Another question about expectations

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James Nicoll

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May 21, 2005, 12:15:15 PM5/21/05
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Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
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David Cowie

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May 21, 2005, 12:33:01 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

How long ago was it colonised?
Or does someone else already live there?

--
David Cowie

Containment Failure + 13295:58

Daniel Silevitch

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May 21, 2005, 12:36:12 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000 (UTC), James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Recently colonized: Anywhere from a few thousand to a few million,
depending on the assumptions going into the colony ships

Older world: Hundreds of millions to tens of billions, depending on things
like how long the population has had to grow and the ease of relocation to
other worlds. Higher populations are possible (technology permitting), but
I think you'd need a finger on the balance to get them; 100 bilion or more
is a lot of people.

You're obviously engaged in an argument with someone or some group. Can
you give us a bit of context?

-dms

James Nicoll

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May 21, 2005, 12:37:58 PM5/21/05
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In article <slrnd8uorr...@bardeen.local>,

More of a discussion.

> Can
>you give us a bit of context?

No, because that would bias my results.

James Nicoll

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May 21, 2005, 12:39:28 PM5/21/05
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In article <pan.2005.05.21....@privacy.net>,

David Cowie <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:
>
>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
>How long ago was it colonised?
>Or does someone else already live there?

That's all you know from the back of the book.

Taki Kogoma

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May 21, 2005, 12:31:14 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000 (UTC), jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
allegedly declared to rec.arts.sf.written...

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

What tech level? Racial homeworld or colony? If colony, established
how long ago?

--
Capt. Gym Z. Quirk (Known to some as Taki Kogoma) quirk @ swcp.com
Just an article detector on the Information Supercollider.

Daniel Silevitch

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May 21, 2005, 12:43:48 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:37:58 +0000 (UTC), James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
> In article <slrnd8uorr...@bardeen.local>,
> Daniel Silevitch <dms...@uchicago.edu> wrote:
>>
>>You're obviously engaged in an argument with someone or some group.
>
> More of a discussion.

Heh. I'm sure...

>> Can you give us a bit of context?
>
> No, because that would bias my results.

Spoilsport :)

-dms

Wayne Throop

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May 21, 2005, 12:47:55 PM5/21/05
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: jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll)
: Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Well... one, plus staff. Francis Sandow.


Wayne Throop thr...@sheol.org http://sheol.org/throopw

Mike Dworetsky

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May 21, 2005, 12:54:24 PM5/21/05
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"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com...

Not much to go on, is it?

A stab at an answer:

Too small a population, or too recently colonised, then not a "good" place
to live, as life can be hard and you would need to do without luxuries.
Unless you enjoy being the hardy pioneer type, in which case it sounds
ideal.

Too large a population, too much industry, too large cities, then you have a
planet with an environmental crisis looming, so by definition too crowded to
be pleasurable to live there.

If it is Earthlike in terms of resources and temperate land masses good for
agriculture/forestry/recreation, and it has good rainfall but pleasant
weather much of the time, then with some industry and cities for culture and
interest, a comfortable population would be of order 100 million to 1
billion. That would allow self-sufficiency in nearly any industrial process
I can think of, especially if most of the population is in one area the size
of the US or Europe.

If 10 billion or more then the environment could be a problem. A crowded
planet is not that great a place to live.

--
Mike Dworetsky

(Remove "pants" spamblock to send e-mail)

James Gassaway

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May 21, 2005, 12:57:47 PM5/21/05
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"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d6no80$dh3$1...@reader1.panix.com...

> In article <pan.2005.05.21....@privacy.net>,
> David Cowie <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>>On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:
>>
>>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>>
>>How long ago was it colonised?
>>Or does someone else already live there?
>
> That's all you know from the back of the book.
>


Somewhere between zero and one hundred billion.

--
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."
"Now, quack, damn you!"

Multiversal Mercenaries
You name it, we kill it. Any time, any reality.


David Cowie

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May 21, 2005, 1:26:18 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:39:28 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:

> In article <pan.2005.05.21....@privacy.net>,
> David Cowie <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>>On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:
>>
>>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>>
>>How long ago was it colonised?
>>Or does someone else already live there?
>
> That's all you know from the back of the book.

In that case: anywhere between zero and a few billion. The back of the
book isn't giving me enough information to even make a wild guess.
However, once I was reading the book, then I might notice if the stated or
apparent population was out of line with whatever else the author had said
about the place. "Hang on, if it's the 500th anniversary of the first
landing on Fitzrovia, how come everyone seems to know everyone else? And
why is most of the planet unexplored?"

--
David Cowie

Containment Failure + 13296:40

Mike Schilling

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May 21, 2005, 1:40:13 PM5/21/05
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"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com...

