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1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:35 pm UTC
by jazzman616
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Title text: The 1919 Great Boston Molasis Flood remained the deadliest confectionary containment accident until the Canadian Space Agency's 2031 orbital maple syrup delivery disaster.

I was very disappointed "Linguistics" wasn't replaced by "Etymology".

Edit: I know these are different things, but it would have stood opposite "Entomology" well and also served as a nice callback.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 1:44 pm UTC
by speising
I'm a bit surprised by the positioning of "dentistry"?
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Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:02 pm UTC
by pebkac
@jazzman616

Yeah, me too. It was the first thing that sprang to mind after seeing the bug-one.

We need more Etymology-man!

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:05 pm UTC
by cellocgw
Quoting our pal George,
"He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future."
Therefore I propose that History should be pushed way up the Y-axis. Whether an entity known as 'history" could escape in a sociological sense is probably open to interpretation.

Since this forum is chock-full of nerds, I'll suggest that javascript has broken free and is threatening the world. Even supervillains fear its wrath.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:11 pm UTC
by wumpus
So does that mean Larry Ellison qualifies as a super villain? I wouldn't be surprised. No idea if that was what has been pushing Elon Musk into building a volcano lair.

For those wondering about molasses storage:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood
I assume it should be a higher threat than plenty of others (botony, orinthology) due to proven risks. I'd have guesses mycology should be even higher, especially if unsuspecting mushroom hunters suddenly have to deal with an intrusive species without warning.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:15 pm UTC
by syberspot
To add to the dentistry scandal, what about Steve Martin in little shop of horrors?
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bOtMizMQ6oM

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:18 pm UTC
by Wee Red Bird
Surely prosthetics should be on the right edge and not the left.
With all the intelligence being built in to arms and legs (eg when to grab a can or when to bend the knee when walking) all it takes is for them to be tired of being walked all over and decide to kick off. It will be an arms race that no one wins.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:23 pm UTC
by moody7277
Wee Red Bird wrote:Surely prosthetics should be on the right edge and not the left.
With all the intelligence being built in to arms and legs (eg when to grab a can or when to bend the knee when walking) all it takes is for them to be tired of being walked all over and decide to kick off. It will be an arms race that no one wins.


So, the Doctor Octopus scenario?

Based on several movie and one soap opera plot, meteorology should be on the graph about the same place as laser optics.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:23 pm UTC
by wgrandbois
Either Randall has a pretty narrow definition of paleontology, or he's never seen / read "Jurassic Park."

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:50 pm UTC
by Velo Steve
Marine biology may look low-threat today, but don't forget that a lot of the carbon going into the atmosphere ends up in the ocean in compounds that lower the pH. When barnacles and clams have trouble building calcium carbonate shells but find that they can use acid to drill homes in steel structures, watch out for weaponized seafood!

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 2:51 pm UTC
by Kit.
wgrandbois wrote:Either Randall has a pretty narrow definition of paleontology, or he's never seen / read "Jurassic Park."

Isn't that technically "Genetic Engineering"?

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:12 pm UTC
by Psycholinguist
As a computational linguist whose research gets used for AI, I like to believe I'm very threatening. If this lack of respect continues, I may be forced to use my powers for world domination.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:24 pm UTC
by anonymouscat
Most likely I'm not the only one who wonders where to place Mathematics in this chart?

It doesn't seem that threatening to me, but it's really hard to tell...

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:27 pm UTC
by FOARP
Disagree, researching history can quite often be dangerous when the local population find out about what you're researching and don't like it (which I guess can be kinda-sorta shoehorned into "breaking lose from your facility") and psychology is one of the primary weapons of real-world supervillains like Putin.

EDIT: And obviously molasses storage should be higher for reasons that Randall is probably already aware of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:31 pm UTC
by cellocgw
FOARP wrote:Disagree, researching history can quite often be dangerous when the local population find out about what you're researching and don't like it (which I guess can be kinda-sorta shoehorned into "breaking lose from your facility") and psychology is one of the primary weapons of real-world supervillains like Putin.

EDIT: And obviously molasses storage should be higher for reasons that Randall is probably already aware of: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood

ummmm.... you failed to read the title-text?

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 3:48 pm UTC
by Brian-M
wumpus wrote:For those wondering about molasses storage:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Molasses_Flood

For those who either can't be bothered reading it for themselves, or would prefer to listen to the information with a lot of NSFW humor mixed in with it, you can listen to this podcast: http://citationpod.com/episode-016-the- ... ses-flood/

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 4:28 pm UTC
by somitomi
Isn't astronautical engineering missing from somewhere far in the top right? Ignoring the destructive potential rockets have under the control of either a supervillain or a rogue onboard computer is a serious oversight from someone previously employed by NASA.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:11 pm UTC
by XiphiasGladius
Two interesting and currently relevant facts about the Great Molasses Flood:
1. The company that owned the tank was aware that it was leaking, and dealt with local complaints that it was causing a hazard by painting the tank brown so that people wouldn't see the leaks, and would stop complaining.
2. When it burst and killed people, they tried to blame it on terrorists.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:20 pm UTC
by Pfhorrest
Where does philosophy fit on this chart?

Bear in mind the existential risks of a philosophical zombie apocalypse.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 5:47 pm UTC
by Steve the Pocket
XiphiasGladius wrote:Two interesting and currently relevant facts about the Great Molasses Flood:
1. The company that owned the tank was aware that it was leaking, and dealt with local complaints that it was causing a hazard by painting the tank brown so that people wouldn't see the leaks, and would stop complaining.
2. When it burst and killed people, they tried to blame it on terrorists.

People never change.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 6:42 pm UTC
by pminva
Heh heh heh ... We hid mathematics from the grid - it permeates everything... already breaking out

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:53 pm UTC
by ECK138
I'm totally surprised by the lack of beer on this chart.

