Toggle light / dark theme

Just five years ago, anybody who spoke of technological unemployment was labeled a luddite, a techno-utopian, or just simply someone who doesn’t understand economics. Today things are very different – anybody from New York Times columnist Tom Friedman to CBS are jumping on the bandwagon.


Those of us who have been speaking about the tremendous impact of automation in the workforce know very well that this isn’t a fad about to pass, but that it’s a problem that will only exacerbate in the future. Most of us agree on what the problem is (exponential growth of high-tech replacing humans faster and faster), and we agree that education will play a crucial role (and not coincidentally I started a companyEsplori – precisely to address this problem); but very few seem to suggest that we should use this opportunity to re-think our entire economic system and what the purpose of society should be. I am convinced this is exactly what we need to do. Published in 2012, my book, Robots Will Steal Your Job, But That’s OK: How to Survive the Economic Collapse and Be Happy – which you can also read online for free shows we might go about building a better tomorrow.

We have come to believe that we are dependent on governments and corporations for everything, and now that technology is ever more pervasive, our dependence on them is even stronger. And of course we don’t question the cycle of labor-for-income, income-for-survival and the conspicuous consumption model that has become dominant in virtually every country – and that not only is ecologically unsustainable, but it also generates immense income inequality.

Well, I do. I challenge the assumption that we should live to work, and even that we should work to live, for that matter. In an age where we already produce more than enough food, energy, and drinkable water for 7 billion people with little to no human labour, while 780 million lack access to clean water and 860 million are suffering from chronic hunger, it follows that the system we have in place isn’t allocating resources efficiently. And rather than going back to outdated ideologies (i.e. socialism), we can try new forms of societal structure; starting with open source philosophy, shared knowledge, self-reliance, and sustainable communities.

There are many transitional steps that we can take – reduced workweek, reform patent and copyright laws, switch to distributed and renewable energies – and there will be bumps along the road, no doubt. But if we move in the right direction, if we are ready to abandon ideologies and stick to whatever works best, I think we will prevail – simply because we will realise that there is no war other than the one we are fighting with ourselves.

I have seen the future of Bitcoin, and it is bleak.

The Promise of Bitcoin

If you were to peek into my bedroom at night (please don’t), there’s a good chance you would see my wife sleeping soundly while I stare at the ceiling, running thought experiments about where Bitcoin is going. Like many other people, I have come to the conclusion that distributed currencies like Bitcoin are going to eventually be recognized as the most important technological innovation of the decade, if not the century. It seems clear to me that the rise of distributed currencies presents the biggest (and riskiest) investment opportunity I am likely to see in my lifetime; perhaps in a thousand lifetimes. It is critically important to understand where Bitcoin is going, and I am determined to do so.

Continue reading “Bitcoin’s Dystopian Future” | >

May peace break into your home and may thieves come to steal your debts.
May the pockets of your jeans become a magnet for $100 bills.
May love stick to your face like Vaseline and may laughter assault your lips!
May happiness slap you across the face and may your tears be that of joy
May the problems you had, forget your home address!

In simple words .….….……May 2013 be EXTRAORDINARY … the best year of your life!!! Simply the best New Year greeting anyone has sent to me. This was from Robert White of Extraordinary People.

This morning I checked the Lifeboat stats for 2012. When I started blogging for Lifeboat at the end of July, we ended July 2012 with 42,771 unique visitors. We closed 2012 with 90,920 unique visitors for the month December. Wow! Our blogging has become more relevant, and more thought provoking. As a community of bloggers (with the exception of one) we have moved away from the 3 Cs of pseudoscience. Clouding the field. Confusing the public’s perception. Chasing away talent.

How did we do this? By backing up our discussions with hard facts, robust debate and real numbers. From years if not decades of investigation in our field of research. By speaking from our own unique experience. By sharing that unique experience with our readers.

Once again, may 2013 be an extraordinary year.


Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.

To achieve interstellar travel, the Kline Directive instructs us to be bold, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not. To extend the boundaries of our knowledge, to advocate new methods, techniques and research, to sponsor change not status quo, on 5 fronts, Legal Standing, Safety Awareness, Economic Viability, Theoretical-Empirical Relationships, and Technological Feasibility.

In this set of posts I discuss three concepts. If implemented these concepts have the potential to bring about major changes in our understanding of the physical Universe. But first a detour.

In my earlier post I had suggested that both John Archibald Wheeler and Richard Feynman, giants of the physics community, could have asked different questions (what could we do differently?) regarding certain solutions to Maxwell’s equations, instead of asking if retrocausality could be a solution.

