Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A "process" matter that is actually life-or-death for the U.S.... and the U.K.


Momentum is building for preferential voting (PV) systems, that let voters rank-order their preferred candidates or outcomes. This option is being forced on the Democratic Party, for example, by their flood of candidates who must be sorted-out in just a couple of 2020 primary months. 

PV -- or rank-choice voting -- would let a state's voters make multiple choices, maybe five in-order, so the election might stumble a bit toward actual consensus, instead of an insipid first-past-the-post that would leave the sane 70% of the country simmering with resentment, instead of enthusiasm.  Below I will talk about efforts to implement PV in the US... and why it's even more important... in Britain.

But first, something you really have to watch.

== The great failure mode of all democracies ==


An amazing video on staggering wealth inequality. Left out... the context of 6000 years, when this was the principle aim of princes. Only the recent enlightenment realized a core truth, that while property is a vital incentive for creative competition... it is inevitably toxic when too-concentrated. (Like any good thing: food, water, air.) When it concentrates too much, human nature rears its ugly head and cheating ensues. (And this is not "left-right"! Communist commisars behave in exactly the same ways as kings, sheiks and zillionaires.)

The video claims that Senator Warren's proposed wealth taxes are new. But I quibble. The American founders seized and redistributed up to 1/3 of all the land in the former colonies in order to stymie feudalism! (And it was feudalism, not 'bureaucrats' who Adam Smith denounced and the Founders rebelled against.) Especially the Greatest generation (see below) found ways to stimulate a vast middle class. 

The rich need to decide whether to follow their smartest peers (Gates, Buffett, Bezos) etc. and keep that social contract. It can be done without pitchforks and torches, tumbrels and guillotines. But there isn't much time.
=
== Democrats, this "mere process" means survival  ==

Lawrence Lessig and Equal citizen ran a campaign to bring ranked choice voting (RC) to the New Hampshire presidential primary. And it's on the verge of succeeding, with your help. RC voting - or preferential balloting - has been used by us super-wise and forward-thinking science fiction folks for the Hugo and Nebula awards for four decades and it is standard in Australia and a few other nations. 

RC/PV doesn't always come down to the best candidate. But it will always prevent the worst from happening -- a horrible monster squeaking by with 40%, though hated by a divided 60%. 

This potential reform in Iowa and New Hampshire takes on special importance given the vast field of Democrats attempting to run for president. The present system is simply insane at parsing out front-runners! What? Is a candidate who got a whole 16% the “front-runner” ahead of rivals who got 15%, 14%, 12% and 12%? Does that let a fringe constituency control the divided majority? Democrats could help themselves considerably and us, by arm twisting both of those states into trying a preferential ballot process just for that DP primary, to see how it goes.

BTW, Lessig will give the conference keynote at the Future of the Open Web conference n Friday, May 17,at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco hotel. 

Oh, as an aside: this article told about a similar time – 80 years ago - when an "American populist" threw giant rallies - under superficial patriotism - actually boosted the interests of foreign fascist plotters and divisive hate. "When Nazis Took Manhattan: In 1939, an event at Madison Square Garden was billed as a "Pro-America Rally". It was, in fact, a rally in support of Hitler and fascism." It tells of one brave fellow who infiltrated the rally in New York... as my father did when they threw a similar bund-fest in Chicago. And yes, the parallels with today are creepy. (Especially if you've been watching "The Man In The High Castle.")

While we’re historical… Extra History is one of the best things on YouTube. Quick, animated summaries of past eras that shaped our age. A 6-parter filled in my gaps about Sun Yat-sen and the Chinese Revolution. Another swept me across the end of the samurai era. This one about the Gracchi brothers shows how oligarchy undermined the Roman Republic, which was then torn up by radical populism. It all makes clear how fevered and harsh was "history" and why our present oligarchy plots against the new, modern, grownup ways of doing things.

The animations are way fun, but the narration is so good that I get everything while turning my back to cook or do busywork at the computer.

And now, back to those ranked voting processes that are essential, for democracy to get functional again.

== Perplexidus Albion ==

Regarding Brexit, sure, the blatant next move is for the UK to hold another referendum, with the following in mind:

* The British people were not aware, the first time, that Brexit was powerfully backed by Putin's Kremlin. Guilt-by-association is as valid a point as any other element in this argument.

* Both the Brexiters and the Conservatives know that their political careers are over, if a second referendum cancels the charade. Hence frantic resistance.

* Brexit showed the insipid absurdity of deciding complex issues with binary ballots.

Hence, any second Brexit vote should offer Britons  a multiple choice ballot:

1.  Hard Brexit with no deal.

2. Theresa May's deal.

3. Remain in the EU under the old treaty.

4. Remain providing the EU is willing to negotiate more state sovereignty over residency.

Blatantly, #4 would win the automated runoff, even if millions gave first preference to something else. Moreover, European leaders already know that universal residency mobility was a Bridge Too Far. They are already backpedaling on that and rule-complexity and would signal a willingness to oblige.

Some technologies and solutions are only tried once the old ways have calamitously failed. Preferential referenda weaken Parliament, which deserves it, and will exile a generation of obsolete politicians. That's not a bug, but a feature.

== Ties go deep ==

Trump’s deep Russian ties go at least to when a Putin ally-oligarch in 2013 paid DT $10 million to bring the Miss Universe pageant to Moscow, and many stinking hijinks commenced.

In EARTH (1989) I portrayed a coalition of developing nations finally getting fed-up and declaring war upon the money-laundering mafias – like Zurich and the Caymans and the State of Delaware – that have helped rob trillions from poor populations across the globe. It’s still possible for one – just one – president of a small country to do something epic and historic and transforming, and I could map how. But you should read this article from The Atlantic by Franklin Foer that starts with showing 

Further: “The collapse of communism in the other post-Soviet states, along with China’s turn toward capitalism, only added to the kleptocratic fortunes that were hustled abroad for secret safekeeping. Officials around the world have always looted their countries’ coffers and accumulated bribes. But the globalization of banking made the export of their ill-gotten money far more convenient than it had been—which, of course, inspired more theft. By one estimate, more than $1 trillion now exits the world’s developing countries each year in the forms of laundered money and evaded taxes.”

In effect, this has meant the impoverishment of billions of human beings, higher taxes for you and me, and the outright deaths of tens of millions, making these thugs among the world’s worst outright murderers. And making all of this genuinely a “war.”  See also  British journalist Oliver Bullough’s Moneyland: Why Thieves and Crooks Now Rule the World and How to Take It Back.

Don’t skimp. Read the whole thing! Because there’s items like this, toward the end:

“In her important history, Corruption in America, Zephyr Teachout, a legal scholar and liberal activist, argues that during the country’s first 200 years, courts maintained the Founders’ vigilance against corruption. For a good chunk of American history, a number of states criminalized lobbying in many forms, out of a sense that a loosening of standards would trigger a race to the bottom. That near-phobia now looks quaint, and also prescient. The political culture, the legal culture, the banking culture—so much of the culture of the self-congratulatory meritocratic elite—have long since abandoned such prudish ways.

