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Saturday, June 21, 2014

More On Modular Housing

   I have, on a number of occasions, written about how we could have inexpensive, comfortable, high tech housing any time, and anywhere if we were allowed.

   In particular I have written of container homes, built out of shipping containers (10' X 10' X 40') which are widely in use already. Here are some more pictures.

   These have the great advantage that they can be converted easily and thus cheaply and are already available.

   However the real necessity for off site modular housing is simply that it be road transportable to the site.

  So what can legally be road transported - a width of 10' (3m) of 60' (18m) and about 20' (6m) in height (though bridges limit the last).
            The book Why Construction Is So Backward by Woodhuysen et al contains a drawing of such a home. Being 20" tall means 2 floors. In fact I am sure it would be easy to do a fold up 3rd floor on top because it wouldn't be load bearing.

        18m X 3m by just 2 floors is a home of 108 m.

British families are living in some of the most cramped conditions in Europe with more than half of homes falling short of minimum modern space standards, new research has found.
The study found the UK has the smallest homes by floor space area of any European country with the average new build property covered just 76sq m compared with almost double that amount of 137sq m in Denmark.

More here

      3 floors would be 162 m or "module" means you can have 2 together, or as many more as you want.

      Incidentally with that much space, doubled to allow infrastructure and small gardens you get 9,260 per km, with 3 per family that is 28,000 per km. London is 8,382 km which would mean a population of 230 million. That is without multi-storey living like Keetwonen. That is not a population level I would ever aspire to but it does show that there is no sort of space limitation on this.
Keetwonen student apartments –
       One libertarian option is just to classify these as temporary structures, which they obviously are, and get all building regulators off them.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

JK Rowling - Independence Is Not Just For Christmas

     This is JK Rowling's comments on independence. As Mike Haseler pointed out the original was formatted to make it difficult to read, which is a shame because it is about as serious and sensible as anything anybody has said on the subject:

Before you read the following, please be warned that it’s probably of interest only to people who live in Scotland or the UK (and not all of them!)  If you read on regardless, you need to know that there is going to be a referendum on 18th September on whether or not Scotland should leave the United Kingdom.  If you’re only vaguely interested, or pressed for time, there’s a mention of Death Eaters in paragraph 5.

I came to the question of independence with an open mind and an awareness of the seriousness of what we are being asked to decide.  This is not a general election, after which we can curse the result, bide our time and hope to get a better result in four years.  Whatever Scotland decides, we will probably find ourselves justifying our choice to our grandchildren.  I wanted to write this because I always prefer to explain in my own words why I am supporting a cause and it will be made public shortly that I’ve made a substantial donation to the Better Together Campaign, which advocates keeping Scotland part of the United Kingdom.

As everyone living in Scotland will know, we are currently being bombarded with contradictory figures and forecasts/warnings of catastrophe/promises of Utopia as the referendum approaches and I expect we will shortly be enjoying (for want of a better word) wall-to-wall coverage.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I am friendly with individuals involved with both the Better Together Campaign and the Yes Campaign, so I know that there are intelligent, thoughtful people on both sides of this question.  Indeed, I believe that intelligent, thoughtful people predominate.

However, I also know that there is a fringe of nationalists who like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence and I suspect, notwithstanding the fact that I’ve lived in Scotland for twenty-one years and plan to remain here for the rest of my life, that they might judge me ‘insufficiently Scottish’ to have a valid view.  It is true that I was born in the West Country and grew up on the Welsh border and while I have Scottish blood on my mother’s side, I also have English, French and Flemish ancestry.  However, when people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste.  By residence, marriage, and out of gratitude for what this country has given me, my allegiance is wholly to Scotland and it is in that spirit that I have been listening to the months of arguments and counter-arguments.

On the one hand, the Yes campaign promises a fairer, greener, richer and more equal society if Scotland leaves the UK, and that sounds highly appealing.  I’m no fan of the current Westminster government and I couldn’t be happier that devolution has protected us from what is being done to health and education south of the border.  I’m also frequently irritated by a London-centric media that can be careless and dismissive in its treatment of Scotland.  On the other hand, I’m mindful of the fact that when RBS needed to be bailed out, membership of the union saved us from economic catastrophe and I worry about whether North Sea oil can, as we are told by the ‘Yes’ campaign, sustain and even improve Scotland’s standard of living.

