Dirk Knemeyer

Online: Harassment, Voting & the Future, January 5, 2017

Censoring online harassment hard as well, because that goes right in the face of free speech, and free speech is arguably the most important tenant of the US constitution. Of the rules that govern the United States. What constitutes harassment, when is someone being harassed. One of the most important parts of a free speech policy is the you know, someone, I’ll butcher the quote but, “You may hate what someone is saying, but you’ll defend to your death their right to say it.” So, that is inherently defending the ugliest of speech, the most hurtful of speech. Particularly now that we’re in a social environment where there is hyper sensitivity to anything that comes from one person’s mouth or behaviour and how that’s taken by others, and is translated into hurt, it’s really nettlesome.

The trends are certainly tipping towards what you’re suggesting, however I think Donald Trump’s Presidency and the Republican control of the government will probably ensure that nothing is happening soon. Because, most of the people who are like oh you know, sort of, “F PC,” kind of thing, those are all on the right and the right is in control. We’re probably not going to see anything soon from a legislative perspective, but certainly from social perspective there’s been a huge swing left towards, I think even hyper sensitivity and to the point of not having a sensible filter of let’s not be bruised by every little indirect thing that wasn’t intended for us and has little to do with us.

I don’t know what’s going to happen on the legal side. I’ve said a lot of times on this show before that all of us should expect that anything we are creating digitally on a networked device, is out in the wild. Is known by other people. Is stored somewhere where if we become a politician in the future, it is going to resurface and it is going to shiv us in the back. You just need to take that for granted, and if you’re not taking it for granted, if you’re saying you’re going to be fine or it’s not happening, then you’re being really unfortunately naive and you’re going to be hurt by that at some point.

If the current hegemony keeps marching forward then online voting certainly will happen. It probably isn’t soon. Again, with the US political, and most of my comments on this show are directed towards the US, it’s the culture I’m in it’s the culture I know. With the recent US political changes, it certainly isn’t going to happen for the next four to eight years. Even after that you know who knows, it’s not something that would happen very quickly certainly. As time moves forward on the current path, we’re getting more and more integrated into our machines. I was just reading something else, something recently, that sort of full mind-machine interface integration is less than a decade away, I think that was from the head of robotics at MIT. In that world, simply a lot of things that right now we have to move in physical space to achieve we’re not going to have to move in physical space to achieve anymore. Voting is sort of a clear and obvious example of something that will fall into that.

Now, the other way all of this could go of course is, there’s uncertainty in terms of the effects of global warming, who knows what’s going to happen geo-politically at a macro level. It is not a done deal that technology is going to continue to advance and we’re going to continue heading towards the singularity, to use that particular theory of it. There are things that could happen that definitely that stop that march, and that turns things around or make us manifest in more analog and what some people might even say backward ways. I don’t expect that to happen, but there’s a real chance that that could happen.

With some of the things that are happening around the world, and just our ability and our meaning, sort of an individual human in the generic to impact major damage to other people and to countries and potentially to the whole world. We’ll have to see, but voting will really I think fall out of “does technology keep progressing in the way that is, or are there nasty things happening to civilization that slow the whole boat down in which the last thing we’re going to be worried about at that point is voting online?”.


Emerging Technologies & Global Warming, November 4, 2016

What I’m finding is that the advances that are coming more from the science side as opposed to more of the commercial side are the more interesting emerging technologies, the more interesting advances, because they are necessary. I mean, they have a real clear applicable benefit beyond just making some corporation a lot of money while having nominal questionable convenience benefits for the first world.

Did you know that most of the leading oceanographers will not eat seafood anymore? They will not eat things that come out of the sea. They’re so concerned about the detrimental impact to their health for eating the seafood that they won’t eat it anymore.

What I would like to see more of from a standpoint of emerging technology, emerging science, are things that are reversing global warming. Some of the things we’re talking about will allow us to move away from technologies that hurt the environment and warm the earth, to things that either do it less, or don’t do it all. We need to start cooling the earth, right? That’s just the fact of it, unless we want to accept the sea level rises and the other really catastrophic things that are going to come from it. Notably absent on this list are technologies designed for that purpose, to not just slow down the warming, but to start cooling and start going in the other direction. That’s the kind of thing I’m really interested in seeing and as far as I can tell, very little effort is being put to those endeavors.

It reflects industrial age thinking. As you mentioned, there still is a waste product from, for example, microbes that pull and process carbon dioxide that needs to be stored somewhere. I mean, we’ve happily stored garbage underground. We’ve happily stored nuclear waste underground. We can keep doing that, but it doesn’t scale, right? 2016, what about 3016? At some point, we run out of places and the science fiction idea of jettisoning garbage and rubbish into space, that doesn’t scale either. I mean, our world and by world I mean the greater, not just our planet or our universe, but everything. I mean, it’s all interconnected at the end of the day, right? It’s all interconnected, and we continue to take things and turn them into rubbish of varying degrees and toxicity, and putting it away for later, but at some point with later, there’s a reckoning, right? I’d love to see us break out of that frame, of the industrial, going back pre-industrial.