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

A few hundred thousands, with a female-male ration of 10:1, the women being
selected for their stimulating nature. [1]

1. So it's a film, not written SF. Sue me.


David Dyer-Bennet

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May 21, 2005, 1:54:12 PM5/21/05
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jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

A really broad range of numbers. I'm not terribly interested in
places with less than 5 million or so (and that implies *very* high
levels of autonomous automation, and considerable intellectual traffic
with the outside).

On the high end -- well, what we have now is a good place to live, in
my judgement; but I'm not actually sure the current population is
sustainable as a good place to live. Might be, might not be. In
terms of simple crowding, a doubling or two is perfectly possible. In
terms of sustainability, I don't know if a doubling or two is
sustainable. I don't especially want to live in a nice place that
will likely drash even shortly after my death; I want ongoing
continuity. Of course there's the heat death of the universe to look
forward to later on, too.
--
David Dyer-Bennet, <mailto:dd...@dd-b.net>, <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/>
RKBA: <http://noguns-nomoney.com/> <http://www.dd-b.net/carry/>
Pics: <http://dd-b.lighthunters.net/> <http://www.dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/>
Dragaera/Steven Brust: <http://dragaera.info/>

David Johnston

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May 21, 2005, 3:12:14 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000 (UTC), jdni...@panix.com (James
Nicoll) wrote:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Entirely dependant on how long ago it was discovered.

David Johnston

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May 21, 2005, 3:21:43 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000 (UTC), jdni...@panix.com (James
Nicoll) wrote:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>--

Oh wait, I see what you asking. What are the minimum and maximum
population limits before the planet becomes unpleasant? I'd say the
minimum is something in the low millions, assuming that the planet
isn't in easy travel distance of some place civilised. That's enough
for a decent sized city, plus a wide assortment of small towns and
homesteads. As for the max, it depends on the technology and social
order of course, but I'd be pretty content with a billion or so
inhabitants.

ized...@hotmail.com

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May 21, 2005, 5:52:53 PM5/21/05
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James Nicoll wrote:
> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Assuming that you want the boundries for what range of population makes
for a pleasant existance..

Then the lower bound gets set by the population nessesary to sustain a
complex industrial/service/cultural economy, which.. Hmm. Well. To a
first order approximation the economy of the earth is the economy of
the first world and anti-globilisation claims to the contrary that
economy doesn't require a few billion poor people to "exploit".
800 million or so? My suspense of disbelief wouldn't collapse at 500
million either.
A hundred million, and you have a slightly larger Germany or a smaller
US trying to run a total autuarky. No significant trade whatsoever. I
might buy that with lots and lots of inherited* automation and
painfully high labour participation - as in "retire? you can rest when
you are dead" but it would feel like a nation rather than a world, and
most of the planet would almost certainly be empty wilderness except
for mining outposts and ranching operations feeding a single actually
populated area.

Max: This gets set by how clean their industry is. Not resources, or
crowding, as those really only kick in at much higher levels. Nope, the
limiter is how high total industrial output can go before the entire
planet gets covered by a brown cloud of pollution. Assuming
best-practice nuclear, a recipie for producing cheap photoelectrics
cleanly** and draconian pollution control in general. I'd say 10-15
billion. Thats 10-15 billion first worlders mind you. "Magic tricks"
like perfectly chemically efficient nanofacture, or moving all the
heavy industry to the von neuman factories on the local moon*** could
push this higher.

*Invented by the motherworld. Not local.
**solar pollutes primarily during the production of the photoelectric
elements. Current solar: Not clean. Better production technique would
help. Solar that doesn't rely on the photoelectric effect also works.
***In space noone dies because you dump a thousand tonnes of acid out
back.

GSV Three Minds in a Can

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May 21, 2005, 5:11:38 PM5/21/05
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Bitstring <d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com>, from the wonderful person
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> said

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Unanswerable as posed. I mean what's the commute time from elsewhere,
how many robots/drones are there, etc. etc. If it was entirely
self-supporting, and I couldn't teleport out for a bookshop, or PC
repair man, or Opera, or whatever, I'd need a few million at most tech
levels to support a civilized infrastructure. A billion is too many
(unless it's a Ringworld, or Orbital, or some other manufactured
structure with silly amounts of space).

Population densities somewhere in the 1-100 per sq/mile range tend to
minimize conflict with neighbours, and strangers visiting becomes a
joyful occasion rather than a damned invasion of privacy.

--
GSV Three Minds in a Can
Contact recommends the use of Firefox; SC recommends it at gunpoint.

Chad Irby

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May 21, 2005, 6:35:17 PM5/21/05
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In article <d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

One.

Not me, though, I'm very hard to live with.

