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Geoman

Imagine car repair consisting of basically plug and play components that anyone can do themselves - just order the extra car parts, unplug the old ones, and plug in the new. Cars that are infinitely repairable and upgradeable. Want 4 wheel drive? Buy two extra wheel modules and plug them in. Want a bigger "gas" tank? Buy an after market battery pack to upgrade. Heck, but a whole new car body and stick it on your electric skateboard just for a change.

So much more will change than just gas versus electric....we might start viewing our cars in a whole new way. Imagine multiple cars that work as a unit - taking turns drafting each other to save energy on long drives.

Car runs out of energy? have someone run you over an emergency battery to get you home.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Yes. If anything, buying a new ICE car now, with the expectation of a 15-year usage span, may be risky.

But it is noteworthy how quickly EVs are ramping up now, after decades of their availability seeming all but impossible. The fact that they are ramping up at nearly 60% YoY despite the two major headwinds, is amazing.

Geoman

The longer the change is delayed, the stronger the response. Washington DC has electric taxi cabs in 1900. We've been waiting a long time or this, so it should come fast.

I agree - hard to decide what to do regarding cars - best to hang on to fully depreciated cars and wait a bit. Heck. my cars can't be worth much less than they are today.

But big picture, like you have said, the ATOM is feeding on itself. The revolution started at the high end goods and services - oil production, space launch, luxury cars, wall street. But it is starting down market - regular cars are the latest but there will be many more things to start feeling the brunt of the change...

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

The longer the change is delayed, the stronger the response

Yes. That is true of all technological change (as long as one knows where the trendline is).

The thing is, no one has yet thought about the implications of the long life of EVs. I say that this, when combined with autonomous driving, mandates an on-demand usage model, as that is the only way to ever reach 500,000 miles before the other technologies in the car become obsolete.

16 hours/day on-demand autonomous usage.
500,000 miles in 5 years.
The number of cars drops by 75%, with few people owning one.

This is pure ATOM, as it frees up land that on one ever thought could be repurposed for more modern usage.

The bad news is that people (especially in California) will depend on extremely inefficient zoning laws to prevent a massive devaluation of their leveraged housing. Abandoned strip malls (with their vast parking lots) cannot be repurposed into anything commercial as that is already in a glut in California. Apartments and townhomes are the only type of real-estate that is in shortage.

HB

We will be in a much better position to discover what electric cars are really worth when -- and if -- all subsidies are withdrawn and all punitive central command and control taxes are withdrawn from both competing and established technologies.

Until then, electric cars are a main force damaging economic efficiency -- and thus lowering the overall growth exponent -- and a major vector for the top down totalitarian command and control society most humans are still fatally attracted to, for reasons of evolutional genetic baggage... but that's another story.

Instead of vehicles with self righteous "Zero Emission" plates I'd like to see cars with "Zero Subsidies" plates.

Kartik Gada

HB,


We will be in a much better position to discover what electric cars are really worth when -- and if -- all subsidies are withdrawn and all punitive central command and control taxes are withdrawn from both competing and established technologies.

Well, yes. Subsidies rarely have any effect at all on the timing of mass-market adoption.

But the subsidies will have to end soon in any event, due to the high unit sales.

HB

I wonder how many years will have to pass until electric cars can recharge 650 kWh in 60 seconds (like hydrocarbon cars can now).

Electric cars are currently propelled by the futurology doomsday mentality of climate change -- they have predicted not only the future of the climate (the relatively easy part) but also the status of humanity at the end of the century AND have determined that these future humans will suffer from the heat!

This same mentality will not stop at electric cars, because that mentality is about totalitarianism not climate. That mentality is already applying punitive rates to electricity, so one wonders whether electric cars are going to be cheaper in the end. With an electric car needing 100 kWh to cover a distance of 250 miles and electricity rates in "enlightened" California already at $0.37 per KWh the expense amounts to $37 of electricity for 250 miles. That is a similar cost to modern large gasoline sedans (actually gas would be cheaper without the California climate change punitive taxes).

The main mentality that promotes electric cars is about coercive collectivism (totalitarianism) so it will not stop at electric cars, or climate change. It will not rest until it controls what you learn at schools and universities, tell you where and how to live, mandate how you will move around, dictate your food, and in the end force you to ask for permission on whether to be born at all (as in centralized population size planning). No other totalitarianism has ever aspired to control so many aspects of human life.

These are not the societal attributes of high growth societies. Any delay in reaching the infinite benefits of the singularity is an infinite calamity.

Drew

I find it interesting when echoes of our discussions show up the more mainstream world. Both Ford and GM are cutting back on standard sedans, realizing that there will be limited demand for them in the future due to assisted driving as well as potential electronic replacements as well as all the other reliable used cars out there. Some of this is also the preference and low gas prices that allow SUVs and other cross-over vehicles. Personally, we just bought a reliable used car, but the next car replacement will likely be a lease because we are on the cusp of the market changing.

Two main stream links that I found interesting was one on deflation in clothing and clothing retail - https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-death-of-clothing/
and a consulting company's prediction on the interaction of demography and automation in 2020's - https://www.bain.com/insights/labor-2030-the-collision-of-demographics-automation-and-inequality

The example I use with people (and even my mother gets it) is that the next wave of automation will affect middle management and other white collar workers as secretaries were impacted by word processing - word processors could not replace all of a secretary's duties, but by replacing the need for accurate typing specialists, secretary's numbers were reduced from one for every two or three white collar workers to one per department or less.

Thanks, Drew

Drew

Another way to interpret Ford's and GM's actions is that they aren't going to keep sedan lines in production to hedge against future oil price rises and demand for vehicles that use less gasoline because they assume that if there is an increase in the price of oil, the response will be to move to electric cars, not to gasoline cars with higher miles per gallon. I doubt that they are aligned with our views that there won't be future gas price increases that will change behavior, but the end result is the same. Cheers, Drew

Geoman

Yipes HB!

Look, I recently drove a model 3. Guy who bought it got nothing in subsides, and paid $45k. He loves it, and yeah, it's a delight to drive. Quick, nimble, quiet, comfortable, fun. And I imagine, almost indefinitely repairable/up gradable. The tech is so advanced it has become absurdly simple - it is practically plug and play.

When these things hit $30k they will be purchased like crazy. And I think that could happen round about 2025. Nothing can stop it.

Even if it costs as much to drive as an ICE vehicle, it will still be sought out for numerous other reasons. Simplicity. Quiet. Hey, I can re-fuel my vehicle at my house! Swiss company ABB has launched its Terra High Power DC fast charger, which can charge at nearly three times the rate of Tesla's Superchargers. 120 mile range in 8 minutes. That will be fine for most people.

The government just needs to step aside and let things happen as they happen. I think electric cars are a better, simpler, idea. It has nothing to do with climate change for me - a quieter, faster, more roomy car that I can fuel at home sounds pretty attractive, and I might be willing to exchange a few minor conveniences to have one.

Kartik Gada

HB,

HB
I wonder how many years will have to pass until electric cars can recharge 650 kWh in 60 seconds (like hydrocarbon cars can now).

This is often pointed out, but note that ICE cars cannot charge overnight at home, while an EV can. An EV can also charge at work (depending on whether the employers has wired the parking spots), often for free.

The 'convenience of refueling' factors have apples-to-oranges elements to them, but it doesn't have to match ICE paradigms.

Long-haul charging stations that charge EVs in 15-20 minutes will become tied to coffee shops, as people have to wait around for 15 minutes. Plus, a public EV charging station can have 30+ cables easily, vs. the eight pumps that exist at a typical US gas station (fewer in other countries).

Geoman

Hey Drew,

Honestly, I think we are past the days of expensive oil. I think $80 is the upper boundary, and sustaining prices above that level for any length of time is well nigh impossible - more and more tight oil will come on line and destroy that price.

As EVs hit the road, demand for oil will decline, further capping prices. 70% of the oil used in the U.S. goes to transportation, 51% is just gasoline. Imagine the U.S. cutting gasoline usage by 20%, or 50%. The race will then by on to monetize the remaining oil in the ground before it becomes worthless. When it happens, it will happen fast - demand will be crashing by several % a year down to about 30% of what we currently use. That will start happening worldwide - in China, Japan, Europe. World demand will stagnate for some time while the remaining undeveloped portions of the world catch up and go electric, but it will come.

More importantly the shale revolution in the U.S. and Canada is exportable to the rest of the world, meaning supplies will remain high. And lastly, many countries like Venezuela, Russia, Saudi Arabia etc. HAVE to sell oil for whatever price they can get, because they have nothing else anyone wants. And they will be looking at the monetization curve - the oil in the ground becoming increasing worthless each year. Better to pump and sell it for whatever price you can, now, rather than a deflated price later. Or worse yet, have the price fall below your production costs. So they will be in a race to the bottom.

Oil will still be produced and consumed, indefinitely. But it will become more like any other commodity, copper, or iron, or wheat. No one will be able to control the market, or set prices, and a shortage will be temporary, and hardly damaging.

In about 10 years the world will realize America saved the day again with EVs and fracking technology.

Kartik Gada

Geoman said,

Honestly, I think we are past the days of expensive oil. I think $80 is the upper boundary, and sustaining prices above that level for any length of time is well nigh impossible - more and more tight oil will come on line and destroy that price.

Indeed! I predicted this in 2011, when 'peak oil' was still the rage.

https://www.singularity2050.com/2011/07/the-end-of-petrotyranny.html

200 X-points have not even been used up.

The high delta between WTI and Brent Oil prices is noteworthy, and is a testament to very high US production.

But conversely, countries outside the US are more suitable for EVs than the US is, for reasons mentioned in the article (gasoline is still $6/gallon in many countries, which also happen to be countries with 220V outlets).

The race will then by on to monetize the remaining oil in the ground before it becomes worthless. When it happens, it will happen fast - demand will be crashing by several % a year down to about 30% of what we currently use.

As a ripple effect of this, we are starting to enter an era of super-cheap International airline flights. That is the only place where demand can still rise from lower oil prices.
Visit Asia for $400 round trip. Another ATOM effect.

Oil will still be produced and consumed, indefinitely. But it will become more like any other commodity, copper, or iron, or wheat. No one will be able to control the market, or set prices, and a shortage will be temporary, and hardly damaging.

Yes. It also won't be such a huge factor in international trade, like it is today. Most of the major oil importers will have alternatives for locally sourced energy (another benefit of EVs : they consume locally-sourced fuel).

But no technology ever fully goes away. None.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

When these things hit $30k they will be purchased like crazy. And I think that could happen round about 2025. Nothing can stop it.

Yes. Perhaps sooner, given the double-exponential trends in batteries that we see in the above chart.

