Fascinating. Can Bill Gates control the weather? Let’s call that (another) Plan C.
Courtesy of finem respice
It is difficult to connect with the concept that complex systems are… well… complex. That is, just pulling a lever or two on the "input" is not guaranteed to get you either the results you want, nor assure you won’t get worse results in some other way. This is easy to recognize as the not-a-law "law of unintended consequences," but very difficult to apply critically to grand ideas by charismatic visionaries with a talent for public relations- the somewhat crass art that has become the central skill requirement in modern politics.
This is one of my objections to the conceit of centralized economic policy. "I’ll just pour some cash in here and we’ll be all good," sounds great (particularly to the people getting the cash). An economy is, most obviously, a complex system. Thus, things are rarely this simple. But if you think that’s complex, try weather. Bill Gates wants to, according to Tech Flash. Bill (or proxies therefor) has filed patents I am better leaving Tech Flash to describe:
Microsoft’s chairman is among the inventors listed on a new batch of patent applications that propose using large fleets of vessels to suppress hurricanes through various methods of mixing warm water from the surface of the ocean with colder water at greater depths. The idea is to decrease the surface temperature, reducing or eliminating the heat-driven condensation that fuels the giant storms.
Snide comments about the Democratic Hurricane Making Device (it’s only a reversal of the process described by the patent after all) are left to the reader.
One of the patent filings proposes paying for the equipment through the sale of insurance policies in hurricane-prone areas, in addition to funding from state, federal and local government agencies.
Sounds almost… evil. "Haven’t paid your premiums? Oops, looks like vessels 1030-2100 are having mechanical problems!"
That’s far fetched, of course. The deeper issue from my perspective is still one of conceit. "Hurricanes are caused by warm surface water. Let’s just cool the surface water. Problem solved." Not quite, I suspect.
Who exactly would be liable for the sudden weather changes on the African West Coast?
[Art Credit (top): Searete LLC "Water Alteration Structure Applications and Methods ," Diagram (January 3, 2008), United States Patent Office. A method is generally described which includes environmental alteration. The method includes determining a placement of at least one vessel capable of moving water to lower depths in the water via wave induced downwelling. The method also includes placing the at least one vessel in the determined placement. Further, the method includes generating movement of the water adjacent the surface of the water in response to the placing.]
The environmental impact was one concern raised by readers following our post detailing the hurricane-supression system proposed by Bill Gates, former Microsoft chief techology officer Nathan Myhrvold and others. In response, one of the people working on the project in Myhrvold’s Intellectual Ventures Lab has posted an explanation on the company’s site.
"This type of technology is not something humankind would try as a ‘Plan A’ or ‘Plan B,’ " writes Paul "Pablos" Holman in the Intellectual Ventures post. "These inventions are a ‘Plan C’ where humans decide that we have exhausted all of our behavior changing and alternative energy options and need to rely on mitigation technologies. If our planet is in this severe situation, then our belief is that we should not be starting from scratch at investigating mitigation options."… more here.