--
I don't have a lifestyle.
I have a lifeCSS.

rja.ca...@excite.com

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May 21, 2005, 6:37:35 PM5/21/05
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GSV Three Minds in a Can wrote:
> Bitstring <d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com>, from the wonderful person

> James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> said
> > Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live
there?
>
> Unanswerable as posed. I mean what's the commute time from elsewhere,

> how many robots/drones are there, etc. etc. If it was entirely
> self-supporting, and I couldn't teleport out for a bookshop, or PC
> repair man, or Opera, or whatever, I'd need a few million at most
tech
> levels to support a civilized infrastructure. A billion is too many
> (unless it's a Ringworld, or Orbital, or some other manufactured
> structure with silly amounts of space).
>
> Population densities somewhere in the 1-100 per sq/mile range tend to

> minimize conflict with neighbours, and strangers visiting becomes a
> joyful occasion rather than a damned invasion of privacy.

Yeah... it does depend whether the kids can go find another
undiscovered planet and pick themselves a continent. Also depends on
technology level, culture's attitude to sustainability and reproductive
discipline, etc. I'm a Malthusian pessimist: I think if there's enough
to go around, we all bred more. Once we're starving, we breed less,
but it's too late than Malthus-wise. We may all survive but we'll feel
hungry.

Also assuming we don't redesign humans as, say, much smaller, or
running on rechargeable batteries or sunlight or whatever.

So.... I'll guess that if future-tech only makes our current culture
sustainable, we can have a few billion reasonably happy people on
Earth. If technology is much better then we can feed more. At a lower
tech level - well, in practice most of the world /is/ at lower tech
level, and a lot of us do scrape by.

Craig Richardson

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May 21, 2005, 8:12:41 PM5/21/05
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On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:15:15 +0000 (UTC), jdni...@panix.com (James
Nicoll) wrote:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Take the initial colony population, ramp up fairly steadily to 10
billion, then steady-state from there, assuming that it's not just
earth-like but also earth-sized.

--Craig

--
"I have no sex appeal, a rum-pa-pum-pum," sang Gabe Fenton, in spirit
with the season. "My social skills are nil, a rum-pa-pum-pum."
"Did that actually rhyme?" asked Tuck. -- Christopher Moore,
"He's a bright guy," said Theo. _The Stupidest Angel_

Paul Arthur

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May 21, 2005, 8:57:21 PM5/21/05
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Chad Irby <ci...@cfl.rr.com> wrote:

>In article <d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com>,
> jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) wrote:
>
>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
>One.

Two. It gets lonely after a while.

(Actually, I'm thinking if I were forced to a bare minimum for a group
I thought might have a fairly okay chance to survive, I'd go with six:
two males and four females.)

Michael Alan Chary

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May 21, 2005, 10:03:16 PM5/21/05
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In article <d6nmqj$ajh$1...@reader1.panix.com>,

James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> wrote:
> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Two. Me and Nicole Kidman. Sadly, she hasn't been struck blind and
still refuses to have anything to do with me.
--
An experiment in publishing:
http://www.ethshar.com/thesprigganexperiment0.html
The All-New, All-Different Howling Curmudgeons!
http://www.whiterose.org/howlingcurmudgeons

Karl Johanson

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May 21, 2005, 11:27:00 PM5/21/05
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"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

How many people live there? All of them.

Karl Johanson


Stewart Robert Hinsley

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May 22, 2005, 7:40:12 AM5/22/05
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In message <d6np40$5o9$1...@nwrdmz03.dmz.ncs.ea.ibs-infra.bt.com>, Mike
Dworetsky <plati...@pants.btinternet.com> writes

>
>A stab at an answer:
>
>Too small a population, or too recently colonised, then not a "good"
>place to live, as life can be hard and you would need to do without
>luxuries. Unless you enjoy being the hardy pioneer type, in which case
>it sounds ideal.
>
Depends on the tech - there's the Asimov short with one family per
planet (and easy travel back to Earth). The Paratime universe can also
support comfortable lifestyles on extremely sparsely settled planets. If
the discussion is restricted to known physics, then OK.
--
Stewart Robert Hinsley

how...@brazee.net

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May 22, 2005, 9:58:58 AM5/22/05
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On 21-May-2005, "Karl Johanson" <karljo...@shaw.ca> wrote:

> > Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
> How many people live there? All of them.

It depends on how you adjust your statistics for time.

Johan Larson

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May 22, 2005, 11:18:36 AM5/22/05
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<ized...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:1116712373.8...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.com...

>
> James Nicoll wrote:
>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
> Assuming that you want the boundries for what range of population makes
> for a pleasant existance..
>
> Then the lower bound gets set by the population nessesary to sustain a
> complex industrial/service/cultural economy, which.. Hmm. Well. To a
> first order approximation the economy of the earth is the economy of
> the first world and anti-globilisation claims to the contrary that
> economy doesn't require a few billion poor people to "exploit".
> 800 million or so? My suspense of disbelief wouldn't collapse at 500
> million either.
> A hundred million, and you have a slightly larger Germany or a smaller
> US trying to run a total autuarky. No significant trade whatsoever. I
> might buy that with lots and lots of inherited* automation and
> painfully high labour participation - as in "retire? you can rest when
> you are dead" but it would feel like a nation rather than a world, and
> most of the planet would almost certainly be empty wilderness except
> for mining outposts and ranching operations feeding a single actually
> populated area.