Note that the 'hump' is the transition of government/commercial vehicles (800,000 police cars, etc.), which only happens when it is cost-effective (which it now is). That is what creates enough volume (in batteries, charging stations, etc.) for the $30K consumer car to arrive.

These police/postal/pizza vehicles are in use all day, but never go outside of a 5-mile radius from their HQ. They are ideal for EV conversion en masse.

Drew

I agree that we are past the days of expensive oil, (Of all of Kartik's predictions this one has impressed me the most), and that view is gaining ground outside this group, but is not yet mainstream. Drew

Geoman

https://electrek.co/2018/12/14/vw-electric-hatchback-spotted-testing/

Believe it or not, I said it, then decided to bother looking to see if we are already there....and I found this. Really we are past the point that anything can stop it, and past the point where government policy even matters. All the necessary investment is already pipelined and under construction.

I think we are past the battery hump - the batteries we have are more than good enough to get the job done. Whether better batteries come along or not...meh. Doesn't really make that much difference. Costs will come down with volume from this point forward. What is the formula? 15% cost reduction for each doubling of sales volume? We have several more doublings in our future, 5-6 by my guess. At the end of the day, electric vehicles are much simpler, and should cost much less to build at the same volume as ICE vehicles.

Really the only drag is the remaining assets - gas stations, repair shops, tooling. A lot of companies will have to go out of business, and that turnover of capital will be immense. It will take time just to process that big of a crunch.

I suspect Kartik's future, while viable, is still more in doubt. He talks about cars on demand and fewer parking lots, but ...it could just go the other way. With cheap, self-driving electric cars, maybe many more people will be on the roads. I just don't know. How much are we willing to pay for an car at our disposal? What will be the final price of electrics? It is not so clear to me. I think the answer will vary substantially depending on where you live - in crowded places car sharing might be just fine, while in less crowded places, perhaps not. Hard to say until self driving really starts rolling.

Geoman

One side benefit of all this no one ever thinks of - the biofuels market will die. With electric cars it will become increasingly stupid to maintain a biofuels market. Sooner or later they will just let it die a well deserved death.

Which is good news - more food available, meaning lower food prices worldwide.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

With cheap, self-driving electric cars, maybe many more people will be on the roads.

There certainly will be more people on the roads. But there won't be a need to park. That is where the immense yield of new land (in the US) will come from.

Rural areas may still not migrate to self-driving/on-demand, but that is not where outdated zoning has caused an extreme land misallocation (as is the case in California metros).

The thing is, the 500,000-mile life of an EV is a large part of its cost advantage, and that cannot be exploited any other way than an on-demand, self-driving model that, at one-fourth the cost of current Uber fares, uses the car 16 hours/day, and eliminates the need for massive parking lots and 25%+ of urban road width wasted by street parking. Private owners, for the most part, will never reach anything close to 500,000 miles on cars they own. The rapid obsolesence of the various technologies in the car (beyond just the energy system) mandates an upgrade after five years. Hence, 500,000 needs to be reached in 5 years. One autonomous/on-demand car replaces 4-6 privately-owned cars of today, and 90% of commercial parking lots and street parking (the US has 4 formally designated parking spots per car).


One side benefit of all this no one ever thinks of - the biofuels market will die. With electric cars it will become increasingly stupid to maintain a biofuels market. Sooner or later they will just let it die a well deserved death.

Yes. Similarly, the rise of solar (and to a lesser extent, wind) will greatly reduce the need for new nuclear plants. The amicable solution to the Iran situation is Solar and Wind. Even if the first 100GW is paid for by America, that is much cheaper than current approaches to the Iran situation.

HB

Geoman,

If technology evolved in a competitive open marketplace then there would be little to debate. Innovation would work its exponential miracle. In that sense electric cars seem poised to become wonderful things and I welcome them.

The problem comes when others try to impose their central global plans based on assumptions that are so speculative that they really classify as a religion. Of all people those who think that the singularity is a serious probability should realize how speculatively asinine, bordering on religion, and most likely wrong, is to assume that future humans towards the end of the century will be bothered by a warming planet. Singularity or not humans will be so advanced by the end of the century that they are not going to give a hoot about the planet going from oh so cool 290 degrees Kelvin to oh so hot 292 degrees Kelvin. Coercive collectivism is the major source of most conflict. It is indeed that mentality that makes gasoline over $6 per gallon in most of the world, not some physical bottleneck.

Geoman

I think the greatest problem in the world is the incredible stupidity of elites. I feel I'm finally just smart enough to realize how dumb they actually are.

A hundred years ago a well educated person could understand any number of fields and sciences, from literature, animal husbandry, to metal working and mining. Not enough to be an expert, but enough to get by. But while the average intelligence of a politician has stayed the same, or even declined, the world has become increasingly more complex. And the problem is becoming exponentially worse.

I doubt there is a single politician that actually understands nuclear power, electric cars, or global warming. not enough to make any intelligent decisions. they just parrot what they are told by experts, who themselves are increasingly out of touch with developments. Not one in 10 politicians, 1 in 100, could actually intelligently discuss global warming without resorting to saying, over and over, "experts tell me..." Note the use of language, especially the word "belief" Do you believe in global warming? Do you believe in wind and solar? Do you believe in nuclear power? What do you believe? Not "what do you think", because honestly, who bothers to think any more? belief is all they have.

In such a circumstance, what is a politician, a leader to do? Easy! Simplify the world by consolidating control into a smaller group of people! The urge to tyranny is building in the west for that very reason - it is a vain attempt to assert control over the uncontrollable. Our only hope it to ride the technological wave, but there are an endless number of foolish people who think they can just grab it with both hands. it will be the last gasp of central planning, by humans anyway.

But I don't feel sad - their nattering is likely to come to little in the end. their attempts to assert control are likely to backfire spectacularly. And the end is near - everything is accelerating, even acceleration! The event horizon is approaching, and there is not enough energy in the universe to pull us free. I plan to ride it like Slim Pickens rode that atomic bomb in Dr. Strangelove, yelling "Yippiee!" all the way.

Late night at work, and I get poetic.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

This is why there will soon be a role for AI in government, whether politicians and bureaucrats like it or not. AI will be involved in both policy testing as well as delivery of government services.

An AI that can rapidly simulate the effects of adding or removing any new law would be invaluable. Among the biggest problems in a mature, creaking state like the US is that the older a law is, the harder it is to repeal. That is why the recent tax reform was so underwhelming. That is also why a 1920 law like the Jones Act, or various Securities laws from 1933 and 1940, are so irrevocably embedded into everything. It is high time for AI to make a real FIFO model of regulatory reform possible.

Geoman

Sounds great, but having spent time around politicians, they already don't listen to experts, or rather, listen only to those that tell them things they want to hear. they all want alarm clocks that only ring when they are already awake.

I like to think that we have been living with a massive AI program for decades. Millions of human minds linked by rapid communications, and processing power through the roof. It is called capitalism and the free market. Look how much various governments fight against that even though the benefits are well documented. It is the only thing that might be able to tame the singularity.

HB

Geoman,

You bring up a good point about the idiocy of politicians. But I think it is the increasing relative idiocy of individuals in general -- as you also point out. Perhaps what's happening is that ...as individuals, though we have access to ever more information, our brains are finite, so personal knowledge is still increasing at an ever slower rate compared to total human knowledge. The bottom line is that we are becoming more and more individual idiots -- so we should stop making top down master plans for the entire humanity -- and stop supporting politicians who have such aspirations (most of them). Alas, we are still biologically hard wired in primitive times, so we carry the baggage of our totalitarian tendencies... and that slows down the ATOM.

Politicians can best be understood in terms of their product. The product of a politician, almost by definition, is coercive collectivism and that is therefore what they will promote. A politician who advocates small government, that is low levels of coercive collectivism, is like a butcher who promotes vegetarianism. Yes, they do exist but they are far and in between.

Kartik Gada


Sounds great, but having spent time around politicians, they already don't listen to experts, or rather, listen only to those that tell them things they want to hear.

Oh, it won't be voluntary by any means. But if we believe in any technology principles at all, the governance sector of the world ($30T/year in spending) is extremely unproductive, obstructive, and ripe for technological disruption.

They can no more stop it than OPEC could stop fracking, or NYC taxi medallion owners could stop Uber.

It ultimately takes some small country to adopt new paradigms (like the Sovereign Venture Fund).

Geoman

HB - very well said and exactly what I believe. the only hope is to let go of the steering wheel and allow the car to drive itself, and there is a very large contingent that will never agree to that. the same faction that demonizes capitalism will demonize AI.

I've said it over and over, but we know exactly what creates tremendous wealth in societies, and we have known it since the 1960s. Yet there are only 34 countries with scores above 70 on the index of economic freedom. Free markets work because they are a form of emergent AI. It is why they are so powerful and transformational. I think by studying how they work, and our response to them, reveals a lot about the future.

Look at the Democratic socialists in the U.S. - total madness. Nothing they advocate will work. We know it - its been tied and failed, and we can even prove it mathematically. But it doesn't deter them in the least. Some people just want other people to tell them what to do.

Kartik - I agree with you as well. How can I be pessimistic and optimistic at the same time? I dunno. It's the singularity. Ultimately the singularity will crush politics as well. I imagine a little bit of a "mouse that roared" scenario, where a small country or state let's go of the steering wheel and finds immediate immense prosperity and power.

When a politician says "I was elected to do things" that person is, likely as not, going to get someone killed.

Kartik Gada

HB,

Personalized AI (in the form of personalized learning, decision sorting, etc.) may increase the overall capacity/capability of the human brain by 25%, 50%, or more. This might in turn improve the quality of politicians elevated to prominence.

Of course, the rise of corrupt politicians is not merely a function of the intelligence of the electorate, but the ethics and value system as well (a lot of high-IQ Democrats have a disturbingly high tolerance for outright evil by their designated champions, and a few Republicans are like that as well).

HB

Going back to electric car mobility...

Global warming electricity rates are a serious impediment to the adoption of electric vehicles -- and that is just the beginning!

For example, Californians, people and politicians, are heavily promoting (and centrally planning) adoption of electric vehicles to compete with gasoline -- and electricity rates are already administratively jacked up to $0.40/kWh in many areas. That is five or more times the free market rate! Which makes charging an electric vehicle comparable in cost to filling a gasoline car.

But, most importantly, can you imagine what will happen once the last few hydrocarbon car holdouts are forced into electric vehicles? -- making electricity the only option? The sky will be the limit for the centrally planned and mandated electricity price.

Do not expect politicians to pull back from the imposition of taxes in all forms. That is their livelihood. Overriding markets and reallocating wealth and resources according to politics rather than market realities is their reason for existence and the central tenet of their indispensable self -righteous ideology. People with no affinity for such ideology don't even become politicians. That is natural and inevitable. What might not be inevitable is the rest of us falling for it, and following this centrally planned self-righteous ideology like sheep, as we have done for millennia.

