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Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:35 am
by tahanson43206
20170722 The element from Reference #1 for focus today is Paragraph 1 on page 17.
This paragraph contains two sentences.

Concurrently with this thread, I am following the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan 497 years ago, the observations of Adam Smith (approximately) 240 years ago, and projections of scenarios for human exploration and settlement of space up to 500 years from now.

Magellan's expedition was state-of-the-art for his time, but the unknowns he faced seem (to me) greater than those that will face humans moving away from Earth 500 years from now, primarily because of advances in remote information gathering that have come about in 500 years, and which will surely be available 500 years from now.

To the scenario posed by Dr. Dartnell, I am becoming increasingly aware that no one individual is going to be able to achieve the understanding and practical skill that would be needed to bring the pages of "The Knowledge" to life.

In Paragraph 1 on page 17, Dr. Dartnell forecasts the scope of "The Knowledge", and concludes with the intriguing concept that "...the book itself contains the genetic instructions for its own reproduction."

In his novel "Aurora", Kim Stanley Robinson considers how a population of (on the order of) 2,000 people might carry (what amounts to) a "torch of knowledge" over 167 years from Earth to a remote location away from Earth. In his vision, Mr. Robinson seems to allow for a remarkable level of human freedom to achieve potential or to live in acceptance of the life on offer.

Mr. Robinson hints at ongoing efforts by older members of the population to find young people coming up, who might be suitable for responsibility at a higher level than the default, and who might be interested in taking on the challenge of education and discipline required.

In thinking about the implications of just the TWO sentences in Paragraph 1, I am inclined to think that Dr. Dartnell has outlined a set of ambitions that would be challenging for a population of several hundred individuals, let alone (for example) a family.

Were Dr. Dartnell's vision for this forum (whatever it may be) to come to pass, I would imagine there would be hundreds if not thousands of individuals committing themselves to preserving small parts of the vast territory of human knowledge.

The latest member of the forum is "Boyce Noun". The Internet fetch for that name reveals what appears to be an interest in metal detector equipment.

It seems to me that the ability to find metal in the environment, and to differentiate it electronically, would be quite useful, whether the environment is the post-apocalyptic one of "The Knowledge", or the simple empty landscape of an unpopulated piece of land on the Earth, or the entirety of the land area of Mars.

However, in the spirit of "The Knowledge", I would point out that it would be helpful for the expert in metal detection equipment to be able to build it from scratch, using atom assembly equipment (which does not exist yet except at the crudest possible level on Earth in 2017), AND to be able to understand and explain every aspect of design and operation of the equipment.

It seems to me that it is (most likely) beyond the capability of a single individual to hold all the required knowledge in mind at one time. A person might be able to maintain "mastery" of a complex subset of knowledge such as this with the assistance of a suitable computer and data repository, but that person would be able to work at a peak level for only a brief time, in some very narrow aspect of the total package. That is indeed how the complex industrial environment we humans have created in recent centuries seems to operate. Because humans have productive lifetimes of only a few decades, the civilization persists because new generations come along, but (I suspect) more importantly, the machinery constructed to build and to maintain complex systems carry those systems forward by sheer momentum.


Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2017 3:56 pm
by tahanson43206
20170729 Reference #1

Page 17 Paragraph 2 beginning “How much...”

Over recent weeks, I've become persuaded that Dr. Dartnell might have written this “Introduction” after completing the work itself. This paragraph certainly lends support for that hypothesis, summarizing as it does the elements of the book which would presumably “help survivors in the early years after a Fall”.

At the same time, I've come to appreciate that if someone has a copy of this book at the time of need, the first undertaking ** should ** be to replicate the manuscript as many times as possible, because the work of rebuilding must necessarily be spread over the entire population available, and furthermore, that the young who must come into the picture will be encouraged to take in as much knowledge as they can handle.

Some of the knowledge to be preserved and restored may exist in some form, in the minds of survivors, so it would seems reasonable for whatever knowledge is available to be identified.

Organization of teams will be as important as any other activity survivors might undertake, because as “The Knowledge” makes clear, the knowledge that exists in the world of 2017 resides in the minds of millions of practitioners, and that level of knowledge will be fully restored when the population returns to some large number of individuals.

