Considering Robots Life

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I have written about artificial intelligence and robots many times here, also about the levels of intelligence a device and humans can have. Life is something different, life is the ability to exist in an enviroment. I have written about the big difference between metal silicon based artifical ‘life’ in that it can remain passive without problems for long times. A mind in a machine can be parked some place and as it is not under threat of thirst, hunger of fatigue (to name a few problems real living creatures have) it could basically shut down for a century with little problems.

Still humans, animals, plants are now understood to be hydrogen metabolizing molecular devices that self repair and replace, grow and develop in a programmed and responsive manner. We are machines, we just had to learn to consider biological processes as mechanical and chemical ones. The distinction between man and machine is this relative immortality of machines, and of course that no machine has ever shown itself a self sustaining and usefull presence, being one of us (more or less). It is very hard to feel for machines on Earth, humans are prefectly adapted to both surviving and enjoying what it has to offer.

But once the situation gets more hostile, say in a war zone, a robot can become a friend. A bomb inspection and defusing robot can gain real affection of the operator, because the machine is saving lives, it is working under different conditions and may break down or not. The uncertainty of its performance can make it come alive, as if the device makes an effort and cares for they people that operate it. Now the easiest thing to say is “IT DOESN’T!”. But how long will this remain true?

The thought of turning a human into a robot seems a bit daft these days..

Imagine a Boston Dynamics Robot dog on a battlefield (for some dumb reason soldiers have been send out to fight other soldiers), the dog has a monitor of the hydration of the soldiers, ammo count, and it runs around serving what is needed while scanning for bullets and gun barrels in order to avoid them. Even though this robot has only a few things on the priority list and nothing else, no hobbies, no home town, it is taking care of the soldiers in a real way. For sure the soldiers will want to keep it around, and take care of it.

How hard is it to imagine these dogs being constructed of replaceable parts, which can all be replaced by the dogs themselves. Also the dogs can self diagnose if a part needs to be replaced and they can get the part from a store themselves (and/or even order it). now the dogs operate autonomously. They can always be there as long as the parts are replenished. But thinking this is a hack is short sighted. We eat cows, cows eat grass, grass grows due to fungi in the soil. If our life is ‘mechanical’ so is that of the cow and the gras. Life is supported by other life mostly be consuming it but also by using it passively or actively. So we don’t have to work with only the dogs but an ecosystem of robots and automated systems is allowed. So the parts can be made in a factory, the factory can be maintained by other dogs, the raw materials arrive in robot trucks, they get them from the robot mine.

Mars is not a warzone, but still very hostile. People will arrive there in a robot, the Starship. It will have countless systems for navigation, control, life support, sensing and research on board. Its mission is to keep its crew alive and healthy. It will have to plan and intent actions (although maybe Musk will be keeping it simple). On Mars humans will have to rely completely on their support systems. These systems will create a self sustaining habitat and keep it safe and fueled etc. Will these systems be ‘alive’ because they keep themselves going? Mars does not have life and you can’t remote control a device from Earth. So these robots that take samples etc. Aren’t those (unsupported) lifeforms?

Environmental Eco-Colonialism

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Colonialism is bad. Any woke person will hate the word and if you have the ambition to develop a developing country with your own money you run the risk of getting nailed to the wall. The associations with resource grabbing and slavery are still strong and real. Yes western companies harvest minerals from Africa through a chain of ever more dire and uncaring organizations. Coltan, diamonds, gold. Its the insecurity in Africa that makes people desperate and greedy, an insecurity that is also created by the West that happily donates weapons.

So we should leave Africa alone even if we are stronger and better organized? This never happens. No place on Earth is safe from well organized well funded companies that see an opportunity. Not even organs are safe, not even the Great Barrier Reef or the Amazon for blunt bank financed opportunism. Banks also fund illegal logging and hunting etc. You can protest the mild, civilized side of colonialism, taking the form of foreigners having servants and way more cash when they work in poor underdeveloped countries. The harsh, mercyless side of colonialism though you can’t stop. Your government sold out to it.

