More and more people are signing up to be frozen for a chance at life after death. So the question is, would you?
Zack Guzman writes: In the desert climate of Scottsdale, Arizona, rest 147 brains and bodies, all frozen in liquid nitrogen with the goal of being revived one day.
It’s not science fiction — to some it might not even be science — yet thousands of people around the world have put their trust, lives and fortunes into the promise of cryonics, the practice of preserving a body with antifreeze shortly after death in hopes future medicine might be able to bring the deceased back.
“If you think back half a century or so, if somebody stopped breathing and their heart stopped beating we would’ve checked them and said they’re dead,” said Max More, CEO of the Scottsdale-based Alcor. “Our view is that when we call someone dead it’s a bit of an arbitrary line. In fact they are in need of a rescue.”
That “rescue” begins the moment a doctor declares a patient dead. Alcor’s team then prepares an ice bath and begins administering 16 medications and variations of antifreeze until the patient’s temperature drops to near freezing.
“The critical thing is how fast we get to someone and how quickly we start the cooling process,” More said. In order to ensure that can happen, Alcor stations equipped teams in the U.K., Canada and Germany and offers members a $10,000 incentive to legally die in Scottsdale, where the record for getting a patient cooled down and prepped for an operation is 35 minutes.
Next, a contracted surgeon removes a patient’s head if the member selected Alcor’s “Neuro” option, as it’s euphemistically called, in hopes that a new body can be grown with a member’s DNA once it comes time to be thawed out. It’s also the much cheaper route. At a price tag of $80,000, it’s less than half the cost of preserving your whole body. “That requires a minimum of $200,000, which isn’t as much as it sounds, because most people pay with life insurance,” More said.
In fact, such a business model is pretty consistent in the nonprofit cryonics community. Michigan-based Cryonics Institute offers a similar payment structure, albeit at the more affordable cost of just $28,000 for whole-body preservation. Which begs the question: Why the price discrepancy?
“We’ve been very conservative in the way we plan the financing,” More said. “Of that $200,000, about $115,000 of it goes into the patient care trust fund,” which is meant to cover eventual costs and is controlled by a board of trustees (a certain number of which is required to have loved ones currently in cryopreservation). More says the trust currently boasts a total of over $10 million, which is supported by Alcor’s most recent nonprofit 990 filings.
Who is doing this?
When More came to the U.S. in 1986 from Britain to train at Alcor, it was run by volunteers and he signed up as Alcor’s 67th member. Since then, the company has hired a full-time staff of eight employees, boosted its membership to more than 1,000, and is looking into doubling the size of its patient care bay.
“Musk isn’t a newcomer to the idea of a carbon tax. He’s been calling for one for years. But the evolution of his businesses and the advent of Tesla Energy, his power-storage undertaking, appear to have sharpened his pitch.”
“We have to fix the unpriced externality,” he told the audience, shifting into the wonky quasi-academic mode that he actually appears to enjoy indulging in, when he isn’t running two companies and serving as the Chairman of a third, Solar City.
His entire speech hinged on this simple observation: that the addition of carbon to the atmosphere is effectively a worldwide subsidy that’s contributing to global warming and preventing humanity from freeing itself from the fossil fuel era.
Musk called this a “hidden carbon subsidy of $5.3 trillion per year,” citing the IMF. In response to questions after his speech, he said that a good outcome of the current UN Climate Summit (COP21) taking place in France would be that governments “put their foot down” and use a revenue neutral, gradually applied carbon tax to accelerate the shift from an economy driven by fossil fuels to one driven by sustainable energy.
Musk is convinced that the current fossil fuel era will end — it’s just a question of when. In his analysis, the transition will occur simply because we’ll run out of carbon-based stuff that we can dig out of the ground and burn. But the existing carbon subsidy, in his estimation, is slowing down progress. Read the rest of this entry »
So-called progressives have no problem taking from the working class to give to the rich – so long as it’s the rich of their choosing… via L.A. Liberty
The Fisker Karma is Back
What if you build it – and they don’t come?
Send the bill to the taxpayers!
This is how you make money in the New America. Well, the green America.
Don’t earn it.
The “business model” is simple enough: Glom on to a politically high-fashion issue – electric cars, for instance. Then obtain government (meaning, taxpayer) “help” to fund their design and manufacture. When no one – or not enough – people buy your electric wunderwagen, simple declare bankruptcy and walk away.
With your pockets full of other people’s money.
Then, when the smoke clears, do it again.
And is getting ready to do a second time.
