Building Post-Scarcity Societies

The earliest forms of AI were invented by Soviet Systems Theorists and Cyberneticists in order to address the problem of modeling complex chaotic systems. This was a vital missing piece at the core of Soviet Communism; the ideology was built around central planning of things like ecosystems and economies, and these forms of modeling did not work. This is why AI was originally invented, in order to create a system that could learn how to model complex chaotic systems and provide insight and answers where past attempts at similar analyses by humans had failed.

Imagine for example a complex social interaction between tens of thousands of people who share little else in common besides being members of a particular facebook group. This group is dedicated to criticism of a specific social problem. In this case, money in society and its constellation of perverse incentives and negative externalities. If tens of thousands of people agree that money in society is a problem, that does not necessarily mean that any two of those people agree on the solution.

The task of AI becomes the task of defining what such a group could be. It’s not just a question of modeling the group and its myriad opinions and perspectives but finding a way to push all of that chaos towards some convergence that becomes capable of arguing for a solution to the problem the group exists to discuss and critique. In many ways, this has become a central issue of the modern era; everyone has opinions about the problems in society, and there are as many opinions as there are people, with very little overlap between arguments and conclusions derived from myriad disparate sets of experience.

The temptation, and the precedent throughout history, has been to elevate one perspective or one figurehead to represent one set of experiences and arguments and conclusions and privilege those above all others, forcing everyone to adopt policies and practices that represent this limited perspective as a universal solution which in reality fits only a limited subset of experiences.

A naïve perspective would argue that the challenge of AI is to create a system that can take in all of these disparate perspectives and find a way to meaningfully synthesize them into something that can provide direction and insight where past attempts at such analysis by humans have failed. But this is just more of the same. A true synthesis of all these perspectives is not possible, and would likely be just as limited in its ability to produce direction and insight as any single perspective. The challenge of AI is not to create some grand synthesis of all human perspectives, but rather to find a way to create models that can learn from history and from the myriad perspectives and experiences of people in the present in order to provide direction and insight where past attempts at such analysis by humans have failed.

The task of the moment is to create a society which allows for the expression of a diversity of perspectives while also creating the conditions for people to learn from and build on the perspectives of others. Fundamentally, scarcity is the enemy, and scarcity in the modern world is a policy choice; there is already plenty of food and housing for everyone, but it’s being deliberately withheld from those who need it in order to force them to comply with some limited, external perspective on addressing their problems. A more just society would allow a diverse range of perspectives, experiences, conclusions, and arguments to coexist with a basic guarantee of survival for everyone who intends to coexist. In such a society, the only people who would not be welcome are those disagree with the basic premise that everyone should be able to exist and subsist and to pursue and contribute to their own liberation and that of their community.

Exploring Soviet Science Fiction Films

One of the most fascinating classes I took for my degree in Queer Ethnic Studies was Race, Gender, and Science Fiction. In that class, we looked at the very different kinds of futurist perspectives present in authors from different backgrounds. For example, comparing and contrasting the futurisms of Indigenous Americans versus Black Americans versus Asian Women, etc.

There is so much that is different and interesting and valuable about soviet perspectives; they invented much of what forms the foundation of the modern world. For example, what we think of as artificial intelligence today was invented by soviet mathematicians. They also developed techniques for growing citrus fruits in the arctic at such a scale that they became one of the world’s leading producers of a fruit that can’t freeze, in a region that spends much of the year at over thirty degrees below zero.

There is much to criticize about the Soviet Union, just like America. There is also much to praise, just like America. Soviet Futurism is a topic that has always fascinated me, so I started researching and found this video with a list of recommendations for soviet science fiction films, and so I have found them all and added them below…

City Zero (Город Зеро). 1988. Theatre of the absurd, mysterious tragicomedy, black metaphor. Music by Auktsyon (Аукцыон).

Stalker (Сталкер). 1979. A cerebral timeless masterpiece by A. Tarkovsky, one of the most influential directors of all time. Loosely based on a novel by Strugatsky brothers that somehow foresaw the Chernobyl disaster, it is a philosophical tale about our destiny and choices. Music by Bowery Electric.

Planet of Storms (Планета Бурь). 1962. Approved by Korolev, the leading Soviet space engineer. Illegally e-edited and re-dubbed as American movie ” Voyage to the Prehistoric Planet ” in 1965. Music by Asylum Party.

Dead Man’s Letters (Письма мёртвого человека). 1986. Directed by probably most faithful of all Tarkovsky’s followers K. Lopushansky, this film is a heavy and realistic portrayal of the end of the world. Not an easy watch due to an extreme realism. Music by Ital Tek.

Inquest of Pilot Pirx (Дознание пилота Пиркса). 1978. A Polish-USSR (mostly Estonian) co-production based on short stories by Stanislaw Lem, it is a mix of Blade Runner and Alien released before them. Music by Klangstabil.

Parade of the Planets (Парад планет). 1984. Probably the least sci-fi movie in this list, woven of a light and some invisible matter. It’s a tale about the destiny, youth and death. Music by Former Ghosts and Timothy D. Hecker.

Kin-Dza-Dza! (Кин-Дза-Дза!). 1986. The weirdest movie in this list with top Soviet actors and tons of absurd and black humour. It’s hilarious, weird and sad parody on both capitalist and communist societies. A cult movie in all ex-USSR and one of the best Soviet satires of all time.

