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A Realtor's View From Hubbert's Peak

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Guest Alright Jack

Good to hear someone calling a spade a spade.

Haven't read the rest, but it looks interesting (although I think the dislocation of peak oil, although massive, will be temporary; nanotechnology and the internet mean that a super-high-technology future will create alternative power sources, and massively reduced energy needs as virtual-reality communication replaces travel and low-power-consuming machine AIs replace human-biologicals with all their ancillary power needs).

Oh that's all right then!

Nanotech, virtual reality AI... I think you've been watching a bit too much Start Treck buddy.

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Guest Bart of Darkness
Nanotech, virtual reality AI... I think you've been watching a bit too much Start Treck buddy.

Marty Cooper and the mobile phone, Doctor John Adler and the Cyberknife, Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer with the SETI Institute (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence).

All were inspired to change the world by watching Star Trek.

Even the Altair 8800 ("widely recognized as the spark that led to the personal computer revolution") was named after the Altair solar system often mentioned in the series.

Looks like you're not watching enough Star Trek buddy!

Edited by Bart of Darkness

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There was a good article in yesterday's telegraph on peak oil by Michael Meacher:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtm...26/ccpers26.xml

selected quotes

Whilst it has taken 145 years to consume half of the 2-2½ trillion barrels of conventional oil supplies generally regarded as the total available, it is likely that, given the huge increases in demand from China and India, with rates of growth of 7pc-10pc a year in economies supplying two-fifths of the world population, the other half will be largely consumed within the next 40 years.

The significance of this can hardly be over-stated. Oil is the fundamental underpinning of our civilization.

Alternatives like biofuels, ethanol or biomass can play a marginal supportive role but nowhere near on the scale required. When the oil runs out the economic and social dislocation will be unprecedented

Global oil production is 84m barrels a day. As the president of Exxon Mobil Exploration, John Thompson, said in 2003: "By 2015 we will need to find, develop and produce a volume of new oil and gas that is equal to eight out of every 10 barrels being produced today." That is not just a problem of better technology. Additional oil on that scale is not available.

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I Feel it's important to point out to anyone reading this thread, who might not know what peak oil is. It is not about oil running out, which will be a long way off, it's all about the flow rates - getting it out of the earth's crust and onto the market. So far, we've always been able to increase the amount of oil coming to market for consumption, and been able to grow our economies as a result. Come 2010 (roughly) the process will go into reverse, constained by geological factors.

This is not a problem for 40-50 years in the future, this is a problem for our lifetime.

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I just wanted to add you need to be careful to distinguish "technology" from "energy". The most advanced machine you can imagine is useless without the energy to make it work.

I was interested to discover over the weekend that the US Geological Survey actually agrees with the Peak Oil pessimists/realists. Previously I'd thought the USGS was just VI spin to quell mass concern about the peak, but if you read the small print and use their 95% probability reserves it turns out they basically agree with Campbell and Laherrere; ie that the peak should be in the last few years of this decade.

Well, that pretty much ties it up for me. I still think that only a minority of people will even have heard of Peak Oil by the time it happens.

One consequence of expensive transport will be a decline in the highly complex global organisations that would be the only source of this "new technology" that everyone is looking to to save our hides. Things like nanotechnology require high complexity - just what will be harder to sustain when energy gets really expensive and our economies get strangled. I would be interested to know more about how nanotechnology can be a source of energy.

Also bear in mind that the US has taken most of the world's savings and blown them on tat like new cars, big homes and other goodies that will never yield a future income stream. This begs the question of how the US plans to pay back the world all those borrowed savings... as Peak Oil strikes..... er, I don't think it's going to happen. I think it's going to be like rock climbing with a grizzly bear and the grizzly bear slips and tears the rest of us off with it into the abyss. Get ready for some big-time banking failures once oil gets much beyond $100.

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Malco, I think we are in general agreement.

Nanotechnology isn't worth much (except as another industrial process) until it reaches certain critical milestones of control and replication and becomes true molecular manufacturing (that is tiny robot assemblers capable of building anything feasible that can be designed, including more of themselves). At that point it will be possible to engineer all sorts of incredible things - like massive solar panels in orbit, microwaving energy down to collectors on Earth, all for miniscule energy outlays. (For example the "seed" construction robot/spacecraft (which would utilise asteroidal material already in space) could be the size of a coke can or smaller, and power all the construction from the growing solar array.)

But until those critical development milestones are reached (estimates any time up to 2030), nanotechnology is just another part of our massively complex and energy-needy industrial base.

