Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Decentralisation of the electrical grid - only a matter of time

Forecast for solar power: Sunny
USA Today, August 26, 2007

Solar power has long been the Mercedes-Benz of the renewable energy industry: sleek, quiet, low-maintenance.
Yet like a Mercedes, solar energy is universally adored but prohibitively expensive for most people. A 4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system costs about $34,000 without government rebates or tax breaks.

As a result, solar power accounts for well under 1% of U.S. electricity generation. Other alternative energy sources, such as wind, biomass and geothermal, are far more widely deployed.

The outlook for solar, though, is getting much brighter. A few dozen companies say advances in technology will let them halve the price of solar-panel installations in as little as three years. By 2014, solar-system prices will be competitive with conventional electricity when energy savings are figured in, Deutsche Bank (DB) says. And that's without government incentives.

Full article:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Takahashi: A future of embedded chips, networks

By Dean TakahashiMercury News
Article Launched: 08/23/2007 01:36:45 AM PDT

Sometimes technologists don't stretch enough when they make predictions. That's when it's time to bring in a science-fiction author. The organizers of the Hot Chips conference at Stanford University relied on this wisdom for their keynote speaker this week.

And Vernor Vinge didn't disappoint the 600 chip designers at the conference. The author of sci-fi books "Rainbow's End" and "True Names" held the attention of the audience, partly because he is a retired computer science professor who spoke their language and has been writing sci-fi since 1965.

Vinge thinks of the future in scenarios. Because microprocessors are built into everything from cars to toys, he says he can foresee a rosy scenario where everything around us has electronic awareness built into it. I spoke with him afterward and he told me it would only require an incremental economic build-out of the current embedded electronics to lead society to a state of "digital Gaia," a reference to the theory that the Earth is a living, interconnected being.

As we get cheaper processors and sensors that are networked, these components can form the infrastructure for ubiquitous digital communications, like a sea of "digital plankton" that becomes the beginning of the food chain for all kinds of rich electronic services. If you're thinking of an Internet that connects everyday things, such as sensors in a vineyard or a networked alarm clock, you have the idea.

But he also sees four scenarios that can get in the way of such a world.

The first failure scenario would happen if Moore's Law, the prediction made by Intel Chairman Emeritus Gordon Moore that the number of components on a chip would double every couple of years, comes to a halt after decades of progress. But Vinge thinks the economic demand for progress is likely to keep the engines of Moore's Law going.

The second failure would happen if software can't keep up with hardware. The slow progress of artificial intelligence, for instance, is due more to the failure to create the right software for it than hardware that lacks performance. Chip companies like Intel are loading up chips with multiple cores, or computing brains, to avoid overheating problems associated with single-core chips. But they will have to wait for the software programmers to catch up, and if software becomes too complex to manage, it will never catch up. Vinge says the consequence could be disastrous: Imagine a multitasking air traffic computer sending 12 airplanes into the same airspace.

The third failure scenario happens when the software works, but the hardware doesn't. If we come to rely on a sea of chips embedded into everything, there is always the chance that the hardware will fail under the conditions when you need it most. We can avoid this future, Vinge says, if we preserve our hardware design diversity, avoiding a "monoculture." He said, for example, that we should avoid using only semiconductor chips and embrace other kinds of technologies - maybe quantum computers - that could serve the same purpose.

The fourth scenario of failure comes about when we surrender to the government. This happens if we pour all of our resources into security. Recent headlines about congressional approval of warrantless wiretapping leave him worried that the government will one day ask to put its own circuitry into every chip, justifying this action in the name of security. Chips with eavesdropping circuitry built into them would arguably create conveniences, like automatic tax collection on every single transaction performed with those chips. We'll never have to calculate our own taxes again or try to drive over the speed limit. The chips won't let us.

Clearly this was tongue-in-cheek praise on his part. He was winking at me the whole time he talked about the great benefits of such government omniscience. In reality, he said, this could lead to the nightmare of totalitarian control that Orwellians never imagined.

Vinge may sound paranoid. But he is simply taking today's headlines and stretching them to their logical conclusions in the future. It would behoove us all to start thinking about these scenarios and how to head them off.

But he also sees four scenarios that can get in the way of such a world.

