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Harrison Danneskjold

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Everything posted by Harrison Danneskjold

  1. "You can't take the sky from me" Damn straight. That's one of the things nobody can take from you without your consent.
  2. When discussing such radical and long-range possibilities as this I (like Elon Musk) find it much more useful to reason from known principles than what does or does not sound plausible. Will we ever have truly faster-than-light travel? No; according to our current understanding of physics that is impossible and not worth mentioning outside of fiction. Will Mars ever have its own proper magnetosphere? If a magnetosphere is caused by the motion of internal molten metals (which Mars appears to lack) then probably not; certainly not in the next thousand years or so. Maybe in a thousand years we will have ways of injecting such moving lava into Mars (PERHAPS) but as for our own moon that is out of the question. Can human beings survive on Mars? Certainly, if we send them with adequate food, water and oxygen (and especially if they have the means to produce these in situ, as we already know how to do) then they can live there. Granted, whether or not one could ever enjoy an autumn sunset on Mars as we do on Earth is debatable (not on any time frame; whether or not such atmospheric conditions could ever be created is debatable). However, if it isn't then Mars would have its own sort of seasons and its own sort of Autumn, which I would like to experience. Especially in power technology? The track record of artificial intelligence is much worse. We thought we'd have basically-sentient-machines many decades ago and we're currently still trying to teach them how to drive. However, even in cases where real technology has utterly failed to live up to the dreams of sci-fi authors, this does not equate to the stagnation of such technologies. We may not hit the targets we've set and yet this doesn't mean we're hitting nothing at all. I assume you're familiar with AlphaGo; the AI which beat the best human Go player on Earth several years ago? Well since then there's been AlphaStar (a StarCraft-playing-AI) which also went on to beat the best human players on Earth in an incredibly hectic and fast-paced real time strategy game. Just because our actual progress doesn't live up to our expectations for it (and sometimes embarrassingly so) does not mean that no progress at all is being made. Oh, yes, there will never be a society without money; not even a communist one. That certainly is true. There will never be any truly faster-than-light travel or travel through black holes, either. It's interesting you mention Star Trek, though, because there are other aspects of that show (besides the Communist sympathies) which actually do stand up to proper scientific scrutiny. Have you heard of the Alcubierre Drive?
  3. On second thought that's quite the understatement. In the past year my own government has violated my right to work. I have been prevented, by force, from earning my own living by my own effort, on the flimsy pretext of protecting me (as a thirty year old man in decent shape) from what would be a mild sniffle. During this same period in which WORK was OUTLAWED violent riots, arson and highway robbery were allowed to run rampant throughout this country and cheered on by public intellectuals across the world. Now my own government is using my taxes to crack down on "misinformation" - meaning that my private thoughts inside of my own brain are their business to regulate (for my own health and safety, of course). I will take the hazards of life in space over that kind of hazard any day of the week! At least radiation and micrometeors would not expect me to thank them for my own immolation.
  4. Would you like the option of cybernetically augmenting your brain to perform superhuman mental feats? That's what one of his companies (Neuralink) is working on; last I checked they'd successfully put computer chips into a pig's brain and taken them out again (and wirelessly interfaced with the pig's brain through them) and might be on to human trials in a few more years. How's your internet connection? He has another company attempting to get high-speed broadband to every square inch of the globe. Personally, if I ever get the chance I will be moving to Mars and getting that implant. One can argue about whether we will ever see any of these lofty goals achieved. Maybe they will; maybe they won't. They're still great goals to have. And even if you don't want a brain implant (just to take one example) - you can't imagine that living in a society where many people do have it won't benefit you indirectly, just as you benefit indirectly from the ubiquity of internet access (and will gain still further benefits if he manages to make such internet access cheaper, more reliable and more ubiquitous). If I augment my brain and you don't, you can still ask me to perform complex calculations (&etc) for you.* No; we're not suited to thrive there (nor in much-more-likely orbital habitats). We'll have to turn it into a suitable place for us (not the other way around) and that's gonna be a long and dangerous struggle. Furthermore it's certain to be very expensive for some period of time, until its infrastructure is developed enough for some degree of self-sufficiency. Profitable, though? That would depend on what sort of profit we're talking about. I want to live there, hardships and dangers and all, because it would be an adventure. Adventures don't pay the bills, true enough, but they're one of the things that make the struggle of life worth living. We haven't done much with Antarctica yet (and it might make sense to develop that before Mars) but we do seem to be getting there. Is there any anatomical difference between males and females? Is 3.5 trillion dollars equal to zero? Is it okay for a sitting president to ignore the results of a democratic election if he doesn't like them? Things are getting far too Looney Toons around here for my liking. *Results may vary depending on how mischievous I'm feeling.
