Serendipitously came across this on a mailinglist (UnCiv), which gives a practical example of using increased diversity of life as a coolant, as described in Novacene. Although this farmer in Portugal fears he might be too late.

Read Putting pigs in the shade: the radical farming system banking on trees | John Vidal (the Guardian)

A farm in Portugal is showing how the ancient art of silvopasture – combining livestock with productive trees – may offer some real answers to the climate crisis

Notes on reading Novacene by James Lovelock 2019

Definition of life: entities that reduce entropy, as they organise their environment

I knew his 1970s Gaia Theory, but remembered it mostly as a type of systems thinking and seeing earth as a complex system. But he adds something key:

In earth’s case the purpose of the system is to keep earth cool, to keep temperatures at 15C average. And do so as our sun slowly heats up.

A startling assumption to me is that earth really is not in the Goldilocks zone, but Mars is. We would be like Venus, hot, if not for the entropy reducing earth life. That life continuously draws down heat.
Furthermore, to an alien observer earth would not look cool but much hotter because of dumpng solar heat continuously.

The sun is heating up and so is earth therefore. Keeping cool is our prime directive. The climate urgency is making it worse and burning fossil fuells (stored heat from the past) should stop.

The Anthropocene started with the steam engine, when humans could influence their environment on a global scale. The Novacene is the coming age of AI.
The optimal temperature range for electronics and life are similar, and life and AI have the same hard upper temperature limit of 47C.
Above it we will have a runaway process to becoming like Venus.

AI will not deliberately kill us because it needs the world to stay cool under a heating sun. Carbon based life is needed for it. They will supplant us by evolution, slow not sudden, as evolution moves beyond us, as it always would.

Interesting notion: AI might become 1M times faster than us, but they are bound by the same physics as us. It means e.g. their travel will be at roughly the same speed.
Which will be 1M as boring and slower to AI than to us.

Makes a good caveat: AI would need to start its evolution from ‘good’ beginnings. E.g. not from autonomous weapons platforms.
Yet precisely in civic tech such as aviation we put hard constraints on AI. But we do not on military AI, making it more likely it will evolve from there.

My takeaway from this is how to use AI for civic tech, and set it free as it were, with a sense of communal values. Including with a sense of the Prime Directive to keep cool.

That I think is a core flaw in Lovelocks reasoning. Yes, the PD is to keep cool. Not only for our self-created heating, but mostly for the sun heating.
But how many humans are aware of this, and of those how many care enough to act, given the timescale of the suns heating in millions of years?
How will we make AI aware, and will they care where we do not, given that their relative timescale is even up to a million times longer?

He stresses the notion of the engineer and artisanal engineering. Where knowing how to make things work is a priori more important than knowing why it works.
This also ties into his notion that intuiting is key for engineering, and the scientific method of standing on the shoulders of others is more suited for the ‘know why’

Some of my takeaways:

  • When increasing the abundance of life is good to keep cool, greening your urban living environment makes sense on a deeper level than just cooling the city.
    Also as cities are an efficient way to house us humans at our current numbers.
  • How to use ML for civic tech, for networked agency
  • How to explore ML, what it currently does, what it can do, areas of issues it could be used in.
  • What autonomous things would be valuable in the home, neighbourhood, city.
  • What would an “AI in the wall” be like?

This article in the Atlantic talks about families using tools like Trello and Slack to keep track of each others activities and tasks.
It calls it treating the home like the office or running the household like a business and presents it like an oddity if not a 21st century abberation of family life. E.g. tracking how often you call your mom.

I find the tongue in cheek tone rather tone deaf. It misses the point on several levels.
The examples are not showing how families are run like an office or business. Families are seeing parallels between work and private processes.
After all task allocation and keeping track of each other is important in the household too. Besides households are the original economic unit.

Tracking tasks, also for children, has been around for ages. Dalton schools, with their focus on independent learning tasks, have had to do / doing / done boards since the 1920s.
Hallways and refrigerator doors have displayed lists and overviews forever too. My grandma kept track of everything in notebooks, how many beans harvested and stored for the winter, how much fuel used etc.
All it shows is that what families have been doing all along is also done using tools imagined for a work environment. Just like owning carpentry tools was once limited to masters who were members in a guild, and are now found in every household.

