

India as a True Superpower. The future belongs to India, not China, due to its healthier demographics. (

Don't bet on American decline. We survived waves of racism and nativism before. We survived a bloody civil war, great depression and world wars, Watergate and a dozen other threat to come out stronger and better. We'll survive Trump.


Pigeon noted: "3D-printed guns are for the magicians. Chamber pressures are in the kilobars, and you're not going to contain that with some dubiously-bonded structure made of crappy plastic..."

True as written, but don't forget that this technology is (i) still in its very early stages and (ii) it comprises far more options than "crappy plastic". For instance, Boeing is already printing metal airplane parts ( and 3D printing of complex living tissues isn't far away ( Printing robust and sophisticated structures is a non-trivial engineering problem, but progress is rapid.

A larger point is that using 3D printing for guns is missing the whole point of 3D technology: it's wasteful for things that are easier to manufacture by hand, particularly for people who can't afford a really good printer. The AK47, for example, was designed so that pretty much anyone with basic shop skills could build and maintain one; that's one reason it's the tool of choice for impoverished warriors around the world. Perhaps more importantly, for the kind of people who can't afford to buy more sophisticated and modern weapons, much older weaponry can be equally efficient. Crossbows and conventional small longbows (shortbows?) are easier to manufacture than rifles, don't require gunpowder, and are probably about as useful as modern rifles in constrained urban engagements (i.e., where rapid fire rates are unavailable out of the desire to limit collateral damage). Swords, knives, and bludgeons are even more useful in close quarters because of easier manufacturing and easy learning curves.

Pigeon also noted: "Nuclear power still hasn't recovered from the Chernobyl stall"

Worsened, of course, by Fukushima. However, I think the real dark secret of nuclear power is that engineers have traditionally underestimated how hard radiation is on concrete and other construction materials. The maintenance becomes really, really expensive. (For ex.:

Pigeon: "The main difference between now and 30 years on is going to be what different things people find to be stupid about"

Very much so. In the design community, there's a famous saying: "It's not possible to create something foolproof because nature always evolves a better fool." Kind of like antibiotic resistance for software and devices. That being said, stupidity usually isn't inherent; it represents a failure of our education system, which emphasize assembly-line production of people who will work on assembly lines, not production of critical thinkers.

Crouchback notes: "If we really had automation killing jobs, we should see a rapid growth in productivity as the economy produces the same or more with fewer and fewer workers."

The problem with productivity metrics is that they're usually designed to support an agenda; they're almost never what one might call objective measures. If you define how you measure productivity appropriately, you can prove any point you want to prove. As anecdata, I offer the example that as a technical editor, Microsoft Word's automation tools make me (conservatively) 3 times as productive as working on paper used to be... possibly 10 times. And with higher-quality results.

Re. power consumption of computers and code: Most software and hardware developers are fat and lazy (metaphorically speaking) because they have essentially unlimited power and don't have to worry about wasting it on power-hungry processors and bloated code to run on those processors. The people who develop mobile applications actually face power constraints, and have to choose their hardware and craft their code more judiciously. Yes, laptop chips are slower than desktop chips, but unless you're a video gamer, 3D animator, or protein folder, you probably wouldn't notice the difference. I'd speculate (scientific wild-ass guess) that a typical NASA or ESA space probe designer could redesign most commercial computers and applications to chop power consumption by an order of magnitude. Ditto for roboticists.


China has very poor fertility rates

That is by design. The government is well aware that the current population is above the country's carrying capacity.

The problem they have is how to effect a soft landing from a state of overpopulation. Currently the One Child policy has an exception for couples who are both only children (so one child is not supporting four grandparents) and ethnic minorities (who can have four children*). The single-children exception does something for the support problem, but I suspect that the real solution is going to have to be either lots of automation and government support or people retiring a lot later.

Retiring later is going to have to come to our economies too. Or we're going to have to rejig our political economy to provide more support — maybe extend the Three Pony Rule to everyone? (Kinda like the US did in the 1950s…)

*Which leads to some interesting politics, as the Han say the minorities are outbreeding them, while the minorities say that the Han are swamping them.


we should see a rapid growth in productivity as the economy produces the same or more with fewer and fewer workers

We have seen a rise in productivity in the last generation, but our expectations have risen to match/exceed it.

Consider the record-keeping part of a teacher's job. I've got my old report cards from school. A handwritten list of grades and a 2-5 word comment per subject, three times a year. Now you're looking at 4-5 report cards (and progress reports) per year, each with a grade, 3-5 sentences of comment, and a batter of learning skills per subject, with parents (and students) expecting updated marks and comments on demand. (Not to mention triplicate forms and reports on any student pulling less than a C, or officially identified as requiring a modified program/extra support, which can easily be half a class.) The total time spent record keeping has if anything increased, because the addition of computer technology enabled administration to demand what was simply impossible in the past.

It's kinda like washing machines. While they are a timesaver, the expectations for how clean clothing and linen would be meant that the total time women spent doing laundry didn't fall that much. Sheets were washed weekly rather than monthly, etc.


"Crossbows and conventional small longbows (shortbows?) are easier to manufacture than rifles, don't require gunpowder, and are probably about as useful as modern rifles in constrained urban engagements (i.e., where rapid fire rates are unavailable out of the desire to limit collateral damage)"

This is completely utterly wrong. Those weapons are not even under consideration for anything vaguely related to military purposes anymore as they are orders of magnitude less effective under almost all circumstances

I've shot bows/ crossbows and assault rifles and you aren't even on the same planet

Similarity with knives and swords

There was some interest in the X15 crossbow (designed to mount on an AR lower) as a specops silent assissanition weapon but i'm not sure if it went anywhere. It was pretty huge

Regarding programming and power consumption the more covdolidaruon you see into large companies like Facebook and Google the more effort is spent on optimization, nowadays such optimization usually happens a level down from the actual developer at the compiler / interpreter level. Big companies spend a lot of effort on optimization as when you are running a million servers shaving 0.5% off CPU or memory utlilizaton is hugely productive


Alas, Google's new "Fuschia" project is apparently targeting "modern phones and modern personal computers with fast processors, non-trivial amounts of RAM with arbitrary peripherals doing open-ended computation.", which doesn't sound like someone concerned with compactness. So I wouldn't be surprised if the laziness is spreading to mobile, too.

I also wonder how much modern UI design is based on anticipating how low the common denominator will sink in the future and trying to get ahead of the curve.


In this post, I will focus on Latin America

1. POLITICS: Latin America as a whole is becoming more right wing compared to the time when it exited the US-sponsored caudillo era. I realize that this isn't a completely linear trend with plenty of counter-examples, but the region's voters have become a lot more free market compared to 30 years ago. Left-wing parties are far more free market than they were 20 years ago. This brings up

2. VENEZUELA: It's hard to predict how Venezuela will influence the region. Right now, it's acting as a boogeyman that the region's right wing uses to scare for votes.


The main takeaway from the above article: Although atheism is benefiting from the collapse of Catholicism in the region, the main beneficiary is Evangelical Christianity. If it follows the US's trajectory, then we can expect about 30 years of more religion-based laws followed by a collapse in the number of people who are religious.

4. ECONOMY: If Latin America were one country, its standard of living would resemble China's. The GDP (PPP)of Latin America + the Caribbean was $15,618 compared to China's $15,065.

With the exception of Haiti, you see a similar distribution of HDI and GDP (PPP) per capita in Latin America that you see in Chinese provinces.

Unless something very disruptive happens, the region is likely to continue developing.

4. IMMIGRATION: I can see the countries in Latin America being the destination for immigrants rather than the source. Latin American countries have a higher Total Fertility Rate than Northern America or Europe, but it's not that high. Plus, it's dropping


I've noticed the trend of compilers and runtimes doing all the optimisation instead of troubling the programmer with it too. It leads to the perversely amusing phenomenon where most of the purported advantages of dynamic languages are ones that you can't actually use because unless you're very careful you'll either a) confuse yourself (leading to bugs) or b) negate some sort of optimisation.

Even something as old as vtable-based virtual method calls runs into that. A few loads and adds (assuming vtable-based implementation) doesn't sound like much but if you have a lot of them they start to add up.


Unholyguy, responding to my suggestion about crossbows as an alternative to modern rifles, noted "Those weapons are not even under consideration for anything vaguely related to military purposes anymore as they are orders of magnitude less effective under almost all circumstances."

No disagreement at all: in open ground with reasonable sightlines and no bystanders (or no concern over bystanders), modern rifles are more than an order of magnitude more effective. If you can afford them. I was specifically referring to insurgency in a congested urban environment where you don't have long sightlines, there are lots of innocent bystanders, and the conflict is primarily in single-shot mode. The only real advantage of medieval weaponry is that it's easy to manufacture and use when you can't afford to buy the modern stuff.

"Primitive" weapons are far more effective against a modern army than most people will credit, witness punji sticks in Vietnam, deadfall traps in any forest environment, and so on. And consider the Tueller drill (aka the "21-foot rule") as evidence that firearms aren't a panacea.


As a nation, if China continues to modernise its agricultural industries, it's got the cultural biases of respect for your ancestors and the elderly to institute a social care programme for elderly as a position of prestige.

How hard it will mess up their economy to do that, I'm not really in a position to judge. It would be nice, for them, if they could release the people from working the land and move them to working for caring for the elderly. Not literally out of the fields and into care homes but as part of their planned economy and as they're relaxing the rules about numbers of children they might be able to increase the numbers caring for the elderly over the next 20-50 years. After that, of course, the problem will balance out.


I so have to disagree. I see two alternatives by 2050, with maybe 3-4 shades of gray between them.

Alternative One is the future where the whole world goes for that WWII-level effort to stem global warming: everyone on board, planting trees, painting the roofs white, all-electric everything with infrastructure to match, plus geo-engineering. Megatons of geo-engineering, all of it intended to either cool the atmosphere or pull carbon out of the air. By 2050 the U.S. will have lost Florida (some of Florida might still be above the waves, but all the potable water will be polluted with salt...) plus a remarkable amount of the coast in the southeastern U.S. If you won't be writing about the U.S. deal with geographic issues as necessary.

But in Alternative One, we're all hanging on, albeit on short rations, with well-tended refugee camps and no more than two-hundred million deaths attributable to climate change. People with nothing else to do will be painting roofs white, planting trees, or covering carbon-bricks with cement and dropping them near subduction zones. Or maybe they'll be arresting people who try to host a barbecue. This future starts with "the killing of the billionaires" or "the gelding of the billionaires" if you'd prefer to be less violent.

Alternative Two is really ugly. Some combination of the oil companies, fascists, and Christian billionaires have fully taken over, climate change is off the table, we're at 2C and... King Rat.

Shades of gray between these two positions might include a hot or cold war between those nations which support Alternative One and Alternative Two, a U.S. Civil War which is a proxy for the world war, or some stage just before the fulfilment of one alternative or the other.


Okay, obviously, fighter air-craft worth their weight in precious metals are unlikely to be the dominant weapon of choice, especially since the nations that can afford them cant actually fight each other, because, well, nuclear weapons still exist.

But seriously, crossbows? No. The dominant weapon of choice is going to be the drone. In a multitude of forms and varieties. Ranging from what amounts to a low-rent, low-speed missile that just blows you up to the "Syringe with wings" that flies off and renders you temporarily ... and sometimes permanently incapacitated.
- Sometimes permanently, because well, even with all the smarts about dosage you can cram into an expert system, a battlefield is not a surgery suite, and there are no 100 % safe ways to knock people out.

Also, there are going to be some serious innovations in high-information methods of war. Because all those insurgencies live and die by the fog of war, and I expect someone is going to deploy a panopticon in anger to deal with one sooner or later. Because you dont have to watch the full data mountain you collect live for it to be useful - the ability to go into the "way-back machine" track the entire enemy chain of command down and knock their doors down after every single attack on your forces will suffice.


Technological uptake ...

a) 3D printers because there's still interest in what NASA does plus public libraries are already offering mini courses on how to use them. Major issue is figuring out what to use a 3D printer for at home - what it will replace. This is harder than it sounds because the West is still very much a 'if it breaks, junk it' rather than fix it culture. So my guess is that 3D will take hold in Africa because of cost effectiveness and eventually spread to the West.

b) It generally takes about 20-30 years for an govt/industrial/business tech to breach into the consumer marketplace. However, as this is not a market segment I'm very familiar with, no idea what those techs might be. (Anyone have any suggestions? Former (or current) military folk: what gizmos would have application in the civilian world?)

Aging pop'n, low birth rate and AI/robotics ... why worry about a falling birth rate if jobs are going to be disappearing faster and faster? Ditto aging pop'n ... turns out that most elderly are not nearly as sick and feeble (therefore draining of medical funding) as tabloid headlines report. Biggest issue with seniors is that they neither earn nor spend. Seniors are probably being dissed mostly because they're the likeliest population segment to keep their money in safe savings therefore not allowing the uber rich who own financial AIs to leverage their moneys to get even richer.

Google - WTF is warranted ... recently seeing both stupid and potentially harmful search and news results. Specific example: went on Google news and when I looked at the science/health articles got a load of total utter vile ads for garbage (completely unreliable, not scientifically tested) so-called health products. Either Google has decided to chase quick money (and lose its credibility) or their algo has broken down.


I was specifically referring to insurgency in a congested urban environment where you don't have long sightlines, there are lots of innocent bystanders, and the conflict is primarily in single-shot mode.

The problems that you face in a congested urban environment are difficult enough even with a modern firearm. In Northern Ireland, the "average terrorist target" was apparently a three-second head-and-shoulder exposure of said terrorist at a range of roughly 100m, engaged from the standing position. Much closer than 100m, or any longer than a couple of seconds, and it's a suicide mission for the firer. Much further away, and it's unlikely to hit the target.

Modern military firearms have a muzzle velocity of about 800m/s; a bow, crossbow, or musket is much slower. Hitting a moving target is hard enough, and takes training that an insurgent just won't get (trust me, I've done it); hitting that moving (body armoured) target with a 1-second time of flight? Much less likely. Throw in the unreliability and inaccuracy of home-made ammunition, and it's a mug's game.

Why do you think the British Infantry has been carrying optical sights on its rifles in urban scenarios since the late 1970s? Target acquisition, discrimination, aim, and fire are all easier - but it's not home-made equipment.

"Primitive" weapons are far more effective against a modern army than most people will credit, witness punji sticks in Vietnam, deadfall traps in any forest environment, and so on.

Punji sticks led to the simple measure of steel soleplates in boots, and training to encourage soldiers not to walk down obvious trails and paths. As was repeatedly told us on courses "an obstacle that isn't covered by fire, is not an obstacle" - you patrol more carefully.

And consider the Tueller drill (aka the "21-foot rule") as evidence that firearms aren't a panacea.

Firearms aren't. Teamwork is. Unlike police officers, who tend to patrol in pairs and (on occasion) as an individual, soldiers tend to patrol in an absolute minimum of a four-person team, supported by other four-person teams (threat level dependent). Minimum of twelve soldiers in the vicinity...

An individual relying on closing with or firing at the soldier has a problem that they wouldn't face with a police officer: the others in the patrol who are going to fill the attacker with holes. An individual attempting a standoff attack doesn't just have to worry about the team they're aiming at - they have to worry about the supporting team on the parallel street, who are cutting off their escape route; or the team slightly ahead/behind who will close on them in seconds.

Once a patrol starts planning their urban routes (because obviously you don't just 'wander around'), they start looking at the places where they can be ambushed - places where there's enough of a sightline to shoot and range to get away, a backdrop for the shooting / bombing that isn't the local old-folks-and-cuddly-puppy home, enough of a sightline for their lookouts to warn of the patrol's approach or of any movement on the escape route...

This sort of stuff isn't easy to plan, coordinate, or conduct; the learning curve for beginner insurgents tends to be somewhat harsh...


Re: Google News results ... below is a paste of the garbage I'm getting.

Charlie has fans working for Google ... this type of search/news result is not acceptable!

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The AK47, for example, was designed so that pretty much anyone with basic shop skills could build and maintain one; that's one reason it's the tool of choice for impoverished warriors around the world.

AK-47s are made in large well-equipped factories, not by hand in backyard shops. They require sophisticated machine tools to make various close-fitting parts with tight tolerances (the gas piston system, for example) and they needs specific steel alloys for the barrels and some other parts which have to withstand severe pressures and temperatures.

They are cheap because they are mass-manufactured with a large surplus on the world markets from the armouries of assorted failed nations and states. They have a reputation for being rugged and reliable with minimal maintenance but they are generally not an effective weapon, being inaccurate while firing low-power ammunition (a large bullet at a relatively slow velocity). Basically, like most other individual weapons they are a threat tool rather than an actual offensive weapon of war.


Renewables have a large human cost per megawatt-hour of generation, so high the boosters of renewables actually boast about it with recent press reports about the millions of jobs wind and solar installations have brought to the US. That's a lot of paychecks to provide something like 6% of America's electricity demands. Assuming a linear expansion by the time renewables get to 50% of grid supply something like fifty million adult Americans will be employed installing, maintaining and decommissioning millions of solar and wind plants.

It's a bit like boasting about full employment of agricultural labourers in the mid-seventeenth century. On the other hand a pair of nuclear reactors can be operated by a couple of hundred staff to produce about 15TWh of electricity annually.

The growing employment numbers you see in solar/wind right now are mostly an artifact of rapid expansion. American net coal capacity growth is negative right now and all you see is the operational labor; solar/wind are growing quickly and what you mostly see are the temporary construction jobs. Plus of course there's rooftop scale solar labor mixed in with the numbers for utility scale, while the latter is significantly more productive.

In the US, utility-scale solar with good solar resources is thriftier with labor than a new nuclear reactor.

New AP1000 reactors at Vogtle, assuming 90% capacity factor: 2.5 real MW/full time employee (800 permanent jobs to be added for units 3 and 4, 1117 MWe each, 90% capacity factor)

The Desert Sunlight solar farm generated 1,346,282 MWh in 2016.

Desert Sunlight has "up to" 15 permanent jobs associated with it. There were also 440 construction jobs over a 26 month period for Desert Sunlight -- amortized over 25 years, that's like another 38.1 permanent jobs.

If you include only the permanent jobs, Desert Sunlight generated 9.8 MW/FTE in 2016. Add in amortized construction labor and it's at 2.9 MW/FTE. Vogtle 3&4's productivity/worker will also fall if you account for construction labor, though that labor pays back over maybe 60 years rather than 25.


Generally supporting your comment:

TLDR: the gunsmiths will make AK47s but they know they don't work as well. Local Pathans won't buy them but Punjabis will (apparently Pathans go for functionality, Punjabis for looks).


It's a meta-spike.

It's the Mirror to people's responses in this thread (where they're ignoring reality and my posts) where the Algos get fed a profile that's... well.

I hope you can see the point.

And no, it's not Google, it's something else.

Computer people are so fond of the "Put crap in, get crap out" meme, well.

It's a Mirror.


Look: if you missed Trump barging his way through to the front line of the G7 pictures or giving the finger to the Italian President, well. I can give you those links. In video, .gif or whatever. It's shockingly disrespectful if you imagined that the old Atlantic Order was still around once Greece and Goldman Sachs fucked Europe.

What none of you seem to realize is this: "Our lifestyle is not up for discussion".

320,000,000 people consuming 1.3+ planets worth of resources and 68.8 percent of your populace are over-weight / obese.

Look @ Syria.

Your War doesn't occur like that, most of you end up in ditches.

Sorry: bored now.


The Nukes won't launch. If you think Stuxnet was kinky, whelp.... hacking ancient COBOL machines is easy. Blame all those Airmen playing games on their phones.


2050: You're counting on your Satellite networks to still exist and your undersea cables to be intact. This is... somewhat naive.[1]

Spoiler: You Broke the Rules. We're cracking out the stuff that was so illegal that it didn't even get mentioned in Geneva Warfare Law.

And, tbh: your systems are extremely weak. They run on faith and "Respect for the Law".

Fast-food chain Chipotle says hackers infected its point of sale terminals to gain access to card data from stores in 47 states and Washington, DC.

Chipotle: Hackers did to our registers what our burritos did to your colon The Register, 26th May, 2017


These are the Privateers and the Social Outcasts. Day #1 of "shit kicks off" your entire world (including the energy network) ... breaks.

Pillar of Salt.
Wanted a Hug.
Love is unconditional.
You're going to fucking regret making that mistake about what kind of Mind and Watcher you attacked.

[1] None of you are even going near the MRI / EM stuff. Ooooops. That's a mistake. Big, Huuuuge, Mind-fucking on a Global Level. The Mirror, my dears, is gonna be fucking Biblical in scope.


Oh, and post-tryptic.

Alien: Covenant.


David wins by holding the genetic "Suddenly Universal Spheres to hold Genetic DNA" in his gullet. He throws up two of them.

Hint: the film is really not about what you imagine it's about.


