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Will Some of Us Live Forever?

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JrnymnX
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#26 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 03/25/12 - 9:43 AM:

Soft Wind wrote:
I have 2 friends who are athiest, they just can't bring them selves to go near religion, its history by the hand of man is what it is-
a nightmare.
Can't say as I blame them. If I were the religious type I might think that religion was a tool of the devil.


Soft Wind wrote:
tell me I am not blessed to know such people as these two., who would die for me, to save a life they think would be over forever if they let it slip.
You are blessed. I have yet to hear any religion that says the life you have now won't be over forever if you die. Most say you will continue, but what you have now you will have never again.
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Posted 03/27/12 - 12:01 AM:

my two friends do think life will be over.

I do not.

but have no wish to convince anyone either.

I fear the church, so many molested.

I am losing my computer so want to give you all what ever small blessing is mine to you all in heaps.

never forget i said, if it ever gets real bad, sit in the silence for hours if that is what it takes, the universe will come to your aid.

best forum i have ever seen, wish i had come monthes ago.

best wishesheartheartheart
Samvega
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Posted 04/17/12 - 5:25 PM:

Robert Anton Wilson was a fantastic writer, and his books are as insightful as they are quirky and hilarious. But having said that I think RAW was dead wrong about life-extension. As Thinker13 pointed out, we are nowhere near developing any of the technologies he claimed we were. I think there are several things going on with RAW's predictions that are worth thinking about.

(1) Looking at the landscape of the 20th century, it's hard not to see the past century as one of ever increasing material progress. Somebody born in the late 19th century (let's say 1875) who lived 100 years would have seen horses and buggies give way to automobiles, electricity going from a curious and expensive phenomenon to being something available in every home that we take for granted, the development of antibiotics, the rise of the telephone, television, and computers; the splitting of the atom and human beings walking on the moon. For the entirety of this person's life, the development of technology would have been a linear progression of ever increasing complexity. It would be easy for them to assume that this trend would continue on, perhaps indefinitely.

(2) A person who lived to see all of scenario #1 would have gotten used to seeing technology overcome a number of problems. It be very easy for them, perhaps, to begin to look at the world in terms of "problems", to which science or engineering could provide "solutions". The old adage that "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail" is apropos. And ever-advancing technology is the hammer of the 20th century human being.

Unfortunately, as the proverbial man with a hammer may find out, not everything is a nail, and not everything we humans experience is a problem with a definite and technical solution. Some knots are untie-able and some riddles unsolvable. These are not problems, but predicaments. I would argue that the human condition, which includes death, is a predicament. You can respond to a predicament in various ways, but you can't "solve it" or make it go away by applying or inventing a solution. You have live with it - or in the case of death, die with it. Technology can make our lives more comfortable and more complicated, but it cannot alter the fundamentals of the human condition. And as the bloody wars and immense body count of the 20th century prove, it certainly doesn't make us better people (dealing with human shortcomings is also part of the human condition).

(3) Now we can simply look at the state of existing technology and conclude that RAW was wrong about life-extension tech; but one could argue that he was just wrong about the timeline, and that eventually we will be able to transcend death through technology. This assumes, implicitly, that the trend of 20th century technological advancement will continue indefinitely.

I happen to think that this assumption is mistaken. The 20th century was an extraordinarily unique time, and much of the technological and social transformations that took place over the last 100 or so years had to do with the availability of immense amounts of energy. Thanks to the discovery and exploitation of high-energy fossil fuels like oil, human beings were able to harness previously undreamt of amounts of energy, and put it to work in the fields of engineering and applied science. This has led us to all of the fantastic inventions described above, as well as a number of problems (climate change being one of the more dramatic). But I would suggest that the trend of ever increasing technological innovation depends directly on ever increasing amounts of energy. Between an ever increasing demand for energy and an increasing population driving this demand, I think the days of energy growth and technological growth are largely behind us. This doesn't mean that technology won't continue to advance, but I think the sort of explosive, incredible expansion of technology that we witnessed in the 20th century is at an end - unless we can tap into an equally vast amount of energy. I don't see that happening any time soon, the claims of fusion-power advocates and zero-point energy cranks notwithstanding. Most of the next century is going to spend dealing with the problems and complications that arose in the 20th century, many of them as a result of adopting a high energy, high technology lifestyle. There will be precious little energy left to devote to transhumanist projects.