  5. In what time frame? If you mean that there won't be an independent Martian state in the next ten or twenty years, certainly, I'd agree. In the next century though? One hundred years ago there were no such things as computers and most people found the concept of space travel as laughable as that of allowing women to vote. In a hundred more years - who knows? Every technological advancement which makes life on Earth easier will also make life in space more viable.
  6. Yeah so the Chinese admiral mentioned was named Zheng He and apparently the discontinuation of his voyages was also related to the Great Wall. They pulled the funding from exploration in order to fund a big, beautiful border wall - and were promptly bent over and spanked by the Portuguese.
  7. There's an anecdote I read once in a book by Robert Zubrin. I'm very unlikely to still have all the details down precisely because it's been a decade since I read it. I really should brush up on it before posting but I do need to sleep at some point; please feel free to help me check these facts in the morning. But the underlying gist of it has never left my brain in the past decade. Also, when I speak of what "The Chinese" think or do I am, of course, referring to their dominant philosophy at that time. It's just shorthand for cultural trends. The gist of it is that China very nearly became the first colonial superpower a century before any European had conceived of such a possibility. There was this massive expedition they launched, consisting of thousands of ships (essentially a floating metropolis) which explored almost the entire coast of Africa and may have even visited North America (maybe?). And they weren't just exploring. The Chinese have always said that their Emperor is really the Emperor of the whole world. He may allow other rulers to act like they have countries of their own, now and then (mostly out of a sense of pity) but at the end of the day he is the one true King of the world. And this expedition was explaining this to all the exciting new peoples they met throughout the rest of the world. "Hello! Yes; that's a lovely facial - piercing? It's a very stylish whatever-that-is. Our glorious Emperor thinks you might've forgotten that He is your one true regent, and since it was an honest misunderstanding He is going to forgive ALL of your back taxes! I know; He's wonderful. Anyway, we'd best be going, but we'll be back around next year's tax season!" And when this fleet finally turned around to head back to China its admiral fully expected to return to all the lands he'd explored to make their inhabitants into proper Chinese subjects. Only the old Emperor had died while the expedition was gone and the new Emperor didn't care for expensive sea voyages; He liked orgies and giant golden statues of Himself. China fell into a period of stagnation and decline, and not long afterwards was totally humiliated in the Opium Wars by those European superpowers who had valued exploration over orgies. America, just like China at that point in time, pulled together many years ago and created a similar expedition to plant an American flag on the moon. The question is whether the meaning of that flag matters more to us than orgies. Life is motion. Cultures and civilizations which cease to expand cannot simply sit idly; they decline and fall. And the expanding offshoots which are a civilization's colonies are not just representative of its average mentality; they are self-selecting from the best of the best. The British citizens who lacked the skills or the courage to become colonists simply stayed home; what ended up in America were those who were tough and independent enough to succeed in that environment. "They do not live their lives 'by your leave'; they hack it out of the wilderness with their own two hands, bearing their children along the way!" I want to live there. I will give my dominant hand to be a member of any extraterrestrial colony, at any time, regardless of what becomes of me afterwards. I guess that's my bias in this conversation, stated as succinctly as I can in under two hours. I'll have more to say next sol.
  8. That's a bit much. It certainly won't be easy, but if the first Martian colony fails I don't see how it could take life on Earth down with it. Firstly, I don't think they're that dissimilar. The American colonies had to become self-sufficient pretty quickly as well, were a drain on their mother country until then (except for the Aztec gold which made it cool to colonize) and many of them actually did fail; killing plenty of colonists. They didn't have to worry about oxygen production (that is a big difference) but that doesn't mean they didn't have to produce, nor that it's an essentially different kind of endeavor. That being said, yes, it will be very difficult. It'll be risky and incredibly expensive for whoever ends up funding it. So was putting an American flag on the moon.
  9. I don't imagine the day-to-day operations of such heavy industry will require an actual human presence. There will always be unforseen events which require the occasional repairman, but otherwise whatever cannot be fully automated can be done by remote control. Such repairmen might need to live on the surface or commute from orbit, however; that's true. It just wouldn't be a daily commute.
