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08:11 am: Weekend
First off, I am so ahead of the game: Extruded a new essay on AI on the train yesterday. The growing list of these things is here. _earthshine_, this one's for you.

On to the plan for the weekend. I can already tell that today will be driven by the rhythm (ever notice how that word has no vowels? weird) of the dishwasher. I need to clean about 100 bottles in order to finish the beer we started two weeks ago. I'm also planning to use up about 18 pounds of red malt extract in a highly experimental batch, testing the limits of malt character available to the homebrewer. We'll see what happens. I'm aiming for original gravities in the 1.02 range.

Did some reading on solar panels for the house. I'm totally bummed by what I found. It occurred to me that since I spend about $1000 per year on electricity, it might be possible to buy a solar system that produces enough power to take me off the grid, or perhaps even sell power back to the utility. Turns out that the system I would need to cover my average 900kW/h per month consumption costs about $40,000. Plus installation. Now, there's a tax credit of 15% of the first $15,000 of that ... but still. Damn. It'll pay for itself sometime *after* the mortgage runs out.

For new construction, though, I'm aiming for "off the grid." I want a well, wind, solar, geothermal, etc. The only solution is to build my fortress atop an active volcano.

Comments

[User Picture]
From:jrtom
Date:January 28th, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
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Interesting AI essay. I'd suggest that it's not quite the case that "intelligent, self-aware beings are the only accurate detectors of intelligent, self-aware beings" (although that phrase does suggest an interesting inversion of the Turing test: perhaps we could consider a _computer_ to be self-aware when it can reliably tell the difference between a person and a computer pretending to be a person). Instead, I'd argue that intelligent, self-aware beings are the only judges that intelligent, self-aware beings will accept as to what constitutes an intelligent, self-aware being. In particular, I think that "judge" is more appropriate than "detect"; the decision of what constitutes "intelligent" has always been subjective in part.
[User Picture]
From:fdmts
Date:January 28th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)

AI

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accurate detectors of intelligent, self-aware beings

You hit it on the head with the switch of words to "judge." It's a subjective call, and one has to be sentient in order to make that call.

My derivation is this: In reality, the only one I trust to judge any of these things is myself, since I'm the only self-awareness that I *know* exists. I've decided to trust my gut, broadly speaking, and assume that if you show signs of being "like me" in terms of being self-aware, I'll just assume that you are instead of wasting lots of time philoso-babbling about it.

Yeah, I would argue that assigning sentience to some system is a subjective call rather than an objective measurement. I'll go with that. In that case it's sort of tautological to spell it out.
[User Picture]
From:jrtom
Date:January 28th, 2006 06:34 pm (UTC)
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Solar panels: is is possible that you could get a cheaper system that would partially take you off the grid and pay for itself? (The extreme case is picking up a solar charger for batteries; I those might plausiblly be cheap enough that they pay for themselves fairly quickly, even though they don't save you much electricity.)

Also, since your phrasing implies that you might have looked into this: how much battery storage (or equivalent) would you have to have in order to be completely off the grid even when it's overcast enough that you're not getting enough input to run the house?
[User Picture]
From:fdmts
Date:January 28th, 2006 08:10 pm (UTC)

Words words words

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Once again, defeated by my own words.

By "off the grid" I meant to say "paying net zero for my electricity, averaged over time." Not (as the words clearly state) "physically disconnected from the electrical power grid." During my generation periods, I would sell electricity back to the power company. "Run the meter backwards," as the colloquialism goes. In the evenings (or during cloud cover or whatever) I would pull from the grid.

Ideally I would net zero usage over time, though the current would flow back and forth over the short term.

Sorry for the confusion.
[User Picture]
From:jrtom
Date:January 28th, 2006 09:52 pm (UTC)

Re: Words words words

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Just to be clear, I didn't mean to word-chop; I know of people who talk about really living off the grid in a literal sense (not connected to it at all). (I'm specifically thinking of one couple I know that has bought some property out in the middle of BFE, Oregon (and are probably living on it by now) in anticipation of the oil crash.)
[User Picture]
From:fdmts
Date:January 28th, 2006 11:33 pm (UTC)

Re: Words words words

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I used the wrong term, yo.

While being entirely self sufficient has its appeal, that's not the goal for today. Right now I would just like to take small steps in the right direction.
[User Picture]
From:technolope
Date:January 30th, 2006 05:06 pm (UTC)

Re: Words words words

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I hear you on that count.

Both solar and wind are nice, though not greatly cost-effective yet. I believe that wind has more room for improvement in the short-term, though. I also think that, thanks to your earlier calculations, looking for alternatives for home heat may be a better use of your alternative energy budget. Maybe instead of photovoltaics, use solar water heating panels. Or, consider a geothermal heat pump for year-round heating and cooling. Electricity seems a bargain compared to oil and gasoline.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:January 31st, 2006 04:05 pm (UTC)

Old School

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I will check in the Old Schoolhouse Library for reference books to share with you. There was much discussion within counterculture groups about alternative designs for living, utilizing solar, wind, battery, and many other aspects of design, back in the 1970's. When you put the different ideas all together, you get a home and a lifestyle that require minimal dependence on "the system" for comfort and even survival. It is good to see interest in these "technologies" coming back into fashion. It's frightening to think how fast the entire system would break down. This summer the demand for air conditioning in the ever-warmer cliamate could overtax the electrical supply, causing system failures. Far too many people are dependent for daily life on the "house of cards" which is the infrastructure in this nation. They have Faith, they trust and believe the City Fathers who murmur, "the levee will not break..."

By the way, I'm enjoying your essays.
shd
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