I doubt that peak-oil will cause technology to stop advancing or even slow much - but meanwhile it will have a massive effect on people. On society, wealth and standards of living, especially for the poorest.

I am not sure things can be handled in such a way that many people are no longer clinging to the wreckage when the rescue craft arrives, so to speak.

Self replicating inter astral microscopic robots by 2030?

Is that what you're saying?

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Self replicating inter astral microscopic robots by 2030?

I doubt it myself, and I'm far from convinced that the 'self-replicating' part of nanotech will work anywhere near as well as the true believers predict, but if you'd told someone in 1983 while they were using their Sinclair Spectrum that by 2003 they'd be able to buy a 3GHz 32-bit CPU with 1GB of RAM and 200GB of hard disks for under a thousand pounds they'd have thought you were being silly too. As the sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke once said, people overestimate progress in the short term and underestimate it in the long term, because in general humans predict linearly while technology improves exponentially.

But a mere seventy years was enough, for example, to go from the early cars putting along behind a man with a red flag to driving on the Moon: why should this century show any less progress than that?

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In concurrence with the inevitable AI it will bring, I would put it beyond even that, on par with the arrival of man, or biological life.

Nanotechnology is on par with the emergence of biological life?

Is that what you are saying?

I can assure you it's more likely to be used to make nicer tasting beer than erecting intersteller craft, in the timescale you suggest.

And you comparison to the emergence of life? What's that all about?

Edited by ?...!

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Yep, Technology will come up with the right answers re the future engergy issue but not in time to mitigate the effects of oil depletion, the scale of what we do now in the oil age is just too large to change with 'just invented technology' in the short term. First we are going to have one almighty ressesion/depression caused by oil prices before the politicians and general public realy understand the nature of peak oil and even then they will put it down to temporary political issues. There are lots of future alternatives however if you investigate each one of them properly you will realise that they wont scale up quick enough to totaly mitigate oil depletion. No two ways about it, we are going to get severly punished in the not two distant future.

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And you comparison to the emergence of life? What's that all about?

Unless we wipe ourselves out, AI will supercede humans because AIs can colonise the galaxy at nearly the speed of light, whereas humans will take many times longer.... and it's unlikely that a human will ever reach another galaxy, because the distances and travel times are so vast.

One day a few hundred thousand years from now AIs will be posting on the galactic Web to argue about whether they really evolved from goop brained apes or whether God created them from sand in his own image as the Siliconians believe. IMHO there will be few events more important since the beginning of life on Earth than the creation of the first true AIs.

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If anyone wants to learn more about peak oil then go read www.peakoil.com

A very easy way to waste a day.

don't go there - they'll have you slitting your wrists in no time!

Go to www.powerswitch.org.uk - they are much less "doom and gloom", plus they're mostly Brits.

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don't go there - they'll have you slitting your wrists in no time!

Go to www.powerswitch.org.uk - they are much less "doom and gloom", plus they're mostly Brits.

haha, you're probably right.

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To quote Vernor Vinge: "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

But, to be frank, I'd say that Vinge and the Singularitarians have fallen into precisely the trap that Clarke warned about... expecting far too much far too fast.

Unless by 'shortly after' he means a couple of centuries, anyway.

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But a mere seventy years was enough, for example, to go from the early cars putting along behind a man with a red flag to driving on the Moon: why should this century show any less progress than that?

It was much less to go from the car puttering behind the red flag to killing children by the thousand, but that is by the by.

You ask about progress in this coming century. Well, the progress we have seen was only due to cheap energy. It required other factors too, of course, and it certainly helped that the most enterprising of cultures also happened to be on one of the most fecund oil provinces on the planet. The progress we have seen requires immense capital and immense scale of organisation; neither could have happened without the productivity miracle based on Henry Ford's methods to provide cheap cars to burn all that cheap oil. Rapidly rising population meant constant capital available from the sale of land for housing development.

On the other hand, we now face the unwinding of much of that. Population can't go on growing, nor can the suburbs, energy is no longer cheap, resources are getting strained wherever we look. Shortages and contractions are not times that allow for lots of cheap capital. Actually, I don't know what is going to happen, but it doesn't look like the best of times to me. The crisis of Peak Oil will surely take at least ten years to recover from (and that is being optimistic).

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It is the emergence of life in a new medium. These machines will be effectively able to procreate. More, unlike us, they will be able to make conscious design upgrades between generations. More than that, they can upgrade themselves directly without needing to build a new generation.

