Category Archives: Science!
[Or: “None Shall Pass”]
Trying harrrrrrrdddddd nooooooowwwwwwwww……..
It’s so harrrrrdddddd noooowwwwwwwwwwwwww………
Immovable Object sloshes roofies into Irresistible Force’s drink.
As commenter Flicker0546 sagely noted, “At least they get to ride back in a convertible.”
The four stages of technological progress –
Phase 1 – Origination and dissemination of idea, often through Science Fiction
Phase 4 – Ordinary everyday horseshit drama
All 4 stages neatly summed up
Bonus round for anyone who caught the title reference
The Apocalypse of Exuberant Hairstylings was narrowly avoided when the 1980s, in a surprise move, ended.
So I was reading this post by Elusive Wapiti, where he discusses assault weapons bans and totalitarianism. Good post, go read it. It’s about digitally fabricating guns, and how efforts are already underway to outlaw it. As usual, the self-anointed Guardians of Society build a house on a foundation of sand – the best way to ensure the safety of law-abiding citizens is not to disarm them, leaving them at the mercy of the lawless. Rather, if everyone has access to a gun, and knows that everyone else around him could be carrying as well, the chances of assault drop dramatically. But there’s a lot more going on here than a statist power grab.
A group named Defense Distributed is designing digital blueprints for firearms for 3D printing. The goal is to create a file via 3D modeling which can be distributed, and a working gun printed for anyone who wants it.
They sum up their goals, and the potential impact –
Insofar as possible, we hope to facilitate a printable firearm creative commons. Our weapons project’s namesake, a “wiki” is likely the best platform for preserving and collaboratively producing knowledge related to 3D printable firearms for years to come.
…This project might change the way we think about gun control and consumption. How do governments behave if they must one day operate on the assumption that any and every citizen has near instant access to a firearm through the Internet? Let’s find out.
I like funny cat videos as much as anyone else, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of what the internet is capable of. Printable guns! Store ammo files on your flash drive. And that’s just the beginning. There may come a day when 3D printers are capable of producing organic structures – people could keep digital scans of their bodies – including MRIs – on file. If they suffer an accident, replacement parts could be printed out, such as a new heart. Or new lungs for smokers. Lose a few teeth in a bar fight? Dental records on your phone. Your body could be scanned at age 20 and kept on file until you’re 50 and take a trip to Posh de Leon’s Fountain Of Youth and Rejuvenation Spa.
Some people are not too happy about this, however. As National Review writes –
The idea of crowd-sourced plastic rifles and pistols being zapped into existence, Weird Science–style, in workshops and garages across the nation unnerves Representative Steve Israel (D., N.Y.) — so much so that he’s sponsoring an amendment to the Undectectable Firearms Act in order to regulate 3-D-printed gun components and establish penalties for their private fabrication. But as others have pointed out, such a law would be a nightmare to enforce.
The utter lack of imagination among bureaucrats and progressive types (but I repeat myself) is stupefying. Not only do they not have the capacity to remotely visualize the possibilities such technology offers, but they make heavy-handed, short-sighted attempts at regulating or even outlawing it –
In an effort to outflank the likes of DD, a zealous government could move to mandate that manufacturers design 3-D printers to leave secret, unique watermarks on every object fabricated, as the Secret Service convinced manufacturers of color laser printers to do in an effort to catch currency counterfeiters. But technological control begets technological revolt: The secret laser-printer codes were discovered and revealed by a digital-rights group in 2005, and their existence prompted a public outcry. Besides, what good is a watermark when a 3-D assembler can assemble another 3-D assembler? [emphasis mine]
Seriously. It’s like filing off the serial numbers, but better. Make a new assembler. Or two. Or three. Destroy the original. Start a black market selling illegal, untraceable 3D printers along with all the other cool things you’re designing. Pair this up with an alternative currency like Bitcoin (I noticed one of the people on DD’s “About” page has some experience with it) and who knows what could happen? This could spark a tectonic shift in economic systems.
It looks like they’re running all this super-ultra-high-tech with Windows XP, which cracks me up.
