Posts Tagged “energy”

People and their values.  Anyway, 1st up today is:

Energy Efficiency

It’s a red herring.  ENERGY EFFICIENCY WILL NOT AFFECT GLOBAL WARMING.  It will make it worse.

Econ 101:  If you make something more efficient people will use it MORE, not less.  Take the cotton gin….before it was invented, we separated the seeds from the cotton by hand…it took a long time, and it sucked.  “The growth of cotton production, enabled by Eli Whitney’s cotton gin, expanded by the bale from 750,000 in 1830 to 2.85 million bales in 1850.  As a result of the ability to produce cotton faster, the South became even more dependent on plantations and slavery making it the largest area of the economy in the South.”  Get it?  Efficiency caused its use to explode!

Take the Printing Press.  Before books were made by hand, and only a few could read.  Then making books became faster and more efficient, and as a result there are so many books now people would laugh to think they were once scarce.  Getting better at making books simply means there will be more of them.

Take planes, trains, automobiles….whatever.  It doesn’t matter.  It will work the same.

Efficiency causes people to use something MORE, not less.  I fail to see how more efficient cars (or light bulbs or whatever) will change anything. It will not save energy.  In aggregate, it will use more energy (even if each individual unit uses less).

If you want people to use less energy we need to become less efficient at making it.  You could attempt to impose huge taxes to dissuade use, but people would create a gray/black market.  It wouldn’t make a difference in the end.

In short, there is pretty much nothing except population control or space ships (population control vis a vis leaving the planet) that will change what we’re doing.

As technology progresses forward we MUST use more energy.  There must be throughput.  It doesn’t go backwards.

Corporate Person-hood:

In court, Corporations often try to claim the same rights as we do.  They want free speech; they want to contribute openly to political campaigns; they do enjoy the right to contracts, to declare bankruptcy; they sue people/parties.  They behave in many ways like people, and when it suits them they claim any and all the rights entitled to people.

Here is the rub though:  Corporations aren’t people.  Primarily, corporations can’t die, and they can shift their definition of “person”.  You can put a person in jail.  You can punish them.  You can’t rightly punish an amorphous concept.  Arthur Anderson consulting just became Accenture.  Kill one, and it just shifts to something else.  No person enjoys shape-shifting immortality.

People are moral.  All of them are, even if their morality is not one we agree with.  Maybe better said, people HAVE morals.  Corporations do not…and they behave accordingly.

So what does this have to do with me?

Accountability:  I am thinking of a systemic solution, a single switch, to stop the seemingly runaway power of corporations:  make ONE person accountable.  Abolish the ability for the CEO and Board of Directors to hide behind corporate person-hood.  Make the CEO accountable.

Abolish corporate-person-hood…just one person at the top.  If you think the company has gotten too big for you personally to take responsibility for…then you need to spin-off a business. Sweat-shops….ONE person is responsible for that.  A corporation is not “following labor arbitrage to the lowest cost provider because “the market” (another non-human entity) demands it”….ONE person is supporting children working for nothing to make stuff we throw away after a few uses.  It affects that person’s morality.  It is the responsibility of that person.

Talk about a Renaissance of values: The only person it would make sense to hire in that case (when the actions of those you hire affect YOU personally)…..would be someone of impeccable values.

For instance, take the current banking crisis.  Tons of individual PEOPLE are underwater on their homes…they owe more than it is worth…yet they keep paying….because they have VALUES.  They made a promise to pay and they feel bad about not paying; they are affected by the guilt.

Corporations are NOT affected by any guilt or any morality.  They are also “underwater” on the derivatives of the homes…and yet they feel no compunction to pay.  They simply walk away, because they don’t care…in fact, they can’t care.  Not only that but they realize they’ll get more by lobbying Congress to get US, the people, to bail them out.  Why?  Because they can.

That kind of thinking, where you do something just because you can….is the same thinking sociopaths use. It is dangerous.