“The defining document of our era is the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010. The ruling didn’t just legalize anonymous expenditures on political campaigns. It redefined our very idea of what constitutes corruption, limiting it to its most blatant forms: the bribe and the explicit quid pro quo. Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion crystallized an ever more prevalent ethos of indifference—the collective shrug in response to tax avoidance by the rich and by large corporations, the yawn that now greets the millions in dark money spent by invisible billionaires to influence elections.”

It’s not that it’s hopeless. Some real measures happened in 2001 and in 2007. And almost all of this would end – returning tens of trillions of stolen wealth and giving law-abiding citizens a huge tax holiday – if we had one simple, two sentence worldwide law:

“If you own something, say so publicly. Anything not claimed by a living person, government or accountable foundation is abandoned property.”

It is likely that all the world’s outstanding debt, acting as a lamprey on the arteries of all the world’s economies, could be erased by that simple measure, ending the masks and shells and laundering scams, allowing tax rates for all law-abiding citizens to be slashed, everywhere, and erasing most kinds of corruption, as I lay out in my  proposal for a Transparent Ownership Treaty.

65 comments:

Daniel Duffy said...

The elephant in the room driving all of this political radicalization is climate change.

https://bigthink.com/videos/earth-at-2deg-hotter-will-be-horrific-now-heres-what-4deg-will-look-like

it's important to remember that the Syrian refugee crisis, which totally destabilized European politics, led in its way to Brexit, and has transformed our politics globally through the way it's affected Europe, was the result of just one million Syrian refugees coming to the continent. We're talking about a refugee crisis that is almost certain to be 100 times as large, and it comes at a time when most nations of the world are retreating from our commitments to one another, retreating from our organizations and alliances, retreating from the UN, retreating from the EU, and embracing xenophobia and nativism and nationalism.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/commentisfree/2019/mar/20/eco-fascism-is-undergoing-a-revival-in-the-fetid-culture-of-the-extreme-right

At the same time, a small number of ecological thinkers have allowed themselves to canvass openly anti-human, eliminationist viewpoints that offer a ready basis for authoritarian, genocidal responses to ecological disaster. This is especially true in segments of the so-called “deep ecology” movement...Inspirations such as these have fuelled an online subculture that looks forward to, and even talks about accelerating the end of industrial civilisation. It dreams of a return to a blood and soil relationship between peoples and territories, and of a post-collapse society which will restore the authority of white men.

http://nymag.com/intelligencer/2019/03/climate-science-invites-liberal-solutions-or-fascist-ones.html

But climate models won’t make that argument for progressives. And raw data on carbon emissions certainly won’t tell American voters why they have a moral obligation to the people of the Maldives. It seems possible, however, that in the not-too-distant future, far-right demagogues will be telling us why we don’t. Today, the Trumpists deride those who insist that America can afford to take in more refugees — and pay out more foreign aid — as “globalists.” Tomorrow, they may call us “climate deniers.”

For now, much of the global far right does not believe in the dire effects of climate change. But there’s reason to think those effects are already making people believe in the far right. Some scholars argue that climate played a pivotal role in triggering the Syrian civil war — and thus, much of the migrant crisis that fueled the resurgence of right-wing nationalism in much of Europe. Even if that thesis is wrong, there is no question that climate change will condemn far more people to statelessness than events in Syria have. It isn’t hard to imagine how the climate migrants’ losses could become the nationalist right’s gains.



Larry Hart said...

Dr Brin in the main post:

RC/PV doesn't always come down to the best candidate. But it will always prevent the worst from happening -- a horrible monster squeaking by with 40%, though hated by a divided 60%.


So are we finally ok with admitting that voting against someone can be as important, if not moreso, than voting for someone?

Larry Hart said...

A separate question, though related...

With ranked choice voting, would it make sense to have a "jungle" election with all of the various Republicans and Democrats running at the same time?

It's too late at night for me to work out the nuances myself, but I really am wondering. I don't mean this as a joke or as a way of cheating. If Hillary, Bernie, Jill Stein, Gary Johnson, and 13 Republicans had all gone up against each other in November in a Ranked Choice election, would it tend toward electing the most popular platform? Or are there aberrations I'm not thinking of?

Duncan Cairncross said...

Larry Hart

voting against someone - in the system that we have here (NZ) can be important

In the US First Past the Post - it can't !!

You need to change the system FIRST - THEN you can indulge yourself
BEFORE the system is changed you are just fooling yourself

Mike Will said...

Democracy, climate change, national security, and social justice are important issues. However, the real race in geopolitics is AI. I hesitate to bring up AI, quantum computing, Asimov, Foundation, and psychohistory because some people get the idea that I'm obsessed with this 'fantasy' stuff. So, I'll let Adam Smith, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee do it:
https://www.geekwire.com/2019/quantum-nexus-summit-applications/

Tony Fisk said...

While preferential voting is definitely preferable to first past the post, it's not infallible, especially when there are a myriad of choices.* This is particularly noticeable on the Australian Senate ballot, where the current average runs at ~ 100 candidates grouped into ~30 parties.

Faced with this dazing mass, the average voter will just tick one party box, which means they follow that party's preferences. In fact, I was astonished and appalled to discover that Victoria (not Federal) will only count your first group vote when voting above the line. ie you can only vote for parties by *their* preference, not your own. (However, you can vote for individuals in any way you choose and, mercifully, you can stop numbering at about 25.)

This does ease the tallying of a very complicated ballot, but it is remarkably difficult to discover what a party's preferences actually are.

This leads into the murky world of "preference whispering", which can produce some interesting outcomes as the final seats are tallied.** The whisper/broker in question was an associate of Derryn Hinch, who did remarkably well...

I took Antony Green's*** advice, as well as the advantage of a primary school education that allows me to count to a hundred, and voted "below the line". As I said, though, most don't.

* and dead heats still happen surprisingly often.
** The oddest (though I think it was honest) result in the last state election was the lower house seat of Prahran, which ended up 1. Liberal, 2. ALP, 3. Green, plus others. Enough of the others preferenced the Greens to put them ahead of the ALP, and enough ALP votes preferenced the Greens for them to claim victory!
*** Australia's equivalent to Nate Silver.

Duncan Cairncross said...

I prefer the NZ system where we vote for our district representative and the party

The district is straight forwards FTTP - but additional seats are awarded to "List" MP's to ensure that the party votes line up with the membership

Only don't use the 5% threshold - that has caused more distortion than anything

Lloyd Flack said...

One of the benefits of preferential voting is that it alows you the pleasure of puttng someone lat. I never deny myself this pleasure. The New Soth Wales ste election is this Saturday and One Nation, a racist anti-immigrant climate denier etc. party get my wooden spoon.

yana said...


(previously) Alfred Differ thought:

"We will go [to the moon] when it makes sense… and we are in the middle of going right now."

Thank you for the thoughtful reply, much to the choir, except that idea above. We are not "in the middle" of anything, but gladhanders desperately trying to draw in the knots of wealth currently in gaming and entertainment to finance Moonbase Tropicana.

