0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

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0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby robertliguori » Mon Jan 08, 2018 4:04 pm

Image

Well, this is going places.

I'm...also kind of heavily in Lee's camp here. Budgeting money is not like budgeting a free resource. Lee walking around on 1% power speaks to some very perverse actions on, uh, their part.

We don't know what Lee's power consumption or battery life is like, but the implication is that this is something which is normally charge on an order-of-magnitude daily cycle. Messing up a need to charge hourly would be common and understandable, while not being able to charge when you knew it was coming weeks in advance sounds more like a forgetfulness issue.

So, given that Zoa needs to spend a few seconds in an environment in which they are allowed to charge, we have a few obvious fallback plans. If we continue the metaphor of personal-charge-as-cell-phone, where are the Starbuckes, with explicit policies allowing paying customers to access their networks?

We also have the second fairly obvious standby of cultivating regulars. If Zoa can find a few customers who would be interested in repeat services of any kind, then it seems like it would be really easy to work out a "Hey, I sometimes need to drop by and recharge, if you'll let me use your place's hookups in perpetuity I'll throw in a discount on the next service I do for you." deal.

And finally, there's the really obvious solution; Zoa calls DemeGeek and files a problem request that they can't get access to this free resource they need in order to continue their income stream, and the big corporation handles it.
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby Deepbluediver » Mon Jan 08, 2018 5:35 pm

I'm also curious how much power Zoa is pulling.

One of my favorite examples I once read to illustrate how the quality of life improves for people over the course of human history was what it took to earn "an hour of light". If you don't think artificial light sources are important, than you've obviously lived your entire life taking them for granted. All you need to do to really get a good sense of how important light is is to go camping. Bury your flashlight in your backpack, wait for it to get dark, then try to find it again.

Anyway, this quote went something like (and excuse my faulty memory): to earn 1 hour's worth of oil to light a lamp in ancient Sumeria took a common laborer several days. In the middle ages, to earn enough to buy a candle that would burn for an hour would take several hours. Even as recently as the mid 20th century (in a developed country) working to pay the electricity bill for a single light-bulb would take several minutes at minimum wage. Today it only takes a few seconds to earn the same. Imagine how different your life would be is significant chunks of your income had to go to keeping the lights on.

I don't know what the situation is with energy in the future- part of me wants to assume that electricity would keep getting cheaping and appliances would keep getting more efficient. I don't know what kind of system Zoa is running on though, and how much power Lee normally draws. Even if Zoa only draws as much energy as a modern vacuum, she could still flicker the lights if Lee's apartment normally only operates on the same energy as a modern desk lamp.


The reason I'm REALLY interested in Energy though, is because it's kind of like a universal currency. What people can do can, for the most part, be delineated in how much work it takes. Building structures, moving people or goods from one place to another, communication, etc. Almost everything has a cost that is dictated primarily in energy-used. As energy gets cheaper, you can do more and more things that used to be impractical. Building a city in the middle of a desert, for example. Trucking in materials? Takes energy. Building the pipeline to get water from the ocean, and desalinate it? Takes energy. Mining and refining the ore to makes the pipes? Takes energy. etc etc etc.

If energy were cheap enough to be effectively free (ignoring for the moment that truly free energy is an impossibility as far as we understand physics) then the only limitations on what humans can do would be our imagination, plus materials-science. Many of the modern-day limitations of which can be overcome with the basic concept of "throw more energy at it".
:mrgreen:
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby yomikoma » Tue Jan 09, 2018 8:26 am

Interesting take on Universal Basic Income here - it's only Universal for those the government has decided are people. Kind of like "democracy" in ancient Greece, or "all men having the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the antebellum southern USA.
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby robertliguori » Tue Jan 09, 2018 3:45 pm

yomikoma wrote:Interesting take on Universal Basic Income here - it's only Universal for those the government has decided are people. Kind of like "democracy" in ancient Greece, or "all men having the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" in the antebellum southern USA.


It does add an interesting wrinkle to the aside in the beginning about the implausibility of a universal basic income, and for people to check their possibly-political assumptions if they were assuming a priori it was impossible.

I am amusededed that the follow-up certainly seems to be "Yup, there's a basic income, for people, and dozens-to-hundreds of AIs toiling away in the metaphorical human-flourishing mines to let Lee sit around and rate cartoons all day every day."

---

I'm also kind of morbidly curious about the specifics of Zoa's construction and history. I feel like she can't be a purpose-built sexbot, but more than that, I feel that if "Provide sexual pleasure to people" was even a potential job for her, she'd have been built with RealDoll bits, or at least with a modular groin area. (Actually, a modular groin area makes a lot of sense for a sexbot.)

Knowing that she doesn't have vital systems there, but does have moving parts, suggests that it's not a design constraint; no one anticipated anyone would be wanting to have sex with the Zoa bot line (or at least, in the traditional methods).

My follow-up wondering is if robo-sex services really aren't an official DemeGeek thing, and Zoa was just clever enough to pick up exaggeratedly female secondary characteristics as part of her basic anthropomorphization package, and has found a clever way to utilize them.
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby yomikoma » Tue Jan 09, 2018 4:01 pm

Good point. Somehow her (its?) mouth is sufficiently functional though. Is Zoa actually speaking by changing airflow and touching lips and teeth and tongue, or do the rectangular speech balloons imply some sort of simulated speaker system?
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby Deepbluediver » Tue Jan 09, 2018 5:49 pm

yomikoma wrote:Good point. Somehow her (its?) mouth is sufficiently functional though. Is Zoa actually speaking by changing airflow and touching lips and teeth and tongue, or do the rectangular speech balloons imply some sort of simulated speaker system?

We also now apparently have wireless-energy transfer, which is pretty cool.

I mean, it's both cool and not-cool when you think about it.

Technically we've had wireless energy transfer forever- light, sound, X-rays, etc, are all forms of energy that can be transmitted without wires. The sun transmits quite a bit of energy wirelessly to the earth every day. But efficient transmission of energy in sufficient quantities in an easily-processible form that can run our many appliances and devices has been an ongoing challenge for scientists almost since the mechanization of electricity itself. I've read at least one other sci-fi story where it formed a major plot-point, and it really seems like one of those things a modern-person would think "Wow!" over, while in the future they just take it for granted.
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby MarkGyver » Wed Jan 10, 2018 8:27 am

I get that Zoa has to pay for power because it (I'm using in-universe pronoun rules even though Zoa is passing the Turing test thus far) doesn't count as a person (can there be universal basic income without a slave class that's excluded?) and there's a lot of great discussion to be had about the rights of electronic beings in Forward.

However, the little thing that's bugging me is the meaning of Zoa's expression "thank C". Is Zoa using the programming language of that name as an expression for divinity?
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby yomikoma » Wed Jan 10, 2018 9:24 am

MarkGyver wrote:However, the little thing that's bugging me is the meaning of Zoa's expression "thank C". Is Zoa using the programming language of that name as an expression for divinity?


Probably, though it might also be referring to the speed of light or some ancient-to-them-but-after-our-time figure involved in early AI development with that initial.
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Re: 0014 - The Economics of Free Power.

Postby notStanley » Sun Jan 14, 2018 4:10 pm

There was mention of "free field", I assume that is public charging spaces? So, Zoa does not want to spend an hour sitting somewhere considered "low class" (dmv, bus station, ...)?
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