Some of the most pro-independence people I know think that Scotland need not be afraid of going it alone, because it will excel no matter what.  This romantic outlook strikes a chord with me, because I happen to think that this country is exceptional, too.  Scotland has punched above its weight in just about every field of endeavour you care to mention, pouring out world-class scientists, statesmen, economists, philanthropists, sportsmen, writers, musicians and indeed Westminster Prime Ministers in quantities you would expect from a far larger country.

My hesitance at embracing independence has nothing to do with lack of belief in Scotland’s remarkable people or its achievements.  The simple truth is that Scotland is subject to the same twenty-first century pressures as the rest of the world.  It must compete in the same global markets, defend itself from the same threats and navigate what still feels like a fragile economic recovery.

  The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks.  Whenever the big issues are raised – our heavy reliance on oil revenue if we become independent, what currency we’ll use, whether we’ll get back into the EU – reasonable questions are drowned out by accusations of ‘scaremongering.’  Meanwhile, dramatically differing figures and predictions are being slapped in front of us by both campaigns, so that it becomes difficult to know what to believe.

I doubt I’m alone in trying to find as much impartial and non-partisan information as I can, especially regarding the economy.  Of course, some will say that worrying about our economic prospects is poor-spirited, because those people take the view ‘I’ll be skint if I want to and Westminster can’t tell me otherwise’.  I’m afraid that’s a form of ‘patriotism’ that I will never understand.  It places higher importance on ‘sticking it’ to David Cameron, who will be long gone before the full consequences of independence are felt, than to looking after your own.  It prefers the grand ‘up yours’ gesture to considering what you might be doing to the prospects of future generations.

The more I have read from a variety of independent and unbiased sources, the more I have come to the conclusion that while independence might give us opportunities – any change brings opportunities – it also carries serious risks.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies concludes that Alex Salmond has underestimated the long-term impact of our ageing population and the fact that oil and gas reserves are being depleted.  This view is also taken by the independent study ‘Scotland’s Choices: The Referendum and What Happens Afterwards’ by Iain McLean, Jim Gallagher and Guy Lodge, which says that ‘it would be a foolish Scottish government that planned future public expenditure on the basis of current tax receipts from North Sea oil and gas’.

My fears about the economy extend into an area in which I have a very personal interest: Scottish medical research.  Having put a large amount of money into Multiple Sclerosis research here, I was worried to see an open letter from all five of Scotland’s medical schools expressing ‘grave concerns’ that independence could jeopardise what is currently Scotland’s world-class performance in this area.  Fourteen professors put their names to this letter, which says that Alex Salmond’s plans for a common research funding area are ‘fraught with difficulty’ and ‘unlikely to come to fruition’.

According to the professors who signed the letter, ‘it is highly unlikely that the remaining UK would tolerate a situation in which an independent “competitor” country won more money than it contributed.’  In this area, as in many others, I worry that Alex Salmond’s ambition is outstripping his reach.

I’ve heard it said that ‘we’ve got to leave, because they’ll punish us if we don’t’, but my guess is that if we vote to stay, we will be in the heady position of the spouse who looked like walking out, but decided to give things one last go.  All the major political parties are currently wooing us with offers of extra powers, keen to keep Scotland happy so that it does not hold an independence referendum every ten years and cause uncertainty and turmoil all over again.  I doubt whether we will ever have been more popular, or in a better position to dictate terms, than if we vote to stay.

If we leave, though, there will be no going back.  This separation will not be quick and clean: it will take microsurgery to disentangle three centuries of close interdependence, after which we will have to deal with three bitter neighbours.  I doubt that an independent Scotland will be able to bank on its ex-partners’ fond memories of the old relationship once we’ve left.  The rest of the UK will have had no say in the biggest change to the Union in centuries, but will suffer the economic consequences. 

When Alex Salmond tells us that we can keep whatever we’re particularly attached to – be it EU membership, the pound or the Queen, or insists that his preferred arrangements for monetary union or defence will be rubber-stamped by our ex-partners – he is talking about issues that Scotland will need, in every case, to negotiate.  In the words of ‘Scotland’s Choices’ ‘Scotland will be very much the smaller partner seeking arrangements from the UK to meet its own needs, and may not be in a very powerful negotiating position.’