Back in ’09, the company secured $529 million in government loans, which were being doled out generously by the Obama administration (and previously by the Bush administration) under the auspices of something called the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.
Well, “loan” is not exactly accurate – because the government doesn’t really have any money of its own to loan. It only has the money it takes from you and me others via taxation. So what really happened is that the government forced the taxpayers of the United States to loan Fisker $529 million. (It also forced the taxpayers to “help” fund another electric boondoggle, the infamous – but now forgotten – Solyndra debacle.)
Fisker, like Tesla, specializes in high-dollar electric exotic cars that – so far – have not earned an honest dollar but have cost taxpayers hundreds of millions. Billions, actually. The reason for this ought to be obvious – no engineering degree required.
Electric cars make sense when they are economical cars.
To date, no one has managed to manufacture one. They cost more – overall – to own than conventional cars and they also (unlike conventional cars) have functional liabilities that include long recharge times and limited range. Rather than focus on – and fix – these issues, which might make for a marketplace-viable electric car, manufacturers like Fisker and Tesla build high-performance, flashy and very, very expensive electric cars. On the theory that sex appeal rather than economic sense will sell ’em. … [B]uying a Fisker or a Tesla literally triples or quadruples the cost of driving.
Yes, yes, the cars are sleek and sexy – and even quick.
Which is as relevant insofar as the bottom-line purpose of an electric car… People in a position to buy a six-figure Fisker Karma (like the actor Leonardo diCaprio, for instance) are not struggling to pay their fuel bills.They buy a Fisker or a Tesla as a fashion statement.
But the people who are concerned about gas bills aren’t in the market for a six-figure Fisker.
Hence the need for government “help.”
When you can’t sell ’em, force others to subsidize ’em. Read the rest of this entry »
“Take Elon Musk. When he was a kid, the billionaire Tesla chief watched “The Spy Who Loved Me,” the 1977 flick starring Roger Moore as James Bond. Musk has said he was amazed by the Lotus Espirit sports car that turned into a submarine.”
But only a multimillionaire or billionaire can afford the original Aston Martin DB5 used in “Goldfinger,” valued at a minimum $5 million.
Memorabilia and super toys based on the Bond franchise have become increasingly popular with today’s rich, many of whom grew up watching the movies.
“So when one of the cars used in the film came up for auction in 2013, he bought it for just under $1 million. When Musk discovered that it didn’t actually function as a car, he said he would install a Tesla powertrain to make it work as a true submarine car.”
While many of the spy’s accessories — from his martinis and suits to his watches and sunglasses — are affordable, billionaires have the money to fund much bigger Bond fantasies.
Take Elon Musk. When he was a kid, the billionaire Tesla chief watched “The Spy Who Loved Me,” the 1977 flick starring Roger Moore as James Bond. Musk has said he was amazed by the Lotus Espirit sports car that turned into a submarine.
So when one of the cars used in the film came up for auction in 2013, he bought it for just under $1 million. When Musk discovered that it didn’t actually function as a car, he said he would install a Tesla powertrain to make it work as a true submarine car.
But it’s the Dezer family, who own and develop real estate in Florida and other states, who have what is believed to be the largest collection of Bond cars in the world.
Read the rest of this entry »
Ben Lovejoy reports: While we can’t say for sure that an Apple Car will ever go on sale, it’s a certainty by this point that the company is devoting substantial development resources to the project. Tim Cook said recently that there would be “massive change” in the car industry, and that “autonomous driving becomes much more important.”
But as a recent opinion piece on sister site Electrek argued, and Elon Musk warned, actually manufacturing a car is massively more complex than making consumer electronics devices. Apple will therefore be looking for partners to pull together different elements of the car. Re/code has put together an interesting look at the most likely candidates …
None of the companies would comment on any conversations they have with the Cupertino giant about their own cars. None of them flat-out denied those conversations, either. Google, Tesla and Apple all declined to comment.
The list below is not exhaustive. Yet after conversations with nearly a dozen manufacturers, industry experts and tech companies involved in the world of self-driving cars, Re/code assembled a portrait of the leading, innovative companies and critical dynamics in the autonomous industry.
The exterior of the car could, it suggests, be made by five companies: Roush, Delphi, Edison2, Atieva and Renovo Motors. The first of those, Roush, is a Michigan-based “boutique automotive supplier” which already has one key claim to credibility in the field: it assembled the exterior for Google’s prototype self-driving cars.