Those who are hard wired to have central plans for society (most humans) will not stop at the adoption of electric vehicles on their road to "a gentler, better, centrally designed and directed community, society, and planet!". Populism around the world is exactly a visceral reaction to that vaguely perceived reality. A visceral reaction to a centrally designed and centrally administered planet. Of course, being visceral, it lacks rationality and can easily and serendipitously wonder astray and actually achieve the opposite results.

Geoman

HB, again, well said. There is straight line from trump to Brexit to the yellow jackets. And that is the realization that our betters are promoting solutions with dubious benefits.

If solar panels take off, then conceivably some fraction can be fueling the cars using "free" energy. And if people start "fueling" electric cars at night, then the electrical demand curve may start to flatten. Given a huge part of the cost for electricity is capital and interest on the transmission lines and power plants, we might see those assets used more, meaning those costs are being smeared over more kwh, reducing the overall unit prices. In other words, the plant costs just as much generating electricity as it does sitting idle, and most plants currently sit idle at night due to low demand. So nighttime car charging demand is like adding an extra shift at the factory without any additional labor - practically free money for the utility.

Nighttime electricity rates should be around 1/3 of daytime, if priced correctly.

Really I imagine it is going to vary immensely from utility to utility, and region to region. Some utilities will realize that electric cars actually help them, and cut rates at night to promote charging, stealing market share from oil companies.

PG&E in California is offering rates that boil down to around $1 per gallon of gas. you park your car and set the timer to start charging at midnight. By 6 AM you have a full charge. A win for everyone but the oil companies.

It can all work itself out. It will be a very different grid, with different pricing, and getting there will be a bit bumpy, but I can see it working out as a net savings to the consumer.

Geoman

I should say where I live, we have mild summers and cold winters. In the summer, perhaps 4-5 months a year, half our grid is shut down. There is just no demand - no lighting or air conditioning needed. Yet we pay to build and maintain these facilities for the winter, when demand is higher.

Kartik Gada

HB,

It is a common thing for statists to invent new schemes to divert money and power to themselves - it is their only purpose in life, as you state. Unfortunately, this taints the reputation of a formerly apolitical technology seized upon by the statists, and leads to knee-jerk reactions from Republicans (or equivalent).

EVs are one example. In 2002, Trent Lott and other GOP Senators bashed EVs as 'golf carts'. Their opposition to the leftist schemes of the time was correct as the technology was vaporware at the time (analogous to expecting a smartphone in 1993), but the reaction you are having to the EVs of today is because of that.

This is even more true for solar and wind. Leftists brought these technologies into disrepute due to their desire to create more government schemes through these technologies (see : Solyndra). Nonetheless, both technologies are advancing, and are exactly where they would be today had there been no politicization. The Solar + EV combo is going to bring us to an incredible tipping point that may be just 36 months away.

Global warming electricity rates are a serious impediment to the adoption of electric vehicles -- and that is just the beginning!

The forces that artificially increase electricity prices are the same ones that place a huge gasoline tax on gasoline. While only 2% of new car sales in the US are EVs, in the Bay Area it is 5%+ already.

Not to mention, this forces more people to get home solar, and sell electricity *back* to the grid.

Plus, public skepticism of 'global warming' has risen greatly, which makes it less likely that any such schemes can pass without better evidence. The reason the public dismissed this is the disconnect between the words and actions of the most vocal proponents, as well as the fact that any true solution to CO2 emissions has to focus on China, not the US (which in fact has reduced CO2 emissions to a 60-year low even before EVs).

The sky will be the limit for the centrally planned and mandated electricity price.

Home solar setups are getting cheaper and are entirely off the grid. Plus, cars will still be only a fraction of total electricity use. On the contrary, the gas station is a bigger cudgel of central planning, as credit card companies convey data to highway patrols to see if you were speeding (as discovered by too little time between gas station fill-ups that are too far apart in distance), in order to give tickets to motorists.

waestrel

"Personalised AI (in the form of personalised learning, decision sorting, etc.) may increase the overall capacity/capability of the human brain by 25%, 50%, or more. This might in turn improve the quality of politicians elevated to prominence."

This I think is a vital ATOM point , as it seems a great deal of the worlds problems come from the problems associated with low IQ - short time horizons, inability to defer gratification, abstract thought etc. There is even evidence to say that democracy is impossible with a nation average IQ of less than 90.

Can you elaborate on this point Kartik? Or even make it an AofM?

Palamas

waestrel,

The world better hope that the (allowed destruction?) assault on european heritage ceases soon, then.

Others,

The comments for this blog entry were really good. Keep up the good work.

---
I have a question for you all though, I find that a lot of your positions (since you are pot committed, so to speak, in may ways to the "singularity") are not falsifiable. For example, I've given reasons or shown evidence on a few topics in the past that demonstrate that things weren't going in the direction you were saying. The response was that, oh, it just takes longer than accelerates later. I find that to be a "prove that it's not happening". While you may have reasons to belief that all things are going in a general trend, surely you don't believe that all of your predictions with humans that evolved a long time ago will come to fore as you think they will. It really is an important check on the way you think about things to consider this point; I urge it since it is key to be humble about what we don't know. Thanks.

Kartik Gada

Palamas,

For example, I've given reasons or shown evidence on a few topics in the past that demonstrate that things weren't going in the direction you were saying.

Like what?

The response was that, oh, it just takes longer than accelerates later. I find that to be a "prove that it's not happening".

That is not how accelerating change works. 80% of the progress happens in the final 20% of the time. In 2010, one could easily have misconcluded that EVs are 'not happening'.

I frequently point out technologies that really are 'not happening', such as longevity treatments.

Kartik Gada

Waestrel,

AI can adapt information to an individual's learning style. Classroom-based learning is the bluntest of blunt instruments. This could greatly increase the overall intelligence of society, but remember that the smarter people will proactively use it while people who already don't know that the Earth goes around the Sun in one year (despite the existence of the Internet) will not suddenly be inspired to make use of new tools.

So while the average capability will rise, so will the gap.

Secondly, don't get seduced by the oversimplification via the 'IQ' explanation that is overused on race trashionalist websites. It is a 10-20% factor, but far from the only one :

i) If a country's economy grew 3% this year, does that mean the IQ of the country rose by 3% in that year?
ii) If countries with 85 IQs are exactly at the level of economic prosperity as what a number of 100 IQ countries were just 10-15 years ago, such a small time gap is obviously not evidence of IQ being the be-all and end-all of a nation's prosperity.
iii) Men and women have the same average IQs. Yet men do almost 100% of all technological innovation (actually 110-120% if you count obstruction by radical feminists). That is a huge repudiation of IQ as being the only metric in prosperity, and is in fact proof that IQ tests were forcibly revised to conceal the realities between male and female abilities in terms of work that has the highest economic value per hour. Women will never be the producers of more than 15% of real STEM work. Never. Nor do they truly want to be, as even Marissa Mayer said.
iv) A lot of rural peasants in poorer countries do not yet send their children to school, so they have no experience in taking tests. Hence their IQ readings are not indicative of their genetic traits. If you went, via time machine, to the US or UK in 1800 and had peasant children take a modern IQ test, most would only score about 70 or so, even if those children are genetically identical to their descendants of today. They just haven't been in a pedagogical setting that includes test-taking.
v) See also the prosperity gaps between West Germany and East Germany pre-1989, between South Korea and North Korea today, etc. Obviously, IQ is only a small component of the total equation, as two neighboring countries of identical genetics and cultural origins can still have 10x prosperity gaps between them.

HB

"Plus, public skepticism of 'global warming' has risen greatly, which makes it less likely that any such schemes can pass without better evidence."

I see little evidence of increasing skepticism. If anything, ever more Americans seem to be considering global warming an imminent as well as long term menace.

In other words, most Americans see NO singularity. As a matter of fact both the average American as well as the average world citizen lacks even the fundamental arithmetic skills to realize the awesome effect of simple world growth compounding. Few people realize the simple arithmetic whereby even simple non-accelerating four percent world growth makes our descendants twenty five times richer and more capable than today by century's end -- at an average worldwide income of four hundred thousand dollars per capita and well over a million dollars per capita in the more advanced economies. Were the average American to realize this awesome simple compounding (let alone the singularity) they would simply ridicule the global warming calamity concerns of a group of totalitarian minded anti-capitalist people.

Alas, what most Americans see towards the end of the century is neither singularity nor even the compounding of simple non-accelerating growth. What they see by century end is a world that is about the same as today plus the "catastrophe" of a planet that has gone from 290 degrees Kelvin in pre-industrial times to 293 degrees Kelvin at century's end,...ruining the lives of average families who live on two million dollars per year. That is the epitome of delusion, but it's going mainstream -- and this totalitarian train uses electrical transportation central planning as one of its main engines, an otherwise wonderful technology.

Kartik Gada

HB,

As a matter of fact both the average American as well as the average world citizen lacks even the fundamental arithmetic skills to realize the awesome effect of simple world growth compounding.

Even worse, no formal economists seem to have any curiosity about this.

A simple Google search for 'Accelerating, Exponential Economic Growth', a general enough term, reveals charts almost exclusively from THIS blog!

But 'global warming' is not gaining ground at all. See here :

https://content.gallup.com/origin/gallupinc/GallupSpaces/Production/Cms/POLL/xzumtsjkxueekifjhphptg.gif

My own view is that even if there were to be a real problem, the stupid leftists who over-politicized it and exclusively presented solutions that expanded government in fact made it much harder to address a real problem if it were in fact to arise (which they don't care about).

Alas, what most Americans see towards the end of the century is neither singularity nor even the compounding of simple non-accelerating growth.

I am compiling a list of films that depicted the future relative to when the film was made. The worst example of what you cite is the film 'Soylent Green'. It was made in 1973 and set in 2022. It depicted every Malthusian trope you can think of, and of course got the future very, very wrong. A film made by those with zero faith in innovation, technology, and the economic growth trendline.

Geoman

HB - my goodness, that made me laugh. "...ruining the lives of average families who live on two million dollars per year." hah! exactly right! At that price, expensive solar and batteries and electric cars is a trivial expenditure. So either way the problem gets solved.

One of my favorite articles is called "How not to predict the future" and it says exactly that - people who predict the future tend to take one bit of tech, advance it forward, and then write about all the changes that will occur, neglecting the fact that ALL technology is advancing, and just because this one thing improves, everything else doesn't just stop. Worse all those improvements interact with each other in wholly unpredictable ways.

Think of the starship enterprise, flying around the galaxy faster then the speed of light, with clunky Bakelite switches. Or the 1990s AT&&T ad showing a futuristic vision where a fellow sends a fax from the beach using his laptop.