Rory Young was fighting poaching in Burkna Faso

But there is an even more pernicious kind of ‘colonialism’ or rather an invasion and almost contamination. This is by terrorist groups. They are usually just criminal organizations that use islam or some other ideology to justify their violence and immoral behaviour. Groups like Al Qaida are looking for crimes to commit to get money for weapons. Sometimes this is to be able to fight other groups, sometimes it is for.

Al Qaida claims deadly attacks

Al Qaida uses underdeveloped countries to hide. Africa has a lot of them, and they have muslim communities that can spawn new desciples of the extremist kind. Isolation and lack of opportunity and Islamic rules themselves are the main drivers. The anger and frustration are channeld and abused by the leaders. It seems that to protect themselves they will kill both their enemies and whomever is in the way of running their organization.

It may be time to recognize we can’t let these kind of criminal organizations fester in places where you could very effectively fight them. Certainly it is a waste to allow them to decimate the wildlife population so they can buy some bullets and guns to then kill or rob or kidnap innocent citizen. Maybe we should be open about the profit and loss from engaging with developing countries.

Poachers killed

Someone mantioned the Nothern hemisphere attracts money from the Southern Hemisphere, implying that the North is exploiting the South. But that should be considered a mistake. The North is supplying most of the money to the South (USD EUR), and then delivers products to the South in return for the money. True, there are illegal activities that take resources from the South, but those are not the ones that generate legal revenue in the North. It is quite clear that third world aid has been a subsidy to Northern producers for decades (and is now being reduced it seems).

Poacher killed by elephant eten by rhinos

Maybe there should be an ideological basis for cooperation of developing countries with outside investors that try to reduce terrorist activity and poaching. Basic rules so to say, not tax havens etc. Maybe the people are so disorganized that they simply can’t imagine or believe in such a thing. Then the only option seems to be to go in and eco-colonize.

Checking on the location of an attack. It is a war

The use of drones and satelite internet may make it easier to police wildlife sanctuaries. While its undesirable to have drones police us (no need just watch our bank accounts and locations from mobile phones), it does reduce risks to people in remote areas. Drones have been used but in a time they where still quite expensive.

Water and Rain in the Desert

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Deserts are dry, but the air in them is not 100% dry. To take an example, in Morocco, the place called Merzouga is very dry, even though there is a lake and small oasiseses.

Merzouga, Morocco

In the below graph you can see how that works : Right now the temp there is 26 degrees Celsius, the humidity is 16%. You start below at 26 degrees then you look for the curve for 16% humidity, then you go to the right to see how many grams of water the air contains. At this point it the air contains 0.004 gram water per gram of air. That means it contains about 4 grams of water per m3 (which weighs about 1.1 kg). Not a lot! Another way of looking at it is that the ‘dew point’ is at -2 Celsius, so 28 degrees lower than the actual temperature.

This chart can be used to estimate the water content of air.

So in theory if you cool 1 m3 of air to -2 Celsius you will see 4 grams of water condense. So if you build a cooling mechanism that can harvest cold once condensation has taken place that will surely work great to get the water out of the air. You can increase the efficiency with an electric field as water is polar and will move in the field. It is a good question whether at high temperatures water really needs a lot of coaxing to separate out, or at least move to a region with higher humidity as the heat transfer is relatively small.

The place has a lake and clouds can be seen in the sky on local video.. One idea is to cover the lake so it doesn’t evaporate. It must be fed by groundwater.

How would you cool the air? With wind power. There is a complete design for such a device from a dutch producer we wrote about already, but his plans where thwarted by ‘investors’ meaning banks that increase the price of the invention so it becomes impossible to deploy. This happens all the time Shell is a major company constantly sabotaging energy innovation for example.

Dutch rainmaker

We need devices like the Dutch Rainmaker if we want to aforest the desert. They are cheap and efficient, the parts cost about 10.000 Euro, not too much one would say. Companies that worked on this in 2012 have since folded or been bought up. But it can still be done. The challeng is to achieve the same effect but with the least amount of resources and overhead. Anyone that designs a breakthrough in this field will be responsible for more life to exist in the desert.

Cloud seeding can be done with any type of dust, preferably charged though. Salt is fine. They used to be dropped from fuel guzzling heavy planes, but these days there are electric drones, even ones that can loiter for hours on solar energy. China actually managed to do it.