Renovo recently teamed-up with engineers from Stanford University to create a self-driving electric DeLorean capable of donuts and drifting. While it was of course a PR stunt, you need some impressive tech to pull it off. Read the rest of this entry »
The go-ahead came after the company spent more than a year investigating the feasibility of an Apple-branded car, including meetings with two groups of government officials in California. Leaders of the project, code-named Titan , have been given permission to triple the 600-person team, the people familiar with the matter said.
‘We look at a number of things along the way, and we decided to really put out energies in a few of them.’
—Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO
Apple has hired experts in driverless cars, but the people familiar with Apple’s plans said the Cupertino, Calif., company doesn’t currently plan to make its first electric vehicle fully autonomous. That capability is part of the product’s long-term plans, the people familiar with the matter said.
Apple’s commitment is a sign that the company sees an opportunity to become a player in the automotive industry by applying expertise that it has honed in developing iPhones—in areas such as batteries, sensors and hardware-software integration—to the next generation of cars.
An Apple spokesman declined to comment.
There are many unanswered questions about Apple’s automotive foray. It isn’t clear whether Apple has a manufacturing partner to become the car equivalent of Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., the Taiwanese contract manufacturer that builds most iPhones and is known by the trade name Foxconn. Most major auto makers build and run their own factories, but that hasn’t been Apple’s strategy with iPhones or iPads. Contract manufacturing in the auto industry usually is limited to a few niche models.
The 2019 target is ambitious. Building a car is a complex endeavor, even more so for a company without any experience. Once Apple completes its designs and prototypes, a vehicle would still need to undergo a litany of tests before it could clear regulatory hurdles.
In Apple’s parlance, a “ship date” doesn’t necessarily mean the date that customers receive a new product; it can also mean the date that engineers sign off on the product’s main features.
It isn’t uncommon for a project of this size and complexity to miss ship date deadlines. People familiar with the project said there is skepticism within the team that the 2019 target is achievable. Read the rest of this entry »
Tesla’s impresario is right about one thing: Humanity’s preservation is a legitimate government interest
Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. writes: There is often a large difference between what people imagine they are doing and what they are actually doing. Especially in politics, any relationship between the effect of policy, the goal of policy and the stated goal is often incidental to the point of randomness.
“He’s not the first to suggest that dramatically reducing the cost of earth orbit is a key to future space endeavors. He isn’t the only dot-com millionaire to turn his attention to space.”
Adding to the complexity, the doers themselves are often confused about the relationship between rhetoric and reality.
Which naturally brings us to a new biography of Elon Musk, whose entrepreneurial energy is a marvel; the world would be better off if there were more like him, even if a “nonstop horrible” childhood was a precursor to his adult achievements. That said, the “change the world” stuff, let alone the “save humanity” stuff, that fills Ashlee Vance’s admired “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” is a tad overdone.
“If he succeeds, though, in delivering his cheap, reusable heavy-lift vehicle, vast new possibilities will open up. Fifty years from now if there are hotels and factories in orbit, they may well be SpaceX hotels and factories.”
Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House roof. GM rolled out its EV1 electric car in 1996. Mr. Musk has been selling back to affluent, middle-aged baby boomers their own youthful ideals in the shape of roof panels and plug-in cars.
These items sell not because the moment is ripe to transition the world economy to solar but as vanity trinkets for the rich that even the rich wouldn’t buy without a large helping of taxpayer money.
“If a human outpost materializes on Mars, it may well be a SpaceX outpost.”
Yes, Mr. Musk deserves credit for organizing his enterprises and getting them off the ground. The bureaucratic obstacles to starting a car business are especially daunting. And his Tesla Model S is a lovely object and wonderful machine.
[Order Ashlee Vance’s book “Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future” from Amazon.com]
Nowhere in Mr. Vance’s book, though, does the figure $7,500 appear—the direct taxpayer rebate to each U.S. buyer of Mr. Musk’s car. You wouldn’t know that 10% of all Model S cars have been sold in Norway—though Tesla’s own 10-K lists the possible loss of generous Norwegian tax benefits as a substantial risk to the company. Read the rest of this entry »
A panel of experts discusses the prospect of machines capable of autonomous reasoning
Ted Greenwald writes: After decades as a sci-fi staple, artificial intelligence has leapt into the mainstream. Between Apple ’s Siri and Amazon ’s Alexa, IBM ’s Watson and Google Brain, machines that understand the world and respond productively suddenly seem imminent.
The combination of immense Internet-connected networks and machine-learning algorithms has yielded dramatic advances in machines’ ability to understand spoken and visual communications, capabilities that fall under the heading “narrow” artificial intelligence. Can machines capable of autonomous reasoning—so-called general AI—be far behind? And at that point, what’s to keep them from improving themselves until they have no need for humanity?
