Rapidly Bootstrapping Solar System Wide Civilization

April 20th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Rapidly Bootstrapping Solar System Wide Civilization)

Imagine the possibility that within 50 years, a thousand human civilization equivalents of greater wonder, beauty and prosperity than we have now:

Player-of-Games

Via American Society of Civil Engineers:

Advances in robotics and additive manufacturing have become game‐changing for the prospects of space industry. It has become feasible to bootstrap a self‐sustaining, self‐expanding industry at reasonably low cost. Simple modeling was developed to identify the main parameters of successful bootstrapping. This indicates that bootstrapping can be achieved with as little as 12 metric tons (MT) landed on the Moon during a period of about 20 years. The equipment will be teleoperated and then transitioned to full autonomy so the industry can spread to the asteroid belt and beyond. The strategy begins with a sub‐replicating system and evolves it toward full self‐sustainability (full closure) via an in situ technology spiral. The industry grows exponentially due to the free real estate, energy, and material resources of space. The mass of industrial assets at the end of bootstrapping will be 156 MT with 60 humanoid robots, or as high as 40,000 MT with as many as 100,000 humanoid robots if faster manufacturing is supported by launching a total of 41 MT to the Moon. Within another few decades with no further investment, it can have millions of times the industrial capacity of the United States. Modeling over wide parameter ranges indicates this is reasonable, but further analysis is needed. This industry promises to revolutionize the human condition.

This becomes an ever more tangible possibility as SpaceX revolutionizes commercial spaceflight, and interplanetary propulsion methods reach specific impulses of 250,000 seconds. This is equal to 1 pound of fuel delivering 1 pound of thrust for 250,000 seconds (~3 days), or 250,000 pounds of thrust for one second. Either way it’s a lot! It means rapid (multi-week) flexible travel anywhere in the solar system.

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You Want a Totally Unregulated Free-Market? Okay.

April 19th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on You Want a Totally Unregulated Free-Market? Okay.)

Some thoughts on why I think the utopia of left-leaning libertarians is the most likely outcome of the current power struggle.

Imagine what would happen if right-wing libertarians actually got what they wanted – a totally free and unregulated marketplace (something I’m in favor of by the way). After all they keep telling us it’s the government that keeps getting in the way of free enterprise. Lets give it to them – lets have free enterprise without government. So what does that mean? For starters it means no more copyright laws. For without government or some other centralized monopolization of force, who would enforce copyrights? It also means no more patents. For without regulation (enforcement), who would enforce patents? It would also mean no more licensing restrictions, fees, permits or other artificial entry barriers  keeping the little guy from competing head on with the big guys. For without fees and permits, anybody can participate in the free market. It also mean no more monopolies. For without laws enforcing “intellectual property”, how could a company corner the market on anything? So no more big companies either. For without government backed market protection or fictional “corporate personhood” laws, how could big companies compete against thousands of little companies innovating faster and more diversely than any large company ever could? If you think patents and copyrights promote innovation rather than stifle it, think again.

Also, no more centralized currencies. For without government backed currencies and centralized banking laws, how could anyone corner the market on freely proliferating and competing currencies? So goodbye to Goldman Sachs and other vampire financial firms. No more patents stifling innovation, and thus no more restrictions keeping anyone from creating super amazing stuff and putting it out on the internet for free, and so fast that any kind of enforcement will be too little, too late. It means hand-held devices that do everything and operate on any frequency. This in turn means rapid decentralized global deployment of totally free and unregulated broadband communications for everyone. No more cell phone companies charging exorbitant fees – actually no more cell phone companies period. No more censorship or information control either. No more mainstream media, and other domineering propaganda channels. No more secrets. No more conspiracies. No more monopolization of power.

I suspect this is not what the current “deregulation crowd” had in mind. They want there to be some kind of centralized enforcement branch to protect their “intellectual property rights”. I think the best argument against this kind of right-wing libertarianism is this – if they insist that at least one centralized institution remain to enforce intellectual  property rights (through threat of incarceration or violence of course), what is to keep that central point of failure from being hijacked by the most rich and powerful to create protection rackets for themselves and thus eliminate their free market? I challenge them to tell me then how such a scenario won’t happen, and an how it is any different than what we have now. From where I’m sitting their “free” market is not really free, but an untenable fantasy. You can’t have it both ways. Either we have a free market and all that implies (above) or you’re back to some kind of oppressive system – in this case corporate feudalism. So here is the naked truth – any right-wing libertarian who says they want a free-market with enforced intellectual property rights, is either deluding themselves or damned liars who are the very tyrants they warn us against.