In fact the ONLY thing that can derail a very happy future for everyone is statist nonsense reducing the natural growth rate. And yet, the people most afraid of climate change resort to the only thing that can possible generate a disaster from climate change - statist solutions! You either have to laugh or cry.

And Kartik, as happens embarrassingly often, I completely agree with your last post. The left made the issue political, and use it to advance their preferred statist solutions, which are now an obstacle to solving the problem.

One reason I have advanced an endowment type system to deal with technological deflation is to confront the basic stupidity of the left. It is something they can actually understand on a very basic level, and superficially seems statist, and therefore is something they would be likely to support. Not ideal, but you work with what you have.

Geoman

The Copenhagen consensus estimated that simple iodine and iron deficiency adversely impacts the brain development of approximately 2 billion people in the world. It has been observed that collective IQ increases rapidly with better nutrition. Look up the "Flynn effect".

Disease as well impacts intelligence. Malaria eradication programs are well correlated with later measurements in child IQ.

HB

Ironically, the simple Google search for "accelerating world growth" is what brought me to your website and I indeed wondered why on earth aren't more people interested or aware of this.

Exponential accelerating world growth will be by far the dominant transforming force and event in every human's future, yet most people (especially young people) are pessimistically consumed with red herring minutiae, such as some possibility of world growth permanently stopping and being stuck in a world like today, except three degrees warmer by century's end.

Is it so difficult to do (1+GrowthRate)^^(FutureYear-2018) on one's calculator? I see very smart people with very sophisticated business spreadsheets, including forecasts and visionary calculations, yet they will tell you about our stagnant human future in a world that has become three degrees warmer...!?!

And, I'm saying all this counting myself as a singularity skeptic. I'm not entirely convinced about the trendline inevitability of a singularity event. But even the much more conservative scenario of a modest simple four percent world growth trendline brings a great continuously compounding future improvement. The middle way conservative scenario, such as growth with some modest acceleration (i.e. growth exponent keeps rising modestly but there's no singularity) still brings an absolutely fantastic future. A future where we, our children, and grandchildren, become one to two hundred times richer than we are today by the conclusion of this century *and* can buy for a future pittance what is not available today at any price -- even for multibillionaires.

Perhaps I've said this before, but if I could press a button and transfer myself one hundred years into the future, I'd gladly press this time transfer button. I'd likely awaken to a world without cancer, perhaps even genetic manipulations that halt or reverse aging, human-machine hybrids, perhaps even some sort of merging between religious metaphysics and science, or even some form of trans humanism that I'm having a hard time beginning to imagine. My only caveat would be a modest but non nil possibility of pressing the button and disappearing into nothing because total warfare self-destruction remains the only non negligible cumulative probability scenario on the pessimistic side in the medium term. So if one really wants to worry about something then let them worry about that, not about world growth coming to a stop and being stuck in the same situation as today, except with an environment three degrees warmer.

Human exponential growth will continue more or less at its own cosmic pace (and probably faster unfettered) regardless of whether Elon Musk gets tax exemptions to build his batteries and whether his financially comfortable conservation proponent eco-doomsday self-righteous customer elites get their electric car purchase subsidies, or whether we transition living in matchbox sized eco-apartments by the mass sheep transit railroad tracks like Al Gore wants to force us to -- and we seem to be naively acquiescing to (BTW this regulatory transition is about half way done in the most "forward looking" of all places in America: Silicon Valley). If one wants a pessimistic view of America then observe how the smartest and most "forward looking" people in America, the inhabitants of Silicon Valley, want to ... Europeanize. They want to copy the slowest growth continent in the world. That is the epitome and harbinger of American decline.

I think that in fifty years your website will be looked upon as the only generally prescient amidst all the (mostly pessimistic) garbage. Many of the details will not happen and different disruptors which we cannot imagine will happen instead. But exponential accelerating growth will happen in one form or another, a form most likely unknown and unimaginable to us today.


Kartik Gada

HB,


Ironically, the simple Google search for "accelerating world growth" is what brought me to your website and I indeed wondered why on earth aren't more people interested or aware of this.

Indeed. I can think of no other subject of such high importance that has so few people pondering it. There should have been hundreds, if not thousands, of people who searched what you did. But alas, we can see how few people read any blog on futurism (even Ray Kurzweil's).

Perhaps I've said this before, but if I could press a button and transfer myself one hundred years into the future, I'd gladly press this time transfer button.

I would too. I would do that even for just 10 years. As we saw a couple of articles ago, 10 years meant a 40% increase in the size of the world economy, and the percentage rises each decade (on average) due to the rising second derivative.

Joe Blow

Tyler Cowen over at Marginal Revolution recently published a book "Stubborn Attachments' which deals extensively with the benefits of compound growth. I haven't read the book but I gather that the gist of it is that economic growth is the most important thing as it tends to solve all the other problems as a result. I think he pointed out that if the US had growth of just 1%age points less over the last 100 years or so then per capita income would now be at about Mexican levels rather than several times higher!

HB

Joe Blow,

I come from Europe, so I know very well the story of growth, or lack thereof.

The US to Mexico prosperity and growth comparison seems correct if one uses PPP values for GDP, since 1.01^(100) = 2.7 = about the US vs Mexico per capita income ratio using PPP figures. If one uses nominal per capita GDP for comparison then a growth differential of 1.8% per year would be needed to create the current US to Mexico per capita GDP ratio over 100 years, as in 1.018^100=6.

However the point about growth being the only all encompassing long term factor in prosperity is valid. Just look at a comparison of US vs Argentina, a country that up to the 1930s had similar prosperity levels as the US and the same bright future prospects (or so people and millions of European immigrants thought at the time). But Argentina embraced coercive collectivism / statism while the US remained on a more individualist free market Anglo-Saxon trajectory. The results are rather obvious today.

More importantly, going into the future, the difference in prosperity between those electorates that choose top down political statism over free markets will be a lot more pronounced and also happen a lot sooner than the ninety years it took to produce the US Argentina disparity.

As growth all around us accelerates exponentially, so does the growth differential between electorates that leave the effort/reward curve unfettered and those electorates that choose to intervene in wealth (re)distribution based on political criteria. Going forward we are likely to see divergences of the US vs Mexico or Argentina in the next 25 years rather than the next 90. Then the next compounding divergence in 14 years, then 8 years, then 5... quickly leading to a singularity... as this website has very eloquently been presenting.

The dawn of the singularity and its breakneck acceleration will find the world with tremendous disparities -- a realization that will give leftists plenty of reason to despise the singularity. But it's like fighting a supernova explosion. It will happen whether they resist it or not. At the personal level one must either get on with it, be part of it, or at least embrace it, or be left so far behind in relative terms that it will be tantamount to extinction. That will be -- by far -- the transforming experience humanity will go through by the end of the century, even if accelerating exponential growth does not quite lead to a singularity this very century.

I have not read the Tyler Cowan books but my understanding is that all his books place a central importance on growth -- and so should anyone who can compute the simple exponential I used above on an elementary smartphone pocket calculator. However, this latest book by Tyler Cowen is the first that makes the central argument about non interference with growth being our primary moral obligation towards future generations.

I said this before, that slower growth slows everything, including, for example, a cure for cancer. If slower growth delays a cure for cancer from, say, AD 2060 to AD 2080, how many extra cancer victims will there be in the two decade delay? Around half a billion. And this effect on medicine is just one small portion of growth's total impact. Delaying growth is the cruelest of things we can do to our descendants.

Now, for a dose of conventional reality, "please slow down growth because it pollutes the planet by warming it...TV and media keep reminding us. So please pay $80k and get a $7.5k subsidy from poor people driving beat up old Chevys to buy a Tesla electric car. And feel smug about it!"

HB

Geoman,

The perceived benefit of a flatter daily electricity demand curve comes primarily from the fact that current electricity production is most economically efficient when flat. But if solar electricity with its rather stubborn daily fluctuation replaces current electricity sources then a flat electricity demand curve may no longer be desirable. In that case it may make sense to charge cars during the day when there's solar energy immediately available. The development of batteries capable of storing a significant proportion of the world's daily (and seasonal indeed) energy needs will yet change that, but I cannot take for granted that this will ever happen, or happen soon, at this point. I'd rather wait to see how these things play out in the competition amongst people who are a lot more capable than I am in these subjects -- without subsidies, without political central planning activism, without regulatory preferences and biases, and without punitive measures on "bad" competitors.

Geoman

HB - you are en Fuego!

Policies to reduce growth are literally murdering the future.

And my goodness - Socialism? Seriously? the most shop worn tired philosophy out there? At least figure out some new and clever way to fail spectacularly.

People may not care about the future, but the future cares about them.

I do wonder about the sudden fascination with socialism. I think there is an impulse in people to try something new. To shake up the deck. And the U.S. has wisely steered clear of socialism. So there is some contingent of the stupid who desire to steer into it.

I'd say the people who have a lot of money have an impulse to freeze everything in place exactly as it is - with them on the top. Cutting the growth rate is a way to do that. It is the only motivation I can see.

Geoman

HB - I agree.

We don't KNOW what the best setup might be - charge at day or night, generate via solar at home, or mass solar farms. Distributed or centralized generating. Likely there are all sorts of complicated trade offs in how electric cars are charged. Do we have each brand have it's own charger? or do we insist that chargers all be universal?

If only there were some sort of mechanism, where a massive parallel processing supercomputer with emergent artificial intelligence could tackle the problem, and compute, second by second, the most efficient path forward.

Ah yes, our old friend capitalism!

So yes, subsidies and central planning actually hurt moving forward, because a big part of moving forward will involve optimization of all the components. Unfortunately central control tends to freeze things as they are, often in highly unfavorable configurations.

Just look at biofuels. People thought they were solving a huge problem that eventually just solved itself in very unexpected ways. Now we are stuck with this terrible inefficient, centrally planed solution. Eventually it will go away, but only after a couple of decades of misallocated capital, waste, and with a lot of pain.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Note that since the ATOM always finds a way to either topple or bypass anything obstructing the progress of the ATOM, I maintain that the greatest disruption of the next 20 years is Government.

How this takes place is very hard to predict, but a number of mechanisms are attempting to hack away at the leviathan.

The ATOM program is perhaps the most comprehensive answer. But even without that, there will be AI-based policy simulators that swiftly flag laws that should be repealed, and publishes their cost. Of course, this will provide very 'politically incorrect' conclusions, but countries not hampered by such silliness will move forward.

I do wonder about the sudden fascination with socialism.

Women and the elderly are net recipients of government, and naturally favor socialism. Their power in society has risen, so a push for socialism comes with it.

A man in his working years, who is some combination of tough/innovative/resourceful/productive is the voter least likely to support socialism.

Geoman

But at some point can't we convince those people, those that are net recipients of government, that their best bet is faster economic growth?

