Monthly Archives: February 2021

The Blinding Effect of Money (or why we need to become producers)

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We live in a society where access to almost everything is gated by money. On the low side you can of course do the basic things, be outside, walk, breath. You could even dumpsterdive but food is where freedom stops. But even there you can’t have food if you don’t have money. You can’t grow it reliably without land and you can’t own land without initial and running cost.

Slowely ownership in society has evaporated in society but for a few. Most people owning a home also have to work in some occupation

On the other end of the spectrum, so the side where you do not try to live at the fringe but live the life of your dreams, you will be stuck to the neck in debt and financial dependencies. You will have a mortgage, have to pay for childrens education, medical care, branded clothes, expensive holidays all the stuff and money will always be required to get any of these things. There are two ways of thinking about this, one is the commonly promoted thing : This is wealth, we are consumers, we have choices and enjoy luxury. The other is this is capture, we are slaves, we have to choose between a few options, the only difference with hard communism is that products do actually give enjoyment, and there are a lot of them.

Money has become the gatekeeper to life, and we no longer care to understand anything else

We agree with the idea that a lot of our current average home inventory is making our lives better. Soft couches, bright TVs, central heating etc. all these things are fine, however there is an effect of this luxury that is paralyzing our politics. We have gotten so used to the utility of money we don’t know or care about anything else anymore. When politicians talk about money our mind goes blank, we know money is a good thing. What else do we need to know? This is a fundamental problem because it means society no longer focusses on the engines of wealth but has shifted to focus on its trading token.

You can have a million dollar in the bank, but if your ATM is broken and nobody knows how to fix it you are lost

This conditioning to money is a problem, because anyone that can convince you of having influence over your liquidity now has power over you. You will start worrying about other people having money, who takes money, who deserves it. Your mind is spending its cycles on really abstract and useless thoughts, because what can you do about (for example) the Pentagon disappearing billions, or some millionair making $300 billion on his/her stock options? The amount of useless information we are exposed to is enormous.

Actual things you should know are the rules to get what you want, so you can think about how to get it. You are mistakenly accepting a first rule, which is : accept money as your master and a second which is : don’t stick differ from the others

One social rule is devastating for innovation and development of interesting personalities : Peer pressure. Social media have brought peer pressure into everyone’s life to the exact degree people are socially involved. There is no need for most things people do and own for social reasons. People will reject others because they compete to look a certain way or live a certain way, but that is all completely useless and not relevant to their actual ability to live.

We live because someone makes the stuff we need. That requires skills, materials and energy

Instead of constantly looking to each other and wondering how to look yourself, or wondering what new habit you need to be accepted, you could look into what you need, what it takes to make what you need, what is currently involved and then get shocked into the realization you may not be able to make any of it. That’s fine, that’s what economics teaches us, that you don’t have to be able to do everything. But if you can make delicious dinners, you don’t need to go to a restaurant. If you can make furniture, you don’t have to buy it. Sounds stupid and simple, but it is true. And it is a lot harder to do so it may be an interesting challenge. The economy will rush in telling you this is home-grown, hobby stuff, or cottage fabrication whatever, but in reality there are many small innovative companies that make specific high quality things that nobody else can make (I used to work for one that made a device that monitored industrial networks for failures). That started with somebody not watching a Netflix movie.

We need to focus on what is already there. On what we can do with what we have

So there are two sides to how the economy is disabling us, it is blinding us with money, it is bombarding us with products we could make ourselves, it is wasting our time with stories that serve a world view that is usually conflict oriented and/or bad for our self esteem. Meanwhile we don’t notice the challenges closer to home.

Covid has reduced shipping volume all over the world. That means shipping cost have gone up (because the fuel price remains the same but the ships carry less cargo). This could mean products don’t even make it to your local market anymore. The so called ‘price elasticity’ may not be there. You think you are set if you have money, but if prices suddenly explode because the product you wanted to buy is running out you discover the money you had offers no protection against shortages. Being the producer definitely would give you a better chance.

Dystopian RoboBosses

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We have noticed it a couple of years back, when the Nintendo Wii was introduced, that it is now a matter of time before algorithms will control much of our industry. The fact you can sense the posture of a person means you can record how long and when a person is in a specific posture. This means you can see if someone is stacking boxes or not, if someone is next to someone else talking or not etc. Build a simple feedback loop with some audio commands “Get back to work!” and you have an autonomous slavedriver.

Robots can analyze what you are doing

The trap our economy creates is that we lack empathy for other people because we don’t see their suffering or effort. We see products, and the product just appears in our reality out of nowhere (or we like to think it does). Anything that happened before the product arrived we don’t know about, we can’t care about and we are not invited to care much about. On the other side a person looks at our wallet, thinks “ah, there’s money in there I could have” and tries to take it as if we have no other plans with it. From that side too there is blindness created by the economic risk taken (running a business). This means in terms of protection of humanity our society is infested with a dangerous visitor : economics. Economics itself is an AI that mesmerizes us and uses our brains and senses as its substrate.

