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Author Topic: A Resource Based Economy  (Read 261794 times)
myrkul
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November 07, 2012, 12:27:45 AM
 #1141

But it doesn't. It produces a very large, but decidedly finite source of energy. Compound that with the difficulty of collecting it all (the earth catches, iirc, less than 1%), and we are stuck with the same problem. Limited resources. How do we deal with that?

4e26 Watts.  A nuclear power plant is about 200 MW.  So the sun has the power of 2e15 20th-century-technology-styled human power plants.  That's two million billions power plants.   Let me remind you that there are currently seven billion human beings, and there are several reasons to doubt humanity will ever count more than ten billion members.

Tell me:  is there a number for which you think it is reasonable to consider it is infinite?  What power would it take for you to consider that humanity would have more than enough?  A whole galaxy?
Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

I'd be curious to know about these reasons you have to believe that humanity will never number more than 10 billion. Especially if we're able to harness our entire sun's energy output.

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November 07, 2012, 12:34:39 AM
 #1142

Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

How can you be certain about that? There are several scientific theories which state an infinite universe. They may not be the academic consensus but they are there.
And we are far from the point where we can say we know that they are fallacious.

BTW: Ever heard of surreal numbers? I guess not Wink

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November 07, 2012, 12:42:21 AM
 #1143

Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

Reminds me of a discussion I had once about lotery.  I was trying to convince someone that playing lotery is just a waste of money.  He kept telling me that as long as there is a chance, however small it is, to win the jackpot, it is worth playing.  I asked him if he would play if the odds to win was one against one billion.  He would.  one thousand billion?  He would.  I didn't asked him but if I had mentioned a googol, I guess he would have played as well.

Sometimes when numbers are really big, it makes sense to consider them infinite.  Physicists do that all the time.

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I'd be curious to know about these reasons you have to believe that humanity will never number more than 10 billion.  Especially if we're able to harness our entire sun's energy output.

Demographics prospective, based of empirical observation that in developed countries, the fertility rate tends to decline below the replacement rate.  It seems that being educated is not much compatible with having children.
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November 07, 2012, 12:45:20 AM
 #1144

How can you be certain about that? There are several scientific theories which state an infinite universe. They may not be the academic consensus but they are there.
Indeed.

They are not even fringe theories, either.   We tend to forget it since Einstein has accustomed us to curved space times, but a globally flat, euclidian and thus infinite universe is totally compatible with current cosmological knowledge.

Last time I heard someone defend this idea, it was Brian Green in this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rkoUSFk9lM0
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November 07, 2012, 12:52:18 AM
 #1145

Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

How can you be certain about that? There are several scientific theories which state an infinite universe.

It doesn't matter. Even if the universe is truly infinite, in all directions, we couldn't begin to measure, or access the energy contained in anything but a tiny portion. (warning, heavy physics ahead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_structure)

For practical purposes, even if infinity exists, there's no such thing as infinite energy. Cheap, plentiful energy, yes. But not infinite.

Sometimes when numbers are really big, it makes sense to consider them infinite.  Physicists do that all the time.
Be that as it may, no matter how large the number of kJ coming out of the sun every second is, it would still require a massive undertaking to even harness a tenth of that. That has real costs, which must be recouped. giving your energy away for free is not the way for that to happen.

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I'd be curious to know about these reasons you have to believe that humanity will never number more than 10 billion.  Especially if we're able to harness our entire sun's energy output.

Demographics prospective, based of empirical observation that in developed countries, the fertility rate tends to decline below the replacement rate.

What about frontiers? What's the birthrate out on the frontier (which any massive space project will, by its very nature, create)?

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November 07, 2012, 12:59:38 AM
 #1146

Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

How can you be certain about that? There are several scientific theories which state an infinite universe.

It doesn't matter. Even if the universe is truly infinite, in all directions, we couldn't begin to measure it, or access the energy contained in all of it. (warning, heavy physics ahead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_structure)

For practical purposes, even if infinity exists, there's no such thing as infinite energy. Cheap, plentiful energy, yes. But not infinite.

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it (not necessarily all of it) if these conditions are true.
Your wikipedia link means nothing for this discussion since it is part of the current academic consensus (or more specifically big bang cosmology)  and thus conflicting with any theory which proposes an infinite universe.