Every so often, almost like clockwork, the story goes around that natural resources are running out. In 1968, Paul Erlich published The Population Bomb, in which he claimed
The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate…
I’m sure you all vividly remember the huge population drop in the 70s. Hundreds of millions of people died as predicted, and worse, thousands of pizzerias closed their doors. [The government tried to blame the deaths on mass suicides to escape disco music.]
In 1980, Julian Simon – who stated the human mind the “ultimate resource” and that there are no natural resources until humans figure out a way to use them – called Erlich out. They wagered on whether the prices of five metals would rise or fall by 1990. Simon won the bet.
Some have claimed that if the bet had been longer, or for a different time frame, Ehrlich would have won. Tim Worstall of Forbes explains why this isn’t so –
The end result of all of this is that yes, it is true that Ehrlich could have, would have, won the bet depending upon the starting date. But note that it would have been either political actions, or teething problems with new technology, that would have allowed that. None of these metals faces an actual shortage as yet. Further, note that over variable time scales Simon is still correct: it really is true that new technologies of extraction are developed and these increase supply and push prices down.
Oil is a perfect example of how human innovation transforms worthless material into valuable resources. Alex Epstein wrote –
It is almost impossible to overstate the dramatic and near-immediate positive effect of a group of scientists and businessmen discovering that “rock oil,” previously thought to be useless, could be refined to produce kerosene—the greatest, cheapest source of light known to man. In 1858, a year before the first oil well was drilled, only well-to-do families such as that of 11-year-old Henry Demarest Lloyd could afford sperm whale oil at three dollars per gallon to light their homes at night.
The “teething problems with new technology” plagued the early business of kerosene – fires and explosions were not uncommon. Standard Oil owner John D. Rockefeller innovated numerous methods of improving efficiency, such as transporting oil in tank cars instead of filling railroad cars with barrels. Chemist Samuel Andrews refined Standard Oil’s formula for purifying distilled kerosene. Costs went down, not only for Standard Oil, but for everyone else too. The price of kerosene dropped by more than half – from fifty-eight cents in 1865 to twenty-six cents in 1870.
Chris Mayer of The Daily Reckoning quotes Joseph Schumpeter and makes his prediction for 2013 –
The great economist Joseph Schumpeter’s (1883-1950) criticism of the Malthusian position still holds. On Malthus and his ilk, he wrote: “The most interesting thing to observe is the complete lack of imagination which that vision reveals. Those writers lived at the threshold of the most spectacular economic developments ever witnessed.” Yet they missed it.
So here is my prediction: I believe we are on the cusp of even greater levels of innovation and development — another industrial revolution is in progress right now.
I think he’s right. Deep Space Industries just announced their plan to send out spacecraft called “Fireflies” into space to seek out resources for exploitation (no word yet on whether River Tam will be aboard). And they aren’t the first. Last year, Planetary Resources announced a similar undertaking. Rand Simberg raised a question at Deep Space Industries recent press conference
Is there room for two such companies? At the press conference, I asked if they saw themselves as complementary to, or in pure competition with PR.
“We love Planetary Resources,” said Rick Tumlinson, chairman of the board. “One company may be a fluke, but two companies showing up, that’s the beginning of an industry.”
Don’t believe anyone who claims the future is all doom and gloom. The future may not be all sunshine and flowers, there are far too many Black Swans in the water to just assume it’s all downhill from here.
This post gets very surreal and twisted. So don’t blame me when you have to run heaving to the john.A discussion was going on at The Woman And The Dragon about men having so much difficulty with women when the discussion turned, as so many conversations do, to the topic of sexbots. Several people noted the squick factor in such things, and stated that women would never date a guy who she knew to own one of these things. A rebuttal was issued saying these guys aren’t getting dates anyway. My response was simply “I for one welcome our Real Doll overlords! The more men who have them, the fewer dates they’ll get, leaving more women available for me.” Whether any men on the site came to a similar conclusion is unclear at present.
The thread continued on its original topic, but the Real Doll theme kept appearing. A commenter wrote
A fully functional, semi-autonmous sex doll is probably only 10 to 15 years in the future. They’re very much going to be a reality. (Especially when you realize the Japanese already have guys marrying their pillows.)
Or their video games.
