1904: Research Risks

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Hekateras
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Hekateras » Thu Oct 19, 2017 2:09 pm UTC

I feel like mycology should be way, way up higher on the ordinate, but that is mostly my ever-present awareness of how little we really know about fungi, oomycetes, slime molds etc. and my paranoia from playing one too many Fungus Plague scenarios in Plague Inc. Also, due to an unfortunate accident involving food remaining in a shut, powered-off fridge for two months, I am now afraid to open my fridge and have an ever more healthy respect for all things fungal than before. I have collected cleaning spray and rags and wet wipes but the dread of opening that door, the haunting memory of doing it for the first time, prevents me from putting an end to it.

"Botany" is kind of iffy too since nowadays classic botany is almost a relic of the past, replaced by ecology insofar as studying plants on a non-cellular level is concerned, and plant (cellular and molecular) biology, which is inextricable from genetic engineering and overlaps heavily with agricultural sciences. Monsanto has already shown us that it's possible to become a supervillain with little more than botany.

In fact, all of the life sciences become infinitely more dangerous given that molecular biology (and by extension genetic engineering) is now present in basically every one of them as a tool.

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peewee_RotA
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby peewee_RotA » Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:44 pm UTC

I feel like this one was made in a hurry:

As far as movies are concerned, palaeontology is the one that always gets used by some evil guy to make dinosaurs or summon a demon, and then it escapes.

As far as real life is concerned, here are a list of disasters that are not really given their due in this chart:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Beer_Flood
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood (Oddly mentioned in title text)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kudzu#Invasive_species
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cane_toad ... and_spread
https://journal.probeinternational.org/ ... ing-risks/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invasive_ ... ent_cycles

The real problem with the graph is really about our thinning lines between sciences.
I.E. Would you consider introducing a species to control another population biology?
Is selective breeding a wing of genetics?
Does undergoing construction without proper understanding of the local geology count as geology?

Either way this graph doesn't educate like XKCD comics normally do. It just kind of pokes fun at a handful of pop culture understandings while ignoring a bunch of others.
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Farabor
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Farabor » Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:06 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:
Just sayin' ... I've seen better Randall graphs.


I think that this viewpoint would be better justified with an appropriate illustration of the relative data points in question, perhaps in graph format?

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orthogon
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby orthogon » Thu Oct 19, 2017 5:17 pm UTC

I don't get the lower right quadrant of this. It seems that anything that could escape and wreak "local" havoc of its own accord could also be put to use by a supervillain. Also what is the shark tank, standard issue for any Bond villain, but a bit of well-controlled applied marine biology?

ETA: I see Lode mentioned sharks already.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

Hekateras
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Hekateras » Thu Oct 19, 2017 6:13 pm UTC

Many shark species are endangered or vulnerable to extinction now. Partially as a result of the same kind of unjustified fear that Jaws et al. instilled in the population. So using them for supervillain schemes on a meaningful scale is not really feasible atm. Alas, poor sharks.

I agree with the placing of palaeontology since, as it's been pointed out, it usually requires genetic engineering to present any sort of real danger. On the other hand, there is always the risk to unconvering some ancient disease while digging, but actual usage of that for a villain's scheme would fall under microbiology or whathaveyou.

Farabor wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:
Just sayin' ... I've seen better Randall graphs.


I think that this viewpoint would be better justified with an appropriate illustration of the relative data points in question, perhaps in graph format?


Quite right. :lol: Give the people what they want!

jes
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby jes » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:10 pm UTC

Somebody didn't see Marathon Man.

rmsgrey
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:33 pm UTC

Heimhenge wrote:I had to wonder if "RISK" meant "DAMAGE" or if it meant "LIKELIHOOD" or "PROBABILITY".


In standard risk assessments, risk is the (Cartesian?) product of likelihood and seriousness. So getting hit by a pillow in a pillow-fight and getting hit by a dinosaur-killer meteorite are both minor risks - the former because the consequence is not at all serious; the latter because it's pretty unlikely (unless you have a lifespan measured in tens of millions of years). In contrast, jumping onto the railway tracks just before a train passes has a serious/major risk of getting hit by a train because it's very likely, and pretty serious...

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JohnTheWysard
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby JohnTheWysard » Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:40 pm UTC

If astronomical research (LIGO/VIRGO, other studies of black holes, etc.) discovers how a black hole could be created at will, Astronomy would move from lower left to WAY upper right REAL quick!