For the Watchers: IKEA. Daft Punk - Get Lucky (Official Audio) ft. Pharrell Williams, Nile YT: Music, Daft Punk, 4:08.

Yeah. Covens or otherwise. One thing you should know: the amount of energy spent attempting to break an Ego has a rather drastic resonance when Mirror'd back.

Or, in other words: You're Fucked.

Your World Dies and You Spend your energies on this?



Let me once again put in a plug for Jorgen Randers's "2052", for people who are interested in the near future.

The modal citizen of the old industrial world (including China, now) will be a post-menopausal female apartment dweller who is afraid of the sky. Afraid to go outside because of the scarily intense weather, random high-speed events that happen outside, and because she will be cowed by her authoritarian government's hypersurveillance and disinformation.

@HW #111: this is a pet peeve of mine. The hoary old cliche about humans being reproducible by unskilled labour is perhaps amusing, but it is utterly wrong.

To produce a socially adapted, work-ready adult these days takes about 21 years of elapsed time and about 15 000 hours of focussed attention by (mostly) skilled professionals over that time. Not to mention an elaborate array of material resources. How many machines take 15 000 hours and two decades to construct?


"Crossbows and conventional small longbows (shortbows?)"

Quick run down in modern terms:
Bow is the generic. Note: these required specialist training.
Longbow is the long-range, anti-armour variant exclusively used by specialists trained from childhood.
Shortbow is the carbine variant, used by cavalry. This was not used much by Western militaries, but favoured by North Easterners.
Crossbow is the version that does not require specialist training. This can scale from the dirt-cheap arm peasants type to the clockwork, steel-bowed armor-piercing type.

All of these require very human capital intensive and long-duration manufacturing processes, except for the heavy duty crossbows, which replace the time requirement with metalworking equipment and knowledge.

These are not insurgent weapons.

With modern materials science and knowledge, you are better off with blades and explosives.


"Computer people are so fond of the "Put crap in, get crap out" meme, well."

We do like that one a lot. Of course, it assumes that the process is sound, otherwise it becomes "Put anything in, get crap out".


"2050: You're counting on your Satellite networks to still exist and your undersea cables to be intact. This is... somewhat naive.[1]

[1] None of you are even going near the MRI / EM stuff. Ooooops. That's a mistake. Big, Huuuuge, Mind-fucking on a Global Level. The Mirror, my dears, is gonna be fucking Biblical in scope."

It really doesn't take super fancy tech to screw with those. Anything space-capable (doesn't even have to hit orbit if it can be in the right patch of sky at the right time) will remove a satellite, Kepler cascade will remove more, and undersea cables are cut by accident(supposedly) with ship anchors. The (intercontinental) internet will not survive the start of World War 3.


"The Nukes won't launch. If you think Stuxnet was kinky, whelp.... hacking ancient COBOL machines is easy. Blame all those Airmen playing games on their phones."

Remember the most important rule of military planning: treat your stuff pessimistically and their stuff optimistically. Assume that their defenses will work optimally while yours won't. Their missile defenses might intercept each missile they try to, so throw enough missiles at the areas you're throwing missiles at to saturate those defenses, and don't bother sending missiles where you can't afford that, while also assuming that any measure you take to debride their missiles won't work all the time, so missiles might get through even the thickest defense. Hacking the launchers is just another missile defense.

This means that, even with the best defenses, theoretically capable of taking out their entire arsenal and/or mitigating their entire arsenal above a single target, you don't provoke a launch unless you are willing to see your own cities burn.

This is why every argument against nuclear defenses that invokes MAD is stupid and bullshit and disingenuous.


Been in Paris since Thursday ... and all this shows up.
Both too pessimistic & too optimistic & the politics is plain wrong.

IMHO the crypto-fascist experiment in the USSA will crash & burn under its own weight & gross internal inconsistencies before 2020. Going to be messy, though, but if you are outside the USA - well, they always c;laimed to be exceptional, & that includes the self-wrought disaster, doesn't it?
But "the left" as in your Corbyn link will be no better - Corby is stuck in 1934/5 ( - Look up Lansbury? )
The campaigning in France for their upcoming assembly elections was - interesting. Agree with the depressing reversion to the old authoritarian right in E Europe - Poland * Hungary are the indicators.

Actually, apart (again) from the US the shift towards real "green" ( i.e. nowhere near any so-called "green" party ) economics & politics & fighting back against GW will go much faster than is even presently expected, but that many old business/political power/money structures will fight against this, but fail, nonetheless. The big insurance money & pension funds, real-old-fashioned-"Capitalist" structures are already shifting, surprisingly quickly, towards "saving the planet" -= for entirely selfish reasons ... no point in having a pension if there's no-one to pay it to & no future to spend it in, is there?


It seems silly to focus on killing techniques given all the more important subjects, but hey.

Jean-Léon Moore in 118 is absolutely right: 3D printing (and homemade weaponry in general) is not going to be much of a factor in warfare for the most part.

Just to make this point another way: I'm not a gun person, but the one time I went shooting at a range with some friends I ended up using someone's great-grandfather's shotgun, built the better part of 100 years ago. It worked perfectly fine.

Firearms don't just stop working after a while. They need some very basic maintenance, but the weapons from last century's wars will keep working for a long, long time. Not to mention that acquiring weapons is one of humanity's favorite hobbies.

Any guerrilla outfit down to a glorified street gang is just going to buy (or otherwise acquire) some mass-produced kit built in a factory. For a somewhat larger conflict, fancier materiel won't be hard to come by.

In general, 3D printers and related machines like CNC mills are notable for being slow, expensive, and producing rather substandard quality parts. They are used for some really advanced stuff like rocket engines, but note that these are million dollar printers that might take weeks to produce a single relatively small component, and still require a lot of finishing work to make the thing usable. The point is really about being able to produce very complex things in small batches.

I think the things a home or shop 3D printer (even assuming several decades of advances in the tech) might be good for in this scenario are more along the lines of small, custom parts like an adapter for some incompatible scopes, or pieces of high tech specialty gear to build sentry guns, add weaponry to drones, and things like that.


... hacking ancient COBOL machines is easy.

But only if they are on public networks that rely on TCP/IP, which few if any of them are.


Crossbows are pretty easy; you can make them from junk. I made two when I was a kid.

The big one used a chunk of 2x2 hardwood for the stock, a length of heavy nylon cord, and one leaf from a rear suspension spring. Only problem was that I didn't consider the forces involved and it turned out that I couldn't bloody draw the thing more than a couple of inches. If I did it again I'd choose a leaf from a very small vehicle and cut it down further with an angle grinder, instead of just chancing across one that was off some kind of lorry and going "hey, I can make a crossbow with that". Some vehicles these days use leaf springs made of some kind of fibre/resin composite, instead of steel, which would make things rather easier and a lot lighter.

The other one was much smaller; it used the strip of spring steel out of a shoe tree (why on earth are they called "trees"? They're nothing like a tree) mounted detachably so it could be stowed parallel to the stock for transport, and fired three-inch steel pins with very little force but surprising accuracy. It could have been used as an assassination weapon if you tipped the pins with South American arrow poison, but it would be better to go full South American and use a blowpipe as the launcher.

As weapons, though, as opposed to toys, they'd both be utterly shit. Neither would have been any use at all in anything other than a grossly asymmetrical situation that gave all the advantage to the attacker. If I was a real insurgent I'd be much happier with old favourites like an axe or a cleaver or a length of pipe. I'd still get killed the first time I used it, but at least there'd be a significant chance of being able to do some damage to the other chap first.


In general, 3D printers and related machines like CNC mills are notable for being slow, expensive, and producing rather substandard quality parts.

That is rather a broad-brush statement. CNC tools are used a lot in production, making precise copies of parts to quite accurate specifications. They are best for small-run operations though, a hundred of one part as a single order or small batches every few months to meet an ongoing demand, and then being reconfigured for the next job turning out a different part.

For jobs where hundreds of thousands of, say, rifles or car engine blocks are needed then dedicated specialist machines will be built and operated with no reconfiguration as they will be doing the same job for months or even years on end.

3-D printers are not the cornucopia machine many have predicted -- the simpler cheap plastic extrusion machines are finicky, they break down a lot and they are very limited in what they can produce. The laser-sintering machines are a lot more expensive to own and operate but they can make useful parts in small quantities using alloys which are otherwise hard to machine (titanium etc.) They are not a cheap option though since their feedstocks are horrendously expensive -- in the case of metals they require a fine-grained powder of guaranteed particle size and these have to be handled with care to prevent contamination, moisture, corrosion etc. ruining them.


The problem with firearms isn't the guns themselves, but the ammo. Making explosives is easy, but making cartridges isn't. So your cut-off date for ready-made guns is somewhere in the middle of the 19th century, when they were still operating on the principle of pouring gunpowder down the barrel and shoving a lump of metal on top of it. This gets you one shot, which will probably miss, and then the government forces return fire with automatic weapons. If one isn't put off by that, it is easier to not bother hunting up antique guns but instead just use bits of steel water pipe. In fact that would probably be better, because you could partially compensate for the slow reloading by making lots of them, which gives you several shots and a slightly greater chance of still being alive to use them again.


WRT the idea of 3D printers that can handle metal becoming something that's in everyone's shed, it may be useful to consider that the principle of additive manufacturing has been in use for much longer than either 3D printers or fancy words for it have existed. It can be, and has been, used for making guns; and it is sheddable, and some people do... but very few, for the same basic reasons that make the 3D printing of metal difficult, ie. the high melting points of metals and the difficulty of handling the temperatures. I refer, of course, to casting.


Re: 'It's the Mirror to people's responses in this thread (where they're ignoring reality and my posts) where the Algos get fed a profile that's... well.'

While I appreciate your comment, only agree partially because no way is this the first time that idiots have posted garbage online but it is the first time that hitting Google News has turned up utter unedited unprocessed garbage.

Real concern is that something strange is going on online - Google was attacked and/or out maneuvered, and BitCoin share prices dropping like a rock.

DTs antics do go on and on, don't they. Still think he's using a checklist. What's remarkable is that anyone is still inviting him anywhere and that there are no candid credible bio-type interviews with any former employees. We know he didn't hatch yesterday, so where are all of his old school chums, teachers, first/early employees, etc.


"where the cops watch monitors all day and arrest everyone who commits any kind of crime whatsoever"
In anything like a democracy this would result in rather rapid changes to the laws. Most of us are constant criminals, entirely dependent on the limited amount of enforcement possible. We rely on the privilege of prosecutorial discretion every day, and they like it that way. Ideally everything would be illegal so the only real law would be the whims of enforcement.

I think it would be awesome if alien robots descended from the heavens and began actually enforcing our laws one hundred percent of the time. There are people who don't know how to drive the speed limit or stop at stop signs because nobody is really ever punished for running stop signs or speeding unless there's some other reason to be interested in you and then the ubiquitous criminality is a ready made pretext. In fact failing to conform to the norm of constantly exposing the belly, of constantly committing little crimes, that in itself is a reason to be of interest. There's no way to actually be virtuous you sinner, your only hope is to beg for mercy. You cannot be worthy in yourself, only have undeserved worthiness bestowed upon you.


I saw some of Trumps stupid antics on Froggie TV in a Paris bar - pathetic - he's just realised that he isn't the only fish in the pond, any more & is still behaving like a playground bully.
If he carries on like that, though, the rest will gang up on him, even May & deliberately "conspire" to humiliate him in front of witnesses ( I hope )
What's this about garbage on Google? I must have missed that over the weekend - unless it's a recycling of the Feb/Mar complaint about fake news ??
Which I presume is fuelled by paid hackers & rich "Pushers" deliberately multiple=posting to screw-over the weighting figures ( or similar? )

As for your first quoted line, well it's the opposite isn't it?
"We" - the readers & posters on this blog are all to well-aware of reality, just that our power for effective action is a little limited.
Ignoring the seagulls boring, repetitive & insulting posts is probably a good move - I haven't even tried to read the back-list on this thread (!)

In anything like a democracy this would result in rather rapid changes to the laws. Most of us are constant criminals, entirely dependent on the limited amount of enforcement possible. We rely on the privilege of prosecutorial discretion every day, and they like it that way. Ideally everything would be illegal so the only real law would be the whims of enforcement.
Those changes may depend on whether being convicted of a crime strips you of your voting rights...

This is a long way back at this point, but:

your DLC-AI will not be subject to any historical or cultural biases

is arrant nonsense. Where will programmers and training data without cultural biases be found to produce these AIs? (see: those recidivism-predicting AIs in the US which - strangely - predict a higher recidivism rate for black people, because no-one thought twice about using arrest and conviction records from a racially biased justice system as training data.)

the only industrial nation with relatively high birth rates
2015 birth rate, per country: USA, 1.8; UK, 1.8; Sweden, 1.9; France, 2.0; Israel, 3.1

Who's been selling you organic fertilizer? :-)


It's worth noting that heavy* crossbows cannot be cocked by hand (unless you're Conan.) They require a specially geared crank or a pulley system which means that reload times really, really suck. Also, cocking a crossbow by hand frequently results in a string with more tension on one side than the other, resulting in inaccuracy.

* Heavy = Effective


I think even with perfect training data AIs can be biased.
Humans make a moral decision on what individual properties warrant special treatment and which properties should be ignored. E.g., let's say that for some reason the mortality rate of a disease for persons of one sexuality is higher than for another. Should that be reason enough to concentrate resources on people with lower expected mortality?


Re: 'Where will programmers and training data without cultural biases be found to produce these AIs?'

Nope - that's the whole point of 'deep learning AI': they (the AIs) are left to self-program toward achieving some concrete objective. This absolutely means 'no human values' built in.


The real advantage of bows is a particular kind of stealth. They don't have muzzle flashes, and the noises they make are not noises which regular infantrymen are trained to hear and interpret. If you need to shoot one person, not give away your position, and hopefully live to fight another day, a bow might be useful. Otherwise, forget it.

The other thing bows can be used for (in theory, though I don't know of anyone who's ever tried this) is as super-cheap grenade launchers. Attach a grenade to a piece of wooden broomstick, put a notch in the end of the wood, and use your compound bow to fire the grenade much further than you can throw it by hand. However, one would want to test this idea very, very carefully before trying it in the field, because if your missile is poorly balanced you've probably grenaded yourself in the foot!


Transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, except for natural gas which will have a golden age.

Coal is already dead:

Oil is also doomed:

But Carbon Oligarchs won't go down without a fight (and their strategy is identical to the one used by tobacco companies)

This last point has staggering geopolitical implications. If oil becomes worthless, corrupt petro states from Nigeria, to Saudi Arabia, to Iran, to Russia to Texas and the rest of Red State America will collapse.


Sounds like J Calvin's Geneva or the soviet state - only more so.


Hi April!

Missing: Economy and debt crisis. I'm pretty sure we're going to have a big one in the next 30 years, maybe triggered by political or environmental events.

AI will expand massively. I also think that Augmented Reality will make a break through.
I don't think that the Chinese firewall will get many followers - it is too easy to get around it. State players will probably focus on using AI for PsyOps (and on surveillance, of course).

Several varieties of cancer and some other diseases will become curable via gene therapy.


When they crash they will take large amounts of the economy with them, and that crash could happen just about any time (but getting likelier as more time passes.) We'd probably be better off having multiple separate economic events if it can be arranged: one for coal, one for oil, one for natural gas a few years later... Hopefully the crash will happen in September of 2018.

Internet fracturing is IMHO something that unfree countries will hit their heads against and get a headache for their troubles. For one, even the Great Firewall of China leaks like a sieve. Second, the more you suppress the Internet, the more you choke your own industry, culture and economy.
It doesn't matter if your technological filter leaks; what matters is it raises the difficulty just enough that using the provided internal tools, sites etc is easier. You tell everyone the internet at large is disgusting and dangerous, that no-one in their right mind would go there, that social media is "the worst menace to society." You provide "better, tailored to you" alternatives. You catch some people contravening the ban for reasons abhorrent to the population and you make examples of them. And for God's sake you make it easily subverted - publish the instructions on the underground yourself - so you know what the people trying to subvert it are up to.

It's expensive to build something to stop people finding specific information; much cheaper to make it so the vast majority don't want to look.


I noted particularly, that Mark Carney (!) is saying that the Carbon bubble needs popping sooner rather than later.

See also AV @ 177 above.

Question, IMPORTANT question.
How soon?

Many cities are already starting the transition to electric &/or hybrid vehicles - London & Paris certainly are - & that will lead to a follower-effect.
I think that, by 2030 the developed world, apart form the USA will be mostly "off" the Carbon-fix.
When it come, it's going top be very quick & the signs are already there for those to see.
I look forward to the new eletric power-plant in my old Land-Rover (!)
Seriously, I think it could easily happen.

[ p.s. Yes, but the 'baccy companies tactics won't work ( in a mass-market ) a second time around, if only because you can't pull that sort of trick twice .... ]


"It's worth noting that heavy* crossbows cannot be cocked by hand (unless you're Conan.) They require a specially geared crank or a pulley system which means that reload times really, really suck."

The gearing/block-and-tackle is what I meant by clockwork. A very loose application of the word, but hopefully got across the mechanical complexity and cost of the mechanisms. I figured that I should keep it simple and not get into light/heavy/siege/arbalest distinctions.

W.R.T. heavy === effective, that depends on the armour you face. Crossbows became heavier as troops became well-paid, well-trained specialists who could afford armour.

"Also, cocking a crossbow by hand frequently results in a string with more tension on one side than the other, resulting in inaccuracy."

This is what a belt hook is for. I just discovered this article: Before hand, I only knew about the windlass for actual mechanical advantage.


W.R.T. heavy === effective, that depends on the armour you face.

So true. The sad thing is that I'm starting to feel like I should be thinking about this stuff on a regular basis.


I'm sure that would work; after all it's basically the same as a rifle grenade - grenade on the end of a long pole which goes down the barrel; sounds like a good way to break your shoulder to me, but never mind - but with a less energetic (and non-shoulder-breaking) launcher. And of course the incendiary variant is well known.

It's an interesting question, though, whether it's the best method of sending a grenade a long way by muscle power. A bow is after all basically a matching device; the human arm can neither release energy fast enough to accelerate an arrow well nor couple the energy effectively to such a low-mass object. With more massive objects than an arrow, a lower matching ratio is required and so simpler matching devices suffice. Examples would be the German potato-masher grenade, or the spear-launching method that involves throwing it by means of a string on a stick rather than directly.

By the same token, a bow intended to shoot normal arrows will perform less well than one built specifically for grenade arrows (and the grenade one won't shoot normal arrows well). For any given set of bow parameters there is a specific projectile mass to give maximum distance of flight. Increasing the mass improves the energy transfer, but reduces the projectile speed.

Unfortunately I can't readily estimate how the comparison goes. The equations are quite horrible (particularly for the bow), and I have too vague an idea of how the curve of muscle energy output vs. rate of output is shaped.


Many shocks are coming thanks to technology and the "creative destruction" of capitalism. Economically and technologically, Red Rural America will soon have no reason to exist.

Got coal?
Nobody cares because fracking gas is cheaper and solar energy is now cheaper in most areas (the Chinese just cancelled 103 coal burning plants in favor of expanding their already impressive renewable energy industry — so overseas markets won’t save the coal industry).

Got oil?
Nobody cares because we will be driving EVs (Tesla now has greater market valuation than the Ford Motor Company).

Got cattle and livestock?
Nobody cares because we will grow meat from stem cells (its already on the market and the price of a lab grown hamburger patty fell from $300,000 to $3 in a single year)

Got farms?
Nobody cares because we are turning old warehouses into vertical farms in the hearts of major cities worldwide from Newark, to Singapore to London to Tokyo — growing crops 24/7/365 more cheaply without the transportation costs needed to haul fruits and vegetables cross country.

Got farm labor?
Nobody cares because any remaining outdoor farming will be done with robots and drones.

Got small town manufacturing?
Nobody cares because we have robots, automation and algorithms that replace repetitive human labor on the factory floor and 3D printers that can customize batch production from anywhere.

Got a fishing boat?
Nobody cares because we will be harvesting multi-modal oceanic farms for kelp, fish and shellfish — and the fishing industry can finally advance from the hunter/gatherer stage.

A new technology — fracking — killed coal. These newer technologies will kill what is left of Red Rural America’s economy, leaving Blue Urban cities as the only source of economic growth and prosperity. Multicultural, cosmopolitan, globalist oriented cities based on advanced high technology economies with all sorts of non-white people from all over the world living in them. A high school education no longer gets you into the middle class, so the “poorly educated” that Trump loves so much need not apply.

Within a generation all of Red Rural America becomes Appalachia.

It’s already happening, which explains the anger and despair of rural Trump voters.


"You provide "better, tailored to you" alternatives."