Have you no pride of species?

If it's done by corps and creds, the only human diversity will be waitresses chosen for various exoticisms, and a corps of Bangladeshi attendants chosen by height and attired identically. You know what rich people are like, right?

But if it's pushed by we the peeps, from the ground to the capitol to the Canaveral, the first Bhutani in space won't be their hottest stewardess, but the leading Bhutani geologist, whoever she is.

By the way, one of the earth's major cities could be evaporated, literally tomorrow, with only a couple hours' prior warning. Perhaps you're saying we should wait until Cher commits to a Ninety And Naughty Tour of all four moonresorts before we build them?

As a member of the species, that seems like a real mistake. If people want to go to Mars, sure good luck. That'd help us survive. People able to make food on Mars would increase humanity's chances by 50%, not too shabby.

But people on the moon, to stay, increases our species chances by 100%. If we later dwell on Titan, that's only a 33% increase in humanity's survival chance. The greatest burst of benefit is the first one, and the moon is really, really close.

I acknowledge that there's not much on the moon. We can make aluminum things pretty easy, so there's housing, and processing mineral aluminum gives off oxygen, so there's air. But beyond that, life on the moon would be hard to maintain. I admit this, and that's why the placement of a colony on the moon can't be left to market forces.

It's the only colony we have to do, all together, collective as in government style. After that, Mars and the Asteroids and the jovial moons will fall in rapid order, when left to market forces. All we have to do, is go to the moon and stay. Then every neat-o scifi story ever written becomes possible. Before we go to the moon, it can all be snuffed out in a couple days.

David said...

Preferential voting is clearly better than a binary choice but in some cases not by much. If we simplify your referendum choices done to 3 (and by the way there are some real issues with offering an if choice, what if it's voted for but the if doesn't come to pass).
No deal
May's deal
Remain

Chances are this would produce the following results
Remain > No deal
No deal > May's deal
May's deal > Reamin

Clearly there is no majority for any of the paths and it comes down to the marginal percentage differences between options than determines which option is ruled out and ends up no better than binary choice.

Larry Hart said...

Duncan Cairncross:

voting against someone - in the system that we have here (NZ) can be important

In the US First Past the Post - it can't !!

You need to change the system FIRST - THEN you can indulge yourself
BEFORE the system is changed you are just fooling yourself


Well, the point of discussion involved changing the system--to introduce Ranked Choice Voting.

My point, though, was that Dr Brin listed as a point in favor of Ranked Choice Voting that it might not elect the best candidate, but it would keep from electing the worst candidate. I took that as implicitly acknowledging that sometimes (as we see right now), preventing the worst candidate is more important than whether the best or second-best or third-best candidate gets in. I was using that as evidence against the notion that Democrats are always being scolded with, "I'm not going to simply vote against someone. You have to give me a reason why I should vote for you." In my esteem, "I wouldn't suck as badly as Trump" was reason enough alone to vote for Hillary.

I wasn't speaking of the mechanics of elections, but simply of motivation of voters.

progressbot said...

Prev was lost, so abridged. Warn me if too terse.

>> Mike Will said...
Golem XIV

To communicate with AI. Efficiently. We need some system to communicate in between humans first.
I have several such ideas. For example a game, where human and AI players can take part interchangeably.


>> Alfred Differ said...
It could be interesting experiment, with "x-raying" atom. That's why I ask you, if you have additional info? Prof's opinion?

That is my interest in AI from same root. What is "study"? What is "to teach"? What is "understanding", damn it?

Dimensions is conveniency trick for maths, they can choose to make them infinite or pack in one. While non-linearity is its own kind beast.

There are feedback loops (non-linearity) | Loops is not non-linearity. Well, they can be non-linear, but that are *not* useful one.

Carrying your air isn’t easy | and own biosphere too...

‘Imagining’ is the creative, complex thing. | You do not need to subvert me into that religion. I'm already soaking of it. ;)

But well, I'm not so fond of marketing. Because of post-soviet upbringing. Or just because it didn't play out well for me (yet?). :(


>> yana said...

Give me your score in... Kerbal Space Program, for at least. So I would know your level in rocket science. ;)


PS Again Russian Radio. Historical surveys this time. About Oprichchina and etc. But most important. Pivot point so to say -- difference between Western style feudalism with majorat (and property rights). VS .asian style feudal-burocrats.
Exactly in between Russia -- feudals/boiare have heredial property, but also quite important part -- payed for their service too. As current Putin's "oligarchs".

raito said...

Personally, there's 2 things I'd like to see (though PR is more likely).

1. Every race includes the candidate 'None of the above'. If None wins, another election is called, and none of the candidates in any of the None-winning races is allowed to enter. There's your voting against someone (OK, everyone) right there.

2. Campaigns are only allowed to raise money for a specific race. If they don't win, or None wins, then... what? I'd like to see the money liquidated somehow, but I haven't come up with any way that doesn't itself become political. And even then, all it would do is to increase the amount of dark money out there, as donors wouldn't actually put money into the campaign until is was to be spent imminently. Still, with the right set of criteria, it would help some.

sociotard said...

I always thought the US primary system was already a clever way of doing Preferential voting

1) 20 candidates campaign
2) People vote with wallets, funding the campaigns. More popular candidates get more money.
3) Media coverage is divided, but modern reporting is very responsive, giving more coverage to candidates more people are interested in; a feedback loop.
4) Some states hold a primary.
5) Candidates who did the worst in that primary now get less campaign donations, less media coverage, and may not be invited to future debates. Eventually they drop out.
6) Now there are only 18 candidates! Repeat the cycle.

So, the effect is very similar! Each state primary purges off the lowest performing candidate, not so different from preferential voting. This has the additional benefit that Later candidates get more intense media scrutiny and vetting.

Larry Hart said...

@sociotard,

You make a good point, but only as pertains to the two major parties. The US system doesn't prevent a Jill Stein or a Howard Schultz from entering the race as a spoiler, thus insuring that the voters who are most sympathetic to the spoiler's ideals get the president who is least aligned with those ideals.

David Smelser said...

David Brin wrote:
"Chances are this would produce the following results
Remain > No deal
No deal > May's deal
May's deal > Reamin

Clearly there is no majority for any of the paths and it comes down to the marginal percentage differences between options than determines which option is ruled out and ends up no better than binary choice."

You certainly might have this circular condition and if it exists, I think RCV is an improvement. If you do standard first past the post with all three options you will end up with a decision that got less than 50% of the vote. However, if you do ranked voting, you drop the least popular option and reassign those votes. Guaranteeing a result where 50% expressed prefence for the winning option. This is better than just putting two items on the ballot as putting all options on the ballot elimiates post elections complaints that someone's preferred option was not considered.

-----

I'm a big fan of ranked choiced, but I still want some sort of primary process to narrow down the field. I can't name all the replubicans who ran in the 2016 primary and I can't name all the democrats who are running in the 2020 presidential primary. When you have that many candidates, I don't think people evaluate the candidates, but just vote for parties. I'd rather have people pick the representatives than have the party pick their representatives (I'm less concerned about the party picking which candidates appear on the ballot).

