Greg vP

Greg vP

  • Commented on What can possibly go wrong?
    Re the Youtube Kids piece in particular: Google/YouTube and Facebook/Instagram, and probably Twitter and Snapchat and others are going to have to get on top of this quickly, or they risk the heavy boot of government coming down on them....
  • Commented on Unforeseen Consequences and that 1929 vibe
    I still don't get bitcoin. Anything which is produced in a fixed quantity by design is a collectible, not a currency. Bitcoins are like the coins struck for coin collectors, or Ming vases, or Barbie Dolls in Original Packaging. There...
  • Commented on A bright and shiny hell
    Charlie at OP: Social solidarity. Tolerance. Openness. Transparency that runs up as well as down the personal-institutional scale. Let me again put in a plug for Jacques Attali's Brief History of the Future. You seem to have ended up where...
  • Commented on Trapped in the wrong trouser-leg of time
    Can I add my voice to Antiquercus's plea? Please keep blogging, Charlie: where else am I going to get interesting ideas to chew on? The Scott Alexanders of this world have their uses but they are a bit too... I...
  • Commented on The World of Tomorrow
    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...
  • Commented on PSA: The Delirium Brief
    Yeah, my image was Tupac vs. Biggie in Old Enochian. WMDs....
  • Commented on Popcorn Time
    Like Jez (to whom, kudos for calmness under pressure of idiocy), I live a long way away. I don't find it hilarious. I find it tragic, in both the literary, Greek tragedy sense and in the way the word is...
  • Commented on Things Can Only Get Better! (Part 1)
    ... the feudal/landowner types ... [a]re about turning the UK back into where it might have gone if Charles I hadn't lost his fight with parliament, i.e. a feudal despotism and hermit state, albeit with a notional talking shop to...
  • Commented on Things Can Only Get Better! (Part 1)
    Back on the economic impacts. OK, thanks, Charlie; you know Nile. But that doesn't change the fact that his assertions aren't third-party verifiable by Noel or me. There must be something in the public domain... The sad truth now is...
  • Commented on Things Can Only Get Better! (Part 1)
    Loke Noel #57, I would like to see the references for Nile #20's assertions about economic models. The results sound very unlikely and so need strong evidence. Also, the assertions are mutually contradictory. If the UK is "structurally unable to...
  • Commented on Duelling - Essentially a Bloody Stupid Idea
    >>(Self driving cars will be dead in the water the first time a terrorist uses one as a fertiliser bomb carrying cruise missile.) I expect a technical lock-out to prevent that. Technical lockouts have technical defeats. Heck, even I could...
  • Commented on Ever Young?
    ... a slew of anachronistic cultural detritus that we'd be a lot happier if we simply learned to let go of. Absolutely. Like the idea of inheritance, for example. Accumulating capital to pass on to your offspring made sense back...
  • Commented on Facts of Life and Death
    We have endemic malnutrition among the financially stressed these days in a way we haven't seen since the 1930s... Pushing food up 13-16% is still too much if it means 20% of the population have to cut their food intake...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    >So, assuming it's not actually Mars he wants to go to (because not that possible in the coming decades). what is the goal? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/DefaceOfTheMoon?...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    >The trend in everything else is miniaturisation. No it's not. (Unless you're mistaking electronics for "everything".) [Examples] Fair points. I was thinking of the other possible things to do in space. Pace Boeing and Hyundai Heavy, the trend in manufacturing...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    Actually, I suspect you're wrong: bioweapons are ridiculously easy to deploy, when it comes to crop killers. The problem is that you can't stop the damn things once you've deployed them. Absolutely: very easy to deploy. But not at the...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    LIGO in space, multiple AU I'm all for this. We need to get out where it's gravitationally quieter to have a go at the Dark Matter problem. Past Neptune at the very least....
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    It's not about maize in the USA. It's about wheat in Russia/India and rice in the whole of S, E and SE Asia. Quite so. Although the wheat-growing regions in NE Asia, North America and Europe are also important, and...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    But yes, in the final analysis Musk hasn't invented something new; he's just figured out how the hell to sell us the stuff we knew we needed but were too timid to buy. Very like The Donald and his target...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    But, Catherine, I have trouble believing in food system catastrophe. There are many buffers built into the system. The US maize crop is cut in half? The price of maize rises; beef farmers send their animals to the processors and...
  • Commented on What else can you do with a Big Dumb Booster?
    So, summing up, we have a boutique tourism industry, maybe some tiny manufacturing industries, symbolic expressions of national power, some slight to negligible improvements in global communications, advertising, and astronomy. And maybe sunshades as band-aids for global warming. And... we're...
  • Commented on The iron law of development
    I am profoundly sceptical that a large population in itself leads to economic take-off. Ancient Egypt had a large population but was a static society. The same can be said of the Mayans, China, Imperial Rome, and much of South...
  • Commented on Cyberpunk 2.0: Political economy, energy, and the future US
    Meta-comment on the above: there is a general problem with studies by engineers, which is that engineers almost universally have an aesthetic preference for efficiency, and they don't realise that most people are not engineers and have other motivations. If...
  • Commented on Cyberpunk 2.0: Political economy, energy, and the future US
    Mike Scott's point needs repeating. When power is cheaper, people will use more of it, not less. Generally observed behaviour, that: when a thing gets cheaper, people use relatively more of it. The incentives to economize disappear. This is what...
  • Commented on We'll all go together when we go
    Re Weinberg's Woodpecker: I first saw this epigram in about 1981, attributed to Tony Hoare. I wonder if we have a case of Stigler's Law here. I have to admit that woodpeckers feature more strongly in USAlian figures of speech...
  • Commented on We'll all go together when we go
    >> In the biology community, the standard lesson is that the two main causes of extinction in descending order are habitat loss and invasive species. Useful framework. OK, let's take habitat loss. Pre-fossil-fuel humans lived in nearly all climates and...
  • Commented on We'll all go together when we go
    Thanks for pointing out those deficiencies in MacKay's work, Matt -- but what new information can Heteromeles add, now? :) I would say, though, that MacKay is following convention in looking at the budget of a moderately affluent household. The...
  • Commented on We'll all go together when we go
    >> 2. Electricity can be supplied 100% with renewables, with a lot less handwaving. I'll get to this in a guest post on Sunday. I'm looking forward to that post. You're contradicting the likes of the late David MacKay and...
  • Commented on Why Should You Care About Virtual Reality? Because It's A Source Of Hope.
    > If you can get a decent internet connection - and you can - in the Isle of Skye, you can perfectly happily commute to the virtual office just as easily as you could from the Isle of Dogs. So,...
  • Commented on Cytological Utopia and the rapture of the eukaryotes
    The question is moot: there isn't enough time or matter for the experiment. The future is not unbounded; in a mere 120 trillion years or so there's no fusion happening in the universe. "Shortly" after that, temperatures are too even...
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