I worked 10 years for Texas Instruments in the 1980s & 1990s. Corporate in Dallas, had given us the daunting task of raising our Assembly/Test yields from 83% to 95%, within 3 years, across 6,000 SKUs (products), with only about 20+ (maybe less) engineers, and no assistance from Dallas. Assembly/Test skills had moved offshore, therefore, Dallas was not in a position to provide advice. I look back now and wonder how Dallas came up with the 95% number.

Impossibly daunting because many of our product yields were in the 70+%. We had good engineers and managers. The question therefore was how do you do something seemingly impossible, without changing your mix of people, equipment and technical skills sets?

Let me tell you the end first. We achieved 99% to 100% Assembly/Test yields across the board for 6,000 SKUs within 3 years. And this, in a third world nation not known for any remarkable scientific or engineering talent! I don’t have to tell you what other lessons we learned from this as it should be obvious. So me telling Dr. David Neyland, of DARPA’s TTOI’ll drop a zero” at the first 100YSS conference in 2011, still holds.

How did we do it? For my part I was responsible for Engineering Yield (IT) Systems, test operation cost modeling for Overhead Transfer Pricing, and tester capacity models to figure out how to increase test capacity. But the part that is relevant to this discussion was team work. We organized the company into teams, brought in consultants to teach what team work was and how to arrive at and execute operational and business decisions as teams.

And one of the keys to team work was to allow anyone and everyone to speak up. To voice their opinions. To ask questions, no matter how strange or silly those questions appeared to be. To never put down another person because he/she had different views.

Everyone from the managing director of the company down to the production operators were organized into teams. Every team had to meet once a week. To ask those questions. To seek those answers. That was some experience, working with and in those teams. We found things we did not know or understand about our process. That in turn set off new & old teams to go figure! We understood the value of a matrix type organization.

As a people not known for any remarkable scientific and engineering talent, we did it! Did the impossible. I learned many invaluable lessons from my decade at Texas Instruments that I’ll never forget and will always be grateful for.

My Thanksgiving this year is that I am thankful I had the opportunity to work for Texas Instruments when I did.

So I ask, in the spirit of the Kline Directive, can we as a community of physicists and engineers come together, to explore what others have not, to seek what others will not, to change what others dare not, to make interstellar travel a reality within our lifetimes?

Previous post in the Kline Directive series.

Next post in the Kline Directive series.


Benjamin T Solomon is the author & principal investigator of the 12-year study into the theoretical & technological feasibility of gravitation modification, titled An Introduction to Gravity Modification, to achieve interstellar travel in our lifetimes. For more information visit iSETI LLC, Interstellar Space Exploration Technology Initiative.

Solomon is inviting all serious participants to his LinkedIn Group Interstellar Travel & Gravity Modification.

The New York Time reported Space Exploration Technologies of Hawthorne, Calif. — SpaceX, for short — launched its Falcon 9 rocket on schedule at 8:35 p.m. Eastern time from Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “trouble-free countdown followed by liftoff at 8:35 p.m. ET, precisely as scheduled.”

Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr., the NASA administrator said, “It actually marks the beginning of true commercial spaceflight to take cargo to the International Space Station for us.”

This is a milestone in the relationship between public and private enterprise. The handoff of what public enterprise, NACA/NASA, pioneered, developed and brought to maturity, to private enterprises capable of lowering the costs of space travel with ambitions to do more than stay in low earth orbit.

Congratulations, to Elon Musk, who believed it was possible, and went ahead and proved all the nay sayers wrong. This is an example of how one man’s vision and tenacity has changed the way we perceive the world. Congratulations!

I do not regret voting for this President and I would and will do it again. However.……I am not happy about our space program. Not at all. One would think there would be more resistance concerning the privatization of space and the inferior launch vehicles being tested or proposed. Indeed there would be objections except for a great deception being perpetrated on a nation ignorant of the basic facts about space flight. The private space gang has dominated public discourse with very little answering criticism of their promises and plans.
This writer is very critical of the flexible path.

It is a path to nowhere.

Compared to the accomplishments of NASA’s glory days, there is little to recommend the players in the commercial crew game. The most fabulous is Space X, fielding a cheap rocket promising cheap lift. There is so little transparency concerning the true cost of their launches that one space-faring nation has called the bluff and stated SpaceX launch prices are impossible. The Falcon 9, contrary to stellar advertising, is a poor design in so many ways it is difficult to know where to begin the list. The engines are too small and too many, the kerosene propellant is inferior to hydrogen in the upper stage, and promising to reuse spent hardware verges on the ridiculous. Whenever the truth about the flexible path is revealed, the sycophants begin to wail and gnash their teeth.