If the fourth scenario happens, people (and AI) will create counter-measures to stop the government chips from spying on us. I mean, the demand for those services would be huge. Because if the government could spy on everything you're doing, it would just get totally out of hand.

It would take an unimaginable tragedy for the people to accept that kind of government control in their lives. Hmmm...

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Eddie Mabo

Basically he said to the terrorcrats - you don't own this land that I have inherited and lived on all of my life.

Because when the British came, they claimed the land was 'empty'.

So he went to court and won on the grounds of common law.

But the terrorcrats bureaucratised the system of who gets native title claims.

They also - surprise, surprise - let them practice their traditional law as long as it doesn't conflict with civil law. ::)

Yet still, it's amazing that he even won to begin with.

What if, everyone one of us decided to challenge the state's 'jurisdiction', using something like the affidavit of truth ([url][/url]).

But it only worked for Mabo because he had a lot of people on his side.

When I say 'jurisdiction', I mean just over one thing. All you have to do is target one little area and the state would topple like a pack of cards.

One day they'll slip up and someone brave enough will jump at the opportunity and attack them at their weak spot.

That weak spot will be hard to find, because the state are usually pretty good at having all of their bases covered.

Legal systems across the world. Civil law is orange; other systems are common law (lavender), mixed civil and common law (purple), custom (yellow) and fiqh (green) [courtesy wikipedia].

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Surviving Immortality: Just getting to the Singularity is the hard part.

August 17, 2007
Surviving Immortality: Just getting to the Singularity is the hard part.
By Robert X. Cringely

I've been thinking about the Technological Singularity, which to proper geeks is that point where computers become smarter than humans and supposedly all bets are off as technological development races forward faster than we can catch it and you and I are either left eating bonbons or are put to death by computers no longer amused by serving us. Life post-Singularity will, of course, be somewhere in between those two eventualities. Zits may be abolished but youth will still be anguished. Computers may be designing warp drives but I'll still be paying my mortgage. Rather than a technological Hell or Utopia, the Singularity is likely to leave us still in our sitcom just with different props. What's fascinating about the Singularity is not so much guessing what life will be like then as looking at our very approach to the concept and some likely side effects we'll bump into along the way.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Follow up to Power: The Courts

So what is a court then? A court is supposed to enforce justice. But courts don't do that. Justice is about fairness, equality and morality.

Courts don't enforce justice. They enforce laws. As I said, laws are just squiggly lines on bits of paper.

So what courts are really about is power. Power means violence. To threaten and coerce with capable means far beyond whoever they are threatening/using violence against.

So they are fake courts - enforcing fake justice using the method of violence.

When will they finally stop lying and admit that what they doing is about power, not about justice or anything else. If you can turn lies into truth, then you can get away with almost anything.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


Today I'm going to talk about power. What is power? Some people say that those who have a lot of wealth have financial power, and so on. But that's not real power. To put it bluntly - put a billionaire, an attractive woman, a highly charismatic person and a guy with a gun in the same room. Who has the power? The guy with the gun of course - he has the power over life and death which is stronger than anything else.

When bureaucrats talk about all their laws and bits of squiggly lines it doesn't mean anything. What really matters is that they have the power to enforce them. Power matters. Power is the difference between a king and a peasant. A dictator and a civilian. The police and mostly everyone else.

And people flock to the powerful. The powerful get more recognition and gratitude than everyone else. Whilst the weak are despised, trodden on and discarded. It is survival of the fittest after all.

Power is the caveman with the pointed stick. He is boss because he has a pointed stick and if you don't do what he tells you, he will use it to beat you to death. That is power.

The powerless have a choice:

*Climb your way to the top - hell, why not? Remember, if you want to be like them, you have to think like them and act like them. Become what you hate. If you can't beat them, join them.
* Become invisible - schrodinger's cat reference. Unobserved. This is a difficult option, though, at the moment. It requires a lot of knowledge and resources.
* Live like a bushpig - not really a desirable option.
* Just go on and live like a slave just like everyone else - that is fine for most people, but if you already of an anarchist bent it's going to frustrate you to no end.
*Kill yourself - look at it this way; if you are not afraid to die, then everything else should be easy.

OR just survive. Do what you have to just to survive. Who knows what might happen? Will the future give us freedom? The caveman with the pointed stick cannot harm an uploaded transient distributed consciousness. No matter how hard he tries to beat a computer monitor to death.