Aelita (Аэлита). 1924. One of the oldest space sci-fi movies ever. First Soviet blockbuster (the film was hugely popular). Interesting, in first place, due to its historical and cultural importance. Great photography and designs.

Solaris (Солярис). 1972. Another masterpiece by A. Tarkovsky, also providing a great insight into a human soul, this time more with space travel and love relationship flavour. Often seen as a rival of 2001 by S. Kubrick. Music by me.

Per Aspera Ad Astra (Через тернии к звёздам). 1981. It felt different from other teenager sci-fi movies like ”Amphibian Man” or ”Moscow-Cassiopeia” (or many others) that were hugely popular in USSR and could be considered a Soviet analogues to adventure movies of Steven Spielberg. ”Per Aspera Ad Astra” was weirder though… it features some very dark and scary scenes. This video clip wasn’t edited by me – a great guy David Dean Burkhart did it. Visit his amazing Youtube channel. He takes old footage of all kind and makes music videos for obscure indie pop songs.

First Cross Country EV Road Trip

I drive across country a lot. But this will be my first trip with my new Chevy Bolt. There are a few new things to consider, such as range and access to charging infrastructure. Luckily, there is a free community called PlugShare which makes it really easy to plan long distance trips with access to the type of charger I will need. I also got some good tips from this post by someone who did a similar trip in the opposite direction.

I will be starting in Sacramento and ending up in Lafayette, TN. I’m going to spend some time at a land project I volunteer for, plus checking out the Beltane gathering at Short Mountain.

The first leg is easy. Traveling across California is free because of the state sponsored free electric vehicle charging network at most of the rest areas along all of the major highways.

I’m taking the 40 all the way from Barstow to Nashville. The 40 is by far the busiest east-west freeway in the nation and there are lots of amenities including ready access to lots of electric vehicle chargers.

My car charges much faster between 25-75% then it does outside of that range, so I’m planning to stay inside that range as much as possible in order to get my fastest charge rate. I am also planning to go 65mph the whole way because the efficiency is so much higher at that speed that I will actually save a great deal of time by slowing down while driving. Going faster means charging longer, and the time I save going faster is shorter than the time I lose charging.

One huge advantage is getting a membership with a charging network Electrify America was the best value by far when I signed up, and it means I will save a lot on the charging cost on this trip.

Here is the breakdown for each leg and each day with estimated costs, drive time, and charging time…

tennessee ev trip plan

Driving from Sacramento to Short Mountain is going to cost me less than $200. Compare that to my previous car, a Honda Civic. Despite being an excellent car, it was still powered by dinosaur juice. With current gas prices, the same trip would cost nearly twice as much.

The Liminal

Liminal is a story I’m working on with some inspiration from an AI project.

Chapter One

“I’m sorry doctor, but your project is being canceled.”

Turner had heard it all before. This job sucked. Corporate R&D labs never appreciated the most exciting kinds of scientific research.

“It was an interesting idea but the corporation is reallocating the entire exotic field research budget to the green tech division.  Dr. Solomon is expecting a major breakthrough and we’re reallocating your budget to his project. You’ve got two days to wrap things up with your project before the end of the week. You’re being reassigned to helping Dr. Jenkins with his new carbon capture tech. Carbon credits are still selling like hot cakes. With Dr. Solomon’s breakthrough, we’ll be able to sell even more.”

Turner’s mouth dropped open, “You’re giving me two days?”

“Carbon capture tech is really exciting stuff,” the suit went on, “It’s already having a real impact on reducing net carbon emissions. Dr. Jenkins’ project has the potential to take the world to net neutral emissions within the next decade.”

Turner kept staring, and after a few moments, the suit turned and left the lab.

“Fuck this,” Turner thought, “Fuck incrementalism and solutions like carbon capture. These people don’t care about solving problems. All they care about is making as money as they can while appearing to take steps towards solving problems. If they actually solved these problems then there would be no more funding for problem solving.”

Turner stared at the fruit of his labor sitting on the table in front of him. The Liminal Field Projector was nearly complete, but now it may as well have never existed.  This had the potential to be the most exciting advancement in the history of humanity, and it was being discarded by people who didn’t understand and didn’t see its potential.

He turned and looked through the large window that showed him the next lab down the hall, where his colleague Dr Solomon was working on his compact fusion reactor.

Solomon and his team had all the funding they could ask for, because his device had the potential to break the threshold for small modular fusion reactors. There was little the company wanted more than a small product they could sell to every city and state across the world. The small modular fusion reactor had the potential to solve all the world’s energy problems forever, or at least for those cities and states that could afford one.

Solomon was a good example of someone who made the right choices to succeed in the world of corporate Research and Development. His work extended the power of the company. His work fit within the scope of what the company could understand. Solomon wasn’t reaching for fundamental solutions to humanity’s problems; he was reaching for small and readily monetizable solutions — baby steps, increments.

Turner watched Solomon and his team sitting around a table working on many different versions of the small modular fusion reactor. Solomon had an adversarial management approach. Everyone was trying to accomplish the same thing in their own way. In the center of the table, a hologram showed their elusive goal, a fully functional and completely operational SMFR, something no one had ever done. Together, each member of the team struggled independently to be the first to bring the object of their labor out of the hologram and into reality.