The latest craze is the Falcon “heavy.” The space shuttle hardware lifted far more, though most of the lift was wasted on the orbiter. With 27 engines the faux heavy is a throwback to half a century ago when clusters of small engines were required due to nothing larger being available. The true heavy rocket of the last century had five engines and the number of Falcon engines it would take to match the Saturn V proves just how far the mighty have fallen.

Long, long posts, doubling as SpaceX advertisements, swamp any forum where the deception is exposed. The most popular and endlessly repeated dogma concerns fuel depots. Refueling in space is hyped as the answer to all problems. Unfortunately the chances of making it work with the selected propellant- liquid hydrogen- are not good. This kind of blasphemy is sure to bring howls of protest on any forum where it appears. The sad truth is the American people are being conned into throwing away the Heavy Lift Infrastructure that is the only path to Beyond Earth Orbit Human Space Flight. SpaceX is more of an exploitation company to charge the taxpayer twice than aerospace company. Everything they are pushing- from the engine design to friction stir welded stages, to the heat shield on the capsule has all been developed by NASA on the taxpayers dime. They use NASA labs and engineers for token payment and then advertise low prices. It is a scam. Worse than a scam, it is a distraction from and drain on funds from the only real possibility for space travel on the horizon; the Space Launch System (SLS).

LEO is not space exploration. It is not space travel. It may have qualified as space flight at one time but not anymore. It is endless circles at very high altitude. If any achievement deserves the “been there” scoff it is Low Earth Orbit.

Human beings left Earth at 24,200 mph (38,938 km/hr) in December of 1968. In December of 1972 we returned and have not gone back. We did continue Heavy Lift launches after Apollo with the Space Shuttle- but the STS did not launch humans beyond earth orbit. Due to lack of funding the Shuttle regrettably launched a hundred tons of wings, landing gear, and never full cargo bay over one hundred times so they could come right back. What little stayed up there at very high altitude going in circles is that higher price tag people cry about.

To expand the human race into the solar system requires nuclear energy. We will not be assembling, testing, and lighting off any nuclear systems in LEO. We do however have a human rated capsule with a powerful escape system almost ready that is suitable for transporting fissionables directly to the Moon- where we can assemble, test, and light off nukes. To send that capsule directly to the moon, and the human beings to construct a base that can support a nuclear mission, we need an HLV with hydrogen upper stages. The hydrogen upper stages are what made Apollo successful by making a heavy payload go fast. That vehicle is a few years away and sooner with more money. The DOD has vast resources it expends on weapons that do not protect us from two clear and present dangers; impacts and plagues. I often give examples on this site of “cold war toys” that are “hideously expensive” and do not seem to work right or do anything magical. That big rocket is the magic that will open the solar system to human colonization. Private space efforts are not capable of making any of it happen. This is why I consider the whole “new space” movement as being essentially rich hobbyists selling tourist trips. My thoughts on this “narrow and inflexible path” are based largely on the work of Freeman Dyson and Eugene Parker- and the discovery of millions of tons of water on the Moon.

Despite having “been there,” the Moon is the next step in opening up the solar system to human exploration and colonization. Low Earth Orbit is being sold as space travel even though to travel, you have to go somewhere. The battle cry of “cheap lift” is promoting the equivalent of the “liar loans” that wrecked the housing market. Falling for this something for nothing too good to be true rip-off will leave the U.S. trapped. Decades more of nothing but more endless circles at very high altitude. Mars is used as a marketing gimmick but is really just a rock with a deep gravity well. Everyone seems to think it is “just close enough” for chemical propulsion. It is not. If you are going to build the necessary Atomic Spaceship (and we would have to have a moonbase to launch a nuclear mission) you might as well go someplace really interesting.

All those places are in the outer solar system.
To establish a moonbase requires the Space Launch System to be put into service. There is no substitute for a Heavy Lift Vehicle with hydrogen upper stages.

The 130 ton lift of the proposed SLS is also at this time slated to be used as a crew vehicle. This was one of the worst mistakes of the shuttle program. The crew capsules being tested and built by SpaceX and Boeing pack seven astronauts into a vehicle without a proper escape system and, in the case of SpaceX, doubling as a cargo vehicle. Both of these vehicles have an escape-system-that-is-not-an-escape-system. These underpowered hypergolic systems are not very good at saving a crew but will work great raising the orbit of tourist space stations. This is another one of those worst mistakes being repeated.

