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Archive for the 'Economics' Category

Humanity+ @ Caltech

Posted by Jim Lewis on October 17th, 2010

Redefining Humanity in the Era of Radical Technological Change, December 4-5, 2010, Pasadena, CA

Don’t miss the Open Science Summit, July 29-31, in person or live webcast

Posted by Christine Peterson on July 19th, 2010

The Open Science Summit on July 29-31 in Berkeley is looking better and better. Topics include OpenPCR, DIY biology, open source hardware, brain preservation, synthetic biology, gene patents, open data, open access journals, reputation engines, crowd-funding and microfinance for science, citizen science, biohacking, open source biodefense, cure entrepreneurs, open source drug discovery, patent pools, tech transfer, and [...]

What Foresight is about

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on December 10th, 2009

It’s a good thing we got Nanodot moved onto a new server recently — we just had a huge spike in readers.  This is due to one recent post, Some Historical Perspective, being picked up and spread around the climate-change blogosphere.  Of the pageviews we have had over the past three months, 10% of them [...]

Dr. Doom has some good news: nanotechnology

Posted by Christine Peterson on October 21st, 2009

From The Atlantic: Nouriel Roubini, the New York University economist who accurately forecast the bursting of the housing bubble and the resulting economic contraction, has become famous for his pessimism—he has been the gloomiest of the doomsayers… “The question is, can the U.S. grow in a non-bubble way?” [Roubini] asked the question rhetorically, so I [...]

Solar cells with nanocrystal ink reach 18 percent efficiency

Posted by Christine Peterson on September 21st, 2009

Josh Hall, on his way to catch a plane, sends us this news from Technology Review’s Katherine Bourzac: A California company is using silicon ink patterned on top of silicon wafers to boost the efficiency of solar cells. The Sunnyvale, CA, firm Innovalight says that the inkjet process is a cheaper route to more-efficient solar power. [...]

ESP

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on September 4th, 2009

Previous: What Singularity? Yesterday I took issue with Alfred Nordmann’s IEEE post in which he claimed that technological progress was slowing down instead of accelerating. I claimed instead that it was being distorted by the needs of the next rungs of the Maslow hierarchy, and that a huge portion of society’s energy was going into [...]

Singularity or Bust

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 25th, 2009

It’s a question of some interest whether the Singularity will consist of just more exponential growth, or whether some superexponential growth mode is likely to happen (or is even possible), such as would be required for a real mathematical singularity. On the side of exponential growth, as I pointed out here, is the fact that [...]

Flying Cars: how close are we?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on August 24th, 2009

Previous in series: VTOL So, how close are we to flying cars? For specificity, let’s pick a technological bar to hurdle that answers most of the objections to the concept we’ve seen as comments on the previous posts: It should be relatively high-powered compared to current light craft. It should be STOVL for safety and [...]

Space travel: utter bilge?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on July 20th, 2009

It is, today, just 40 years since I sat glued to a grainy black-and-white TV set and watched the Apollo astronauts land on, and then step out on, the moon. If you had asked me then, I would have assured you that by the year 2000, much less 2009, I’d have my own spaceship, or [...]

More on Limits to Growth

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 11th, 2009

There was a gratifyingly large response to last Friday’s post Acolytes of neo-Malthusian Apocalypticism. Several of the commenters seemed to think I was trying to refute the LtG model, but that would require a whole book instead of one blog post. I consider LtG to have been demolished in detail by people with a lot [...]

Acolytes of neo-Malthusian Apocalypticism

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 8th, 2009

When I was in college 35 years ago, there was a major fad of neo-Malthusian doom-mongering, led by the “Limits to Growth” book and movement. A retreat was organized from the college, and some concerned, environmentally conscious professors and students, myself included, went off for a concentrated seminar in which we educated each other about [...]

Replicating nanofactories redux

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on May 4th, 2009

Over at Accelerating Future, Michael Anissimov continues the discussion about nanofactories. He says a number of reasonable things, but then mischaracterizes, or at least greatly oversimplifies, Foresight’s position on nanofactories and self-replicating machines in general: The general implied position of the Foresight Institute appears to be, “we’ll figure these things out as we go, MNT [...]

Bat Wings

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 23rd, 2009

Evolution has adapted what were the bones of the fingers of the bat’s ancestors to form the skeleton of its wing. Similarly, in technology, when one element of a system is capable of expanding to take up new functions, it can substitute for what might have been expected to be different ways to achieve the [...]

Mindsteading

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 16th, 2009

Reading this essay by Peter Thiel, I was struck by an amusing (though almost certainly coincidental) parallel. Thiel mentions three areas in which people interested in freedom may manage to get out from under the thumb of excessive government: cyberspace, seasteading, and outer space. The parallel is to three fronts on which people are pursuing [...]

Does seasteading need nanotech?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 14th, 2009

I recently heard a talk by Patri Friedman about seasteading. Seasteading means “homesteading the sea,” or at least building floating cities and establishing permanent residences there, and ultimately alternative polities in hopes of enabling beneficial economic competition in the field of governance. Before saying more, let me point out that I am generally in agreement [...]

More energy

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on April 2nd, 2009

The power density is large compared to that of macroscale motors: >1e15 W/m^3. For comparison, Earth intercepts ~1e17 watts of solar radiation. (Cooling constraints presumably preclude the steady-state operation of a cubic meter of these devices at this power density.) Nanosystems p. 339 It is difficult, even for someone who has been working with these [...]

Early retirement — how soon?

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 26th, 2009

In my Early Retirement post, I wrote If you have a human-level AI based on computer technology, the cost to do what it can do will begin to decline at Moore’s Law rates. Even if an AI costs a million dollars in, say, 2020, it’ll be a thousand in 2030 and one dollar in 2040 [...]

The world is flat

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 19th, 2009

In this post I began considering the prognostications in George Friedman’s The Next 100 Years, in light of some of the kinds of changes in technology that might come online during the century. This is obviously hard to do, but imagine trying to predict the geopolitical course of the 20th century without understanding the possibility [...]

Required Reading

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 18th, 2009

What forces are going to shape the world throughout the 21st century? A recent NYT bestseller, The Next 100 Years, by George Friedman, proposes a number of very interesting theories. Friedman is considered to be something of an intellectual maverick, contradicting the conventional wisdom at many points, and very insightful, since in many cases his [...]

Early Retirement

Posted by J. Storrs Hall on March 16th, 2009

Last week at AGI-09, I chaired a one-day workshop on the future of AGI. (“AGI” means Artificial General Intelligence, which is essentially what the term “AI” meant before 1980: the attempt to build a system that would be the equivalent of a human in its thinking abilities, displaying a robust ability to think, converse, exhibit [...]