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orthogon
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby orthogon » Thu Oct 19, 2017 10:12 pm UTC

rmsgrey wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:I had to wonder if "RISK" meant "DAMAGE" or if it meant "LIKELIHOOD" or "PROBABILITY".


In standard risk assessments, risk is the (Cartesian?) product of likelihood and seriousness. So getting hit by a pillow in a pillow-fight and getting hit by a dinosaur-killer meteorite are both minor risks - the former because the consequence is not at all serious; the latter because it's pretty unlikely (unless you have a lifespan measured in tens of millions of years). In contrast, jumping onto the railway tracks just before a train passes has a serious/major risk of getting hit by a train because it's very likely, and pretty serious...


The method I was taught was seriously flawed. Yes, the product of the seriousness and the probability gives the expected harm, but both are estimated on a scale of 1 to 10, which offers only a 10:1 range, whereas to be useful, both the probability and gravity of real risks need to be able to vary over many orders of magnitude (pillow to meteorite). If I were refining the approach, I'd have the 1-10 range be a logarithmic scale, which is possibly closer to how people estimate then. In that scheme, you'd add the two values instead of multiplying.

I have a colleague who objects to being sent the Risk Assessment for some activity: he thinks he should get a separate document, something like the Safety Instructions. His argument is that the conclusions of the assessment as to safe practices are the important information he needs, and getting the Risk Assessment is like getting the engineering calculations for a bridge he's going to drive over. I kind of see his point but I disagree: the Risk Assessment informs the participant of the risks they need to be aware of, and explains why the countermeasures are what they are. Human nature tends to ignore safety rules if the reason for them is obscure.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.

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Old Bruce
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Old Bruce » Thu Oct 19, 2017 11:50 pm UTC

Ponyhome wrote:
geomike wrote:The residents of central Oklahoma (and Max Zorin) might argue that geology should be moved up and to the right a bit...


Hey, I saw "Superman: The Movie." That was Lex Luthor's entire plan for wiping out California! (or is that technically not WORLD domination as much as a real estate venture?). There was also that drilling thing from "Our Man Flint" causing earthquakes.

If I recall correctly the "drilling thing" was somehow controlling the weather as well (?) as causing earthquakes. I'll have to watch it again, any excuse. Gotta steal that red phone sound for a ring tone.

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Soupspoon
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Soupspoon » Fri Oct 20, 2017 1:49 am UTC

For your consideration, along those lines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_in_the_World

(Note the credulity by the stated reviewers... I don't think I took it so seriously when I watched it, though.)

Invertin
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Invertin » Fri Oct 20, 2017 12:06 pm UTC

All of these mad scientists that this chart is based off of are clearly amateurs. Every science can be used to take over the world if you're creative enough.

rmsgrey
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby rmsgrey » Fri Oct 20, 2017 7:15 pm UTC

orthogon wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:
Heimhenge wrote:I had to wonder if "RISK" meant "DAMAGE" or if it meant "LIKELIHOOD" or "PROBABILITY".


In standard risk assessments, risk is the (Cartesian?) product of likelihood and seriousness. So getting hit by a pillow in a pillow-fight and getting hit by a dinosaur-killer meteorite are both minor risks - the former because the consequence is not at all serious; the latter because it's pretty unlikely (unless you have a lifespan measured in tens of millions of years). In contrast, jumping onto the railway tracks just before a train passes has a serious/major risk of getting hit by a train because it's very likely, and pretty serious...


The method I was taught was seriously flawed. Yes, the product of the seriousness and the probability gives the expected harm, but both are estimated on a scale of 1 to 10, which offers only a 10:1 range, whereas to be useful, both the probability and gravity of real risks need to be able to vary over many orders of magnitude (pillow to meteorite). If I were refining the approach, I'd have the 1-10 range be a logarithmic scale, which is possibly closer to how people estimate then. In that scheme, you'd add the two values instead of multiplying.


It depends what sort of behaviour you want from your measure...

Personally, I think the high-probability-trivial-effect and low-probability-serious-effect risks should be neglected in favour of the moderate-probability-moderate-effect risks that come up often enough for mitigating measures to actually do something, and cause enough harm when they do to be worth correcting, so I favour the multiplicative version...

Mikeski
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Mikeski » Sat Oct 21, 2017 7:31 pm UTC

Mikeski wrote:(A rogue AI developed by a rogue AI is a danger to us and the original AI, one developed by that is a danger to us and both previous AI's...)