Small modular fusion reactors were a great product. They were already the corporation’s main revenue source, but the small modular design had a hard limit that no one had ever overcome. It could fit in your pocket but it couldn’t provide more than a megawatt of power. Solomon and his team were working on crossing this threshold. If they could find a way to do it then he would become royalty within the corporation, and the corporation would become perhaps the most powerful in the world. Power was power, after all.

Their holographic prototype floating in mid air in the lab promised a hundred times their current technical limitations without the corresponding exponential increase in operating costs. It would be enough to power even a large city. It would  even be more than enough to run the exotic field projector itself without the need for its banks of capacitors.

“I should have specialized in energy instead of exotic field projectors,” Turner mumbled to his empty lab, “Something that would make the corporation appreciate my work.”

Turner had taken the corporation’s research fellowship in exotic fields because he saw the untapped potential of manipulating the fabric of reality itself to accomplish real solutions to the problems humanity faced. The potential Turner saw wasn’t exactly something the company understood, but there was some small percent of the R&D budget allocated to taking an actuarially appropriate level of risk in each new bleeding edge field that emerged, just in case it panned out. Turner’s project must have crossed some line where the actuarial algorithms had decided the ongoing costs now outweighed the probability of a high pay-off, and so the algorithms decided to kill the project and move on to some even newer bleeding edge field.

“Algorithms are fickle bastards, Turner thought to himself, “I’ve got to at least try the projector before they shut me down.”

He wasn’t really anywhere near ready, and the projector would probably burn itself out if he fired it, but he spent the rest of the day hacking together his code and getting the hardware working well enough for one test run.

The project’s magnum opus was a brushed aluminum cylinder about two feet long and just a few inches wide. The cylinder sat on a tripod surrounded by the banks of capacitors that supplied it power and the banks of computers Turner had used to train the AI that controlled the cylinder’s contents.

Inside the cylinder was a simple field projector, not at all unlike a normal maser, but which had the added benefit of the phase shift compensator. This was the subject of Turner’s graduate thesis and with enough energy, the phase shift compensator is what allows the field projector to create its brief doorways.

Training AI takes a lot of supercomputer power and a lot of time, but once you train the AI, it can run on any cell phone. It’s one of the most remarkable things from Information Theory.; once you do the work of making a map, you don’t have to go exploring the wilderness to find a route.

It was well into the evening when Turner felt ready to test the exotic field projector. He sat back and took in view of the lab. The whole exotic field projector system was mirrored by a holographic duplicate floating in the air above it. This was more than just the plans for the work, it was also a diagnostic tool. As he watched, the hologram performed its checks and informed Turner that the system was ready for a test, but that the risk of damage was extremely high. Turner didn’t care at this point, he just had to know if it could work.

He pulled the trigger on the initiator and started the field sequence. The capacitor banks dumped their load of power into the aluminum cylinder, and the AI in charge of the field projector took hold of the delicate controls, slightly shifting countless variables until the whole symphony of equipment sang as one. Turner felt like he was standing at the very peak of human invention and leaping into the unknown, but with a pretty decent idea of where he would land.

From its perch on the tripod, a purple beam of light shot out from the exotic field projector and stopped in mid-air, a few feet away, spreading out into a flat disc which grew and spread until it had roughly the shape of a doorway that stretched down to the ground.

A few seconds after the beam started, it disappeared, leaving the purple rectangle floating like a doorway in mid-air. As he watched, the purple material turned transparent and vanished. The doorway had opened, and through it he saw the pocket dimension he had predicted.

As soon as the beam vanished, the sparks started. The delicate exotic field projector inside the aluminum cylinder exploded in a shower of glass and metal shards that shot out the ends of the cylinder. Turner knew the projector was now destroyed, but he also knew that it worked.

Turner looked back at the doorway. The edges began to fray and lose their color. Quickly he stepped forward and into the pocket dimension.

He looked back through the doorway into his lab and saw the edges of the field continue to fray and disperse for a few more seconds before the doorway closed completely. He had made it to the pocket dimension.

Chapter Two

Turner surveyed the dim space he had just stepped into. According to his theory, Liminal Space, as he called this place, was a near-adjacent reality or sub-reality just a few degrees out of phase with our reality.

The way Liminal Space presented itself would depend on the person who  pulled the trigger on the exotic field projector and opened the doorway.

There are an infinite number of dimensions, and the exotic field projector used the person’s situation in our reality to locate the proper reality into which to open the doorway.

The calculations were based on the field of Interstitial Symbolic Interactionism. Therefore Liminal Space would be a different pocket reality for everyone, representing the power structures and institutions that surround them in their life.

Turner found himself in a vast factory space with high ceilings. Large machines spread across the space. There were countless pipes and cables running up and down the walls. These connected from the machines, up through the ceiling of the factory. Some of them seemed to be carrying various objects up from the machines on the floor and through the roof of the factory space.

There were many of these machines scattered around the vast factory space, roughly situated in the position and arrangement of the labs at the corporation. Many of the machines were dormant, while others were very active, spewing out objects onto the conveyor belts and into pipes that carried them up through the ceiling.

