Wiki Contributions


What is the goal? Is it to consume a particular resource? Is it to produce a particular product?

Yes, West Texas has abundant light and should have solar panels. Then you can ask what to do with the energy. You could just sell it to the grid. The advent of solar power will mean large daily swings in the price of energy. If you have a use of energy that can run in the mornings, that will benefit from this. Desalination is one such application. Colocating it with the solar plant has some advantage of reducing the negotiation with the grid, but that isn't theoretically necessary. This doesn't seem to me like a good enough reason to do things in West Texas. 

It hadn't occurred to me that brackish water is a resource. If brackish water has 1/10 as much salt as seawater, then it takes 1/10 as much energy (I think that is true both in theory and in practice, where practice is 10% efficient for both). So if you must desalinate water, it is a resource. I'm skeptical of desalination for agriculture. It's quite expensive, even at 1/10 the price. Whereas humans consume very little water and desalination for residential use is cheap, comparable to the cost of distributing the water. Let people in Los Angeles water their yards as much as they like. If people want to live in West Texas, they can water their yards, too. But this isn't a reason to live there.

If the goal is to produce food, is this the optimal use of energy? Maybe better to make fertilizer and export it to places that have their own water.

If the goal is to promote decentralization, then maybe you don't want to export fertilizer. But you probably want to think more about what you mean by decentralization (eg, self-sufficiency to survive trade decline vs escape from political oppression).

The first hit on google says 1-4 parts per thousand, or about 1/10 as salty as seawater. If 0.5‰ is considered fresh, then that's probably plenty low to support some plants.

The Soviets actually did try mining with nuclear explosives. They decided that it was too polluting. Since they had a pretty high pollution tolerance, I'm inclined to believe them.

I would distinguish terraforming from irrigation. It sounds like you are talking about setting up a self-contained system to irrigate the land every year, whereas I would restrict terraforming to a permanent climate change, so that it rains and desalination is no longer necessary. This is what people mean when they talk about terraforming the Sahara. The desert was green five thousand years ago when the pyramids were built, so it probably has multiple equilibrium climates and a sufficient intervention could get it to jump to the other. I don't know how plausible this is for other deserts. The idea is to irrigate a bounded number of times to grow appropriate trees to trap water.

A permanent change could be much cheaper per acre because the solar panels and desalination plant can be reused for new parcels. The downside is that this probably has large gains from scale: air flows freely between neighboring parcels and thus humidity is an externality. Whereas the whole point of a self-contained system is that you can start small.

That doesn’t mean we can get a good estimate of the effect size. Dustin Moskovitz speculates such folks can instead go to Harvard, which is nearby. That’s a fair point, 

This is nonsense. Harvard was already far more locked down than MIT will be. I omit the more important point.

Are you assuming that electricity is free? My understanding is that the cost of silicon is small compared to the cost of electricity, if you run the chip all the time, as in this article. For example, this gpu costs $60 and consumes 300 watts = 2700 kwh/year = $270/year, at $.10/kwh. This one costs 10x and consumes 3x, so its price is not negligible, but still less than a year of operation. Plus I think the data center rule of thumb is that you should multiply electricity by 2 to account for cooling costs.

This will have a very large effect on the total compute bought, numbers which only appear in the graph. The headline numbers—the optimal times—depend mainly on the exponential form of the improvement in efficiency. If the time for the cost of silicon to be cut in half is same as the time for the amount of electricity needed to be cut in half (Moore's law vs Koomey's law), then you should get roughly the same answer. Koomey's law used to be faster, but after the breakdown in Dennard scaling, it seems to be slower. 

If you want a GPU-specific version of Koomey's law, I don't know. Does that data set of GPUs have watt ratings?

Tucker jumps from outside feedback to feedback from skeptics. Why isn't feedback from a meditation community sufficient? Martin's subjects were certified enlightened, so apparently it isn't, but a meditation community should have a lot more experience with failure modes.

Sorry, I should have been clearer: I'm not talking about the course. I'm talking about the people Martin studied before creating the course. These results are already common. I doubt that Martin is promoting special techniques more likely to produce them than other methods. 

If dissociation is the opposite of enlightenment, maybe the same mind-hacking techniques that can produce enlightenment can produce dissociation. 

The usual claim about enlightenment is that it doesn't reduce the pain, but that it makes pain less distracting. Trouble sleeping doesn't match that. I think that people usually imply that acknowledging pain reduces stress responses. The guy didn't just say that he was peaceful, he said he wasn't stressed. It would be one thing if he acknowledged his tense muscles and said that his enlightenment helped him function despite them, but the implication is that he simply denied them. We don't have a transcript of such a question, but the article talks about lots of participants having false beliefs about muscle tension and appearing serene. Richard linked to excerpts about that and other negative quotes, not all of which I see as dissociation.

Note that the people Martin studied were systematically wrong about what they looked like to the external observers. They sound disassociated from their bodies. This sound bad, and, in fact, the opposite of enlightened: suffering more, noticing it less.

Over the course of a week, his father died, followed very rapidly by his sister. He was also going through a significant issue with one of his children. Over dinner I asked him about his internal state, which he reported as deeply peaceful and positive despite everything that was happening. Having known that the participant was bringing his longtime girlfriend, I’d taken an associate researcher with me to the meeting to independently collect the observations from her. My fellow researcher isolated the participant’s girlfriend at the bar and interviewed her about any signs of stress that the participant might be exhibiting. I casually asked the same questions to the participant as we continued our dinner conversation. Their answers couldn’t have been more different. While the participant reported no stress, his partner had been observing many telltale signs: he wasn’t sleeping well, his appetite was off, his mood was noticeably different, his muscles were much tenser than normal, his sex drive was reduced, his health was suffering, and so forth.

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