Meet your new boss

Economics and the mental islands it creates inspires blind exploitation of the opportunity to make profit, even if it means using AI and robots. Of course we all know we use methods to measure and optimize performance in every part of industry. Even we ourselves constantly look for ways to make it easier to do chores. This can be an improvement, because humans are easily distracted and skills vary, but it can also create risks if we hand our lives over to algorithms.

“The big caveat here is we need ethical oversight of this,” she says. “If you have AI being the boss, a piece of software with decision-making ability, that for me is extremely worrying, and I think it could lead to quite a dystopian future (Shivvy Jervis).

The question is not what would happen if we do this, its happening. Your purchasing is guided by marketing, Netflix programs your imagination, banks restrict your movements and you throw all your social info (your motivators) online for everyone to mine and analyse. The question is how do we get out of this? Because there is no real reason to be super efficient robots or worker drones in offices other than to support cashflow in an economy that exists only for banks and fossil fuel companies (you should read our stuff about carboncredit).

Industry does not have to be massive in scale and global in reach, that’s just to maximize bank cashflow

Our economy is so damaging to the planet because it’s a bonfire of fossil fuel facilitated by banks getting rich of making it happen. Economics is the philosophy that has been tweaked for maximum fossil credit cashflow and Roboeconomics is nothing like it! In short, if we automate our every day existence including what we focus on at work and how we go about doing our job, then we will do that forced by banks and the fossil industry. All the while we could take an easier route towards offloading tedious tasks if our economy was based on renewables, because then there would be no forcing factor from first owners (of fossil fuels) to sell their product (oil).

In the fossil credit economy people compete with machines for the same resource : fossil energy. People are waay less productive, so the economy does not desire too much of them.

It is clear from almost every big country’s energy policy that the energy sources are what controls states. With renewables this control will shift more locally, and this means the need for optimization of use of humans is no longer there. Only if you have to manage with dwindling fossil resources and want to cling on to power you promote AI control of people, this is because people are useless compared to industrial machines, yet they consume an exorbitant amount of fossil energy you’d rather put in making more stuff. In short the economy doesn’t like people, it likes consumers and it will optimize the nr of consumers to maximize profit.

Islands of luxury in an ocean of drabness.. The high value consumers make it so cheap products need to suck

The answer is not to hate the rich or automation, but to start detaching from the fossil credit economy. They way to do that is to start by generating energy on your own, with your own home, city, region. This will mean production of goods and services will become cheaper for local producers, take for instance a pizza place that generates its own energy to bake pizza’s, that will cut the cost.

Beauty in branding

The secret weapon of companies like Starbucks and Uber is endless credit. They can lose money for decades because the banks financing them are big enough and their control over investors large enough. They in fact create a little ecosystem for desired consumers to exist in, checking iphone messages in Starbucks with your branded clothes etc. etc. Its not that its bad, its just an island of comfort specially created as if the rest of the world doesn’t exist. By doing stuff more locally you drain cashflow from the economic system and gain experience and control over your life and local society.

Beautifull cities where build in times when people where still appreciated

The mistake often made, or forced upon independent initatives is to make it cumbersome, ugly, disgusting. Who does that? Those that like the system and will infiltrate your organization to sabotage it. So make things beautifull and attractive, promote it with beauty and style, make it cool and easy to use. There is no monopoly of Silicon Valley on anything, not even Silicon. There is no reason why industry should be the only ones automating to fortify their dominant position over humanity. You and the people in your region can band together and grow the local economy, with local energy and locally developed robots and automation (of you can’t source them elsewhere or banks don’t help out). That future is better than the one designed for you by Wall Street and fossil credit banks.

A First Application of Roadbots : Potholes?

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Roadbots will be an integral part of the What are roadbots? They are road wothy robotic platforms. The current Tesla cars are coming close, although their only function is to transport people, navigate and provide gaming apps. But if you take the base of a Tesla (they are similar for the Model S/3/X/Y) and view it as a platform to put robots or any automatic system on, a world op possibilities opens up. Any service now provide in vans can be offered autonomously. It is only a matter of time before the first applications show up.

The first Roadbot platform

If you can rely on autopilot you can get roadbots anywhere there are roads, and if you heighten the suspension and add remote control you can even go offroad. One great application would be to fix potholes in roads.. The only thing needed is the base frame plus some tar/concrete pooring system. A robot arm that can possibly drill out some asfalt. Another arm that can scoop up the debris. One with inspection cameras or to put the pilons on the road.

Pothole repair robot..

We actually found a piece about a pothole repair robot under development. Others are working with drones..

Another application could be ambulances or emergency evacuation vehicles. How about medical cabins showing up in some disaster zone able to onboard victims, cooling them, sedating them and rushing them to a hospital without having to stop (or catching Corona).

The Spot robot of Boston Dynamics is by far the most agile at the moment. Yet it has no AI, but lookup tables (Cerebellum functionality). How about that arm on a car?

