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Technology has always found its greatest consumer in a nation's
war and defense efforts. Since the last attempts at a "Star Wars"
defense system, has technology changed considerably enough to make
the latest Missile Defense initiatives more successful? Can such an
application of science be successful? Is a militarized space
inevitable, necessary or impossible?
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(1152 previous messages)
- 05:52pm Apr 6, 2002 EST (#1153
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- 06:18pm Apr 6, 2002 EST (#1154
4/6/02 3:16am . . . asks what advice I'd give "to a future
generation looking at career employment in this a rogue-unregulated
area - - " One thing is that, if one works for a classified agency,
for the rest of your life, they can always "get to you." The more
hidden and unconventional what you are doing is, the more vulnerable
you are. Some of the vulnerabilities were set out in a movie
starring Robert Redford - "The Day of the Condor."
My own case was especially awkward, and not only for me.
In some ways, I got a superb education, both broad and deep, and
was given opportunities to do things that fit me very well. I hadn't
realized what a Faustian bargain I'd made until I decided I had to
refuse an order.
Until Bill Casey died in 1989, one could argue that I had been
reasonably dealt with.
In general, I don't think anyone should ever permit themselves to
be deflected from the conventional credentially sequences "for the
convenience of the government" -- because our society, for all its
flexibilities, isn't flexible enough to accomodate that.
- 06:20pm Apr 6, 2002 EST (#1155
4/6/02 9:32am is an incisive, useful posting. I'm honored to
have a chance to converse with almarst . It would be
desireable to get a safe and renewable source of energy, large
enough to serve world needs. At the rough level I've described, from
4/5/02 8:35pm on, it "looks possible."
How hard would it be to convert "possible" to "real?" How could
real people, in real organizations, proceed to do so, in ways that
would actually work?
Here's the key part, I believe. It would be necessary to
proceed, step by step, in ways that could be understood, and
justified, as investment decisions. In the real
world as it is. That means that the steps of the program have to be
sold to people with resources and power of decision - step by
It would have to make sense, in detail, from an "investment
decision" viewpoint, whether the work was funded by one or more
governments, or by a private concern, or by some mix. Every step of
the way - as part of an assembly of steps.
Some things we talked about on this thread a year ago, just after
"Muddle in Moscow" http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=533129
..... appeared, are worth looking at again in that regard.
4/6/02 9:32am raises important concerns about cooperation -- and
about the blocking of what would be in the interest of the many, by
powerful, entrenched organizations. Those questions arise in most
cases where technical cooperation has to occur. And they're usually
difficult. I'm not sure that they are especially difficult in this
case -- so long as the jobs that need to be done can be structured
so that they make sense, together, in the sequence they have to
occur, as the risky, but potentially very high payoff investment
decisions that have to be involved.
I'm working to answer your welcome question:
Any suggestions on how this idea can be advanced?
I think so.
- 06:31pm Apr 6, 2002 EST (#1156
One key thing, very much related to the "missile defense"
If a particular and specific technical project, originally
promising, proves to be impossible for an inescapable reason
- there has to be a way to kill it -- because
life is short and resources are scarce -- and we need to do things
that can work.
If you know how to kill what should be killed on a rational basis
-- you also know a lot of what you need to know to make
hopeful decisions. Decisions to back things that actually can
and actually do pay off, as rational gambles.
Thomas Edison thought a lot about these problems - and sometimes
solved them well.
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