Alex Tolley

Alex Tolley

  • Commented on A death in the Firm
    "The recent revelation" - only to the ignorant & uninformed, actually. When and how did you know that the monarchy could change laws before they were to be voted on? Clearly you had knowledge that journalists are only now reporting...
  • Commented on A death in the Firm
    There is some value in making the Royals titular rather than constitutional monarchs. The recent revelation that the monarch gets to see legislation before it is enacted to make changes that would otherwise affect the monarch would be ended, making...
  • Commented on A death in the Firm
    IIRC, British manufacturing had been in decline even before I was born in the 1950s. The 1960s saw successive devaluations of the pound but this did not translate into improved exports. By the 1970s Britain was "the sick man of...
  • Commented on A death in the Firm
    OT: "My only interaction with the royal family ever was to walk across a stage during a graduation ceremony attended by a bored minor royal--the patron of the university I attended." Being a decade older than Charlie, my graduation ceremony...
  • Commented on Covid on Mars
    Why the fixation on such 20th century delivery technologies like syringes? There will be other physical delivery devices, although I think biological ones will be far more developed by then. I think Bruce Sterling had it more right in his...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    Yes, I have read Halting State. And yes, I have forgotten the plot. When I was young I could read the first page of any story and know whether I had read it or not. Now I cannot. A literate...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    Having had a fair bit of experience with those drivers in the 1980s US, I have mixed feelings. Some were very good. Others no better than decent NY cab drivers. But none were as poor as those NY cabbies that...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    I think we can agree that a remote driver cannot rape the passenger. IIRC, aircraft passengers did not want to fly in pilotless aircraft as they wanted to know that a pilot would do everything they could to save the...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    Vaccines are very cheap and almost everyone can be given one, even if, as with seasonal flu, it has to be repeated every year. The problem with drugs is that they tend to be relatively expensive unless governments make them...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    Silly Valley seems to prefer self-driving to call centers full of chauffeurs piloting vehicles remotely (even though that might be more achievable in these days of cars that come with always-on onboard LTE/4G modems for their computers). While that seems...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    I tend to agree in general. Previous plagues didn't obviously seem to change much. (I suspect my handwashing will be permanently better than before though!) But some things will change, we just don't know what. I suspect this has increased...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    Deciding when to story must be influenced on one's scenarios of teh future. OGH once opined about the "beige politicians" that would extend out into teh future, which I assume implied he thought our social and political systems would be...
  • Commented on Yet another novel I will no longer write
    And you thought that writing near future SciFi was the way to go. Pushing a story out a generation or two, and further solves this near future catching up problem even if it looks quaint when that future date arrives....
  • Commented on Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Menace?
    As if the misogynistic bro culture of SV wasn't bad enough without biased AI....
  • Commented on Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Menace?
    While OGH is taking the tack that AI is a potential serious problem and that many of the commenters are dittoing that viewpoint, I would take the opposite view. Humans and their organizations have been biased and unaccountable for a...
  • Commented on Artificial Intelligence: Threat or Menace?
    In "The Collected Stories...", Clarke states that the story was inspired by the development of the V2. He further says that the 2 main characters were based on von Braun and Dornberger....
  • Commented on Crawling from the wreckage
    The #MeToo movement has started to make some real impact, cutting into teh patriarchal system with all the ramifications for the future. Assuming it doesn't flame out or end up un gutted in a backlash, I think this bodes well...
  • Commented on Test Case
    Do aircraft autopilots have anything relevant to add to this discussion? While aircraft still have pilots, I recall issues with autopilots failing (sensors freezing, etc) that cause crashes as pilots take too long to override them. Were airframe manufacturers every...
  • Commented on Test Case
    I think you missed my attempt at humor....
  • Commented on Test Case
    Was the pedestrian carrying a cellphone or other device that could be interrogated by the car to determine a human was nearby? If not, the fault lies with the pedestrian who was not clearly indicating a presence to the vehicle....
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    I suppose he could have said "I buy my wife lots of things". To which you could have replied: "But how did you determine the price for each thing she does for you, besides the sex?". MBAs with brains understand...
  • Commented on Why I barely read SF these days
    I also find I read less SF these days, but not because of problems of worldbuilding. Douglas Adams once said that he had given up litfic because there was nothing new to read about. I read SF mostly to be...
  • Commented on Dude, you broke the future!
    In the West, primarily Anglo-Speaking West, economics and finance (especially) focussed on entities maximiming gains. For firms this meant sharegholders, while elsewhere other stakeholders were also part of decision-making. AI in the US was often focussed on "winning", whether beating...
  • Commented on Dude, you broke the future!
    paperclip maximizer = replicator So we have had replicators since life began. The result has been a flowering of life, particularly of metazoa. Ai today and the near future is primarily software, so the nearest replicator analogy is memes. We've...
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    There's nowhere in the Solar System we really want to go anyway You are making teh assumption that humans must be colonizing the solar system for there to be any need for infrastructure and transport. There can be an entirely...
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    You are right. The engines represent the bulk of the dry mass as they are increased in number to increase thrust. At 25 kg each, one cannot scale up the vehicle fast enough to make sense. (The solar array mass...
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    Indium ion micro thrusters. Yes, Isp of 10,000+s was measured paper: http://articles.adsabs.harvard.edu/cgi-bin/nph-iarticle_query?bibcode=1997ESASP.398..267R&db_key=AST&page_ind=0&plate_select=NO&data_type=GIF&type=SCREEN_GIF&classic=YES Nasa news report on printed approach: https://microdevices.jpl.nasa.gov/capabilities/advanced-microfabrication-technologies/microfluidic-electrospray-propulsion.php These look more suitable for tiny satellites and position keeping, but they may well offer scale-up opportunities....
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    I assumed no mass for the engines, just the mass of the arrays with an assumed power density that could be raised 10x. MIT has demonstrated super-thin film arrays in the lab at 6W/g, I think it is not unreasonable...
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    Storage is easy, we know how to do that. You don't run hoses, but rather fill a smaller container truck, drive over to the ship and pump into the tanks, just as we manage jet fuel with aircraft at airports,...
  • Commented on Bread and Circuses (circumlunar version)
    Before writing off high-thrust ion drives, buy increasing the power to run multiple engines you can get much more thrust and short travel times. The problem is the power supply. Those nice solar arrays have too low a power density....
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