Podcasts: appropriate agriculture, inappropriate singularity, Argentina

Podcasts can be a way to learn while doing something else.  I’ve encountered some interesting ones in recent weeks.

Grow rice in Vermont? Why not? The frost-free period is short, but long enough to get one crop.  Build terraced paddies on land that couldn’t grow much else, and you’ll want some ducks to help provide fertilizer as well as another product. Agroinnovations podcast #113 provides details.

Land imprinting has nothing to do with ducks, tho, it’s more about reducing runoff and conserving water in arid regions.  You don’t plow, you just use a roller with “triangular impressions.”  This no-till method is free of “intellectual” “property” restrictions, which helps make it inexpensive and easy to implement, but unlikely to get much publicity in the major commercial/government “news” media. There’s a good discussion on Agroinnovations podcast #114,  with text and pictures at The Imprinting Foundation.

Leaving the farm to go to George Mason University, we hear Russ Roberts interviewing Robin Hanson about a technological singularity.  I’ve always thought of this  [per Wikipedia] “in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence…a post-singularity world would be unpredictable to humans due to an inability of human beings to imagine the intentions or capabilities of superintelligent entities.”

But Hanson and Roberts have a different perspective:  “Hanson argues that it is plausible that a change in technology could lead to world output doubling every two weeks rather than every 15 years, as it does currently.” This would apparently be done by robots (or replicants) who would be able to perform labor, most or all tasks that people do, but would be relatively cheap to produce and operate.  They do get it right that the general rate of wages would fall, down to what it costs to operate and amortize a robot.  So people would have to either have special skills that robots cannot replace, or own privileges (no, they do not use that term) such as land or patents, to benefit from the additional production– or even to survive.  What about the poor, who for whatever reason forgot to get themselves a privilege?  There is no mention of the idea of taxing rent, just the expectation that the rich would of course want to share with others since it will be so cheap to do so.

Finally, there’s James Corbett’s interview of Adrian Salbuchi. Salbuchi is an Argentine activist and promoter of the Second Republic Project. I assume that anyone Corbett interviews is probably worth listening to, but got put off a bit when Salbuchi praised Juan Peron.  Then, there are good people who praise Huey Long, so I continued listening as he analyzed what has happened to his country in recent decades, and what needs to be done. His monetary philosophy could have come from the American Monetary Institute.

The quantity of money is really the key factor.  … [A]s people see that authorities are properly managing the economic system, the need for gold will probably disappear.  And it should, because the function of money is to promote economic growth.  And you cannot have the quantity of money being limited by anything except the amount of work and the amount of labor and the amount of economic growth.

If we were to define money… as a certificate for work, you’ve just solved half of all monetary problems, because if the only way you can get money is by doing work, it would mean nobody could get money except by doing work [with exceptions for children, elderly, disabled.]….However, the present system allows anybody, in fact the more criminal he is, the more money he can get…to live off interest, which means he is living as a parasite.

He did not, nor does his web site, discuss tax policy.

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