And yet these entities, who cannot feel, and for whose leaders we do not vote….rule most of our days.  We endure because they enable us a decent life (which I agree is the case); however, that does not change the fact that corporations enjoy near absolute authority:  They tell us how to dress, where to show up, what to say, what to do for most of our waking hours……is that not pretty much slavery?

The saving grace is that we can largely choose our job, which allows us to choose our slavery….a decent proposition I  think (I really do)….just align yourself with a corporation that largely shares your values……..Oops:  Corporations don’t have values.

Then again, most people don’t either when faced with survival.  Oh well.

Artificial Intelligence:

I had big hopes for this, in the sense that surely we need to be smarter than we are now…even if the robots take over?  Right?  Also, I thought it wasn’t that far away; I mean we can process the shit out of some shit with computers.  It won’t be long before we can simulate the processing of the human brain.

A few thoughts…..if we ever COULD simulate the processing of the human brain, how much energy would it take at this point?  Shit…my computer (one computer) requires a up-voltage converter, and runs so hot that it needs a heat sink to avoid melting the metal.

My brain runs at 98.6 degrees.  And it doesn’t require an up-converter at all.  I can shove a few beers and a slice of bread into it and it will run all day.  Imagine if you could shove a few leaves and a cup of water into your computer, and that was it?  That’s nuts!!!  The brain is, simply put, so far beyond anything we have now that its a joke.  Show me a computer that runs on beer and a plate of rice!?!?!!  Our brains are so energy efficient it is SICK.

Next:  Free Will

Isn’t that the issue?  Computers (despite their poor efficiency) can already process more than we can in most situations (though they aren’t as flexible).  But they can’t DECIDE to process something.  If they could I might simply stay at home and let my computer be curious about the data that I work with for a living.

So what is free will?  And why can’t processing devices (computers) that are already “smarter” than we are in some situations simply decide to do something?

Proposition:  The brain is a pattern recognition machine.  At its simplest, the brain stores information and turns it into patterns.  I didn’t invent this idea (see  You have to take this one on belief somewhat.

Another Proposition:  The brain is leaky.  Computers work with 1s and 0s….and that is hard to do.  The smaller the circuits, the more the circuits leak…and 1s bleed into 0s.  The way you separate the feedback from the signal is to turn up the volume (energy throughput)… the smaller the processing circuits get, for the most part the larger we must turn up the energy to separate the signal from the noise.  This is true (no belief required).  The brain doesn’t work like that…it simply leaks, and trades accuracy for speed and efficiency….and the brain has trouble telling the noise from the signal.


That is why there is no artificial intelligence, no free will in machines.  They don’t have enough noise;  they are TOO accurate.

Imagine a brain that is programmed to see patterns.  It sees lots of them, because the world is largely patterned (follows trends).  Because it errs though, it also sees trends where there aren’t any (optical illusions are an example).  It is well documented that the brain sees patterns where they don’t exist, it “fills in the blanks” where our sensory input doesn’t match previous patterns we’ve seen.

But there is one source of random noise that is always present….it is the leak in our brain circuits…the trade off between efficiency and accuracy.  From the day we are born the brain tries to process the ghost in our machine (the leak in our signal, which is completely random).  Because it is so good at seeing patterns…it invents a pattern….WE ARE THE PATTERN.completely unique, un-reproducible, always shifting with new input (which produces new randomness, which causes us to shift more…but on the whole the brain creates a way to interpret that randomness, and refines that interpretation with time).  We tell ourselves to do different things in different situations (or the same situation) because it is somewhat random.  Free will is that randomness. We…are the randomness.

Anyway, that is my theory, and that is why there is no free will in computers, nor is there any “artificial intelligence” upcoming in computers:  they work too well.

To sum up:

While there is no apparent theme in my three topics…..the theme is that it pays to think about the things that go on around us.  If you take at face value all the information we’re fed…’re the same as dumb.

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