April 19th, 2016
Lithium for Gaia
They're out there now. Scouring the earth for the good lithium brine. That's the stuff that yields the white gold, the new petroleum.
Lithium is number three on your periodic table of elements. It's a soft, silver-white metal. Doesn't go around by itself, prefers compounds, primarily brines and clays.
Lithium salts are classified as a “mood stabilizer.” Apparently it decreases the risk of suicide in cases of bi-polarity. Naturally occurring lithium in drinking water has been credited with lower general rates of suicide.
The energy storage business (batteries) could be much larger than the electric car business. At the moment, that's a business based on mining the good lithium.
Bolivia has mineral-rich aquifers, so does Nevada and Wyoming. A few corporation control the business. Without lithium for batteries, electric cars don't go mainstream. And once they go mainstream, lithium will be essential for life as we know it.
We talk about the Permian and the Bakken, but soon we'll be talking about Wyoming's Rock Springs Uplift. It's all about the possibility of steady supply of cheap, high-quality lithium.
The human-dominated social space is about to get a big dose of lithium. I wonder how it will change us.
April 15th, 2016
Every once in a while I hear that some “scientist” is working on a method to upload knowledge to the human brain. Ideally this would work like it did in the film “The Matrix.” A person needs to learn some sort of skill or master some area of knowledge, and rather than putting in hours of study and dedication. They upload the knowledge needed in a matter of seconds. Mastery is instant.
I wonder if knowledge is uploaded or downloaded? I suppose it depends on where you're standing.
What would knowledge have to be in order for it to be capable of being uploaded? What would a brain have to be in order to accept knowledge using this method?
In practice, if some process like this were ever to be created, it would look more like something by Philip K. Dick. Rather than uploading skills that increase a person's capability in the future, the market for downloading pleasant memories of a luxurious vacation to Mars would dominate.
Assuming you could lower the price sufficiently, everyone would upload everything. Why wouldn't they? “We can remember it for you wholesale.”
Of course, knowledge isn't like that. It's not uploadable. And brains aren't like that. They aren't computer hard disks.
March 20th, 2016
Pattern into Pattern
At the exhibition of paintings by Pierre Bonnard, called “Painting Arcadia,” there were about five rooms filled with work by the artist. Early in Bonnard’s career he belonged to a gang known as “Les Nabis.”
In the first room, there’s a painting called “Twilight, or The Game of Croquet.” This was one of my favorites. I only want to draw your attention to one thing. Look at the pattern on the clothing against the organic patterns of the garden. There’s no solid, dark line separating one pattern from the other. The patterns are distinct, but flow into each other. That’s a beautiful way to look at objects. And you may think this is a step too far, but it’s an ecological way of looking.
March 4th, 2016
Some people, some very smart people, believe that through the magic of genetic engineering, we'll soon have a new generation of “super intelligent” people. There may even be a legal requirement to optimize the designated genetic make-up of new humans. Sounds like a science fiction novel, but the technology is close to making this kind of scenario practical.
Of course, it would take a “super intelligent” person to create a new generation of “super intelligent” people. And certainly, replication of “super intelligence” would appear to be the intelligent goal. How will we ever solve the great problems that confront us without a greater and greater supply of super intelligent people?
Apparently, no one is working on a genetic model for creating super compassionate people. Mostly because super compassionate people aren't a dominant force in the science of gene editing. And, after all, compassion isn't going to solve global warming, seas filled with plastic or the sixth mass extinction.
I wonder what would happen if you took two planets and filled one with super intelligent people and the other with super compassionate people of varying intelligence? After a few hundred years had passed, which planet do you think you'd prefer to live on?