Will's Blog Posts

The Singularity, Economics And Getting There From Here

February 08 2009 / by Will
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 2

Cross Posted from Where There's A William.

Since the recent appearance by Jeff, Garry and Alvis on The Speculist Blog Talk Radio program (click on Speculist meets MemeBox), I thought they and other Future Bloggers might find the below discussion stemming from a subsequent program of interest.

Phil Bowermaster has a post up at The Speculist examining the state of the progression of human society from it's present structure to one more closely tracking the various expectations stemming from the concept of The Singularity:
[The following is an expanded version of an e-mail I sent to Stephen in response to some reflections he had on our most recent FastForward Radio -- that show with guest Joseph Jackson discussing the possibility of a post-scarcity world. I think Stephen was going to post some additional thoughts, too -- to which I would have added comments -- but time's up!] ...

My issue is more practical. By what means could we possibly get to the kind of society he's describing? The assumption seems to be that it would be the federal government (or the Earth government or -- my fav -- the Committee of Robot Overlords) doing the distributing. But we don't have a working model of how a government can guarantee the material welfare of its population without ripping its economy to shreds and putting individual rights on the back burner. That doesn't mean it can't happen, but Joseph doesn't have a model of how we would get there, or at least he didn't articulate one Wednesday night.

I sympathise with Phil's dilemma, unfortunately Mr. Jackson's lack of specific insight isn't unique to him; nobody really knows how we get to "there" because we still haven't really articulated the starting point for the needed change(s) to progress from with any sort of degree of engineering specificity. It's all well and good to simply proclaim the need for a systemic advancement, but what specific mechanism achieves that to actual advantage - and to whom? It seems a bit solipsistic perhaps, but market pressures actually are the least disruptive mechanism to stimulating that process. This doesn't make for speedy adoption of course, but does assure wide-spread acceptance of the process within the production industry(s) generally once the never-ending search for competitive advantage resorts to such comparatively radical technological innovation. Until business profitability (with it's concomitant influence on tax collections) forces executives and governmental legislators to commit to some technology there will remain resistance to doing so. Despite the potential for individual developments altering the current production structure and economy, the likelihood of such a development actually forcing early change is slight for a variety of reasons - only some of them technologic in nature.

Continue Reading

If I Could Talk To TED

December 14 2008 / by Will
Category: Technology   Year: General   Rating: 2

Cross-posted from Where There's A William by Will Brown.

In his 2005 book FAB, author Neil Gershenfeld introduced the world to the possibilities of our potential near future.

If I could talk to TED, I would remind them of this and point out that there is likely to be a longish wait for whole-object fabrication technology to be affordable and reliably available to the general public. And, that it isn't really necessary to wait for that happy day either. We humans are long established tool users already, so how unreasonable is it to seek to develop the fab technology to create replacement parts for our existing technology and simply replace the worn bits as necessary? The technology already allows for the used parts to be de-constructed on-site for re-use in later fabrications as well.

If I could talk to TED, I'd remind them that guys like me, in our 50's now, along with our wives and children are the initial target market for this technology to achieve ultimate universal acceptance and application. I would suggest to my fellow TEDsters that a useful mechanism for achieving that goal would be a video campaign that visually demonstrates the technology and its application process to any potential additional user. I would also point out that there is a wide-spread lack of understanding of why adoption of new scientific advances takes so long to come to market; watching as the early attempts fail, and explaining the complexities involved, will be an express objective of this video campaign also, with the eventual objective of showing ultimate success of course.

Continue Reading

A Practical Implementation of Strategic Principle

December 13 2008 / by Will
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 3

Cross-posted from Where There's A William by Will Brown, with edits from the original.

I recently examined some of the strategic principles involved in advancing a position in a competitive environment, in particular in this comment exchange. I have found little opportunity to demonstrate the practice of the principles I study on this page heretofore.