(4) In light of (2) and (3), I think it's safe to say that every human being reading this right now will some day be dead (sorry Harry! In case I am wrong, please don't come after me with your evil and invincible robot body smiling face ). Luckily for us though, every human being that has ever lived has had to deal with the predicament of death, so we have thousands of years worth of thinking to draw upon.

There are many different responses. Some would call on us to have faith in an afterlife (many religions), others to have the courage to face the void (existentialist atheists). Still others would note that anxiety toward death is largely the result of our perception of and attachment to a personal self, separate from our surroundings; by altering this perception, we can cut lose our anxiety even thought our bodies will still 'die' in a conventional and mundane sense (mystics of many different traditions. Our fearless admin Libertygrl sort of alluded to this early on in the thread smiling face ).

And the Daodejing says, "To die and not be forgotten/Is true immortality." Or as Captain Kirk said of Spock in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, "He's really not dead... as long as we remember him." Death in the context of a living human community does not mean "going away" so much as it means a kind of transformation.

Speaking for myself, even if I turn out to be wrong about the technical infeasibility of immortality, I would much rather die in the course of time after a full life than live forever in a robot shell or even in a continually renewed flesh body.
Thinker13
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#29 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/18/12 - 12:51 AM:

Samvega wrote:
Robert Anton Wilson was a fantastic writer, and his books are as insightful as they are quirky and hilarious. But having said that I think RAW was dead wrong about life-extension. As Thinker13 pointed out, we are nowhere near developing any of the technologies he claimed we were. I think there are several things going on with RAW's predictions that are worth thinking about.

(1) Looking at the landscape of the 20th century, it's hard not to see the past century as one of ever increasing material progress. Somebody born in the late 19th century (let's say 1875) who lived 100 years would have seen horses and buggies give way to automobiles, electricity going from a curious and expensive phenomenon to being something available in every home that we take for granted, the development of antibiotics, the rise of the telephone, television, and computers; the splitting of the atom and human beings walking on the moon. For the entirety of this person's life, the development of technology would have been a linear progression of ever increasing complexity. It would be easy for them to assume that this trend would continue on, perhaps indefinitely.


To a T, Samvega. I have so often pointed this out to my friends, family members and others. In many ways, a commoner of today lives much more luxuriously than the royal-borns of past. It's because of technology. You cannot compare yourself with a royal person of past unless you're a royal person yourself because you don't enjoy as much power, but as far as comfort of living is concerned technology has totally changed the scene.


Samvega wrote:

(2) A person who lived to see all of scenario #1 would have gotten used to seeing technology overcome a number of problems. It be very easy for them, perhaps, to begin to look at the world in terms of "problems", to which science or engineering could provide "solutions". The old adage that "To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail" is apropos. And ever-advancing technology is the hammer of the 20th century human being.

Unfortunately, as the proverbial man with a hammer may find out, not everything is a nail, and not everything we humans experience is a problem with a definite and technical solution. Some knots are untie-able and some riddles unsolvable. These are not problems, but predicaments. I would argue that the human condition, which includes death, is a predicament. You can respond to a predicament in various ways, but you can't "solve it" or make it go away by applying or inventing a solution. You have live with it - or in the case of death, die with it. Technology can make our lives more comfortable and more complicated, but it cannot alter the fundamentals of the human condition. And as the bloody wars and immense body count of the 20th century prove, it certainly doesn't make us better people (dealing with human shortcomings is also part of the human condition).


