[FoRK] Malthusian machinations

Eugen Leitl eugen at leitl.org
Tue Jun 15 08:53:15 PDT 2010

On Tue, Jun 15, 2010 at 09:59:35AM -0500, Jeff Bone wrote:

> >A little machine-phase, and solar panels grow like trees.
> Actually, this is an excellent idea. In fact, do we even need the  
> machine phase? Is that merely your gap-bridging strategy?

We don't need the machine phase. Thin-film printed on thin
metal foils or plastic is quite adequate in terms of GWp/year
output. The limit is more deployment, and hooking it up to
the grid (which also needs a lot of work). 

Long term, yes, we will need machine-phase. Biology is not
nearly up to snuff. Just try making a 40-80%+ efficiency self-repairing
panel fit for UHV under high-radiation conditions and thermal 
functional envelope of some 800 K.
> I count it a profound failure of imagination on my part that this  
> wasn't obvious to me. ;-)

Heh. Self-rep is one of the core salvation aspects of MNT manna.
The only limit is on large-scale element transmutation, that will
need a lot of energy and also have limited throughput. But who
wants to live in gold castles?
> Still not sure it works in time w/o impractical levels of funding and  
> commitment, absent supplementary means, but... Yeah, let's do that.

I don't expect machine-phase to make it within any relevant time
frame. You can only factor it in if you've arranged to have your head
frozen (and keep it frozen, of course).
> Doesn't invalidate the bet, tho. Ain't gonna happen by 2020;  neither  
> will crossover. IMHO, of course.

So far it doesn't look like it will happen by 2080, either. On
the other hand, only a fool would try predicting something on
a scale approaching a century, especially at a developmental crossroads
which will potentially provide plenty of monkeywrenches.
> This is one of my "would love to be wrong" things...

Eugen* Leitl <a href="http://leitl.org">leitl</a> http://leitl.org
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