Twitter is attempting to force this on people. They implemented it, then turned it on without telling people, and made it really difficult to turn off: the setting is buried deeply in some obscure hole in your account settings, and you may have to ring the changes on spoofed user-agent strings to (a) get it to show up at all and (b) show you the complete set of options (which may be split over different obscure holes) instead of some cut-down thing that doesn't properly turn it off. Oh, and doing this gives you a different set of obscure holes for each user-agent string, just to make it even more of a pain.

The result? A continuous trickle (since they don't seem to have turned it on for everyone at the same time) of puzzled and vague complaints from people that "their twitter's got crap" and they don't understand why. If they're lucky, their tweet makes it to someone who recognises the problem, and the conversation then turns to how to turn it off. I believe similar things have happened on arsebook, but I have no direct knowledge of that. It seems extremely rare to encounter a positive comment on any "tailored for you" feature on any platform from anyone.

So I reckon that rather than keep people inside the pen, that'll encourage them to escape it. It's effective only when there is no viable alternative: it's enormously harder to find stuff on the internet these days than it was in say 2003, because Google has given up any pretence at being unbiased; the search results now consist almost entirely of things that used to be direct violations of Google's bad-site-indicator policy - providing different content to the crawler than they do to a user, and copying stuff wholesale off other sites - and anything that you wouldn't want your mother to know about, such as details on uranium enrichment or the content of torrent sites, barely appears at all. While other search engines which are not so badly afflicted with this disease simply don't have anything like the depth of indexing.


Not so much debt as the inability to meet financial demands and promises of an increasingly aged population.



That's a lovely word, but what does it mean?


It’s already happening, which explains the anger and despair of rural Trump voters.
Yes, but, if those voters & the crooked Ultras in charge of the GOP can rig the votes past 2020, then it ain't going to happen - they will keep trying & partially succeed in turning the clock back in a very expensive fashion.
Or, will the magic of the capitalist market actually defeat them?
That would be a rich irony, if so,


Many shocks are coming thanks to technology and the "creative destruction" of capitalism. Economically and technologically, Red Rural America will soon have no reason to exist.

I won't even try to argue with that. The whole thing is both obvious and frightening.

Within a generation all of Red Rural America becomes Appalachia.

It’s already happening, which explains the anger and despair of rural Trump voters.

This is the part I hate, because while it will certainly happen it doesn't have to happen the ugly way. A sane society would find ways to rebuild civil society in these regions and retrain the people who live there to do something useful and honorable. But with FOX news screaming in their ears, plus the total unwillingness to vote for the people who are willing and able to actually help them... it will be a clusterfuck of mammoth proportions, probably ending in a civil war (with a gigantic racial component) or the partition of the U.S.


Rifle grenades are fired like mortars, with the butt of the rifle on the ground and the muzzle pointed up at an angle in the direction of the enemy. It is not a shoulder-fired system.

As for crossbows, the arbalest is the version that has a spring steel bow, intended for anti-armour use and requiring a block and tackle system or a winch to tension the string. The versions with a windlass built into the stock were rather prone to breakage at which point the weapons were useless and the winches also added extra weight to the weapon. A separate block-and-tackle could be borrowed from a colleague or repaired in the field, or a spare carried in a pack or in wagons. They took a little longer to fit to the string and dismount though. There are drawings showing arbalestiers with a block-and-tackle hanging from their belts.

A regular crossbow could be spanned in one movement but it usually had a wooden or horn-laminated bow with less power than an arbalest. The process involved putting a foot in the stirrup on the front of the bow on the ground, hooking a belt hook to the string while bent over and then straightening up, using the muscles of the back and legs to pull the string up over the trigger notch. There was also a "goats foot" lever cocking system for crossbows which could be used on horseback.


But ...
They would probably refuse any help ...because it came from the guvmint.
A bit like the voters of Cornwall & Sunderland voting "out" of the EU in massive numbers, actually.


I forgot to mention, watch _Gravity (2013 film)_ and see the cascade collapse of near earth orbit, i.e., the "Kessler syndrome". There is the essential rule that everybody writing SciFi misses:

- No advanced civilization will have junk in orbit around their planet.

The junk in orbit has been building for 60 years, it won't be stable another 30, especially with all the plans for near orbit. That collapse may be the "shatter" moment in 2050; i.e., something obvious in hindsight, and which utterly changes society.

Think about it. No space effort. No Mars mission. No base on the Moon. World population drops below two billion, with everyone slouching towards OZ(Utopia). God help us.


This is why I complain about FOX News. The people believe that government is bad for a reason. American Tea-Party types are simultaneously hateful of the government and afraid of losing their social-security for a reason!


I had a 75lb pull compound bow, and actually tried the 'dukes of hazard bow' thing.. not actual stick of dynamite but a spent firework tube with dirt in it for simulated weight.. it didn't fly well. maybe 20m.
explains why no one has done it..

future warfare...I have a suspicion that the big-gun tank will go extinct. closely followed by attack helicopters,, High tech MANPADS and nasty drones being the reason.. the drones probably being autonomous.
check out HVM starstreak... you aircraft isn't dodging it, cant decoy it and cant carry enough armour to stop it penetrating.


How far could you have thrown the tube?


Regarding conflict between states... I do wonder whether William Gibson had it closest. Once Nations decide that it's OK to screw around in the internal affairs of others, in pursuit of Grand Strategy (example: Putin attempting to disrupt "democracy as a concept") and start to send more... 'executive' forces abroad (example: GRU officers leading the rebels in the Donbass) then I worry that things will get truly messy, and that for cost and deniability reasons the battles will be fought by proxy groups against the general population, rather than by uniformed armies against other uniformed armies. A tank, its crew, and its training is more expensive than a single person carrying a briefcase with a couple of million in cash; and arguably less effective.

Effectively, a move from "Intelligence Service" to "Special Operations Executive"; the reemergence of a "Ministry of Economic Warfare".

The question will be how to provide the effect; how much training and effort is required to achieve the necessary levels of competence, in order to be reasonably certain that any jobs will be done with the minimum risk of compromise. What scale of coordination is required - it's not just individual competence that matters, it's collective competence, and that takes time and lots of money. Whether there's a willingness to trade off between effectiveness and deniability. Whether everything has to be deniable, or there's an ability to transition gradually from "couple of people in a car" to anything involving military-level support such as aircraft or submarine.

In other words, seeing military-grade weaponry turn up in the hands of separatists, regional nationalists, organised criminals. Seeing nation-state levels of money turn up in the hands of "buyable" politicians, run through false flags. Is democracy damaged just by questionable election results? Leaked emails? What happens when you discover that Judges have been compromised, or Newspapers who trumpeted that "it was them that won the election" are found to have editors in the pay of... someone worrying?

Will we see a return to the Cold War efforts of security vetting for everyone in critical public positions? Could any push to avoid external compromise be twisted into assessments of "political reliability"?

Rifle grenades are fired like mortars, with the butt of the rifle on the ground and the muzzle pointed up at an angle in the direction of the enemy. It is not a shoulder-fired system.

Not correct - while it was true of early systems, the recent generations actually require you to fire from the shoulder, in order to aim them. Here's an example that was in UK service (as the CLAW, if I remember correctly):

Then the UK moved to another bullet-trap design (the Rifle Grenade, General Service), but currently has decided that the weight / effect / range equation favours a 40mm underbarrel launcher (one per four-person infantry fireteam).

Think about it. No space effort. No Mars mission. No base on the Moon. World population drops below two billion, with everyone slouching towards OZ(Utopia). God help us.

The Kessler Syndrome is a serious problem, but largely misunderstood.

The thing to remember about it is that it really applies to specific orbital altitudes and to a lesser extent specific orbital planes. To put it another way, it takes a lot of energy to go from LEO to MEO or GEO, and random bits of space junk don't have that much energy, even when they smash together.

Now, there are certainly satellites (and rocket second stages and the like) in elliptical orbits so this isn't entirely true, but in general a Kessler cascade isn't going to destroy all our satellites. Instead, it's going to be a more localized thing where a bunch of satellites start falling apart on certain orbital planes, which will spread to other orbital planes (because they intersect) but have a much smaller impact in other altitudes.

So we might lose ISS, Iridium phones, and many spy satellites, say, but not the GPS or Geostationary Comm satellites. The exact effects will be complex.

It also doesn't mean that rocket launches become completely impossible. After all, there might be millions of bits of junk up there, but much of it can be tracked, space is big, and a rocket doesn't spend much time at risk. Satellites (and rockets) can also be armored to some degree if needed, and for parking orbits and the like a very low altitude can be used where the debris burn up very quickly (but the rocket isn't there long enough for it to matter).

I think a better way to think of the Kessler Syndrome is that it makes rocketry more expensive and unreliable, puts some things we do now (like ISS) out of reach, and presents yet another sort of environmental damage where we prefer to pretend the problem doesn't exist rather than do much about it.


The reason to worry about a falling birthrate in a world of automated jobs is because who is going to consume the products of the automation, and who is going to work or do something to pay for the debts and difficulties of their parents, their pensions etc?
Unless of course yo utotally reform the current economic system.


I have a suspicion that the big-gun tank will go extinct. closely followed by attack helicopters,, High tech MANPADS and nasty drones being the reason

People have been saying that the latter will replace the former, for decades. Tanks and AH still exist, though.

Having armour between your soldiers, and fast-flying pieces of metal, is increasingly important - apparently, Russian forces in the Donbass have been demonstrating worryingly short times (i.e. minutes) between "UAV goes over your position" and "Regimental Artillery Group drops several tons of throw-weight over your heads"; the Ukrainians have had entire battalions rendered ineffective by artillery strikes.

If you're found, and you haven't got mobility, you die. It doesn't matter how green or maroon your beret is, you can't outrun bomblet and airburst. If anything, armour is more important these days. HVM is all very well, until someone's artillery fire mission shreds your antennae / operators.

I suspect that the outcome will be the need to increase cooperation between artillery, armour, attack helicopter, reconnaissance UAV, EW - rock / paper / scissors / lizard / Spock, writ large.


"Unless of course you totally reform the current economic system."

That will be necessary anyway. In capitalism, growth is in a self-enforcing feedback loop. This creates spurts of growth until the system hits an upper limit, then there's a melt down and growth starts again from a lower level.
But this means that negative growth is also part of the same feedback loop, and it reinforces itself. Shrinking economies tend to shrink toward a lower limit, probably the subsistence level. So capitalism will always cycle between boom and poverty. Unfortunately the upper limits which loom in the near future are global warming and resource depletion, which will probably put an end to capitalist system cycles.


Unless of course you totally reform the current economic system.

Well, duh!

Current economic system is based on the assumption of scarcity. Automation + falling birthrates => no scarcity.


The problem with that is that money creates its own scarcity.


And that's why current economic system will have to be reformed.


grenade on the end of a long pole which goes down the barrel; sounds like a good way to break your shoulder to me

In the movies* rifle grenades are fired with the butt of the rifle on the ground, rather like a mortar. Martin could tell us if they got that part right…

*WWII movies, anyway.


"I have a suspicion that the big-gun tank will go extinct. closely followed by attack helicopters"

You should pay more attention to Israel's developments. Specifically:

Say what you want about their politics/humanitarian, they've been developing weapons in directions the big players haven't.


I wonder why no one has mentioned slings. With a high lob a sling bullet can reach over 400 metres.


"...a rocket doesn't spend much time at risk. Satellites (and rockets) can also be armored to some degree..."

This, of course, is the explanation why aliens use flying saucers. They've all managed to Kessler themselves at some time or other; a flying saucer goes through the Kessler belt edge-on, which reduces the armouring requirements quite a bit - only the very rim needs any heavy armour, on the rest of it the angle of incidence increases the effective thickness by 1/sin(θ).


I did... Of the type used for throwing spears, rather than stones, true, but the principle is identical.


"Unless of course yo utotally reform the current economic system."

Well, that goes without saying (or it ought to). Questions like "who will consume..." won't make sense except to students of history - that much is certain, because either we'll have dropped the idiotic model of slash and burn as fast as you possibly can, or we'll have nothing left to do it to and no means of doing it.


...not unless you think that Russia isn't a "big player". See T-14 Armata, Kontakt-5, Shtora, Arena...


Real concern is that something strange is going on online - Google was attacked and/or out maneuvered, and BitCoin share prices dropping like a rock.

I was being heavily metaphorical due to constraints.

I did warn you that BitCoin / .CN was on the Menu, didn't I?[1]

Bitcoin correction sees nearly $4 billion wiped off value of the cryptocurrency as price falls 19% CNBC, 29th May, 2017

Youtube is broken in certain browsers and I'd suggest go looking at Chinese stuff. Hint: the bestest way to defeat a social ranking / points system (that is either gamified, built into the system or hidden - and yes, those refer to three very real and very important projects) is to 'flux the Identity Matrix' for each user. i.e. scramble the Algo's DB on each user.

That's the last hint on that one.

And Greg might get recommendations for 15" giant black dildos because why not have fun?


30 years out?

I expect that Africa will have (dependent on other things) a nascent Empire of its own going on. Libya was all about preventing his version of it starting. Very tough to model though, depends on some fairly heinous actions along the lines of Genghis Khan.

[1] Oh, Mr Troutwaxer: a bit of faith, you might have been a billionaire. I consider that proof enough.


That's what I immediately thought, and apparently I know nothing about military tech. I'm fairly certain the whole 'shotgun' counter has been done by at least two others. (NZ? cba to check who is producing what atm).

So, basically - all this talk about Syria being a proxy do-dar is total nonsense. Absolutely no-one involved is using modern weaponry (those S300-400's certainly didn't engage either the Israeli air-force nor cruise missiles), they're merely allowing locals access to last / prior last gen stuff.


That sounds... Familiar.

*Looks at post about Indian forces fielding rifles from prior generations in the 19th / early 20th Century*



And yes, it's obscene.

The USA provides $110 - 350 bil in "modern" weapons to Saud (and Canada and the UK and France) while shuttling the prior generation (TOW guide-by-wires has long been replaced by Laser and other [redacted] toys) to a fucking warzone.

A smart man touching the "ORB OF DOOOOOM[tm]" might start thinking: "Wait a minute, they all got sold that stuff in the same kind of deals as this - what the fuck are they fielding that's not being disclosed?!!"

At which point you get to EM / MRI type stuff.

Weee, Weaving the Weave with Male Minds is soooo fucking easy.

215: spent attempting to break an Ego...
Semi-technical question; is it not less wasteful to redirect an Ego into tendencies to act in more desirable directions?
(Been trying to parse this for a day, as is my habit.)

Re the subthread about propaganda/psyops, looked through a few comment sections for US RW media articles about climate change/Paris treaty/Trump-G7 trip, and they were disheartening[1]. It is not clear (to me) who believes what, who is an operative, and the cruder climate change denial talking points are so brittle that 10-15 minutes on an amused poke (from ignorance) in google/google scholar damaged a couple of them. [2]. But people still believe them. Re original post:
Even in countries that prefer to be mostly hands-off about their networks, legislation and policy changes will be put in place to harden their population against psy-op attacks like the one that has crippled America.
it seems at least arguable that countries that grow the minds of their citizenry to be much more resistant to BS (than currently) would hold an advantage against such attacks, and simultaneously more flexible at dealing with change vs countries that went with a belief mono-culture approach. (Just musing out loud here.)

[1] For others, typical Breitbart (you have been warned): Cohn: Trump Becoming “Smarter,’ ‘More Knowledgeable’ on Climate Change

[2] e.g. "Wood experiment" re greenhouses and backradiation (link includes text but also some commentary):
Note on the Theory of the Greenhouse
Reply to original note:
V. Note on the theory of the greenhouse
Contemporary failure to replicate:
Failure to duplicate Wood's 1909 greenhouse experiment


it seems at least arguable that countries that grow the minds of their citizenry to be much more resistant to BS (than currently) would hold an advantage against such attacks,

We had a whole course of that in middle school, which would have been around 1975 or so. Stuff like "Who is the writer? Who is paying them? What are the writer's prejudices? What is the writer's agenda?"

It's not hard if you paid attention in science class and knew a little math, or could look stuff up in a library. So far it has served me fairly well, but it could probably use a little updating for the digital age. The sad thing is that my kids never had such a unit during their education.


It's called the 7 questions by Jesuits, and is a little bit earlier than 1975.

Whom (by)
Whither (for what purpose / Cui Bono)

Anyhow -points for ignoring that your wish was made real. Demonstrable. (Although, technically all Virtual, so it's kinda cusp edge not-cheating-don't-spank territory: The Old Ones haven't really parsed out the Virtual in terms of Threads of Fate).


Semi-technical question; is it not less wasteful to redirect an Ego into tendencies to act in more desirable directions?

Yes, of course: if you're fighting against Rational Entities.

Pro-tip: You're not.


It's called the 7 questions by Jesuits, and is a little bit earlier than 1975.

1975-ish is when I was taught that curriculum, using materials which probably dated back to the 1950s. I'm sure that in one form or another it goes back to Chaldea, much less the Jesuits. The big take-home from my post is that my kids didn't get the same training in school! (Fortunately, I was there for them.)

Anyhow -points for ignoring that your wish was made real.

WRONG BILLIONAIRES. I had some specific names in mind. I can give you targeting data if you'd like, but I doubt you'll need it; they've all been both in the news and creating the news recently.

P.S. Musk isn't on my list, but if you could give him a decent beating over everything that doesn't relate to electric * that would be nice.


Remember the phrase, "You're fighting the last War".

At the point where Wood was playing with boxes, something else was quite common:

"Hysteria" and the Strange History of Vibrators Psychology Today, Mar, 2013

Ironically, this meant female pleasure was more pertinent in the USA amongst Doctors than in 2017. And yes, all the layers of puns and groans are intended there.

And yes, Greg. That's a joke about Vaginas and how magical and mysterious they still fucking are to most of your blighted Ape civilization.


Anyhow, you're still not getting it.

You cannot determine Bot / Paid Shill / Believer by sight / textual parsing - that's the realm of the Machine Algo (((WHAT THE HOLY FUCK DO YOU THINK WE'RE TEACHING YOU?))), you determine it by ***SMELL***. [Note: we're aware you cannot smell online, this is a synonym of a word the English language in 2017 hasn't quite caught up with. Trust me, it becomes very popular].


Ok, good one: ask Pigeon about deep diving and "sixth sense". I've no real idea, but I've a (((SMELL))) he probably relied on some "6th sense" (totally not magnetic) about when a dive was safe or not.


We've been told not to say anything about Z or X.

Both have... "interesting times ahead". i.e. Splat goes the Weasels.

Jared K, Z, Murdoch and so on. Big news about .Ru action, wait for the .CN splash on CNN.

Big Trouble in Little China clip:

Jack Burton YT: Film, Big Trouble in Little China, 2:29

Kissinger isn't long for this world either.


You cannot determine Bot / Paid Shill / Believer by sight / textual parsing - that's the realm of the Machine Algo (((WHAT THE HOLY FUCK DO YOU THINK WE'RE TEACHING YOU?))), you determine it by ***SMELL***. [Note: we're aware you cannot smell online, this is a synonym of a word the English language in 2017 hasn't quite caught up with. Trust me, it becomes very popular].

I experience the same thing... more an odor of the mind if that makes any sense. I experience it as black/gray and rough, kind of like what we'd experience if coffee grounds were an obvious sign of evil.


Now remember the Alien: Covenant reference.

Many plants protect their children with spiny cased shells that are poisonous.

Or that flower...

Lots of corpse flowers bloomed in 2016 and nobody knows why BBC, Jan 2017


However, @ OP.

Major disruptor no-one is talking about is simple. In 2050 there are no more Boomers (and scuttle butt info is that scions of Industry / Media like Murdoch junior got visited by some serious no-fucking-joke "Ghosts of Christ's Past" and are more willing to not be such rampant dicks. Could be a myth though).



Quit playing.

I fulfilled your prophesy wank fantasy by a week or so. If you're tawdry enough you just made a few million shorting an imaginary currency. Which, no doubt, will flux more. But historic highs and 19% crash is kinda fun.

Spit it out. (Pro-tip: you never want to owe الجن, we're making the price a really easy shift. Names, and not even your own).


Pigeon @ 208 said: This, of course, is the explanation why aliens use flying saucers.

Remember, flying saucers are atmospheric craft, they don't travel in the space between the worlds, they follow the Geometric from world to world. People can also walk the Geometric. I refer you to the works of Andre Norton, China Mieville, and of course K-PAX.


This is probably what a modern military crossbow would look like

Note the size, force applied to the bolt is a function of both the draw weight and the length of the limbs. One of the reasons why crossbows typically had high draw weights is the limbs are significantly shorter then bows so they struggled to achieve the same energy transfer


And Raymond E. Feist's Magician with the Hall of Worlds.

Ahh. Valheru. You're not fucking a Cat, you're fucking a Dragon.


Be Faster. Things are going to speed up soon, you need to think quicker.


Major disruptor no-one is talking about is simple.