If the majority of people in Scotland want independence I truly hope that it is a resounding success. While a few of our fiercer nationalists might like to drive me forcibly over the border after reading this, I’d prefer to stay and contribute to a country that has given me more than I can easily express.  It is because I love this country that I want it to thrive.  Whatever the outcome of the referendum on 18th September, it will be a historic moment for Scotland.  I just hope with all my heart that we never have cause to look back and feel that we made a historically bad mistake.

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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Going Beyond Maurice Saatchi's Cutting Corporation Tax Idea

    Maurice Saatchi has produced for the Centre For Policy Studies (and implicitly for the Tory Party) a proposal to abolish Corporation Tax for all but the 10% of largest companies and also abolish Capital Gains Tax for the same people. Saying

"The Policy outlined in this document will:
 abolish Corporation Tax for 90% of UK companies
 reduce the deficit faster than predicted by the OBR 
 expand employment faster than predicted by the OBR
 increase competition and challenge Cartel Capitalism
 let millions of people grow tall. 
These millions of individuals will enjoy:
 the opportunity to say “I am the captain of my ship”
 more money
 more freedom
 the first step on The Road from Serfdom.
The nation as a whole will benefit from:
 a change in culture as big as “Own your own Home” in the 1980s
 greater economic growth and lower unemployment than forecast by the OBR
 more competitive market places
 more freedom and independence from Big Government and Big Companies."

   I have been pushing for CT cuts since before I started this blog in 2004. Basically following the example of Ireland where they cut CT, in a series of steps to 12.5%, and reduced regulation, particularly on housebuilding and achieved a 7% average growth rate.

    So what do I think of Saatchi's slightly different proposal? It is an improvement. His is costed at £10.5 bn. Mine of cutting all CT by slightly more than half would cost just over a billion more. Not much difference. However by concentrating it all on smaller companies he gets some advantages - smaller companies provide more employment growth; smaller companies tend to be more innovative, until they grow into bigger companies; smaller companies have more difficulty borrowing so profits are more important for expansion.

    He also has the advantage of being able to run it through an economic model. Lets take advantage of that.

    The conclusion is that this £10.5 bn cut would increase growth by about 0.8%, though not in the first year because the investment has to work through. That means that by the end of a 5 year Parliament that growth would have replaced all that tax cut. Saatchi says that this 0.8% estimate is "conservative" and I agree. Indeed that is 1 of 3 reasons I believe the position is much better than he offers:

1 - Irish growth was 7% - 4.5% better than ours. Even if we assume more than half was due  to the regulatory cuts (not the common feeling but probably true) and that, because Ireland is so much smaller than us, having lower taxes opened them up to proportionately more investment than us we still come out with the growth potential being around twice the 0.8% given. Also Irish growth did not take a year to take off and this is reasonable if investors see an improved investment opportunity - they will not wait, but start investing immediately, if they can.

2 - Increased national debt is only a problem in relation to the size of the economy. If we have growth of an extra 0.8% in the economy, debt can increase the same without making payment more difficult. Indeed if the size of government is unaltered there is actually proportionately more uncommitted money in the economy, though this is only a marginal effect.

Our current national debt is £1.4 trillion so 0.8% is £11.2 bn, just slightly above initial and maximum borrowing.

3 - If you have a growing economy you need to increase the money supply to keep prices stable. Money in UK circulation is rather larger than 1 year's gdp. In fact it was £2,200 bn in 2010 - presumably about £2,400 bn now. So an extra unexpected 0.8% growth means we can and should print £19 billion extra.
   This is not estimating conservatively but it is the realistic best estimate and if we don't do it there is no reason to believe reality will be conservative either.

    So clearly we should go with this asap.

   I would go further - promise that the take on CT and other business taxes will not be allowed to rise - if the economy grows, as it will, increasing the tax take, we will raise the level at which CT comes in (and when it is fully abolished, business rated and other such taxes). This means investors can look forward to a stable profitable investment, which is all they need.

    But I would like to see this as merely the start.

    The formula for economic growth is:     Economic Freedom + Cheap Energy

    Low business tax is only part, the smaller part, of economic freedom. The greater part is not having parasitic state regulation. At least tax money goes back into the economy, albeit in less efficient ways and excluding the cost of government taxing and returning it. Wealth destroyed by regulation, for example 98% of the cost of electricity, is gone forever.

   So we should should cut regulations wherever possible. As a minor effect that also cuts government spending a bit - it costs government all of 1/20th, to regulate, of what it costs the productive economy to be regulated.