The polices they advocate ensure their lives will be filled with difficulty and pain. It is simple math - a 4% real growth rate over 20 years makes us all millionaires. It also makes goods and services cheaper, extends our lives, solves climate change, reduces crime, cleans the environment, improves education etc. Every single thing they desire, or even dream about, will happen in a single lifetime. And all they have to do it let it happen, not roll back the clock, not support an outdated and frankly silly, vision of how to organize society.

I'm more convinced than ever that the "natural" form of government and society is the monarchy, with royalty and serfs. People are born tribal, they want to feel a strong someone is "in charge" and looking out for them, even if they are abjectly poor. They want to to submit to a ruler, even if it is a petty bureaucrat.

It want the same form of government that rules a troop of baboons.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,


But at some point can't we convince those people, those that are net recipients of government, that their best bet is faster economic growth?

Sadly, no. Their desire for socialism and preference for societies where the aristocracy has no churn in it is very innate.

For example, women prefer a society where the people at the top today are the same ones at the top 20 years from now. This is so that it is easy for them to decide which men to get impregnated by. A capitalist society where the upper class has a lot of churn makes this decision far more difficult for a woman (based on biological hardwiring from eons ago), so women are wired to oppose anything fluid and free-market.

I'm more convinced than ever that the "natural" form of government and society is the monarchy, with royalty and serfs.

Note that all fiction that is popular among women features monarchies or oligarchies, with no improvement of the human condition, and where the 'alpha' male endlessly beats down the ordinary 'beta' males. The women are happy to be completely dominated by the 'alpha' man, and even be part of a harem.

This is also why a Democracy can only really work if voting is strictly limited to taxpayers (or landowners, etc.). Unfortunately, politicians gain from expanding the voter base endlessly, and have an incentive to make a lot of non-taxpayers voters.

The only answer is AI that transforms a number of centuries-old government institutions to become efficient, cost-effective, and un-emotional. Existing governments will not go along with this voluntarily.

HB

It will be interesting to see what happens once the proportion of electric car users cross the 50% threshold. Will they just say:

"Great! We reduced carbon emissions, now we can let the others keep their fossil fuel cars"

or will they say,

"We have now formed an electoral majority, we can now force everyone into electric cars -- fossil fuel cars are banned!"

Which way will it go? Which side of their essential nature will the human majority show?

Kartik Gada

HB,

Different locations may try different schemes. A misguided 'cash for clunkers' variant may be common.

The thing is, market forces alone create problems for ICE owners. Older ICE cars will start to see a devaluation, as there are too many sellers and too few new buyers. This is great for those in the market for a used car, but the US may end up with 50 million surplus ICEs that cannot sell and end up being liquidated for use across Latin America.

Plus, as gas stations and mechanics shut their doors, ICE holdouts may have to go far to fill their gas tanks.

This is why ATOM-DUES is needed. It is not 'free' money, but rather a dividend of technology (a negative tax rate) that cushions people who bought a $30,000 ICE car only to see it drop to $5000 in value by year 5, or for ICE mechanics and gas station attendants that need to transition to new careers.

It is quite analogous to how people today cannot even find someone to take away their old CRT TVs for free (or even ~2006-era plasma TVs).

Fatcat

A bit off topic. I have stumbled upon an Asimof interview from 1984 of 2019 might look like. There some things that rime with ATOM and some parts are quite off. It is still a useful perspective https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thestar.com/amp/news/world/2018/12/27/35-years-ago-isaac-asimov-was-asked-by-the-star-to-predict-the-world-of-2019-here-is-what-he-wrote.html

Fatcat

Geoman
it is simple math - a 4% real growth rate over 20 years makes us all millionaires
Geoman, a 4% annual growth over 20 years doesn't make us all millionaires. 20 years is merely the fist doubling.

Of course, everyone who owns some real estate in the bay area or NY is technically a millionaire. However, they don't have a millionaire's lifestyle...

Fatcat

For example, women prefer a society where the people at the top today are the same ones at the top 20 years from now. This is so that it is easy for them to decide which men to get impregnated by. A capitalist society where the upper class has a lot of churn makes this decision far more difficult for a woman (based on biological hardwiring from eons ago), so women are wired to oppose anything fluid and free-market

This is a gross oversimplification. On some other sites it would start a flame war. All people, both men and women, prefer the stability and the predictability caeteris paribus, unless they are quite unhappy with the status quo. Alphas by definition are few and both sexes would prefer to mate with them. And regardless of the society form alphas, and especially alpha males are under immense competitive pressure and stress.

All forms of societies require good predictive abilities when picking your life partner. The men have to be good potential providers in the future. Not necessarily at the immediate moment. The women have to give an impression of being able to well complement the men to be able to raise their children, not squander the wealth but help increasing it ( the dowry or bride price are also traditionally, part of the equation) Both parties have to meet some minimal criteria of biological and sexual fitness but the the Royal families often ignored that part. There is some difference of the emotional and subconscious preference between men and women. Sone of this difference and bias can be called biological as depending on the hormones and sexual reproductive strategies. But a very big part of the said bias comes from the nurture or the way the children were raised, or rather, brainwashed. Do you think that the boys who don't have a well paying job wild not vote for more government handouts? Ironically, it might very well be that soon the women will hold most of the upper middle class jobs and pay the lion's share of the taxes. The workers have very few options for tax optimisation , while the lucrative businesses can exploit more loophalls. And when looking at the school dropout rate the bottom half of the men will have very him employment options in the world where everything is rapidly automated away.


Btw, the proposed ATOM DUES are a form of socialism. And there is nothing wrong with the socialism as long as it benefits the society. There many possible forms of capitalism and socialism, and even communism( the community own or continuous the shared enterprise, hence the word communism). What we should care about is reducing the perverse incentives and human suffering while increasing the economic growth. And it seems those two goals are not mutually exclusive...

Kartik Gada

Fatcat,

Ironically, it might very well be that soon the women will hold most of the upper middle class jobs and pay the lion's share of the taxes.

This will never, ever be the case. The tax brackets will simply be made more progressive, to exempt most of the female bell curve and overtax the top slice which will always be mostly men.

70-80% of all govt. spending is a net transfer from men to women, at the moment, even if it is not packaged that way on the surface.

Btw, the proposed ATOM DUES are a form of socialism.

Most certainly not. How can a 0% income tax be socialism? That is what people fail to notice, but ATOM-DUES cannot work unless paired with 0% income tax.

ATOM-DUES can fairly be described as a negative income tax.

HB

ATOM DUES seem to me a system whereby some humans contribute to the ATOM according to ability and the rest of the population consumes according to need. It is therefore the same old redistributive flattening of the effort/reward curve, through yet another mechanism. It will thus have the same dampening effect on motivation and growth rates as the other redistributive methods.

Having said that, I prefer a world with many political systems where humanity pursues many political, legal and cultural paths in parallel. Consequently, the thing I despise the most is harmonization of global governance. I think that globalization of products, capital and labor is a very good thing. It increases diversity, competition, experimentation with alternatives -- and thus increases growth rates. On the other hand globalization of government, regulation and cultural values achieves the opposite -- so it dampens compounding growth. That is why I'm totally with Trump on his withdrawal from international bodies, though perhaps not for the same reason that he and his supporters are.

And while I like diversity, I've always bet on the unfettered freedom of action inherent in capitalism as the winner. Unfortunately, with humans having genetic affinity to various forms of coercive collectivism I've always had to keep my bags packed no matter which country or continent I've moved to. This geopolitical arbitrage has served me well.


Kartik Gada

HB,

It is therefore the same old redistributive flattening of the effort/reward curve,

Nothing can be further from the truth. 0% income tax, and indeed negative income tax, are the steepest effort/reward curve that can possibly exist. The world has never seen the likes of it before.

HB

Zero tax does not mean there is no redistribution. There are a myriad other means to implement redistribution. But they all flatten the effort/reward curve. Just like it is impossible to circumvent the principle of conservation of energy.

For most of Cuba's revolutionary history citizens paid zero tax. Those with abilities were simply forced to work for those who had a need for their services. Not surprisingly most people quickly lost their desire to put any of their abilities to work -- and longer term they even stopped pursuing the raw development of such abilities in the first place. A similar but hopefully lesser flattening of the effort/reward curve will happen when the DUES deny ATOM contributors the natural technological deflation that comes from their innovations.

I said that ATOM DUES *hopefully* flatten the effort reward curve less than socialism or even current levels of capitalist taxation. But that is if, and only if, DUES can be contained. But they will not be contained. With the electorate being a single vote away from doubling (then quadrupling then octoupling etc) the DUES those politicians that offer the most DUES increase will get elected. Therefore, most elections will go to Santa Claus DUES politicians. Then the main thing that will see accelerating exponential growth will be DUES. Yes, in this inevitable environment DUES will not only suppress deflation but even cause some inflation. But what is some inflation if you keep voting yourself a bunch of DUES increases. "The extra DUES can cover inflation plus some more" will exclaim jubilant voters.

Therefore, in my view, DUES are a huge banana peel waiting for an electorate to step on. I'd rather see it first tried out in some other distant hapless country. If two decades pass without ill effects then I'll sign up for it. Just like no country has been able to return from the disastrous trip to socialism (until total collapse) so it will be impossible to step back from DUES once they get a foothold. Don't go there.

Fatcat

Hb,
To decades near singularity are a very beautiful long time. And you always have to do done redistribution to make the wheels spinning. Like law enforcement and stability, for example.

HB

DUES are not some redistribution. They will end up being more redistribution on top of existing strong redistribution that is already past the optimal safety and stability vs motivation equilibrium. DUES will quickly exceed current levels of redistribution as the electorate will only be one vote away from voting themselves ever more DUES. And existing taxes will remain. Even if DUES completely replaces existing taxes in the beginning the electorate will not put up for long with media sob stories about people who misused their DUES and now need "help". Government help.

That is why I keep my bags packed, no matter where I emigrate to. Reversing a failed DUES experiment might take two decades (if ever because once a redistribution mechanism is implemented good luck reversing it) which indeed is an eternity so close to the singularity.

Geoman

"What we should care about is reducing the perverse incentives and human suffering while increasing the economic growth. And it seems those two goals are not mutually exclusive..."

I would go further - removing perverse incentives must happen to increase economic growth, and increasing economic growth must happen to deal with human suffering.

Unfortunately too many people don't get how economic growth is the only thing that matters, and getting that in gear solves almost every other problem you care to name.

Kartik Gada

HB,

DUES will quickly exceed current levels of redistribution as the electorate will only be one vote away from voting themselves ever more DUES.

This is discussed in the original publication. Societies that cannot control themselves will quickly lose ground to those that do, once there is DUES.

And existing taxes will remain.

Then the program does not work, as one cannot have a payout without proportional reductions in taxation. Tax AI not people (effectively).