I would set my believability bound an order of magnitude an order of
magnitude lower, at a planet with only 10 million people but the equivalent
of a first-world standard of living. Now, mind you, the society and industry
of such a planet would be really very different from that of our own. People
would have less of some things we value, but more of others. Obviously, any
industrial development that requires extremely high up-front costs, such as
VLSI fabrication, would have much longer generations, since it takes longer
to pay off the costs. Accordingly, things would happen more slowly.

But there would be compensating advantages. With only ten million people,
most people can live in the balmiest temperate climate zone, and in only the
most scenic vistas. Agriculture can use only the most fertile soil, and
mining really only needs to worry about the purest ores, so both can run
very cheaply. Waste also wouldn't be a problem; there is surely a spare
Australia somewhere where all the nasties can be dumped. Also, with so much
space, if you really want to be alone, you can be. I would expect the
general world culture to have the mind-your-own-business attitude of the
sparsely populated American great plains, rather than the
neighborhood-association-ridden culture of the coasts. I mean, really, if
the neighbors are a hundred miles away, even their weekly meeting of the
Amateur Artillerist Association isn't going to bother me, much.

Johan Larson


James Nicoll

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May 22, 2005, 12:08:31 PM5/22/05
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In article <8eudnR_LEbF...@comcast.com>,
Johan Larson <johan0larson8comcast0net> wrote:

Low population world

>I would expect the
>general world culture to have the mind-your-own-business attitude of the
>sparsely populated American great plains, rather than the
>neighborhood-association-ridden culture of the coasts.

This does not match my experiences living on a farm or in a small
town.

Johan Larson

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May 22, 2005, 12:13:13 PM5/22/05
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"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
news:d6qapv$bh9$1...@reader1.panix.com...

> In article <8eudnR_LEbF...@comcast.com>,
> Johan Larson <johan0larson8comcast0net> wrote:
>
> Low population world
>
>>I would expect the
>>general world culture to have the mind-your-own-business attitude of the
>>sparsely populated American great plains, rather than the
>>neighborhood-association-ridden culture of the coasts.
>
> This does not match my experiences living on a farm or in a small
> town.

If I go buy a farm out in big-sky country, will I as a condition of purchase
be required to agree to a covenant that, among other things, dictates the
colors I can paint my house and whether a flagpole is permissible?

Johan Larson


James Nicoll

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May 22, 2005, 12:29:04 PM5/22/05
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In article <ccKdnbnNnvo...@comcast.com>,

Johan Larson <johan0larson8comcast0net> wrote:
>
>"James Nicoll" <jdni...@panix.com> wrote in message
>news:d6qapv$bh9$1...@reader1.panix.com...
>> In article <8eudnR_LEbF...@comcast.com>,
>> Johan Larson <johan0larson8comcast0net> wrote:
>>
>> Low population world
>>
>>>I would expect the
>>>general world culture to have the mind-your-own-business attitude of the
>>>sparsely populated American great plains, rather than the
>>>neighborhood-association-ridden culture of the coasts.
>>
>> This does not match my experiences living on a farm or in a small
>> town.
>
>If I go buy a farm out in big-sky country, will I as a condition of purchase
>be required to agree to a covenant that, among other things, dictates the
>colors I can paint my house and whether a flagpole is permissible?
>
Perhaps not but to balance that, watching other people's behavior
is [1] a major hobby in the boonies. Do you enjoy an unusual life-style?
Expect to be the focus of a lot of people's attention [2]. That's
entertainment.

The upside is if there's a death in the family, you will get
enough casseroles to feed Ghengis' horde for about a decade. The down
side is if, eg, your family are readers and reading isn't a common
hobby, people will offer advice on how too much knowledge is bad for
young children, even if you don't ask for it. And oddly, they take
equally well intended advice about their primitive religious beliefs
and barbaric customs extremely badly. No sense of reciprocity at _all_.

In a small town, you don't even get the distancing effects
a bunch of hectare gives you.

James Nicoll

1: Well, was. I'm talking 20-odd years ago. Satellite TV and the
internet may have changed this dynamic.

2: Eg, we had a house whose architecture is mostly kindly described as
"weird-ass" [3]. People would stop out on the road just to stare at it in
disbelief.

3: "Poorly thought-out" works too. Umpty hundreds of square feet of glass,
facing north.

GSV Three Minds in a Can

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May 22, 2005, 1:01:26 PM5/22/05
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Bitstring <d6qapv$bh9$1...@reader1.panix.com>, from the wonderful person
James Nicoll <jdni...@panix.com> said

>In article <8eudnR_LEbF...@comcast.com>,
>Johan Larson <johan0larson8comcast0net> wrote:
>
> Low population world
>
>>I would expect the
>>general world culture to have the mind-your-own-business attitude of the
>>sparsely populated American great plains, rather than the
>>neighborhood-association-ridden culture of the coasts.
>
> This does not match my experiences living on a farm or in a small
>town.