UAE “The country does, though, “have plenty of clouds”, so the plan is to persuade the water droplets in them to merge and stick together, “like dry hair to a comb” when it meets static electricity, he said.”

“The radar-controlled drone dispersed silver iodide into clouds to convert ambient moisture into rainfall. Relative to traditional equipment such as cannons and manned aircraft, drones can reach higher altitudes, have a longer range (they can run for more than 10 hours), are suitable for operations in complex weather conditions, and are more efficient, cost effective and safer” But silver can’t be wasted endlessly

Using Fiverr To Promote Solar and Wind

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Thanks to our friends from Morocco

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Arab version:

دعونا نتعرف فيما يمكننا استخدام الطاقة الشمسية ، تبريد منزلك ، تسخين طعامك ، وقيادة سيارتك ، وتحلية المياه ، وحرث حقلك ، ولا تحتاج إلى سؤال أي شخص! أنتم: مرحبًا يا أهل العالم ، نحن في الصحراء وهي مصنوعة من الرمل وهناك الكثير من الشمس صديقك: الألواح الشمسية مصنوعة من الرمل وتستعمل الشمس أنت: ثم يمكننا صنع الألواح الشمسية صديقك: نعم إذن يمكننا تبريد منازلنا ، قيادة سياراتنا ، شغل أرضنا وصنع الأشياء انت: لكن كيف؟ (التقط وانظر إلى بعض الرمل) صديقك: نحتاج إلى بناء مصنع لتصنيع الألواح الشمسية سويا : دعونا نبني مصنع الألواح الشمسية! الكثير من الرمال ، الكثير من الألواح! الكثير من الثروة يمكننا صنعها! نحول الصحراء إلى واحة خضراء غنية!

Floating Solar Power Plants

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Main challenges for floating solar power plants can be

  1. Water damage
  2. Corrosion
  3. Algae, dirt accumulation
  4. Making sure the panel remains above water
  5. Making sure the panel doesn’t get blown away
  6. Getting power to shore

Also check out Floating

Solar Duck design

“We are targeting megacities and large companies in the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, South East Asia, and in general markets with high solar radiation in the global Sun Belt,” CEO Koen Burgers told pv magazine.

From the piece : The company will deploy its first real offshore PV plant on the Waal, a major waterway connecting the port of Rotterdam to Germany. SolarDuck will supply four linked platforms fitted with 39 solar panels each. The project will have a total installed capacity of 65 kW and will be connected to a 10 kW electrolyzer operated by Voyex. The project will be built at a cost of €1 million. You can deploy 1 MW of floating solar for €1 million, so the novel construction, electrolyzer and H2 storage and project cost are taking a large piece of this pie, namelijk €900.000.



Click to order!

Floating solar panels at sea


ABB test installation


Indian floating solar looks cool


New Floating Homes, Still Priced to Market

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Holland is a nice country, but the last 12 years it has been looted by banks. They installed a government so focused on serving them one scandal seems to be following the other. Still the leader of the VVD, Mark Rutte does not take the hint to skadiddle.

The future for Holland with 1 m sea level rise. That also means a lot of salt over fertile land and no sweet drinking water!

One of the crisis created by Stef Blok, by making housing rules more favourable to banks, is that homes have increased dramatically in price, rents as well, all while social housing corporations where taxed more, so less new homes where build. On top of that no bank or politician (in power) kept an eye on the nitrogen budget (essential for nature to thrive) so builders and airports and farmers are all in a bundle because on or the other has to cut activities.

Holland is sinking lower, exposing home foundations to air, making expensive repairs needed. A special project was designed for this problem.

And to boot this shit government has promoted the burning of wood, a low nitrogen emission building material. If you thought this was it then there’s still another thing which is that Holland is sinking due to the rot of peat underground, this rot emits massive amounts of Methane, but it also means homes foundations are exposed to the air and can rot.