------

The US presidential primary process has problems when it comes to the order in which primaries are held. In 2016, by the time California held their primary, the democratic candidate had already been decided and COP candidate was down to a couple. This time around, CA has moved their primary earlier, but this just drags out the primary process. I'd rather have a shorter election season.

Larry Hart said...

David Smelser:

I'm a big fan of ranked choiced, but I still want some sort of primary process to narrow down the field.


Ranked Choice Voting is designed to solve a specific problem--that of similarly-inclined candidates splitting the vote between them so that an oppositely-inclined candidate gets more votes than either of them, even though the popular preference is clearly for "one of these--it doesn't really matter which".

I suppose the whole point of having parties is to eliminate that problem (see sociotard above), but that doesn't account for "third" parties and independents bypassing the primary process and entering the race separately.

Ranked Choice is probably good at eliminating that particular problem, but I'm not entirely convinced there aren't other unintended ways it can go wrong that we're just not focusing on. My mathematical mind says there is no qualitative preference for dropping the candidate with the fewest votes over just picking the one with the most votes.

My own preferred solution to attempt--which I acknowledge no one else here likes--is a pseudo-parliamentary system in which the candidates themselves are allowed to trade their votes among each other until one has a claim to 50% plus one.


I'd rather have people pick the representatives than have the party pick their representatives


That's a good attitude in theory. In practice, at least as things stand today, the most important feature in a Senator or Representative's portfolio is the -D or -R after his name. What I mean is, suppose a socially-moderate Republican who I personally liked was running in my district. In theory, I should vote for the man, not the party. In practice, if my district elected a Republican (any Republican) instead of a Democrat (any Democrat), it would have lowered the chances that Democrats on a whole different committee from my congressperson would have subpoena power to look into Trump's financial suborning, and raised the chances that we'd have just spent $5.7 Billion on Trump's racist monument. My congresscritter's own positions matter less than the positions of the Speaker or Majority Leader he'll help elect.

Anonymous said...

If I remember theory of elections (game theory applyed to it), there is no subtle differences between different voting system.
But more complex one, have just more points where it can be mangled and/or look "unfair" to voters.

Mike Will said...

I'm beginning to see why the Framers struggled so much designing the system. Getting rid of the King was the easy part. Ensuring a lasting democracy is much tougher. As population and technology increases, it becomes nigh-on impossible, and seems to degenerate into "how can I protect my own tribe?"

Peter Venable said...

According to Arrow's impossibility theorem, no ranked voting electoral system can meet certain fairness criteria.

However, Quadratic Voting could solve those problems by letting each voter express how strongly each preference is held.

Naufragé said...

A question regarding the transparency proposal against money laundering: “If you own something, say so publicly. Anything not claimed by a living person, government or accountable foundation is abandoned property.”


How do you think we should deal with cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Obviously:
-Only the owner of an "account" can control the funds it possesses
-They are pseudonymous (anonymous owner but transparent transaction) or completely anonymous

This makes it very easy to hide wealth, though of course you are limited when it comes to spending it.

Curious about your thoughts on the subject.

jim said...

I also recommend Lem's Golem XIV. It is a great short story and tries to answer the question What would a Super Intelligent Computer talk to humans about?

And thanks Daniel Duffy for the links about eco-fascism.
It is a good reminder, that after a real recognition of our shared environmental / ecological crisis the political question of how the government should respond is still problematic.

And although I really hate to say it classical liberalism as a source for a common shared identity in a world responding to ecological crisis will be problematic to say the least. Liberalism focus endless economic growth, its global nature, its support for the military enforcement of its preferred economic relationships and its Myth of Progress and view of Man as Conqueror of Nature are all things that can not continued to be supported in a world that takes the ecological crisis seriously.

"Blood and soil" is another way of saying Kinship and Place. Your family, the place you live in and the others who live there with you have always been an important part of peoples identities. Eco progressives should not let eco - fascist have sole claim over Kinship, Place, and Locality.


Alfred Differ said...

Yana,

Okay. I’ll stop preaching to the choir, but I will pause briefly to point out there are actually three choirs. One sings the praises of von Braun. Another appreciates Sagan more. The third is O’Niellian. In the third group, there are a couple of sub groups. One expects a public-private alliance to be required. The other seems them more as competitors. I tend to be among the second group of O’Niellians, but I’m not rabid about it.

We ARE in the middle of going right now and it is The People doing it. To see it you have to look past Bezos’ bald head and past Musk’s hyperactivity. You have to see the people working for them and what motivates them. You have to look at the other smaller companies and the people building and working within them. I’ve been in this since the mid-90’s and some of my peers have been in since the mid-80’s. Things have SERIOUSLY changed in the last 20 years.

The situation reminds me a bit of the early hobby computer days. Lots of hobby people trying to do exciting things. (I was part of an amateur team in the 90’s trying to be the first amateurs to put a rocket into space. There was prize money involved too.) As time went by, the hobby started including more wealthy people and they brought with them their entrepreneurial experience. Some teams melted and reformed under more experienced leadership. With more time going by, even richer people showed up and now we are seeing legitimate start-ups making money in the market and not just winning prize money offered by people who wanted to incentivize us all.

Bezos? Musk? Very rich, right? Before them, though, were the ‘mere’ multi-millioinaires. Carmack, Bigelow, etc. (I don’t know how rich they actually all are. What I saw was whether had to beg for money to move resources… or just made it happen.) Before that were the mere millionaires too numerous to count. I got to meet Carmack when he visited our amateur team. Turned out he had a lot of the same attitude we did with one important difference that he described as ‘not having a chronic lack of funds.’ His innovation style was recognizable to us and that is a BIG deal. It told us we were playing the right game, but needed better cards.

I don’t care whether the frontier is pushed out by Bhutanis, Bolivians, or Bangladeshis. What I expect is necessary, though, is it will require Barbarians with more cash than brains at times. People willing to spend lavishly to chase a dream and show themselves off along the way. This barbarian call appears to be specially made for Americans, but I’m obviously one, thus I have to admit to a bias. Doesn’t really matter, though. Many of us want to push that frontier out and we are working on teams that are actually doing it. I know many of them. I’m probably no more than two degrees of separation from 99% of them because of my affiliations after joining that amateur team.

At the goal of making this a space-faring civilization, we ARE winning. It’s not something that can be done quickly, cheaply, or done by someone else on our behalf. WE have to do it and WE are. For anyone who doesn’t feel they are part of that ‘WE’, it’s not hard to get in. Hire on to existing teams. Start your own. Figure out what business problems need solving that involve space, solve them, and link up with entrepreneurs who know how to monetize things. Hard work, but good work.

It’s not the Moon, Mars, or near Earth asteroids that matter. It’s the business problems that need solving that matter. YOU CAN GET PAID for innovating, so just tie the things together and do both at the same time.

Alfred Differ said...