Likewise. I guess it depends on what the OP meant by 'mind your own
business' .. people in the small / non-populous parts I'm familiar with
know everything about everyone .. gossip is a #1 pastime, which I have
trouble equating to 'MYOB'. However they don't INTERFERE with their
neighbours that much, because as someone said, what the neighbours do
(short of nuclear testing) doesn't really impinge on anyone else that
much.

--

GSV Three Minds in a Can

Robert Sneddon

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May 22, 2005, 4:43:51 PM5/22/05
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In article <d6qc0g$na4$1...@reader1.panix.com>, James Nicoll
<jdni...@panix.com> writes

>
>2: Eg, we had a house whose architecture is mostly kindly described as
>"weird-ass" [3]. People would stop out on the road just to stare at it in
>disbelief.
>
>3: "Poorly thought-out" works too. Umpty hundreds of square feet of glass,
>facing north.

Not something built for an artist's colony or some such? There are some
highly des-res terraces along the A4 in London with massive windows in
the upper stories, all facing north. They were built as artist's
dwellings with big studios in the attic. You had to be rich to afford to
starve in those garrets.
--
Email me via robert (at) nojay (dot) org (new email address)
This address no longer accepts HTML posts.

Robert Sneddon

James Nicoll

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May 22, 2005, 5:39:17 PM5/22/05
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In article <5vcM4goH...@nojay.fsnet.co.uk>,

Robert Sneddon <no...@nospam.demon.co.uk> wrote:
>In article <d6qc0g$na4$1...@reader1.panix.com>, James Nicoll
><jdni...@panix.com> writes
>>
>>2: Eg, we had a house whose architecture is mostly kindly described as
>>"weird-ass" [3]. People would stop out on the road just to stare at it in
>>disbelief.
>>
>>3: "Poorly thought-out" works too. Umpty hundreds of square feet of glass,
>>facing north.
>
> Not something built for an artist's colony or some such? There are some
>highly des-res terraces along the A4 in London with massive windows in
>the upper stories, all facing north. They were built as artist's
>dwellings with big studios in the attic. You had to be rich to afford to
>starve in those garrets.

More of an unfortunate synergy between my parent's preferences,
the local landscape, the economy and the architect's habits. The view
was to the north and in 1968, who knew what OPEC was?

The windows were double-glazed, mind you.

One oddity was that my father had something of a fireplace
fetish, so the building had three fireplaces and a flue for a fourth,
all in a central brick piller three stories tall, surrounded by a wood
frame building. For years we thought that this was why a crack kept
forming on one wall each year, because the builder claimed that the
pillar would settle at a different rate from the rest of the house.
It was only when we were touching up the place to sell it that we
learned the truth: one basement wall had one support fewer than it
needed and the weight of the snow in the winter made the wall deform
a bit.

Of the three fireplaces, one was used all the time, one was
used mostly at Christmas (leading to the famous nylon shirt event)
and one smoked if you lit a fire in it, which greatly reduced its
utility.

We discovered at one point that the brick wall of the pillar
would hold up a sock pretty well. This led to sorting socks by putting
them on the wall, which in turn led to mosaics built entirely of socks.
Mission drift is a hazard in all pursuits, including doing the laundry.

Aaron Davies

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May 22, 2005, 7:20:57 PM5/22/05
to
rja.ca...@excite.com <rja.ca...@excite.com> wrote:

> So.... I'll guess that if future-tech only makes our current culture
> sustainable, we can have a few billion reasonably happy people on Earth.
> If technology is much better then we can feed more. At a lower tech level
> - well, in practice most of the world /is/ at lower tech level, and a lot
> of us do scrape by.

Present *tech* is far more than is necessary to support our current
population--it could easily support at least 100 billion. I'm too lazy
to do the math, but I wouldn't be surprised if it could support a
trillion--imagine what a company like ADM could do if given free reign
on the Russian steppes.

The problem is present *politics*. Current densities and above are only
sustainable if you let the distribution problems work themselves out,
without trying to optimize things or skim a little cream off the top.
--
Aaron Davies
Opinions expressed are solely those of a random number generator.
"I don't know if it's real or not but it is a myth."
-Jami JoAnne of alt.folklore.urban, showing her grasp on reality.

Garrett Wollman

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May 22, 2005, 7:57:07 PM5/22/05
to
In article <1gwz9dg.f7d6fcu34wfpN%aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid>,

Aaron Davies <aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid> wrote:
>trillion--imagine what a company like ADM could do if given free reign
>on the Russian steppes.

Grow even more heavily-subsidized corn to make heavily-subsidized
ethanol at even more horrendous inefficiency?