Of course some would call this anarchy, and what may seem like an inevitable bazaar of violence emerging to dominate it (predicted by people like Bruce Sterling and John Robb). However that problem, as troublesome as it is, is also not sustainable, as more and more of that kind of power flows into the hands of individuals. Because the truth is this – good intentions out number bad ones 20 to 1. The beauty of this logic is simple – the network magnifies good intentions exponentially faster than the bad ones. As the power of the network grows, individuals can create network collectives of transparency and prosperity that far out compete (and out number) any stupid, criminal, secret, malicious or parasitic conspiratorial system. This means that over time the good guys will out compete the bad guys at every turn. Until then expect more medium-size players taking on large incumbents, such as the Mexican cartels taking on the Mexican government. But that unfortunate trend is only temporary as power continues to shift to the edges. Already smaller towns in Mexico have made it nearly impossible for criminal elements to take over their communities. After all, if everything is unregulated, how could criminal/corporate/political cartels ever survive? They won’t.

I should add that the more enlightened right-wing libertarians feel property right contracts should be voluntary and never forced on anyone. They believe that those who choose such contracts will create an economic bloc that will be superior to other types of collectives. I’m fine with that, and their welcome to try. However, they’ll quickly discover they cannot compete when everyone else is not honoring those contracts and remixes and re-engineers any and all innovation to ever higher heights.

Meanwhile trends continue to nip away at “intellectual property” all over the world. China has gotten where it is in largely by ripping off everyone else’s intellectual property, particularly the West’s innovative capital. How’s that working out for the West? Not well. The genie is out of the bottle when it comes to information, so we’re going to see more innovation coming through open information channels, and less through the traditional copyright and patent system. Those who want to create a property rights nirvana are living in a dream world that can no longer exist in a world where anyone can remix and “steal” any electrons and duplicate that knowledge around the world in seconds.

Because of the new reality of free information, great efforts are now being expended to maintain the old system – SOPA, PIPA, CISPA (expect more nth derivatives), and new threats of violence and incarceration in things like the NDAA (which makes it “legal” to incarcerate or assassinate anyone without due process). The trend however is that monopolization of violence is rapidly vanishing as well. The transition to these new utopias I’m afraid will be quite rocky for a time as both the old power elites do whatever they must to maintain their power, while newer more nimble thugs make a go at at it. But that is a transitional trend not an endpoint, thankfully.

 

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What Kind of Particle Are You?

April 2nd, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Here’s a mind map of particle physics based on the Standard Model (the closest thing we have yet to a Grand Unified Theory), sans dark matter or other exotica. But hey, it’s the exotica that are more fun, right? This is a fun and engaging map anyway:

what-kind-of-particle-are-you

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Hydra: The Thrivability Quadrant

March 27th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Hydra: The Thrivability Quadrant)

Qudrants-HydraEver since I first read about Bucky Fuller’s Design Science Revolution, I’ve taken the proactive position that no problem is unsolvable given enough will. I’ve lived long enough now to know there are solutions to every problem we have, including the more difficult ones (the unknown unknowns). It has been a bit discouraging to see most thinking still stuck within the first three quadrants, with many of the more conscious and smart people hanging out in the upper left quadrant – the Spore quadrant. The essence of this quadrant is that it’s all “going to shit”, but we can still plant seeds or “spores” of resilience now that will eventually sprout in the far future.” (John Robb, who I have a great deal of respect, is the most notable person in this category). For us thrivability people however we see the crisis as an opportunity, an inflection point where things can get a lot better. Sometimes it takes crisis to push us in the right evolutionary direction. As Hydra’s we see the network, the global brain, as coming to a megaconvergence just as we face a megacrisis. The Hydra’s see the same “facts” as the Spores, but see far more opportunity for positive change.

P2p technologies are one great example. They have the power to break the entire stranglehold on mind, hearts and innovation that is currently holding humanity back, way back. Like the medieval church before it, the current economic elites have rigged the system for their benefit, in large part by locking up and controlling as many liberating technologies as they can. They are the winners with their spoils, and they are going to hold onto them as long as possible. But it is too late for them – the genie is out of the bottle. The network is democratizing the entire information universe–  ideas, movies, books, formulas, recipes, instructions, designs, and now physical objects – tools, manufacturing processes, replicating 3d printers, and soon every means of production. If you want more information on how this works, I’ve detailed a bit the ingredients that will enable this “Hyrda” post-scarcity world to emerge.