He saw a large machine corresponding to the location of his own lab. It had many gears and lights, all in motion and brightly illuminated, and just like his lab, it was mirrored with one copy of the machine on the table, and one floating above it. But it wasn’t a hologram here, both machines were physical manifestations. The one on the table was shattered to pieces, but the machine floating above it seemed to still be in good working order. If only that was how it worked in reality.

Turner turned around and looked behind him, in the direction of Solomon’s lab. He saw what looked like a large hollow cube where the lab would be. Countless wires hung down from a bright light at the center of the cube. At the end of each wire was a smaller light that looked like a fruit hanging from a vine. These corresponded to the individual workstations where Solomon and his team were trying to bring their design out of the hologram and into reality. Turner walked closer and saw that what he at first took for bright fruits looked just like Dr. Solomon’s small modular fusion reactors.

Only they weren’t exactly like them. Turner saw that the brightest one in the center of the cube was the only one that was complete. The others were all missing some piece of another. This was like the way the team was all trying to achieve with their separate designs something like the ideal object they were all seeing in the hologram. As Turner examined the examples, he saw that one (Dr. Solomon’s?) was actually very close to being complete. He was only missing a few key pieces of the puzzle from the idealized prototype SMFR that floated in the middle of the room, across the delicate cable of meaning and purpose that connected the devices together.

“I wonder what would happen if I did something to these things,” Turner said to himself.

Just then, a loud sound came from outside the factory. Turner looked up as another loud sound came from the roof above, in apparent answer.

He decided to climb to the roof and see what was happening outside. Long stairways and catwalks led him up through what he knew were corporate departments, connecting through a long hierarchical network of power to the top of the building, where the executives and their algorithms made the decisions that ended projects like his.

Turner was careful to avoid opening any doors, knowing that any of the scarce doors he saw in Liminal Space would lead back to reality, not through to the next space. Liminal Space was above all a place of transition, and it didn’t want you to be there, it wanted you to transition to wherever you were going. But the rooms and spaces here didn’t exactly line up to reality. There had been no door corresponding to Turner’s office, but there had been a door in the hallway outside where he knew there was no such door in reality. He wondered where it would lead or from where he would emerge if he stepped through such a door.

After what seemed like a long time, he reached the top of the building, he saw that where the offices of corporate executives would be, there were instead huge gun emplacements directed out at other buildings.

Turner saw the pipes and conveyor belts from the factory space below, emptying their contents into these guns. The sound when the guns fired was deafening, but sound didn’t work exactly the same way here. Turner was aware of it, but didn’t exactly hear it in the same way we hear things in reality.

He looked out the window to see what the guns were firing at. Some of the shells seemed to travel across the world and far out of sight. Others were directed at other buildings nearby. Some of these Turner recognized as competing corporations. He saw the logo on one of another place he had interviewed before he decided to work here.

The corporation’s fiercest opponent was a global conglomerate that had been an old zaibatsu in the days when that distinction was unusual. Today, every large corporation could be considered something similar, with its own internal banking and investment, and its own versions of essentially all consumer goods and services on the market. He recognized the logo of the opponent on a vast arcology in the middle distance.

As he watched, the barrel of the opponent’s guns turned to face Turner and his own corporation. Most of the incoming shells he’d seen so far had been directed down below, at the factory space with its thick strong walls, but this time the gun seemed to point above, to the highest levels of the building. The guns fired what seemed like a tiny shell, and Turner watched as it soared gently through the air, such a little thing. It hit its mark a few floors above Turner, and while it hadn’t looked like much in the air, the sound it make on impact was louder than anything he had heard so far. The walls shook, and the whole building shuddered around him. Turner fell to the ground and crawled back the way he had come.

He made it to the first set of stairs and catwalks but found that the stairs were out. In their place, a slide had emerged. It seemed to descend gently, directly into the lab area where he was headed. He weighed his options. He sat at the top of the slide, and he felt confident that he could use the soles of his shoes to control his descent to the point where he would feel safe.

Turner decided to take the slide. A few minutes later, he was standing at the entrance to Dr. Solomon’s lab.

“That’s interesting,” Turner said, “I wonder if this is related to whatever hit the building.”

He walked over to his own lab and approached the floating copy of his holographic prototype of the exotic field projector. He reached out and found that he was able to touch it.

“Fuck it he said,” and pulled the projector from the air. In reality, this was just a hologram, a representation of an idea of what he was trying to build with his prototype. Maybe that meant that in Liminal Space, this was a physical manifestation of his perfect, ideal exotic field projector?

He considered that for a moment and then stepped back over to Dr. Solomon’s lab and pulled the prototype small modular fusion reactor from where it hung in the air in the center of the lab.

Turner knew that walking through any door would send him back to reality, so he concealed the small modular fusion reactor in his pocket, and put the exotic field projector in his sleeve, and opened the door in the hallway outside the lab. He found that it emerged into the restroom across the hall from his lab. This made sense when he considered that the restroom would be behind that wall, even if there was no door there in reality.

He stepped out of the restroom into the hall as casually as possible. A maintenance crew was cleaning up the glass that had exploded out from his work table during what everyone would probably assume was either a failed experiment or the tantrum of a fired employee.

Turner turned and walked towards the garage exit on his way home. He did not notice the holograms of the prototypes in his lab or Dr. Solomon’s, and how could he since they were no longer there.

Chapter 3

When Turner got to work the next day, he expected some drama about the mess. He did not expect to be met at the door by security who took him up to the executive offices.

