20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Dec 02, 2017 2:08 pm

`20171202 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 25 Paragraph 1

Section: The best way for the world to end

In this section, Dr. Dartnell narrows the range of possible futures for which “The Knowledge” might be most helpful.

The paragraph that begins: “The problem is ...” reminds the reader that there is a risk that in the event of a global catastrophe, human survivors might revert to a “hunter-gatherer lifestyle”.

While “The Knowledge” will attempt to find a remedy for this risk through conventional means, I am interested in building upon Dr. Dartnell's careful exposition to try to work out how this risk can be mitigated by carrying our already sophisticated technology just a BIT further, so that a comparatively small community can sustain what we consider in 2017 to be comfortable living at a first world level.

As I have said before in this thread, reaching this goal would help communities who would set out to not only survive but thrive in locations away from Earth.

The key (as I am seeing the future now) is advancement of 3D Printing to approach the performance anticipated by “Star Trek”'s replicating machine, but I do not anticipate the speed of assembly of atoms one at a time to proceed more rapidly than nature shows us today, in living structures which assemble themselves an atom at a time. Nature can assemble an apple over the course of a few weeks, and an oak tree over several decades. Nature certainly uses parallel processing, and I would expect practical atom assemblers to do the same.

There appeared in a recent news item in the Internet feed to the effect that researchers at an academic institution have experimented with use of multiple laser beams to achieve much faster “assembly” speeds than has been achieved with a single laser beam. The medium is a transparent fluid capable of fusing into a solid under the influence of a laser beam of sufficient strength. The breakthrough demonstrated by the research team is to employ multiple lasers at a strength less that that needed to fuse the liquid material. The combination of multiple under-strength laser beams is able to fuse the material. I would guess that similar ingenuity will permit faster assembly of individual atoms than Nature demonstrates, but there is a distinct advantage to a slower assembly speed.

Thus, as the future is revealing itself to me right now, there would be an opportunity for citizens of a comparatively small community to own “manufacturing” facilities capable of assembling a complex electronic object such as a smart phone, or a simple tool such as a wrench, or a batch of useful material such as thread for weaving or metal thread for electronic wiring. The programming of these machines would be comparable in style to programming for 3D printers today, but (I admit) far more challenging. Thus, there would be plenty of opportunity for some members of the community to specialize in programming, while others specialize in producing particular kinds of objects or materials.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Dec 10, 2017 2:22 am

`20171209 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 25 Paragraph 2

Section: The best way for the world to end

In this section, Dr. Dartnell narrows the range of possible futures for which “The Knowledge” might be most helpful.

In Paragraph 2, I find a useful estimate of 10,000 people for a potentially viable community. While Dr. Dartnell's scenario is for a recovery after a global disaster, I remain most interested in the relatively near term outlook for a community on Mars or the Moon. At the same time, it seems to me worth considering how a test community might be established on Earth, to simulate life in an environment remote from Earth, by limiting trade to information.

As Edward B. Lerner imagines in his series “InterstellarNet” it is quite reasonable to suppose there will be a thriving commerce of information between planet based communities and those located in other situations that make sense to the inhabitants.

Dr. Dartnell proposes a population of 10,000 for his scenario. I estimate that 100,000 is a more realistic population if the goal is to attempt to reproduce a “first world” environment for citizens, because of the immensity of knowledge and skill we take for granted in our multi-billion person world, and even then the “veneer of civilization” would be thin.

I note with interest Dr. Dartnell's caveat in Paragraph 2, that the 10,000 he proposes would need to be able to “work peacefully together”.

Human nature being what it is, I find this to be a significant qualification.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Dec 17, 2017 7:19 pm

20171216 Reference #1 Page 26 Paragraph 1

The title of this section is: "Recolonization by Nature"

I looked in the table of contents and references, and did not find the History Channel videos listed, and the Forum software refuses to search for "common words" like history or channel.

It is possible someone has already posted about the series "Life After People"

I've had a chance to see a number of the videos. Apparently they are available at http://www.history.com.

A Google search for "life-after-people" turned up a Wikipedia article and citations for a TV movie of 2008, and the TV series of 2009.