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The Three Requirments for a Post Scarcity Economy

March 27th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on The Three Requirments for a Post Scarcity Economy)

I have identified just three necessary ingredients for achieving a fully sustainable, post-scarcity economy – open information, open manufacturing and full regenerative use of local materials. All of these are proving to be unstoppable.

Lets look at each of them in a little detail:

1) Open Information  – The modern trend towards increasingly open information began with the Gutenberg printing press in 1436 and became unstoppable ever since.  There is not a single instance anywhere in history where information has been successfully censored indefinitely. The Internet is merely the most recent and dramatic example of this ongoing information explosion. Despite the best efforts of powerful interests everywhere to control and censor information, information wants to be free, and makes it so. The end result will be a totally decentralized and uncensored global network “brain” where everyone will be able to create, share and receive bits from anyone else. For example, the Pirate Bay, the biggest victim of censorship attacks, is now designing and building solar powered, high-altitude (70,000 feet) wireless servers that will be extraordinarily difficult to shut down. Open source hardware devices like the $50 Arduino and $25 Rasberry Pi, are only the beginning of cheap, widely available general purpose computing devices. With the rapid digitization of everything, including books, music, movies, money, recipes, formulas, designs, manufacturing processes, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, state secrets, solutions of every kind, and most importantly computation itself, the genie is out of the bottle for good on this one. No amount of laws or wars to stop it will succeed. Sadly, until the old order collapses, much of the progress in these domains will be done by outlaws.

2) Open Manufacturing – With the advent of open-source desktop manufacturing, the means to create physical goods locally will be made available to all. Open sourced manufacturing generates some dramatically positive outcomes:

  • Radically improved product design without planned obsolescence – think 50-100 year product lifetimes. Indefinite product lifetimes means no further expenditures on tools, and radically reduced requirements for new materials. This translates to far less consumption, waste and strain on the planet.
  • Modular construction methods for easy and rapid construction, repair and upgrading. Example: Wikispeed designed a totally modular car in less than 3 months that gets 100mpg, has 10 minute average repair times, and can be changed from a gasoline to an electric car (and back again!) in less than an hour. Currently automobiles are deliberately designed to fail within a few years, in which repairs and parts are both expensive and difficult to replace. This planned obsolescence is a deliberate design flaw for maximizing auto industry/auto mechanic profit margins. Open source automobiles totally eliminates this waste and expense.
  • Designed from the beginning to use local and biofriendly sources of raw materials – current business models favor the use of expensive or hard to obtain materials for maximizing profit margins. If the materials are cheap and readily available, prices can’t be fixed by resource hoarding. There are strong incentives withing the current closed-source system for incumbents to use materials and processes that are hard to duplicate elsewhere. Prices only drop when their is genuine competition in raw materials. By designing open-source products to use locally available and renewable resources, the price fixers, hoarders, renters and other middle-men are completely cut of of the equation.

3) 100% Regenerative Use of Local Materials – Currently many of the products of our civilization require precious materials from far away places. However the means to create advanced technologies like high capacity batteries and computer processors is becoming possible using everyday organic materials like carbon. A good example is graphene, a new and spectacular type of carbon molecule whose strength and electrical conductivity is greater than any material ever recorded. Already people have figured out to make graphene supercapacitors and do microlithography (the process used to make microchips) using nothing more than a $50 DVD burner! The continued work on creating new materials using readily available recyclable and biodegradable resources makes the possibility of having an fully regenerative, earth friendly, advanced technological, post-scarcity, thriving abundant civilization, a tangible possibility. See Spime.

 

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A perfect comedic deconstruction of the total malarkey dished out by copyright cartels:

 

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With all of the talk about censoring the internet with things like SOPA, PIPA and now ACTA, comes the possibility of creating an entirely new free internet immune to censorship – high-altitude geostationary solar-powered dirigible wireless server drones. Already DIY drones are taking off everywhere – see this video for a good idea of how citizens can counter the increasing surveillance of the state by spying back on them. Ideally these drones would all be connected to each other in a self-healing mesh-network, should any of them fail, get lost or be “shot down” by unfriendly forces.

Now comes this news about Pirate Bay’s intent to create “Low Orbit Server Drones”:

The Pirate Bay, the file-sharing site, has, at this point, generally accepted the fact that their front-end servers are perpetually at risk of being confiscated by some government or other that they’ve ticked off with their “crazy” ideas of freedom of information. Whether or not you agree with The Pirate Bay, you can probably understand the seriousness of what they’re up against, so it’s not really that surprising that they’ve been looking for a place a bit more out of reach to stash their hardware. Their latest idea? Low Orbit Server Drones.

