Being Human, Or When Taking Risk Is Most Cautious


More than a million human guinea pigs have been vaccinated with a brand new type of vaccines, RNA vaccines, within two weeks of planetary wide experimentation. Immunity is apparently conferred, although we do not know for how long. The consequences long term of these vaccines are unknown, because the virus these vaccines vaccinate against was unknown a year ago. We don’t even know if they will not cause “enhancement”… a dreaded consequence of some attempted vaccines… Apparently not. Trump took enormous risks when he forked out billions (to Moderna), and promises of more billions (to both Moderna and Pfizer and BioNTech) in his operation “Warp Speed”. Reality check: we do not have yet a vaccine against HIV, which killed 35 million people. At least.

I am zero vaccine skeptical: I will take one of the two RNA vaccines ASAP. But taking risk is second nature to me: a week without risk is basically unknown to me, when I am not sick or under repairs… I just want to congratulate humanity for taking risks with these vaccines. Individuals familiar with real sports know well that the way out of a risky situation is often to take more risks.

SpaceX demonstrated what everybody thought was commercially impossible: landing rockets profitably

NASA of course landed LEMs on the Moon, and some devices on Mars; NASA also demonstrated two landings or so of a large rocket in the 1990s… But did not get any further guidance from hedonistic presidents or the US Congress; however NASA research certainly demonstrated that landing rockets was possible. Now SpaceX is re-using its Falcon Nine rockets’ first stages on a regular basis, breaking costs.

SpaceX is developing its “Starship”, a reusable second stage, which could go to orbit, all by itself, from the surface of Mars (long story, another time). SpaceX uses the experimental method. And that means it breaks things:

SpaceX SN8 Starship, shortly before its demise, belly flopping itself up, and then exploding from RUD, Rapid Unscheduled Disassembly (upper frame)

The method of taking serious risk and breaking things ought to be applied all over technology… And even science. Not just to apply the experimental method, but as a moral imperative.

Why? Because we are already breaking the biosphere in more than a dozens ways, pollution allowances and time are running out… We are destroying the biosphere simply because we know no other ways...

Some have said, and will say: then stop everything… Forget technology, and its prowess, let’s just celebrate Biden, Prince William, Kim Kardashian and her sidekick, Doctor Fauci, on our smartphones.

However, we cannot drop the effort towards future technology, because it would stop many crucial life supporting systems, bringing the death of billions. The present systems are unsustainable, this is why they have to be replaced. Those life supporting systems have to be replaced by sustainable technology, which will have to be more sustainable, smarter, more advanced… But does not exist yet.

For example it is imaginable that we could replace the presently extremely polluting maritime transport by much faster, light automated sailboats on foils, crisscrossing the oceans (the technology is under development, mostly in France).

To develop the new technologies we need to keep the biosphere alive, we cannot just do modelling, that’s too slow, and incomplete. Instead, we have to experiment and break things. That is what the history of science says. Thus SpaceX shows the way. This way should be applied to hydrogen technology, and fusion… But also all over biotech. Injecting so much of humanity on a rushed basis with RNA vaccine is a good start.

Besides there is a more general question. We, humanity learn from mistakes, and always have, because mistakes are part of experimenting. We are a scientific species, and even our ancestor species were also into experimental science. That’s why they conquered clothing and fire… More than a million years ago. Thus, we learn from risk taking. Refusing risk is refusing learning. No doubt, then, that longing for risk is core to the human experience, and is a teacher. Those who refuse risk do not gain eternal life, but they lose in the will to greater intelligence, the essence of humanity.

Patrice Ayme

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2 Responses to “Being Human, Or When Taking Risk Is Most Cautious”

  1. Ian Miller Says:

    Sailboats on foils for cargo? Not sure about that. Here we have the current America’s Cup “yacht” racing, and we have yachts on foils going 40 k/h in modest breezes. However, they have to get up to a certain speed before they get up on the foils, and I am not sure with the weight of a cargo ship it would be able to do that. I guess we shall have to wait and see, but in the racing so far the odd false manoeuvre has seen the yachts come crashing down into the water and seemingly taking a very long time to get up on the foils again. And these are designed for racing, not carrying cargo.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      I know about the mass/area relationship, first rolled out by Galileo.
      You are thinking about the “America Cup” style boats, I am thinking more about the Vendee Globe style boats and the giant ultimate trimarans. One is presently built in France with anticipated speeds of 50 knots. Cavitation is their big enemy. They reach 45 knots right now. It often ends with a collision with a UFO.
      In 2017, a sailboat went around the world in 40 days… days after days, it went at 35 knots…that is the one I depicted in:
      https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2020/12/11/progress-from-prowess-flying-boats-fear-ufos/
      That particular boat was built in 2006, and was equipped with new, better foils in 2018, which enable it to nearly come out of the water, it now skims on its belly…after its world in 40 days. Since then it beat the record for the Tea Route (HK to London).
      Such boats can go at amazing speeds in six meter waves because of the automatic pilot. It’s hard on the pilots, because of shocks and noise from the foils…
      If one could scale up a bit and improve the electronic, especially to detect UFOs, one could have cargo carried by automatic sailboats. Right, we better use HYDROGEN for massive ships…

      You can follow the present Vendee Globe at:
      https://www.vendeeglobe.org/fr/cartographie
      The icon representing winds shows the world wind map, right now they have an unusual anticyclone in the South Pacific slowing them to a crawl…

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