That is useful for several reasons. It helps make sure that the household and family get at least equal attention as areas of responsibility.
Keeping track of work but not the home easily means the home gets attention when all else is finished, which it never is.
For that reason I have areas in my GTD todo lists for me personally, family, daughter, partner and the house. Similarly I have long term goal descriptions for them too.

We would never have moved so quickly and readily early 2017 if we had not set it as a goal in the summer of 2013 to be ready by the end of 2016 for it.
It meant building up the financial buffer for it, and thinking about where we would want to live. As part of that we regularly temporarily moved to other cities for a month to figure out what we wanted.
Since July 2013 when we set the goal on the balcony of a friends home in Switzerland, I kept track of what we needed to do for it in my GTD tools.

It does sometimes feel odd to track things like how often I spoke to my parents. But it was necessary as my parents would often forget when we talked last. Sometimes telling me it had been weeks when it was yesterday.
So I made sure I called them at least once a week by having it in my todo lists. I also kept notes especially when their health deteriorated as they would tell my sisters different things, so we could compare.

For the household and for our family we have shared Evernote notebooks. To share receipts, info about daycare, holiday plans, or my itinerary when I travel for work.
Weekly we look ahead at what is happening the next week or two.

I mentioned the household being the original economic unit, and in one aspect it means I do treat it as a business.
Optimising household income also means I regularly spend time assisting Elmines business, as she does mine. It helps maintain and increase our freedom of action.
Every Euro I help her make and she me being better at what I do means improvement for us and providing our daughter with a good start in life.

If Slack or Trello, Evernote or Things help us do that then great.

A good read by Charlie of Sonnies Edge on the web we have, the web we lost, and what agency we have as site builders (me) and designers (she) in this.

One of the points she makes is about the bloated size of average web pages currently. I probably should look at that myself as well, as my hoster recently started sending me bandwidth warnings towards the end of the month. That is likely a sign that I should try to reduce the load of my site, go more minimalistic. Maybe not so minimalistic as Low-Tech Magazine, although that definitely has its own appeal.

Which leads me to the question: Is there an easy way to determine the total load size of a webpage (including dependencies / includes like stylesheet images and such)?
A quick google just surfaces suspicious SEO tools / claims.

Read Dear Developer, The Web Isn’t About You by Charlie OwenCharlie Owen

The web’s success is built on it being robust.

That robustness has made it work for everybody

As a result, people all over that planet now depend on the web, for their livelihoods, for social interaction, for their health.

It means we have to defend the web for everybody. It’s our job to keep it accessible and usable for all.

Good to see how various strands combine here, apart from the topic which is governance of smart cities. The immediate trigger for Peter Bihr is Toronto’s smart city plan, on his radar as he was recently in Canada. We both were to visit Peter Rukavina’s unconference. He references how back in 2011 we already touched upon most of the key ingredients, at the Cognitive Cities conference in Berlin, which he organised, and where I spoke. And he mentions doing a fellowship on this very topic for the Edgeryders, my favourite community in Europe for these type of issues, and which I try to support where I can.

Read How to plan & govern a smart city? (The Waving Cat)

What does governance mean in a so-called smart city context. What is it that’s being governed and how, and maybe most importantly, by whom?

This blog is a bit of a commonplace book, which I keep because note keeping is a key tool in learning, thinking and ultimately doing stuff. Even though this blog is mostly oriented towards professional interests, it also builds a pretty consistent picture of my actions, whereabouts and life events over the past 17 years. That makes it a reference for myself, and a source for checking memories.

Today at IndieWeb summit Jonathan LaCour made a call to action to remember “memories are important“, part of your identity so you should “hold onto your identity; not encumbered by any silos“, and ensure those memories are in a place you fully control. Memories and identity as building blocks of agency.

He incorporated various online materials over the years into his current site, all accessible through the archives. Which reminds me I should do something like that with importing my exported FB archive here.