On page 298, in “Further Reading and References”, I was intrigued to find Kim Stanley Robinson cited for his “The Wild Shore”, because in the Magellan thread running concurrently with this one, I've been considering Robinson's “Aurora” as a model of a small scale community (2,000+) attempting to preserve a high level of civilization while isolated from the Earth except for digital broadcast communications Robinson presumes would continue to flow.

Robinson's “Aurora” scenario is set (about) 500 years in the future, but I am intrigued by the possibility that test cases can be set in motion today, to iron out the kinks that may exist in Robinson's ideas, and (most importantly) to provide an exit opportunity for those children who find themselves unwilling to remain bound to whatever physical environment is created for each test case.

If such test cases come into being, it seems reasonable to me for a copy of “The Knowledge” to exist in physical form, but also to exist in electronic form. In “Aurora”, Mr. Robinson presumes existence of advanced computing support for the human population, and it seems to me that a test case that might be set in motion in 2017 might well seek to include computing support on the order of IBM's Watson, and a subset of the treasure trove Google serves up in real time today.

While the technology Robinson proposes in “Aurora” has a very high level, and a few humans are (apparently) trained to maintain it and perhaps to improve it, I am impressed by Robinson's vision of a significant amount of very basic human activity to sustain the 24 different “natural” habitats designed into the habitat. Thus, if I understand Robinson's vision correctly, there are many members of the community who carry out activities that have existed on Earth for thousands of years, while a few members of the crew have the scientific background to be able to understand and to adjust the activities if necessary to preserve the community and its infrastructure.


Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2017 10:42 pm
by tahanson43206
20170806 Reference #1, Page 18 Paragraph 1

As Dr. Dartnell draws this “Contents” section to a close he summarizes the purpose of his undertaking, and he brings focus upon a “surviving community”.

In doing so, Dr. Dartnell appears to acknowledge that if the knowledge that exists today, or even the subset he provides is to survive, it must flow from generation to generation of many individuals.

Right now, in 2017, daily news reports inform (or remind) us that millions of people are living in poverty, and many hundreds of thousands are living in wretched conditions brought about primarily by human behavior.

The lesson I draw from this is that anyone who might wish to follow “The Knowledge” as a guide under such circumstances will need to be able to organize a group able to create an atmosphere of sufficient stability so that knowledge can be imparted, and creative thinking encouraged.

A copy of “Hot, Flat, and Crowded” by Thomas L. Friedman came my way recently, and I've added it to my reading rotation. On pages 302-314, Mr. Friedman describes an idea that came to him during his travels in preparation for writing the book. I find Mr. Friedman's idea of an “ark” for preservation of the environment in 2007 when he was writing to be interesting in the context of Dr. Dartnell's “quick-start guide” for preservation of knowledge.

Mr. Friedman cites examples of “arks” he has seen in operation, in Indonesia (for example). Friedman's overall theme for this book is the need for collective action to preserve the Earth we've inherited, and he reports in these pages on efforts to try to help indigenous peoples to preserve forest from which they have been making a living for centuries. In Indonesia, and (I'm sure) many other places on Earth today, the drive of some to collect useful materials without regard to the consequences for people who've been living cooperatively with Nature is difficult to resist, as it has been for thousands of years.

I bring this up because I can see a possible match between Dr. Dartnell's vision and Mr. Friedman's “ark” idea, in that it seems possible that a community might be founded to preserve a subset of human knowledge.

Next week's update will focus upon the closing sentence on page 18.

Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sat Aug 12, 2017 5:44 pm
by tahanson43206
20170812 Reference #1 Page 18 Paragraph 2

In the concluding line of the “Contents” section of “The Knowledge”, Dr. Dartnell sets forth the banner for the present enterprise:

Begin Quotation:
This is the blueprint for a rebooting civilization---but also a primer on the fundamentals of our own.
End Quotation.

In the Magellan thread running concurrently with this one, I am following a leader who has undertaken a courageous exploration of the unknown in the face of the forces of Nature, which are bad enough, but in the face of ignorance, religion inspired mutiny, and temptations to which he and his crew too often fell prey.

In that same thread, I am considering the vision of Kim Stanley Robinson, who wrote “Aurora” in novel form, to give substance to his thoughtful anticipation of human exploration of space way from Earth 500 years from now.

In the Adam Smith thread running concurrently with this one, I am attempting to understand the economics and the politics of the 1770's, in hopes of finding universal themes which might help in design of future human undertakings, on Earth and elsewhere.