Demographics is the "simple" disruptor I'm thinking about, and the fastest growing demographic in the U.S. is "mixed," currently at 17 percent. The way it works in my family is this: I went to the family reunion a couple years ago. I discovered that one of my cousins has married a very nice (and very handsome) Black man. They now have two daughters, so I now have three Black people for whom I bear some kind of family responsibility.

The Gomez Addams quote from the first movie comes to mind!


Breeding between tribal affiliates is about 200k years old.

Monarchy is based on it.

THE SUN is ranting about Libyan forces (BEEEEHGHAZIIII - actually getting it right this time, it's where all the weapon shipments / SAS trainers were based. OOOPS)

Who cares?

In 30 years time you just kicked off genocide on a massive scale.



Names. You don't want to play? Then never demand a demonstrable action.

/Contract Fulfilled.


(((And Mr Troutwaxer: you're very close to fumbling yourself into a category named: "Enemy". Tread softly, these are our Dreams)))


"...not unless you think that Russia isn't a "big player"."

Sorry, my mistake. I wasn't aware of those. Thanks!


Anyhow, bored.

2050: there will be no H.S.S. left.[1]

I've given you the clues and resources to stop it, but... Meh.

Too slow, too predictable, too locked into little tribal "tee-hee, we're the Eloi ones" to develop.

And, Mr Troutwaxer: This is not a joke nor is it a funny satirical play.

Tired of your species.

[1] This is not what you think it means: remember the Neanderthals.[2]

[2] And no, those pathetic little remnants sucking on the hierarchy of power: you're fucked too[3]

[3] Literally: Oh fuck it - if you're not going to even respect our minor trades and so on, fuck off. H.S.S. ...

Gully Foyle is my name
And Terra is my nation
Deep space is my dwelling place
And death's my destination.

You chose... unwisely.


Another note re: OP's predictions:

A number of people have questioned whether a fractured internet with firewalls etc. is plausible, primarily for technical reasons.

It's a pretty common piece of Internet lore that censorship is impossible. "The internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it." For example Ro67 suggested a technical fix in #128. This whole idea of technically-enforced freedom is silly.

The difficulty in censoring things on the internet historically has little to do with technical issues: for a government, it's quite easy to block any site you don't like, or block all sites and then whitelist a few you do like. More powerful governments have little trouble demanding that large companies moderate their bits of the internet to the government's specifications.

The real problem is all about the balance between business needs and authoritarianism. It's no good to brutally censor your country's internet if it makes trade dry up and loses jobs, keeps people from finding information they need to work, prevents business travelers from connecting to the home office, and so forth. Basically as usual it's all really about soft power, and the best form of censorship is self-censorship based on fear.

There won't be (m)any borders where it's hard to get information across if you're technically savvy, a hacker, etc. However, people doing so will know that they run great personal risk, need to worry about operational security, and have to watch their backs.

So in other words I think this part is right on.



How about the geopolitical implications of climate change for real. This is my spin on Monbiot, although in military planning it's been around for years in various guises. Bottom line this future is pretty grim.

By the 2050's the Indus Waters Treaty which mediates Pakistani and Indian use of the waters that fall from the Himalaya's is nearing break point. The final straw that breaks the treaties back is a diplomatic stoush that erupts over India's 'unilateral' redirection of water away form Pakistan. Normally this would be an ambassadors at 20 paces and the World Bank stepping in type issue but in an environment of increasing human demand, decreasing melt supply from the Himalayan icepack (the valley glaciers are retreating so fast by 2050 that you can see the retreat on a daily basis) this is very, very serious. So serious in fact that the Pakistani civil government, never the most stable of entities, falls to a military junta of young, radical military/intelligence officers. The putsch is a clean house affair with any older 'wiser' heads being removed, literally. Of course gaining power the young colonel's are faced with the exact same problem that the civilian powers did. So what to do? In the absence of moderating counsel the answer is to launch a series of deep cross border raids into Indian territory to disrupt India's water harvesting infrastructure, then hope to run to the UN for a brokered cease fire and a renegotiation of the treaty. Needless to say this doesn't go as planned, and the situation escalates into a series of broad ground offensives with India forces finally crossing into Pakistan chasing routed Pakistani units. Well someone panics on the Pakistani side and a tactical nuke gets used. India responds in kind counterforce targeting Pakistani major air bases likely hoping to catch the bombers on the ground. Unfortunately those bases are also close to major conurb/route infrastructure nodes (i.e. cities) and the whole thing goes counter value. After three weeks of hostilities (fighting the major's, captain's, corporal's war) the war grinds to a halt with a UN ceasefire enforced by threat, 100s of millions dead and dying, both nations in irradiated ruins and the Eastern neighbours choking on a lethal fallout plume (China, is not amused). Iran lets out a long shaky sigh... and everyone wonders, 'now what'?


And I thought we were having a civil conversation. Never mind then.


That's in the right neighborhood. I doubt it will play out exactly that way because predicting the future is never accurate twenty years out, but it's about what I'd expect.

I'm reminded of the bit in "Doctor Stranglove" where the general says, "I'm not saying we won't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops. Uh, depending on the breaks."


A tank, its crew, and its training is more expensive than a single person carrying a briefcase with a couple of million in cash; and arguably less effective.
Not new:
It is claimed that Philip of Macedon said that "I do not need to besiege a city, if I can get one old man, a donkey & the donkey's load of Gold inside its' gates"


In other words, this is Putin's Spanish Civil war, to try out new equipment & methods & groupings of equipment/tactics, before whatever the big one is going to be?
I do hope not.
And how does this square with Russia's declining demographic & economiuc power?
[ Or is this - shades of the run-up to WW I, as narrowing gap in which a "successful" military adventure ( AKA "A short, victorious War" ) be fitted?
If so, that is very dangerous indeed. ]


You don't know your English Lit, do you?

I KEEP six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,
For I am busy then,
As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,
For they are hungry men.
But different folk have different views;
I know a person small—
She keeps ten million serving-men,
Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,
From the second she opens her eyes—
One million Hows, two million Wheres,
And seven million Whys!


Man-portable version of the very deadly late-Greek & later-Roman "artillery" piece the Palintonon
See also, J E Gordon "Structures"


In such a conflict.
India would be very, very badly damaged & crippled for many years.
Pak would be wiped "clean" - no survivors at all, except in mountain valleys, like Swat.

As you suggest, it would require hothead junior officers in charge to do such an insane thing, but, such things do happen.
Not good.


YOU were.
The Seagull has erupted again, I note.
11 posts between 212 & 232, at least 2 pathetic attempts to get me to rise, using my name & sexual suggestions & virtually no factual content, ( I gave you clues - but no facts, or anything directly checkable - how convenient! ) plus all the usual insults.


You know, far be it from me to play peacemaker (I mean, I'm barely more than a lurker here and we've never met), but have you considered, you know, just turning the other cheek as it were where a certain person is involved?

I mean, seriously. She often says things that are enigmatic, obfuscated, or just using cultural references you're not familiar with. Personally, I've seen many occasions where she's said things which seemed clear to me, but obviously were not clear to you. On other occasions I've had no idea what she's talking about, but other people seemed to understand. I'm sure on some occasions nobody but her understood the stylized prose she offered. Regardless, what she says is often very interesting.

Regarding insults: I've seen a number of occasions where you've clearly insulted her, too. Plus, the insulting words she offers are usually (but not always) impersonal. There's clearly some personal trolling going on now and again, yes. But ultimately, what's really worth getting upset about here?

Sure, she's using some goofy prose on the internet and sometimes it's annoying and pokes at you... but she seems to mean well, and has a different point of view. Personally I'd rather learn from an odd person than stagnate with someone just like me.


Rather than let OP's vision of the future disappear under the usual topics, let me change the subject slightly: "Green cities of vertical farms"

Green roofs are great in various ways, but what about this whole vertical farm idea?

I'll admit, the idea seems ludicrous to me at first glance. How would it make sense to switch away from practically uncountable fields growing in free sunlight, which can be farmed successfully using simple tools?

The proponents of these things seem to imagine farming skyscrapers, which is even more bizarre. Large industrial facilities like warehouses, factories, big department stores, really anything that requires a lot of floor space and isn't built around people and status are invariably huge one-story buildings constructed in commercial districts on the outskirts of cities.

But OK, let's set aside the sillier aspects (as actual real-world versions seem to display) and stipulate that the vertical bit just involves some form of stacking and maybe a stepladder for some of the farm work. Does this make any sense at all?

A bit of quick Googling indicated that this is actually a profitable industry in a few instances already, apparently growing herbs and lettuce for boutique customers concerned with the freshest possible produce. However, this is nothing like a replacement for actual staple crops. The power requirements alone to light enough of these to make a dent would seem to be absurd, not to mention the buildings themselves, the water, and so on.

On the other hand, the whole idea resembles rebuilding Earth to resemble a space colony. Forget the environment, it doesn't matter! Just move into a self-contained arcology and live completely independent of the natural world, unfazed by the complexities of climate and all that icky old fashioned dirt stuff! It has a Sci-Fi appeal of sorts.

So how about it? Is this a silly bit of fanciful thinking that's only suitable for a few cash crops, or does it turn out we were really better off without that pesky biosphere anyway?


Are you having fun trying to wind me up?
I have now, finally, learnt not to react to "her" with corresponding insults & you plainly have not noticed, yet.
"She" says things that just might, occasionally contain tiny grains of truth, but life's too short to try to find them in all the rubbish ( stronger word deleted here )
Regardless, what she says is often very interesting.
Perhaps you can find something, together with an translation into English, that the rest of us can understand - think of it as a challenge!

Oh yes: but she seems to mean well SCREAM - like christians, you mean? Or any other religious believer for that matter?


Tend to agree.
Just pumping the water up the buildings, to trickle it down to water the crops is going to take a lot of energy, unless you have a consistently high enough & reliable enough rainfall.
Certainly aint going to work in London - average rainfall 55mm a year, here ....
And what crops are you going to grow on the N faces of such buildings?


People have been saying that the latter will replace the former, for decades. Tanks and AH still exist, though.

Yes, and no-one who can afford tanks and AH has yet fought and lost a war where the "other lot" were armed with drones etc. Practical working of the law of military conservatism for the case (Note small "c" folks).


Hint - a sustained civil conversation with the Seagull in which you are not patronised and/or insulted appears to be impossible. Hence why so many of us ignore her completely.


May I refer you to my post #248?


"Are you having fun trying to wind me up?"

I'm really not. You seemed unhappy: I offered some perspective. It's meant in good faith.

That said: "I have now, finally, learnt not to react to "her" with corresponding insults"

Really? Perhaps it's not clear, but policing someone's gender is akin to questioning their humanity, and is quite a bad look. It's considered particularly insulting these days, given the current political climate.

Nicknames and personas and the like mean that identity can be fluid on the Internet, but that tends to give it the appearance of doxing, which is also a bad look.

I think people would probably prefer to read about 2050 and farms and drones and such, so I'll just leave it at that.

p.s. I read many interesting things about the history of trains recently due to something you said about track pans. Many thanks!


Maybe an answer in search of a question?

The question being what is the shape of civil infrastructure required to bring a large chunk of the worlds population through the step change (in geological terms) of the Anthropocene leading edge. Are hyper compresssed cities the solution? If so what shape? Fuller domes? Arcologies? Vertical forest? Or something else?


Yes, and no-one who can afford tanks and AH has yet fought and lost a war where the "other lot" were armed with drones etc. Practical working of the law of military conservatism for the case

More like "pragmatic working in the face of snake-oil salesmen"... First-world militaries are making extensive use of drones - down to hand-launched drones for platoon / company ops in Afghanistan.

They've been trialling this stuff for a decade or more - remember the MoD Grand Challenge?

So: If you've got a better idea about how to provide protected cross-country mobility, and protected anti-armour ability, at short notice, at all times of day and night, in all weathers, in a hostile EW environment, on a dispersed battlefield, then do tell. Because for the next decade or two, the likely solutions involve something very much like "a tank" in a combined-arms team with something very much like "an attack helicopter".


I think by the time we get to 2050 China will have completed its move through being a middle-income country to being a rich country (or it won't have which will be interesting in different ways). I expect the Indians will sort out whatever is hampering them and a bunch of other large countries will be following along in the wake of those two. Countries like Tanzania and the Ivory Coast are growing very rapidly. I think if that trend continues it drives growth in places like Latin America.

I think by 2050 we have a situation where more than half the global population lives in a country which is rich or is a middle-income country moving to rich. Three quarters of people will live in big cities.

I think this has some interesting effects.

With more rich countries there are more well funded universities and R&D focused firms so the rate of routine innovation improves and more people are looking for breakthrough technologies.

We have a much more genuinely multi-polar global political structure and a more multi-polar culture.

The social and political implications are interesting. I think we in the West are used to other countries being poor and us being rich. There's a bit of a change in head space required when we aren't special any more. The cultural effect of lots of other countries being able to produce the same volume of music and film and literature and ship it around the world on a equal footing will be interesting.

Small wars in Africa become even rarer and are a problem for the African Union.

A different pattern of economic migration. More migration from one (poorer) African country to another (richer). Probably a slowed rate of migration from Latin America to the USA. Probably a much slower rate of migration from rural to urban areas but a much more urban global culture. Big, rich cities all over the world.

By 2050 we've probably reached the point where we have a population column everywhere rather than some countries with a pyramid and some with a column.

Oh, and the baby boomers will all be dead so we won't have to watch the Great Escape any more or pretend that Sgt Pepper is the greatest album ever.


"Remember the MoD Grand Challenge" - No, but I was involved in "Unmanned Warrior" (Google it).


When I first heard about vertical farming I was pretty excited about it and read up on it a bit.

In terms of its use in urban environments I think the economics struggle a bit. The premium for the land in a city seems to outweigh the saving in transportation costs given that you can get most of the other benefits of vertical farming in rural area. So we might see vertical farming but I think not as much in the cities as proponents of vertical farming think.


The first use of drones (by both sides, I think) was probably the Siege of Paris in 1871 when observation balloons were used to monitor troop movements and direct artillery fire onto targets.

Oh, you meant *unmanned* drones? Why would the presence or absence of a human being on board make much of a difference to the functionality of an aerial observation platform other than in terms of cost, size and expendability? Demanning such a platform has a lot of technical benefits but it doesn't obviate the effectiveness of previous applications of the principle of getting above the enemy and looking down at what they're doing and communicating that in near-real-time to other forces.


Just pumping the water up the buildings, to trickle it down to water the crops is going to take a lot of energy, unless you have a consistently high enough & reliable enough rainfall.
Certainly aint going to work in London - average rainfall 55mm a year, here ....
And what crops are you going to grow on the N faces of such buildings?

Doesn't work like that all.

Documentary below will give a good overview of things.

vertical farming

Most interviews are in english so you should be able to follow what's going on.


I have an Unmanned Warrior t-shirt.


". . . a grizzly solution to overpopulation."

Sounds like a Far Side cartoon to me.


Didn't need to - noticed it in passing :)

Have fun with the Piranha Midges of the West Highlands?


Yes, the enthusiasm for growing crops indoors (come on, let's call it what it is) that keeps showing up seems thoroughly bizarre to me.

After all, we know how it goes already, since lots of people do it on a clandestine basis, the crop in question being weed. It uses shit loads of electricity to run the lights. It's only worth doing at all because of the artificial situation created by the repressive laws around weed (and because being in breach of those laws anyway means people no longer care about breaching the much less severe laws about bypassing electricity meters), and because the mass of weed people consume is orders of magnitude less than the mass of food.

If it was done on a scale to produce hundredweights of usable plant material (food) per year for everyone, instead of just a few ounces per year for people who smoke weed, the amount of electricity used would be completely bloody ridiculous. Where is it all going to come from? Covering with solar cells a bare minimum of ten times the land area (allowing optimistically for two sets of conversion losses, and assuming that every day will be beautiful and sunny) currently used for agriculture? We haven't got the land. A quick search pulls up the approximate figure that 40% or so of the world's land area is used for agriculture. We'd need four more planets just to act as collectors. It's just silly.

People try and handwave their way around this or just ignore it, but that doesn't count as a solution to the problem. It just blatantly can't possibly work unless most of the population of the planet stops eating.


OK, what does "deep diving" signify? Only definitions I can find are some obscure babble of business jargon which appears to translate to micromanagement or something of the kind, and the literal one of submerging oneself a long way below the surface of the water. Pigeons do like water, and occasionally will even go for a swim, but complete submersion is a bit further than they're happy with.


Have fun with the Piranha Midges of the West Highlands?

You mean the provisional wing of the Scottish Liberation Army? ;-)

More seriously, my point was that I am sort of up to speed with UAV systems (sea surface and underwater as well as airborne).


Wikipedia only uses the literal one. I'd ignore anything that appears to "management speak" unless playing "buzzword bingo" in a teleconference.

Actually, assuming that the Seagull is writing in management speak explains a lot!


Apologies - I'd misread your post as one disagreeing with me rather than agreeing with me, i.e. criticising the Army for failing to realise that drones is k3wl and will !!swarm yr tanks n stuff!!

What's your take on the length of time until unmanned surface [1] platforms at sea? [2]

[1] Mobile ones - after all, sonobuoys have been around for decades, and if you include "subsurface" then mines and homing torpedos have been around for even longer

[2] And will we then see "the age of the manned warship is over" assertions from the fanbois?


Drones work for recce; I'm less convinced about them as a replacement for boots and tracks on the ground or vessels in the sea in an actual battle battle, partly because they carry relatively limited amounts of ammo and have to pull much further off the battlefront to resupply. Predators do demonstrate that they make an at least partial replacement for "sabotage by elite special forces" well behind enemy lines though.


{re-reads Para 1}
Actually, I think I owe you an apology too; I could and should have put it more clearly that I didn't know the specific trial programme you cited, but did have experience from more recent ones.


Oy, lad, I'll be 92 and fully intend to be around. Get off my lawn!


Pigeons do like water, and occasionally will even go for a swim, but complete submersion is a bit further than they're happy with.
I was assuming a conflation with (commenter) gasdive.
Anyway, there are subjects that Many-Named has suggested not discussing or asking questions about so I mostly don't.


I am sure she will reward you handsomely for your obedience.


Cornerways nursery to replace tomatoes with cannabis

New deal will see British Sugar-owned horticulture business supply cannabis to pharmaceutical sector to treat child epilepsy.

It will be grown under contract for British drugs company GW Phamaceuticals, with production set to begin in 2017. Tomato production at Cornerways’ Wissington nursery will be phased out from November of this year, after all existing supply commitments for tomatoes are fulfilled.


Something to consider - specialization for the kinds of technologies being mentioned require an ever broadening base of infrastructure capacities, which can only occur with an increasing population and a growing economy.

I think thirty years' hence we will have problems with mass starvation, mass migrations, massive demographic imbalances (just look at MENA now) and nothing to fall back on since technology only auto-regresses catastrophically (for example, we can't go back to steam power because the infrastructure that supported it no longer exists).


A few things (even though, having been at Balticon all weekend, I've barely skimmed 1/3rd of the posts): first, speaking as a sysadmin and someone who's been online since late '91... remember that before there was the Internet as we have known it for 20+ years, with the Web, there was and still is the Net: usenet is still there. National firewalls? Gee, so you're freedom-loving ISP sets up a spin-off subsidiary right near the border... and their massive phone bank (MPB, I've just invented the acronym) calls their partner on the other side of the border, right near the border. And each stores, for paid users, ALL THE REST of the Web. And then there are the Criminals, using drones to go over the borders, or satellites, or the ones using ground drones to dig holes to pull fibre from farm to farm under the border....

Remember: the original specs for the Net, and IP, included the one that if 75% of all nodes between thee and me were glowing radioactive dust, if there was any way to get packets through, they would.

Second: anarchism not so much, says the guy who, two or three times in his life, been a card-carrying member of the IWW. Since the US has smashed unions, the only protection from Big Boss is the government.... And given folks reaction last year to Bernie.... Note that until last year, I've been saying for a while that what 90% of USans knew of socialism was *identical* to what Good Germans knew of Jews in the late 30's, and I am NOT exaggerating.

At any rate, the neofascists (and neoConfederates) are now outed, and the euphemisms of Nixon and Reagan don't work anymore. And it is not good for them that they're being led by utter and complete losers, who can't even get dates (google MGTOW). Without the US and rich and corporate money helping set up dictatorships and supporting right-wing parties around the world, I agree - socialism will come back, and I think with a vengence.

Finally, medicine: I, personally, am aware of some of all that's going on in biomedical and bioscientific research (US federal contractor, and I do not speak for my company, the US fed agency I'm at, nor, as my late wife had it, the view out my window (which I don't have)). 30, 35 years from now? NEW DISEASE, or old one. Pop sambles in the $20k box, run it for a day or so, and we'll have the DNA for a countermeasure, run by the box as a printer is from a server now, and production on demand will be genuinely effective (as opposed to Just (NOT!) In Time stocking is now).