All this means anyone buying a home now will have to think about his/her pension and value for their children (if you are that optimistic about the future). Or we learn to build with water, not against it. Building on the water is actually quite attractive, and floating homes are cheap to make and can last a long time. Because Holland is experimeting with this kind of architecture you can find them in several places, Amsterdam and Woerden for example. The company Balance d’eau (also Zeinstra Verbeek) has realized a couple of €541.500,- Euro homes, which is not cheap, about 1,6 times the average home price at the moment.

These homes are excellent for collecting solar energy and heat..

The homes below are fixed to the land by poles on which they can move up and down with the varying water level.

The homes are lovely, no doubt, but this is either concrete or steel build and thus relatively cheap. Several other examples can now be found in Holland, below a video about the experimental homes in Amsterdam. These have concrete floats.

All the functions of a home can be solved easily, so called “woonboten” have existed for as long as there are boats you could live on. The bove project in Amsterdam saw homes being build all around the country and towed to Amsterdam. This is expensive but also allows for more varied designs and manufacturing processes, which helps the learning curve.

If Holland does nothing it will look like this (australia under Scott Morrison) perty soon..

The problem we see here though is the pricing of these homes. It feels quite luxurious to live on water this way, so they are priced accordingly. The owners are taking a chance, the right to be there in the first place (rent of the water space) is probably not cheap, and then the way these projects are organized the cost are pretty much fixed.

Tiny homes are an attempt to escape, not a solution

It is important to NOT find a solution to the cost but simply produce and deliver at lower cost. This is only possible by companies with low overhead, and here we find that small companies don’t have a lobby, either defensive or offensive to build these kind of structures.

This could be a find home. But going tiny in itself is the wrong approach. We need to make resources accessable to people not design our society so they are sold at the highest possible cost.

In de media you can read that “Floating homes are still too expensive and you can’t get a mortgage on them” This is typical and shows how the game is rigged. Apparently cities want to allow them, but banks fear their cheapness and instant alure, and don’t want more homes quickly cause it would cash the housing market. Meanwhile it is pretty obvious this is the way to go if all the land is owned by banks and its price constantly maximized. Holland is of the dutch, not of the dutch banks.

A vison of river bank homes by Floho, you do see they expect you to have not furniture 😉

I have suggested to build a giant floating solar powerplant on the Markermeer in Holland, it is an empty lake that does not have much use, it is to muddy for fish, it has plants growing that hinder boats. It is 700 square kilometer of which we could make 350 square kilometer solar power plant with floating homes underneath. Because we would be talking major project here

More bureaus are trying their hand on these really cheap types of buildings

This design is so heavy it allows for a subaqautic part.. A unique but space creating feature..

Some keep to the more common house boat design..

New floating homes for sale in Urk

Waterstudio homes in Urk Holland
A vision for the Nassau Haven in Rotterdam
This is a design called Float House by Jouke Post of XX architects and Arconiko architects

The challenge is to do this on a much larger scale, and integrating solar electricity power plant, electricity storage, heat management and other functions. This is the project. According to the people in the video below the new designs are also very energy efficient, they pay 20 Euro energy per year!

These people are loving it, and they pay a 20 Euro energy bill for the entire year!
Now our question is why is this called “the city of the future” if you can build it today?
MTC architect design This home has walls made of POLYSTYRENE in Delft

Winged Wind Turbines Remain in Limbo

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The sport of dynamic soaring is not well known, but it can be pretty spectacular. The point of it is to fly an (rc) plane along with the wind, so it gathers speed, and then to turn back through a patch of air with less wind. The speed gained is stored in the mass of the plane as well as the resistence of the air as it loops round. Then the plane moves at speed x and the air at speed y and these speeds are added, until in some cases the plane travels at 800 km/h

Dynamic soaring airplan reaching  545 mph

Another way to gain energy from the wind is to be tethered to the ground and have the wind push you relative to this tether. This is the same mechanism as is used by sailing boats or kite surf kites. The Makani turbine plane is a good example. It is in the demo phase. Another kit is the Ampex kite.

A documentary about the Makani development process..

The irony with these kind of concepts is that it can take reaaaaaly long to become a product. Below we have a demo that works in 2013. In the mean time they have spend years to ‘perfect’ the concept, but it was essentially working then.