***
The current issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact is the November/December 2017 issue, Volume CXXXVII Nos. 11 & 12

The issue contains a novella by author Catherine Wells.

The story has an apocalypse theme, which is compatible (in my view at least) with Dr. Dartnell's project.

Ms. Wells provides an interesting juxtaposition of two quite dissimilar human cultures which have survived a global catastrophe in the vicinity of Kitt Peak in Arizona, of what would have been the United States some time before the story unfolds.

A group of scientists and technicians are clustered around the Kitt Peak observatory complex, although the observing mission has long ago ended, and the survivors are occupied trying to preserve what high technology they have, and to re-create some they do not, such as medicines.

A group of people who might be Native Americans are residing in an area at a lower elevation. The group is reduced from 4,000 to just about 50 people, after a flood event, and the survivors are committed to living off the land as their ancestors did.

The story brings the two groups together, and sets up the possibility of a follow up story if Ms. Wells is so inclined, or it sets up an opportunity for the reader to exercise imagination on how a follow up might develop.

Dr. Dartnell does not attempt to discuss issues of leadership of human groups, or details of how decisions would be made about division of labor and concentration of skill sets, so it is good to see Ms. Well take on these challenges.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Dec 24, 2017 3:37 am

20171223 Reference #1 Page 26 Paragraph 2

The title of this section is: "Recolonization by Nature"

This thread is building upon the foundation provided by "The Knowledge". In this paragraph, it seems to me that Dr. Dartnell is creating a vision of a scenario which might be most likely in a temperate climate. The extent of natural growth is likely to be greater in tropical environments and less in dry or cold. The extent of natural recovery from human insult is evident in the cities created by the Inca in South America, and of their neighbor cultures of the time, whose remnants are still being discovered with such tools as space satellites.

On the other hand, structures made of fired brick are likely to persist for centuries in desert regions.

Science fiction writers have on more than one occasion blended observations into their stories about times after humans have come and gone, that areas where pavement is covered over with detritus are never-the-less distinguishable because roots cannot push through certain materials, so that patterns of light vegetation can be discerned from above.

In our own time, satellite instruments are still finding evidence of long ago forgotten roads and settlements where temporary human habitation has caused permanent changes in vegetation.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 5:37 pm

`20171230 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 27 Paragraph 2

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews changes that might occur in a temperate climate.

The paragraph that begins: “And while nature is ...”

reminds the reader of deterioration that is likely in urban landscapes in temperate zones.

The changes foreseeable in tropical climates will be even more pronounced.

The impact of climate change already set in motion will have a bearing on the rate and the type of deterioration.

***
Reference #3 was added to this thread, because Author James Bessen is discussing knowledge as a factor in economics.

At numerous points in his book, Mr. Bessen points out the importance of knowledge acquired through on-the-job experience.

It is only AFTER all the trial and error of invention that formal courses can be prepared and offered to accelerate the pace of distribution of knowledge.

The experience of the hypothetical reader of Dr. Dartnell's handbook will be almost ENTIRELY learning by doing, given the important but skeletal hints that will allow that reader to skip centuries of slow progress documented in "The Knowledge"

***
Update for Knowledge Thread:

Elsewhere in the Knowledge Forum, Dr. Dartnell encourages mention of other authors who explore apocalypse themes.

In the December 2012 issue of Analog Science Fact and Fiction (Vol CXXXII Nol. 12), author Shane Tourtellotte imagines a scene involving Kitt Peak, in Arizona. The title of this story is “From an Antique Land”, and the setting is some decades after the dissolution of the world as we know it.

The author paints a picture of people surviving with a moderate level of comfort, which they have apparently achieved through hard work and using their wits, and despite hints of human conflict on the larger stage.

Visitors to a settlement arrive in a horse drawn wagon convoy which includes equipment capable of making vacuum tubes. The complement of the visiting entourage includes a woman who can make vacuum tubes, and a blacksmith.

It seems to me a stretch to be able to make vacuum tubes using equipment that can be carried around in a wagon, but I'll be watching for signs Dr. Dartnell has foreseen this possibility as this second, much slower trip through “The Knowledge” progresses.