75% of housing cost is regulatory - 34% X 75% = 25.5%
(I assume this includes heating it)

The EU regulations come to another 5%
(assuming the cost is equally borne by the people as by the government sector which is an optimistic assumption)

Remaining portion of income that goes to the value of what we actually choose
100% - 25.5% - 5% =69.5%

That 69.5% is, in turn reduced proportionately by all the other factors. Take off commercial building costs (est 2.5%), electricity charges through the rest of the economy (est 2%),accountancy (7.5%), child care (est 2.5%), assorted other (est 10%)
Total 24.5%

Therefore percentage of income we nominally get to spend which we actually get in our pockets & spent on the product not the surrounding regulation
69.5% X (100% - 24.5% = 52.5%
     But if the regulatory part of economic freedom costs us more than the tax part the other side of the equation, cheap energy has even more potential. Roger Helmer has written of the advantages of letting decisions on electricity be made on economic not ideological grounds.

    The correlation between growth in energy use and in gdp is undisputable.

        It has been calculated and indeed is undisputed that app 98% of the cost of producing electricity here is governmental parasitism. 

       Nuclear is currently 40% of the average cost of our power basket.
China is building at 0.27 our costs.

Because China is building in three years and us in ten we have seven years foregone income while paying interest – assuming the normal 10% return that is 1.10^7 = 1.95
Assume China is not entirely without state parasitism – say 10% 
VAT and carbon levies 20%
How much could cost be reduced if it was allowed to mass produce reactors - three fold seems a conservative estimate.

60% X 0.27 X 1/1.95 X 90% X 1/1.20% X 1/3 = 0.0208 or 2.08% of current costs.
97.92% parasitism.
       Major reductions, not quite as major, could be done by allowing the market to produce shale gas. Any reduction on electricity costs, not just one as major as this, if the laws of supply and  demand work, would produce a many fold increase in energy use and therefore a many fold increase in gdp.

       Indeed I have previously proposed a 24 point programme to the world's fastest growth, which includes my original CT cutting proposal, and it would work. Theoretically we might expect most of the proposals to increase growth by about an average of 2% a year, Some more, some less.

       In practice we might be limited to a bit above the 20% growth Guandong province in China managed for years. Certainly the theoretical maximum, if we make growth our "Number one priority" (Scottish labour leader Jack McConnell promising at 2 elections - he knew what people want even if he lied about giving it) cannot be lower than the actually achieved maximum.

      Saatchi's proposal is a very good one, well thought out and verified. It is a small fraction of our potential.


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Wednesday, June 18, 2014

LPP Fusion Crowdfunding at £73,500 of £117,600

    I have lifted this bodily from Next Big Future. I achieving it - the possibility of getting a working fusion device - would be wonderful. Odds are it will take longer and cost more, as such things do but even if that were so any slight shortening of the period to till humanity has unlimited power is worthwhile. So I ask you to make a small investment as advised in the ######### section. I consider copying NBF as a better way to use my photons here than an original article I would write.

      Crowdfunding looks like a way those of us committed to human progress can bypass the parasitism of political pressure. I will have to look into it further but trying to get policitcal organisations, even the most sensible of them, to put even a tiny fraction  of the money they take "to fund things that can only be funded by government" has not, so far, been very successful.

LPP Fusion Crowdfunding at $125K of $200K target

Scientists at LPP Fusion, led by Chief Scientist Eric Lerner, are just one step away from technically proving out dense plasma focus fusion and you a few thousand other people can help for the final push. They are already 63% of the way to the $200,000 they needed for a few key experiments with 19 days to go in the crowdfunding effort.

Success would be better than doubling NASA's budget and 100,000 times cheaper than one year of double NASA budget

Lawrenceville Plasma Physics has thanked and                                    the Nextbigfuture community.

The Nextbigfuture community have been early contributors to this key energy project and we have helped to get the word out on social media.

A few thousand people can change the course of the future

If this project is successfully fully funded and then leads to a successful experiment, then Nextbigfuture and the Nextbigfuture community will have been a significant part of creating a better future for space technology and energy.

LPP needs about 4000 more people to donate on average about $25 each or fewer people with larger average donations.