Continuing on, Brian Wang of the Lifeboat Foundation, has compiled an instructive post on the recent nomination by President-elect Obama of Professor Steven Chu to the cabinet post of Energy Secretary. As Director of the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory and 1997 Nobel Laureate in Physics, Secretary-nominee Chu is well versed in both the scientific realities of energy generation and distribution systems and the - quirks - of government agency operations.

I have in the past stated my thoughts on effecting a national energy strategy. While this proposal was specifically intended only to rectify the forecast US shortfall of electrical generation and distribution predicted for the next decade or so, Professor Cho is eminently qualified to judge how well it can also serve as a mechanism to bridge the country through to wide-spread construction of Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors which are capable of supplying both base load as well as demand load electrical grid requirements to any level of generation capability we wish to build, whether or not options such as solar or wind grid power are further developed. 

Continue Reading

Dodge The Draft, Volunteer Now!

November 07 2008 / by Will
Category: Education   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

Cross posted from Where there’s a William by Will Brown.

I’m happy enough posting the following in my own name but am a bit uncomfortable extending my personal viewpoint to these pages. Since there are comparably ideologically driven postings from others on these pages, I once again probe the boundaries of the meme.

Remember all the Democratic concern over a resurgence of the draft? Looks like they knew what they were obsessing over:

“Obama will call on citizens of all ages to serve America, by developing a plan to require 50 hours of community service in middle school and high school and 100 hours of community service in college every year”.

(my bold)

Now, I readily grant that there is a substantive difference between involuntary active military service during time of war and 150 hours of involuntary “community service”. If it needs be said so bluntly, my derision is cast at the inducement to service, not the nature of the service performed.

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, I was once granted the opportunity to satisfy my misdemeanor debt to California society when I was – several – decades younger by performing “community service”. As a result, I have actual direct experience of all aspects of this issue upon which to base my commentary.


Continue Reading

Singularity University - Some Thoughts On Function

October 28 2008 / by Will
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 1

Cross posted from Where there’s a William by Will Brown

What follows is excerpted from, and an expansion of, a comment I made regarding this Future Blogger post.

First, what it shouldn’t be. There are already an abundance of technology/science academies in existence; one more would simply be complicating an already over-engineered wheel. That said, Singularity University (SU) absolutely should arrange (ie: buy) access to those school’s technical curriculum via tele-presence if nothing else.

SU should primarily be modeled after the historical liberal arts education of the 19th century (particularly the English university model of Oxford, Cambridge and the like). The objective being to teach students how to think for themselves by providing them with the lessons learned by previous generations. There is an expression I use, “How can you decide what’s best to do next without knowing what has already been tried?” Practical knowledge of what has been tried, whether it succeeded or not and why provides one with a reference within which to frame a decision.

There is a long-running debate in the US (with variations in other countries as well) regarding the desirability of individual competence over governmental providence. It is rare for the argument to be expressed quite so blatantly, but this confrontation is always fundamental. In the context of today’s topic I will only say that the transition from a human-centric industrial society toward the promise inherent to the singularity concept is certain to be made more disruptive by an expanding dependant class of people then would be the case if the population trend was toward greater personal competence instead. I believe that preparing this potential market ought to be the initial focus point of any institution that seeks to advance society toward a seamless transition with singularity events.

Continue Reading

Eye On The Prize: $10 Mil for Car that Does 3,000 Miles per Fill-up

October 27 2008 / by Will
Category: Technology   Year: 2008   Rating: 1

Cross posted from Where There’s A William (with edits) by Will Brown.

I would like a concensus, should I submit this to the X-Prize Foundation for official consideration?

The Singularity Summit was held this past weekend. X-Prize Foundation CEO Peter Diamandis confirmed that there is something in the works leading to what he termed a Singularity University, prompting Alvis Brigis to ask:

“Might this be a first step toward a Singularity X-Prize? :) What do you think a “Singularity University” might consist of?”

I address these questions directly in comments, but all of the foregoing inspires me to suggest a future X-Prize for the good doctor’s consideration: The Island Hop Challenge.