On the other hand, if civilization had progressed sufficiently before whatever catastrophe the author has set as the backdrop for the story, there might be an early matter assembler carted around in the wagon. My guess is that the author is confident the tools and materials needed to make vacuum tubes could be transported in a wagon, and that the energy supply available in the American desert would be sufficient.

As it happens, the expedition does not reach Kitt Peak, but the possibility is left open for a follow up at some future time.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:58 pm

20180106 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 28 Paragraph 10

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews changes that might occur in a temperate climate.

The paragraph that begins: “A modern city ...”

reminds the reader of the probable consequences of fire that would likely occur in cities.

In the event that a person reads this work after a global calamity such as Dr. Dartnell describes, such a person would have plenty of real world experience to compare to the forecast.

As an eternal optimist, I can imagine such a reader absorbing insights about how to protect any assets that might remain in place. The time frame involved is certainly a consideration. If centuries have passed as Dr. Dartnell suggests later on in this section, any buildings still standing may well illustrate superior design, construction and material, or perhaps just dumb luck.

In Reference #3, Mr. Bessen's Introduction includes this summary statement, on page 3;

Begin Quotation:
In particular, I argue that developing the knowledge and skills needed to implement new technologies on a large scale is a difficult social problem that takes a long time to resolve.
End Quotation.

I am interested in Mr. Bessen's writing both because I've been thinking about the challenges facing the population for which Dr. Dartnell wrote “The Knowledge”, and the challenges facing a community that might attempt to not only survive but prosper in a location away from Earth. Beyond those two scenarios, however, are the many communities right here on Earth in 2018 which are attempting to survive, let alone prosper, for which Mr. Bessen's observations might be helpful.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sun Jan 14, 2018 5:10 pm

20180113 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 27 Paragraph 2

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews the processes that cause deterioration of built structures. In recent days, in early 2018, heavy rains have caused mudslides in areas of the State of California where severe wildfires had destroyed vegetation that had been holding soil in place.

The paragraph that begins: “Fire will wreak ...” considers how water can and does act to weaken built structures.


Reference #2 Chapter 10:

Title: Conclusion
Subtitle: Our remedies oft in ourselves do lie (Quotation from William Shakespeare)

In this chapter, Mr. Beattie brings his discussion full circle, by considering Argentina in the context of the DOHA talks of 2008, organized by the World Trade Organization. In particular, he points out the power of agricultural lobbies in various countries to block progress toward lowering trade barriers.

On page 298, Mr. Beattie opens a paragraph in which he attempts to summarize all the lessons that might be learned from the book, with the words:
Begin Quotation:
But certain basic ideas command wide acceptance.
End Quotation.

In the last line of the chapter and of the book Mr. Beattie says:
Begin Quotation:
The experience of history should lead us to hope and strive to make the world better, not to despair and resign ourselves to fate.
End Quotation.

This sentiment seems (to me) a good match with the overall theme of “The Knowledge”. While Dr. Dartnell has kept his focus upon physical principles worthy of preservation over the long term, Mr. Beattie makes a valuable contribution by considering the behavior of groups of people, and by pointing out both positive and negative consequences of various policies and behaviors.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:09 pm

20180120 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 28 Paragraph 3

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews the processes that cause deterioration of built structures.

The paragraph that begins: “Concrete, bricks, and the mortar ...” concludes that:
Begin Quotation:
The majority of our houses or apartment blocks will last, at most, a hundred years.
End Quotation.

This paragraph provides an opportunity to try to enter the mind set of an individual who might find themselves in this scenario.

It is pure speculation, of course, what condition this individual might be in, and how many others might be available to engage the situation.

However, let us suppose the individual is in good health and young enough to have the energy to undertake efforts of some sort, and let us suppose there is a small group assembled with interpersonal relationships worked out sufficiently so that a moderate level of division of labor and coordination is possible.

In that case, and taking Dr. Dartnell's prediction into account, it seems to me it would make sense to try to stem the progress of entropy in as much of the environment as the group can manage. A survey of the available property would be a good way to start, and if the means are available, documentation of the findings for later analysis would help. The quality of construction of each property would have a bearing on salvage prospects.