The London Beer Flood happened on 17 October 1814[2] in the parish of St. Giles, London, England. At the Meux and Company Brewery[1] in Tottenham Court Road,[1][3] a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 L) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 L) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms pub, killing teenage employee Eleanor Cooper under the rubble.[4] Within minutes neighbouring George Street and New Street were swamped, seriously injuring a mother, and killing a daughter and young neighbour who were taking tea, and beer surged through a room of people gathered for a wake, killing five of them


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/London_Beer_Flood

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 7:57 pm UTC
by ericgrau
Image

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:03 pm UTC
by Iranon
I also believe Randall vastly underestimates the villainous applications of social sciences.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:20 pm UTC
by da Doctah
Iranon wrote:I also believe Randall vastly underestimates the villainous applications of social sciences.


Quite. In fact, Orangehead McTInyhands is president of the US precisely because a sociology experiment ("write fake news stories and see how many likes you can get") got out of hand.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:25 pm UTC
by Yosarian2
I'm thinking that AI research wasn't shown just because it would be so far above and off to the right of the whole chart that you wouldn't even be able to see it.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:51 pm UTC
by somitomi
Yosarian2 wrote:I'm thinking that AI research wasn't shown just because it would be so far above and off to the right of the whole chart that you wouldn't even be able to see it.

I don't see an AI trapped in a box being more dangerous than rockets, but maybe those are even further away on the chart.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 8:55 pm UTC
by Heimhenge
I immediately got that this was another Randall graph. But when I saw the vertical axis labeled as "RISK OF YOUR RESEARCH BEING USED BY A SUPERVILLAIN FOR WORLD DOMINATION" I had to wonder if "RISK" meant "DAMAGE" or if it meant "LIKELIHOOD" or "PROBABILITY".

The way the graph scans I suspect Randall was using "RISK" as "DAMAGE".

That said, labeling the horizontal axis as "RISK OF THE THING YOU'RE STUDYING BREAKING FREE FROM YOUR FACILITY AND THREATENING THE LOCAL POPULATION" just seemed kinda arbitrary, and not particularly interesting, or funny.

Was expecting something like maybe "PROBABILITY OF YOUR RESEARCH BEING USED BY A SUPERVILLAIN" or "PROBABILITY OF YOUR RESEARCH BEING FUNDED BY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION" or "PROBABILITY THE PLAN WILL BACKFIRE".

Just sayin' ... I've seen better Randall graphs.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:04 pm UTC
by Mikeski
somitomi wrote:Isn't astronautical engineering missing from somewhere far in the top right? Ignoring the destructive potential rockets have under the control of either a supervillain or a rogue onboard computer is a serious oversight from someone previously employed by NASA.

We have ICBMs already; no need to research them. I think increased deadliness of rocketry, at this point, will come from payloads (many of the other dots on the chart), and not the the delivery system.

And top-left, if anything; rockets don't often escape of their own free will, and misprogrammed guidance is most likely to create a bright streak in the sky as it burns up, or some ripples in the surface of the ocean (a two-to-one favorite over land, for random landings), and not an accidental strike on Peoria or Pyongyang.

Yosarian2 wrote:I'm thinking that AI research wasn't shown just because it would be so far above and off to the right of the whole chart that you wouldn't even be able to see it.

And that point is a gray dot that, if you zoom in on it, is a small copy of the original chart. (Stuff developed by a rogue AI is more likely to be dangerous, since we won't know about, or possibly even understand, the research.)

...fractally. (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...)

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Wed Oct 18, 2017 9:15 pm UTC
by Lode
Marine bioligy: well what about sharks?

Laser optics: well what if you attach the lasers to the sharks?

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:05 am UTC
by qvxb
George Costanza pretended to a marine biologist and saved a whale from a golf ball.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 3:05 am UTC
by geomike
The residents of central Oklahoma (and Max Zorin) might argue that geology should be moved up and to the right a bit...

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 4:39 am UTC
by serutan
geomike wrote:The residents of central Oklahoma (and Max Zorin) might argue that geology should be moved up and to the right a bit...


North Dakota as well, if memory serves.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 7:22 am UTC
by leeharveyosmond
Astronomy. Shouldn't that be in the far corner with the genetic engineering etc? Most university astronomy courses are named 'physics and astronomy' to more accurately reflect the syllabus; nuclear fusion and so on

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 8:21 am UTC
by sotanaht
geomike wrote:The residents of central Oklahoma (and Max Zorin) might argue that geology should be moved up and to the right a bit...

The comic isn't about whether or not the subject of research could be dangerous, it's about whether the product of research is. Lots of people die in geology-based disasters, but I've yet to hear of anyone dying from applied geology-based science. Of course I'm oversimplifying the concept slightly, but that's the train of thought.

I do suppose there is some risk of geology research being used for world domination if someone can find a way to control faults and things of that nature. That's probably why it's on the high end of the low spectrum.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 9:14 am UTC
by speising
There's research into the subject:
How can a human cause the Yellowstone to erupt?

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:31 pm UTC
by Ponyhome
wgrandbois wrote:Either Randall has a pretty narrow definition of paleontology, or he's never seen / read "Jurassic Park."


That was my first thought as well. There's even a certain amount of "being used by supervillains" in the movie sequels.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 12:36 pm UTC
by Ponyhome
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.

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:25 pm UTC
by Soupspoon
Ponyhome wrote: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?).

#MakeAmericaCalifornialessAgain?

Re: 1904: Research Risks

Posted: Thu Oct 19, 2017 1:35 pm UTC
by Keyman
Soupspoon wrote:
Ponyhome wrote: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?).

#MakeAmericaCalifornialessAgain?

Probably not the way the #Calexit folks were hoping it would happen.