The artificial intelligences they build will be able to match, then outstrip human intelligence. (Merely by the creation of massive arrays of high-speed physics simulations of existing human brains, if no cleverer design routes are found.)

To quote Vernor Vinge: "Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended."

Here is an interesting site that looks at the ramifications.

It's not intelligence though is it, it's a simulation. It still requires commands and procedures and is incapable of creative thought.

Any rationalisation attempted by such a machine would draw on alogorythms and mathematic assumptions, if it were to fulfill the true freedom of the sci-fi fantasy it would need to be programmed with the exact mathematic description of the laws of its environment, a complete works of physics if you will, something that it could not derive alone, just like your PC cannot learn it lives in a box under your desk.

Also how do you provide a machine with motives free of commands?

That's a long way off.

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It was much less to go from the car puttering behind the red flag to killing children by the thousand, but that is by the by.

You ask about progress in this coming century. Well, the progress we have seen was only due to cheap energy. It required other factors too, of course, and it certainly helped that the most enterprising of cultures also happened to be on one of the most fecund oil provinces on the planet. The progress we have seen requires immense capital and immense scale of organisation; neither could have happened without the productivity miracle based on Henry Ford's methods to provide cheap cars to burn all that cheap oil. Rapidly rising population meant constant capital available from the sale of land for housing development.

On the other hand, we now face the unwinding of much of that. Population can't go on growing, nor can the suburbs, energy is no longer cheap, resources are getting strained wherever we look. Shortages and contractions are not times that allow for lots of cheap capital. Actually, I don't know what is going to happen, but it doesn't look like the best of times to me. The crisis of Peak Oil will surely take at least ten years to recover from (and that is being optimistic).

I read the other day that enough energy by way of sunlight falls on the earth in a day to provide power for mankind for a year. That's just the sun. Stick in the wind and the tides and I can't see what you are saying at all.

I almost hate to say it but it is true 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - we haven't replaced oil yet because we haven't had to. Now it looks as though we have to - we have a huge diversion of resources to other energy forms. BP are putting wind farms up are they not? There will be a clean and orderly transition from oil that will require some leaps that will be made - of necessity.

A human brain is a constrained machine incapable of creativity. How can the mechanical movement of atoms (or quanta) lead to creative thought? What is the difference, atomically speaking (or at a quantum level if you prefer) between an alive human body and a dead human body - say 1 second before and 1 second after death? To me it is clear there is an unquantifiable difference - some form of energy called 'life force' - it is that, surely, that is the cause of creativity. Rest assured, a perfect atomic (or subatomic, if Penrose is correct) simulation of a human brain would be as creative as the person simulated (or would be willing to argue the toss about whether it was, just as long into the night).

A simulation of brain physics can run under Windows 95, given a fast enough machine with enough RAM, so no need for computers to "wake up". They will still be unthinking machines, just like your brain hardware.

Sorry to cut and run. Have to go and watch the football. ;)

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I doubt it myself, and I'm far from convinced that the 'self-replicating' part of nanotech will work anywhere near as well as the true believers predict, but if you'd told someone in 1983 while they were using their Sinclair Spectrum that by 2003 they'd be able to buy a 3GHz 32-bit CPU with 1GB of RAM and 200GB of hard disks for under a thousand pounds they'd have thought you were being silly too. As the sci-fi writer Arthur C Clarke once said, people overestimate progress in the short term and underestimate it in the long term, because in general humans predict linearly while technology improves exponentially.

But a mere seventy years was enough, for example, to go from the early cars putting along behind a man with a red flag to driving on the Moon: why should this century show any less progress than that?

I always liked his quote on the Space Elevator idea "we'll build it when the last person stops laughing". Could be quite pertinent here.

I think its always going to be difficult to predict what will happen with emergent technology - Bill Gates famously got it wrong about the World Wide Web, for instance. One thing you can be sure of is that the developments are going to mean massive changes for the human species. Some of those changes will be for the better. Some won't.

Be nice to have a flying car though :)

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It was much less to go from the car puttering behind the red flag to killing children by the thousand, but that is by the by.

Sigh... why does the mere mention of the word 'car' bring out such nonsense? I guess next you'll explain why our life expectancy is so much shorter than it was in Victorian times... you know, back when plenty of kids were killed by horses and many who didn't die were infected with various diseases by breathing in flakes of dried horse crap.

Heck, trains were barely off the drawing board before they first killed a bystander, and when planes first arrived they were dropping out of the sky all over the place... you probably had to wear safety helmets just in case one landed on you.