The quality of construction of the roof would be of great interest. As nearly as I can determine, for example, some of the great cathedrals of Europe had roofs constructed of stone blocks, held in place by artfully designed buttress structures to carry gravitational loads safely to the foundation. Perhaps there are structures in modern (ca 2018) architecture that have similar staying power.


Reference #3 Introduction
Title: Introduction

The introduction to Mr. Bessen's book closes with the observation:
Begin Quotation:
The prosperity of nations depends upon the institutions and policies that allow ordinary citizens to acquire technical knowledge, much of it learned on the job.
End Quotation.

I find this observation, made 240 years (or so) after Adam Smith wrote:
Begin Quotation from Page 277 of “The Wealth of Nations”
The real wealth of the country, the annual produce of its land and labour, …
End Quotation.

I note that there is a distinction to be made between “wealth” and “prosperity”. Wealth seems to me to have a static character, while prosperity has a dynamic one.

On page 451 of “The Wealth”, Adam Smith observes:
Begin Quotation:
It is now more than two hundred years since the beginning of the reign of Elizabeth, a period as long as the course of human prosperity usually endures.
End Quotation.

The group which we imagine might be conducting a survey of empty buildings in an unoccupied city will most likely NOT be thinking about prosperity, but they will surely be aware of the potential value of the artifacts on hand for review.

It seems likely that this hypothetical group will be doing a LOT of Mr. Bessen's “learning on the job”, but it seems to me that a priority for the leadership to attempt to create structured learning capabilities as soon as possible.

Analog Magazine's January/February issue for 2018 includes another installment by Michael F. Flynn, of his long running series featuring Teodorq and Sammi, who live (about) 2000 years after a war between very advanced humans and (I gather) an equally advanced alien race. The human survivors have fallen to a level of civilization that Flynn paints as similar to as early as 8th Century in human history, and as late as 18th Century, with a curious mix of encounters of very advanced technology that survives in scattered locations.

Because I am mindful of Dr. Dartnell's focus on preservation of essential knowledge, I find Mr. Flynn's imaginings of various levels of civilization on the world where the spent vehicles of the conflict fell many centuries before to be quite interesting.

In the episode before this one, Mr. Flynn painted a picture of attempts to carry out scientific inquiry in one of the communities visited by Teodorq and Sammi. Unfortunately, conflict between warring houses led to loss of the people and presumably the knowledge accumulated. This has surely happened on many occasions in human history, and it is indeed happening today.

The hypothetical group looking out over the decaying structures in an unoccupied city would do well to remember the risk of loss of they knowledge they possess, and which they are gaining as they explore.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Jan 29, 2018 12:41 am

20180127 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 22 Paragraph 1

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews the processes that cause deterioration of built structures.

The paragraph that begins: “Our metal bridges ...” concludes that:
Begin Quotation:
… many bridges will have collapsed ...
End Quotation.

While the focus here is upon changes which will likely occur if maintenance is not performed when population falls dramatically, I am reminded that entropy is at work today, in the United States and around the world. In the United States, there is awareness of the deterioration of infrastructure, and occasional calls for efforts to confront the problems, but (as I observe the scene) a remarkable lack of will to accept responsibility to make the required commitments.

The most recent initiative proposes to allocate a small amount of public funding, in hopes of generating huge amounts of private investment. This initiative is generating plenty of discussion, but I am doubtful much will come of it.

In the case of Dr. Dartnell's scenario, depending upon the numbers of survivors, some time and energy might be allocated toward trying to preserve some few bridges that might seem most useful for a recovering society.

However, even without the worst case scenario of a collapse of civilization, it seems to me worth while to design bridges so they can maintain themselves through the application of artificial intelligence and a variety of remotely controlled machines. It has been the practice in the past to employ human beings to carry out periodic inspections, but the common affliction of competing priorities within human society has often led to neglect of infrastructure. It seems possible that we may be within grasp of the self-healing infrastructure so often imagined by science fiction writers.