The prospect has unleashed a wave of anxiety. “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” astrophysicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC. Tesla founder Elon Musk called AI “our biggest existential threat.” Former Microsoft Chief Executive Bill Gates has voiced his agreement.
How realistic are such concerns? And how urgent? We assembled a panel of experts from industry, research and policy-making to consider the dangers—if any—that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry »
Mark Gurman writes: Tesla has taken its recruiting of Apple employees to the next level: the electric car and energy company has hired away Apple’s Senior Director of Corporate Recruiting, Cindy Nicola, to become Tesla’s new Vice President of Global Recruiting. Nicola has already noted her new role and start month of May on her LinkedIn profile.
Notably, Apple actually hired away Tesla’s Lead Recruiter in 2014 for its own electric car project, as we noted in our extensive profile of Apple’s automotive related hires. Interestingly, that former Tesla recruiter Lauren Ciminera has already left Apple to work on a new “confidential” project, according to her own LinkedIn page and confirmation from a source… Read the rest of this entry »
The Remarkable Plunge in the Cost of Electric Vehicles
A new study suggests that battery-powered vehicles are close to being cost-effective for most people.
Mike Orcutt writes: Electric cars may seem like a niche product that only wealthy people can afford, but a new analysis suggests that they may be close to competing with or even beating gas cars on cost.
The true cost of lithium-ion batteries in electric cars is a secret closely held by manufacturers. And estimates of the cost vary widely, making it tough to determine
just how much lower they must go before electric vehicles with long ranges can be affordable for most buyers. But a peer-reviewed study of more than 80 estimates reported between 2007 and 2014 determined that the costs of battery packs are “much lower” than widely assumed by energy-policy analysts.
The authors of the new study concluded that the battery packs used by market-leading EV manufacturers like Tesla and Nissan cost as little as $300 per kilowatt-hour of energy in 2014. That’s lower than the most optimistic published projections for 2015, and even below the average published projection for 2020. The authors found that batteries appear on track to reach $230 per kilowatt-hour by 2018.
If that’s true, it would push EVs across a meaningful threshold. Depending on the price of gas, the sticker price of an EV is expected to appeal to many more people if its battery costs between $125 and $300 per kilowatt-hour. Because the battery makes up perhaps a quarter to a half of the cost of the car, a substantially cheaper battery would make the vehicle itself significantly cheaper too. Alternatively, carmakers could maintain current EV prices but offer vehicles with much longer ranges. Read the rest of this entry »
The same high-end appliance Starbucks uses to fine-tune brews
Silicon Valley types know how to optimize their lives.
Molly Mulshine reports: They monitor workouts with high-tech armbands and step-counters and control their homes’ temperatures from the comfort of their iPhones. The hard-core have even removed the guesswork from their diets, ingesting nutrients in the form of a few fine-tuned daily protein shakes and vitamins from IV drips. Don’t you just hate them?
So it is not surprising that the tech world’s top brass put their heads together to create the perfect coffee machine, the Blossom Brewer. Made specifically for cafes and restaurants, of course, the tech elite have snaffled them up for their homes.
Ashlee Vance reports: Because he doesn’t have enough going on, Elon Musk—he of Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCity, and the Hyperloop—is launching another project. Musk wants to build a second Internet in space and one day use it to connect people on Mars to the Web.
Musk is tonight hosting a SpaceX event in Seattle, where the company is opening a new office. The talk will mostly be about SpaceX’s plans for hiring aerospace and software engineers in the Pacific Northwest to boost the company’s rocket-building efforts. But he’ll also use the talk to announce his newest idea, which would launch a vast network of communication satellites to orbit earth. The network would do two things: speed up the general flow of data on the Internet and deliver high-speed, low-cost Internet services to the three billion-plus people who still have poor access to the Web. “Our focus is on creating a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” Musk told Bloomberg Businessweek ahead of the announcement.
“In Musk’s vision, Internet data packets going from, say, Los Angeles to Johannesburg would no longer have to go through dozens of routers and terrestrial networks. Instead, the packets would go to space, bouncing from satellite to satellite until they reach the one nearest their destination, then return to an antenna on earth.”