Progressbot,

X-raying an atom is really ‘ionizing’ the atom. Hit it hard enough and the electron flies away leaving detectable traces. That trace can be used to back-track to what the electron was doing at the collision, but not what it was doing before the collision. Not much anyway. You’ll find this stuff in the textbooks that teach students about the collider machines.

What is "study"? What is "to teach"? What is "understanding", damn it?

Okay. That means you really SHOULD read up on the related philosophy. It will help you. Don’t accept any of it as dogma, though, or you’d be missing the point of philosophy. It’s all about arguments, refutations, and all that. We catalog it all and see if there is a consensus on what parts still make any sense.

But well, I'm not so fond of marketing. Because of post-soviet upbringing. Or just because it didn't play out well for me (yet?). :(

Fair point. I suspect you haven’t seen up-close the kind of market we have over here. It’s not just the buying and selling. It’s the cultural expectations all participants have. One important point for your English vocabulary, though. When I say the market will do something, that’s very different than saying the marketers will do something. The words are real close, but very different things are implied. Marketers are people with a job to figure out how to sell widgets. Salesmen do the actual selling while marketers figure out the context information like what might sell and at what price. The Markets are social constructs that are composed to people and corporations and regulators and the environment. Markets are about emergent order. They are wonderful demonstrations of the middle ground between chaos and intelligent design.

David Brin said...

“David Brin wrote:
"Chances are this would produce the following results
Remain > No deal
No deal > May's deal
May's deal > Reamin…”

That wasn’t me, it was some other “David”… and one who ignored my choice 4.

Yana, you seem tho think asteroids come AFTER the moon. They are INSTEAD of the moon for the US and Japan, and entirely out of reach of everyone else. Hence, let everyone else go to the moon out of pride, while we and Japan and some tech guys go where ONLY we can go, to get humanity rich.

Think. That way humanity will do both.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit surprised to see Dr Brin touting Instant Runoff Voting (or Ranked Choice) over Score Voting or Approval Voting. Most people who study voting systems see IRV as a bit of a monkey's paw (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey%27s_Paw) toward a better election system. They have enough failure scenarios that will if happened, could turn the public off to any further election reform. It also is not great at breaking a 2 party duopoly (the likely reason for its sudden marketing push)

For more, see https://rangevoting.org/IrvExec.html

Ilithi Dragon said...

Hey, guys! I'm still alive, just been busy with work and other projects (mostly work). Jumping a bit off topic with this, but speaking of projects:

I wrote another thing! This is a prologue episode for my story, and an action hook. Episode 3 is in the works, though going slower than I'd like (mostly due to work).

As always, feedback is welcome, and updoots make the story more visible.

https://www.reddit.com/r/HFY/comments/b3z677/to_touch_the_stars_episode_0/


I'll comment on the main subject when I have a chance to properly read it and catch up on comments (or not, if I don't have a chance to before the next posting...).

progressbot said...

>> David Brin said...
After your reaction on that russian film about war, where you showed keen perception, its keep intriguing me, that was about WW2 times film and what would you see/understand from "late USSR" one? It's "Mimino"
I need to warn you -- it's not realistic film like that previous one. Late USSR was not fond of realistic films, and still nobody made one about that epoch (or I don't know one). But it's still interesting, what would you see in it, and what not.
Well, still it's quite likeable film, which remains in charts till today, and not only because of nostalgia for late (emphasis mine) USSR. Have a good watch.


>> jim said...
\\I also recommend Lem's Golem XIV. It is a great short story and tries to answer the question What would a Super Intelligent Computer talk to humans about?

Em... short? And it is all you saw in it? While it is really is abridged version of his monumental philosophical opera omnia "Summa Technologiae".


>> Alfred Differ said...
Well, terse style proved it's inefficiency.

Of course I didn't mean literal x-raing of an atom there. I know about ionisation. I just used it as metaphora (and quoted for that) to describe it shorter. I know some stuff about colliders. That's why it made me wondering -- how technically (and theoretically) viable that idea. And... I doubt it can be found anywhere as textbook example. Well, don't take it as lazy layman attitude, though. We have great insruments to search information... but it still not well structured, so it's nearly impossible to find something so complex (well, that another topic to discuss) with ease. So I asked for some refs.

\\What I expect is necessary, though, is it will require Barbarians with more cash than brains at times. People willing to spend lavishly to chase a dream and show themselves off along the way.

And that need to be herediary Old Money and careless juniors of it, too. ;)

\\It’s the business problems that need solving that matter. YOU CAN GET PAID for innovating...

Well, I'd appreciate greatly, not even get paid, but even some piece of advice... regarding my idea of 3D-printed soft-bodied robots, that could conquer to us Space, Ocean and every thing we want, actually.

About "related philosophy. It will help you.". It is totally re-phrased my point about "social practice truth". Well, why I start my own research, if answer could be found in old scriptures? :)

\\ The Markets are social constructs that are composed to people and corporations and regulators and the environment. Markets are about emergent order.

I know that much. I looked for any info I could read about western style economics, after break of USSR. For obvious reasons.

But. I also see it differently. Non-USA like. Not like "emergent" and possible to thrive anywhere. I see that "Kinship and Place" plays good deal in it.
To be more blunt -- your Two ocean coasts, Great Lakes, Missisipi, which provide excelent and cheapest transportation paths -- and as such trade paths.

The same was with Italia and Britain. And China now. Geography -- big deal.

Greg Byshenk said...

A note about voting systems: ranked choice (or something similar) is a reasonable solution to single-seat elections, such as are common in the US, or things like presidential elections generally. They address a fundamental problem of plurality or first-past-the-post, in which a candidate who is the less-preferred choice by a majority can still win an election. It seems to me that they are less useful (and not really necessary) in any multiple-seat proportional representation system. In such a system, if 10% of the voters prefer party X, then that party will end up with 10% representation (more or less).

On the EU, David wrote:
Moreover, European leaders already know that universal residency mobility was a Bridge Too Far. They are already backpedaling on that and rule-complexity and would signal a willingness to oblige.

I don't see this happening. Yes, there are a few leaders in the EU who are unhappy with the free movement of persons, but such is considered by most to be a fundamental part of EU membership, and not something that is in any way negotiable. Indeed, the EU just approved new unemployment rules for those working outside their "home" country.

If you look at the EU's response to May's most recent letter (ie: a short extension if the UK agrees to the current deal, and an even shorter one if they do not), then I suggest that it makes clear there is no additional flexibility there.

Jon S. said...

"2) People vote with wallets, funding the campaigns. More popular candidates get more money."

Which is nice in theory, but removes the franchise from those whose wallets don't have enough spare cash to donate to political campaigns. I mean, yes, my representation in Congress or in the Presidency is important - but so are rent, utilities, and feeding my children. Sometimes choices have to be made. Your assessment essentially applies a poll tax to the primary system - the candidates are chosen by those who can contribute significantly to their war chests, so there's no need to represent poor people at all.

Larry Hart said...