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November 07, 2012, 01:01:35 AM
 #1147

Be that as it may, no matter how large the number of kJ coming out of the sun every second is, it would still require a massive undertaking to even harness a tenth of that. That has real costs, which must be recouped.
It doesn't require much for a self-replicating machine.   Consider a tree seed.  It's just a tiny thing which costs almost nothing.  Put it in the ground in a place where it has room to grow and a few years later you have a whole forest.  It would be the same with a self-replicating machine.  It could gather a substantial fraction of the sun power (with a dyson sphere or something) with very little initial investment.

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What about frontiers? What's the birthrate out on the frontier (which any massive space project will, by its very nature, create)?
I don't understand what you mean, here.
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November 07, 2012, 01:08:56 AM
 #1148

Let me be absolutely clear:

Infinity does not exist.

How can you be certain about that? There are several scientific theories which state an infinite universe.

It doesn't matter. Even if the universe is truly infinite, in all directions, we couldn't begin to measure it, or access the energy contained in all of it. (warning, heavy physics ahead: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causal_structure)

For practical purposes, even if infinity exists, there's no such thing as infinite energy. Cheap, plentiful energy, yes. But not infinite.

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it (not necessarily all of it) if these conditions are true.
Your wikipedia link means nothing for this discussion since it is part of the current academic consensus (or more specifically big bang cosmology)  and thus conflicting with any theory which proposes an infinite universe.

Also, myrkul initially wrote, and even underlined:  "Infinity does not exists".   Then we tell him that it is very much possible that the universe is actually infinite.   So yeah, infinity might very well exist and saying that "it does not matter because we can not measure it" is very much contradictory with his initial underlined statement.

Plus, there are plenty of infinite things in maths and physics.  I actually wonder what myrkhul means when he says that infinite does not exist.  If there was no Planck length, I'd say that any distance contains an infinite number of subdistances, for instance.
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November 07, 2012, 01:16:23 AM
 #1149

Ahh life on the frontier, you can experience it yourself Wink


they don't make these kind of games any more  Cry

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November 07, 2012, 01:17:20 AM
 #1150

You've probably already seen it, but just for reminding:



The sun is big and powerful.  I know that humanity is kind of egocenric and megalomaniac, but hell, I think it's a reasonable assumption that we will never need more energy than what the sun can provide.
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November 07, 2012, 01:19:30 AM
 #1151

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it these conditions are true.

OK, you've got me there. Given an infinite amount of time, and a way to get to it, we could collect an infinite amount of energy. Of course, all the stars in our galaxy are eventually going to burn out, and the other galaxies are all accelerating away, so getting there may be the biggest hurdle. But hey, we have infinite time to fly through the deep dark to get there, right? At least, until the stored energy from the last of our suns runs out...

Be that as it may, no matter how large the number of kJ coming out of the sun every second is, it would still require a massive undertaking to even harness a tenth of that. That has real costs, which must be recouped.
It doesn't require much for a self-replicating machine.   Consider a tree seed.  It's just a tiny thing which costs almost nothing.  Put it in the ground in a place where it has room to grow and a few years later you have a whole forest.  It would be the same with a self-replicating machine.  It could gather a substantial fraction of the sun power (with a dyson sphere or something) with very little initial investment.
Still you are not counting in the opportunity cost. You really have to understand that concept before you start arguing economics. You also don't quite understand the amount of matter needed to go into a Dyson sphere. It's not a forest.


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What about frontiers? What's the birthrate out on the frontier (which any massive space project will, by its very nature, create)?
I don't understand what you mean, here.
You're a little fixated on this self-replicating robot thing, so I can understand why you would miss my point here. When you build something, you need supervisors, at minimum, to make sure that the robot fleet doesn't start building attack ships instead of Dyson cloud components. These people can't exactly commute. They're going to set up colonies. And they won't be alone. if the technology is there, there is a significant percentage of the population which will avail themselves of it and set up their own colonies. Any frontier draws humans like flies to shit.

What do you think the birth rate will be out in those colonies?

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November 07, 2012, 01:32:05 AM
 #1152

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it these conditions are true.

