Seeing lots of takes about nuclear power and its opponents. Yes, nuclear power could be an important element of a climate solution. Yes, the world needs to build more nuclear power plants. But it's absurd to blame environmental activists for the fact that it hasn't happened yet.
The primary reason why countries with large CO2 emissions haven't gone nuclear is economic: the upfront cost of a nuclear plant is a large multiple of that of a coal plant. That's why coal is king in India, for instance. Nothing to do with activists.
Or consider China, the largest emitter of CO2 today. You think environmental activism is why China hasn't built more nuclear plants? Lol. Economically, coal has been "good enough" -- assuming we ignore its health costs and long-term environmental costs.
The 2nd reason, especially valid in the US, is the influence of the oil & coal lobbies. The US had the means to fully embrace nuclear power, but the reason it hasn't has little to do with public opinion or environmentalism. It was already under-investing before Chernobyl.
The one country that has really embraced nuclear electricity is France. This has happened despite a significant "green" movement. The primary motivation there has been achieving energy independence -- an argument that doesn't work for a coal & oil producing country like the US.
In conclusion... Outside perhaps Germany and Japan, the anti-nuclear movement has had very little influence on adoption. If you want to the world to adopt nuclear energy, you have to focus on the actual reasons why that hasn't happened yet, not on some imaginary opponent.

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More from @fchollet

19 Feb
Interesting analysis by @mhmazur. Human work is driven by clear goals and is informed by task-specific context. A model that is optimized for generating plausible-sounding text, ignoring goals and context, virtually never produces any useful answer (unless by random chance).
Reminder: language serves a variety of purposes -- transmit information, act on the world to achieve specific goals, serve as a social lubricant, etc. Language cannot be modeled as a statistical distribution independent of these purposes.
This is akin to modeling the appearance of animals as a statistical distribution while ignoring the environment in which they live. You could use such a model to generate plausible-looking animals, but don't expect them to be able to survive in the wild (environmental fitness)
Read 4 tweets
14 Feb
There's a pretty strong relationship between one's self-image as a dispassionate rational thinker and the degree to which one is susceptible to fall for utterly irrational beliefs that are presented with some sort of scientific veneer
The belief in recursive intelligence explosion is a good example: only someone who thinks of themselves as a very-high-IQ hyper-rationalist could be susceptible to buy into it
If you want to fool a nerd, make long, complex, overly abstract arguments, free from the shackles of reality. Throw equations in there. Use physics analogies. Maybe a few greek words
Read 5 tweets
14 Feb
An event that only happens once can have a probability (before it happens): this probability represents the uncertainty present in your model of why that event may happen. It's really a property of your model of reality, not a property of the event itself.
Of course, if the event has never happened before, that implies that your model of how it happens has never been validated in practice. You can model the uncertainty present in what you know you don't know, but you'll miss what you don't know you don't know.
But that doesn't mean your model is worthless. Surely we all have the experience of writing a large piece of code and having it work on first try.
Read 4 tweets
14 Feb
An under-appreciated feature of our present is how we record almost everything -- far more data than we can analyze. Future historians will be able to reconstruct and understand our time far better than we perceive and understand it right now.
Consider the events of January 6. Future historians will likely know who was there, who said what to whom, who did what, minute by minute. The amount of information you can recover from even a single video is enormous, and we have hundreds of them.
We're recording all of the dots -- our successors will have currently-unimaginable technology to connect them.
Read 4 tweets
16 Jan
2020 was definitely a step backwards. If you're wondering how great civilizations can end up collapsing: they just have many 2020s in a row over several decades, with exponentially compounding cascade effects at each new development.
Factors of decline are multiplicative. E.g. cultural & educational deterioration leads to an incompetent government. An incompetent government makes a pandemic much worse. A bad pandemic accelerates institutional decline
For the record, I don't think civilization will collapse in the near future (within the next 400 years). Not even as a consequence of catastrophic climate change over the next two centuries. But we will go through some pretty rough patches
Read 6 tweets
6 Jan
DALL-E is the kind of application that you'd expect deep learning to be able to pull off in theory (people have been building various early prototype of text-guided image generation since 2015) that becomes really magical when done at a crazy scale.
As usual with deep learning, scaling up is paying off.
In the future, we'll have applications that generate photorealistic movies from a script, or new video games from a description. It's only a matter of years at this point.
Read 5 tweets

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