Links for 30th November 2009

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. Is Global Warming Unstoppable?

    "Garrett treats civilization like a "heat engine" that "consumes energy and does 'work' in the form of economic production, which then spurs it to consume more energy," he says.

    "If society consumed no energy, civilization would be worthless," he adds. "It is only by consuming energy that civilization is able to maintain the activities that give it economic value. This means that if we ever start to run out of energy, then the value of civilization is going to fall and even collapse absent discovery of new energy sources."

    Garrett says his study's key finding "is that accumulated economic production over the course of history has been tied to the rate of energy consumption at a global level through a constant factor."" Physicist does economics; a bit janky, but still an intriguing model.

    Tagged with: environmentthermodynamicscivilisationenergyconsumptionhistoryefficiencyeconomics

  2. Seven Answers to Climate Contrarian Nonsense

    The seven well-worn "controversies", and the pertinent dismantlements thereof.

    Tagged with: scienceclimatechangedebunkresourceenvironment

  3. Computer learns to think like a child

    "Using novel learning algorithms that combine audio, video, and text streams, Taskar and his research team are teaching computers to recognize faces and voices in videos. Their system recognizes when someone in the video or audio mentions a name, whether he or she is talking about himself or herself, or whether he or she is talking about someone in the third person. It then maps that correspondence between names and faces and names and voices.

    “An intelligent system needs to understand more than just visual input, and more than just language input or audio or speech. It needs to integrate everything in order to really make any progress,” Taskar says.

    The information Taskar’s team feeds into the system is free training data harvested from the Internet. Attempts to teach computers visual recognition in the pre-Internet age were hampered in large part by a lack of training content. Today, Taskar says, the Internet provides a “massive digitization of knowledge.”"

    Tagged with: computerlearningartificial-intelligencesentiencealgorithmcorrelationanalysisdata

  4. Dear God, please confirm what I already believe

    "People may use religious agents as a moral compass, forming impressions and making decisions based on what they presume God as the ultimate moral authority would believe or want," the team write. "The central feature of a compass, however, is that it points north no matter what direction a person is facing. This research suggests that, unlike an actual compass, inferences about God's beliefs may instead point people further in whatever direction they are already facing." Gee, d'you think? Religion merely a form of after-the-fact ret-con self-justification? I mean, where's the evidence for that, AMIRITE?

    Tagged with: sciencepsychologymoralityreligion

3 thoughts on “Links for 30th November 2009”

  1. The problem is what economists don’t talk about.

    Ever heard of the British Spitfire? Of course, everybody has. That is a STUPID question.

    But if prop planes could do 400+ mph 25 years before the Moon landing why have we kept redesigning cars that roll along the ground at less than 130 mph for 40 years since the Moon landing?

    We need to distinguish between CIVILIZATION and Stupid Consumerism. Why haven’t our scientists been talking about planned obsolescence for the last 40 years? Now we have to deal with the consequences of their silence.

    The entire economics profession just FORGOT about the Depreciation of Durable Consumer Goods for the last 60 years.

    Subversive by Mack Reynolds is in Project Gutenberg.

  2. But if prop planes could do 400+ mph 25 years before the Moon landing why have we kept redesigning cars that roll along the ground at less than 130 mph for 40 years since the Moon landing?

    I think the answer you’re looking for here is “physics”.

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