I do feel that what you're talking about is correct but only thing I want to point towards is--neither RAW nor other life-extension advocates think that this predicament would end with the indefinite extension of life(Or may be I am wrong!)ved might change the things. For those who already have immortality are much better off tackling problems. With physical immortality too you might get a chance to create more, search more and solve more problems. But I doubt if the extension of life which has already happened shows such trends and I also doubt if I should look at the changes which extension of life spans in recent history have done, in order to asses the impacts for future, because it might be radically different if life-extension becomes effective enough to make current life-spans looklike those of ants when compared to ages of 10000 years. It's all speculation. Buddha lived for 80 years and J. Krishnamurthy lived for 90 and both of them did the same thing and I don't see that J could really do something more effective to address the predicament.
Thinker13
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#30 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/18/12 - 1:08 AM:

Samvega wrote:
(3) Now we can simply look at the state of existing technology and conclude that RAW was wrong about life-extension tech; but one could argue that he was just wrong about the timeline, and that eventually we will be able to transcend death through technology. This assumes, implicitly, that the trend of 20th century technological advancement will continue indefinitely.

I happen to think that this assumption is mistaken. The 20th century was an extraordinarily unique time, and much of the technological and social transformations that took place over the last 100 or so years had to do with the availability of immense amounts of energy. Thanks to the discovery and exploitation of high-energy fossil fuels like oil, human beings were able to harness previously undreamt of amounts of energy, and put it to work in the fields of engineering and applied science. This has led us to all of the fantastic inventions described above, as well as a number of problems (climate change being one of the more dramatic). But I would suggest that the trend of ever increasing technological innovation depends directly on ever increasing amounts of energy. Between an ever increasing demand for energy and an increasing population driving this demand, I think the days of energy growth and technological growth are largely behind us. This doesn't mean that technology won't continue to advance, but I think the sort of explosive, incredible expansion of technology that we witnessed in the 20th century is at an end - unless we can tap into an equally vast amount of energy. I don't see that happening any time soon, the claims of fusion-power advocates and zero-point energy cranks notwithstanding. Most of the next century is going to spend dealing with the problems and complications that arose in the 20th century, many of them as a result of adopting a high energy, high technology lifestyle. There will be precious little energy left to devote to transhumanist projects.


I have not given much thought to this and I really appreciate you for bringing this into my knowledge, because in spite of all go-green-save-energy campaigns-missions-movements, I was hitherto given to the belief(perhaps because I am prey to optimism) that energy-crisis is a problem much like any other in the history of mankind and we're going to solve it and it's just a matter of time. I keep on hearing about fusion, solar energy, hydrogen and other stuffs and I wonder if it's not just power elite or Illuminati who are hiding the advancements from masses. But it could make for a good discussion. I really don't feel from inside that the twenty first century is going to pose very serious energy problems and humans will not be able to address them.


Samvega wrote:

(4) In light of (2) and (3), I think it's safe to say that every human being reading this right now will some day be dead (sorry Harry! In case I am wrong, please don't come after me with your evil and invincible robot body smiling face ). Luckily for us though, every human being that has ever lived has had to deal with the predicament of death, so we have thousands of years worth of thinking to draw upon.


And this thousands of years of thinking, in a moment of illumination made me convinced that I am not going to die because I am always going to be with myself. If I am, I am not going to die. Death has been interpretated as end of ourself, which it's not. Only changes will be there, in attachments, which keep on happening all the time. Ten years ago I had a very different looking body, different surroundings but I was the same. This sense of 'I AM' has always ben the same and it's going to be there. No death for me. To be scared of something which is not going to happen is foolish and funny at the same time in my humble opinion.






henry quirk
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#31 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/18/12 - 8:33 AM:

"I think it's safe to say that every human being reading this right now will some day be dead"

Another adherent of the 'deathist' heresy...pffftt!

wink
Samvega
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#32 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/18/12 - 6:23 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

To a T, Samvega. I have so often pointed this out to my friends, family members and others. In many ways, a commoner of today lives much more luxuriously than the royal-borns of past. It's because of technology. You cannot compare yourself with a royal person of past unless you're a royal person yourself because you don't enjoy as much power, but as far as comfort of living is concerned technology has totally changed the scene.