Here are the terms:

A $10 million prize to the first vehicle that can travel from Staten Island in New York to Coronado Island in California, within a six day period and using only the fuel carried by the vehicle at the start of the challenge (plug-in recharge of electric vehicles is forbidden, but an on-board mechanism to re-fill the internal fuel storage is permitted if such is powered from the vehicles on-board power system).

Continue Reading

New Transhumanist Magazine published

October 18 2008 / by Will
Category: Education   Year: 2008   Rating: 2

Fellow Future Bloggers may find this new Transhumanist E-zine of interest.

It’s in .pdf format, but the content is thought provoking and the price is certainly right. :)

Alone Perhaps, But Never Lonely

October 17 2008 / by Will
Category: Relationships   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

All the news not-yet fit to use


ScenarioLand Ventures, a subsidiary of FB/MEMEBOX Ent, are pleased to announce the formation of a joint undertaking with the WillWay Pty line of Virtual Agents. The WillWay Avatars (an early description of this concept was provided to FBNET readers by regular FB contributor Richard Pelletier) have all been certified as having passed the Turing Test, so humans in solitary circumstance will be able to arrange continuous company with electronic companions. These virtual agents are programmed to engage their host in intellectually stimulating fashion in the areas of interest determined by each customer.

Additionally, WillWay Avatars are programmed with a complex of precautionary response triggering thresholds that, when measured in toto, provide a reliable and secure monitor of the contracted individual’s immediate health or other condition (the pre-AI structure upon which this system is designed was first brought to FBNET users attention by FBNET Editor Alvis Brigis).

Continue Reading

Meme as History - The Singularity Model of Economics

October 16 2008 / by Will
Category: Economics   Year: General   Rating: 5 Hot

John Heylin’s recent post on economics inspired me to resurrect this post I wrote some 2 1/2 years ago. It’s a bit of a slog, but the boot’s firmly on the other foot now, John. :)

I was really tempted to make you all have to go to my page to follow the permalinks, which don’t survive cut-n-paste, but …

Finally, it’s an open question how much or whether I’m correct in any of this, but the concept isn’t a new one to me.

Cross posted from Where There’s A William by Will Brown

Blast From My Past

I wrote this as a guest post at Gary Gagliardi’s old website. I’m particularly proud of it and think it holds up well. I would be interested in other’s opinion on that or the subject matter itself. The original post, with it’s comment thread, can be accessed here.


Strategy of the Singularity Model of Economics April 30th, 2006 by Will Brown

UPDATE: Readers who find this of interest may also want to read the dialogue I engaged in with Micah Glasser in the comment section of this post.

As reported here, the death yesterday of former Harvard professor of economics and US Ambassador John Kenneth Galbraith prompts me to explore the concept of money and how that relates to strategy. I briefly wrote on this question here, making this observation:

For most of us I suspect, economics = money. While this is true as far as it goes, how often do any of us stop to think on what “money” really is? To the best of my understanding, money is the earliest known design of a universal accounting system and thus of a distributed network, as well. Economics would then be the means of measuring and manipulating the relative value of money over both distance and time.

While I feel quite confident that Mr. Galbraith (or Sam Dinkin, come to that) would be thoroughly unsatisfied with the brevity of my observation, I hope neither would outright reject the fundimental premise. Pending such a refutation (well, Sam’s anyway), I would like to examine possible strategies for making the transition from historical economic models to what I will call the Singularity Model of Economics.

Continue Reading

Radiating Good News

October 15 2008 / by Will
Category: Energy   Year: 2008   Rating: 4 Hot

Cross posted from Where There’s A William by Will Brown

In an attempt to show I’m not entirely in the tank for any particular nuclear energy provider, I direct your attention to the following. Via Jerry Pournelle’s Current Mail link for Tuesday (10/14/08) comes notice of this NRC map of new nuclear power stations in the construction approval process.

I note that Texas has four such new plants already. Given the depressing quantities demanded on my electric utility bill this just-ended atypically cool summer, and in anticipation of the amounts no doubt to be claimed during the upcoming winter, I can only encourage more and faster, please.

   1   2