OK, you've got me there. Given an infinite amount of time, and a way to get to it, we could collect an infinite amount of energy. Of course, all the stars in our galaxy are eventually going to burn out, and the other galaxies are all accelerating away, so getting there may be the biggest hurdle. But hey, we have infinite time to fly through the deep dark to get there, right? At least, until the stored energy from the last of our suns runs out...

You still are assuming conditions postulated by big bang cosmology. For instance you assume all galaxies are moving away from us, assume all stars will eventually burn out (without new ones to replace them).
Given an infinite universe there could very well be a case where matter is created out of literally nothing.... I know, I know we are getting into fringe science here. But there is almost no research into this subject so I might as well assume all of those conditions could be true.

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November 07, 2012, 01:35:10 AM
 #1153

Still you are not counting in the opportunity cost. You really have to understand that concept before you start arguing economics.
I'm afraid I just ignore it because from what you've been describing I just don't agree with the idea.  You tell me I have to understand it but maybe I do and I just think it's wrong.   To me, not winning something is not a loss. (PS.  and also, as mentionned earlier, the fact that if it's a cost, it's inversely proportional to the amount of the resource, so it's virtually zero for an abundant resource such as air).

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You also don't quite understand the amount of matter needed to go into a Dyson sphere. It's not a forest.
Yes, a lot of matter is needed indeed.  Maybe using the entire mass of Jupiter would not be enough.  I don't know.  But we weren't discussing the feasibility of a Dyson sphere, we were discussing whether it would make sense to use the energy of the sun to build it if it were possible.  I think it does providing you have enough matter and that your machines can self-replicate (yes indeed I insist on that, because it's totally necessary imho).

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You're a little fixated on this self-replicating robot thing, so I can understand why you would miss my point here. When you build something, you need supervisors, at minimum, to make sure that the robot fleet doesn't start building attack ships instead of Dyson cloud components. These people can't exactly commute. They're going to set up colonies. And they won't be alone. if the technology is there, there is a significant percentage of the population which will avail themselves of it and set up their own colonies. Any frontier draws humans like flies to shit.

What do you think the birth rate will be out in those colonies?

I genuinely don't know.  But again, it seems that the more advanced a society is, the less children it makes.  Will humanity keep expanding exponentially for centuries?  I don't know.  But it's absolutely not certain.
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November 07, 2012, 02:04:58 AM
 #1154

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it these conditions are true.

OK, you've got me there. Given an infinite amount of time, and a way to get to it, we could collect an infinite amount of energy. Of course, all the stars in our galaxy are eventually going to burn out, and the other galaxies are all accelerating away, so getting there may be the biggest hurdle. But hey, we have infinite time to fly through the deep dark to get there, right? At least, until the stored energy from the last of our suns runs out...

You still are assuming conditions postulated by big bang cosmology. For instance you assume all galaxies are moving away from us,
That is not an assumption. That is an observation. And they're not just moving away, they're accelerating.
assume all stars will eventually burn out (without new ones to replace them).
Unless new hydrogen is created, once it's all used up, there's no more to make new stars.
Given an infinite universe there could very well be a case where matter is created out of literally nothing....
At which point we'd have another Big Bang, likely erasing this universe.

Still you are not counting in the opportunity cost. You really have to understand that concept before you start arguing economics.
I'm afraid I just ignore it because from what you've been describing I just don't agree with the idea.  You tell me I have to understand it but maybe I do and I just think it's wrong.
You reject the notion that one resource cannot be used for two purposes at the same time? I don't think we can continue this conversation if you think that you and I can breathe the same air at the same time.

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You also don't quite understand the amount of matter needed to go into a Dyson sphere. It's not a forest.
Yes, a lot of matter is needed indeed.  Maybe using the entire mass of Jupiter would not be enough.  I don't know.  But we weren't discussing the feasibility of a Dyson sphere, we were discussing whether it would make sense to use the energy of the sun to build it if it were possible.  I think it does providing you have enough matter and that your machines can self-replicate (yes indeed I insist on that, because it's totally necessary imho).
Of course it would make sense if you could. It wouldn't be cheap, even with self-replicating robots. You're also neglecting the R&D costs that go into the robots, the Dyson sphere, the energy transfer systems, these things don't design themselves.