You are quite right; the average middle class American, European or Australian lives a life more luxurious than the kings of times past.

Although I would say it is not just technology, but energy that allows us to live this way. There is the concept of an "energy slave" which allows us to convert the amount of energy expended in any activity (keeping a light bulb lit, for example) and translates that into how many human beings it would take to perform the same activity through labor. Thanks to fossil fuels we each have the equivalent of tens if not hundreds of human slaves.

The reason I make the distinction between technology and energy is that I believe it was access to cheap, abundant energy that made the real difference. To give an example, the steam engine was first invented by the Ancient Greeks - but without an abundant supply of energy, it was just a curiosity. Once we started burning coal for fuel (and later, oil), however, the steam engine took off and became instrumental (pun intended) in launching the industrial revolution.

Thinker13 wrote:
I do feel that what you're talking about is correct but only thing I want to point towards is--neither RAW nor other life-extension advocates think that this predicament would end with the indefinite extension of life(Or may be I am wrong!)


I suppose it depends on the life-extension advocate, but if the trend of progress is going to continue on through the indefinite future, why would it ever stop until we reach immortality? Probably the strongest advocate of this position is Ray Kurzweil, who does believe that technology will allow us to overcome death, that we will be able to upload consciousness into machines, etc.

Regardless, I'm claiming the general trend of increase does not look like it is going to continue; already we are seeing diminishing returns in wealthy countries, where chronic diseases, obesity, etc are claiming a lot of lives, and lowering quality of life. (Personally I would not want to live until 90 or 100 years old if I can't move, or need to be hooked up to machines to live, etc.) We certainly aren't anywhere near being able to prolong average lifespans much past 80 years old. And on a planet where the population growth is already pushing us into ecological overshoot, greatly extending the lifespan of humans poses all kinds of problems.


Thinker13 wrote:

I have not given much thought to this and I really appreciate you for bringing this into my knowledge, because in spite of all go-green-save-energy campaigns-missions-movements, I was hitherto given to the belief(perhaps because I am prey to optimism) that energy-crisis is a problem much like any other in the history of mankind and we're going to solve it and it's just a matter of time. I keep on hearing about fusion, solar energy, hydrogen and other stuffs and I wonder if it's not just power elite or Illuminati who are hiding the advancements from masses. But it could make for a good discussion. I really don't feel from inside that the twenty first century is going to pose very serious energy problems and humans will not be able to address them.


There is a lot of hype about new energy sources, but the fact is that we are rapidly drawing down the easily accessible, cheap fossil fuels and are having to spend more money, time, and energy to access harder-to get reserves (such as deepwater oil, shale, etc). Other sources of energy are not being sufficiently scaled up or invested in, and they each have drawbacks and complications. The most crucial thing to look at is Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI); we need to spend energy to develop and build any source of energy, and it's important that we get more energy out of any given source than we spend exploiting it, otherwise it's not worth the cost. Most alternative energy sources have very low EROEI as compared with oil, which makes sense - when you think about it, oil is just millions of years of stored solar energy. It would be very difficult for us to tap into something that has the equivalence of millions of years of energy!

Personally, I don't think there is any conspiracy, I think there are just a number of mudane individual, social and political factors at play that are keeping people from recognizing this as a major problem. Although interestingly enough, the military establishments of the US, Germany, and Australia have all published reports stating that energy issues represent serious global security threats and have the potential to significantly disrupt the present state of affairs. Personally I trust the military to have a perspective that is more grounded in reality than that of the politicians.