For whoever the fan was who posted earlier, electoral-vote.com does a feature on Andrew Yang today:

https://www.electoral-vote.com/evp2019/Pres/Maps/Mar22.html#item-8

...
Signature Issue(s): There's no guesswork here. Yang has made very clear that his top priority is a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every American over the age of 18. He calls this "The Freedom Dividend," and he argues, with some justification, that this is a necessary corrective to the rise of mass-automation, and would pay the costs of the program by taxing the corporations who have benefited most from said automation. He has also written a book on the subject.

It is worth noting that he has a number of other policy positions that are somewhat unorthodox, and that are getting a fair bit of attention. He wants to make April 15 a holiday, called Revenue Day, in order to "make taxes fun." He wants to subsidize people who are willing to move from big cities to more rural communities. He wants to outlaw robocalls and force airlines to hold auctions for any seats they overbook. He wants to make it easier to add pork to bills, arguing that it makes it easier for those bills to get passed. And, he wants to redirect 10% of the military budget to infrastructure, to fund what he calls "The Legion of Builders and Destroyers."

...

David Brin said...

The Postman: Get the ebook now at $1.99 for a limited time! See how many of the dangers are threatening to come true... while the heroic answer is more timely than ever.

https://www.amazon.com/Postman-Novel-David-Brin-ebook/dp/B0034N7JJK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr

or
https://amzn.to/2JyXbGd

Spread word!

jim said...

Well it looks like some of the corporate sales/marketing people at Boeing thought it would be a good idea to charge extra to turn on the safety features that would have prevented two crashes of their 737.

I really hope this stupid evil action costs Boeing 10's of billions of dollars.
Anyone who approved of this sales technique should be fired ( and in a just world go to jail.)

Anonymous said...

Idiocracy (tm) on the march! :(((

Duncan Cairncross said...

The Boeing actions sound like corporate manslaughter to me

The CEO and the top executives should all be sent to jail

Alfred Differ said...

I suppose the airlines who have impacted flight schedules could sue them for damages. I suspect it won't work, though. FAA certification processes are supposed to protect against a lot of lawsuits. No doubt lawyers are pouring over all the documentation next.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Hi Alfred
If something is defined as a "safety feature" and then a company chooses not to use it
Is that not what happened with the Pinto fuel tank?

Paul Revile said...

Mr Brin, Still waiting for an apology for all the nasty things you said here in response to my comment up thread:

http://davidbrin.blogspot.com/2016/11/we-are-in-it-all-right-but-figuratively.html?showComment=1479234923226#c5226646921101801616

You were 100% wrong. You were taken for a ride or you were lazy and accepted the advice of acquaintances rather than assess the evidence for yourself or even look at the balance of probabilities. Instead of accepting an argument made in desperation but good faith, you chose to insult and demean. You may yet have the good grace to admit you were wrong, with all that implies for the subsequent years of drum bashing. we'll see.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Paul Revile
Not only have all (except the FBI) of the US intelligence agencies specifically said that the Russians did the hack
BUT the Russian foreign minister said the same thing - you would think that he of all people would know!

Paul Revile said...

Someone's jammed your input device Duncan.

Jon S. said...

Paul, Duncan is correct. Donnie lies - it's what he does, it's what he's always done since he started off as a slumlord in New York.

If you're trying to make some oblique reference to the Mueller report, kindly have the intestinal fortitude to do so openly. (Then, of course, we can mock you for believing in unreliable data sources and rumors, because nobody outside Mueller's team and at least one person at DOJ has read it. You have no hard data, but then again you don't seem to give a damn about data, just living up to your screen name.)

Larry Hart said...

@Paul Revile,

Do you need some help returning to your home dimension? You seem to be from the imaginary parallel Earth in which everything FOX News says is actually the truth.

Our earth might have developed closely in parallel with your own, but there are some crucial differences you seem to be unaware of.

Tim H. said...

My understanding on the 737 MAX software update is that the government shutdown provoked by Fox news delayed it for a month, so not really comparable to Pinto fuel tanks, which were demonstrably safer than those on the Falcon and it"s derivatives. For a dark laugh, next time you see a classic Mustang at some little car show, ask if you can look under the trunk mat, then marvel at the top of the fuel tank.

Duncan Cairncross said...

Tim H
The safety features were not software awaiting an update but additional cost hardware

IMHO if the company decided that having a warning light that tells the pilot of a specific problem is an "Option" and then two planes crash because the pilot did not have that warning the company is responsible

David Brin said...

Mr. Revile who taught you that method – barging into another man’s thread and whining - would bear fruit? Has it ever worked for you? You might start by offering me reason why your showing up here with an absurd grudge should inspire anything in me other than ennui.

Okay, after yawning and showing good judgment by ignoring this fellow a while, curiosity eventually got the better of me and I looked. Egad, this confederate shill of traitors and KGB agents has come back for more? Okay, make it worth my while, fellah. Have your attorney write to me with confirmation you’ve escrowed $10,000 for wagers. Instead of whingeing, mewling whimpers for an apology, if you’re so sure of yourself take… my… money!

Even today, one thing stands: real men take wagers. Shrill blowhards avoid them. So step up! Have your lawyer inform me that you have escrowed $10,000 for wagers and named a retired conservative judge who can rule on detailed wording and final outcome. I’ll name a “liberal" and they can name a libertarian retired judge. I require the escrow because I know you are a blowhard and hence I will spend no time on you without cash on the table. Come on, if you're so sure of that confederate nonsense, then make a bet and take my money!

Climate Change. Russian election interference. Or let’s bet over whether your cult wages open war on every fact-using profession. Science, teaching, journalism, civil service, medicine… and now the “deep state” men and women in intel, law and the military who saved us from Hitler, Stalin and Osama. Your cult wages war on all of them.

Stand by your grand declarations! Show your confidence by having the guts to offer real wagers. Have your lawyer contact me about those stakes and finding trustworthy, classically conservative but grownup judges.

Oh but you succeeded in your aim, getting me to waste a couple of minutes of lifespan modifying (just for you!) my standard dare.
yawn

yana said...


Alfred Differ thought:

"At the goal of making this a space-faring civilization, we ARE winning."

We haven't been on any other rock for +45 years. When considered alongside the fact that a speedy rock could approach at some angle, at any time, and destroy most of the animals on Eurasia, current efforts seem ineffectual.

Because the moon is resource-poor, this is not a realistic thing for a company which relies on profit. This is what cleaves public works from private works. In my opinion, this would be the last thing we have to do through the collectivism of government direction, as inefficient as that method normally is. After this one thing, we survive, to relax and let whatever-ism take over.

David Brin thought:

"let everyone else go to the moon out of pride, while we and Japan and some tech guys go where ONLY we can go, to get humanity rich.
Think. That way humanity will do both.
"

Yes, i understand. If we focus the profit motive on Mars and the Belt, then it will happen organically, colonization of the moon, no extra effort required and all paid for by the corps making bigger money farther out.

Simply, this strategy exposes all life on earth to unnecessary risk. The farther the goal, the longer it will take to reach and the more wasted time. We know that, on any day, we might spot a big speedy rock which will wipe out all the animals in Africa two days hence.