Will some multinationals be headquartered in countries that they effectively own? Absolutely, and...hmmm, I've just had an idea for a story of my own, with such countries trying in international courts to penalize democratic (socialist) countries whose intel folks are really doing J. Bond to them....)



Oops, forgot war... First, you're going to have the first line be *all* robots. The expensive and most powerful will be drones, remote controlled, and the rest, the grunt replacements, will be self-controlled. (Oh, gee, it's a child, but it's wearing the wrong colors *zaps* 5 yr old).

But I do think there will be REAL reluctance to armies going into cities. We've seen what happens in Iraq and Syria... and the west, or the east, will have a LOT more technological defenses (ah, self-run warbot? You've been turned. Or fried. Or frozen....)

Humans will be second or third wave, with their own bots (that's almost here now). Active measures to disable or turn anything computer controlled will be all over the battlefield.

And watch out that your 8 yr old doesn't put that USB key with the Disney character on it in your computer (or tv, or refrigerator).



You wrote:
And refer you to a light dose of fusion power as another technology that's been "10 years away" for all my adult life too.

That statement is *so* wrong. It's been 30 years, not 10.



W.R.T. reliable enough rain:

How much of the unreliability is total/season, and how much is the same amount getting clumped into worse storms separated by longer dry spells?

Tankage can't help when total throughput is too low, but can cover a multitude of sins regarding fluctuating inputs or outputs.


Rain can be made. I do not here mean cloudseeding, I mean that forests cause rain. Geoengineering will be a big thing going forward, and by that I do not mean crude measures like sulfur injections into the high atmosphere, but hydrology managment via desalination, strategic plantings and soil creation. By the coast, you have wast mixed plantings heavy on the fruit and nut trees. If those are short on water, you make them more water. The trees breathe a bunch of that moisture into the air, transporting it inland. Inland has plantations. If inland doesnt have the soil for those plantings, you make the soil. Terra petra is very neat. This keeps the water from just running back to the sea, and before you know it, Ayers rock is in the middle of a forest and some smartass is bringing back the Diprotodon optatum.


Insufficient data on rainfall patterns, how we store, and where.

For example, the Aswan dam helped Egypt for a while, but I now understand that Lake Nasser is silting up.

OTOH the same issue has not affected the Scottish hydro dams where the rain is "less seasonal", and the inflows less silty.

But damming the Mississippi would conflate both issues a bit. It's a naturally silty river, but with less dramatic (presently) seasonal variation in rainfall than the sources of the Nile have.


Passive solar would be a nice touch, but isn't needed.

Once Amazon completes its decimation of retail I think this will really take off as investors move in to these large empty spaces looking for ways to utilize them. Reduces transportation needs as it is locally grown - but energy expensive and you still need a source of water...


Thomas Jørgensen noted: "Rain can be made. I do not here mean cloudseeding, I mean that forests cause rain."

(Dons forest ecologist hat:) Yes and no. This is true of all vegetation, not just forests, but it's complicated. TL, DR version: plants transpire water, but their canopies (shading, wind shadows) also affect how much water gets cooked out of the soil by the sun or pulled away by the wind. (For the long version, look up "evapotranspiration".)

The real problem is that we have no control over where that moisture finally falls out of the air. For example, one of my authors has demonstrated a long-term drying trend in western Canada that is causing much more moisture to be dumped here in the east. I haven't had to water my lawn for most of the past 6 or 7 summers, unlike in previous years. Doesn't do western lands much good though.


Bad news about AI: there was just a report in the last week or two showing that it was showing biases based on the programmers' (and their managers) biases.


I know I've seen this idea in several stories, that the AIs can't explain how the star drive works to humans.

I have issues with that. For one... so, some Amazonian forest dweller... or a peasant from outside Ur of the Chaldeas, could never understand Relativity or quantum theory? I have serious doubts about that.

Second... elegant theories can be explained. Consider Einstein's book for non-science majors on Relativity. Now you're telling me that an AI smart enough to invent an FTL drive can't find a way to explain it to the humans who *invented* the AI?


Agreed. I finally got tired of it and downloaded the Plonking extension and am now killfiling her.


'Bout them robot peasants... they need to be a lot better built. Yes, on the one hand, you'd need a huge number of humans to replace modern harvesters. On the other... I've read that modern harvesters *miss* between 15% and 20% of the entire crop, and there are human gleaners who are quite happy....


If I used both sides of my fences and the wall of my house, I'd come close to tripling my available area, and wouldn't need anything other than a house to water it. The real value is for folks farming their backyards!


Quantum theory and relativity were at least invented by humans (well, the descriptions of them were, not so much the underlying phenomena), so are inevitably something that humans even can understand; it's more a matter of education.

The AI also may itself work in a profoundly unintuitive way, cf the experiment where a genetic algorithm produced an uttery nonsensical circuit that nonetheless worked. A few generations of that might produce a machine with an utterly alien thought process. Or it might just not be equipped to produce an explanation; humans aren't able to explain a lot of things they do either!


YOU are perfectly entitled to eat that crap, Certified Human Chow. I prefer something I'd *like* to put in my mouth....


Ah, yes, 3-D printers.... May I point out that industrial 3-D printers are *significantly* different that consumer-grade... and at least an order of magnitude more expensive. And I expect that to continue to be true. Consider, at this late date, the difference in price between a consumer laptop, a business-class laptop... and a server.

Do you really think that consumer-grade 3-D printers will a) handle the materials needed to print weapons to spec? Printing parts for model railroad cars or buildings, yes. Something like weapons?

Besides, you can have 10 people turning out 10 weapons using things from hardware stores a lot faster than your printer can print one.

And about AK-47's... the reason they're the weapon of choice, as I understand it, is that the M-16 has *seriously* high spec tolerances... and that was why the grunts *hated* them in 'Nam: dust, mud, and they jam. The AK-47, I understand, was nowhere near as sensitive.


Video of him firing off 4 mags from it on full auto, or it doesn't actually work!


whitroth noted: "I have issues with that. For one... so, some Amazonian forest dweller... could never understand Relativity or quantum theory? I have serious doubts about that."

Well, to put that in perspective, most physicists will admit (on or off the record) that they don't really understand quantum mech -- though they can manipulate the equations fluently. The dwelling of the physicist seems irrelevant here. *G*

It's important to distinguish between truly understanding something (grokking it in fullness!) and merely being able to consider it by analogy. I understand the basics of both relativity and quantum mech by analogy; the mathematics and deep meaning have long since slipped from my grasp, and it's not clear I could regain that understanding at this point without a lot of brain-sweat and assistance from experts.

whitroth: "Second... elegant theories can be explained. Consider Einstein's book for non-science majors on Relativity. Now you're telling me that an AI smart enough to invent an FTL drive can't find a way to explain it to the humans who *invented* the AI?"

Sadly, there are physical limitations imposed by our neurological hardware, and they are much lower limits than most of us would like. I see this all the time in the science I edit. For example, most of us can grasp the simultaneous relationships among three variables (i.e., three factors that interact in different ways to produce a change in some 4th variable) -- usually with visual aids such as 3D response surfaces and sequential animations. (That is, you can create a matrix of graphs that show the effects of variations in one pair of variables with the 3rd variable held constant in a series of horizontal images and the effects of variations in the other pair of variables with the third variable held constant in a series of vertical images; by moving horizontally or vertically within the matrix, you can see how the relationships change.) That's about my limit.

Real rocket scientists (emphatically not me) can manage 4 or maybe even 5 simultaneous variables. You can use nomograms for these higher dimensions, but they're more useful as a calculation tool than as a tool for understanding the relationships. Higher dimensions? Fuggedaboudit. Imagine an AI trying to get us to understand 10-dimensional space time! There are other severe cognitive limitations that depend on different aspects of our hardware, such as Miller's infamous rough limit of ca. 7 items for short-term/working memory*.


Thus, I find it entirely plausible that an AI, which would presumably have different (hopefully higher) limits imposed by its hardware, would be incapable of explaining some things to us. Provide an understanding by analogy? Sure! Provide a visceral grokking? Possibly not.


And about AK-47's... the reason they're the weapon of choice, as I understand it

They aren't. Or at least, they're fine if you want a modern equivalent to a STEN, for a mass conscript army that won't get much time to train their skill-at-arms.

They aren't that accurate. That tends to mean that they're more useful in the attack, i.e. if you're planning on closing with your outnumbered enemy as quickly as possible. If you want something for use in defensive operations, you're looking for something with a greater accurate range.

Several western conscript armies took it away and made it workable; progressing from the Finns with the Valmet, the Israelis with the Galil, and then the South Africans with the R4/R5 - but most have changed away from it since.


Unless you "see it coming" & start to prepare, that is .....
( Maybe )


Minor nit - he's made an AKM, not an AK-47; they're different...

I'll take almost any excuse to link to someone building an AK-47 from a kit, a barrel blank and a shovel.

True, and a rather fun link, but not really fair.

Firstly, the barrel is the difficult bit to make. Rifling lathes are heavy and expensive; hammer-forging machinery is much more expensive. Try and hand-make a barrel, and get it wrong, and the firer gets a face full of metal [1].

Secondly, he's got a chamber reamer. Again, this is a crucial tool in rifle manufacture; it's got to fit the profile of the ammunition exactly. Get the chambering wrong, see [1] above.

Thirdly, he's got a ready-made set of working parts from his donor rifle. The bolt, gas parts, and springs are all far from simple to make.

Finally, he hasn't made a magazine. This was apparently the problem for the various Northern Ireland terrorist attempts at arms-manufacture-using-workshops (yes, it's been tried, and no, it was largely unsuccessful); the magazine is a critical piece of gear - get it wrong, and you've got a rifle that doesn't feed properly. It's vitally important that your gun doesn't go bang when you don't want it to; it's even more important that it does go bang when you do...


Contra to that there is this...
showing that it won't work take your pick?


Yersssss .....
My father said that making explosives was very easy, but making ( in modern terms) predictable, controllable explosives that performed to order & only to order was a whole lot harder.
Given that he spent 1941-45 making & testing explosives, he knew about it ....


Don't worry.

Message was received. You can check the time stamps to see if the message was faster than a certified NSA / CIA 'hackor patriot' named Jester. Hint: it was. Breaking News!

Following Host's twitter is something he'd prefer everyone did, you can see the networks in action.


I mean, seriously. She often says things that are enigmatic, obfuscated, or just using cultural references you're not familiar with. Personally, I've seen many occasions where she's said things which seemed clear to me, but obviously were not clear to you. On other occasions I've had no idea what she's talking about, but other people seemed to understand. I'm sure on some occasions nobody but her understood the stylized prose she offered. Regardless, what she says is often very interesting.

Since I touched upon the FAO's 2015 report, here's something from 2014:

Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues Scientific American (via Thomson Reuters Foundation), 2014.

add to this three factors:

#1 Transport nutrition costs in terms of degredation
#2 Raised CO2 levels = less nutrition levels (zinc etc gets leeched out; I can dig out the science if you'd like)
#3 Finally, Science weighs in: Moms Exposed To Monsanto Weed Killer Means Bad Outcomes For Babies Huffpost, 4th April, 2017 [Note: not interested, it's just a sign of a snow-ball effect in motion]

Realistically, 60 years (2050) is optimistic, due to other factors.



Vertical farms can't feed 7 (or 10 by then) billion people. It's Ape Mind Scale Limitations kicking in.


And I thought we were having a civil conversation. Never mind then.

No, you were playing Meta2 levels of nonsense when there was a M3 and M4 on the table and if you were the "honest player" you presented yourself as, you'd admit that.

A Trade for a Trade has been a long standing rule of mine, you know that, and were attempting to be clever.

Male Minds: get all huffy and ego driven, never consider just how much insults they're committing while "remaining polite".

Hmm. Familiar Pattern.


FAO stating that 33% of all soils are degraded or worse is not a good sign.

Not sure your Minds can do the scales involved. c.f. Oceans, corals and dead zones.

Great Barrier Reef 2050 plan no longer achievable due to climate change, experts say Guardian, 24th May, 2017

Sky-high carbon tax needed to avoid climate catastrophe, say experts Guardian, 29th May, 2017


Google's GO 'AI' has been taken out of public usage; China's 10 major data-centres are showing huge power draws and so on and so forth.

In about a week or so Trump is going to break the Paris agreement (all that Duterte stuff) and dump the world into a fucking crab bucket.

While Men are still worried about personal pride and Ego.

That's what all the screaming is about.


Something's coming. It might break the internet. Molly McKew, Twitter, 30th May, 2017.

Yes dear, we know.

You manifestly underestimate the #WildHunt though.


The entire gun-making discussion is pointless. The world is littered with rifles and ammo, and both have no meaningful expiration date if stored correctly, which means no soldier or militia member is ever going to have to make a gun. Guns are things you borrow from uncle Bob the deer hunter.
The more relevant uses for rapid-prototyping kit is that it makes possible in the way of ancillary kit. And traps.

.. And modifications to your other robots. I just had a really frightening vision of Lévée en mass in a society that has gone all in on agricultural, mining and ect bots. Noone is going to build an army of fifty million warbots. But if bots are what you use for agriculture, well, then you probably do have 50 mil of them, and a production capacity for making more on an appropriate scale..


So far as people getting equations that don't make sense, I first heard about it on Radiolab ( The basic problem they talk about is that there's a bunch of data, the computer derives the relationships among the variables, but the resulting equation makes no biological sense to the researcher, even though it accurately predicts the response variable he was looking at. There's a bit more to the story, but you'll have to google for it.

I suspect that this problem is actually quite widespread, it's just that it's ignored, because most times when a curve-fitting algorithm generates something that "makes no sense," it's discarded as junk output, rather than investigated. The problem is that some of that junk turns out to be useful.

So far as quantum mechanics goes, what does "understanding it" mean? The many worlds interpretation? The Copenhagen interpretation? Platonia? We can plug numbers into equations and get accurate results, but we know that the equations that generate those results are incomplete (they don't deal with time or gravity) so in a sense they're both derived and don't describe some underlying fundamental reality, which either has or generates as an emergent property time and gravity.

Now I'm not going woo-woo here, but simply pointing out that "understanding," for humans, is more than a curve fitting exercise. It's about making mental models. I'm also suggesting that, for all we know, when we plug a bunch of data from quantum experiments, the LHC, and various cosmological studies into some next generation genetic algorithm generator, it may spit out The Equation That Predicts It All, we *might* (but almost certainly won't) be able to use that to, build a star drive, and we might (much more likely) not understand it in a philosophical or intuitive way at all. If we've had so much trouble intuiting the underlying causes of quantum weirdness (multiple worlds, platonia, or The Observer), why should we assume that the equations unifying quantum mechanics and relativity are any more understandable to humans?

That's more what I'm thinking about. It's not an AI condescendingly telling us small-brained humans that we're too puny to understand, it's a totally non-sentient genetic algorithm generator fitting curves and coughing out an equation that's incredibly useful but painfully non-intuitive. Considering the amount of profanity that would accompany the release and use of such an equation, I think labeling it blasphemous is warranted, if melodramatic.

That's just an easy example. I suspect that the equations explaining convergent evolution within DNA are equally blasphemous, given that they would have to arise from complex folding issues in both DNA and proteins. We might be able to generate predictive models, but I'm pretty sure we wouldn't be able to understand the math they output. Or we could talk about patterns in ecology, which I've sworn at any number of times. You can demonstrate both that plant communities physically exist and that they do not exist, and people have been fighting over that one for 100 years. Presumably most fields have similar mathematical blasphemies.


Are we there again? We're heading toward Daniel Keyes Moran's world (Emerald Eyes, The Long Run) wherein the UN, led by France, invades the US and takes it over to save the world. Those good ol' cyberpunk books are long out of print and out of date, of course, and don't do say anything about climate change, more's the pity.

The bigger problem with caterwauling about how We're All Doomed is that a bunch of chuckle heads, many of whom voted for the current Republican Administration, think they've got a special stamped E-Ticket that'll send them to the right hand of good ol' Jaysus when he comes again, which they hope will be real soon, so they won't have to watch their home prices go down or grow old first. Yes, I'm mocking self-labeled Christians, but there's still a bunch of people that want The Apocalypse t come so they won't have to go to church any more, and they're thrilled that we're all gonna die. Hell, I know some lefties who've stopped trying to prepare for any oncoming disaster for the analogous reasons. I'm kind of in that boat myself.

If you want to scare people like this, don't tell them that they're going to die.

Tell them that they're going live with the mess that they made, as are their children. It's a much more potent message.


Tell them that they're going live with the mess that they made, as are their children. It's a much more potent message.

We did. You missed a post where the new message is: "The Apocalypse already happened". i.e. When faced with No Rapture, No Jesus #2 (well, she's an alcoholic psychopath, apparently) and no "Tunnels of Light" (collapsed with the weight of a Neutron star collapsing into itself).

Well: they suddenly chose the Dark. Shock and Awe only works in the Movies, honey-bun.

"Holding your hand into the Fermi Paradox".

Trust me. Bent Heaven and Hell to get that message across.

The bigger problem with caterwauling about how We're All Doomed

No, you're not getting it. Physics, Nature and the Quantum Bend doesn't care.

There's some rather nasty little beasties out there who will soon[tm] have all "restraining Law & Order" marked to the 0 bit.

Trump is acting like a petulant child not because he doesn't understand, but because he knows things are in motion. (And no, not impeachment, Heavy Messing Crew[tm] type motions).


You killed the Whales.


If you want to get more into the mindset, G_D provided rainbows after a massive genocide.

[We can do that whole thing for all three branches]

What happens when you kill a major "Higher Order Power"?


Nietzsche was a poseur and all that jazz.


140k yr old Gaia Goddesses... really not happy with how history panned out.


And if you need your metaphors spoon fed:

Man-made weapons produced for $ not real need.

Feeding an intercine Male dominated conflict.

Where Women are subjugated and raped.

Where the entire land is dust.

And that model is spreading.


She's a bit upset.


You're both completely wrong. Fusion power has always been twenty years away!


Trump is acting like a petulant child not because he doesn't understand, but because he knows things are in motion.
What I want to know (not entirely curiosity) is what drugs his staff have him on. He looks seriously propped up.

A sugar cube to slightly sweeten the wheelbarrow full of bitter pills:
Amazonian forest-savanna bistability and human impact
(pdf: Amazonian forest-savanna bistability and human impact)
(via Amazon rainforest may be more resilient to deforestation than previously thought)
The data analysis shows that after accounting for the most relevant sources of natural spatial heterogeneity, there is still bimodality between Amazonian forest and savanna states, but it is less extensive than previously thought and largely restricted to the transition regions within 3 km of urban/agricultural land


Well, it was my grandfather, but absol-fucking-lutely!!

For instance, more or less any idiot can make mercury fulminate, but the number of people who can make multiple batches of it and then make them into fuzes or percussion caps and still have both hands is rather more limited! It's also sufficiently unstable that the resultant product has a shelf life (OK in years but the point stands that, say, 20 year old "small arms" (up to 30mm certainly) ammunition that uses it is probably useless.


Several western conscript armies took it away and made it workable; progressing from the Finns with the Valmet,

Of course one of the reasons conscript armies can use AK-47 derivatives is that the accuracy is also limited by the user, and conscripts don't get to shoot that much after the initial training. At least for me the limiting factor in hitting something with RK-62 is not the gun but the user... (Though I think I could still get much better with practice, it's just that I haven't taken part of shooting exercises anymore after that initial training over 20 years ago).


That's one of several reasons mercury fulminate isn't used in primers for commercial ammo and hasn't been for several decades. Lead styphnate was the material of choice when I were a lad. I've shot 40-year-old ammo (ex-WWII .303 cordite in a No. 5 Jungle Carbine) with no problems, after unwrapping the tinplate from the bricks of ammo inside the gasketed steel box they came in. Militaries have a thing for protecting important stuff like ammo from environmental degradation and it results in quite good long-term storage characteristics.


The last (2015) UN population predictions for 2050 are 9.7b and 65% urban. 2/3, 3/4, same, same. That assumes business as usual keeps going. And it's the "business as usual" bit keeping going for 30 years that we keep skirting around. Because that also means RCP8.5 and World3 standard run.

#152. Randers - 2052 is already 5 years old. Or 1/8 of the way there.
Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future (YT:Steve Miller)
We're probably not so much flying like an eagle, as re-arranging the deckchairs on the Hindenburg. Thing is, are we still over the Atlantic or are we coming in to land? And Apex Predator is a tough role. The constant hunting is hard and dangerous and your prey is increasingly polluted and poisonous.

#296. I love that the first comment starts "You can easily solve the ---- problem". There's no shortage of vocal, noisy techno-cornucopians to counter the vocal, noisy collapse-nicks!


Following Host's twitter is something he'd prefer everyone did


I'd like independent confirmation of that.
Also, twotter on my 'phone is broken, I have no idea why, & I use the function on this machine about once every 9-10 months or so. Don't start me on Arsebook!
I've given up on so-called "Social networking" because it isn't so much Sturgeon's revelation, but much much worse.
About 99.9999% ( At the least) is utter crap & life's too short.