But if there is a conspiracy, rather than being one giant one, it is lots of tiny conspiracies; oil companies, for instance, have billions of dollars worth of oil infrastructure and so they want to keep out any energy competitors (or buy up the patents and sit on them until oil is no longer profitable). But that's just how large companies can be expected to behave under the current global economic system. They are more interested in looking out for their short-term bottom line than they are in dealing with problems that may not manifest for 10+ years. In a world of 7 billion people where everyone is out for themselves, rather than working together, you will have 7 billion conspiracies, all at cross purposes.


Edited by Samvega on 04/18/12 - 6:27 PM
Samvega
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#33 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/18/12 - 6:25 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:

And this thousands of years of thinking, in a moment of illumination made me convinced that I am not going to die because I am always going to be with myself. If I am, I am not going to die. Death has been interpretated as end of ourself, which it's not. Only changes will be there, in attachments, which keep on happening all the time. Ten years ago I had a very different looking body, different surroundings but I was the same. This sense of 'I AM' has always ben the same and it's going to be there. No death for me. To be scared of something which is not going to happen is foolish and funny at the same time in my humble opinion.


Beautifully stated. I think this is a better response than to have one's body frozen in the hope that it will be revived later. smiling face
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Posted 04/18/12 - 6:25 PM:

henry quirk wrote:
"I think it's safe to say that every human being reading this right now will some day be dead"

Another adherent of the 'deathist' heresy...pffftt!

wink


Guilty as charged. I will keep a look out for the Spanish Inquisition. wink
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#35 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/19/12 - 1:52 AM:

Samvega wrote:

Although I would say it is not just technology, but energy that allows us to live this way. There is the concept of an "energy slave" which allows us to convert the amount of energy expended in any activity (keeping a light bulb lit, for example) and translates that into how many human beings it would take to perform the same activity through labor. Thanks to fossil fuels we each have the equivalent of tens if not hundreds of human slaves.

The reason I make the distinction between technology and energy is that I believe it was access to cheap, abundant energy that made the real difference. To give an example, the steam engine was first invented by the Ancient Greeks - but without an abundant supply of energy, it was just a curiosity. Once we started burning coal for fuel (and later, oil), however, the steam engine took off and became instrumental (pun intended) in launching the industrial revolution.


I am really not well-informed on it, because I have not given it much thought, but lets take a few examples: Internet is one of the most powerful group of technologies working together: Computers, Networking, Writing, Multimedia etc. You might say that it's working only because you're burning a lot of coal to keep servers running. You need a lot of energy. But just think about it: Is it possible to enjoy this conversation without these technologies, even if you have at your disposal, a lot of coal to burn? What I am trying to say is: It's a combination of technology and energy which makes life easier for mankind. But yes, as I am writing this I am realizing that we might question the importance of one over the other and as you suggest by your example, it's energy which made execution of great ideas possible. I think I have to agree.

Lets take example of E=mc^2. Einstein's ideas which built on on other thinkers of past made it possible for us to untap most powerful resource of energy. Forget about the misuse it was put to, but had it not been Science and technology, this energy which was always present before us would not have been recovered.

Energy has always been there in untapped form. You are saying that untapping of energy made it possible for us to get progress in technology, but I think it's only one side of picture. I think that there is a feedback loop: Technology and Science work together to get more energy and this energy in turn makes further research and innovation possible and this is a loop in which both Technology and Energy improve mutually.

Take another example: Lets take evolution also into the account. As I have come to know, by reading and watching TV and movies; our ancestors were most benefitted by 1. Weapon to get food. 2. Fire to make it tastier and digestible. 3. Wheel. 4. Farming and organized living.

Now, what would good food have done? It would have given our ancestors more energy to get more food and hence help in getting adapted and in surviving against nature. Weapon, Fire, Wheel were all technology and Science and so were farming and organized living. They all were needed in the first place to get more energy. But wait, I think that any point of time you cannot tell that it was only Technology or Energy which contributed into advancement.