-GAWollman

--
Garrett A. Wollman | As the Constitution endures, persons in every
wol...@csail.mit.edu | generation can invoke its principles in their own
Opinions not those | search for greater freedom.
of MIT or CSAIL. | - A. Kennedy, Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003)

Phillip Thorne

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May 22, 2005, 8:00:26 PM5/22/05
to
On Sat, 21 May 2005, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) asked for some
inscrutable (and no doubt nefarious) reason:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

Define "Earthlike," "world," "good", "live", and "people."

Is it a rocky planet of comparable size, geology, biosphere, and
insolation to Earth?

Or is it a supermondane shell with the superficial ecology of Earth,
but none of the underlying geology? (Supermondane world: a rigid
shell built around a gravity source such as Jupiter, at an altitude
such that the acceleration of gravity is ~9.8 m/s^2.)

What's per-capita energy consumption (flip side: waste heat
generation)? What's the level of technology? Hunter-gatherer
stone-age agricultural, industrial, orbital industry, nanotech?

What's the statistical distribution in the populace of "gregarious"
vs. "solitary"? Is the number of bodies equal to the number of
mentally-distinct individuals? What's the height and body mass of an
adult? Are post-biological retired uploads (see Bear/Benford(?)'s
_Eon_) counted in the population figures?

What's the percentage of surface that can be easily adapted to habitat
for the "people" without energy-intensive adjustment?

***

Now, estimates for maximum population are often based on the
per-capita energy use of the First World, America in particular -- but
we use lots of highly inefficient technologies: incandescent
lightbulbs, automobiles that idle in traffic jams during twice-daily
commutes, A/C, raw and manufactured materials shipped from overseas,
petrochem-reliant agriculture, "affluenza". (My own alma mater of RPI
has a Lighting Research Center devoted to reducing the impact of the
former.)

If you reprioritize some of those things with new technology, it
massively reduces per-capita energy use. LED lighting, cities and
dwellings arranged differently, electric cars, more localized
hydrogen-buffered energy economy, general-purpose small-scale
fabricators.

Follow those developments to one particular conclusion, and you get
village-like mixed-use clusters: walk or ride to work, know your
neighbors, mixed agricultural and semi-wilderness green-belt outside,
local renewables sufficient for reduced energy demand, short-distance
rapid transit to neighboring urbanizations by shared-ownership motor
vehicles.

A billion humans sounds like a good number for that system -- it
leaves enough land surface "fallow" to periodically move communities
once the local soil becomes less productive, without utterly draining
it. That's enough to maintain multiple ethnic and language groups, an
informational trade, and regional specialties in mining, aquaculture,
or high-insolation solar collection.

/- Phillip Thorne ----------- The Non-Sequitur Express --------------------\
| org underbase ta thorne www.underbase.org It's the boundary |
| net comcast ta pethorne site, newsletter, blog conditions that |
\------------------------------------------------------- get you ----------/

Aaron Davies

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May 22, 2005, 8:13:57 PM5/22/05
to
Garrett Wollman <wol...@khavrinen.csail.mit.edu> wrote:

> In article <1gwz9dg.f7d6fcu34wfpN%aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid>,
> Aaron Davies <aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid> wrote:
> >trillion--imagine what a company like ADM could do if given free reign
> >on the Russian steppes.
>
> Grow even more heavily-subsidized corn to make heavily-subsidized
> ethanol at even more horrendous inefficiency?

Thus my (snipped) complaint about politics being the problem, not tech.

Garrett Wollman

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May 22, 2005, 9:37:52 PM5/22/05
to
In article <1gwzc5m.wzie6kp6pzgbN%aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid>,
Aaron Davies <aa...@avalon.pascal-central.com.invalid> wrote:

>Garrett Wollman <wol...@khavrinen.csail.mit.edu> wrote:
>> Grow even more heavily-subsidized corn to make heavily-subsidized
>> ethanol at even more horrendous inefficiency?

>Thus my (snipped) complaint about politics being the problem, not tech.

ADM has free rein *now* (or has had, in the very recent past), and
they've chosen to use it to buy congresscritters whenever it looked
like their business might be threatened by technological progress.

James Nicoll

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May 23, 2005, 11:32:53 AM5/23/05
to
In article <q96291td80t3l4kkm...@4ax.com>,

Phillip Thorne <tho...@underbase.org> wrote:
>On Sat, 21 May 2005, jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) asked for some
>inscrutable (and no doubt nefarious) reason:
>
>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
>Define "Earthlike," "world," "good", "live", and "people."

Giving that much information ruins my experiment.

ized...@hotmail.com

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May 23, 2005, 12:17:22 PM5/23/05
to

Johan Larson wrote:
> <ized...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
> news:1116712373.8...@o13g2000cwo.googlegroups.Obviously, any

> industrial development that requires extremely high up-front costs,
such as
> VLSI fabrication, would have much longer generations, since it takes
longer
> to pay off the costs. Accordingly, things would happen more slowly.


