Archive for the ‘economics’ Category

No real AI progress

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

AI is a hard problem, and even if we had a healthy society, we might still be stuck. That buildings are not getting taller and that fabs are not getting cheaper and not making smaller and smaller devices is social decay. That we are stuck on AI is more that it is high hanging fruit.

According to Yudkowsky, we will have AI when computers have as much computing power as human brains.

The GPU on my desktop has ten times as much computing power as the typical male human brain, and it is not looking conscious. (more…)

mens rea

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

I have been arguing that social decay is ending technological and scientific progress.  In most areas it has strikingly slowed, in some areas, going backwards in the west, as we forget how to do what once we could do.  Others, however, argue that technological and scientific progress is still running hot, or that if it has slowed, it is that we ran out of low hanging fruit.

But a big tell is that people are lying about it. The lie indicates not only failure, but that the failure is shameful – that the failure is in us, not in external circumstances.  That we are lying about it shows the failure is social decay. (more…)

Tall buildings and the social order

Monday, January 20th, 2014

To make and keep the upper stories of a tall building habitable requires routine high technology.  The lifts have to work, the water needs to be pumped, the toilets have let the poop down one hundred stories without shattering violence.  It is not all that expensive.  Current office space costs in the centers of major cities are so high that very tall buildings are immensely profitable.  It is simply difficult to do, requires able people working together, both initially to build the systems, and subsequently to keep them going.

It is habitable floors that are hard to do, and habitable floors are what generates the rental income.  So, to assess a society’s technological level, count habitable floors.

By and large, the taller the building, the more the profit.  Doubtless there is a limit, but in the center of most major cities, most tall buildings are below that limit.  If people could build taller, they would.  At our present technological level, settling space seems likely to be fatally unprofitable, but building upwards, building the city of tomorrow, is highly profitable. (more…)

Global Warming Scientists trapped in Antarctic Denial

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

This expedition to Antarctica is led by global warming scientist Chris Turney, whose company, Carbonscape, sells carbon indulgences. If you sin by emitting carbon, Chris Turner will, for a suitable payment, offset your sin with his carbon offset credits.

In the course of this expedition, they have repeatedly smacked up hard against ice that their ideology said could not possibly be there, and then proceeded to act as if the ice was not there.  And then their ship got stuck. (more…)

No peak oil

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Inflation adjusted price of oil shows no obvious trend, suggesting that limits on oil production reflect social decay and technological slowdown, rather than physical exhaustion of resources.

Oil prices rose, and rose, to 2008, and in 2008, it looked like the peak oilers were, like a stopped clock, finally correct.  And then prices fell, a lot.  They have risen since, but not to their 2008 peaks.  From 2010 to the present oil prices have been high and steady in nominal dollars, while Chinese and Indian consumption soars.  But steady in nominal dollars means falling about six percent a year in real prices, (or three percent a year if you believe the official cpi)  So, more oil produced and consumed at lower prices, indicating that oil extraction technology continues to advance fast enough to keep up with increased demand.

If real prices start rising again, more likely social decay than limits to growth.

Equal opportunity

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Whenever someone announces that they are in favor of equal opportunity, in favor of equality of opportunity rather than equality of outcome, they have usually a few paragraphs, or a few comments away, defended some outrageously unjust inequality of opportunity implemented and enforced by state power to destroy group X, as punishment for group X privilege.

Everyone is in favor of equality of opportunity.  I am in favor of equality of opportunity.  But, realistically, you are not going to get it, and attempting to get it is apt to result in genocide, as in the Congo, or terror, as in Sri Lanka. (more…)

anti anti anti anti reactionary faq

Wednesday, December 4th, 2013

Scot Alexander has answered the anti anti reactionary faq.

The anti anti reactionary faq argument to which he replies is that leftist have a dreadful record of misgovernment, terror, tyranny, artificial famine, and leftists tend to get lefter over a time.  It is a slippery slope, the slope gets steeper and steeper, and at the bottom of that slope, a deep pit filled with sharpened stakes.

Scot’s reply is that these bad things done by leftists were a response to the horrid horrid horrid evil oppression by extremely reactionary regimes, which made the masses so very angry.

The trouble with this story is the King Louis and Tzar Nicholas were very progressive – and very powerless.  To the extent that they were able to exercise any power, it was to reward and protect their enemies, and destroy their loyalists.  It is probably fortunate that King Louis XVI, a supposedly absolute divine right monarch, was completely unable to get any of his policies implemented, because they were all disastrously stupid highly fashionable left wing policies, in particular the proposal to abolish the taille.

Pilgrim socialism

Thursday, November 28th, 2013

By now everyone knows the real story of thanksgiving.  The pilgrim fathers attempted socialism, as usual famine ensued, followed by mass die off, they appointed a new governor who concluded that when God expelled Adam and Eve from the garden, God ordained private property in the means of production.  Famine solved, prosperity ensues.  Pilgrims ordain a day of thanksgiving to thank God for their prosperity.

But strangely, the New York Times, and the left generally, is fighting back, attempting to speak power to truth.  According to the New York Times: (more…)

Moore’s law ends. Technological singularity postponed indefinitely

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

The fabs will soon be delivering “16nm” chips.  But they are not in fact 16nm chips.  That is just marketer spin.  The wire to wire spacing, the pitch, is still 64nm, as it has been for some considerable time.  There have been substantial improvements in power consumption, and this and that, but chips have just stopped getting denser.  There are no more transistors per unit area than in previous technology generations.  They are 64nm chips, and we have been stuck at 64 nm for some time. (more…)

Predicting collapse

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

I am a prophet of doom.  There tends to be an oversupply of prophets of doom, and the proportion who turn out correct is quite small.

Equally, there are also a large number of prophets of non doom, for example the numerous prophets of complacency during the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, who assume that everything will continue as today, often even when spectacular collapse is under way, they assume that everything has now stabilized, or will very shortly stabilize.

So, I reach for the mantle of an accurate prophet:  Ayn Rand in her science fiction novel Atlas Shrugged accurately predicted the condition of today’s Detroit, though her book was published when Detroit had the highest standard of living in America. (more…)