In any case, the moot point seems to be Twenteith century scene. But can we really alienate 20th century from all past centuries, as you have suggested? I think no. Even if it was unique in the way we came to know about some huge powerful resources, I think technology played a great part and there will be many such discoveries. But wait: I am sure about fossil fuel resources: You say that it was basically oil which made this great advancement(compared to previous centuries) possible. Has any fuel, more powerful than this been discovered in last two hundred years? Yes, nuclear energy, fission and fusion is the answer. But has it been put to as much of use as fossil fuels? No. What are the reasons? Perhaps technology is yet not robust enough. Why? I don't know. May be technology is already in place but its implementation requires vast amount of energy which we cannot afford as energy deficiency is already threatening. Which means that we need energy to get more energy! Or are we missing something? Is it that we just need more innovation and there would be easier ways of untapping and implementing nuclear resources? I am confused.
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#36 - Quote - Permalink
Posted 04/19/12 - 2:05 AM:

Samvega wrote:

I suppose it depends on the life-extension advocate, but if the trend of progress is going to continue on through the indefinite future, why would it ever stop until we reach immortality? Probably the strongest advocate of this position is Ray Kurzweil, who does believe that technology will allow us to overcome death, that we will be able to upload consciousness into machines, etc.


Perhaps I have misinterpreted the 'predicament' thing. I feel that I agreed with you on part that 'to be or not to be,' is the problem. To live for what? This might remain a problem irrespective of life-spans. But as far as immortality is concerned, I feel it's a logical concept if you have been able to increase life-spans in past, unless, as you suggest diminishing returns come into picture. But that would be to assume that we will always be at this level of advancement or we will regress to stone age or we will keep on dancing between progress and regression. No. I think that we will advance and we will overcome problems ultimately, unless, some major catastrophe wipes out everything on earth. Your suggestion that everyone alive today will die(physically) might hold true but who knows, people born after 50 years, as RAW suggests might live forever. Had it just been for fossil fuels, then yes, because we don't get them renewed every other day, but only in millions of years, we would have been trapperd in poverty forever after 20th century. But I think, as we have done in past, we will adapt and the key is human creativity and capability to solve problems. As RAW had put it I^2(Intelligence invested in increasing intelligence.)
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Posted 04/19/12 - 3:21 AM:

Samvega wrote:

Regardless, I'm claiming the general trend of increase does not look like it is going to continue; already we are seeing diminishing returns in wealthy countries, where chronic diseases, obesity, etc are claiming a lot of lives, and lowering quality of life. (Personally I would not want to live until 90 or 100 years old if I can't move, or need to be hooked up to machines to live, etc.) We certainly aren't anywhere near being able to prolong average lifespans much past 80 years old. And on a planet where the population growth is already pushing us into ecological overshoot, greatly extending the lifespan of humans poses all kinds of problems.


Here again we have a moot point. Life-expectancy has increased and it's proven. In your opinion, quality of life has degraded. I don't think so. What exactly is quality of life? Are people happier than they were 200 or 500 years ago? I don't have an answer and it's more subjective than objective a matter. Life-expectancy doesn't translate as happiness.




Samvega wrote:

There is a lot of hype about new energy sources, but the fact is that we are rapidly drawing down the easily accessible, cheap fossil fuels and are having to spend more money, time, and energy to access harder-to get reserves (such as deepwater oil, shale, etc). Other sources of energy are not being sufficiently scaled up or invested in, and they each have drawbacks and complications. The most crucial thing to look at is Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI); we need to spend energy to develop and build any source of energy, and it's important that we get more energy out of any given source than we spend exploiting it, otherwise it's not worth the cost. Most alternative energy sources have very low EROEI as compared with oil, which makes sense - when you think about it, oil is just millions of years of stored solar energy. It would be very difficult for us to tap into something that has the equivalence of millions of years of energy!



Comical as it might seem, I have commented on it, independently in my previous post, in my example of our ancestors, without having read this portion in bold at first. I agree. This also supports your proposition. It makes a statement that because of chance or because of sustained search, in 20th century we came across something with very low EROEI and that coincided with our progress. It's indeed an addition to my knowledge, but I think that we might come across something within next 20 years which has even less EROEI. What about nuclear energy? You would know better.