It is important to get off this planet, in numbers, and as fast as we can, to the quickest place which is not-earth. After that, most of our scifi turns the corner from thoughtfun to possibility.

Alfred Differ thought:

"I’ve been in this since the mid-90’s and some of my peers have been in since the mid-80’s."

That's a confession, admitting that a quarter of your century has gone by, one third for some of your cohorts, half a lifespan, and still no people on another orbit to show for it. You can't learn by watching, you can't learn by listening. Any honors received as an educator were due to remembering the core of knowledge: it resides in our hands. Learn by doing, not by being shown how to do.

There is no evolutionary reason for us to have brains like this, we can outwit any competing predator with 80% of our grays tied behind our backs. It's not metaphysics which calls us outward, it's just simple logic. If we can, it helps us survive, duh. The faster we do it, then the better our chances. But we have to, you know, we have to do it some times, before we can learn how to do better.

This is why we have to send a stream of payloads to the moon, as soon as possible. No private profit can come of it, yet it is the most important thing we need to do, to survive as a species. Politically, it's possible that this could be the last thing that we need governments for.

No lucrative reason for it, heaving tanks of water and soil up to the moon. I understand the cost of escape velocity. It doesn't make economic sense, and that's why it has to be government, not private investment, which saves the human race.

Luckily, the emerging groupthink method is natively in favor of healthy ecology, so we can interpret that as an expression of survival instinct, and infer that the message "we have to get off this rock" has a similar, yet untapped, political resonance. Try it. Set up a crowdfund for getting people the heck off earth. You'll raise an as$load of money.

The people want it, all people, then some future politician will exploit it, and then we'll get it done far faster, than waiting for some conglom to dev proprietary tech to mine a subset of asteroids which are of a suitable height and width, to be girdled by standard aluminum comports, thus to be attired identically.

PROGRESSbot said...

. . . << How to buid The Lift Into Space? >>

It is relatively old idea. That if we'd take sufficiently long wire... like from the ground to geostationary orbit (and a little bit further, so it'll be naturally tightened, like in carousel). We could use it as elevation system to rise and down something from/to space orbit. And it'll be way cheaper, more ecologically friendly and the most importance -- mass-transported.

But there is a catch, known to engineers from the very start. There is *no* such material. Even the best steel can give a wire about 10 km long. Any longer and it'll rip under its own weight.

Well, we can reach not to geostationary, but some low orbit at least.
For that we'd need some monumental structure -- a tower from the ground and into the sky.

But the highest building we can build with current tech is around 1 km. And that is not cheap one. So, even if we'd stretch our imagination and will try to build it on the top of biggest mountains, use strongest, most innovate materials known today... we still can't have it done.

So why I started to blubber about it? Because, "You think too shallow, son." (c) Walter Christie ;)

Another word, if idea looks impossible it's just mean that one placed not enough thinking, not enough imagination, not enough engineering ingenuity in it.

What's the problem? There is no material strong enough to make km and km of ropes and poles?
But it's only if we trying to make it grandpa ways. ;)
What If we'd use gas baloons to support the weight of such construction?
It'll remove that strict need of super-materials.

Of course, it rises lots of engineering questions... but, isn't today, where we have all that computers and etc, we can put that strenght into real use?

Tony Fisk said...

@ProgressBot

As you say, a lift into space is an old idea, first envisaged by Konstantin Tsiokolvsky in the 1890s, and given some firm engineering foundations by Yuri Artsutonov in 1960. Both were Russian. Prior to learning of their work, Arthur C Clarke claims to have toyed with the idea, but had dismissed it as impracticable (other than in SF stories!)

The original idea was a tower, built to the stationary orbit, and beyond so that some stabilising tension could be applied. Later on, other ideas included a skyhook: a cable lowered from orbit, and a rotor: whose ends briefly match with the Earth's surface and rotational speed.

The problem is material strength. This could be alleviated by having a tapering cable, but other considerations make a non-tapering cable preferable. Another option to cut down on forces due to wind shear is to have the base floating in the stratosphere, providing just enough weight to tension the cable.

There *is* one material that is thought to have the necessary strength, but carbon nanotubes have yet to be produced in bulk.

In conclusion, Earth is a borderline proposition for a space elevator, but one should be readily achievable for either the Moon or Mars (the problems there are a bit different.)

Tony Fisk said...

Addendum: gas balloons float because they weigh less than the surrounding medium. Vacuum weighs nothing, so using gas balloons on a space tower only gets you so far up, even the ones originally envisaged by Francesco Lana di Terzi.*

That said, our host has some ideas about inflatable towers.

* in 1670, knowing about displacement, but not hydrogen or helium, Lana imagined being buoyed up by evacuated copper spheres. A brilliant concept that, like space elevators, falls just on the wrong side of feasibilty. There is no material that can withstand atmospheric pressure at the required thinness to allow a sphere to float.

progressbot said...

>> Tony Fisk said...

Thank you for prompt answer. Its appreciated. But.

...dismissed it as impracticable...
...was a tower...
...skyhook...
...problem is material strength...

Well... but why you repeat *The**Same* what I myself already clearly stated?
For some additional historical background, thank you.


\\Addendum: gas balloons float because they weigh less than the surrounding medium.
\\Vacuum weighs nothing...

That one almost outrageous. Like you are counting me for imbecile, that don't know physics even to that extent. :)) Well, it's just remark. I'm not taking it as an insult. But if such was purpose, please be more subtle in your approaches. ;)

\\There is no material that can withstand atmospheric pressure at the required thinness to allow a sphere to float.

There just need to be something which produce pressure from within. Care to imagine what that could be? Or your strong point is quotes from old scriptures... not imagination. :P

\\In conclusion, Earth is a borderline proposition for a space elevator, but one should be readily achievable for either the Moon or Mars (the problems there are a bit different.)

Yeap. But we need one for Earth first. Chicken and egg problem.


Thank you for Good Point. Of course, that "balloon tower" can be rised only in the atmosphere... I think till 20 km something (as the highest balloon provably was launched)
and further it must be something else.
Of course I do not think of Sky Tower till the LEO. :)

We need just to go out of main body of Earth gas pillow. And higher we can use space slingshots, with more and more and more speed and higher altitude.

As such... it need to be continuous system, which send stuff into space and receive cargo from it non-stop, by recuperating energy in pulling more load into space. But... isn't that the whole point in "Conquer the Space" idea?

And it need tight planning and computer control over it. But isn't we already know how to do such stuff?

David Brin said...

yana: “The people want it, all people, then some future politician will exploit it, and then we'll get it done far faster, than waiting for some conglom to dev proprietary tech to mine a subset of asteroids which are of a suitable height and width, to be girdled by standard aluminum comports, thus to be attired identically.”

Bah, we went to the moon for “the people” in the 60s and it did not maintain momentum. We left. Because it was national pride. And Pride and tourism will propel China, India, Russia and some billionaires to do their moon thing. So “humanity” will go to the moon. Accomplishing little other than checking off some boxes.