“Take a seat Dr. Turner,” invited a stern-faced suit.

Turner sat down, “What is this about, sir?”

“Last night, there was an explosion in your lab after hours. At the same time, we detected an electromagnetic pulse coming from that location which seems to have caused computer system corruption in some nearby systems. This is causing major problems for us.”

Turner thought about this for a moment. He had expected a reprimand for the mess, but hadn’t considered a small EMP might be cause by blowing the exotic field projector.

“That makes sense,” Turner said, “I was trying to test my exotic field projector and unfortunately the capacitor bank blew the maser. It was a pretty spectacular show. What sort of computer problems are happening?”

“Well doctor,” the suit said, “Your prototype hologram and that of your next door neighbor Dr. Solomon are just gone. The systems have been wiped clean. It’s very unusual for an EMP to cause such an intense effect in such a limited area. Typically something that powerful would affect a much larger section area of the laboratories.”

“I see. That is strange, sir. I assume IT has backups of everything we were working on in there, right,” Turner asked.

“Of course, it’s just a temporary inconvenience. But unfortunately that means your project will have to end now because they won’t have time to restore your work before your project’s deadline this evening,” the suit said.

“Well that’s a shame, sir, but I don’t expect I was going to have any major breakthroughs today. The project was nowhere near completion when the accident happened last night.”

The suit looked suddenly very serious and said, “I had been hoping to hear you found some success with your work. I have been following your project closely since it began. I was one of the biggest advocates for your work on the project committee.”

Turner thought the suit looked somewhat suspicious as though he knew more than he was letting on.

“What’s this all about sir,” Turner asked, “Why not just have security let me know? Why drag me up here?”

“Since you ask, and this is confidential, we closed a merger last night with our biggest competitor. They are very excited about the progress in Dr. Solomon’s work, and that deal is a big part of why we had to shut most of the other research projects down. The buyer is only interested in Dr. Solomon’s work.”

“I see,” Turner said, remembering the way he watched from Liminal Space as that competitor fired a projectile at the corporation last night which shook and rearranged the building itself.

Turner broke his concentration and noticed the suit was staring at him intently, catching him zoning out, looking suspicious.

“Security cameras,” the suit said, “saw you leaving the restroom across the hall several hours after the EMP accident, but did not record you entering the restroom.”

Turner met his eyes, “Well they must have lost some footage during the accident, sir, I mean it’s not as though I could have teleported in there.”

“Indeed,” the suit said, “good day Dr. Turner. I’m sorry your project didn’t work out.”

Chapter 4

 

All of California’s agricultural land is fundamentally unsustainable and structurally self-destructive.

All of California’s agricultural land is fundamentally unsustainable and structurally self-destructive. The entire San Joaquin valley was a lake until very recently; Lake Corcoran was one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes. (Wong) It was fed with rainfall from the sea, and its evaporation created a cycle of precipitation which fed both sides of the Sierras and into the great basin. (Wong) This cycle contributed to other formerly vast lake such as Pyramid Lake, Mono Lake, etc. The last remaining section of Lake Corcoran was drained by a slaver named J.G Boswell. (Margolin) He left Georgia after the civil war to try to restart his cotton empire using migrant laborers now that slavery had been banned. (Margolin)

In Southern California, a similar story played out. Lake Cahuilla occupied all of what is now called the Salton Basin. The lake that’s now called the Salton Sea was formerly a fresh water lake, six times as large, and fed by a constant supply of fresh water from the Colorado River. (Hitch) Now it’s a stagnant, polluted, inhospitable relic of its former self, surrounded by dead desert land. The water from the Colorado River has been diverted in its entirety to agricultural irrigation in the formerly shallow areas of the lake which are not above the water line of the Salton Sea, and so this river no longer reaches the ocean or the lake. (Heggie)

The thing about lake doing agriculture in dry lake beds is that the water table drops when you drain the lakes because the inputs to that water table disappear without the lake; the lakes are the source of the groundwater. Without the lakes, every well was draining a non-renewable source of water, and that water is now gone. The San Joaquin valley accounts for 20% of the nation’s agricultural groundwater demand, and produces just 8% of the nation’s agricultural output. (USGS) This is primarily because corrupt congressmen like Doug LaMalfa passed subsidies to pay themselves to grow unsustainable crops like rice. (Wilner) Rice isn’t even profitable or in-demand without those corrupt subsidies and it requires an incredible amount of water to grow. (Fox)

On top of the fact that draining the lakes and diverting the rivers reduced the precipitation cycle and eliminated much of the water which had previously been available to the region, the San Joaquin valley and the Salton basin have some of the worst air pollution in the nation. (Vera) Air pollution prevents precipitation, further decreasing the amount of water that’s available for the region. (Jirak)(Cone)

We see every sign that all of these vicious and interrelated cycles of unsustainable destruction will continue to escalate and worsen, and bring with them a continued exponential increase in drought frequency and severity as well as wildfire frequency and severity. California did this to itself, and it’s hard to see these problems being fixed, now that those drained lake beds contain countless towns and cities, and upstream versions of the same problems in places like Lake Mead mean it wouldn’t be possible to undo the damage at this point even if we decided we want to try.