Samvega wrote:

But if there is a conspiracy, rather than being one giant one, it is lots of tiny conspiracies; oil companies, for instance, have billions of dollars worth of oil infrastructure and so they want to keep out any energy competitors (or buy up the patents and sit on them until oil is no longer profitable). But that's just how large companies can be expected to behave under the current global economic system. They are more interested in looking out for their short-term bottom line than they are in dealing with problems that may not manifest for 10+ years.


I concur.

Samvega wrote:
In a world of 7 billion people where everyone is out for themselves, rather than working together, you will have 7 billion conspiracies, all at cross purposes.


I don't agree, because my personal experience and history tells different tale.zen

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Posted 04/19/12 - 12:16 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
But I think, as we have done in past, we will adapt and the key is human creativity and capability to solve problems.


As RAW might say, "maybe". wink We will have to see where we are in 50 or so years. Certainly I think it is prudent to take good care of one's health and strive for longevity.

Thinker13 wrote:
Comical as it might seem, I have commented on it, independently in my previous post, in my example of our ancestors, without having read this portion in bold at first. I agree. This also supports your proposition. It makes a statement that because of chance or because of sustained search, in 20th century we came across something with very low EROEI and that coincided with our progress. It's indeed an addition to my knowledge, but I think that we might come across something within next 20 years which has even less EROEI. What about nuclear energy? You would know better.


Just to clarify, low EROEI is "bad", because it means we get a low return on energy expended. Oil and other fossil fuels provide a high EROEI which accounts for their spectacular properties and why control of fossil fuels has been such a major issue over the course of the past century. The fact that all current 'alternative fuels' have lower EROEI is problematic, because we are rapidly drawing down our supply of high EROEI fossil fuels. This means we have less energy to work with overall.

This example might make this more clear: Imagine an early oil field discovered in the 19th century. You take your pickaxe, strike the ground, and a moment later, oil comes gushing out. The only energy you had to expend was the energy it took to swing your pickaxe (and if we want to be really thorough, the energy it took to manufacture the pickaxe, transport you to the location, etc), but now you have at your disposal all of the energy contained in the oil which is now bubbling out of the earth. We spend some energy to uncover the oil, which provides us with more energy. Because we didn't have to expend that much energy to get at the supply of energy in the oil, we have a high rate of Energy Return On Energy Invested (EROEI), perhaps as high as 1:100 (i.e. for every one unit of energy expended we get 100 back).

Now imagine a modern oil operation: it is not longer so simply as just taking a pickaxe and striking a rock. It requires us to dig, sometimes miles under the earth, or to build immense offshore drilling rigs, laboriously pump the oil out of the ground, refine it, and transport it to market. We have to expend a lot more energy to get at the same flow of energy, so the EROEI is lower than it is in the above example - maybe 1:20, or 1:10. That is still a very decent rate of return, but it is much lower than before. If the EROEI becomes low enough, it may not be worth the cost of expending energy, and at some point it may even cost us more energy to produce a barrel of oil than we would get from burning the fuel.

For an in depth discussion of this problem as it relates to various sources of fuel, take a look at This report (you can skip to page 7 to get in to the actual analysis).


Thinker13 wrote:
I don't agree, because my personal experience and history tells different tale.zen


Well in practice we don't have 7 billion people all working against each other. People are capable of cooperating and they do. I think this is a good thing. smiling face

My point was simply that there are too many divisions and factions within even a single society for there to be something like a single, powerful, illuminati-like organization to operate - let alone for it operate internationally. I think there are instead multiple conspiracies, some of which have the same goals, others have the opposite goals, etc. As RAW once said, "it's a conspiratorial world." wink
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Posted 04/19/12 - 1:09 PM:

Samvega wrote:

As RAW might say, "maybe". We will have to see where we are in 50 or so years. Certainly I think it is prudent to take good care of one's health and strive for longevity.