The Space Internet venture, to which Musk hasn’t yet given a name, would be hugely ambitious. Hundreds of satellites would orbit about 750 miles above earth, much closer than traditional communications satellites in geosynchronous orbit at altitudes of up to 22,000 miles. The lower satellites would make for a speedier Internet service, with less distance for electromagnetic signals to travel. The lag in current satellite systems makes applications such as Skype, online gaming, and other cloud-based services tough to use. Musk’s service would, in theory, rival fiber optic cables on land while also making the Internet available to remote and poor regions that don’t have access. Read the rest of this entry »
Date: September 16, 2014
Elon was 43 years old
For MIT Technology Review, Mike Orcutt writes: Sales of electric vehicles in China, the world’s largest auto market, have beenminuscule despite government incentives meant to put five million of the cars on the nation’s roads by 2020. Tesla Motors hopes to begin changing that as it makes its first deliveries of Model S sedans to customers in China this month. But while having more EVs might help China reach its transportation goals, it probably won’t improve the environment, given the country’s reliance on coal for more than 70 percent of its electricity. Making matters worse, coal in China is often dirtier than it is elsewhere, and many power plants don’t employ modern emission-control technologies.
Because China relies so heavily on coal for power, electric vehicles aren’t necessarily an improvement over gasoline-powered cars.
Recent research led by Christopher Cherry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, has shown that in much of the country, an electric vehicle the size of a Nissan Leaf accounts for roughly the same amount of carbon dioxide per mile driven as a comparable gasoline-powered car. On top of that, EVs in China account for a larger amount of dangerous particulate emissions than conventional cars. Read the rest of this entry »
“If, for any reason, we are unable to finance solar energy systems through tax-advantaged structures … we may no longer be able to provide solar energy systems to new customers on an economically viable basis”Posted: March 5, 2014
How to Succeed in Solar Energy: Grab Government Giveaways
What’s the secret sauce? You guessed it…
Lisa De Pasquale reports: Time and time again, the free market has spoken on alternative energy companies. Yet, we keep hearing about booming companies like SolarCity. Watchdog.org (via FoxNews.com) knows the secret to their success:
The company’s stock, initially offered at $8 a share in December 2012, is trading around $82 a share early Monday. And in a shareholder’s meeting last week, company officials said they’re bullish on the company’s future.
Buried in SolarCity documents is the secret to that success. Musk, the billionaire who founded PayPal and is chief executive officer and product architect of electric carmaker Tesla, has built SolarCity on government giveaways — subsidies that will decrease substantially in the next two years.
Sebastian Blanco writes: There’s no lack of connections between two of the most darling Silicon Valley companies, Apple and Tesla Motors. Most recently, the electric car manufacturerhired away Apple’s “Hacker Princess,” Kristin Paget, but it’s possible to look back as far as 2010 to see when Tesla hired the man who worked on the Apple Store experience, George Blankenship, to get the Tesla Stores in order (he left in late 2013). More recently, there’s been outside calls for the two to link arms, namely from banking analyst Adnaan Ahmad who said Apple should just up and buy Tesla (some have also predicted that General Motors could do just that in 2014) in late 2013. But nothing in this list ties the two companies together as strongly as a new report in the San Francisco Chronicle: Apple’s chief of mergers and acquisitions, Adrian Perica, secretly met with Tesla CEO Elon Musk last spring.
Giuseppe Macri writes: Tesla Motors founder and private space exploration entrepreneur Elon Musk says millions of people could be headed to Mars aboard rocket-propelled space colonies in as little as 10 years.
Musk, who is also the founder of Space X, a space transport company that is already building rockets for NASA, told CBS this week that the technology to send colonists to Mars is coming along much sooner than anticipated, and that we could see potential colonization missions in the next 10 to 12 years.
Contrary to his rhetoric, Obama is very friendly to the wealthy — as long as they are Democrats. Billionaire Democrat donors receiving a lot of stimulus money include: Solyndra owner George Kaiser; Tesla Motors owners Leon Musk, Larry Page and Sergey Brin; NRG Energy owners Warren Buffett, Steven Cohen, and Carl Icahn; Abound Solar Manufacturing’s Pat Stryker; and Siga Technologies’ Ronald Perelman. Among other wealthy Democrat winners were former Vice President Al Gore, whose investment in Fisker Automotive was rewarded with a $529 million loan guarantee. Taken all together, about 75 percent of stimulus loans and grants have been doled out to companies run by Obama supporters…
More >> via >> Four ways Romney must hold Obama accountable for the economy
- Stimulus Money Spent to Run Obama Ads on MSNBC (genomega1.wordpress.com)
- Obama Administration Caught Redistributing Stimulus Dollars to Chinese Solar Firms (climatedepot.com)
- Stimulus Money Spent to Run Obama Ads on MSNBC (moonbattery.com)
- Obama won’t cede green energy failures (ConservativeActionAlerts.com)