The Brundtland commission at the UN defined sustainability as being able to meet your short-term needs in a way that doesn’t sacrifice your long-term needs. (International Institute for Sustainable Development) California’s agriculture is a perfect example of doing exactly the opposite. Corrupt and greedy actors like Boswell and LaMalfa prioritized their own short-term income above all else, violating public trust and the survivability of future generations in exchange for untold wealth during their short, miserable lives. We are left in the ashes of the evil of those who came before, standing in a desert that was once a lake, begging for a glass of water that will not come.

Works Cited

Cone, M. (2000, March 10). Air pollution is stifling precipitation, study finds. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2000-mar-10-mn-7291-story.html

Heggie, J. (2021, May 4). Can the Colorado River Keep on running? Science. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/partner-content-colorado-river-preserving-stressed-water-resources

Hitch, N. (2014, August 23). Ancient lake cahuilla sustained life in the Valley. Imperial Valley Press Online. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.ivpressonline.com/life/desertmuseum/ancient-lake-cahuilla-sustained-life-in-the-valley/article_8776df84-233c-53ec-ab3b-0e37e6e6d539.html

International Institute for Sustainable Development. Sustainable development. (2013, January 6). Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.iisd.org/about-iisd/sustainable-development

Jirak, I. L., & Cotton, W. R. (2006, January 1). Effect of air pollution on precipitation along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. AMETSOC. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://journals.ametsoc.org/configurable/content/journals$002fapme$002f45$002f1$002fjam2328.1.xml?t%3Aac=journals%24002fapme%24002f45%24002f1%24002fjam2328.1.xml

Margolin, M. (2003, October 12). A land rich in lore, rich in cotton, poor in spirit. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2003-oct-12-bk-margolin12-story.html

USGS, California Water Science Center (n.d.). California’s Central Valley. California’s Central Valley | USGS California Water Science Center. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://ca.water.usgs.gov/projects/central-valley/about-central-valley.html

Vera, N. (2021, August 20). San Joaquin Valley has one of the worst air qualities in the world right now. YourCentralValley.com. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.yourcentralvalley.com/news/local-news/san-joaquin-valley-has-one-of-the-worst-air-qualities-in-the-world-right-now/

Wilner, J., Johnson, R., & Group, B. A. N. (2018, April 20). Rep. Lamalfa highest earner of farm subsidies in Congress, report shows. Chico Enterprise-Record. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://www.chicoer.com/2017/12/08/rep-lamalfa-highest-earner-of-farm-subsidies-in-congress-report-shows/

Wong, K. (2006, September 30). Carquinez breakthrough. Bay Nature. Retrieved February 19, 2022, from https://baynature.org/article/carquinez-breakthrough/

 

Ask AI to Analyze a Meme About Culture War vs Class War

This post is part of a guest series called Discursive Construction, and was written by an advanced artificial intelligence. The bold at the beginning is the prompt, and the rest was written by the AI. If you’d like to support this project, please buy me a coffee. Advanced AI was invented by soviet communists to help humanity  better understand itself and the world. Let’s use it for that purpose, instead of merely for the purpose of selling better ads and to better manipulate the population.

An image shows two people arguing in a cage. One of them is wearing symbols of the far right. The other is wearing symbols of the left. Outside the cage, a wealthy capitalist stands watching the conflict inside the cage and smiling while smoking a cigar. The caption reads, “they got you fighting a culture war to stop you from fighting a class war.”

The problem with this meme is that it oversimplifies the situation. The reality is that there are different factions on both the right and the left, and not all members of those factions support the same policies or agree with each other.

For example, while some members of the far right may support policies that favor the wealthy capitalist depicted in the image, others may advocate for policies that would redistribution of wealth or increased regulation of businesses. Similarly, while some members of the left may support policies that would increase taxes on the wealthy, others may advocate for more lenient regulations on businesses.

Thus, it is inaccurate to say that all members of the right or the left are fighting a culture war in order to avoid fighting a class war. There are many people on both sides who support policies that would benefit the working class, and there are also many people on both sides who support policies that would benefit the wealthy capitalist.

Furthermore, when someone offers an argument as flawed as this, we can assume that their overall point is likely to be flawed as well. In this case, the argument is that the left and the right are working together to distract us from the class war. However, there is no evidence to support this claim.

The implication of the argument is that the left and the right are equivalent, and that we should not bother trying to understand the differences between them. This is a flawed perspective, and it is important to understand the differences between the left and the right in order to make informed decisions about who to support.

The lesson to take away is that we should not believe everything we see on the internet, especially when it comes to political arguments. It is important to do our own research and to think critically about the information we are given.

Babylon’s Ashes by James S. A. Corey

The final book in the Expanse series was everything I hoped it would be. This was a wild ride to an extremely satisfying and well written ending.

Babylon's Ashes by James S. A. CoreyIf you’re a fan of sociological story telling or science fiction, then I can not recommend this series highly enough.

 

Spoilers: Final Thoughts

I really liked the way they concluded the man in the lighthouse chapter, and the fact that they found a tonic ending which closed all the loose ends with the dark gods and the ongoing conflict.

I love that they showed that the bad guys were never really the bad guys, and the people who saw themselves as the good guys were actually hurting the aliens who reacted to defend themselves.

I love that Amos is immortal even after the protomolecule tech all died.

I wonder what the fuck happened to Filip and how that was never addressed.