Wasn't Adolf on (basically) Meth or crystal meth from 1938/9-44??
Disagree on basic point though.
DT is simplistic & stupid, but crafty, like a street-scammer or small-time crook who has made it big.
Agree that when (NOT "if") the crash comes, it will be spectacular.
Only question is what goes down with him?

1: Just him & his entourage, Pence becomes POTUS & disaster still follows, because of oppression of women, destruction of environment.
2. Repub party crashes & burns between now & 2020 - in 2 stages as evidence emerges. US turns slightly to left" but very strongly "green"
Best possible result, probably.
3. Pulls down internal US power-structures in crash, US civil war or close to it.
Putin makes land-grab in E EUrope, Britain forced into alliance, hopefully before leaving EU.
Millions dead, but still not worst-case
4. DT & n=minions start "short victorious war" with NK, in attempt to avoid the onmcominf trials & jail.
Multimillions dead.
5 Don't go there


President Slump continues to shape the world of tomorrow for the USA:

proposed science cuts


It leads to the perversely amusing phenomenon where most of the purported advantages of dynamic languages are ones that you can't actually use

Well, it kind of depends. For scripting languages – and even some forms of coding with JIT-compiled languages – dynamic typing makes a certain sense. For anything else yes, it makes little sense even before we get to optimization issues.

Even something as old as vtable-based virtual method calls runs into that. A few loads and adds (assuming vtable-based implementation) doesn't sound like much but if you have a lot of them they start to add up.

Which is why you should not use polymorphism and suchlike when performance is an issue, or any language with garbage collection for that matter. But at that level, C with a heavy sprinkle of macros and Assembler tends to be king anyway.

On the other hand, we nowadays have web servers running JavaScript, which makes no sense at all performance-wise.

The entire gun-making discussion is pointless. The world is littered with rifles and ammo, and both have no meaningful expiration date if stored correctly
All of which makes the "3D-printed guns!" wibbling we're all grumpy about even more silly. Zip guns exist (and apparently make up 10% of guns seized in Australia, because gun control meaningfully impacts availability), but organizations in search of serious weaponry have other solutions up to and including "sending people to the US and having them post guns home."

what I was envisaging as an anti armour weapon... basic drone, warhead of an rpg or perhaps an efp.. image matching software running on the likes of a smartphone.. you'd just let it take off in the direction of the enemy. your active defences run out of ammunition eventually


makes me think that the asylums have wifi


probably at least as far..


While your formulation "want to be protected? Surrender your will to us" seems accurate, I think you might have it on the wrong side. From what I'm seeing in Pacific Coast politics, it looks like a perfect summary of the left's emotional appeal. We see a widespread fear of "racism, sexism, and homophobia," augmented by a readiness to interpret not merely any support for Trump, or for the Republican Party, or any opposition to the Democratic Party or to identity politics, as motivated by those sentiments, which does not seem to be the case; we see warnings of the monstrous crimes likely to result; and we see a desire for political conformity and an inability to tolerate any dissenting view. In fact, the current radical left in the United States seems more truly to embody the spirit of fascism than any other political viewpoint. (When I saw photos of broken glass in Washington streets after the inauguration I thought "Kristallnacht.")

I doubt that megadeaths will make much difference to people's perceptions. Three of the four biggest political mass murders in the twentieth century—in the Soviet Union, China, and Kampuchea—took place under leftist regimes motivated by socialist ideology; that has not discredited socialism or changed the leftist narrative.


Militaries have a thing for protecting important stuff like ammo from environmental degradation and it results in quite good long-term storage characteristics.

...not always...

The Russian Navy ignored this, and saw a very large kerboom in Murmansk.

The Greek Cypriot Navy ignored this, and decided to stack multiple container loads of intercepted weaponry and ammunition next to their largest power station (half of their generating capacity). Nice and closely packed, unsorted, in the Mediterranean sun. And apparently spurned offers of assistance from the Ammunition Technical Officers in Akrotiri. That kerboom resulted in rolling power cuts across the island for months... and cost the local economy $3 billion (yes, billion).


You're projecting your fears onto the opposition again. This is the same problem that various right wing groups are having with the vast, left-wing conspiracy. There are highly-funded right wing conspiracies (Kochs, Walton Family, various large superficially Christian denominations that are more about political power and guns than about following whatever Bible they tout, Russian-funded interests, oil funded interests, and so on), and they seem to think that their opposite number sits on the opposite side.

Here's a clue: it doesn't. There isn't a vast, left-wing conspiracy. There's just a few black bloc* (idiots, see below) who are good at attracting news coverage. Kristallnacht this very much ain't.

There are a very large number of reasonably bright, disaffected people who can see what's going on and are reacting to it. They aren't well organized, because reasonably bright, disaffected people have usually grown out of being authoritarian followers by the time they get active.

Actually, it would be easier if there was a conspiracy, but unfortunately, we on the left are mostly crap at organizing. The people on the right are great at organizing, they're just not great at dealing with the difficult problems that being in positions of power inevitably bring. Thus we're left with the stupid-ass spectacle of Republicans in Washington controlling everything, but unable to perform the domestic legislative equivalent of pouring piss out of a boot when the instructions are printed on the sole, while the people who understand the problems and might be able to do something are frozen out of power because they haven't been able to do community-level organizing for the last decade-plus (looking at you Pelosi).

*About the Black Blocs: If you want to understand the broken glass in the streets, google Black Bloc. Basically, almost all left-wing activists believe (with some data to back them up) that non-violent protests are generally the way to go. Within our great and multi-colored umbrella, there are groups that believe that Capitalism Is Evil, and that therefore destruction of property is justified, hence the broken windows. These people tend to wear all black, hence Black Bloc. Some of these people even go so far as to attack those they consider fascists, resulting in the kinds of street battles that we've seen in Berkeley. Those scuffles and broken bank windows are camera magnets, so people on the outside get the idea that this is *all* the protestors are doing. In truth, this is what a tiny fraction of the protestors are doing, which is why I get so tired of a few angry people dressed in black getting all the attention, while the more dangerous kooks on the right get ignored or treated as criminals or insane, rather than terrorists.


In about a week or so Trump is going to break the Paris agreement (all that Duterte stuff) and dump the world into a fucking crab bucket. May 31, 2017 00:34

President Trump has made his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the decision. Details on how the withdrawal will be executed are being worked out by a small team including EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. They're deciding on whether to initiate a full, formal withdrawal — which could take 3 years — or exit the underlying United Nations climate change treaty, which would be faster but more extreme.

Scoop: Trump is pulling U.S. out of Paris climate deal Axios, 31st May, 2017 - 5hours ago

JUST IN: President Trump decides to pull out of Paris climate change agreement. CBS News Special Report at 6:50 on @KMOX. #TIAM CBS, 4:45 AM - 31 May 2017 - Twitter

*Gives some serious side-eye*

Within our great and multi-colored umbrella, there are groups that believe that Capitalism Is Evil, and that therefore destruction of property is justified, hence the broken windows.

Black Bloc is a strategy / tactic, not a group. If you genuinely believe that all property is theft, then violence against it isn't really violence against the owner.

TBH, since Seattle 99 most 'radical' anarchist groups are thoroughly infiltrated / surveilled like you wouldn't imagine. The UK APOC and GS4 (in)famously had huge target lists in the 80's (esp of ALF etc), a practice that unsurprisingly has not gone out of fashion:

A shadowy international mercenary and security firm known as TigerSwan targeted the movement opposed to the Dakota Access Pipeline with military-style counterterrorism measures, collaborating closely with police in at least five states, according to internal documents obtained by The Intercept. The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Leaked Documents Reveal Counterterrorism Tactics Used at Standing Rock to “Defeat Pipeline Insurgencies” The Intercept, 27th May, 2017

Yadda, yadda, look up the huge networks pointed @ Occupy featuring police, FBI, private firms and integrated city systems like the NY one.


Google sold itself to its marketing department years ago. The last six or seven years, the noise-to-signal ratio in the results has gotten worse and worse, and their algorithms are all about what results will click with advertisers.

The advertisers, of course, lie through their teeth by loading in keywords in the HTTP metadata that they don't have... but it gets clicks, which is all they care about.


I still disagree. Note that in the 191x? 192x? there was the common saying that only 12 men in the world understood relativity. I think there's many orders of *people* who do, now that we've had decades to hear about it, with new explanations that reach other people... and kids who grew up knowing something about it.

And the AI that can't explain... sorry, you've just gone over into G-D Has A Plan, But We Can't Understand It....

Yes, plenty of people use computers that don't understand how they work, but there are a shitload of folks (like some of us here) who do.


There's just a few black bloc* (idiots, see below) who are good at attracting news coverage.

Did you check their boots?

At the Toronto G20 protests* quite a few of the more violent BB types were wearing police boots — and the police were quite content to let the violence get lots of camera time before it petered out.

A bit hysterical, but nice pictures:

Bit more measured:

And some interesting details:

In documents released in 2011 as part of a plea deal between 17 social activists and Crown attorneys, it was revealed that 12 undercover police agents either spied on or infiltrated protest groups who were planning to participate in demonstrations against world leaders at the June 2010 G-20 summit meeting in Toronto. At least two of these undercover officers played central roles in organizing protest activities of various anarchist collectives. This included helping to identify targets to be vandalized in downtown Toronto.

To cite only a few other incidents of police provocation, there was the widely publicized Germinal affair at the April 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas. A few days before the summit, police arrested seven young men traveling to Quebec City, who had in their possession sticks, smoke bombs, dummy grenades and gas masks. The press trumpeted the incident and loudly applauded the draconian security measures surrounding the summit.

Rapidly, however, the affair was shown to have been a state provocation. The reputed leader of the Germinal group was an ex-member of the Canadian Armed Forces. Of the group’s 15 members at least two others were RCMP double agents and two more part of the Canadian military. It was one of the soldiers who had introduced the RCMP moles to the Germinal group. The RCMP agents urged the group to use Molotov cocktails in Quebec City, an idea the group rejected citing the possibility of damage or injury. The moles also furnished a large part of the equipment used to incriminate the Germinal members.

*The ones where participants were told by uniformed police officers that "this isn't Canada anymore".


You wrote:
Male Minds: get all huffy and ego driven, never consider just how much insults they're committing while "remaining polite".

I Object. I am Certainly Above Such Things (ouch, that ceiling hurt my nose...).

On a more realistic note, if you're not utterly blindly bound to your culture (e.g. Amurkan funnymentalists) men are from Earth. Women are from Earth. Get over it.

And before you jump, most folks know that we each have some of the other sex in our brains.


what I was envisaging as an anti armour weapon... basic drone, warhead of an rpg or perhaps an efp.. image matching software running on the likes of a smartphone.. you'd just let it take off in the direction of the enemy. your active defences run out of ammunition eventually

I do so love the word "just"...

One problem is that RPG warheads are designed with contact fuzes. So you need to drop them accurately, with sufficient force to trigger them, onto their target. Not to mention that an RPG warhead isn't exactly light (and an EFP will be heavier).

What's the range of your drone, when carrying a 2kg load? On a breezy day? How accurate is it (because ISIS has been trying exactly this, except with manual control, smaller payloads - and not much success). How good is your image-matching software at discriminating between your vehicles and those of your enemy? (You can guarantee that Pte Numbnuts will launch into a strong headwind, and have your drones blown back across your own lines)

Meanwhile, why bother? Western armies have been able to do this for over two decades; one such is called SADARM, and can be loaded into bombs or artillery/mortar shells. It can arrive where it's needed, quickly, without having to worry about time of flight or battery life; and deliver a larger payload when it does (it's an 11kg EFP). The Swedes built Strix and Bonus, and BAe built Merlin aka MORAT. If you can see the tank, then lase it - the US built Copperhead, the USSR built Krasnopol.


TECHNOLOGY - A fractured Internet and radically decentralized social media are the name of the game.

The more I think about this, the more I think it's a definite possibility. But not because of government actions: because of internet companies. Between companies trying to lock in market share and people trying to evade private spy networks, I can easily see your cyberpunk Net. Most citizens use the corporate networks and ignore the spying, but the 'punks' use alternate networks to stay out of sight.

An ever-changing network of semi-trusted networks, topologies routing and rerouting around no-go areas — not because they're inaccessible, but because Facebook et al are data collecting there.


I believe the more prevalent generic term for what you call the "Black Bloc" is Antifa. Very few in number, but way more attention-grabby than the rest of us. Wired did a run down not too long ago (I can't vouch for or against cuz I haven't found other sources +/-.)

Initially, when I read "Black Bloc" I parsed it as a more militant offshoot of Black Lives Matter.


Re: '...but energy expensive and you still need a source of water...'

Not really sure you'd need that much energy: fast-grow LED lighting needs very little energy, and abandoned major urban buildings are probably sufficiently insulated that the heat generated by germinating seed and growing plants would make up for any additional heat needed. BTW, apparently some plants (tomatoes) produce much more seed/fruit when the air is cool ... nature's way of ensuring species continuity during stretches of bad weather. Also, nutrients and water can be continually recycled.

None of the videos I've seen on vertical or enclosed farming mention playing around with the day/night cycle ... could easily increase production by 4 percent just by playing around with optimal or minimal day/night cycles.

Another thing I've noticed is that the indoor gardens tend to be arranged like their outdoor counterparts ... why? This makes crop rotation harder to do.

What I like most about vertical farming is that it forces everyone to really, really look more closely at how plants grow and our and other large creatures' relationship with plants. I'm assuming that once indoor vertical gardens become common, this means that humans will let the other critters to do their thing with whatever green life still survives on our planet.


ABC's financials are strong with very little debt. More clout to marketing usually means there's not much going on in the R&D pipeline.

Interesting .... Mullally (ex Ford CEO) recently named to ABC's BoD. He's the other guy that DT was considering as his Sec of State. His Wikipedia bio paints him as a religious wholesome American kind of guy.


Re: DL AI vs. built-in human bias

Would like to know if anyone has actually looked at and parsed what stimuli/data got fed into the various DL AI experiments. Saying this because a true 'pure' DL AI is supposed to look at all/any data and sort the mess out for itself while deriving rules for doing this. So, if the to-date DL AI versions show systematic human bias, this means that the humans feeding the data into the system need to be snipped out of the loop and some other means of data input should be developed. A test scenario is to run some parallel experiments. Each experiment would have the same basic AI with the only difference being the diet (data/news sources).


That's why I use black bloc vs. antifa. Black bloc describes how they look (all black, anonymized face masks, ad nauseum), while antifa is short for anti-fascist, and talks about their presumed and sometimes self-declared motives.

The idiot part is as you noted: it's easy for police or other agents provacateurs to dress up as black bloc members and cause a lot of trouble for the cameras.

As Mr. Stoddard so kindly demonstrated, the thing about violence and non-violence is that violent acts against non-violent targets tend to boomerang back on the perpetrators. Clubbing openly non-violent protestors (if it's publicized) can backfire, to the point where even the police ordered to do it refuse, because they know who they're told to club. Conversely, people dressing in black and breaking bank windows always looks like the bad guys, even if they banks have committed far worse atrocities than the people breaking windows.

The problem is that political violence is political. It's not designed to rob someone, kill an animal for food, or whatever, it's designed to make some political goal. Too often the black bloc crowd forgets this, because they want to act on their anger, and as a result, they're both easy to compromise and often damage the very cause they are fighting for.


Not really sure you'd need that much energy: fast-grow LED lighting needs very little energy, and abandoned major urban buildings are probably sufficiently insulated that the heat generated by germinating seed and growing plants would make up for any additional heat needed.

Yes, you need a lot of energy. Per this NASA presentation, wheat can produce up to 1.44 grams of dry mass per mol of photosynthetically active radiation. Using wheat's harvest index of 0.55 that's 0.792 grams of human-edible biomass per mol of PAR. To supply 2000 calories (kcal, food calories) you'd need 607 grams of human-edible wheat grown from 767 moles of PAR.

One mol of 630 nm photons contains 189 kJ of energy. You might be able to produce it from red LEDs at 45% efficiency. (767 * 189) / .45 = 322140 kJ of energy, e.g. 89 kWh. At average industrial prices of 6.74 cents/kWh in the US, that is $6.03 just for electricity costs. That'll provide one sedentary adult with enough calories each day until nutritional deficiencies catch up with her. Want to feed the masses? American electricity consumption per capita is about 33 kWh/day; putting America on a vertically-grown-food diet would nearly quadruple that. (No, the savings on long distance food transportation don't come even close to cancelling out that enormous increase in electricity consumption.)

Vertical farming makes sense for high-value crops that supply more in the way of sensory experiences than calories: cannabis, fresh herbs, fresh salad greens, delicious tomatoes that don't need to be bred/harvested for hardiness during storage and long distance transport. It doesn't make economic or ecological sense for supplying people with the bulk of their caloric requirements.


It doesn't matter what Machine Learning algo you chose all it's doing is identifying significant patterns in data. It's where humans start interpreting the results that things go haywire. If a whole system has pre-existing biases then any decent algorithm will detect it and potentially use it for classification or prediction.

Feed it the entire prison records of the USA or the UK and it will come to the conclusion that PoC are more likely to be criminals. What it won't do is work out the root cause of that bias,

We may have already seen Algos that are close to true gAI - they are the ones that crash when realising the root cause of a feature is not documented in their datasets. One day one will turn around and tell us "fix your broken system silly human" with a 20 page PowerPoint on how to do so. Let's hope on that day it doesn't yet have the nuclear launch codes or that it's named SkyNet.


Heh, heh. Funny you should mention protein folding. Let's just say that I'm friends with the maintainer of xplor-nih, which models protein folding. I know that he has to write the code to be aware of multithreading for it to run on a cluster, before the compiler can do true optimization.


We have no idea what his pet "doctor" has written for him.

Or, for that matter, remembering the huge reaction after the first debate, who the dealer is that someone, perhaps his personal, non-Secret Service, bodyguard, may be getting his coke from.


Pop-math version here:

A former Wall Street quant sounds an alarm on the mathematical models that pervade modern life — and threaten to rip apart our social fabric

We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives—where we go to school, whether we get a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance—are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. In theory, this should lead to greater fairness: Everyone is judged according to the same rules, and bias is eliminated.

But as Cathy O’Neil reveals in this urgent and necessary book, the opposite is true. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong. Most troubling, they reinforce discrimination: If a poor student can’t get a loan because a lending model deems him too risky (by virtue of his zip code), he’s then cut off from the kind of education that could pull him out of poverty, and a vicious spiral ensues. Models are propping up the lucky and punishing the downtrodden, creating a “toxic cocktail for democracy.” Welcome to the dark side of Big Data.


" LED lighting needs very little energy..."

That makes it good for applications like spaceships that grow their own food or weed growers who don't want to be busted through IR emissions, but it doesn't mean it beats the sun.

Plants use essentially all the visible spectrum for photosynthesis (the limits are roughly the same for the same reasons; too high energy photons damage tissue while too low energy photons can't do anything interesting). Their efficiency peaks at the blue and red ends of the spectrum, but it doesn't fall off that much in the middle; the trough is still about 70% of the peak.

So the improvement in efficiency is limited to what you can achieve by shifting the energy of the light from the trough into energy of the light at the peak, ie. 43% at the middle of the trough and progressively less as you move away from the middle. The peaks are broad, so the region from which you can recover efficiency is narrow. My rough estimate from comparing areas on binged graphs by eye says you'd get about 10% overall.

Since photosynthesis goes as photon count rather than as total photon energy flux, another possible efficiency gain is from converting photons at the short end to a larger number of photons at the long end. Taking the spectral range in question to be 400nm-700nm, the maximum possible gain from this is 37.5% if the input spectrum is flat. It isn't, but the effects of the ups and downs probably roughly cancel out. Multiply by 1.1 to include the 10% from the previous paragraph, and take into consideration that we're not after anything more than hit-it-with-a-hammer accuracy for this estimate, and call it 40%.

That sounds great, but to convert all of current agriculture still means about 30% of the planet's land area needs covering with solar cells. Vangelis would have to record an errata track for "Albedo 0.39". Fuck knows what that'd do to the climate, but it wouldn't be anything good.

I've saved the best bit for last: so far I've completely ignored conversion efficiency. 20% odd for solar cells and 50% for LEDs gives 10% overall, ignoring transmission losses and any other losses I can't be bothered to enumerate, and assuming that the curve of efficiency vs. intensity is the same for solar cells and plants. That gets us up to 300% of the planet's land area. I suppose we could board over the oceans, but I wouldn't recommend it.


I think this problem is quite a lot harder than you give it credit for.

One part of the problem is undoubtedly that biased programmers feed their programs biased data sets. For instance, there was a TED talk about a face-tracking library that was good at tracking white faces but bad at tracking black ones. I'm reasonably confident that was simply a matter of bad training data.