The Battle of Thermopylae was fought between an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, and the Persian Empire of Xerxes I over the course of three days, during the second Persian invasion of Greece. It changed the course of history. It is remembered for the 300 Spartans at the battle. However, it was a Greek force of 7000 men at the start. Later the bulk of the Greek army was dismissed and 300 Spartans, 700 Thespians, 400 Thebans and perhaps a few hundred others, most of whom were killed fought to the end. They died making history but you can help make the future for a few dollars.

Relatively Painless Money Saving Ideas to free up money to possibly change the world

You can rent two movies from Redbox instead of going to the theater and donate the savings.
Switch out of cable or satellite television and use Netflix and a HDTV antenna.

Use voice over internet phone services like OOMA or only use a mobile phone and no landline.


This is a nuclear fusion project where a bit of public funding will have a huge impact.
It is ten thousand times cheaper than the International Tokamak project. ITER costs billions and will still require decades and two more projects to possibly get to a commercial fusion reactor and those fusion reactors will be about fifteen story tall buildings the size of a football stadium.

This project could be proven for about $1-5 million with critical components and testing helped by another $127,000.

LPP needs to get their Tungsten electrode and then later switch to a berrylium electrode.
If successful with their research and then commercialization they will achieve commercial nuclear fusion at the cost of $400,000-1 million for a 5 megawatt generator that would produce power for about 0.3 cents per kwh instead of 6 cents per kwh for coal and natural gas. This can lead to commercial energy that is twenty times cheaper than natural gas or coal Last night coal mining killed another 238 274 people.

Energy that is twenty times cheaper will provide a massive pollution-free boost to the global economy. Instead of global 3% growth with not enough jobs it will mean 5+% growth for 60 years or more at least.

SuperCheap energy also means cheap clean water.

Go to this link to donate.

They have imaged the pinch which shows that much of the physics is as expected

Shot 9-09-10-02, 0.225 microsec before pinch

Right - Shot 9-15-10-07, magnified plasmoid at the pinch. We see the plasmoid on axis, which is about 150 microns across. The small dots are individual pixels, and do not represent actual fluctuations in intensity.

LPP’s mission is the development of a new environmentally safe, clean, cheap and unlimited energy source based on hydrogen-boron fusion and the dense plasma focus device, a combination we call Focus Fusion.

This work was initially funded by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and is now backed by over forty private investors including the Abell Foundation of Baltimore. LPP’s patented technology and peer-reviewed science are guiding the design of this technology for this virtually unlimited source of clean energy that can be significantly cheaper than any other energy sources currently in use. Non-exclusive licenses to government agencies and manufacturing partners will aim to ensure rapid adoption of Focus Fusion generators as the primary source of electrical power worldwide.

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


British spaceport in 5 years (coastal region possibly in Scotland) I privately understand Lossiemouth is the Scottish option. Campbelltown airport is actually pretty advanced but the flightpath from the US to Glasgow airports crosses it.
Scottish secession will result in between 20,000 and 40,000 jobs moving to England, providing "huge boost" to City of London, says Centre for Economics and Business Research
Balloon windmills -  I'm not convinced but they have at least the possibility of working which is more than current windmills do.
Jerry Pournelle - As of course I always have. Interplanetary colonization is not easy. When NASA studied self-replicating systems in Space in 1980 it was concluded that technology was not up to closing the loop: we could not build real self-replicating systems with the current technology. When the report was presented to the Administrator, I pointed out that we did have the technology to build one kind of self-replicating system: a Moon Colony. It would have a replication time of about 18 years. The Administrator asked “Why would anyone want to live on the Moon”, which sparked the L-5 Society study on lunar colonists that demonstrated there was no shortage of well educated adventurous couples who would undertake to go live on the Moon. But that was back in the days of great space enthusiasm.

The good thing about the Moon as a place to study problems of space colonization is that is is only a few days away for physical transportation, and only a few seconds away for communications. We don’t need great theorists on the Moon: we need craftsmen. The best heart surgeon in the world is available by high definition television; a skillful surgeon can do her work under the direction of the best.