I mean, I guess we go back to agrarian so well into the BC, but of just, “Hey, there’s waste. Bury it, dump it, move it down the road and move on,” I mean, let’s stop with waste. Let’s totally change our thinking and think long term, think sustainable in a more global way. I’m just tilting at windmills at this point.


Urbanity & Agriculture, June 9, 2016

There’s a lot of unknowns in terms of a future that would theoretically require urban agriculture, and so what I mean by that is we don’t know exactly how the world is going to change as a virtue of global warming, which is the most likely cataclysmic event that will significantly change the ways in which we live. There’s a lot of scenarios of how it can go. I mean, many people envision a future of mega cities because that’s in line with what we’ve seen happening, which is to say, as you mentioned, more and more people are in cities every year. These urban agriculture solutions are being envisioned, but depending on how things go, it may be that instead of trying to build up, we build out.

Building up is expensive, so to build a high rise requires a tremendous amount of carbon emission. There’s no two ways about it. From the materials, to the construction, the whole nine yards, and that’s happening while we have a majority of Canada, a majority of Russia, a majority of China. I’m talking about the largest countries in the world, a majority of them are wide open space. I think there’s an open question of whether the future is one of up, not out, because if we move into the open space that is out, it’s far cheaper. You don’t need steel, and concrete, and these other modern building materials in order to house and sustain people, basically.

Providing food, providing agriculture is not a hobby thing, at the current level of agricultural technology. I mean, it’s a profession. It’s something that you have to put a significant amount of time into, have a significant amount of expertise, and have the correct supplies and knowledge. So many things that we idealize as being part of this Utopian urban future, imagine in hobbyist ways, simply aren’t hobbyist things.

These are things that, yes, they need to be local, yes, they need to be integrated, but that doesn’t mean that Tom, Dick, and Harry, to use the traditional and male focused list of generic names, as part of their day, screw around with their little in-house agriculture, and “ta-da,” there’s going to be food there. Maybe someday, but certainly not now. I mean, this is something that requires real professional people putting significant amount of time into to realize.


Flying Passenger Drones, February 4, 2016

Here’s a prediction, by the time you and I retire from our professional careers, there will not be human carrying drones flying.

No freaking way. Look, there’s a physics issue, I mean energy issue, I mean it’s relatively low energy to put us in a car and roll it on the road. It is so high energy to pick us up, fight against the physics. I’m not a scientist so I can’t speak to it but a ventured guess, it’s an order of magnitude. More expensive, energy wise. Both from dollars and cents but also from global environmental impact to fly us as supposed to just roll us down the road. I don’t think we’re going to see it until there’s major innovation on the energy side. Even then, we might be so far down the ascent of global warming that even that more efficient thing is too expensive to enable us to do it.
We’ve got to get to the point where it’s energy neutral, basically, transporting people around. Energy neutral flight? I don’t know. Maybe there’s technology out there that I’m just not aware of, but I think that’s way the hell off.

Maybe our kids or somebody else will enjoy technology like that. We’re a long, long way away from that being more than just concept videos of crashing drones.


The Future of Food Choice, August 6, 2015

We’ll see about the 3D printing of food. Another macro issue, of course, is global warming and the environmental challenges from burning fossil fuels. A century from now, we will no longer have trucks driving from one state to the next, one destination to the next, planes flying with food. As long as those type of vehicles are burning fossil fuels to accomplish those trips, either there’s going to be a massive change in technology that enables transportation of goods that aren’t really required, that are really surplus and luxury for the most part, that enables them to be transferred, traveled around for our whim.

I like Shark brand sriracha from Southeast Asia. I like Arizona Gunslinger hot sauce from Arizona. I like Alaskan wild salmon. There’s going to have to be a massive change in how vehicles are powered for us to continue having those kind of foods. Will that be realized or not? I don’t know. I’m not enough of an expert in power. The fact that we don’t see anything certainly isn’t a good sign after a century of burning the hell out of oil and even longer than that if we’re thinking about the burning of coal which preceded it.

There could be these other macro things that are forcing us down a path of 3D printed food, that it needs to be something akin to astronaut ice cream as opposed to akin to the real solid foods that we have today. What does that look like? I don’t know. I think the main determining factor is going to be, are we able to transport luxury goods hither and thither as we do today? That’s going to be a question of power generation and who knows, who knows.