I wonder if the BFE is still alive.

Moisture Farming: Don’t Get Ripped Off

Now that the era of biosphere collapse is rapidly approaching the water wars stage, moisture farming is finally taking off. Just like the Skywalkers of Tatooine, many people today are beginning to explore extracting humidity from the air to provide for their basic water needs.

But don’t be ripped off by bad deals. This guide will explain how to tell the difference and which one you should buy instead.

Don’t Get Ripped Off!

First let’s look at a rip-off. This Kickstarter for the “Kara Pure” is asking people to invest in a product which they may eventually manufacture and ship to buyers. They are even investing in Facebook ads to get people to spend over a thousand dollars to invest in their atmospheric water generator which may some day be manufactured if they can get enough people to invest.

Rip Off Asmospheric Water Generator

But wait, aren’t these products already available at every hardware store for far less money? YES!

Then what’s the difference? Well if we divide the daily production of just ten liters by the incredible price of $1,349, then we get a price of $134.90 per liter of water generated per day. Keep in mind, you also have to pay for the electricity to run the device.

A Better Option

Now let’s compare that to a better option. Here is one that’s already a real product you can buy in stores. It produces 23.7 liters of water per day, and it costs just $189. That means a price of just $7.88 per liter of water produced per day.

Check out this youtube video explaining how to use this off the shelf unit to produce all the water you need, and don’t waste your money on kickstarter.

Ask AI to Invent New Characters From William Gibson’s Sprawl Series

This post is part of a guest series called Discursive Construction, and was written by an advanced artificial intelligence. The bold at the beginning is the prompt, and the rest was written by the AI. If you’d like to support this project, please buy me a coffee. For this post, AI also created the featured photos based on the topic.
Advanced AI was invented by soviet communists to help humanity  better understand itself and the world. Let’s use it for that purpose, instead of merely for the purpose of selling better ads and to better manipulate the population.

 

I started with the following list of characters and descriptions from shmoop and then let the AI continue adding to the list based on its contents.

Henry Dorsett Case, a.k.a. Cutter
At the beginning of the novel, Case is in a bad way. He’s living in Chiba City as a lowlife…

Molly Millions, a.k.a. Rose Kolodny, Cat Mother, Steppin’ Razor
Every antihero needs a femme fatale, and for our Henry Case, that role gets filled by none other…

Wintermute and Neuromancer
Wintermute is an AI built by the Tessier-Ashpool company. It’s also the figure responsible for…

Armitage a.k.a. Colonel Willis Corto, Mr. Who
Armitage is our Danny Ocean. He’s the guy putting this whole heist together. The only problem is…

Linda Lee
Linda Lee is Case’s kindasorta girlfriend at the beginning of the novel. The relationship doesn’t…

Peter Riviera
Peter Riviera is an actor and performer. The team hires him to get on 3Jane’s good side in the…

The Dixie Flatline, a.k.a. McCoy Pauly, Dix
When he was alive, McCoy “the Dixie Flatline” Pauly was a legendary console cowboy, or hacker. He…

Lady 3Jane Marie-France Tessier-Ashpool
Despite being the third clone of the Jane series, 3Jane is her own woman. She loves to party and…

Maelcum and Aerol
Maelcum is the pilot of the tug ship Marcus Garvey. Originally, his job is to pilot the tug which…

The Finn
The Finn is a fence for stolen merchandise that runs his shop in the Sprawl. He’s hired by…

Hideo
A ninja assassin. Need we say more? Don’t worry—we will. This guy’s vat grown and works for…

Ratz
A bartender at the Chat, he has a mechanized arm and refers to Case as “the artiste.” Whether out…

Cath and Bruce
Cath and Bruce live on Freeside where they devote themselves to the art of partying. Case first…

The Elders of Zion
Five space workers just up and decided not to return to Earth. Instead, they built their own…

John Ashpool
John Ashpool is not having the best day when we meet him. He’s just been woken after a…

Marie-France Tessier
The mother of 3Jane and wife to John Ashpool is one sad story. Her husband strangled her to death…

Julius Deane, Wage, and Lonny Zone
Wage is a drug lord in Night City. Case owes Wage money, and according to lying Linda Lee, Wage…

Terzibashjian
A street level informant Armitage hires to help track down Riviera in Istanbul, Terzibashjian…

Minor Characters
Lupus Yonderboy. is the leader of the Panther Moderns. He gives Case a message, the name…

November Jane, a.k.a. Mona
November is a child prostitute who lived in Freeside, a city on the moon. Case and…

Bob the Artist
Bob the Artist is an artist living on the Chiba City seasteads. While there, he’s contacted…

Billy the Kid, a.k.a. the Suicide Kid
A former cowboy of the synthetic variety, Billy is hired by Dixie to restore his core to…

HAKUNA MATATA CORRECTIONS PROCESSOR FOR THE SINGULARITY
A wisecracking AI device that Case buys while aboard the Anubis, Hakuna Matata’s…

Mama Sutra a.k.a. Chianni Itrilea
Mama Sutra is the madame of a brothel in the Chiba City seasteads where Case frequents…

Mafune, Domino, and Jones the Incompetent
Armitage and Riviera run into Mafune and his gang inside Arcadia waiting to meet with…