Reference #3 Chapter 1
Title: More Than Inventions

Chapter 1 opens with the introduction of Lucy Larcom, who was one of many young women hired to operate power looms in the early 1800's in Lowell, Massachusetts. Mr. Bessen describes the enlightened founders and investors who created an entire community to attract workers:
Begin Quotation:
The mill owners had expressly designed the city of Lowell to the kind of place … through the lure of a rich educational, cultural, and religious environment.(2)
End Quotation.

On page 14, Mr. Bessen states:
Begin Quotation:
Since implementation is the focus of this book, …
End Quotation.

Mr. Bessen presents the ongoing argument about invention vs implementation in the development of technology, and gives the greater emphasis to implementation, which in his treatment, encapsulates ongoing and continuous invention to support and strengthen the primary invention, in addition to accumulation of individual and collective skill in carrying out the original vision.

Because this thread is based upon Dr. Dartnell's scenario of a community attempting to recover civilization which is lost, it seems to me that Mr. Bessen's discussion of policy should be of interest to persons in leadership positions.

On page 18, Mr. Bessen asserts:
Begin Quotation:
Such learning on a mass scale was and is a difficult problem for society.
End Quotation.

The situation described by Mr. Bessen in this opening chapter occurs in a relatively stable culture, after the Revolutionary War in the United States. It might be a while before the community of Dr. Dartnell's scenario is able to achieve a comparable level of stability, but eventually development of an educated and positively motivated work force would become a priority.

(th)
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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

Postby tahanson43206 » Mon Feb 05, 2018 4:07 am

20180203 Update Knowledge Forum Knowledge Thread

Reference #1 Page 29 Paragraph 2

Section: Recolonization by Nature

In this section, Dr. Dartnell reviews the processes that cause deterioration of built structures.

The paragraph that begins: “The steel-reinforced concrete...”

reviews the natural forces that go to work to destroy structures built using this material, and describes the likely fate of most of them without constant attention by appropriate counter forces. Dr. Dartnell closes with a reminder of the staying power of unreinforced concrete:
Begin Quotation:
the dome of the Pantheon in Rome is still going strong after two thousand years.
End Quotation.

2018 follow up:

Google provides an extensive list of resources to find out more about the Pantheon. This link asserts that the current Pantheon was constructed by workers led by the Roman Emperor Hadrian.
http://www.monolithic.org/domes-more/th ... ome-126-ad

Reference #3 Chapter 2
Title: The Skills of the Unskilled

Chapter 2 section Pages 23-29 begins development of Mr. Bessen's theme.
His opening statement sets the stage:
Begin Quotation:
Technology implementation is challenging because large numbers of workers need to acquire new skills and technical knowledge.
End Quotation.

In Dr. Dartnell's scenario, the number of workers is low, but it seems to me the principles of Mr. Bessen's presentation are worth consideration by planners.

In the world of Earth of 2018, the numbers of workers (or potential workers) is high, but to my eye, there seems to be a mismatch between technology available for productive labor and the capabilities of the potential workforce.

On page 24, Mr. Bessen states:
Begin Quotation:
We are concerned here with the notion of skill as the capabilities of a worker that help generate wealth, …
End Quotation.

Mr. Bessen then spends some time reviewing other notions of skill, and he reminds the reader of historical attitudes toward the growing practice of division of labor, including those of the writer Karl Marx, and several others.

Also on page 24, Mr. Bessen asserts:
Begin Quotation:
Factories often had a finer division of labor than workshops:
End Quotation.

In the next several pages, Mr. Bessen calls attention to investment by workers in their own capabilities, which he describes as investment in human capital.

Because a thread on Adam Smith's “The Wealth of Nations” is running concurrently with this one, I would like to point out a reference to Mr. Smith on page 29:
Begin Quotation:
Adam Smiths famous pin factory was one such workship.
End Quotation.

Mr. Bessen closes this section with:
Begin Quotation:
The bottom line is that technology in the nineteenth century did not eliminate the need for skill. It just created new, more specialized skills that were mostly learned on the factory floor.
End Quotation.

(th)
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