A Low Orbit Server Station (or LOSS), as best as we can tell, would be a small customized robotic blimp of some sort that would float “some kilometers” up in the air, keeping station with GPS. On board would be a microcomputer (TPB mentions the Raspberry Pi, a cheap ARM Linux box, as one possibility) and a radio transmitter. A ground station could talk to the blimp at 100 Mbps from up to 50 km away, acting as a remote, distributed proxy system. The idea here is that in order for anyone to raid the aerial proxies, they’d have to launch an aerial attack of some sort on the robot blimp network. As TPB puts it:

“This way our machines will have to be shut down with aeroplanes in order to shut down the system. A real act of war.”

We’re not sure about the legal aspects here, or if there are even any precedents for something like this. But, it’s certainly an interesting (and potentially incendiary) approach that The Pirate Bay is looking to take. And not just looking: this is apparently going to happen for real, and the first drone in the network will take station somewhere in international waters. Probably a good plan.

 

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Patrick-Farley-First-Word

Patrick Farley has done it again. Except this time he has totally outdone himself. This is hands down the best webcomic that has ever been done so far. Simply amazing. This stunningly beautiful graphic comic tells the story on the origin of language Terrence Mckenna style. While you’re at it, listen to some trippy psychill music while scrolling through this visionary masterpiece:

First Word

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Man Builds Fairy Tale Home for $4700

January 30th, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

From Gaia Health:

Simon Dale is a family man in Wales, the western part of Great Britain. His interest in self-sustainability and an ecological awareness led him to dig out and build his own home—one of the loveliest, warmest, most inviting dwellings you could ever imagine. And it cost him only £3,000, about $4,700 American dollars!

Can you imagine a more charming entrance than this?

Hobbit-Home-01

Hobbit-Home-02

Simon gives two reasons for building the home. The first elegant one, from his website, is:

It’s fun. Living your own life, in your own way is rewarding. Following our dreams keeps our souls alive.

His second reason is a plea for sustainability, in which he states that “our supplies are dwindling and our planet is in ecological catastrophe”. You can read the full and passionate statement here.

Simon is also a photographer, and as you can see throughout this article, a talented one.

Hobbit-Home-08

A beautiful view in another home that Simon is helping build for someone else. (Originally, this was mistakenly identified as a photo of the home he and his family are living in.)

The tools are fairly simple. The main concession to modernity was a chainsaw, which he used to cut down about 30 small trees. No old growth forest fell to his family’s needs. He focused on tools that used his own energy, like shovel, chisel, and hammer. Yet it took him only four months to produce this lovely home.

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The home is constructed from wood, stone, straw, and has a sod roof. It’s heated with a wood fireplace and has a solar panel for power. Most materials were scavenged and refurbished appliances. The effect, though, isn’t of a run-down get-by-with-second-best . It’s creative, artistic, elegant, and cozy. It is, in fact, magical.

Most amazingly, the home didn’t require years of training or experience. Simon had none. He’s not an architect. He’s not an engineer. He’s not a carpenter.  He started from scratch in every sense. He told the Daily Mail:

Being your own have-a-go architect is a lot of fun and allows you to create and enjoy something which is part of yourself and the land rather than, at worst, a mass-produced box designed for maximum profit and the convenience of the construction industry.

Building from natural materials does away with producers’ profits and the cocktail of carcinogenic poisons that fill most modern buildings.

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He was fortunate in obtaining the land for his home. The plot, a bit of a large piece, was given to him in exchange for its caretaking.

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Simon Dale, his wife Jasmine Saville, and their two children in front of their completed home just 4 months after starting it! This and all photos on this page are by Simon Dale (http://simondale.net).

The attention to making the home eco-friendly extends to a compost toilet, the use of straw over a plastic layer for insulation, and a refrigerator that’s cooled with air that flows from under the home’s foundation. Cement is a high carbon emitter, so the interior walls are finished with lime plaster instead of cement plaster.

Hobbit-Home-09

Simon is now involved in building another home for the Lammas Project, an organization dedicted to low-impact building. Focus is not only on the homes themselves, but also on planting trees and gardens, and on low impact living in general. Here’s how he sums up his view on his home and the Lammas Project:
This building is one part of a low-impact or permaculture approach to life. This sort of life is about living in harmony with both the natural world and ourselves, doing things simply and using appropriate levels of technology. These sort of low cost, natural buildings have a place not only in their own sustainability, but also in their potential to provide affordable housing which allows people access to land and the opportunity to lead more simple, sustainable lives.