In the post immediately ahead of this one, I brought Thomas L. Friedman's concept of “arks” of human preservation of the environment into the flow, in hopes that it might be possible to combine Friedman's vision with that of Robinson and others, into undertakings that would serve as vehicles for development of pockets of preserved knowledge as outlined by Dr. Dartnell.

Biosphere 2 is an early example of experimentation with enclosed environment on Earth. A request of Google for information about Biosphere 2 yielded numerous citations, including one I was NOT expecting, about how Steve Bannon was hired to try to bring the enterprise under control.

For all the difficulties that the Biosphere 2 experiment experienced, it appears to me to have been a worthy use of the generous funding by Ed Bass.

A review of the history and present status of Biosphere was published in December of 2016. It may be viewed at:

Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sun Aug 20, 2017 12:07 pm
by tahanson43206

From Tim Carter, who writes for the Tribune Content Agency, the Sunday, August 20, 2017 edition of the Columbus Dispatch contained:

Title: Water drainage crucial when building on rock ... ng-on-rock

The online edition of the article provides links to illustrations which do not appear in the print edition.


Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 1:14 pm
by tahanson43206

2017/09/05 This document will contain entries for three weeks to the Knowledge thread on the Knowledge Forum

Dates to cover include 8/19, 8/27 and 9/02

I posted a link to an article by Tim Carter in the 8/19 topic.

Reference #1 Page 19 Paragraph 1

Dr. Dartnell's opening of Chapter 1 seems remarkably appropriate for readers living in the United States in September of 2017. Hurricane Harvey has just imposed massive punishment on the coast of the State of Texas, with emphasis on the City of Houston.

In the equatorial Atlantic Ocean, to the East of the United States, a queue of three new hurricanes is building strength for their journey West. Hurricane Irma has wasted several Caribbean islands, and the State of Florida is in the path of Irma, according to all three models in use by weather forecasters.

According to news reports, the President of France has ordered emergency care to be flown to the islands which are still part of the French territories.

In the United States, federal, state and local government agencies have accepted responsibility to assist citizens and visitors affected by the storms. In Texas and Louisiana, thousands of volunteers have undertaken rescue and assistance efforts.

The scene laid out by Dr. Dartnell in his opening paragraph has a counterpart in the exodus of thousands of visitors and citizens from Key West, Florida, and from locations on the sea coast in Southern Florida, and even states further North.

At this point, as nearly as I can tell, the working assumption on the part of everyone involved is that the reserves available in the United States will be sufficient to keep everyone fed and protected from weather, albeit often in a less comfortable situation than they might have enjoyed before the storms.

Meanwhile, at the level of the Federal Government, it appears that political leaders are likely to borrow huge amounts of money from foreign sources in order to support recovery and resupply efforts in regions where damage and loss has occurred or will occur shortly.

While the situation Dr. Dartnell offers is a major level of difficulty above what the citizens of the Southern United States are seeing, I find in the current situation plenty of connections to Dr. Dartnell's scenario.

Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 1:00 pm
by tahanson43206

As a follow up to last week's post, for Reference #1, Page 19, Paragraph 1, I found this article on the Yahoo feed: ... 57716.html

Begin Quotation:'
"People are freaking out," said Yasmine Herrera, a hair stylist who works south of Miami.

She told AFP she had heard rumors of fights breaking out at gas stations, and experienced a tense standoff herself when two drivers blocked her in at a pump, each wanting to fill their tanks after her and each refusing to yield and allow her to exit. Eventually, one relented.
End Quotation.

The title of the article by Kerry Sheridan is: "Fuel shortages, bottlenecks hamper Florida mass exodus"

It seems clear (to me at least) that the scenario Dr. Dartnell laid out is a LOT closer to possible than (I at least) had thought.


Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 1:45 pm
by tahanson43206
20170909 This is a stub for a weekly update.

Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 6:47 pm
by tahanson43206
20170909 Reference #1, Page 20, Paragraph 1

Because Hurricane Irma is very much an ongoing destructive force on this day in 2017, I find Dr. Dartnell's discussion of human nature and the possible need to set aside scruples and to engage in looting to be quite pertinent. I note that headlines offered by Google show that there appear to be plenty of people ready and willing to take advantage of opportunities to loot.