I don't think you quite see the magnitude of the problem, which is that
it won't just "take longer to pay the costs". The costs simply cannot
be met. Not for chipfabrication and for all the other things that
seperate us from 1860, nor for one hell of a lot of other stuff. Most
high-end industrial infrastructure presuposses a market one heck of a
lot larger than 10 million and without it becomes unviable.
Low-population, but industrial worlds require either trade to supply
them with the things they chose* not to make, or a "cheat" of some
sort. Strossian Cornicupia machines, the moon turned into a wast hive
of unmanned clanking replicator factories or something on that order,
because they simply can not raise the capital to pay for a conventional
industrial base. This will probably get worse over time as more and
more of earth transitions to first world status and earth gets richer.
With oceans of capital available and a market counted in billions of
wealthy people the incentives for developing a complete small scale
indutrial package are nonexistant.

*Actually. Ruralia 5, pop 10 mil could have a chip fab. A export
oriented one, representing a fairly noticable percentage of the
combined savings of the entire planet.

David Cowie

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May 23, 2005, 12:57:42 PM5/23/05
to
On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:39:28 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:

>>
>>How long ago was it colonised?
>>Or does someone else already live there?
>
> That's all you know from the back of the book.

If you're referring to an actual book, rather than a generic one, could
you quote what it says on the back? Changing names where necessary.

--
David Cowie

Containment Failure + 13344:22

James Nicoll

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May 23, 2005, 1:32:11 PM5/23/05
to
In article <pan.2005.05.23....@privacy.net>,

David Cowie <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
>On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:39:28 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:
>
>>>
>>>How long ago was it colonised?
>>>Or does someone else already live there?
>>
>> That's all you know from the back of the book.
>
>If you're referring to an actual book, rather than a generic one, could
>you quote what it says on the back? Changing names where necessary.
>
It's just an inhuman experiment. I expected that if all readers
knew that the place was like Earth (size, mass, presence of a complex
ecosystem) then their expectations of population would be somewhere in
the neightborhood of a billion people.

wth...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu

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May 23, 2005, 2:06:21 PM5/23/05
to
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:

> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?

I'd need to use the cover, title, and what I know of the author
to put the work in one of three categories:

Hard SF: no more than a few million. A very small number came
in one or a few STL transports. By the time the population
hits a hundred million tech levels will have evolved far enough
to make hard SF impossible to write (given that they were
already pretty high when the planet was colonized).

SF with FTL: five hundred million to a billion and a half.
With FTL a much larger initial population is possible, and
perhaps even significant amounts of later immigration.
But with FTL, why crowd the planet when others will be
available?

Space Opera: a few billion. Emperors need masses of
subjects.


William Hyde
EOS Department
Duke University

James Nicoll

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May 23, 2005, 2:58:50 PM5/23/05
to
In article <yv7z64x9...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu>,

<wth...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
>jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:
>
>> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
> I'd need to use the cover, title, and what I know of the author
> to put the work in one of three categories:
>
snip

> SF with FTL: five hundred million to a billion and a half.
> With FTL a much larger initial population is possible, and
> perhaps even significant amounts of later immigration.
> But with FTL, why crowd the planet when others will be
> available?
>

This depends a bit on how fast the FTL is and how common
empty sufficiently Earth-like worlds are. In Known Space, for example,
not only is FTL relatively slow but human space is surrounded by
alien realms. Anderson has a character from New Mars in one story,
a crappy planet that was settled because decent worlds tend to be
occupied already and New MArs was the best the settlers could find.

wth...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu

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May 23, 2005, 4:00:25 PM5/23/05
to
jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:

> In article <yv7z64x9...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu>,
> <wth...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu> wrote:
> >jdni...@panix.com (James Nicoll) writes:
> >
> >> Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
> >
> > I'd need to use the cover, title, and what I know of the author
> > to put the work in one of three categories:
> >
> snip
>
> > SF with FTL: five hundred million to a billion and a half.
> > With FTL a much larger initial population is possible, and
> > perhaps even significant amounts of later immigration.
> > But with FTL, why crowd the planet when others will be
> > available?
> >
> This depends a bit on how fast the FTL is

Right, but most writers, if they invoke FTL, tend to make
it a matter of days or weeks to nearby stars, as compared
to decades (at least) with reasonable STL travel. I assume
that in the latter case colonists will be fewer in number,
and colonizing a harder job (you can't fly back to Earth
to get something or someone you need).

and how common
> empty sufficiently Earth-like worlds are. In Known Space, for example,
> not only is FTL relatively slow but human space is surrounded by
> alien realms.

I inferred from the existence of a nice uninhabited world that
in this hypothetical universe either we are nearly alone, or
that the aliens that do exist prefer planets that we do not.
Most of the worlds humans inhabit in Known Space seem to be
of low quality, as you say (is Wunderland the exception?).

It is possible that in the hypothesized book we have lucked into
a world others overlooked, or that this is sufficiently far away
from other civilizations that the travel time would be long even
with fast FTL. But I thought the former case to be more likely.

