Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Why I Support Infosocialism
Infosocialism is a political philosophy developed (under the name "information socialism") by the American "Socrates III" in 2010. Originally from the left-anarchist tradition, Socrates felt that the vision of a pure anarchosocialist society was unrealistic (and in some cases criminal). Nevertheless, he observed that although modern civilization was utterly dependent on information technologies, the central notion of "intellectual property" often gave rise to significant injustice. He believes that the state should not criminalize owning life-saving information and popular digital information (like CD and DVD media) for the sake of the corporation. Distributing the benefits of such innovation fairly to society is the mainstream media's job, not the governments. Infosocialism thus begins with the premise that "information needs to be free," but redefined freedom as the nationalization of intellectual property and its free distribution by all citizens of the World Wide Web. Thus, the government does protect patents, but continues in its basic duties of protecting society and individuals. This is less absurd when one imagines a "university" rather than "corporate" model of research and development.

Infosocialist doctrine will surely fail to take hold in the hyper-developed nations like America and Japan and will instead take root in less-developed nations, many of whom feel that they were are being exploited by wealthier corporations' locks on major genetic patents, nanotechnology designs, and digital media, and information software.

Like many legal concepts, intellectual property is a fiction, viable only as long as everyone agrees to be bound by it. At the beginning of the 21st century, fierce controversies are beginning to break out over the ownership of computer software, digital recordings of music, genetically engineered seeds, and other forms of intellectual property. Whenever the public sees too great a discrepancy between the value of information and the price being charged for it, piracy becomes widespread. Entire nations like China and most of Africa, falling behind in the race for technical innovation, choose not to enforce the international agreements protecting intellectual property. The goal of Infosocialism is to make sure the artificial scarcity of information (and the high prices charged by people to make lots of profit) are negated as much as possible so that people can have the cures for diseases that can kill them, access to gene-modded crops to prevent widespread starvation in whole countries, and forcing the governments of the world to get back to the more important job of running their nations and their economies instead of punishing media pirates (usually kids) with criminal and financial penalties.

How to be a Good Liberal
1. You have to be against capital punishment, but support abortion on demand.
2. You have to believe that businesses create oppression and governments create prosperity.
3. You have to believe that guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens are more of a threat than nuclear weapons technology in the hands of Iran or Chinese and North Korean communists.
4. You have to believe that there was no art before federal funding.
5. You have to believe that global temperatures are less affected by cyclical changes in the earth's climate and more affected by soccer moms driving SUV'S.
6. You have to believe that gender roles are artificial, but being homosexual is natural.
7. You have to believe that the AIDS virus is spread by a lack of federal funding.
8. You have to believe that the same teacher who can't teach 4th-graders how to read is somehow qualified to teach those same kids about sex.
9. You have to believe that hunters don't care about nature, but PETA activists do.
10. You have to believe that self-esteem is more important than actually doing something to earn it.
11. You have to believe the NRA is bad because it supports certain parts of the Constitution, while the ACLU is good because it supports certain parts of the Constitution.
12. You have to believe that taxes are too low, but ATM fees are too high.
13. You have to believe that Margaret Sanger and Gloria Steinem are more important to American history than Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln.
14. You have to believe that standardized tests are racist, but racial quotas and set-asides are not.
15. You have to believe that the only reason socialism hasn't worked anywhere it's been tried is because the right people haven't been in charge.
16. You have to believe that homosexual parades displaying drag queens and transvestites should be constitutionally protected, and manger scenes at Christmas should be illegal.
17. You have to believe that this message is a part of a vast, right-wing conspiracy.

Orbital Service Station
A new solution for the growing space junk (debris and non functioning satellites in orbit) problem is the use of robotic repair and resupply satellites. The second one (the Space Infrastructure Servicing, or SIS satellite) is going up in four years, to refuel communications satellites. Many satellites cost a billion dollars to build and put into orbit. But their lifespan is often limited by the amount of fuel they can carry (to make minor, but essential, adjustments in their orbit). While many satellite experts believe the technology is not yet there to do this sort of thing, a successful test was carried out four years ago.

This experiment was called Orbital Express, which consisted of two satellites. One of the satellites tested robotic hardware and software, to do maintenance work on the other bird, as well as transferring fuel. With satellites costing so much, it's become cost effective to develop and build satellites that can do repairs, upgrades and refueling while these expensive birds are still up there. Unlike in the past, satellites can be built to last for a decade or more, especially if they can be serviced. Previously, the only option was to get the Space Shuttle to do it, but that cost over a hundred million dollars per repair mission (because each Shuttle mission was so expensive, and overbooked). Robotic repair satellites are a lot cheaper. Orbital Express was test of the concept, which many satellite engineers had been demanding for decades. The test was a success, and that led to the SIS bird, which will do it for real, and get paid for it.

Most of these service missions will be for refueling satellites, which often have small jets, used to reposition themselves. But other can replace worn or damaged components, install upgraded equipment (like a more powerful onboard computer). Future satellites can be designed to accommodate SIS tools and capabilities, further reducing the cost of these services, and expanding the number of satellites that can be tended to per SIS mission. The plan is to have a supply satellite come up regularly to replenish the SIS fuel and spares, and then return to earth for reuse. But the larger, and more expensive, SIS satellite will stay in orbit for as long as it is able, because it will probably not be built for re-entry and reuse.

Once robots are doing the satellite servicing, the cost of building and operating satellites will come down 50 percent or more in a decade or so, and even more after that. Plus, there will be fewer retired (to being a traffic hazard) satellites in orbit.