Robots can take all shapes and sizes. Its amazing how long we stick with the below image of a robot. This is probably because designers are minimizing complexity to achieve functionality instead of exploring the complex challenges and finding a way to make an attractive product.

Robots designed by uninspired people

The other end of the spectrum is still reviled (although booming). Silicon sexbots are not real robots yet, even though AI is creaping into the heads. But what is wrong with attractive robots that are not meant for sex? The roboeconomy will not only see functional and really cheap but able robots, but also social bots and ones that do stuff while looking attractive. Male abuse of humanoid robots is likely to become a thing (but that’s another matter).

The Boston Dynamics humanoid robot can navigate uneven terrain autonomously. Soon it will be recreated from cheaper lighter parts and someone will reduce the size of the generator which is now gas powered if we’re correct. The image of a large battery or power unit in the back of a robot may come true.

Boston Dynamics cracked the challenge of predictive control so its robots can self correct while executing programmed movements

Elon Musks Climate Challenge

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Elon Musk is “in the money” at the moment. His cash position is about $205 Billion probably due to the stellar rise of his stock and growing trust in his multiple endeavours. He makes cars, batteries, solar panels, roof tiles, starships, tunnels, flame throwers, short shorts and promises to make planes, supercars, neural implants, colonies in space, efficient mining operations. The proces is simple realy : Want something doable and then dig in until it is done.

His primary motivation for all his actions was to do good to humanity. He wondered how this could be done and his conclusion was to try to spread (human) consciousness over more than one planet, so as to be redundant (consciousness is super rare in space), his other idea was to try to keep Earth safe, and to create cathalysts for change, for example the electric car. We and he was immesurably lucky to make enough money to start trying to do both things, and it is really thanks to his persistence that we can feel confident the entire car industry is switching to electric, and that the cost of batteries will drop so low that even flying electric at scale will happen soon.

This is just amazing. This is incredibly rare. We can’t stress this enough.

You would think there world if Ayn Rand or Jules Vernes in which some man can invent a new sort of revolutionary steel is long past, but it isn’t, it just depends on how much and how many people try. Due to fossil economic reasons (serving the fossil and bank interests) we have been stuck with a lot of half baked solutions that stay that way just to secure fossil fuel cashflow and bank control (through ever recurring costs for fossil fuels mainly). It is a dependency trap and banks have been the wardens. We have written about this often. Now, due to someone having $160 million in cash (Elon Musk) this is changing.

Still this is not going fast enough. We need faster innovation and scaling of carbon capture solutions. The reason is that CO2 is escaping to the higher atmosphere. There it can stay for ages out of reach of trees or other capturing devices. It is like throwing ink in a swimming pool, right after it drops in you can still scoop it out, but after a while it is diluted to the point where it is invisible and you have to bleach every liter of pool water to get it out. CO2 takes about 20 years to mix, so today we can at most reverse the CO2 PPM to 20 years back, if we where reducing it. It is in fact still increasing!

So what about Elon Musk (and his brother Kimbal)’s challenge? Elon says about it

“This is not a theoretical competition; we want teams that will build real systems that can make a measurable impact and scale to a gigaton level,” Musk said as he announced the competition as part of the X Prize charity initiative that encourages technological developments that can benefit humanity. “Whatever it takes. Time is of the essence.”

True to form the Musk Charity website has not cost much. It reads in plain text

Musk Foundation

Grants are made in support of:

– Renewable energy research and advocacy
– Human space exploration research and advocacy
– Pediatric research
– Science and engineering education
– Development of safe artificial intelligence to benefit humanity

No application form, no fancy office. We think you just have to have an inspring idea, maybe something already in the works, then you can recieve an anonymous check from the Musks (by some mysterious courrier who arrives in a Tesla). If your goal is to achieve, you don’t motivate people to beg. Let the strong ones get help, and those who can’t get started probably shouldn’t get started.

“To qualify for victory, solutions must be able to extract one ton of CO2 per day, and be viable in a scaled, validated model at time of presentation, with the ability to scale it to “gigaton levels” in commercially viable ways in the future.” (source)

That said it is cool that you can be sure that if you invent and develop a scalable carbon capture technology you can feel confident that you get support. We hope the foundation discourages patents (as is the case with Tesla for basic electric car stuff).

Elon is quoted as saying

“For now, by far the top priority is accelerating the transition to a sustainable energy economy.”

We call that the one in which renewable energy is used to power robots and automated systems both to generate a wealth of products and services but also to restore the ecology where humans would not be capable fast enough.. Dedicated carbon capture facilities or a growing carbon capture industry (combined with humans prospering of them and living with them) would be part of that vision. In dat it makes total sense to look for a way to capture carbon that can be a basis for a small village or city, after all you will be generating a lot of usefull energy and many usefull products are made of hydrogen and carbon (plastics).

We will be on the lookout for projects that get funded. Maybe Musk is interested in kickstarting the, the biggest floating solar power plant that can warrant development of new thin film panels.