Infomercial hype aside, the falcon “heavy” and Delta IV are not HLV’s. This misinformation deceives the public and makes the average citizen think the SpaceX hobby rocket is a Saturn V. At a thrust of around 100,000 pounds each it would take 72 merlins to equal the thrust of the SRB’s on SLS, not counting what the 4 liquid hydrogen engines also produce- with much greater efficiency than Kerosene.

The real problem with the U.S. space program is obvious to anyone looking at how much money is spent by the DOD. It is always interesting to hear sermons about how critical surveillance satellites are to fighting illiterate mountain tribesman. Any DOD contractor hearing complaints about NASA wasting money breaks down in maniacal laughter. One of my favorite talking points is that we can train our young people to clear buildings with automatic weapons or we can train them to build spaceships; either way the money will get spent.

Take a look at military spending increases and it is obvious funding for spaceflight can go up. And there IS a valid DOD mission BEO and BELO (Beyond Earth and Lunar Orbit). The valid military mission is impact defense and establishing outposts in the outer system- but this is hard money the aerospace industry wants nothing to do with. Unlike so many easy money weapon systems, spaceships have to actually work.

It is a race against time- will this knowledge save us or destroy us? Genetic modification may eventually reverse aging and bring about a new age but it is more likely the end of the world is coming.

The Fermi Paradox informs us that intelligent life may not be intelligent enough to keep from destroying itself. Nothing will destroy us faster or more certainly than an engineered pathogen (except possibly an asteroid or comet impact). The only answer to this threat is an off world survival colony. Ceres would be perfect.

Christian Astronomers

Posted in asteroid/comet impacts, biological, biotech/medical, business, chemistry, climatology, complex systems, counterterrorism, defense, economics, education, engineering, ethics, events, evolution, existential risks, finance, futurism, geopolitics, habitats, homo sapiens, human trajectories, life extension, lifeboat, media & arts, military, nuclear weapons, open source, physics, policy, space, sustainability, transparencyTagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments on Christian Astronomers

“The more anxiety one produces, the more the discussion there would be about how real and how possible actual existential threats are.”

John Hunt recently queried me on what steps I might take to form an organization to advocate for survival colonies and planetary defense. His comment on anxiety is quite succinct. In truth the landing on the moon was the product of fear- of the former Soviet Union’s lead in rocket technology. As we as a nation quelled that anxiety the budget for human space flight dwindled. But the fear of a nuclear winter continued to grow along with the size of our arsenals.

Interestingly, at the height of the cold war, evidence of yet another threat to human existence was uncovered in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico in 1981; Chicxulub. But even before the dinosaur killer was discovered, perhaps the greatest threat of all to humanity was born in 1973 when Herb Boyer and Stanley Cohen created the first genetically modified organism. The money to answer both of these threats by going into space continues to be expended by the military industrial complex.

Mile wide rocks in space and microscopic organisms on earth are both threats to our existence, but the third and undoubtedly greatest threat is our own apathy. Why do we expend the tremendous resources of our race on everything BUT keeping it from going extinct?

The answer to this important question is our own fear of death. As I have written previously, we are as individuals in the predicament of a circus freak on death row. It is a bizarre yet accurate characterization. None of us expect to live forever, but then we do not expect to die tomorrow either. We are in limbo between certain death and temporary life and cannot face the reality of the first while obsessing over the banalities of the second.

Examples of our determination to stay distracted can be found in the babbling of gravity modifiers, CERN doomsday prophets, and various other fruit flavored contributors to this blog. We desperately want to believe in UFO’s, conspiracies and fantastical solutions so we do not have to face the disquiet we experience whenever we pass a funeral home or graveyard. I am happy to pummel these idiots with the harsh language they deserve- especially when they destroy the credibility of sites like this which are trying to accomplish something worthwhile.

So I am thinking there is so much anxiety being monopolized that there is little market left for me capitalize on. Something different is required; as Bill Gates advised young entrepreneurs recently, “Don’t do what I did.” It has all been done and no clever marketing or deceptive advertising is going to build cities on other worlds. Space tourism is not going to save us- if anything it is a dangerous waste of time and money.

What is required is a popular culture renaissance that can focus the energy of several generations in a single direction. The uniqueness of this crossroads in history can be found in considering the nearly unbelievable difference in the level of scientific knowledge today compared to a half century ago. There is nothing more evident to the mature members of the western world than it’s age- our standard of living has brought about fewer children while the less fortunate parts of the world have accelerated their reproductive rates. Disparities in wealth and standards of living are stark evidence of the circus freak scenario. Very few of us are aware that there is a possible escape from this death sentence we are all born under. A standby of science fiction for decades has been the freezing of human beings for space travel. To delay death indefinitely and be resurrected when a cure for a disease or old age is found is a familiar concept. The parallels with Christianity are unmistakable.