Anderson has a character from New Mars in one story,
> a crappy planet that was settled because decent worlds tend to be
> occupied already and New MArs was the best the settlers could find.

Ken MacLeod's New Mars is no prize either.

David E. Siegel

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May 23, 2005, 4:02:45 PM5/23/05
to

ized...@hotmail.com wrote:

> James Nicoll wrote:
> > Earthlike world, good place to live: how many people live there?
>
> Assuming that you want the boundries for what range of population
makes
> for a pleasant existance..
>
> Then the lower bound gets set by the population nessesary to sustain
a
> complex industrial/service/cultural economy, which.. Hmm. Well. To a
> first order approximation the economy of the earth is the economy of
> the first world and anti-globilisation claims to the contrary that
> economy doesn't require a few billion poor people to "exploit".
> 800 million or so? My suspense of disbelief wouldn't collapse at 500
> million either.

But that is assuming no significant economic interaction. If you
assume cheap FTL or teleport or some such, so that the planet can be
part of a larger economy, not self-sustaining, then it could be as low
as the population of a single resort, say a few hundred.

> A hundred million, and you have a slightly larger Germany or a
smaller
> US trying to run a total autuarky. No significant trade whatsoever. I
> might buy that with lots and lots of inherited* automation and
> painfully high labour participation - as in "retire? you can rest
when
> you are dead" but it would feel like a nation rather than a world,
and
> most of the planet would almost certainly be empty wilderness except
> for mining outposts and ranching operations feeding a single actually
> populated area.
>

> Max: This gets set by how clean their industry is. Not resources, or
> crowding, as those really only kick in at much higher levels. Nope,
the
> limiter is how high total industrial output can go before the entire
> planet gets covered by a brown cloud of pollution. Assuming
> best-practice nuclear, a recipie for producing cheap photoelectrics
> cleanly** and draconian pollution control in general. I'd say 10-15
> billion. Thats 10-15 billion first worlders mind you. "Magic tricks"
> like perfectly chemically efficient nanofacture, or moving all the
> heavy industry to the von neuman factories on the local moon*** could
> push this higher.
>

I think that resource limits might well also be important. But the
higheer and better designed you push the tech (including recycling
tech) the more people could be present and still have a "pleasent
place" IMO.

-DES

Garrett Wollman

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May 23, 2005, 5:30:28 PM5/23/05
to
In article <yv7zzmul...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu>,
<wth...@godzilla.acpub.duke.edu> wrote:

> Right, but most writers, if they invoke FTL, tend to make
> it a matter of days or weeks to nearby stars, as compared
> to decades (at least) with reasonable STL travel.

Julian May had something she called the "displacement factor", which
was something like log(t_light / t_subjective) (or perhaps it was just
a linear speed in light-years per subjective day). Those willing to
take more risks (and assume more pain at the point of crossing into
and out of subspace) could use higher DF than an ordinary passenger
liner.[1] I suppose other authors have come up with similar concepts.

-GAWollman

[1] I probably remember incorrectly, but I have in my head that a
passenger liner would do 3-5 and a merchant cargo ship 20.

rja.ca...@excite.com

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May 24, 2005, 7:09:29 AM5/24/05
to

James Nicoll wrote:
> In article <pan.2005.05.23....@privacy.net>,
> David Cowie <m...@privacy.net> wrote:
> >On Sat, 21 May 2005 16:39:28 +0000, James Nicoll wrote:
> >
> >>>
> >>>How long ago was it colonised?
> >>>Or does someone else already live there?
> >>
> >> That's all you know from the back of the book.
> >
> >If you're referring to an actual book, rather than a generic one,
could
> >you quote what it says on the back? Changing names where necessary.
> >
> It's just an inhuman experiment. I expected that if all readers
> knew that the place was like Earth (size, mass, presence of a complex
> ecosystem) then their expectations of population would be somewhere
in
> the neightborhood of a billion people.

I think most of us also assume that population grows up to a count that
is stable and still consistent with the tech level and with
hypothetical Keep This A Nice Place By Not Over-Polluting legislation
(since in practice we tend to turn nice places into lousy ones onless
someone makes a law that it has to stay nice), and that you take the
census during that stable phase and not the growth term; also, that
more people is better until we start to run out of niceness, and that
niceness is achievable globally with Earth resources and a population
no less than an order of magnitude lower than Earth in 2005, at least.
Which may be optimistic. Not many people want to believe that the real
Earth can be made an overall good and happy place, presuming it isn't
that already, only by killing off nine-tenths or more of the human
population.

SF&F that sees property values drop when humans live in the
neighbourhood includes _Elfquest_ and a good deal of Michael Moorcock's
early work also featuring elves. But some of us don't care for them so
much, either - although J.R.R. Tolkien's sympathies seem to have been
divided, too.

phil hunt

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May 24, 2005, 6:44:38 PM5/24/05