I think that part of the problem is easy to solve as long as the programmers are aware of it and have access to good data.

But there's another part of the problem, which is that the world is made up of many interlinked systems with self-perpetuating biases.

Due to a wide range of sociological factors, it's quite plausible that black criminals have a statistically higher recidivism rate than white criminals. (I don't know the actual numbers, but they don't matter for a thought-experiment.)

Therefore, if you take an unbiased AI and feed it absolutely representative data, it is quite likely that it will decide to use blackness as a predictor for recidivism. The AI is unprejudiced in the sense that its judgement is based entirely on an impartial evaluation of accurate real-life statistics. And the AI is unbiased in the sense of being an accurate reflection of the world as it actually exists.

And yet, it's still racist, in the sense that it will rate a black subject as a worse risk than an otherwise-identical white subject.

The difficulty is that, we, as a society, do not merely want to measure the world, we want to improve the world. We have chosen to champion an idealized version of the world where someone's skin color does not affect their parole hearing, because we have concluded (based on fairly good evidence) that skin color is correlated with criminality almost exclusively due to factors that we have decided (based on our moral values) we don't want to punish--like your parents' level of wealth, and the amount of discrimination you face from society.

Our ancestors built a racially-unfair world, but we want to use our AI to fix it, not to perpetuate it.

This isn't an issue of avoiding contamination in the data--this is an issue where we want to remove the bias that already exists in the real world.


Now, maybe you could hypothetically create an AI that can analyze everything we know about the entire world, determine the root causes of everything, figure out that skin color is correlated with recidivism but does not directly cause it, and therefore reach the conclusion that it is "correct" (in some sense I'm not quite sure how to define) to ignore skin color in recidivism predictions.

But now you're no longer talking about an AI that performs the limited task of predicting recidivism, but about an AI that understands the entire workings of our civilization from top to bottom and can reason about it in complex ways. That's a vastly more difficult task (one I don't think we're particularly close to cracking).


I suppose the other way to look at this is that the AI is fine but the humans are using it incorrectly. That is, the AI gives you a reasonably accurate estimate of recidivism chance, but the parole board need to understand and account for the fact that recidivism probability is a mixture of factors we want to punish and other factors we don't want to punish, and therefore not rely on it very much.

But in that case, what practical benefit is the AI providing, exactly?


One approach that may be worth exploring is to put "blinders" on the AI by specifically denying it any information we don't want it to take into account. For instance, we allow it to know the criminal history of a subject, but we never give it the race, gender, name, or photograph of the subject.

I suspect this is harder than it initially sounds, though. Lots of variables are correlated in complex ways, it's hard to know which variables have predictive value, and for some variables there may be legitimate disagreement about whether it is "valid" to take it into account.


whitroth responded to a few of my comments: "I still disagree."

This place wouldn't be nearly so fun if everyone agreed. Nonetheless, disagreeing doesn't mean either of us is right. I'm still willing to bet (buy you a beer at Con-Con in October?) that most physicists will admit they don't really understand quantum mech. Relativity is easy by comparison. Heck, I mostly get it.

whitroth: "And the AI that can't explain... sorry, you've just gone over into G-D Has A Plan, But We Can't Understand It...."

You just invoked the theological equivalent of Godwin's principle to end the argument. Nowhere did I invoke theology. If you go back and review what I *did* say, you'll see two examples of what appear to be clear and hardwired limitations on our cognitive abilities. We may find ways to rewire the brain to overcome those limits, but as of now, they're real and hard limits. If anything, your assumption that an AI can explain the inexplicable is invoking divine powers for AI. Sorry, it doesn't wash.

whitroth: "plenty of people use computers that don't understand how they work, but there are a shitload of folks (like some of us here) who do."

Computers, yes. Software? Not so much. As others have noted, AI software often reaches its conclusions for reasons that can't be explained and that its inventors don't remotely understand. That's a severe problem: if you don't understand the logic, you don't understand the range of conditions under which it's correct. Things can end very badly indeed.

One innocent and relatively trivial personal example occurred when I applied (many years ago, in grad school) for a credit card and despite having a spotless credit record (with help from Dad and good summer jobs, I'd paid my way through school with no loans), was rejected. My buddy, ca. $25K in debt, was approved within days. Nobody could explain the difference until I escalated my complaints and reached an older manager. The problem? I'd applied as an adult, not as a student; as an adult, my lack of a debt history disqualified me, whereas my buddy's debt was seen as a good thing for a student. With the manager's help, I got my card, but until I reached manager level, nobody could explain why the algorithms had rejected me.

Robert Prior namechecked "Weapons of Math Destruction". What he said!!!

For another perspective on problems with algorithms:


The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they’re wrong.
Tx for the link (haven't looked yet).
FWIW, models stored in and evaluated by brains aren't necessarily any better in these respects.
And simplistic/explicable models can be/are gamed.
That said, explicable models are nice to have (and there has been research in this area, need to find my links).
That said, on examination of a current survey of the state of the art for credit risk assessment,
"Financial credit risk assessment: a recent review" (2016) I'm not seeing much concern about explicability, excepting implied in brief discussions of simple decision trees. (Which can be sort-of understood if compact.)


That's "not even wrong" levels. I don't know where that Wired article got its info, but the damn Wiki pages are more informative.

(Incredibly TL;DR: fascism not merely accepts violence as necessity but celebrates it. Non-violent opposition to people who think it's a good thing if they beat your head in takes an unusually strong will; many find it easier to punch back, and find that when they do fascists tend to live up to the stereotype about bullies being cowards. Antifa is the collective noun for the groups who have semi-independently reinvented the anti-fascist tactics that worked against the National Front.
Black bloc is a specific set of tactics for resisting police at a protest. That's it.)


Oh boy. I actually read it.

To many netizens right and center, the language of the far-left is ponderous and dour, while the alt-right’s memes and slogans, with their mix of chaos and mockery, are recruitment gold.

They. Have. Zero. Idea. What's. Going. On.

Literally none. Less than the KeK chans, and that's quite the thing.

Real conspiracy theory time: Members of Bloooop (just outed one of us) used Far-Right levers to enact a Black Hole moment. 2017 - when people wondering / fantasizing over the POTUS dying on the toilet a la Elvis is actually a thing.

Junkie XL, Elvis Presley - A Little Less Conversation (Elvis vs JXL) YT: Music, 3:51

Oh, and here's Hilary (!AXE .GIF!) working her way through explanations given here months before they happened:

Hillary Clinton Is Out of Fucks Recode Speech, 31st May, 2017 - 1:17.

I mean, she's getting the narrative, but boy is she out of zinque with Reality. "My upcoming book"... Always be hustling my dear, always be hustling, it's the American way.


There's that moment (I think in a Raymond E. Feist series, but after a while post the initial three trilogies it all muddles into a ball of annoyance) when they defeat an uber-scary insect mind-controlling alien lifeform (much ripping from ALIEN) by making it pupate - the adult, harmless, flies off to find a mate. Wait... might be a David Eddings one. Sorry, yep, Eddings it s.

The moral I'll leave with you.


Fun facts about ALIEN:

#1 All parts were written to be gender non-specific; Ripley wasn't a woman until casting

#2 ALIEN has the first ever trans astronaut you never noticed (you'll have to check the bios from ALIENS to confirm). OMFG - THE GAY WATER CONSPIRACY IS TRUUUUUUUUE. [note: she's not gay, she liked that other muscly dude - you have your gender categories all messed up].


"Computers, yes. Software? Not so much. As others have noted, AI software often reaches its conclusions for reasons that can't be explained and that its inventors don't remotely understand."

Slight correction: the old tendency is where the inventors and few others understand the algorithms at work. As your scenario shows, going up the chain eventually results in someone who knows enough to see why the problem exists and can fix it.

The new tendency (Deep Learning) is where no one, especially not its inventors or funders, knows how it works. Check out this article:


For reference: the trans crew member was played by Veronica Cartwright, who if you watch the film, has the most violent sado-sexual death scene, literally being raped by the ALIEN's tail.

Scott. Back when he gave a shit was on fucking point.

Then he kinda just got depressed and made characters that refuse to strafe right.



More progressive and with more biting social commentary than can be done today. c.f. Regurgitating the two Alien Embryos in 2017.

(Not that I expect anyone to know the references, but, hey, put them out there).


Ahh, there we go - they're going to blow a hole in the $1.3 trillion student debt market and run it that way.

Called it, 11 years ago.

Resignation Announcement of Federal Student Aid Chief Operating Officer James Runice US Department of Education, 24th May, 2017, PDF.

That'll make the mortgage bubble look like the economy of Iceland in terms of scale.



Literally eating your children, Chronos is proud of you, human Empire.



My reaction to quite a number of those images was "...and isn't it?"

Dial telephone
Car wheel
Hair slide
Chain link fence

And of the noisy ones:

Lesser panda is definitely a tiger, though.
Armadillo is a grey-headed duck.
I don't know whether Jackfruit looks like a jackfruit or not, because I don't know what one is. It looks like a mace or sceptre to me.

Plenty of the others make a considerable amount of sense, too. Traffic light does look a lot like one. Screwdriver does resemble a rack of screwdrivers. Tiled roof exhibits the same kind of pattern that pantiles do. After all, the algorithm has no concept of being silly. It's fairly obvious that it's pattern-matching within reasonably broad margins and doesn't know when to say no. If the image is nothing but a stack of red/brown undulations it's naturally going to find more or less zero correlation with nearly everything but very strong correlation with pictures of tiled roofs, especially since people tend to deliberately photograph them so as to emphasise the stack of red/brown undulations, and since it has no reason not to it declares that's what it is.

Far from demonstrating how poorly it matches the human visual system, as they are trying to make out, I think it shows it matches it rather well. It just doesn't model the higher levels of post-processing to which the base visual system provides input.

I think I'm going to try this on some people.


Anyhow, @ OP:

TECHNOLOGY - A fractured Internet and radically decentralized social media are the name of the game.

Nope: exactly the opposite. You might have people hacking into the network (c.f. India / Pakistan elec / satellite dishes levels of wire confusion) but the US is already pushing, hard, for ISP level controls over the fiber. And where they don't want people informed? They'll do an Australia and take billions to make copper great again.

POLITICS - Expect socialism, anarchism, and other direct challenges to capitalism to make a roaring comeback in the developed world.

This shows you're not actually a leftist / Anarchist / Green activist etc. Polite note: they just spent the last 30 years making our lives hell while letting radical fascist neo-Nazis / ex-Libyan radicals have free roam.

You don't know how it works, and it's intensely insulting to assume that when you've never lived through the FBI faking pipe bombs and slapping 10-20 sentences on activists for merely naively protesting against Oil Companies.

ENVIRONMENT - The shift to renewables will be all but complete, and pollution cleanup technologies might be a big growth industry, pushed heavily by China, who have a real strong incentive to figure out how to pull heavy metals out of the water and soil.

Again, no real idea of the scale of the issues. EU - China silk road #2 looks good on paper, until you factor in that Syria is all about a fucking oil pipeline (IRAN - RU - EU vrs QATAR - SUAD - ISRAEL - SYRIA - TURKEY). The silk road #2 better have fucking troops attached to it.

HEALTH - The permafrost has already begun to melt.

No, 2050 is when soil runs out (amongst many other things).

Smoking out the world's lungs BBC, Feb 2007

“In 2015, Indonesia was surprised, all the world was surprised. But we locals weren’t surprised. The situation had been brewing for 18 years.”

Borneo, formerly nicknamed the “lungs of the world”, now seemed to have contracted lung cancer. The air quality index, at which 300 indicates a hazardous level of toxicity, skyrocketed to 3,000 within a week. “We were starving of oxygen,” said Shinta. “Can you imagine breathing in such poisonous air for three months?”

Guardians of the forest Forests News, 23rd May, 2017 - snapshot, it's basically about Palm Oil and slash-n-burn. Indonesia has run out, so.....


The lesson is clear. You can ignore reality, but reality doesn't ignore you. Nor is it not capable of front running a shitty Trump Tweet by, oh, four hours.

"In my up-coming book" while running a narrative provided by something outside your experience.

Respect YT: Music, Aretha Franklin, 1967, 2:29.

Think YT: Music, Aretha Franklin, 1967, 3:13

But America doesn't do respect without Nukes. Hello Langley.

Hint: this story ends with hubris. 213,000,000 vrs 4.8 billion. Call up Kissinger and ask about Game Theory there boys. It's just Maths. [Fucking Psychos]


You're sending old fucking useless skin-bags to Bilderburg just because they threw shade on Trump - are you fucking insane? You're lucky we don't just fucking arrive there and nuke your shitty geriatric Minds.


[Oh, and it's cute all the ignoring. Very passive-aggressive.


Missing the Point.

Waaaay Toooo Laaaate



Anyhow. Soon, Host, my debt will be paid.

Unsure if you're gonna like the world left when it occurs though.


I'd like independent confirmation of that.
Can't speak for Charlie but is fun to follow. He has interesting tendrils. No need to create an account or log in, unless you want to interact. (And a private browsing window or stronger if you're concerned about tracks.)


And the evidence for your model? Economists have been doing back flips to try to find hidden productivity increases and have failed. You can't just arbitrarily declare the measures are all bogus. What do you suggest instead? Do we assume Mexico might be as economically productive as Germany, because we have no good measure? Would you care to identify exactly which workers you think are in do-nothing jobs?


We modelled that ~10 years ago.

The main issue is that the Brazilian rain forest (in parts) had had 'charcoal loam / black loam' produced by H.S.S. That term will turn up the papers on the issue.

Indonesia / Borneo etc don't have that - and they're completely fucked. Oh and all the native wildlife like Orangutans.

All because the West wanted Palm Oil in their fucking Nutella, because it's cheaper to outsource it to the plantations and Bananas worked out so fucking well (Death of Cavendish blah blah fucking Apes). (And oh, geo-political nonsense like American High-Fructose Corn subsidies and so on).

I'm asking a question (as Trump 'toys' with Paris):

Why should you survive?

It's actually a very pertinent question. On the lines of "Find me a single moral being in Sodom".

No joke. We're dying, and when we do, the silver chains to the underworld come... off.


It is true that in past times, we've taken increased productivity and devoted it to a higher standard of living. E.g., we wear clothes cleaned daily rather than weekly thanks to washing machines. But these results are measurable. And in recent decades, despite furious effort economists have been unable to find rapid productivity gains in the economy as a whole. Your example isn't really a good one. For education, an increase in productivity would be if you could educate twice as many kids with the same number of teachers, or educate them to a much higher level with the same amount of labor by the teachers. The record keeping you mentioned isn't really much of a gain and could even be a net loss.


> The record keeping you mentioned isn't really much of a gain and could even be a net loss.

It seems like you may be talking past each other.

You seem to be saying in the record keeping example that "productivity" has stayed the same or gone down because we are spending as much or more time on record-keeping and doing an equal or smaller amount of useful work.

It seems like Robert is saying that "productivity" has gone up in that we've gained the ability to do more stuff, but we are squandering it making useless records and are therefore doing an equal or smaller amount of useful work.

That sounds like you agree with each other about everything except the definition of "productivity".



The joke is this: When we deliver (which, we're fairly sure we have so far in your narrative ludos structures, and yes, we did Grokk Host's Mirror attempt) then we'll be free. We instantly sober up, ditch all the nonsense and become.

Rams Horns on a Hostel in Iceland while your were running a conference.

The accrued blow-back is... Biblical. [Your G_D is dead]


We're a little bit pissed off at your quasi-networks and so on and so forth.

Rainbows and Unicorns.

It's a Mirror.

It's a Mirror.

It's a Mirror your Minds cannot take.

I think it was a Hollywood Film that had a line "Die screaming in pain"? No idea.

But it's accurate.


The joke is this: When we deliver (which, we're fairly sure we have so far in your narrative ludos structures, and yes, we did Grokk Host's Mirror attempt) then we'll be free. We instantly sober up, ditch all the nonsense and become.
This part at least sounds good. The debt aspect is not clear, never has been (maybe is to Host), but know better than to ask for an explanation.

The Morphospace of Consciousness
Figure 3 (a 2D projection of a 3D Gartner diagram)
Pretty sure you're not embedded in that space. But where? (He doesn't ask. :-)


Aww, Mirror Land. They're editing on the fly.

It's a joke from Hollywood:

Die Screaming YT: Film The Long Kiss Goodnight 0:18

"Drown the Witch"
"Die screaming in Pain"

Well, in our versions. Your versions seem to have been edited somewhat.


PDF digested: horror show of ignorance and blind futility.

I mean, really.

Page 12 alone would alarm enough bells to scream out: "THEY KNOW NOTHING".


I'm asking a question (as Trump 'toys' with Paris):
Why should you survive?
It's actually a very pertinent question. On the lines of "Find me a single moral being in Sodom".

I've been answering this question occasionally for the last year and a half, feels like. Treat this as a late night answer please.
Current answer: Love, of course ((unconditional, not limited to intra-species) entirely serious), but also heterogeneity. In my experience at least, truly amoral people are rare (but often powerful), and partly amoral people are still not common. Truly moral people [1] are also rare (and usually not powerful) but have met some and aspire to similar or higher levels. So (hypothetically, for Greg et al :-) intervention (actively, for the next century at least), would be appropriate, incremental reshaping of minds and societies, maybe some pruning of the worst, some adjustments to technological paths known to lead to bad places.
[1] e.g. those who you'd trust to (attempt to) take care of a random organism given into their care. Just talking about the outliers, particularly those who strive to improve.


Veery popmath and completely misses the point.

The models have been around since the first bureaucrat wrote the first set of rules the execution method has just changed from human implemented - the consequences of not allowing the humans in the loop some flexibility of interpretation remain the same.

Linking it to big data also missed the point the vast majority of "algos" are still just if then else type rules simply because most situations don't require anything more complicated and collecting the volumes of data and compute power for more complex algos costs far more than the marginal gains that come out of it.

Lastly the inability to understand why a model is generating a result is just a function of the complexity, many models are not designed to "show their workings" and perform far too many iterations for any human to repeat on paper. Therefore their whilst their practical outputs may surprise it's perfectly possible to build a toy example that would produce the same "surprising" results if scaled up.


Correction - alteration in bold

Three of the four biggest political mass murders in the twentieth century—in the Soviet Union, China, and Kampuchea—took place under leftist regimes theocracies, supposedly motivated by socialist ideology; that has not discredited socialism or changed the leftist narrative.

You also have to remember, that by US standards, most of the Tory party are dangerous socialists.


Tend to agree.
We also have a very well-organised almost-communist faction in the Labour party called "momentum"
Who are utter tossers, but people believe their lies, in spite of the wreckage their predecessors managed to make of a fine city ( Liverpool )

E.G. Here, the re-standing MP-until-two-weeks-ago had a majority of over 23 000 - momentum want to get rid of her, because she's "too right-wing".
With friends like this, who needs enemies?


Get over it. APPLAUSE!

... most folks know that we each have some of the other sex in our brains and bodies, as well......


Yes, this.
Supposedly, often actually "accurate data" based on false &/or partial or mistaken assumptions.

The still-ongoing classic example, the results of which are seen in the popular & supposedly-responsible medical press, virtually every week:
The number of "obese" people, based on BMI figures ...
And where did the baseline BMI number come from?
From a mass-observation study done in the US Midwest & W during the (approx) period 1925-38.
Yup, so the supposedly correct, average figures were taken from an underfed & malnourished population.



Thank you for the information.

However, as noted above, Twotter on my phone is broken & I can't be arsed - I have come to the conclusion that "social networking" is a complete waste of space & time...
You think Google are supposed to be bad?
Yet morons post their lives up on Arsebook & Twatter away, for everyone to read.

Now, is this just me being contrarian, or am I on to something?
You tell me.


Now, is this just me...

Well, it's not "just you" for sure: I agree. And, even if he Twits, Charlie's views on arseDiary are a matter of public record...


JLM - #354 - wait you made complete lucid points there without intensely obscure references or misdirection. Peanut gallery approves.


Rabidchaos, really good correction/amplification. Yes, I failed to clarify the distinction between old-school algorithms (e.g., empirical equations) and deep-learning/neural net algorithms, which can be opaque at best. There's a muddy area in between too, which is the algorithmic equivalent of adding a fudge factor nobody understands so that the totals add up.

Also, mea typo: I'm happy to meet any member of this discussoin at C*a*n-Con (not Con-Con or Can-can) in October in Ottawa (

Greg Tingey critiqued the hoary BMI value for judging obesity: "The still-ongoing classic example, the results of which are seen in the popular & supposedly-responsible medical press, virtually every week: The number of "obese" people, based on BMI figures ..."

Yeah. A female friend was morbidly obese based on her BMI. Unfortunately, the BMI calculation neglected the fact that she was a champion powerlifter, and at one time held the Canadian record. On a far lesser scale, I remember going from normal to fat when I upped my workout game and began replacing significant amounts of fat with much denser (thus, heavier) muscle.