Crap!

xtifr
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby xtifr » Sun Oct 22, 2017 9:12 pm UTC

I think anyone who has read 1984 would argue that linguistics should be higher on the chart. Possibly up near pharmacology (which we learned about from Brave New World).
"[T]he author has followed the usual practice of contemporary books on graph theory, namely to use words that are similar but not identical to the terms used in other books on graph theory."
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BlueLikeYou
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby BlueLikeYou » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:58 am UTC

So many men swept out
And buildings too
That's what a two story wave of molasses will do
It's a short ride
On the dark tide
In a suffocating candy glaze

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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Sableagle » Mon Oct 23, 2017 9:38 am UTC

What, this faultline?

Image

Good luck with that. Even ________ offshore, the water's only ________ deep, so California isn't going to be falling into the Pacific ocean at any great pace even if you can lift it off the eastbound Pacific plate and set it sliding.

(Filling in the blanks with actual numbers is left as an exercise for readers who aren't already sick of dead-end and irrelevant search results.)
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Kit.
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Kit. » Mon Oct 23, 2017 6:23 pm UTC

xtifr wrote:I think anyone who has read 1984 would argue that linguistics should be higher on the chart.

But that was speculative fiction. Humans don't work this way.

Zinho
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby Zinho » Mon Oct 23, 2017 7:22 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:For your consideration, along those lines: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crack_in_the_World

(Note the credulity by the stated reviewers... I don't think I took it so seriously when I watched it, though.)


I love that movie! It has some of worst science I've ever seen on screen! My favorite bits:

  • Matter-of-fact declaration that there's a diamond-hard layer of material sealing the Crust from the Mantle that's preventing us from tapping the Mantle for geothermal energy
  • Assertion that detonating a nuclear bomb will pierce said layer the way a hot poker melts through plexiglass when pushed slowly
  • Assertion that any comparisons of the nuclear bomb to a hammer through a windshield are totally crackpot and should be given no heed
  • When the bomb goes off and shatters the diamond layer exactly like a hammer through a windshield, a chunk of the crust gets blasted into orbit due to the high pressures in the Mantle no longer being held back by the crust's surface tension (i.e. the weight of the Crust does nothing whatsoever to balance the force created by the pressure beneath it)

The only excuse for these ideas being believable is that Plate Tectonics was still in its adolescence in 1965; despite being proposed in the early 30s it was still controversial in the mid-sixties. The script writer may have even been accurately referencing his high school physics texts, not realizing that the information was already out of date. Any film reviewers not up on current Geology journals could have easily missed it as well.

My FAVORITE favorite part was getting mistaken for a Lit major because I gave up on criticizing the bad science and started critiquing the use of metaphor and irony in the plot. Film appreciation classes for the win! Other than the bad science and dated visual effects, it really is a fun film to watch if you can get a copy (not published on DVD, apparently).

xtifr
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby xtifr » Mon Oct 23, 2017 10:31 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:
xtifr wrote:I think anyone who has read 1984 would argue that linguistics should be higher on the chart.

But that was speculative fiction. Humans don't work this way.

You know that and I know that, but, as has frequently been observed, a whole lot of people in power seem to treat 1984 as more of an guide book than a warning. And I'm not sure they know that.

In fact, some of the linguistic battles currently going on in East Asia suggest that there are some people in power who most definitely do not know (or won't admit) that humans don't work this way.
"[T]he author has followed the usual practice of contemporary books on graph theory, namely to use words that are similar but not identical to the terms used in other books on graph theory."
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Postby GlassHouses » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:07 am UTC

xtifr wrote:In fact, some of the linguistic battles currently going on in East Asia suggest that there are some people in power who most definitely do not know (or won't admit) that humans don't work this way.

Example?

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Re: 1904: Research Ricks

Postby Eternal Density » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:13 am UTC

I feel like all the supposed low risks are merely a failure of imagination :P
I'm pleased with myself for guessing the title-text would be about the molasses flood.
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Re: 1904: Research Ricks

Postby ucim » Thu Oct 26, 2017 2:24 am UTC

Eternal Density wrote:I feel like all the supposed low risks are merely a failure of imagination :P
I'm pleased with myself for guessing the title-text would be about the molasses flood.

... and I thought it would be about finding different ways to roll.

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