Geoman

"2018 : Among new cars sold, gasoline-only vehicles are now a minority. Millions of vehicles are electrically charged through solar panels on a daily basis, relieving those consumers of a fuel expenditure that was as high as $3000 a year in 2008. Some electrical vehicles cost as little as 1 cent/mile to operate."

I was thinking about this prediction of yours from 2008. I think you are correct, just 2-3 years early with your date. Within 5 years this will definitely be the case. But I think the big year when EVs go mainstream is now likely to be 2019-2020. The reason is the retooling took a bit longer than anticipated, gas prices declined a bit more than expected (thanks fracking!), and there was a bit of what I call "techno hesitation" - when a technology is improving too fast, people are reluctant to jump in - they are afraid that whatever they buy today will be quickly outmoded tomorrow. Why spend $40k on a car that will sell for $35k next year?, and $30k the year after that? So you get in the bizarre situation where improvements to the technology actually have to slow down before sales will ramp up.

You really should have a post looking at your stuff from 2006-2010, and comparing it to reality, and perhaps updating the trend lines.

And please don't take this at all as a critique. I think you've been amazingly accurate, and getting dates wrong +/- a couple of years is nothing.

Drew

Happy New Year and let me second Geoman's request and clarification that this is not a critique.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

I think you've been amazingly accurate, and getting dates wrong +/- a couple of years is nothing.

Thanks. By my estimate, my accuracy rate of ~75% or whatever is easily the highest among any Futurists who actually make predictions with specific dates (even Ray Kurzweil).

Too many so-called 'Futurists' don't really predict anything, but are more accurately described as 'Evangelists' and 'Enthusiasts'.

One reason I thought EVs would diffuse even faster than they did was that Elon Musk said, in 2007, that a $30,000 Tesla would be available in 2013. This, of course, is far behind schedule. Everyone agrees that is the tipping point. Alas....he greatly overstated his rate of innovation.

A round-up of the old predictions is something I am assembling for a future date.

stephen murray

Hi Kartik.

Would love to see a round up of old predictions.

This blog is still one of the few that can tie together the econ, the tech and the social elements together, and has been a tremendous influence on my thinking.

Why is the accelerating rate of change so poorly understood or commented on, even though the AToM is all around us? Political talk of "the pension in 2050" and other nonsense is infused into modern politics, even though there is no chance that anything will be alike today by then. Astounding ignorance really, and the level of interaction on your brilliant blog shows how few people are tuned into this

As an Atom of the Month, is crypto currency a good topic?

Kartik Gada

Thanks, Stephen!

Why is the accelerating rate of change so poorly understood or commented on, even though the AToM is all around us?

It is absurd, really. I figured out the accelerating rate of change long before I ever heard of Moore's Law, because I had watched Carl Sagan's Cosmic Calendar, and was knowledgeable about evolution, by the time I was 11. I noticed right away that some things long ago look 50 million years, but there was more change in the last 5 million years. Then, when I learned of Moore's Law (age 17 or so), and noticed that the same doubling was true of storage, then it became obvious that this rate is going to converge to more and more products that eventually become a meaningful share of the entire economy. Ray Kurzweil's 1999 book expanded my thought further.

At the same time, those who evangelize the accelerating rate of change are often too eager, and overshoot (like Ray Kurzweil). This provides critics with enough room to cherrypick items to bash.

A sad indictment of humanity is that the most important book of the last 15 years, Kurzweil's 'The Singularity is Near', sold 255,000 copies. Guess what sold 250 million copies, or 1000 times as much? 'Fifty Shades of Grey'!!

As an Atom of the Month, is crypto currency a good topic?

Eventually, it will be. What has to happen first is a revamp of the crypto hierarchy. The first crypto (Bitcoin) is the most famous simply because it was first. But technologically, it is obsolete as its ledger can't do smart contracts and its mining is very ASIC-prone and energy inefficient. Crypto has to adjust to the reality that the newest will be the most advanced, as with any technology. How this affects investability remains to be seen.

Geoman

"Too many so-called 'Futurists' don't really predict anything." So true. Your blog makes very specific (numerical) predictions on times and dates and volumes that are subject to falsification. Other blogs go the Nostradamus route seek to vaguely describe things that they can always claim what happens matches their prediction.

EVs are tough to predict. I think the problem is that a car is not a singular invention, but the summation of a variety of inventions and innovations. We needed better and cheaper batteries, better energy management systems (sensors and computers), regenerative braking, a charging network, and various other things, and for all of that to come together into an affordable package. Oh, and social changes - people have to evolve their notion on what a car is and how it works.
The whole could be delayed by any component being delayed. I'm finally very optimistic on the electric car - I've always felt that tesla alone could fail, and only when the major car companies pushed all the chips in would it become a thing. That seems to have finally happened. They are now designing and building dozens of cars from a dozen manufacturers. 40 models by 2025?

I think the problem with the ATOM is we are hardwired not to see it. For a vast majority of human history nothing changed. A man could be transported in time from 1200 to 1400 without too much effort, or from 100 AD to 1000 AD. That person would understand the culture, the science and technology of the era without much problem.

Does anyone expect that today, a person could travel 100 years in the future with any expectation he would understand anything? Even 50 years? How about 30 years? what will the world look like in 2049?

So for a vast majority of human history, we have had no experience with exponential self propelling growth. Even when we see it, we can't comprehend it. The implications are beyond us. As I said above, at best all we can imagine is one thing improving, but we always default to everything else staying the same.

I give Musk credit for boundless optimism and ambition. He may be overly optimistic, but he is very often on the right track.

And don't worry about the ATOM - today no one talks about what is happening. In 10 years it will be all we talk about. Actually, it is all we talk about today, but people just fail to recognize that the same force is what underlies most of the news.


Geoman

Imagine where we would be with electric cars if oil was still priced > $130/bbl. Your time line might have worked in that case!

As I say, the future is an interplay of multiple trends and timelines. Fracking (aided largely by computing) slows the adoption of electric cars (also aided by computing). The ATOM doesn't just bring about new possibilities, it makes all the old things much better. We make the mistake of having new technology compete directly against old technology, when it will compete against improved technology. Solar panels get better, but so do gas fired power plants. heck, a company called NET Power has built a coal fired power plant with zero emissions. They fired it up in May and it seems to be working just fine. Imagine in 10 years coal roaring back to displace natural gas and solar!

Going forward, as the ATOM attacks ever larger parts of the economy, things will become even more unpredictable. Old and dead technology might suddenly become viable again. It all becomes very turbulent.

I was thinking about the historic achievement of the movie "They will not grow old" the other day, and I wondered - what would prevent someone from going into the public domain and giving the same treatment to other movies - improve, colorize, music, re-editing, and lip synching the actors. And releasing that movie today? We could see people like Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin as real as Tom Cruz or Johnny Depp. In fact you could use the same technology to fill in the gaps of lost movies, making them whole. Such an enterprise might make a lot of money. Eventually brand new works could emerge, using nothing but a computer generate photo realistic scenes, and starring whatever dead movie star is in the public domain.

This could change things radically - culturally and financially (what does "best actor" now mean?).

It is this kind of evolution/revolution that will start to get people to pay attention - "wait a minute, I thought coal power was bad, now it is good?" "Wait a minute, how could Buster Keaton when the best actor nomination...in 2025?"

HB

Specific predictions are much harder than general trendlines.

Specific predictions vs general trendlines is similar to Kartik's great post from July entitled "Economic Trendline Reversion Does Not Happen Evenly". Just like the serendipitous path of individual countries adds a lot of noise to the more predictable exponentially accelerating world growth average, so do individual technologies follow a more chaotic and serendipitous path compared to the total sum of all technologies, the ATOM. Therefore, while the sum of all technologies will follow a smoother accelerating exponential growth, individual technologies may lurch, stumble, get delayed, experience a resurgence etc. and so will individual countries.

So while world prosperity growth will continue its inexorable accelerating and compounding exponential growth, many countries will step on banana peels (like for example electing Elizabeth Warren) and fall hopelessly behind on the path to the singularity. As the singularity gets closer even small delays will balloon to an eternity. At the personal level, one of the best things one can do for their future is to stay in a country that is fast moving towards the singularity, with an unfettered effort/reward curve -- which actually requires one to keep their bags packed. As we move closer to the singularity everything will happen ever faster. Ascents and relative declines of entire civilizations that used to take centuries will now conclude in a few decades, and then even faster.

Kartik Gada

HB,

Just like the serendipitous path of individual countries adds a lot of noise to the more predictable exponentially accelerating world growth average, so do individual technologies follow a more chaotic and serendipitous path compared to the total sum of all technologies, the ATOM.

Yes, very well put.

What is interesting here is that the ATOM ensured that fracking lowered the price of oil, which delayed electric cars by may years, but now, the ceiling placed over oil is even lower and harder.

At the personal level, one of the best things one can do for their future is to stay in a country that is fast moving towards the singularity, with an unfettered effort/reward curve -- which actually requires one to keep their bags packed.

Do you have content that expands on this?

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

A question :

Why is so little done with Geothermal energy? I mean, we can just drill a hole to a point where the temperature is consistently above 250F, insert a cauldron, pour water into it through an angled side pipe, and then collect the steam as it rises up. The latent heat of vaporization is thus captured.

It seems straightforward and inexpensive. Why isn't more of this done beyond just Iceland, etc.? My understanding is that one does not have to drill too far down to get a sufficient temperature to keep the aforementioned cauldron boiling. Is it that the steam condenses back before it reaches the surface? If so, a basic vacuum-suction mechanism can collect the steam before it condenses.

Is there some technological limitation?

Geoman

Yes - there are many technological limitations to geothermal energy. The upper six miles of the earth’s crust holds 50,000 times the energy embodied in the world’s oil and gas reserves. Test-drilling to assess heat resources, however, is very risky and expensive. What you need for geothermal energy to work is three things:

1) A source of heat. Drilling deep enough anywhere on earth you will find heat, but you may have to drill very deep. on someplace like the Himalayan plateau it might be 50 miles, and therefore the cost may be prohibitive. Someplace like Nevada - easy peasy, just a couple of miles. But we have lots of locations where the crust is thin enough that the geothermal gradient is sufficient to allow for relatively shallow development. Just not everywhere.

2) Fractures. Rock is a natural thermal insulator, and is why the center of the earth is so hot - quite a bit of that heat is residual heat of formation from 4 billion years ago! So rock is a damn good insulator. back to fractures - you need them to increase the surface area and allow the heat to be transported out by...

3) Water. You must have a source of water, and lots of it, to send down, pick up the heat, and bring it to the surface.

Heat, fractures, water. All three. In a very few locations on the earth all three are naturally combined, creating terrific geothermal sources. The Geysers in California for example. In many more locations, one of the three is missing - fractures, heat, or water. Sometimes two are missing, sometimes all three.