  10. I still don't have a fully worked out argument about the value of planting trees whose shade we'll never live to sit under. I disagree that there's no profits to be made in space, even today; even purely financial profits (as opposed to spiritual or intellectual ones) - but let's say that was the case. Was it worthwhile to plant an American flag on the moon? Never mind that it was a government program; let's just think about the act, itself. It didn't generate any revenue, sure. But it was certainly an achievement. It was a concrete demonstration of what mankind can do when we put our collective minds to it; something akin to climbing a mountain, on an individual level. In the long run we will all be dead (as Keynes observed before Fred Kinnen). So what?
  11. Oh, like how? Like dealing with the alleged climate crisis? Like dealing with the possibility of sapient AI (even though it's not something most normal people are worried about yet)? Like lowering the cost of launching mass into orbit to a point where it might be feasible for a regular person, or like creating countless high-paying jobs in the process? I really don't know if Elon Musk has ever read a word of Ayn Rand's before, and frankly it doesn't matter; he is the closest thing to a living, breathing Hank Rearden as has existed in this century. And if you truly do have a pro-human mindset fully integrated into your self then you owe that man more respect than you'd give any other person alive today, including both you and I! If you care about human life, and all which makes it possible (let alone worth living) then you owe him an apology for that statement alone.
  12. IDK. I'll actually have a coherent point about that in the morning.
  13. Certainly, if all Martian trade gets cut off from Earth before any trade develops with the rest of the Solar System. A goodly chunk of the mass of our solar system is H2O (almost all of which is frozen ice, which only needs a bit of heat). But yes; in the first few decades after a Martian colony is established, life there will become very difficult if they get cut off from all conceivable ice trade. Imagine if Christopher Columbus had said such a thing! Or Isaac Newton!!! "You know, as cool as it is that the same forces which cause apples to fall from trees are also likely responsible for the motions of our moon and all other celestial bodies, what does that do for Medieval Spain or Portugal?" MMMH. I'm sure I'll have a word for that attitude by tomorrow morning. In the meantime let me state my extreme disagreement, and that I think ANY great thinker (not just Ayn Rand but ANY of the greats of the last few centuries) would've found it equally repugnant. Potentially; yes. Which is why it'd be much more cost-effective to simply use such materials for orbital habitats, where we can directly control the atmospheric content, gravity, and everything else pretty cheaply. Although I'm sure there will always be the odd billionaire or trillionaire who opts for a true house on Mars or Venus. PRECISELY SO!
  14. There was a news story I read about Musk many years ago. Some reporter was being given a tour of the SpaceX factory and asking about Musk's policy of mandatory six-day workweeks, to which he simply laughed "yeah; we've gotten soft". I could not agree with that more. We, as a society, have gotten very soft and cozy and fat. But there are still people who would be up for such constant dangers, and they probably would be capable of dealing with most of them. The people who start listing off the hardships of space travel as a valid reason to abandon it, aren't cut out for it. Those who are don't see the hardships as a valid reason not to do it.
  15. Only if China could maintain its authoritarian model over such distances. History suggests otherwise. That's the beauty of any frontier.
  16. Was colonizing the Americas a good idea? Certainly, it was good for the colonists (or else they wouldn't have come) and not so good for the natives (who'd never been exposed to smallpox before), and I'd argue that the primary beneficiaries of that decision weren't even alive at the time it was made. Without the thirteen colonies there would have been no American revolution, the intellectual products of which are still benefiting almost everyone on Earth. In the long run Bezos' idea is probably closer to the exact shape such colonization will take. I doubt we'll see much actual terraforming happen once we establish some real space industry. It'd be much simpler, quicker and cheaper to set up rotating orbital habitats for our surplus population to live on, and save the surface of the actual planets for mining and heavy industry. Even without any zoning regulations (which would be ideal) that's simply the most cost-effective solution. Either scenario would be good for humanity, though; particularly for those countless trillions who haven't been born yet.