It's not intelligence though is it, it's a simulation. It still requires commands and procedures and is incapable of creative thought.

And you're clearly a carbon chauvinist.

I know of at least one case of a computer demonstrating 'creative thought' which had eluded humans for years. There's a game I came across at school called 'Trillion Credit Squadron', where you had a set of rules for designing starships and you got a trillion 'credits' to spend on building your perfect fleet of starships according to those rules, and then two fleets would fight a battle to see who'd designed the best one.

Someone wrote a program to learn how to play the game and left it to play against itself for a while until it developed its ideal fleet. Not only did it absolutely slaughter every human competitor in the US national championships, but it used a tactic that no human player to my knowledge had ever done: it blew up its own ships if they were so badly damaged that they were actively harming the effectiveness of the fleet.

Once the computer demonstrated that to human players it was obvious once you went back and read the rules that it was a perfectly sensible tactic if you wanted to win. But humans didn't do it because to them it was a starship full of people, whereas to the computer program it was just some bits in a game.

Plus, of course, to claim that a machine is incapable of creative thought but a human is, you'd first need to prove that humans are capable of 'creative thought'. Most of the arguments I've seen about how humans are much better than AIs come down to poorly defined language and a mistaken belief in magical abilities of the human brain which have never been proven to exist.

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I Feel it's important to point out to anyone reading this thread, who might not know what peak oil is. It is not about oil running out, which will be a long way off, it's all about the flow rates - getting it out of the earth's crust and onto the market. So far, we've always been able to increase the amount of oil coming to market for consumption, and been able to grow our economies as a result. Come 2010 (roughly) the process will go into reverse, constained by geological factors.

This is not a problem for 40-50 years in the future, this is a problem for our lifetime.

Its a major problem for people who pay for their gas and electric. Huge profits being made and customers getting the bill.

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I know of at least one case of a computer demonstrating 'creative thought' which had eluded humans for years. There's a game I came across at school called 'Trillion Credit Squadron', where you had a set of rules for designing starships and you got a trillion 'credits' to spend on building your perfect fleet of starships according to those rules, and then two fleets would fight a battle to see who'd designed the best one.

Someone wrote a program to learn how to play the game and left it to play against itself for a while until it developed its ideal fleet. Not only did it absolutely slaughter every human competitor in the US national championships, but it used a tactic that no human player to my knowledge had ever done: it blew up its own ships if they were so badly damaged that they were actively harming the effectiveness of the fleet.

Once the computer demonstrated that to human players it was obvious once you went back and read the rules that it was a perfectly sensible tactic if you wanted to win. But humans didn't do it because to them it was a starship full of people, whereas to the computer program it was just some bits in a game.

Thats the theory of emergence, I would recomend reading "Emergence" by Steven Johnson. Just because it's an interesting book.

What has happened there is the computer has made more efficient use of its time through mass trial and error. It's similar to evolution.

What I was saying is I do not foresee sentient nanobots roaming the earth and near space in 2030, sorry.

And "a carbon chauvanist"?

I'm assuming you are refering to carbon life and not fossil fuels? But don't really understand your point...

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I read the other day that enough energy by way of sunlight falls on the earth in a day to provide power for mankind for a year. That's just the sun. Stick in the wind and the tides and I can't see what you are saying at all.

I almost hate to say it but it is true 'Necessity is the Mother of Invention' - we haven't replaced oil yet because we haven't had to. Now it looks as though we have to - we have a huge diversion of resources to other energy forms. BP are putting wind farms up are they not? There will be a clean and orderly transition from oil that will require some leaps that will be made - of necessity.

Sounds nice in theory, but in practice you have to build something to trap that energy. A process that uses... energy!

Yes necessity is the mother of invention, but at what timescale can you bring new energy sources into use? The studies thus far show that to go 100% renewable, you 1st have to cut demand by 60 - 70% How you shrink you're economy like that smoothly is... well, going to be tricky to say the least.

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I hope so. The best thing would be if we could all go along for the ride somehow. Skynet aside, I can't see us deliberately setting out to create something cruel and unkind to its old creators - hopefully at very worst we'll be reverently set aside to live in peace (EDIT: or war, after all we are human), like a National Park.

Maybe that already happened... maybe Earth is the National Park for humans already set aside by god-like AIs???

:ph34r:

Maybe I've got a universe under my fingernail...

Reminds me of Animal House

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  • 301 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
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