Soon after, site owner Sunshine Mary posted this entry about sexbots. She posited a dark future where men turn to clockwork women because they cannot succeed with real women, and the consquences thereof. I’m not usually one to try predicting the future – there are too many Black Swans in the water.* I do think some general trends could emerge, if society doesn’t change tracks soon. But let’s catch this train before it leaves the station.
As soon as her post hit the ether, the comments ran rampant. Almost immediately, someone pointed out the Uncanny Valley Effect. This is where something is very close to appearing human but something just isn’t right. The closer a robot gets to seeming 100% human without actually reaching it, the more intense the effect is.
It’s much like approaching the speed of light – the closer an object gets to lightspeed, the more massive it becomes, and the more resistance there is to increasing speed any further. The closer a robot gets to mimicking a human, the more resistance there is to being accepted by humans.
[Bonus round – the article linked above contains the following passage: “The idea of a carousel spinning at the speed of light, and its time-stopping effect on someone riding it, has merit. To a carousel rider looking out, days would go by extremely quickly.” Have fun with that one.]
When your sexbot is delivered with Some Assembly Required, the effect may be even worse. Not to mention trying to figure out what the hell these Korean instructions mean.
I almost expect that to bust out with some breakdancing, Herbie Hancock Rockit! style.
The first – and most obvious – obstacle is skin. If it don’t feel good, don’t do it. Pleasing tactile sensation is absolutely essential. And it may almost be here already. Self-healing synthetic skin has already been invented, if not perfected.
Satan is in your self-healing phone!
Societal Impact – Women are skeeved by this, but other than shrieky radical femininsts who want it banned or at least taxed, they largely dismiss it. Only losers and nerds would ever buy such things, and we’re better off without them bothering us.
The discussion sped along the track of men having sex with dolls or robots, when a commenter wrote
I would prefer a companion bot someone to do housework and be a second pair of hands. Don’t see the charm in an ambulatory sex toy, I mean that’s what hands are for. But having something like Data would be very cool.”
Well, didn’t his just open a few new cans of worms? I can easily picture robot maids. We already have Roombas running around cleaning up messes. But then a commenter chimed in
I imagine a guy would be able to plug in a self-assembled vag-module into his perfectly legal maid-o-tron, download an illegal behavioural program from the internet and continue on his merry way.
Why not combine the two from the beginning? Create a female robot that cooks and cleans, does the laundry, feeds the cat, and has sex with the owner. The ConcuBot. But it could never replace a real woman, right? It’s all rote programming. Great for sex and housework, but no spark of life, right? It’s just an assembled machine that executes a series of rigid, pre-programmed routines, no matter how complex some of those routines may be.
As shown above, voice recognition and synthesizing is already here. It’s just a matter of fine tuning. Literally.
A clip further up showed that the robots had cameras in their eyes. Barry has just given inspiration for further developing – and possibly monetizing – that feature. You figure it out.
Another possibility – I would not be surprised in the least little bit if Japan was the first to unveil sexbot arcades. Instead of Space Invaders and Pac-Man, they have coin-op sexbots. Knowing Japan, they would all be dressed like schoolgirls.
I got a pocket full of quarters, and I’m headed to the arcade
I don’t have a lot of money, but I’m bringing ev’rything I made
I’ve got a callus on my phallus, and my tongue is hurting too
I’m gonna sex them all up, just as soon as they reboot
‘Cause I’ve got Sex Bot fever
It’s driving me crazy
(Making me lazy)
I’ve got Sex Bot fever
I’m going out of my mind
(She’s got such fine behind)
Societal Impact – Women start to get a little nervous. Feminists, radical and otherwise, apply social pressure and make tentative attempts to have the government step in. A handful of feministas claim sexbots are actually taking choice away from women, by denying them the opportunity to become stay-at-home wives and mothers. Where have all the fair-to-middling men gone?
The physical challenges will eventually be met. Syntha-skin that responds to touch and temperature will be perfected. Coding to trigger appropriate responses to tactile stimuli will be written. Software storage space will not be an issue – even if Moore’s Law is repealed, there will still be enormous advances in processing power. Microscopically calibrated motors and contact-sensitive epidermis tell the simulacrum where to move, how much pressure to apply, the entire body acting in concert with an exacting precision that would make the finest symphony orchestra cry “Impossible!”
