[FoRK] Malthusian machinations

Jeff Bone jbone at place.org
Tue Jun 15 09:21:05 PDT 2010

Just so that I'm clear on what you're asserting...

On Jun 15, 2010, at 10:38 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:

> Engineering a viable, harvestable species (or symbiotic cluster) 
> to absorb U/Th from seawater which can auto-amplify to sufficient scale without
> introducing side effects is something we can't do yet. And won't
> be able to do sufficiently long that it doesn't matter. 

On Jun 15, 2010, at 10:53 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:

> 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.

A few questions.

Aren't these assertions mildly incompatible?

I'd assumed that your thin-print method was what you were referring to as machine phase;  though incremental the implication, I thought, was a gradually-automated and increasingly "smart" industrial process improvement.  No?  Re:  that process, that's the one for which I think you're underestimating the costs (but overestimating the timeframes given adequate funding, which is not in fact practical as we've already agreed.)

If we can't engineer harvestable species or clusters and won't be able to until we're pretty far down the road, then how do we do this:

On Jun 15, 2010, at 8:44, Eugen Leitl <eugen at leitl.org> wrote:

> solar panels grow like trees.


(I interpreted your statement as:  pass through machine phase to an advanced biocentric method.  Apparently that's not what you meant?  That was the idea I was thinking was particularly interesting...  seems to me the phase-cycle most likely goes:  industrial processes -> bio-bootstrap -> advanced machines...)

Also, tangential:

> When oil hits 80, economy tanks.

What year / dollars are you assuming, here?  (You might argue that this is somewhat unitless...  also, begs the definition of "tanks.")  I think it's a lowball, but would probably split the difference between this and my $200 / barrel, in 2009 dollars.)

Re: "a war."  "A?"  At least.  That's the closest thing I've heard in this whole conversation, from anyone, me included, to certainty assuming we fall too far into the gap.  Arguably, already happening.


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