The huy working at Shell was advising these guys.. and now he will be the director.. fastforward 9 years no poroduct!

Basically any kite with a turbine can generate energy, so it doesn’t need to be a heavily designed product at all.

This year Ampyx is publishing cool videos of their “Airborne Wind Energy Systems (AWES) to harness the immense and consistent power in high-altitude wind to provide reliable, low-cost energy.”

These are stalling processes with a beautifull appearance, a happy company but what renewable energy generating profit to show for all the investment? There are several other companies trying to do what Ampyx or Makani are doing.

This is a shell sponsored video..The company KPS has been aquired by

The above Shell sponsored is exhausting in that it once again promises a technology that could reduce demand for fossil fuel. It seems these kind of product are kept in stasis by people claiming to help!

Kitemill seems to be more serious but they only did demo’s and “build internal competence”. So this is exactly the same story. We need to make these damn products.

It is true that wind turbines where pushed back by investors based on their ‘reliability’ which needed to be perfected. This lead to very heavy turbines that cost a lot of money and where very noisy. Now they have different (neodymium) magnets so they are way more powerfull (up to 12 MW now) and less noisy. But it cost a decade more than necessary just because fossil credit investors where slowing things down.

The below is a way more flimsy design, but it works fine and generates 450 W energy. If you multiply this by 100 you have 45 kW energy on a windy day, enough to heat your home. You can see more of their current designs here.

These guys have been working on this for 11 years now.

The real challenge with these concepts is to keep it super simple, to deliver a product and to grow a market at the price point of the basic thing. If you keep stuck in a design limbo with a feeling of perfectionism as a goal you will not achieve anything.

If the above video doesn’t show you can find it here

Above another project where the plane takes off controlled, This is way easier than from some kind of pole, and it could even be free if you hook on the tether just before takeoff (drop tethere, land, reposition tether, connect, take off, possibly fully autonomous). This could all be autonomous with smaller plans soaring charging and landing. Also the higher the voltage the thinner the tether needs to be.

Below a presentation about the potential and some other players. It seems wild that someone started with a simple effective design in 2011 and we still have no product.

Put the sound level down for the start of the below video..It seems this product is largely seen a hobby to work on, not as something you can actually use.

Good presentation

Another one. TwingTec 2018

One AI to Rule the World

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Writing about AI is dangerous, it may result in someone building a system that solves problems we don’t want solved (like how to build a small nuclear bom) even though problem solving is not yet a strong talent of current deep learning algorithms.

Protecting against dangerous AI is almost impossible because AI doesn’t need to be highly advanced to be dangerous, it doesn’t even need to be AI, it can be a product of AI. an evolved algorithm or method of processing data that when one has developed it can do damage as part of some sensory or targeting system for example.

How to deal with this risk? The answer seems to lie in a system that can observe the world. A system that ‘loves’ humans. This sounds like sci fi, but of course in order to protect anything an AI needs to know what it is, what it looks like, what it can do, although this also depends on the capabilities of the AI.

For example, if humans want to be protected from an AI that puts out forest fires, the AI needs to understand humans need water too. The challenge of putting out a forest fire with a number of water carrying drones can not result in the total depletion or pollution of bodies of water on which a lot of people depend.

It is a comforting thought we are not there yet, no Skynet is operational, but it may soon be in some places. You only need to build a radar station, and have a fleet of drones with guns that meet and shoot at anything within a certain range. No big challenge there, we’ve seen it. You may not know but there are even self aiming rifles for humans to use these days. Every shot a bulls eye!

The solution I think of is uncommon and I have not seen it. It is to create an AI that spans the globe. Not physically, even though it will live in servers actually around the globe, but it will primarily be of use to others, it will be a global segmented cortex. It will recieve information and make it available. That will be its initial functionality, but in a way that makes sense to deep learning type algorithms.

The style of processing I think of is not that of modern LSTM networks, that is too rigid, but I have not managed to demonstrate the principle so I can’t write about it here. There is also the problem that the world does not respond to any AI processing on servers, so the system can’t have any real goals or take real action on its own. There is a way around this problem though. But I will try to see if this is feasible. To be continued.