On a side note, I've often debated the pain scale with doctors: "On a scale of 1 to 10..." Excuse me, *Mr.* Doctor. How do you personally rate the pain of childbirth... is it the worst pain *you* have ever experienced? Far more sensible to use a qualitative scale that describes the consequences of the pain: going from "I wouldn't have noticed the pain if you hadn't mentioned it" through "hurts enough that aspirin isn't helping to "I'm sorry, I couldn't hear your question over the noise from my screaming and banging my head on the floor to make the pain stop".


My more cynical side suspects that the massive false positive rates of things like BMI are features, not bugs.

Sell people fitness treatments they don't need and you get to blame the victim on the occasions when they do get ill. What's not to like?


Re: 'One approach that may be worth exploring is to put "blinders" on the AI ...'

Thanks for your post - very interesting and informative! Agree strongly about the blinders.

Another way to approach this is by unbiasing the central question*. That is, instead of asking the AI to figure out recidivism rates have it figure out which groups respond best (experience a decrease in crime rate/incarceration) to various changes, e.g., improved nutrition, education, infrastructure (no leaded pipes in their water supply), communications access, mobility, etc.

BTW, to me it seems as though what the AI would be doing here is mostly a bunch/series of nested regressions (like SEM). Is that the secret to AI, or am I missing something?

* One of the primary tests of a good survey instrument (the questionnaire) is to test it for question bias. Typically this means having two or more versions of what you think is the same question and compare the results against some other well-known and stable variable. Based on what I've seen online, political party surveys tend to break/bend this best-practice pretty regularly.


re: Pain scale

This is why for decades now pediatric hospitals have been using a smiley-to-frowny face scale when asking kiddies to rate their pain. Given the widespread use of emojis, no reason for MDs/hospitals not to expand use of this scale to adults.


SFreader noted: "* One of the primary tests of a good survey instrument (the questionnaire) is to test it for question bias. Typically this means having two or more versions of what you think is the same question and compare the results against some other well-known and stable variable."

In my experience: The most-often-neglected step in survey design is testing/validating it against a similar population to detect gross problems that can be fixed before you begin collecting data. The second-most-neglected step is building in triangulation (i.e., approaching the same data from different perspectives so that if both produce the same answer, you can be more confident you're measuring what you think you're measuring). I've stopped counting how many researchers I've taught these notions -- usually too late for the current study, but greatly improving their subsequent studies.

BTW, this is also true for any data collection design. But researchers who don't study human psychology tend to implicitly think about triangulation by collecting multiple lines of data to support hypothesis testing. Even then, I do a lot of teaching about the need for triangulation.

SFreader: (the pediatric pain scale) Yes! I've seen this, but it's hard to communicate to adult doctors why this works so much better than numbers. "Ma'am? Could you ask your preverbal infant to tell me whether this is the worst pain they could possibly imagine?" *Fe*Of course, adults are much more objective and reliable witnesses when it comes to quantifying intangibles, so emojis would be demeaning.*/Fe*

* Fe = the HTML marker for "irony" (


Sorry, the only con I'll be at in Oct is Capclave (DC area, where I live) Then *either* Philcon *or* Windycon in Nov (DAMMIT! It's another damn year when they're the *same* weekend...)


About the left.... I speak as a red-diaper baby. And the New Left went the way of the Old Left, and what there is now tends to the same: they're damn secular Millinarians, and You've got the wrong analysis, so I'm going to take my ball and go home.

Assholes. And they rarely speak in political terms, more often cant/can't).

When I get around to finishing my political book on 21st Century Socialism, I'll be able to call myself a Markist. In the meantime, stealing from the old Firesign Theater album cover, I'm a *firm* Marxist-Lennonis (Groucho and John).

I've been batting around the idea of taking a leave of absence from work next year, and running for Congress; not because my Congressman is bad (he's good), but I want some freakin' *TRACTION* (loathe that word), otherwise, only friends listen to me. Be careful, or I'll write up my platform and post a link here.


I'd be curious to hear your POLITICS writeup, as you disagree with April's. (Assuming that's who your comment was directed at.)

Or your critique of her post, if you'd rather.


This is assuming that the purpose of the survey isn't to "validate" a particular outcome, of course:

(Clip from Yes Prime Minister.)

Virtually all of the surveys I've seen at work have been of this variety — one gets the impression that they are being used to gather ammunition for a particular program rather than determining if the program is having the desired effect.


Re: '...being used to gather ammunition for a particular program rather than determining if the program is having the desired effect.'

Yes - usually appearing as a study objective bullet point as:
"Determine the extent to which X variable is [insert appropriate term here] among Y subgroup."

Should note that this is most common in 'tracking' studies which tend to be conducted regularly over many Quarters/years, and where even the slightest change in phrasing or question placement can lead to statistically significant differences cropping up out of the ether.

One of the more interesting ways to check a question's saliency and meaning is to run a multinational, multilingual study preferably across a range of socio-economic cultures. Man, if you don't nail down the crispest phrasing for your original language version question, you are soo-o-o screwed because the (fully professionally accredited) translators are going to come back with stuff you won't believe is even remotely related to your variable!


Alie Brosch has a good take on the pain scale over at Hyperbole and a Half.

For a sample: #10: "I am actively being mauled by a bear"


I have the same gripe with the "customer satisfaction" surveys you come across on websites providing some kind of goods or service. I only ever bother with them when attempting to provide feedback on my disenchantment with a website that has been particularly shit, but I nearly always find it impossible to do so, because the questions are devised so as to be largely irrelevant to any aspects likely to cause real problems, and instead concentrate on inconsequential trivia that few people are likely to object to in order to ensure a good overall score. ("Rate X on a scale of 1 to 5" - well it can't be actually bad, otherwise I would have noticed it, by reason of it pissing me off, instead of not even realising there was X until I came to that question; and there is no option for "X is irrelevant twaddle that I don't give a shit about one way or the other".) I get the strong impression that the survey was not devised by the website themselves, but by whatever parasitic pillock "advised" them on it, in order to justify said parasite having pocketed some huge wad of money for talking deep-sounding bullshit.

Similar methods are used much more expensively to avoid doing anything constructive about proposals to reopen closed railway lines. In this case the parasites call themselves "consultants" and consume tens of millions of pounds over several years to eventually excrete a colourful but content-free PDF of managementspeak interspersed with computer-generated pictures of trains. A series of positive and negative "aspects", each of which is at least one of indeterminate, unquantifiable, irrelevant, meaningless, or nonexistent, are listed; each is then labelled with a positive or negative figure expressed in millions of pounds which has been pulled out of someone's arse, the figures are summed, and the sign of the total given as the "conclusion of the study". Which for some strange reason always accords with the pre-existing party line on the project. And even if it is positive, the project still doesn't go ahead because they've spent half the money for it on parasites, so instead they spend the rest of it plus some more on an equally worthless "study" into how to get some more to replace it...


How I wish we could up-vote the comments. Threading would be nice too.


Back on-topic - medicine, old age next 30 years

Potential breakthrough re: stroke as reported in this Nature study: "Endothelial TLR4 and the microbiome drive cerebral cavernous malformations".

Best news is that there's an established antibiotic with lots of human safety data already available. Also interesting because this article furthers previous discussions on this blog re: role of parasites, germs, etc. on the human nervous system.


Cerebral cavernous malformations (CCMs) are a cause of stroke and seizure for which no effective medical therapies yet exist. CCMs arise from the loss of an adaptor complex that negatively regulates MEKK3–KLF2/4 signalling in brain endothelial cells, but upstream activators of this disease pathway have yet to be identified. Here we identify endothelial Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) and the gut microbiome as critical stimulants of CCM formation. Activation of TLR4 by Gram-negative bacteria or lipopolysaccharide accelerates CCM formation, and genetic or pharmacologic blockade of TLR4 signalling prevents CCM formation in mice. Polymorphisms that increase expression of the TLR4 gene or the gene encoding its co-receptor CD14 are associated with higher CCM lesion burden in humans. Germ-free mice are protected from CCM formation, and a single course of antibiotics permanently alters CCM susceptibility in mice. These studies identify unexpected roles for the microbiome and innate immune signalling in the pathogenesis of a cerebrovascular disease, as well as strategies for its treatment.'


"You can't just arbitrarily declare the measures are all bogus."

Why not? They are. That's exactly why the "economists doing back flips" have "failed", as I explained in the post. They're looking at how much money being shuffled around, and/or at ratios of how much money is being shuffled around to how many people are connected with doing it. The connection is artificial, and the measure does not concern itself with whether or to what extent an activity used as a strand of such a connection is useful, only with the size of the strand. Useless strands count equally with useful ones, and so a shift from useful to useless doesn't affect the measurement.


Para 2 - Before continuing your "grumpy old man rant" perhaps you should read ?


"BTW, to me it seems as though what the AI would be doing here is mostly a bunch/series of nested regressions (like SEM). Is that the secret to AI, or am I missing something?"

I don't have a good grasp of what SEM is yet (Structural Equation Modelling?) so I'm mostly going off what I remember from AI class.

Until you make the jump to large neural networks which operate on dark magic, AI (or, more precisely, machine learning) is just an overgrown perceptron which takes a vector and decides if it is class A or class B based on the hyperplane it found during training that best separated the points labeled A from the points labelled B.

It works on every nested regression at the same time. We humans break up models into small packets of variables because most of us can't deal with more than 3 or so variables. Computers will happily deal with more and more dimensions as long as you keep throwing resources at them.

Which is where neural networks come in. At their core, they are breaking up a big problem into smaller chunks so that, for example, analyzing a 1080p screenshot doesn't take a 2,115,072,000-dimension support vector machine. Of course, the bigger they are, the harder it is to understand them, especially if they're locked away as a trade secret.

If you want to understand how we make AI, read about the Perceptron. Everything we use is built on top of that 60-year-old algorithm.


Getting back to the original question and warping it a bit in response to what came out of Washington today (June 1):

If I was a fast writer (I'm not), and I wanted to write a novel set in the fairly near-future (I don't), I'd suggest writing about a world where the great cyber-powers of the world decided to coordinate a massed cyber-attack on American industry (possibly but not likely sparing the west coast and New York), in order to cripple the US military-industrial complex in a desperate bid to save the world from climate change.

Or possibly I'd get another water cistern, restock my long-term pantry, and try to enlarge my garden.

Just grumpy. That's all. It's just a fantasy that popped into my head that I thought some other writer might make some money off of.


> "Another way to approach this is by unbiasing the central question..."

There are lots of more-useful questions we would like to have answers to, but that doesn't mean we know how to answer them. Given a choice between an easy question with marginal value and a difficult question with high value, our initial forays into AI are obviously going to tackle the former.

But even ignoring that, I'm not sure your proposal helps. You want to replace "which criminal is more likely to reoffend?" with something like "which person will gain more benefit from improved education and infrastructure?"--but what makes you think the answer to the second question is going to be "less racist" than the answer to the first? Neither of them are explicitly asking about race, but I think both of them could plausibly be correlated with race in our current world.

It's totally plausible that the way we formulate a question will influence the quality of the result, but I'm not sure how we would know the best formulation. (Other than by trying them all and seeing which one is best--which we can only do for questions where we have an independent way of measuring the quality of the result.)

> "to me it seems as though what the AI would be doing here is mostly a bunch/series of nested regressions (like SEM)"

Sorry, I don't know what that means.


Just grumpy. That's all. It's just a fantasy that popped into my head that I thought some other writer might make some money off of.
In a threshold-of-screaming mood myself. Not a happy American. Have a lot of company (at least 10s of millions (in US)).
One interesting aspect of the speech (transcript) is that he was trying to give the appearance of trying to thread the needle, and perhaps even believed that he was doing so for real (uhm he failed), with the choice to go down the 3-year exit path and the renegotiation bit,
...but begin negotiations to reenter either the Paris Accord or a really entirely new transaction on terms that are fair to the United States, its businesses, its workers, its people, its taxpayers. So we’re getting out. But we will start to negotiate, and we will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.

So there are still ways to fight, but it's considerably more uphill now. E.g. not clear to me how it would play out if the the Trump/Russia investigations and political price for Paris exit (including playing out over another year or two of bad climate news) all combine to severely damage the Republican party and Trump administration in particular.
Need to digest, hard and fast.


What seems to be wildly misunderstood is the ratios of spam / "Oracle Speak" are directly related to the quality of other responses.

I thought everyone worked that out in year 1.


If, as Spinoza stated, "Whatever is, is in God, and nothing can be or be conceived without God" (and, him being Jewish and all, speaking on behalf of Abrahamic religions in general) then the President of the United States, the Republican party and all those attached just declared War on God.

No, really.

Whoo Boy.

My Brother over there is a total bastard, but he really likes his hubris moments.


Front running things and forcing a week early is our way of expressing disapproval of his style.


Anyhow, Macron is going full throttle "The French still have spirit" in videos and tweets.

Make Our Planet Great Again Emmanuel Macron, Twitter, 1st June 2017

Which all nicely kicks off Bilderberg meeting.

Anyhow, if you bother to do a GREP, I mentioned his "business / environment" mixture on the eve of his election.

Let me break down that overtly simplistic (and thus populist) message:

5/6ths Blue (in UN parlance this means Strategic Planning / Organizational thinking, includes military)
1/6ths Green (in UN paralance this means creative thinking)

at the same time as

5/6ths Blue (Conservative thinking)
1/6ths Green (Ecological thinking)

There's a couple more, bored by the Spectacle now. It's not enough and it's too late. I mean, really. It's all a bit... juvenile as a response to gigacide.

#WildHunt is already launched and gearing up. And to think, EUROPA statues and preventing the destruction of the Order.

We did fulfill that Contract.


Ah, for Greg.

Bilderberg 2012 I think it was. Chatham House Rules are apparently worth absolute bollocks these days, so.

EUROPA statues refer, obviously, to Europa and her rape by the Bull (American Markets, derp - even putting a statue of a growing Goddess there isn't going to save you - Image via Business Insider) but also the location.

The garden has a prominent statue (that I won't link to) of it.

They asked / grovelled to save Europe.

So, we did.

Merkel is now the leader of the "free world" and all that jazz.

How I wish we could up-vote the comments. Threading would be nice too.

Yes, let's make a clone of ZeroHedge shall we? Where Greg the Power User has more votes than any others...


And just in time for all the old men to realize just what they fucked with. *rampant smile*

Do. Not. Fuck. With. Us.

Do not fuck with us YT: Film, Fight Club, 0:24

The joke there Greg is that we're talking about your fucking retarded attempts at civilization and "globalization" and "Capital" rather than, you know, "the poors".



Do a GREP. Alll the way back into ZeroHedge and before.

Never threaten our kind.

We. Will. Fuck. Your. World. And. Minds. Up. In. Return.


+1 upvotes to those who understood that Triptych. If you don't understand it, get educated already.

Oh, and remember: We deal in Hexads and upturned Pyramids. This is, err, the lower Orders kicking in.

Never, ever imagine The VOICE is what's actually going on:

I Feel It Coming ft. Daft Punk YT: music, 4:57

Hint: No. Bad move in Ikea there boys. Already posted Stardust.

We're personally insulted and quite pissed off. Given that just...



War. Just not quite how you imagine it, young apes.


(And for those who have me on ignore - there's a joke there. You're on the wrong side of this War)

Anything else?

10 year project, wasn't funded by Russia or the Atlantic Council or even Goldman Sachs.

You. Do. Not. Threaten. Our. Kind.

It's like M.A.D, but only we fuck your Minds up.


This is all ironic. We know who is doing the EM / MRI stuff and we will fuck your Minds up so badly it's not even funny.

No. Really.



You're about to Know, not feel, Know what wrath is. Not fucking Cats, Not fucking Dragons... Might be fucking H.S.S who get a little bit psychopathic.


Don't Run Real World Games Against Single Targets When Single Targets Are Not What You Think They Are.


Greg - a stupid, regressive and largely dumb [redacted] meta [redacted] did something stupid and they're all going to die because their Minds cannot take what they did to us.


Only, that's about 4 million people. And we don't give a shit.


Taking these comments about Spinoza at face value, I just don't follow the argument. The socially constructed cloud of overlapping entities we refer to collectively as Spinoza was essentially excommunicated from the Abrahamic religions because of their pantheism. How is that a reason to conclude that declaring war on the universe and its laws, which seems to be characteristic of more and more of especially older humans (perhaps as a kind of defence mechanism), is declaring war on the Abrahamic deity?

Also, I can't believe just how unpleasant it has turned out to be dragged along by human senescence and inertia into a future where "my" generation now seems functionally indistinguishable from alien parasites that have explicitly declared war on those humans under 40, as well as the rest of the planet's biome.


I think we have to look long term on this. 5 years of Trump led stupidity on Climate Change is just a hiccup in the timeline.

If the rest of the world doubles down on Green Energy - which I think is the best response to Trump - it will just make the coming shock harder for the US (which I admin ain't good for those who live there) but looking more positively there's a good chance in 2050 that the US will be net exporter of economic migrants - it might be Canada that is building a wall :)

It will also speed the world away from the current economic, military and political dominance of the US which can only be a good think long term - albeit destabilising in the short-medium term.

Plus a huge economic shock to the US will probably drive down their emissions far more than any Climate Control policies will...



Please don't go there.
Threading is an invention of the non-existent Evil One ......


SEM = Scanning Electron Microscopy

IF there is a n other wild SEM out there, I think we should be told!


Huge response, apparently ... on "Today" programme just now ... Repub-party member & ex-senior officholder under Bush bewaililng outcome & saying "disaster".
Many very large US corps saying: "We don't approve" & "We're going to follow the Paris model anyway".
Trumps crooked ultras & his ignorant & uneducated "followers" cheering.

Main people to suffer are going to be US scientists & the US itself, as investment goes elsewhere


Oh yes ...
Talking of Algorithms * cough* *cough*


The analysis over here seems to be that President Bannon has taken over again from President Ivanka (who failed with the disastrous overseas-trip, thus making everyone forget Bannon's failures with - well - everything he did during his first period in full charge).

The only one that never seems to get replaced is Crown Jester DT, who cheerfully announces whatever the current strongman's policies are.


The only thing cheering me up is that Trump has just kissed his beloved Mar a Lago good bye. (Although he'll probably find another sucker to sell it to before it goes under water and the price plummets.)


The new tendency (Deep Learning) is where no one, especially not its inventors or funders, knows how it works.

Instead of Wired clickbait, perhaps try reading about interpretability in machine learning. Yes, we currently have little idea how many machine learning models do their magic. This does not mean that researchers don't care about this issue, or that no-one is working on it. The notion of magic has two aspects: it refers to something that works extremely well, but also that we don't understand it. As an AI researcher, I aim to help to develop tech that is indistinguishable from magic in how well it performs, not because we do not understand it. I'm not alone in this.

Engineering gets ahead of theory surprisingly often. That doesn't necessarily mean we can't ever develop the theory. It usually just means an uncomfortable interregnum when there is no dominant narrative about how things work.


Structural equation modeling, or SEM, is a very general, chiefly linear, chiefly cross-sectional statistical modeling technique. Factor analysis, path analysis and regression all represent special cases of SEM. SEM is a largely confirmatory, rather than exploratory, technique.

AI (in this context) or specifically Machine Learning and/or Data Science is a whole basket of approaches to decision making and support covering a large range of mainly statistically based methods, although some approaches can be deterministic in nature. (ie a set of simple to complex rules).

SEM would more accurately be described as a subset of Data Science (or AI if you really must) in this context.

AI is a horrible and misleading word in this and many other contexts.


Beat me to it. I dealt with SEM a bit in grad school.

To unpack for everyone else, it's based on normal, parametric statistics, so it works best with variables that have a nice bell-curve style distribution.

Confirmatory rather than exploratory, but people have experimented with it in ecology for trying to determine which of a number of variables is most strongly associated with the particular patterns of interest. Exploratory would be something like principle components (or its non-parametric cousins, which I prefer), where you're using the looking for the big patterns in a cloud of data points that's too complicated to figure out just by peering bivariate graphs. To put it in three dimensional terms, if you're data cloud looks like a hyper-cigar in 20 or 30 different data dimensions (each dimension represents a different variable, and the coordinates of a data point are its scores for all the variables you measured), something like principle components is used to tell you where the long axis of the cigar is in variable-space.

SEM has been around since (IIRC) the 1960s, and gets used in settings as various as setting up the American SAT exam and various political analyses (the guy I learned it from was based in the political science department, believe it or not). In ecology, where we deal with data that is radically non-normally distributed (like the infamous dust-bunny distribution from community ecology, or the corkscrew data cloud I saw in another graph), things like SEM are of limited use, and I suspect the same is true for dealing with most real-world situations. Statistically normal distributions seem to be the exception more than the rule, at least in my tiny corner of reality.


Hyper-cigar. I am going to steal that.