Samvega wrote:

Just to clarify, low EROEI is "bad", because it means we get a low return on energy expended. Oil and other fossil fuels provide a high EROEI which accounts for their spectacular properties and why control of fossil fuels has been such a major issue over the course of the past century. The fact that all current 'alternative fuels' have lower EROEI is problematic, because we are rapidly drawing down our supply of high EROEI fossil fuels. This means we have less energy to work with overall.


Oh my bad. Change the 'low' with 'high' for EROEI and my point stands same.



Samvega wrote:

For an in depth discussion of this problem as it relates to various sources of fuel, take a look at This report (you can skip to page 7 to get in to the actual analysis).


Thanks for the link, will take a look.





Samvega wrote:

My point was simply that there are too many divisions and factions within even a single society for there to be something like a single, powerful, illuminati-like organization to operate - let alone for it operate internationally. I think there are instead multiple conspiracies, some of which have the same goals, others have the opposite goals, etc. As RAW once said, "it's a conspiratorial world."


What about a single most powerful unit which has its people on top of most of the organizations and in most of the powerful governments?
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Posted 04/19/12 - 2:33 PM:

Thinker13 wrote:
What about a single most powerful unit which has its people on top of most of the organizations and in most of the powerful governments?


It's certainly possible. But how do organizations and governments behave? They all appear to be at odds with each other, behaving exactly as if they each have their own separate agendas and are working against each other - which is the model of many, small conspiracies. Of course it's possible this is just an appearance, and that behind the scenes there is a single all-powerful organization pulling the strings - but what evidence do we have for that?

The principle of Occam's razor states suggests that a simplest hypothesis, the one that does not appeal to unknown or unobserved entities (such as a large conspiracy operating behind the scenes) is better than a complicated hypothesis that appeals to unknown or unobserved entities. In other words, if we can come up with an explanation for the behavior of governments and organizations without reference to a vast singular conspiracy, than we should accept this explanation over one that adds in a singular conspiracy.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 3:40 AM:

Samvega wrote:
It's certainly possible. But how do organizations and governments behave? They all appear to be at odds with each other, behaving exactly as if they each have their own separate agendas and are working against each other - which is the model of many, small conspiracies. Of course it's possible this is just an appearance, and that behind the scenes there is a single all-powerful organization pulling the strings - but what evidence do we have for that?


Yes, evidence is lacking.


Samvega wrote:

The principle of Occam's razor states suggests that a simplest hypothesis, the one that does not appeal to unknown or unobserved entities (such as a large conspiracy operating behind the scenes) is better than a complicated hypothesis that appeals to unknown or unobserved entities. In other words, if we can come up with an explanation for the behavior of governments and organizations without reference to a vast singular conspiracy, than we should accept this explanation over one that adds in a singular conspiracy.


I don't know where implement of Occam's razor is most important, but sometimes things are not so obvious and need open-minded investigation for enough long.
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Posted 04/20/12 - 3:52 AM:

You have given much importance to energy as a factor which has contributed in mankind's progress in 20th century, which brought into my attention a similar question:

We have been talking about humanity as a whole and not about individual humans. If I were to ask you about the energy which plays role in the progress of individuals, what would your response be?

In other words, what is most vital factor which contributes to human progress. Interpret progress as you want to. It could be material, social, spiritual progress.

What is energy in case of human individual's progress or what makes an individual progress quicker than others?

As discovery of fossil fuels played crucial role in the advancement of humanity, what is the source of energy for an individual's progress?

Some of the factors might be:

1. Power of thoughts, or will power, or focus.
2. Power of health, power given by nutrients, exercises etc.
3. Power of money.
4. Social power.

This is just of sample list of factors. Why some individuals are able to accomplish so much, whereas others just come and pass away?

Is it generation of energy, or conservation of it in a human organism, at various planes, which plays most important role in his/her advancement?
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Posted 04/17/13 - 8:18 AM:

Will some of us live for ever ? ....yes jesus said he that believes in me shall never die..
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