Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Global Oil Supply Now Contracting?


Update 8/13/10: global oil supply increased in July.  Original text follows:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Robert Rapier on Matt Simmons

Robert Rapier has a post up: Is Matt Simmons Credible? discussing in particular some of his recent claims about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, as well as some past claims he has made.

I am uncomfortable having to deal with this kind of thing: I have talked with Matt on several occasions, and emailed with him more often.  He is a decent and well-intended man, has been helpful to me personally, and he has in the past had a track-record of good calls in the oil and gas industry, back before he got so famous.  However, I'm afraid that Robert is now right: there is a history of sensationalistic overstatement in recent years, and since Matt is the premier peak oil spokesperson that can actually get attention from the mass media, that is a real problem.  Robert shouldn't be the only voice to say so.

I think the most salient issue to me is the famous Tierney-Simmons bet, where Matt intentionally set the terms of the bet far out of the money.  2010 oil futures were $59/barrel back in 2005, so setting the terms at $200 was very disadvantageous to his chances of winning.  It now looks extremely unlikely that oil will break the $200 level before the end of this year and so Matt will lose, and this does no good at all for the cause of getting people to do what is required to reduce their dependence on oil.  It didn't have to be that way if Matt were a little less certain of his own rightness.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oil Production During Deleveraging

Robots in Farm Future

The blog this morning is coming to you from Atomic Coffee in Fargo, North Dakota.  As near as I can tell from the I-94, North Dakota is best thought of as a single continuous industrial farming operation, and so it was of interest to see this story in the local paper on a cafe table:
RIVER FALLS, Wis. – Agriculture of the future will be “Star Trek” meets “Green Acres.”

Experts predict that within 25 years, little robots will roam fields zapping weeds, testing soil and turning plant genes on and off to fit the conditions, a bit like mechanical helpers on the starship Enterprise.

At the same time, some Americans will continue to feel a need to work the land and smell the soil while bouncing up and down on a tractor seat, as Oliver Wendell Douglas did on the farm comedy.

Farmers in recent years have embraced global positioning systems to better grow crops. They use computers and satellites better than many of the country’s biggest corporations. Dairy farmers are beginning to use robotic milking machines.

There is little argument about the future: Technology will continue to drive changes.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Progress Report on Iraqi Oil Expansion

Back in January, I began to track the al-Shahristani plan, in which the Iraqi oil ministry auctioned off a series of production development agreements for various Iraqi oilfields.  This seemed like it might lead to a very large increase in Iraqi oil production from about 2.5mbd recently, to nearly 12mbd if you just add the target plateaus of all the contracts together:

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rogoff as Singulatarian

A reader emailed me with this fascinating column in the Guardian by well known economist Kenneth Rogoff:
What will be the big driver of global growth in the next 10 years? Here's betting that this decade will be one in which artificial intelligence hits escape velocity and starts to have an economic impact on a par with the emergence of India and China.

Admittedly, my perspective is heavily coloured by events in the world of chess, a game I once played at a professional level and still follow from a distance. Though special, computer chess nevertheless offers both a window into silicon evolution and a barometer of how people might adapt to it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Monday, July 5, 2010

Not Passing the Turing Test Yet

There's another pair of great articles in the NYT series "Smarter than You Think" exploring the state of simulation of emotion and personality in artificial intelligence.

One is Making Friends With a Robot Named Bina48, in which a New York Times interviewer basically conducted an informal Turing Test with a particular robot head.  The intelligence is not there yet:
Ten minutes into my interview with the robot known as Bina48, I longed to shut her down.

She was evasive, for one thing. When I asked what it was like being a robot, she said she wanted a playmate — but declined to elaborate.

“Are you lonely?” I pressed.

“What do you want to talk about?” she replied.

Other times, she wouldn’t let me get a word in edgewise. A simple question about her origins prompted a seemingly endless stream-of-consciousness reply. Something about robotic world domination and gardening; I couldn’t follow.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Friday, July 2, 2010