Before we start trying to build self replicating colonies elsewhere we should learn to build them on the Moon – and they might well be both physically and economically successful.
As to getting to Mars, it has been decades since I ran the Human Factors Lab at Boeing and did serious professional study of such matters, but I have kept in touch, and I don’t believe we know how to get humans to Mars alive, much less maintain them there. I do know that if we have a Lunar Colony first, we’ll have a lot more confidence in Mars operations.
From Steve Sailer, I've not seen it reported elsewhere - The Dutch leftist legal professional who murdered in cold blood Pym Fortuyn, the candidate for prime minister on an immigration restriction platform, is out of prison after only 12 years. The assassin is usually identified as an "animal rights activist" to imply he was some kind of fringe wacko, but his testimony at his trial put him squarely in the mainstream of elite opinion on immigration in seeing Fortuyn's desire to stop Muslim immigration as beyond the pale. Indeed, the initial response of European Establishment figures in May 2002 was largely that Fortuyn had it coming.
Typical - Despite clear evidence that the pro-Kiev radicals set Odessa’s House of Trade Unions ablaze on Friday killing dozens, the mainstream media is being ambiguous about the causes of the tragedy.
On Friday, Ukraine’s eastern town of Odessa saw brutal street battles between pro-autonomy activists and nationalist radicals which left 46 people dead. The majority of the victims died in the Trade Unions House that was set on fire by pro-Kiev radicals.

Very carefully worded commentary on the tragedy in Odessa came from the mainstream Western media, as if they were trying to avoid assigning the blame to those who actually set the building on fire. Their coverage of the event was heavily reliant on statements from Kiev that blamed the violence on pro-autonomy activists, as well as witness accounts given by the nationalist Right Sector members.
Spiked on why the propaganda war on UKIP failed - basically because it was OTT and obviously lies (however I cannot say it entirely failed - there are some people who actually believe that if the entire state owned media, state regulated broadcasters and state funded by advertising newspapers make smoke they can't be entirely lying about a fire.)
Mike Haseler's list of Scottish blogs
"Age Reversal is no longer science fiction" by blood replacement. Not sure they have the full answer but they do have something.
DIY cruise missile

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Big Engineering 68 Constitution On Computer

   In 2009 I wrote a Big Engineering article on offering a prize for an open source computer programme able to function as a judge on matters of international law - a relatively simple field because there isn't much of it.

   Big Engineering 40 World Peace By Prize

   With Moore's Law (computer capacity doubles every 18 months) it has now increased some million times since 1980 & 250 times since 1997 (now 10 million or 2,500 times). Time for something bigger. The golden aim of such computer science is something that can pass the Turing Test - be able to carry out a conversation indistinguishable from that of a human (& more technical way of saying a computer with human level intelligence). I will aim for something lower - or higher.

I propose a series of prizes should be put up for a process culminating in the establishment of an open source computer programme which could determine the legality of national actions under international law.

The prizes should start with something capable of rendering a simulated decision in a war game atmosphere which both sides agreed was satisfactory. Then a larger prize for something used in a real situation & ultimately for one
successfully acts as a judge on the International Court of Justice, or if that option is refused, is able, on its own to render judgement in a years worth of different cases with judgements not agreed by a worldwide panel, to be inferior to the ICJ rulings. It is obviously necessary that, though the copyright remains in the designer's hands, the programme be open source so that it can be checked & run by anybody who needs to be able to trust it.Also here 

Law is a very computer like system with either/or decisions, set rules, logic & great importance laid on previous examples. As such it would be much easier for a computer programme to impersonate a superior judge than an ordinary human being.

It is overstating to say this would provide peace on Earth but it would provide a framework for it. Conflict usually occurs when both sides have convinced themselves they are in the right. Even where it isn't it is usually important for bystanders to be able to make a decision on that order.
     I think this is possibly the most important of my proposals over the years (& I have a high opinion of the value of many).
      There is a common feeling that "Peace on Earth" is highly desirable.
      Most of our problems are, by a broad definition, political - caused by human argumentativeness. However the rest of the world has yet to agree.
     I was diffident about this because, at the time, not being a computer specialist, I didn't know how technologically practical it was.
     That changed when the Turing Test, mentioned above, was passed a few days ago:
    "Eugene Gustman like an ordinary 13-year-old boy – so third of the judges decided the event Turing Test in 2014, which was held on June 8. Gustman said that he loves hamburgers and candy, and his father works as a gynecologist. But in fact, such a person does not exist – in fact, a program developed by a team of computer engineers led by English Vladimir Veselov and uraintsa Eugene Demchenko.

The fact that a third of the judges believed in the reality of the boy – this is a very significant figure. Under the terms of the test, developed in 1950 by the legendary scientist Alan Turing, it can be considered for the program passed if at least 30 per cent of judges are confident in communicating with the person."