We, as in my fellow human beings who were born around 1960, are seeing the culture we grew up in fade away as no other generation ever has. We lived through decades of threatened nuclear holocaust only to see our hoped for space age future dismantled by consumerism and profiteering. Personally, I find the presence of skulls everywhere to be the most poignant and disturbing portent of things to come. The veterans who fought in World War II and were everywhere when I was a boy would never have allowed this emblem of the Nazi SS to become so popular. It was the symbol of ruthless and murderous force as being the only meaningful feature of reality. 60 million human beings were killed in the fight against the evil it represents. And now it is back.

To counter to the present lack of vision I would like to introduce an agent of change in the form of a idealized past age. What better ideal than the movement that conquered fascism originally? Christianity did in fact conquer the Roman Empire- and as it is said we are all children of Rome, then we are also children of the carpenter from Nazareth. A technological analogy that can be discerned when considering the original Christianity and the modern world is the Gladius and the Atom Bomb. The Romans learned the fine points of using their infamous short swords by watching gladiators fight to the death- a funerary tradition they inherited from the Etruscans they assimilated. The training of professional gladiators was applied to the military and made “Drill a bloodless Battle and Battle a bloody Drill.”

The sword made the Roman Empire and Christianity inherited this prize. The Atom Bomb has kept modern civilization from World War for over a half century- but so far there is no great social movement that will inherit this mighty construct before it falls into a new dark age. The Fermi Paradox points to the possibility that this empire could well be the last; there will be no more cycles of civilizations rising and falling if we become extinct. If so then this really may be the end of the world- with no need to throw away reason in favor of the Book of Revelation.

What is most curious is that while the sword had no utility outside of murder, the Atomic Bomb holds the power to transcend this arena of earth and allow humankind to populate the galaxy. If this civilization can survive to travel to new worlds then the last empire will have risen- the last because it can never fall again.

So, to form a society of believers in life, in the future of the human race, the goals must be clear and easily understood;

If the human race is to survive, the individual must have some hope of surviving. The immediate need is a way to delay death and that procedure is practically a reality with advances in cryopreservation.

If the human race is to survive, new worlds must be found and colonized. The immediate need is for survival colonies off-world and atomic spaceships to establish those colonies and defend the earth from impact threats.

If the individual and the race as a whole is to survive, action must be taken. The immediate need is an organization to take money in and distribute it to the corporations and politicians that can direct the massive governmental resources necessary to accomplish a great rescue with cryopreservation and to construct spaceships to establish off world colonies and deflect impact threats.

Figuratively, metaphorically, the Christians conquered the old empire and the Astronomers who harness the power of the sun will inherit this empire. Since the more catchy titles have been taken by religious cults, I suggest the organization that will initiate action be called,

The Society of Christian Astronomers

My first call is for the money to copyright the title of the society and a brand I have in mind.

Filthy Lucre will certainly destroy us all if we cannot even pass a law that makes food companies tell us what they are feeding us.

I spend most of my time thinking about software, and occasionally I come across issues that are relevant to futurists. I wrote my book about the future of software in OpenOffice, and needed many of its features. It might not be the only writing / spreadsheet / diagramming / presentation, etc. tool in your toolbox, but it is a worthy one. OpenDocument Format (ODF) is the best open standard for these sorts of scenarios and LibreOffice is currently the premier tool to handle that format. I suspect many of the readers of Lifeboat have a variant installed, but don’t know much of the details of what is going on.

The OpenOffice situation has been a mess for many years. Sun didn’t foster a community of developers around their work. In fact, they didn’t listen to the community when it told them what to do. So about 18 months ago, after Oracle purchased Sun and made the situation worse, the LibreOffice fork was created with most of the best outside developers. LibreOffice quickly became the version embraced by the Linux community as many of the outside developers were funded by the Linux distros themselves. After realizing their mess and watching LibreOffice take off within the free software community, Oracle decided to fire all their engineers (50) and hand the trademark and a copy of the code over to IBM / Apache.

Now it would be natural to imagine that this should be handed over to LibreOffice, and have all interested parties join up with this effort. But that is not what is happening. There are employees out there whose job it is to help Linux, but they are actually hurting it. You can read more details on a Linux blog article I wrote here. I also post this message as a reminder about how working together efficiently is critical to have faster progress on complicated things.