Can't do without heat. But all of Nevada is a tremendous heat source - just about anywhere in the whole state could generate geothermal. Fractures can be created - fracking technology works for geothermal, but there is a risk of induced seismicity. Not a problem in sparsely populated Nevada. In Nevada water is often the issue.

Exploration for geothermal is very tough - we can't use seismic to "see" whether the heat, fractures, or water are naturally present, like we can with oil or shale resources. Because of that only about 50% of geothermal wells are successful. They are very expensive to drill - hard rock drilling pretty deep. You might spend $40 million on developing a geothermal field on just the drilling. With a 50% risk of failure - you don't find what you need - not enough heat, fractures won't stay open, can't get enough water.

Once you find and develop the resource the rest is super easy and fairly cheap. Power plants run around 10-20 MW, and last 20-30 years (you can exhaust the latent heat in a location, meaning you have to move elsewhere). They end up being the cheapest possible source of power according to the EIA. If you think of a standard power plant it makes perfect sense - you've gotten rid of the boiler, and just have the fairly simple steam generator to deal with.

So, bottom line, when geothermal is developed it tends to be super cheap. But the up front costs to develop the resource are high and very risky.

All that said, it has improved considerably in my lifetime. by 2025 we should see about 30% more coming on line, with an average growth rate of 4.7%. It is really a slow and steady development. In 1975 the world had 1 GW of geothermal - today it is > 13 GW. By 2030 we'll double that. By 2040 double again. So it is coming along, but it just doesn't have the explosive growth rate of shale, mostly because of the drilling risk. If drilling or sensing costs go down, reducing risk, geothermal could grow very quickly. I think I've talked in the past about high temp laser drilling - it would be a huge game changer for geothermal. Or micro drilling - drilling really small diameter drill holes. But I think we are still 10-20 year out for that.

http://www.thinkgeoenergy.com/iea-predicts-geothermal-growth-of-3600-to-4500-mw-2018-2023/

I've worked on two failed geothermal projects in my career - in one we found water, and fractures, but the high grade heat source turned out to be on land we didn't control. In the other we had hot, dry, rock, but couldn't get the water and had no fractures. Both were remote sites that would require a lot of electrical lines to deliver, and were ultimate considered not worth pursuing further.

Geoman

I should add, there is a big regulatory component. Liability for any induced seismicity. property rights. renewable credits - for example, California for years didn't count geothermal as renewable energy for some strange reason. There is some factor in California that limits the size of geothermal power plants to < 25 MW or some such nonsense as well.

Really geothermal has gotten a bad rap regulatory speaking - it is regulated like oil wells, but it isn't an oil well.

Another factor that has contributed to geothermal slow growth is that geothermal fields don’t contain much usable energy. Some geothermal wells deliver about as much energy as an oil well But while geothermal fields cover only about 20 square miles oil plays like the Bakken shale cover tens of thousands of square miles.

27-30GW is still an inconsequential amount of power in the context of global energy demand.

Geoman

https://www.gadrilling.com/geothermal-drilling-renewable-energy/

I've been hearing about this for about a decade now. It really is a game changer - faster drilling, deeper drilling, no casing. Seems like they might be close to a breakthrough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o4gHUrP-kHg

Geoman

"Over the past decade, advancements in fiber laser technology have increased power availability from less than 1 kW to greater than 50 kW; reduced costs from greater than $1000/W to less than $50/W..."

http://www.foroenergy.com/innovations#why-now

Note the nice ATOM like graph of declines in price per watt.

http://www.foroenergy.com/drilling

Anyway, probably not much change in the next 5 years. But in the next 10-20? Sure, why not? They are already working in the field on projects - they just haven't quite got the power to directly drill wells yet. But the company exists, and has equipment in the field performing work, and is experimenting with drilling rock. Another step in power to cost and...? $5/W? That should take another <10 years.

All of this lets you drill much faster, much deeper. Which is perfect for geothermal - it would greatly reduce your financial risk, and allow you to access more heat in more places.

With normal drilling, as you drill deeper, you also drill a lot slower. Problems are compounded. Sometimes you have to trip the tools - pulling stuff out from 100 feet is an annoyance, it is devastatingly slow at 5,000 feet.

With laser or plasma bits this decrease in speed is entirely avoided. You don't wear out the "bit" so you don't have to trip anything. Everything is much simpler. Your rate of drilling, which at the surface might be the same as a traditional drill rig, stays the same all the way to the bottom of the hole at 10 Km.

If drilling for geothermal becomes really cheap, why would you do anything else? Dispatchable scalable power with a small footprint and zero environmental risk, that can be installed anywhere you have a source of water.

When people say, wind and solar are the future, and assume that is the only future, well, that is just silly. I think there are all sorts of possible futures. This technology hugely reduces drilling costs for oil and gas as well.

Anyway, this is just one of the many left field things that could come along and disrupt the whole apple cart for energy. And yet no one pays the slightest attention to it. And seeing this makes me think - what else am I missing? What other technology is just a tiny step from taking over the world? My guess is there are dozens of things lurking out there that are 5-10 years away from creating a major transformation.

Geoman

https://phys.org/news/2016-06-approach-efficient-thermoelectric-nanomaterials.html

Potential future infinite power source:

1) Drill a hole with laser drill to 10 km.
2) Put thermoelectric generator in hole and cement up.
3) Connect wire to building or grid.

Poke enough holes and you have solid state dispatchable, distributed pollution free power forever anywhere and everywhere on the planet. It is the ultimate energy solution. Once built it might last 100s of years. the whole thing could be underground - no surface foot print at all.

This won't happen in the next 10 years, but what about the next 50? Anyone want to bet this can't possibly happen?

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Aha! Another area of possible technological disruption.

I mean, people talk about 'solar thermal' as if it is a useful technology, but the problem is that solar intensity is high in places that don't need heating and use tons of air conditioning instead. By contrast, Geothermal can be accessed in cold climates, where the heat is useful as it is.

Places like the Himalayan plateau need not be accessed. I bet there are enough places where 250F+ can be accessed at under 2000 feet, many of which also have plenty of water. Then the steam idea can work. Maybe Utah is better than Nevada, and within Nevada, the northern Sierras near the CA border (i.e. north of Reno) is a place that is cold with a lot of snow.

Yes, drilling for Geothermal will further lower the cost of oil and natural gas.

Geo

Really almost the whole world becomes a geothermal resource if you can drill cheaply to > 10,000 feet.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Solar Thermal : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_thermal_energy

Again, I consider this considerably less compelling than Geothermal, since the Solar Thermal gets the most in places that have high solar intensity. By contrast, the Geothermal does not require electric conversion - just use the heat in the steam as is.

3) Water. You must have a source of water, and lots of it, to send down, pick up the heat, and bring it to the surface.

A chilly, wet place is not a problem. I think a place like Scotland or Alberta is a good candidate (as is Northwestern Nevada). Just divert the steam to where heat is needed. Surely there are enough places that are seismically stable but where 250F can be reached at under 3000 feet.

Geoman

Phononic Devices - they make solid state refrigerators.

Think of where LEDs were maybe 20 years ago.

It could lead to huge drops in electrical usage for heating and cooling. And allow you to harvest waste heat from just about anything at very low cost. Including geothermal heat. We wouldn't need steam to do anything. We would directly convert the heat to electricity at 30% efficiency.

Anywhere you have a large temp gradient you wish to turn into electricity, or desire to spend electricity to create one, you can, at LED efficiencies and reliability. Imagine a flat panel on the wall that creates radiant heating or cooling. Solid state - no moving parts. House too hot? Turn the dial and harvest the heat, converting it to electricity. Air conditioning that creates power.

So we can solve the water problem for geothermal. With cheap drilling we solve the heat problem (heat is everywhere).

The larger point is we just think we know what will happen, but there are things out there that could radically change our plans.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

If all of Nevada is well-suited for Geothermal, why not just do a large number of wells, with the steam cauldron?

Even if people don't live nearby, they can have large greenhouses that grow high-margin crops that require a tropical environment. The steam generates the heat and when the water eventually condenses it waters the plants. As it seeps through, it goes back into the well and cauldron for more steam.

I am sure this could be cost-effective in Nevada, due to Nevada's advantages. Note that this does not even require any of the steam to convert to electricity.

Geoman

Geothermal greenhouses have been used many times in the past. Chena Hot springs Alaska for example.

https://www.hypersciences.com/deep-energy-anywhere-scalable-geothermal-electric/

A third company trying to accomplish exactly what I have described.

http://altarockenergy.com/projects/thermoelectric-generators-in-a-geothermal-field/

Another company experimenting.

"Typically, a geothermal project cannot produce electricity economically at a scale less than 5 MW and there is a very large economy of scale for projects above 30 MW in size. TEG technologies, however, have the potential to produce geothermal electricity without all the infrastructure – turbines, steam piping, etc. – thus making small scale production and geothermally-source micro power grids both practicable and affordable. Small (<5 MW) geothermal projects could provide consumers with the same distributed power flexibility provided by solar and wind production with the additional benefit of being a more reliable base load source of electricity."

I've gone to conferences where people have said, "we intend to reduce drilling costs by an order of magnitude". People in the audience just nod, they imagine oil being slightly cheaper, or more plentiful. They don't realize that with an order of magnitude drop in drilling costs, oil becomes irrelevant. All other forms of energy become irrelevant.

You could place these power plants virtually anywhere. they would be the size of an electrical substation - in fact replace the substation altogether. Each would produce as much energy each day as a natural gas well, but would do so indefinitely - certainly for decades once installed. Dispatchable. Solid state, no employees, 24/7, no risk or hazards of any kind. It would cost a little less in Nevada, and a little more elsewhere, depending on the depth and quality of the heat source. But most states would be able to install dozens or hundreds of such devices.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

I've gone to conferences where people have said, "we intend to reduce drilling costs by an order of magnitude". People in the audience just nod, they imagine oil being slightly cheaper, or more plentiful. They don't realize that with an order of magnitude drop in drilling costs, oil becomes irrelevant. All other forms of energy become irrelevant.

Indeed. In fact, it is analogous to what we said in the previous article, about how if MRIs get 10x cheaper and 10x more precise, it is not just that MRIs will be better, but that very few new people will ever get advanced-stage tumor-oriented cancer, as the it will become routine to get annual MRIs, and then cancer will often be caught when tumors are under 1 cm, and zapped in a percutaneous outpatient procedure.

Major cost reductions create entirely new markets.