Item from Google given the search string: reports of looting due to irma

Begin Quotation: ... y-4-storm/
1 day ago - The Latest: 5.6 million told to evacuate Florida due to Irma ...... France's government isreporting looting of televisions and other goods on the
End Quotation.

Begin Quotation: › News
Aug 30, 2017 - Houston imposes curfew amid reports of looting as Hurricane Harvey ... It originally was due to begin at 10 p.m. but the city pushed the start back two .... Hurricane Irma: Six million ordered to flee Florida as storm hits Cuba with ...
End Quotation.

In the next paragraph, Dr. Dartnell takes up the “social contract”, which is pretty clearly under duress in the Google citations given above.


Re: 20160208 Vision Author Culture on Knowledge Forum

PostPosted: Sun Sep 17, 2017 1:01 am
by tahanson43206
20170916 Reference #1, Page 20, Paragraph 2

In this paragraph, Dr. Dartnell takes up the “social contract”, which is pretty clearly under duress in the circumstances of hurricane destruction in the Caribbean islands and the Southern and Eastern coasts of the United States.

While I recognize the accuracy of Dr. Dartnell's accounting for the “social contract” based upon fear of consequences for violating it, I offer a couple of thoughts regarding it …

First, in the case of bees and similar social creatures, it appears to be genetic structures in the creatures that impel them to act in ways to benefit the hive at whatever risk there may be to themselves.

I believe that human beings have similar genetic coding, which (I think) explains the otherwise unbelievable self-sacrifice of countless billions of males over the centuries.

Thus, in the scenario of dissolution of the complex society we have on Earth today, I think that while Dr. Dartnell's anticipation of the misbehavior of some will no doubt occur, I think that a significant percentage will follow the genetically programmed “good behavior” upon which any chance of collective recovery from major disaster will surely depend.

The number of instances of violations of the “social contract” in Texas or Florida, and even in most of the Caribbean islands, reported in news media over recent days seems to be quite small.

All that said, Dr. Dartnell's pessimism about the fragility of the social contract in times of severe stress seems well justified by historical records.

On a completely different subject …

While working my way through a second, detailed reading of “The Knowledge”, I am keeping up with reading from a variety of sources. In the current issue of “Analog Science Fact and Fiction”, for September and October of 2017, I found a remarkable short story by Jerry Oltion (Page 72) that captures much of the value Dr. Dartnell's book is (it seems to me) trying to impart.

In the story, Mr. Oltion imagines a colony of humans established 18 light years away from Earth, on a permissive planet. Mr. Oltion imagines many of the tools for survival away from Earth that a number of science fiction authors have (apparently) collectively agreed upon, including (in particular) a Nanofabrication capability.

Mr. Oltion imagines a feed of data from Earth that includes new programs to be fed into the Nanofabricator, so that (presumably) the colonists could continue to live comfortably at a reasonable approximation of the level enjoyed by the people of Earth.

What makes the story so compelling is that Mr. Oltion imagines a leader of the community sabotaging the Nanofabricator, and encourages the community to re-invent “ancient” technology as Dr. Dartnell has described in “The Knowledge”. I find it highly unlikely that Mr. Oltion has heard of Dr. Dartnell or has any awareness at all of “The Knowledge”, so his fictional account of a forced return to “ancient” technology is remarkably coincidental.

For the sake of the plot, the community leader who sabotaged the Nanofabricator suffers a brutal death when impaled by a horseshoe he has been drilling. The horseshoe had just been hammered out of hot iron by a blacksmith who was himself trained to maintain electronic equipment, but who was forced by the circumstances to learn ancient arts.

A notable aspect of the story is the introduction of a young female member of the colony, who is studying physics on one of the few still functional electronic reading devices.

2017/09/19 Follow up to post on "Tinker's Damnation" ... Author Jerry Oltion sent a generous reply to my email ...
Begin Quotation:
I'm glad you enjoyed "Tinker's Damnation." And thanks for your thoughts
on the technology behind nanofabrication. I figured I was pushing the
speed a bit, but I didn't want my characters to stand around for an hour
or two while the nanofab did its trick, so I decided to make it happen
in just a few minutes. I justified this to myself by imagining that
there will be something akin to Moore's Law for fabricators once we get
them up and running, and by the time we have starships carrying
colonists to exoplanets that law should have increased the speed
End Quotation.