    Of course those who don't want to accept it say that 30% approval is to low a bar and so on, and they may have a point, but it doesn't matter. Moore's law is continuing and progress is going to continue.

    Ray Kurwzeil here call it a premature announcement; that he thinks the test somewhat fixed and he "has seen better". This is probably true however being a 13 year old boy, on all subjects, is clearly a much more complicated task than being a Supreme Court judge discussing only the subject of the logical processes of the law. Whether a true Turing test or not it is clearly enough for a judge programme.

   There can now be no reasonable dispute that that proposal is currently practical. And not much, that we can go further.

   Which is why I am now proposing that the same process be applied to interpretation of constitutions. The whole point of a constitution is to say what government can, cannot & possibly must do and government itself is obviously an unsuitable entity to interpret this. Which is why we have "separation of powers" and judges, nominally independent of government deciding - except that, being human appointees there can be no certainty of them being independent.

   But an open source computer programme has to be because it can be tested by anybody (well anybody who knows how)  and while many will dislike some decisions, because they will dislike the constitutional assumptions (republicans in Britain, gun opponents in the US) they will have to be consistent, whoever is making the case - that's what impartial justice means.

    We should design a programme to act as a Supreme Court for interpreting constitutional law. In turn new laws, or indeed a new Scottish constitutional settlement can be tested before it is enshrined. making laws mean what we want them to mean is most of constitutional law. With this programme that can be done quickly and easily. For example we have little idea how the redefinition of marriage will affect other laws, and currently we have no way of definitively knowing until after, perhaps decades after, passing it. 

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

Look Who Is Lying To Scare Us

   "According to recent data compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control CDC), people who eat organic and "natural" foods are eight times as likely as the rest of the population to be attacked by a deadly new strain of E. coli bacteria (0157: H7). This new E. coli is attacking tens of thousands of people per year, all over the world. It is causing permanent liver and kidney damage in many of its victims. The CDC recorded 2,471 confirmed cases of E. coli 0157: H7 in 1996 and estimated that it is causing at least 250 deaths per year in the United States alone.

Consumers of organic food are also more likely to be attacked by a relatively new, more virulent strain of the infamous salmonella bacteria. Salmonella was America’s biggest food-borne death risk until the new E. coli O157 came along.

Organic food is more dangerous than conventionally grown produce because organic farmers use animal manure as the major source of fertilizer for their food crops.....

    The real surprise is that nobody is telling the public about the new dangers from organic food, or trying to persuade organic farmers to reduce these risks. Activist groups, government, and the press, all of which have shown no reluctance to organize crusades about matters such as global warming, tobacco addiction, and the use of pesticides are allowing organic farmers to endanger their customers without any publicity whatever."  continued

   And fairly recently we had an outbreak in Germany which proves it:

   "A novel strain of Escherichia coli O104:H4 bacteria caused a serious outbreak of foodborne illness focused in northern Germany in May through June 2011. ....

Epidemiological fieldwork suggested fresh vegetables were the source of infection. The agriculture minister of Lower Saxony identified an organic farm[2] in Bienenbüttel, Lower Saxony....

In all, 3,950 people were affected and 53 died...."  continued

    250 organic food deaths in the USA a year suggests 5,000 a year worldwide (this is pretty much seat of the pants because I am quite certain that far more people die that way in the 3rd world but don't realise they are eating "organic food" but merely think it is "food" so lets assume the same rate as the developed world. So over the last 25 years that is 125,000.

   Compare that to nuclear power - Fukushima zero deaths; previous Japanese accident 2 deaths Chernobyl 51 deaths.

   That makes organic food (125,000/53) 2,358 times more dangerous than nuclear. That should actually be "an absolute minimum of 2,358 times because (A) by including the date of Chernobyl we are bringing the average way up and we should also correct for nuclear providing 20% of the world's electricity while official organic is under 1% of its food so (125,000/2  X 20/1) 1,250,000 times more dangerous is equally defensible but lets not be churlish.

   So we can say for certain that any anti-nuclear "protestor" who hasn't spent at least 2,358 times longer protesting against organic food in equally hysterical terms isn't remotely concerned about any alleged health threat but simply a Luddite lying.

  Google on "Dangers of nuclear power" 4,360,000 items
        "       "  "Dangers of Organic Food" 2,500,000 items (I must admit surprise the discrepancy wasn't greater but still, the nuclear one should only have been one thousand and sixty worldwide.

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