  17. Look at it this way. Although we don't yet know exactly what consciousness is or how it works, we do know that it lines up almost precisely to brain activity. We can measure waking and sleeping brainwave patterns, as well as that of various emotions and mental states. Technologies like fMRI imaging look pretty likely to eventually allow us to remote control our gadgets by thought alone, and possibly develop truly reliable lie detection. The reason any of that works is because changes in mental states have a very good correspondence to changes in brain activity. Furthermore, breaking the brain in various ways leads to permanent mental changes. I assume you've heard of Phineas Gage, the railroad worker who survived the loss of his frontal lobe in a workplace accident and went on to be described by his friends and family as a totally different person. Anyway. So if we can assume that the mind IS what the brain DOES in a certain sense (and I just outlined a few reasons why this seems quite likely) then we have to ask what happens to brain activity upon death - namely, that it all just stops. So all of that taken together provides what I consider to be a pretty good inductive argument against any sort of afterlife. It's not irrefutably bulletproof, of course - and neither is any kind of REAL knowledge. But I have yet to come across any worthwhile bullets against it. Memento Mori.
  18. Easy. The form of "Christianity" that's actually practiced today (even by such open Bible-bashers as Prager) bears very little resemblance to the original form of Christianity that's actually expounded in the Bible. You can find plenty of alleged "Christians" who believe in liberty and individualism; sure. And you can also find plenty of alleged "Muslims" who find the idea of a political Jihad morally abhorrent and want nothing more than to live in peace and freedom (I've met a few at the gas station I used to work at). Find me a "Christian" who has actually read their own holy book, in its entirety, takes its moral teachings seriously and still believes in the founding principles of America. I would be very surprised if you could. In that respect the founding fathers were even less Christian than today's right-wingers. Dennis Prager has made multiple YouTube videos (and maybe I'll have to track them down and link to them) arguing that there can be no conception of morality except in a religious context and that secular values of any sort (any value which isn't derived from the Bible) lead politically to Communism and mass slaughter. It's not that no religionist can be a conceptual thinker; it's that no true religionist can be truly pro-liberty. They can mouth the sound "freedom" (just as the Communists do) but if they believe in it then they don't take their religion seriously; if they take their religion seriously then they don't believe in freedom. The alleged "Christians" who truly are pro-freedom are our allies, just as the alleged "Muslims" of that sort are. I just don't believe that's the camp Prager belongs in.
  19. That's an interesting question, although I am having a bit of a hard time concretizing it. If they're active combatants on opposite sides then how many opportunities do they really have to converse? If they're not active combatants but just part-time sympathizers lending their support to opposite sides then they'd presumably be obliged to lie to each other about any intelligence they might come across. As I recall, the reasoning behind the notion that there's never any good reason to deceive a good man sort of hinged on said "goodness" necessitating rationality and that there are no conflicts of interests among rational men. Francisco D'Anconia had to do something similar to Dagny throughout Atlas Shrugged and I can't really call her a bad person; she's a heroine. Still, in one of Rand's journals she described the crux of Dagny's error as a tragic sort of overconfidence (understandable, since it is proper for her to be confident in her own ability, but nonetheless irrational when extended to all the people she depends on to keep the railroad functioning). And she explicitly says once or twice that she would kill "the destroyer" (John Galt) with her bare hands, if she ever found him - because of her irrational attitude towards the society she lives in. And after she returns from Galt's Gulch, knowing the truth but still refusing to join the strike, Francisco drops the playboy act to make it perfectly clear "it's you that I'm fighting".
  20. Not if they legitimately won the vote, which is how that question was phrased in the debate. If I lost a race against Stalin himself because most Americans voted for him then I'd concede without any gimmicks or delays whatsoever. A president is not a monarch; he is not the ultimate political authority in our system; the people are. If the people vote against me then that's that; nothing else is relevant. Granted, if I was handing power over to Stalin I'd promptly flee the country - but as a private citizen. Now, all of this is assuming that the election was legitimate, and I haven't forgotten the questions that had been raised about it at that time. But such questions are (just like Trump's estimation of his opponent and absolutely everything else) totally irrelevant to the underlying principle here. A president does not have the right to contravene the will of the people, nor even to drag his feet about enacting that will. He is our servant; not the other way around. Trump did have the right to scrutinize that election and ensure its legitimacy. Having done that (and failing to really prove much of anything) he should've promptly stepped down. I actually do agree that Biden's gang is full of evil operators who're working against the interests of the American people. That's the choice we made, though. We can't flip the whole Monopoly board over just because this round went badly - which is precisely what Trump would've been doing if he hadn't conceded. And that's precisely it. The right wing cooks (such as the QAnon people) aren't the ones who're trying to shut down civilized conversations.
  21. This happened to be my own personal theme song when I wrote those same musings. Either that or this. I'm not precisely sure.
  22. Yes. Absolutely; yes. Which internal organs can I pawn off for it and how soon?
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