[I admit it, I just wanted to throw that one in there. Those girls got their s#!t down]
The problem remains: no matter how many preprogrammed routines, no matter the thousands of moves flawlessly executed down to the millimeter, there’s no spontaneity in any of it. It’s too measured. Too prefab. Too canned.
There’s no romance. Turn it on and it turns you on, but that’s it. Instead of pump-n-dump, it’s pump-and-powerdown. How to add a little flair to the proceedings, whether twist of the hips in bed or a flip of the hair at a random (and appropriate) moment?
Some years ago, I read an article on “Darwin Chips,” computer chips that would literally evolve to adapt to new challenges.
…[Adrian] Thompson has been playing with computers in which the hardware evolves to solve problems, rather the way our own neurons evolved to solve problems and to contemplate ourselves. He is one of the founding members of a field of research known as evolvable hardware or evolutionary electronics. Thompson uses a type of silicon processor that can change its wiring in a few billionths of a second, taking on a new configuration. He gives the processor a task to solve: for instance, distinguishing between a human voice saying stop or go. Each configuration of the wiring is graded on how well it did, and then those configurations that scored high are mated together to form new circuit configurations. Since all this manipulation is carried out electronically, the wiring of the processor can evolve for thousands of generations, eventually becoming a circuit that Thompson describes as flabbergastingly efficient at solving the task.
Amusingly, the term “fitness test” shows up soon after, not all that dissimilar from it’s usage in the manosphere.
I don’t know the current status of evolving chips, but I have no doubt that they could well be used in A.I. in our lifetimes. Imagine a sexbot/maid/partner that adapts to its surroundings as well as your preferences. It watches you and learns, rewriting its programming as necessary to adapt.
This was essentially Commander Data’s method on Star Trek: The Next Generation. He studied human behaviors and through trial and error rewrote his programming, often writing brand new programs along the way, more or less evolving himself until he was better able to smoothly interact with living people.
ConcuBot (“Connie”) reads subtle cues in your behavior and makes the dinner you’re in the mood for. It listens when you need to talk, and occupies itself elsewhere when you’re just in the mood to smash enemy spaceships online (making sure to do the dusting in the process – no sitting on the couch with bon-bons watching Oprah). It knows when you want a BJ and when you want the full court press. Apps can be written and installed as needed. And it never complains.
And it – or “she,” as you’ve been calling it for months now – knows when to add a little spice. For dinner, and for after.
Societal Impact – Smarter women start making changes in their behavior. There literally aren’t enough alpha males to go around. The beta orbiters that used to get them past the dry spells no longer “Like” them on FaceBook. New company Pandora’s Bots rockets to the top of the Dow and NASDAQ, boosted by its slyly clever promotional slogan “It’s The World That’s Coming!” spurring further calls for criminalization of sexbots. The American birth rate is at its lowest ever. A few canny investors make billions on cat food and toys.
A couple years ago, the Wall Street Journal featured a story on Japanese men dating and renting hotel rooms with virtual girlfriends.
Love Plus+ re-creates the experience of an adolescent romance. The goal isn’t just to get the girl but to maintain a relationship with her… If the real-life Romeo earns enough “boyfriend power” points—by completing game tasks like homework or exercise to become smarter and more buff—the reward is a virtual trip to Atami.
The Boyfriend Power Points app. Get smarter. Get more buff. Get rewards. Now the buyer begins to really invest in his WifeBot. Might as well call it that, because at this point the buyer is finally, actually treating it as a wife. He is not only financially invested in a utility (purchase cost, upkeep, oil changes, app purchases), but now he has the emotional investment and attendant returns that he doesn’t get from real women.
Wifebot 6900 acts perfectly feminine, doesn’t complain unless there is a legitimate need to do so (My battery is running low, and my follicle seeders need replenishing), and even makes teasing comments on occasion, bringing a precisely measured and calculated amount of frisson to the daily routine. The traditional housewife, if you ignore her occasionally plugging herself into the wall outlet for recharging.
But what’s a potato peeler without a set of Ginsu knives? Why stop at the wifebot?
A commenter wondered
You know what would really be disturbing though? Designer Robot Children.
