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David Stafford
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Student of markets, enjoys following their course.
My book:
Around the World in Several Pieces
  • Urine Powering Cell Phones; "Rise Of The Machines"?(An Imagining Of Future Technologies) 0 comments
    Jul 18, 2013 9:26 PM

    In the news, I recently heard of urine based power generation. This newest form of "green", as in biological-system based energy, struck me as intriguing.

    http://www.voanews.com/content/urine-could-one-day-power-cell-phones/1704437.html

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    We're all familiar with energy from the heat in the earth core driving wind driving turbines, and hydro-power, and solar and even nuclear and wind power, however, using human energy, or at least a human byproduct made me wonder where this could all be going.

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    Perhaps its somewhat of an interesting step, in moving from natural phenomenon based energy sources, to natural entity based sources per se. Sure, we've all been jaded perhaps, by visions of "Terminator", and his very cinematic fusion of human and machine, or blade runner, but perhaps we shouldn't let examples of very refined technology make us scoff at that same technology family's potential humble origins.

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    Of course, there is no terminator, or android person like in "Blade Runner", perhaps not because of lack of capacity, or interest, but because of the simple laws of NPV, that rule modern decision making processes. Perhaps a method used in approaching an outcome, can truly sort of prophecize the outcome that will be attained via this method per se, and hence, normal people are much "cheaper", and just about as useful as people-robots. However, with energy demand growth supposedly showing an increase in 30% over the past two decades, and emerging markets always looking to produce new energy heavy fixed capital, it makes me wonder, what this all says about "unemployment" trends per se going further.

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    Human population growth is expected to continue, and energy requirements are expect to grow with the supposed "development" of the emerging markets. As fixed capital in developing markets, becomes more technology intensive, how long will it be until we have people powering machines, a-la "Matrix" style. People could perhaps temporarily sell their power by the hour etc, to run a much more efficient programmed robot in a factory. Hopefully they would be "selling" it. Perhaps it might one day be a requirement for "social safety-net" products/services from the government.

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    For surely, if our economic system continues the way it currently does, like BOA recently just as a tiny example, slashing human costs, in the name of almighty efficiency, how long will it be, until "inefficient" (as in not designed to perform a specific repetitve task over and over again) humans are used as batteries, or sources of power, for their more efficient and more specialized counterparts, namely machines.

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    Perhaps its a leap to jump to here from urine-power, but people often say that this age marks the end of history etc etc, or "what will be the new "paradigm"/technological shift that defines the future?", and perhaps it will be some sort of marxist-scifi-new normal, namely the final commodization of humanity(or a portion of it temporarily), into sources of energy to power more efficient(efficient in the sense discussed above) processors like machines, and computers.

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    As we begin to hit "peak" this that or the other, this may further accentuate the situation(the need for energy), and it strikes me as though if this process(human energy harnessing), given the right technology could be done efficiently and "painlessly" or without any negative health effect somehow, perhaps people would willing go in temporary Matrix style stasis, in return, for having their basic social needs taken care of. Perhaps one day we'll here of new records for "going under" in the energy systems being discussed on the morning news, etc.

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    Perhaps it won't be so dramatic with human consciousness entering the "system"'s software like in "Lawnmower Man", for surely, that is an interesting story, but not very practical. Hence with practicality, efficiency, and energy source depletion being perhaps defining themes of the future, will many people be called upon to power their replacements, in return for "3 hots and a cot"?. Who can say, but perhaps the human as energy sources perspective, may become not only viable one day but normal, as well. Economic forces/desires tend to shape norms, whether they be through the "democratic" process, or through the sponsoring of think tank proposals etc, so who can say where the line between morality and productivity will finally fall.

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    This could be a particularly "grey" issue, because given the huge amounts of unemployment even in the "developed" world, with global population set to increase, and with efficiency continuing to improve, perhaps we will one day, not have an "owner", a "manager", and "labor" class, but a social ownership class(comprising everyone) a la Mondragon(all stakeholders/shareholders), with a "designer/programmer/efficiency maximizer" class running and designing our interwoven production and energy grid, and an "energy source" class(of course being dynamic for the individual hopefully). Perhaps we will simply have less people, so who can say, but perhaps human energy sources will define, or at least play a part in our future energy production tendencies.

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    Or perhaps, these musings will be just another small branch on the tree of global human possiblity, either way, perhaps only time will tell, and hopefully the future will be "bright" in one way or another.

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    This is just a photo of a high tech bathub hehe;

    http://www.homechunk.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/Energy-cocoon-Elegance.jpg

    but it seems on point.

    (click to enlarge)

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