I cannot imagine a home more lovely, appealing, and livable than this one. This could be and should be the wave of the future in home building.

For more information about Simon Dale’s home, plans, and more photos, please go to his website, A Low Impact Woodland Home.

 

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First Impressions of New Zealand

January 22nd, 2012 | Posted by paul in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

I’ve concluded that no photo or video can do New Zealand justice – it is beautiful and majestic beyond words and very different in way that is difficult to compare to anywhere else. New Zealand is wild and filled everywhere with dense, impossibly green foliage , except for places cleared for farming or settlements. The landscape, climate, flora, people, culture and feel of the place is unique enough that saying, “it is like” won’t work. If you haven’t been to New Zealand, you must go before you die. For me it is “that” place I was always looking for and no longer believed existed. It has the feel of a dream, an idealistic place of childhood fantasies of a world untouched by the stain of modern psychosis. The people there are innocent, and are by and large not living in any kind of fear. The “fear matrix” that is so pervasive here in the U.S. is conspicuously absent there.  I saw 16 year old girls, beautiful ones at that, hitchhiking across the country for summer holiday. I picked up this young hippy fellow during my trip in the south island and mentioned that as a rule we don’t pick up hitchhikers in the U.S. It was so outside his experience that I failed in my attempts to explain it. They still allow you to pump gas on the honor system.

I was surprised at how integrated the Maori and white people are. I saw many mixed race people, some in their 60’s, and as many mixed race couples as not. Maori’s are huge Reggae fans. The entire town of Rotorua had town flags up celebrating it’s upcoming Reggae festival. On the streets, stores, restaurants and bars, nobody was is in a hurry. The mood was always very relaxed. The downside is you might have to wait 30 minutes for a “quick” order, but what’s the rush in such a beautiful place? The road on the other hand was a different matter. Kiwi’s love to speed, and cut corners. I know of no sign anywhere in the U.S. that says not to cut corners, but in New Zealand they are everywhere. I would see drivers cut corners around a blind corner with a large truck coming the other way – simply crazy. Otherwise the mood everywhere is relaxed. The kiwi people know how to have a good time. They excel at it. Everywhere I went there were fun things to do for kids and adults. I even saw a circus camp on the far end of the north island – an actual place where you could do trapeze!!

New Zealand is big. Far bigger than it looks on a map. I was surprised how long it took to go from one place to the next. The general experience is driving for three or four hours through wilderness and farmland before coming to the next town. Any place there are people, chances are the next nearest places with people is 20 or 30 miles away. My time there (3 weeks) was not nearly long enough. I barley got to see the two islands. Much of it was through the window while I drove. To do New Zealand justice I don’t recommend any time there less than a month, but two or three months is much better. If you’re on a budget, there is plenty of cheap or free camping.

One of the things I liked most about New Zealand was the landscape and a very real sense of no boundaries. There were huge stretches of land and beach that were simply wild. Even beaches near towns, like Nelson, are more or less wild. By wild I mean there are no signs, rules, fences or other constraints to wandering around. In the U.S. it seems there are very few places left that you can just wander without feeling like your are either on some one elses property or on a piece of regulated land.. In New Zealand it’s just wide open – wild in the truest sense.  And with it’s relatively low population, it is very easy to get completely lost and leave behind civilization for a while. As hard as this is to believe, I had two miles of the most pristine and beautiful beach in Punakaiki almost entirely to myself. On this beach where large rock-cliff protrusions out on the beach that went up 60 feet, with dense green foliage growing on the top. It looked like something out of Pirates of the Carribean movie, and I had the whole thing to myself (I have photos and videos of this to show later). Only Phuket, Thailand comes close to how beautiful it was.

Some other highlights of my trip including visiting Yoshi’s ecohouse, the most advance of its kind in the world (in my opinion), hot water beach – where you can dig holes in the sand and make your own geothermal hot tub, the southern night sky (which is very different than here, including seeing the moon “upside down”), the north and west coast of the south island, and visiting Hobbiton (near Matamata) on my way back to Auckland.  I unfortunately missed the Kiwi Burn, and the International Busking Festival.

The hardest part about New Zealand was having to leave. I wanted to stay forever. Either way seeing New Zealand helped me let go of some long-held baggage. I feel transformed.

The  photo below was taken of me around 9pm (sun was setting around 9:45pm) in Tairua. A sleepy little beach town on the east coast of the north island.

Paul-New-Zealand-Taurua-Beach

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