Drew

Tying together this and earlier discussions on accelerated change, what I find interesting is what is noticed or not. In the US, natural gas provided electricity is already so cheap, that a replacement with the geothermal described above or fusion wouldn't really change my life much - a lower electrical bill is nice but not huge. In other parts of the world it would be a huge difference if available. The introduction of smart phones and resulting changes has been noticeable, but is now fading into the expected.
I'm continuing to see a theme of cheaper/better technology that will allow poorer areas catch up faster (no need to roll out copper wires for telephones for example) but will have less impact on most of the population of richer areas - until it hits one of Kartik's tipping points of 10 times cheaper and 10 times more precise, when we might notice people are no longer dying of cancer like they used to.
Sort of like may industries are now focused on high end customers and low end customers, but not so much in the middle, we may have the people who use the more information dense opportunities in the global lead cities/areas like Silicon Valley and the poor who benefit the most from the ratcheting up of opportunities, and the middle class who are not as impacted until the tipping point is reached and then all of sudden we are all being transported by automated electric vehicles.

Drew

The people in the middle do see the change in that they can no longer expect jobs to last, but it is not in a positive expectation that they will move to a better job. The entire Radio Shack store inventory may now be on their smart phone, but jobs in Radio Shack stores are no longer available to them.

Kartik Gada

Drew,

I'm continuing to see a theme of cheaper/better technology that will allow poorer areas catch up faster (no need to roll out copper wires for telephones for example) but will have less impact on most of the population of richer areas

This is because there is greater ATOM upside in the poorer areas. Even more stark is the realization that leapfrogging makes diffusion in those areas easier. In this very thread, we spoke about how a huge amount of land will have to be repurposed from parking lots and gas stations. In China, they never built all that out in the first place, so there is less to tear up.

I believe AI will also flatten the gaps, since if AI take eliminate certain high-paying US jobs (like the accountant or GP doctor), that means the same capability is now available in poorer countries that never were paying $200K to top-shelf accountants or GP MDs before.

Geoman

Ran some numbers.

Natural heat flow is 0.5 watts/square meter - this is the escapement rate for geothermal energy to the surface. We can theoretically extract this amount of energy without ever depleting the geothermal resource. That comes to 1 MW per square mile.

A fracked well costs around $150/foot. Temperature increases by about 20 degrees per kilometer, so we want around 5 km (2 mile) hole. And we want to wagon wheel one central location with multiple wells. Say 16 wells to get good coverage. so...48 miles of hole at $150 a foot = $38 million. But we get our order of magnitude price reduction for drilling, the entire set up costs, say, $4 million. Top off with a couple of million for land rights, and the TEG system. <$10 million.

In each boring we have an inner and outer pipe. Cold water circulates down the inner pipe, and up the outer pipe. No fracking is necessary, but it might improve energy return and subsurface circulation of heat energy. The system is closed loop - the TEG extracts electricity directly from the heat energy of the water in the pipe, and the cooler water returns to reheat. The amount of TEG you apply controls the amount of cooling - efficiency isn't really a problem since the water is not produced, and the residual heat is conserved and goes back into the ground.

Such a system could operate with zero maintenance indefinitely. It would produce no waste other than the initial drill cuttings. It would take decades for the TEG to wear out, or the piping to rust out. heck, it might take 100 years.

Lets say you only manage to intercept half the natural heat flow, 0.5 MW per square mile. LA alone would produce 250 MW. New York City 150 MW. The entire U.S. could produce millions of GW. Naturally you could extend this system offshore and in surrounding areas. It could be located under parks, roads, buildings. Anywhere really - the surface expression would be a small, hot, above ground pipe.

I can't see how this couldn't work.

It now costs $50 to produce one megawatt-hour of solar power. Coal, on the other hand, costs $102 per megawatt-hour to produce.

Say a 30 year shelf life for this system, 0.5 MW, I get $76/MWh. But if the system lasts longer, the costs will be much less - it could be a third that cost. I can't believe there wouldn't be other significant costs savings there - for example, construction would be cheap and incremental, and interest costs on capital expenditures would go away. That is for 24/7 locally generated zero pollution power.

Geoman

Drew - I would point out that cheap energy effects everything. You look at a utility bill and say, heck, I only saved $50...but every single good and service you consume is also slightly cheaper as energy prices decline. The beer in your fridge is cheaper, the fridge itself is cheaper, your food is cheaper.

It also stimulates various industries, especially those that are energy intensive. I always ask people - why is aluminum smelted in Iceland, when no aluminum ore occurs within hundreds of miles? Iceland has cheap energy. They will haul the ore half way across the planet to use it because the cost savings is so high.

heavy industry will do whatever it takes to get cheap energy. Homeowner - we are only 30% of the total energy usage.

regarding your other points - we work less, and get paid less, but everything gets cheaper. And I have a hard time imagining certain craftsmen ever going away.

Geoman

Kartik - you need to read this ASAP.

https://seekingalpha.com/article/4235422-governments-central-banks-got-wrong-will-learn

Very ATOM like thinking....

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Such a system could operate with zero maintenance indefinitely. It would produce no waste other than the initial drill cuttings. It would take decades for the TEG to wear out, or the piping to rust out. heck, it might take 100 years.

That is what I mean. This sort of system seems relatively obvious, and at least 20% of the land area of the Earth is well-suited for it. I am surprised no one seems to be working on this (especially given how many energy dead-ends got a lot of funding, from switchgrass ethanol to hydrogen cars to thin-film solar).

Even if only Iceland and the Pacific NorthWest are suitable, they could still move huge volumes of datacenters to these locations.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,


Kartik - you need to read this ASAP.

Thanks for that! His level of detail is impressive and comprehensive.
I have to get in touch with Ramy Taraboulsi

Geoman

Yeah switch grass! What a boondoggle that turned out to be, along with the entire biofuels concept.

Fusion as well - I just don't see how the $30 billion ITER ever creates a commercially viable power plant. It is an interesting science experiment.

There does seem to be research into this. Alta rock has a project. As well as hypersciences:

https://www.hypersciences.com/deep-energy-anywhere-scalable-geothermal-electric/

But it really doesn't matter - once the drilling drops and order of magnitude in cost, the rest of this happens overnight.


Joe

Australian researchers have long been interested in unconventional geothermal energy in Australia. There are absolutely massive amounts of energy available about 5Km underground. A company Geodynamics Australia spent gobs of money ten or so years ago, trying to get it to work but eventually gave up, saying it wasn't financially viable. It was a popular stock play in the day.

Basically I think they had to give up because they were running out of money. A few failures early on set them back quite a bit but I am sure if someone with deep pockets was prepared to experiment quite a bit it will eventually be viable.

Kartik Gada

Joe,

There are absolutely massive amounts of energy available about 5Km underground. A company Geodynamics Australia spent gobs of money ten or so years ago, trying to get it to work but eventually gave up, saying it wasn't financially viable.

Hmm.... then, as Geoman said, it is just a question of advances in drilling technology.

Drilling advances and supercomputing enabled fracking in the US, and the breakeven for fracking fell from $60 to $30 from 2014 to 2017. If drilling is still improving, then the geothermal accessibility threshold might be attainable within the medium term.

Joe

Advances in drilling technology will help enormously. But a lot of things can go wrong and did in the case of Geodynamics. Quite a lot of it was just bad luck, but they did eventually get it to work as a pilot plant, proved much of the technology and gained a lot of experience, however in the end it was just too much for the investors. The company eventually spent $0.5 billion around half of which was taxpayers money. The full story is here: http://www.ga.gov.au/ausgeonews/ausgeonews201306/geothermal.jsp
and
https://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/business-spectator/geodynamics-unfulfilled-promise/news-story/e44ea15fcd38a615577eb738645112aa

I am sure it will eventually work and be a game changer but it will need someone with deep pockets and not put off by failure

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

In each boring we have an inner and outer pipe. Cold water circulates down the inner pipe, and up the outer pipe.

How wide does the bore have to be? Can it be less than 24-inches in diameter?

I wonder if drilling technologies that improved through fracking (and led to the breakeven price of oil falling from $60 to $30) are making this project more cost-effective.

Under the scenario you described, creating such a well might not take a lot of time either. Even if the bore is 5 km deep, it can't take that long to drill the well.

Drew

Hi KG, a quick google shows discussion about fracking being break even at $50, not $30, can you share your source if it is public?
Geoman - I agree about the second order impact of cheaper energy, but it doesn't appear to be one of 10x differences to radically change day to day life, instead one of those background changes in which more people would join us in not being worried about the future cost of energy. Definitely a big change to those in the energy and infrastructure business.
I also remember switchgrass and there is a big ethanol plant near where I live now. I remember when the last round of peak oil discussions started and I didn't think it would crash civilization but thought that there might be a stressful transition to biofuel or nuclear or whatever we would transition to. Then fracking made natural gas cheap rather than in shortage (one of Kunstler's earlier doom books has the end being caused by natural gas shortages) and I thought we might have to switch our transportation over to natural gas and now fracking has made regular oil cheap. Thanks, Drew

Kartik Gada

Drew,

A Reuters chart in the very first ATOM AotM indicates mid-$30s in 2016, which means it may be fully down to $30 by now.

https://www.singularity2050.com/2017/01/atom-award-of-the-month-january-2017.html

This is consistent with the recent dip to $45. If the breakeven was still $50, the price of WTI would stay above $65 due to rapid production cuts when the price gets below breakeven.

Geoman

"How wide does the bore have to be? Can it be less than 24-inches in diameter?" Of course it can. Oil wells range from 5 to 40 inches in diameter. we'd need to calculate the optimum size. Smaller size increases speed to a degree.

Fracking is pushing improvements to drilling, both in cost and speed. So it helps. BUT drilling geothermal often involves drilling deeper, in harder rock. Mechanical wear on the teeth of the bit is a big mechanism for slowing the drilling as you get deeper - changing the bit becomes a costly exercise in tripping the rod and tools. The deeper you go, the slower you go, just because of the trip time for the tools. Everything also just gets harder. I've sat rigs where the first 500 feet you are running around like an idiot, and the last 500 feet you take off for lunch while they trip the tools, and maybe make a couple hundred feet a day. The advances in drilling I describe share one common denominator - reducing wear on the teeth of the bit. That is the main reason they are able to go faster and deeper.

"Under the scenario you described, creating such a well might not take a lot of time either. Even if the bore is 5 km deep, it can't take that long to drill the well." That's the idea - drill the last 500 feet at the same speed as the first 500. That will speed everything by > 10 times easily, and hence reduce costs significantly.

There is still a lot to work out here, but the future is coming.

Elon Musk can to the same realization with his Boring company - his revolutionary goal is to drill borings faster than a snail moves. Which just illustrates how slow drilling can be.

Geoman

"It turned out that it wasn’t just a simple matter of applying techniques gained in the petroleum sector. Geodynamics was pushing some serious technological boundaries. The depths it was drilling were seriously deep by the standards of the oil industry. What’s more it was trying to fracture granite, much harder than the sedimentary rocks the oil industry dealt with."

There is a learning curve that we are still paying off...

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