I once read that Japanese businessmen didn’t have time to start families (seems like it’s always the Japanese, doesn’t it?). So they rented one for weekends. A woman and her children would earn money as a substitute family for a single man.
Why rent on weekends and pay all that money for things like food and toys when you can outright buy a KidBot?
Societal Impact – Difficult to predict, even in terms of wider general trends. Much of it hinges on whether KidBots can be designed to realistically “grow,” as well as the lack of even intangible returns on android children, as opposed to an android wife. But a perpetual 10-year old or three could be fun to have around on the weekends. Women may return to past models of femininity, but if activists are successful in getting WifeBots banned, society could regress to Carousel riding as the non-alpha men have no recourse. In this case, a successful (and extremely violent) black market could emerge.
A robot, or android, that manages that 100% human appearance well enough to pass for one does not spook people. Think of the Replicants in Blade Runner. They seemed exactly like ordinary people until one was smoked out as a machine, which was not an easy process unless you, say, shot it, which was not advisable if you wanted your face to continue appearing human too.
If this level of verisimilitude is ever achieved, the Stepford WifeBots could easily pass as real women. An underground hacker culture could coalesce forging and embedding fictional records of women who never existed. Everyone would know there are too many women around (although this may level off as women who lose hope may consider suicide), but no one could ever be sure which are real and which are not. Without a receipt.
The only reason to have a woman around is to have a baby. WifeBot sales may stall out somewhat as men pair off with women to have babies – they may bond to each other during sex. Birth rates would go back up in this scenario.
Until artificial wombs become affordable. At this point, FemBots are utterly indistinguishable from biological women.
Some men will always prefer “natural beauties.” Some will always be rapt in the possibilities of a WifeBot that no human woman could keep up with. Some men may have both (which would be the mistress(es)?. But from this point on, women will have to be on their best behavior, or it’s out the door in favor of Suzie WatchMaker.
At least, until someone invents a HusBot.
NOW STREAMING – Vox Day‘s take on it.
NOW STREAMING – The Red Pill Room explains why laws banning sexbots may contradict already existing laws.
NOW STREAMING – Goodstuff asks “Is sex with a robot cheating?” Plus info about the first synthetic celebrity (it wasn’t the Monkees), fun with Nazi sex dolls, and vending machine abuse.
* This is going to be my go-to answer for any questions I get involving future events from now on. Do you think gold prices will go up? Too many Black Swans in the water. Will the Yankees win the Pennant? Too many Black Swans in the water (but the Cubs will lose). Do you think we need extra cheese on this pizza? Too many Black Swans in the water.
The Austrian economist Ludwig Lachmann once walked into the colloquium room at New York University, where the blackboard displayed this quotation: “When it comes to the future, one word says it all: You never know. – Y. Berra.”
Having built much of his economics on the unknowability of the future, Lachmann noticed the quote. However, having lived in South Africa for decades and being unfamiliar with the wit and wisdom of the former New York Yankees catcher, he pondered the chalk inscription for a bit, turned to those assembled, and in his heavy accent said, “I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the works of Professor Berra.”
So I’m lying in bed trying to sleep and it suddenly hits me how to make almost any business idea successful. Make it amplify something women do already.
Radio, records, compact discs all took off so women could hear love songs directed at them 24/7.
Coffee shops became a hangout for women to meet, whether with their men in tow or not.
The telephone became a distance-indifferent gossip fence.
The internet was just a place where nerdy guys wrote science articles, downloaded porn, and played games until social media emerged and made the net respectable. Online shopping cemented women as permanent users.
Smartphones combined the telephone and the internet, making it possible for women to communicate and shop anytime, anyplace, without phone lines or cable jacks keeping them stationary. The mobile mall and gossip fence, which could play MP3s of their favorite love songs.
All of these were successful anyway, but blew up hugely once women became involved.
I may or may not be entirely serious with this post. I’ll let you know when my idea for a Facebook-enabled microwave oven either takes off or crashes and burns.
P.S. It’s easy to come up with a male-centered business model too. It either has to blow up or have naked women. But for some reason, people are skittish about shrapnel and social diseases. That’s why no one has tried selling explosion porn.
P.P.S. “Business Models” sounds like some kind of art film you can only buy in the back room of the used CD shop featuring clothing optional board meetings and asset leveraging.