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Grandpa Did It. Why Can’t I?

Tom Easton One of the classic objections to environmental regulations is that they interfere with the rights of a landowner. A person or a corporation resents being told that they cannot dump sewage or industrial waste into a river or lake or smoke into the air. “After all,” they say, “we always used to be […]

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Throwing Shade

Tom Easton One of the scariest things about the climate change or global warming threat is that over and over again, the projections for the next few years seem to be too conservative.[1] If this continues, temperatures and sea level will go up more, and sooner, Antarctic ice will melt faster, there will be more […]

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Shine On!

Tom Easton We have known how to use solar energy for a long, long time. It’s as simple as facing a house to the south to catch the winter rays. If you want hot water, put a black-painted 50-gallon drum on the roof. Or take a long black hose and snake it back and forth […]

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If It Quacks Like a DURC…

Tom Easton That title may sound silly, but it has a point. DURC stands for “Dual-Use Research of Concern,” and it refers to research whose dissemination may permit people to do harm.  Some say that dissemination should therefore be restricted in some fashion short of declaring it “Classified” or “Top Secret.” Saying “If it quacks […]

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Making Us Better

Tom Easton Not long after the first baby steps toward genetic engineering were taken in the early 1970s, critics such as Andrew Kimbrell tried to jump down the field’s throat. In his book, The Human Body Shop: The Engineering and Marketing of Life (HarperSanFrancisco, 1993), he said the development of genetic engineering was so marked […]

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Dirt Needs Dirt

Tom Easton When I was very young, about 1950, my grandparents’ house had an outhouse, even though the house was in town. The house, you see, was owned by my great-grandmother, in her nineties, and she insisted that her late husband (d. 1927) would never have approved of such new-fangled things as indoor plumbing, central […]

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Dealing Green

Tom Easton The 2018 midterm elections brought to the U.S. House of Representatives a flood of new Democratic talent with a propensity to say “We need to do things differently.” This propensity has taken notable form with House Resolution 109,[1] better known as the “Green New Deal,” introduced in the House by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) […]

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Why SF is where it is?

Jim Cambias and I have similar ideas about the state of sf, although we come at it from different perspectives. You can find Jim’s blogs about this here and here. My blog with the corresponding information on Amazing Stories can be found here. What I’m talking about is the point of Jim’s blogs, where it’s […]

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Are We AIs?

Tom Easton If Artificial Intelligence (AI) software is already close to being able to learn to be us by watching us, then we must be AIs. This outrageous statement follows from physicist Frank Tipler’s 1994 proposal in The Physics of Immortality (Doubleday) and Nick Bostrom’s 2003 argument[1] that we live in a vast computer simulation. […]

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AIdentity Theft

Tom Easton One of the latest wrinkles (among many) in artificial intelligence (AI) research is AI programs that can learn by watching. They don’t have to be painstakingly coded with instructions for performing a task. Nor, like the old numerically controlled machine tools, do they have to be guided step-by-step through a task until they […]

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