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You're a little fixated on this self-replicating robot thing, so I can understand why you would miss my point here. When you build something, you need supervisors, at minimum, to make sure that the robot fleet doesn't start building attack ships instead of Dyson cloud components. These people can't exactly commute. They're going to set up colonies. And they won't be alone. if the technology is there, there is a significant percentage of the population which will avail themselves of it and set up their own colonies. Any frontier draws humans like flies to shit.

What do you think the birth rate will be out in those colonies?

I genuinely don't know.  But again, it seems that the more advanced a society is, the less children it makes.  Will humanity keep expanding exponentially for centuries?  I don't know.  But it's absolutely not certain.
Neither is a plateau at 10 billion, even if humanity stays on Earth.

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November 07, 2012, 02:08:29 AM
 #1155

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it these conditions are true.

OK, you've got me there. Given an infinite amount of time, and a way to get to it, we could collect an infinite amount of energy. Of course, all the stars in our galaxy are eventually going to burn out, and the other galaxies are all accelerating away, so getting there may be the biggest hurdle. But hey, we have infinite time to fly through the deep dark to get there, right? At least, until the stored energy from the last of our suns runs out...

You still are assuming conditions postulated by big bang cosmology. For instance you assume all galaxies are moving away from us,
That is not an assumption. That is an observation. And they're not just moving away, they're accelerating.

Yes it is. They are interpreting redshit this way. Other interpretations are not only possible but have been done consistently.

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November 07, 2012, 02:10:51 AM
 #1156

Considering an infinite universe it must contain an infinite amount of energy and matter if it's density is above zero. Given infinite time we can access an infinite amount of it these conditions are true.

OK, you've got me there. Given an infinite amount of time, and a way to get to it, we could collect an infinite amount of energy. Of course, all the stars in our galaxy are eventually going to burn out, and the other galaxies are all accelerating away, so getting there may be the biggest hurdle. But hey, we have infinite time to fly through the deep dark to get there, right? At least, until the stored energy from the last of our suns runs out...

You still are assuming conditions postulated by big bang cosmology. For instance you assume all galaxies are moving away from us,
That is not an assumption. That is an observation. And they're not just moving away, they're accelerating.

Yes it is. They are interpreting redshift* this way. Other interpretations are not only possible but have been done consistently.
*I assume that's what you meant

[citation needed]

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November 07, 2012, 02:14:05 AM
 #1157

I'm not wikipedia.

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November 07, 2012, 02:17:28 AM
 #1158

I'm not wikipedia.
So you can just spout shit and expect me to believe it?

Yeah, I think not.

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November 07, 2012, 02:21:46 AM
 #1159

You reject the notion that one resource cannot be used for two purposes at the same time? I don't think we can continue this conversation if you think that you and I can breathe the same air at the same time.
No, I reject the notion that it matters as much as you think it does, or that it can be interpreted as a loss or a cost.  If we are enclosed in a 100m^3 room I can understand that the air I breathe might be a loss (or cost) for you, but this loss is twice smaller if we are in a 200m^3 room,  ten times smaller in a 1000m^3 room and virtually null outside.


Of course it would make sense if you could. It wouldn't be cheap, even with self-replicating robots. You're also neglecting the R&D costs that go into the robots, the Dyson sphere, the energy transfer systems, these things don't design themselves.

Indeed I neglect them.  Marginal cost for extracting sun's energy might be so low that I wonder how you would take account for it.  Say this cost is 1MBTC.  After everything is developped and something similar to a Dyson sphere is functional, you create 1TJ of energy per year.  You can neglect maintenance cost since the system self-repairs.   So the cost of your annual production is 1mBTC/J after one year.  After two years, this cost has halved (because you produced twice the energy for the same cost).  Ater n years, the cost is 1/n mBTC/J.  The more time passes, the less is the importance of the initial investment in the cost.  Because you paid for the construction of the production system, you don't pay for the energy it produces.

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Neither is a plateau at 10 billion, even if humanity stays on Earth.
I never said that a post-scarcity economy was certain in the future.  I just said it was possible.
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November 07, 2012, 02:25:11 AM
 #1160

http://goo.gl/lhr5V

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