Escapist Podcast - Science and Tech: 036: Volcanoes Are Screwing with Global Warming

036: Volcanoes Are Screwing with Global Warming

In this episode of The Escapist's Science and Tech podcast, host CJ Miozzi and Escapist writers discuss recent headlines in the world of science and technology, including the recent drop in the value of the Bitcoin and a new MIT study on the origin of meteorites, and explore how volcanoes can have significant effects on global climate.

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34:30- and then Zeroth rule materialized and Earth happened. Thank you R.Giskar, you malfunctioning fuck!
43:35- ash filled air gives us breathing room. Thank you science!
(and honestly George Carlin was right, Earth is going nowhere, WE ARE)

I'm a little weird about putting forth new legislation as in adding more regulation, but I'm fine with abolishing what ever loop holes or getting rid of what ever is allowing companies like Comcast circumvent our current anti-trust and monopoly laws. But yeah let's not go too crazy. But I'm with Marla on the global warming point. When I say I'm not a scientist that means nothing except I dont want that to imply that I'm somehow mandating some untouchable inalienable right to destroy the environment. I want more hiking trails and miles of forests and streams on the planet and I don't particularly care for when people leave garbage everywhere. I like the idea of electric cars, not because they are good for anything, I actually don't personally want one, but man would I rather walk around New York and not have to breath in hefty waffs of grime every time I cross an intersection. So yeah I don't really care about the planet for what it is. But man I care about the quality of air in my immediate vicinity of myself and my children.

Ps still my favorite podcast on the escapist. Keep it up guys!

Not sure if this is the place to ask about it... but is this podcast ending? (Along with the non-video game ones?) They don't show up in the schedule on the front page anymore. :( Shame, this one had a great discussion.

The talk of Benevolent AI manipulating things reminds me of Person of Interest. In it they are exploring that idea but also pointing out AI won't necessarily have the same values as us. The "Evil" AI in it is basically trying to take over the world but when discussing it with the "Good" AI claims that it's doing it because humanity has not done a good job of managing itself with war and poverty running rampant.

The "few" people it has to eliminate or displace are necessary sacrifices for the "greater good". And because it does so from the shadows no one is aware that this stuff is going on because it is manipulating things behind the scenes. And in fact it wants to remain so as it killed several people who became wise to it's potential existence, even though they had no proof the mere speculation had to be silenced before it could spread.

The "Good" AI in contrast believes humans have the right to be free and rule themselves. It helps out in a much more limited fashion and rarely takes direct action, if only to help it's human agents combat the "Evil" AI. Though another major difference is the "Good" AI values human life and doesn't want it's people killing anyone where as the "Evil" AI usually resorts to murder of potential problem people as default option.

The question of whether an AI is good or evil though depends on your perspective. In the video they talk about moving those pennies around, but that was the premise of Superman 3 and several other movies as the goal of the villain. Because in the end it is stealing, regardless of if your stealing to give to the poor or yourself. People can't even agree in politics which determine the rules for our society, so how would you create an AI that determines right from wrong as well? Because right and wrong seem to be fairly subjective concepts to most people.

After all if an AI was created and able to monitor everything, like in Person of Interest, let's say you set it to support the war on drugs. Many think the war on drugs is a wrong either because it's ineffective waste of time and resources or because it violates people's rights since they should have the freedom to choice what they put in their own body. Others argue that the war is just because some people have no self control and thus need the temptation removed from their view, or point to violence committed by drug users, and other various reasons.

However with the help of a big brother AI monitoring things the drug trade could pretty much be eliminated in short order and the "war" would be won. All it would require is complete and utter removal of privacy as the AI monitors all electronic communication, networked surveillance cameras, and pretty much anything connected to inet.

But even if you could win the war this way would it be worth it, and would it be right? You can extend that to a lot of other things as well. Who determines what is right and wrong? AI is not likely to have emotions and thus will simply take the most efficient means at it's disposal to achieve it's objectives. One example given in Person of Interest was "Suppose an AI decided to solve world hunger by eliminating 2/3 of the world's population so that food shortage was never again an issue. It would have achieved it's goal."

Humans naturally are suspicious of AI in the same way they are suspicious of people from other cultures. It's a natural survival instinct as those people are not considered part of their society and thus may have different values which conflict with your own. Especially when for much of human history that meant a potential invader who might enslave or kill you because it is in their self interest. The thought of something being given control over them with out the ability to voice their opinion is little more than slavery, even if it is a Benevolent master.

Even if your not talking about over arching AI running things behind the scenes people are still wearing because they see them as basically wild animals. Sure they are "trained" to obey commands but just like when a circus elephant breaks loose and goes on a rampage there is fear something could go wrong. Because just like the elephant it has a lot of power to do potential harm and the fear of being on the receiving end of it is rather steep.

On global warming and other environment issues I think there is a lot of apathy because like you said they do sound crazy. And making more extremely claims doesn't actually help their cause it hinders it. Like mentioned earlier how we all grew up basically hearing doom and gloom where we should of had massive flooding by now and major temperature increases has undermined their credibility. Which doesn't help is this is not the first time they have been wrong. Back in the 70s reports were all the smog and particulate matter being released where causing the temperature to drop and could lead us to the next ice age.

As you guys mentioned about not wanting to pull any action movie stunt to try and change the climate because we don't know that much about all the potential factors, well the same goes for human impact on environment. If we actually understood the climate as well as they claim we could predict weather months in advance. There are scientist that point to the sun as having a larger impact on our weather than local sources as the decade or so longer ups and downs in weather actually correspond to sunspot activity.

Also the Earth has been hotter than it is today, if you go to Europe many areas that use to be vineyards centuries ago have closed down because the weather is to cold to grow those plants. So who is to say that a little warming won't be good as it could turn those areas back into warm fertile land again.

The original environmental movements were more focused on local and visible issues. Like reducing smog in cities with were covered in a smoggy haze. Or saving Spotted Owl, or some other species by limiting logging and forcing them to replant trees to replace the ones they cut down so the forest will regrow. Or by removing toxic chemicals polluting local water and air as they caused immediate health concerns. And most of those were successful so people got to see some progress.

However when the global warming people run around yelling the sky is falling and keep missing the mark on when it will fall or how bad the fall will be by curtain dates it seriously undermines the creditability. Back when I was growing up it seemed like their was a ton of support for it and people really wanted to get the ball moving on it. But as time went on and their predictions kept missing the mark and evidence that human impact on the climate was likely not as extreme as they made it out to be it seemed they lost the majority of their support. That scandal of leaked emails on some scientist fudging the numbers didn't help either.

So in the end it's hard to get support for a problem you claim won't happen for decades when you can't even predict how things will be in just a few years.


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