You seem to think asteroids are all beyond Mars, in the Belt. Many are closer and easier to get to - by energy - than the moon’s surface. We could be making things… fuel, structures, out of materials NOT hauled out of Earth’s deep gravity well… or luna’s moderately expensive one.

yana wants us to pile all our efforts into one sterile basket, for no benefit whatsoever. Let the Chinese have it for a while! Humanity will get a wimpy-expensive moon base and I don’t give a crap if it’s Chinese, since the stuff we’ll be doing will leave them literally in a cloud of valuable dust.

Tony, the inflated, high pressure towers that let balloons lift cargo very high, are the “Needles” I refer to in SUNDIVER.

Progressbot, are you returning to taking everything as an insult? That was a mistake before and it is a mistake now.

When you feel you are being insulted, STOP! Calm down. It probably is not true.

You have many interesting things to say. That is not one of them.

Mike Will said...

A few years ago, I told a Sri Lankan friend about Clarke's "Fountains of Paradise" (space elevator masterpiece). He had never heard of it !

progressbot said...

\\Progressbot, are you returning to taking everything as an insult?

You asked it just after I properly stated it higher "I'm not taking it as an insult."?

But still, it's outrageous... in terms of assessment of mental capabilities and education of the opponent.
That's why I wondering -- what it was about? Or it is some ams habit/custom I still do not aware?

As you know. And I'm not once did stated it clearly. It's too dificult to me -- to read intonation/emotions from English text.

Well, as well as it evidantly not easy to you -- to see what kind of emotions are in my Runglish texts. There was no "taking everything as an insult" at all... only some playfull irony and a bit of mild sarcasm.


\\You seem to think asteroids are all beyond Mars, in the Belt. Many are closer and easier to get to - by energy - than the moon’s surface.

Still, to lassoing one and to process it properly -- we need space industry, and not some mere humans in tin cans...
And to have space industry, we need to lower cost of delivery stuff on/from orbit drasticly.
And do you have another good realistic idea, better then space lift for that?
And how long you ready to wait for it, even thought that such industry/tech is already at our grasp, not in some distant future of warp drives and light saber? (see, it's playfull remark... warn me, if it by some reason looks as attempt of insult, so I could properly re-eveluate my texting)


\\We could be making things… fuel, structures, out of materials NOT hauled out of Earth’s deep gravity well… or luna’s moderately expensive one.

To make things... we need yet more things. That's how our surface industry working.
To make a needle/pin, we need all that mining excavators -> tossing tons of raw minerals into mining tracks -> delivered to enormous metalurgycal plants and so on.
We cannot afford such thing on the orbit, on the Moon, nowhere in space.

We need whole new and different kind of industry/bunch of techs... to Conquer Space for real.


>> Mike Will said...
\\Clarke's "Fountains of Paradise" (space elevator masterpiece). He had never heard of it !

And I only heard, but never read. So what?
Well, I read "Meet with Rama".

Mike Will said...

progressbot: "I only heard, but never read. So what?"

1) Clarke lived in Sri Lanka
2) the novel was based 90% on a fictional Ceylon / Sri Lanka
3) it won the Nebula and Hugo awards
4) my friend is a materials science physicist

Anonymous said...

Heh... https://www.scry.cloud crowd-science to predict the future.

David Brin said...

One asteroid mission is proposed to throw a baggie around one of the "wet" asteroids and let sunlight evaporate water that can be collected and turned into rocket fuel . That is from one mission. Yes, many new technologies are needed. But useful profit can come one mission at a time.

Larry Hart said...

Apropos nothing, I want to note that on Bill Maher's show this weekend, he essentially admitted that his notion that the current generation of teenagers says, "Fuck you, Mom!" comes from movies and tv. No surprise there that the caricature doesn't match real life. He might know that if he didn't make a point of avoiding children whenever possible.

Hey, I'm a fan, and before I was married, I didn't have a high opinion of parenthood either, so it's not like I don't understand the guy wanting to keep clear of kids. But when he then goes and pontificates on what those kids are like, he sounds like Treebeard explaining characters in a book he proudly never read.

TCB said...

Citizens United, and Barack Obama's tepid response to it, plunged me into a near-clinical depression for a year or two.

Keith Olbermann's special comment when that decision came down is worth a look. It's hyperbolic, overwrought, doomy, gloomy, and mostly accurate, I think.

Daniel Duffy said...

Dr. Brin: "pile all our efforts into one sterile basket, for no benefit whatsoever"

You might change your mind about the usefulness of the Moon after watching this video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGcvv3683Os

Mining the asteroids? Think of the Moon as one giant asteroid with enough gravity to make industrial and mining processes an order of magnitude easier to accomplish. With space elevators (you don't need exotic materials when to build an elevator on the Moon), the Moon can become our industrial zone and shipyard at much less cost than the Belt.

P.S. I highly recommend all of Isaac Arthur's' videos.

David Brin said...

DD - Isaac Arthur is a smart and informative guy. But in this case he sells an utter cock n' bull story. He says the lunar crust has more Helium 3... Yippee! More as in like ten parts per billion instead on one part. No customers and no feasible method for harvesting and in absurdly diffuse amounts. He spends the whole time waving his arms about resources without giving any of the actual numbers, which devastate his position.

Other than some polar ice and maybe some scattered meteoritic iron. there ain't squat. The aluminum and silicon is in super tight oxygen bonds. As for the other "ores" well the moon started depleted because it came from our Earth crust and then is fractionated more! When molten, its melted settled into it's own core. As for what was left, there were no water processes which concentrated ores on Earth. It's utter bull.

Fun stuff and folks should watch it! But notice he just waves away any need to justify the "lunar resources" bullshit.



David Brin said...

Sorry, I have to return to this malarkey: " Think of the Moon as one giant asteroid with enough gravity to make industrial and mining processes an order of magnitude easier to accomplish. With space elevators (you don't need exotic materials when to build an elevator on the Moon), the Moon can become our industrial zone and shipyard at much less cost than the Belt."

Half of the asteroids came from a shattered proto planet. Some come from its carbon-volatiles-water rich out part. Some from the stony middle and many from the purified metal/iron/gold core. Pre-refined metal! Tell me again how we can " Think of the Moon as one giant asteroid"? It is diametrically opposite to true.

Smurphs said...

Hey, Doc, three things.

First, you have mentioned the Needles of SUNDIVER in you blog several times. I just want to say that in the book I read, it was unclear if they were platforms, or geo-synchronous towers, or something else. Which makes me wonder:

Was my copy (original paperback) abridged in some way, or;
Was the idea never really developed in your mind until later, or;
Were some critical sentences left on the editing room floor, for whatever reason?

Having seen the effort you put into all your works, I would put money on number three.

Second, I bought myself a Kindle for Xmas and have been slowly loading up my old favorites. Got THE POSTMAN. Do you know if any other of your works will go on sale? (I don't mean to be cheap, I bought them all once already!)

Third, thanks for the link to Extra History. I just wasted my entire afternoon down that rabbit hole.;>

David Brin said...

Okay, I posted about this.

onward

onward

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