Reasons From Other on Why Charles Stross is Wrong and Article on the Nuclear/Verne Cannon

Michael Anissimov wrote up his reasoning for why Charles Stross is wrong about what will happen in the 21st century.

Some key points:
* no one is waiting for greater than human intelligence AGI
* Disruptive technological impacts can already be clearly seen to be developing
* Many other useful insights into the Singularity and AI and AI development

J Storrs Hall has a good piece on this as well at foresight’s nanodot.

* Examples of how the 1900’s Popular Mechanics was way off the mark for the 20th century and so the New Scientist magazine for the 2000-2010 period is not highly likely to get the 21st century right

So here’s the really interesting question: Compared to the people in 1900, we live a lot longer. We’re healthier. We’re enormously richer. We have an almost incredibly greater array of choices available to us, ranging from what kind of food we want to eat, where we want to travel, what kind of lifestyle we want to live, and on and on and on.

So why are we the pessimists and they the optimists?

My original article is is here

Charles Stross has his FAQ for the 21st century.

Science Fiction author Karl Schroeder wrote about the nuclear cannon (one underground pulse Orion), which I have been writing about extensively.

I call it the Verne gun because frankly, a name like THE ATOMIC CANNON would just not go over well in certain circles.

What you could do if you could put 280,000 tons into orbit in one shot ?:

* Put 1.5 terawatts of clean solar power into orbit with less than ten launches. Obsolete coal and petroleum power production with green baseline power, using less than a 10th the number of solar cells as you’d have to install on Earth to capture the same amount of sunlight.
* Orbit an entire space elevator with one launch. Set it up, retire the gun, and get on with a clean space age.
* Do the same thing with an orbiting greenhouse infrastructure. Drop solar-powered mass drivers on the moon to feed a continual stream of building material to the building sites.
* Orbit fuel depots to drop the price of conventional rocketry to orbit through the floor. One shot and access to space for NASA becomes 10 times cheaper.
* Send up a telescope so big that it can image the continents of planets circling other stars.
* Put up one or more of those cool gigantic orbiting space station wheels that are showcased so dramatically in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.
* Send an entire colony’s worth of material to the moon or Mars. With a second shot, put up an interplanetary cycler ring, tether launch system or other permanent mechanism for shuttling people to and from the colonies.
* Toss a couple hundred thousand tons of nuclear waste into the sun, where it won’t bother us anymore. (Trust me, the sun won’t notice.)
* Launch an empty Orion ship, send its fuel up the safer space elevator, and send an expedition to Saturn, or a probe to the next star.

Note: nuclear waste is unburned fuel. It is valuable and is not waste.
However, the rest is on track. There will be more details on how to specifically use this system to bootstrap and get many trillions from space resources and rapidly develop into an inter-planetary civilization.

We can also conclude that in terms of rating future vision for science fiction authors it is Charlie Stross bad and Karl Schroeder good. ; )

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There is one big problem though. When oil is discovered in territory controlled by a rich democratic nation it is politically sensitive to exploit and when it is discovered in a less developed nation it separates the rulers from any dependence on tax money from their citizens which fuels corruption. While fossil fuel finds like the ones mentioned are encouraging, I would also hope that current development of more distributed, decentralized, renewable energy sources helps to lower our dependency on this single source, thereby reducing the political power that fossil fuels transfer to governments.

More research into industrial, transportation and residential energy efficiency would help too. Every unit of energy that is saved helps to undermine oligarchs who are dependent on us as a market while making our world less stable.

Unfortunately, big finds of fossil fuels help remove the incentive to make these efficiency gains and to invest in new energy sources. It is we in the industrialized nations which are best able to develop alternative energies and develop efficiency gains but if we don't need to...

Big new reserves in (currently) stable territories might reduce the price that is being paid to certain tyrants in the short term but if it maintains a higher dependence on the resource worldwide it would not reduce the power of petroleum rich but freedom poor states.


Yes, there are fields in decline and new wells in the Bakken also have decline from initial production rates. I have had an article about that.

Bakken oil wells tend to go to about 60% of the initial production.

In the last few years about, 3-4 million bpd of new oil production was added but overall oil productin was flat. So that appears to be the ballpark of the level of decline in oil. So by adding 6-8 million bpd of new production you get about 3-4 million bpd of increase over a year. This is the current trend for Jan and Feb of 2008.

A 293,000 bpd increase to a new high is showing that 2005 was not the peak in oil production. It shows that oil did not peak in a prior year which some peak oil people have and continue to claim.

Continuing increases this year show that 2008 is probably not the peak year.

The longer it is not the peak year then the more time there is for more biofuels to be produced and for other energy to be developed and for adjustments to be made.

Several hundred other articles on energy and efficiency have been written and shown on this site. That content will not be repeated in every article.


...all this talk about the increasing oil streams but nary a word about fields in decline. This discussion needs some balance to be credible. And one month at a minor increase to a new monthly high does not prove a thing about when oil production will peak.