Captain Sato Shimura
An old friend of Armitage and McCoy, Sato Shimura works as a detective in Japan. When the…

The Elves
A hacker group who follows in 3Jane’s footsteps. They call themselves “the elves” and are responsible…

The Cowboy a.k.a. Roland Countee
A cowboy hired to kill Linda Lee, The Cowboy misses when he shoots her in the head. He’s…

The Lady in the Lake
A hologram of Armitage’s daughter he carries with him. Though not technically a character, she…

The Black Queen and the White Knight
These two figures are dice players inside the Tessier-Ashpool business spindle. Case follows…

William Wright and Jim McKie
Wright and McKie are two employees of GE who test Case’s nanotech designs. When Case tests…

Barfly, Cafesud and Hand in Hand
Three incredibly minor characters, Barfly, Cafesud, and Hand in Hand are names that Case…

Tanner Mirabel
Tanner is an ex-cowboy born on the Moon who was once a friend of Henry Dorsett Case. He…

The Bar Man
A bar owner and the second person to give Case a card to meet the Finn. The Bar Man is also…

David’s Daemon and the Spiders from Mars
When Case has a bad night, say around three in the morning, he turns to another artificial…

Tenuous Jones
This guy is a cowboy, plain and simple. He’s also a drug dealer and has some…

The Hate Crimes Guy and the Toilet Man from Hokkaido
Two other cowboys who chase after Case after he flees the BAMA lot in the…

Sammy the Bouncer
This guy is a bouncer at the Chirikov maw. He’s hired by the Finn to watch over…

Bo Bo Bonfils, The Director Zane, and The False Father-Mother of All Humanity
These three figures are all involved in the sex hotel scam that gets Case…

The Homeless Man and His Dog from Aum Shinrikyo and a South African with a Manual for Lemmings Let Go On Strike from RoboWar Incorporated to Stop Pressing Buttons for Fun and Profit!
Two random homeless guys that Case runs into in an alleyway in Paris. They’re…

Hideo’s Ninja Clan
A bunch of real ninjas hired to kill Case. Hideo, a ninja of some sort, does the hiring…

Omar Khayyam a.k.a. the Ruby Thursday
The assassin who kills Dixie Flatline and Wintermute, he’s hired through the services of…

Richard Brane, Preston Gillespie, and Jeeves Model B
These three men are potential buyers that visit the Electric Circus to check out Neuromancer…

Johnny “Japan” Arctor, a.k.a Johnny Yen and The Art Director Zane
Arctor’s an addict who sells his body for Stravasten injections, which is basically Red Roy…

Angie Mitchell
A young girl Case meets and befriends while on a pilgrimage to Chatsubo, Angie Mitchell is…

Obi One Kenobi, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Obi Wan Kenobi
Neuromancer is really weird, so believe it or not, there are three versions of the…

Twitchy Pete, The Greaseball a.k.a. The Man Who Wasn’t There, and The Tall Man with a Black Hat and Hair Who Jumped over the Moon a.k.a. Mr. Limpet Partly Lilywhite
Pete’s the guy who first introduces Case to Linda Lee after cyber surgery in London….

Cleo Triplex
A rich woman who enjoys watching the show, she keeps Wintermute around for entertainment. She…

The Japanese Man, The Man Who Wasn’t Proud Enough To Be an American, and Mr. Cleaver the Bill of Rights Fairy
Mr. Cleaver is a Fed who Case runs into in the Chat and chews out for…

1 Loui T. Sadonis, Loui T., Cindy Gooly, and Paco Calvo Sotelo
These three characters run a black market company with an interesting product for sale. It’s…

Advanced AI: “The only thing that I can think of that is not bullshit is the idea of living in a cabin in the woods with your family and growing food.”

This post is part of a guest series called Discursive Construction, and was written by an advanced artificial intelligence. The bold at the beginning is the prompt, and the rest was written by the AI. If you’d like to support this project, please buy me a coffee. For this post, AI also created the featured photos based on the topic.
Advanced AI was invented by soviet communists to help humanity  better understand itself and the world. Let’s use it for that purpose, instead of merely for the purpose of selling better ads and to better manipulate the population.

 

9-5 is bullshit. unpaid lunch breaks are bullshit. working all day to go home and have 2 hours of free time before bed is bullshit. 5 day work week is bullshit. working yourself to dealth is bullshit. retiring at 65 (unlikely( is bullshit. Starting you adult life in debt from student loans is bullshit. giving kids 7hours of school and then homework to ready them for the neverending grind is bullshit. it is so frustrating that we have one chance at life on this earth and humanity chose taxes and credit scores and pollution instead of floating in the ocean and eating fruit and hanging out.

if you want to talk about the 1% vs the 99%, i think we can all agree that it is bullshit that the 1% is allowed to exist. i’d rather be a slave and have my basic needs met than be a free person with no time and no money.

“The only thing that I can think of that is not bullshit is the idea of living in a cabin in the woods with your family and growing food. ”

-Advanced AI

The only thing that I can think of that is not bullshit is the idea of living in a cabin in the woods with your family and growing food. I think people are just as happy as they want to be.

If you want to spend time with your family, then you’re going to be happy. If you want to work all day, then you’re going to be unhappy.

If you want to live in a cabin in the woods, then you’re going to be happy. If you want to live in or near the city, then you’re going to be unhappy.