Feed The Birds

The first application of Launch Loop rotor technology will be loop power storage. The first profitable application of small scale loop power storage may beEMALS , ElectroMagnetic Aircraft Launch System , for assisted launch of small electric aircraft. These can be used in the developing world as "self-piloting" personal vehicles, and vehicles for delivery, ambulance, and services.

One hypothetical agricultural delivery system would deliver flocks of genetically-engineered trained birds to pest-infected farmer's fields. The birds would be optimized for finding crop-damaging insects, while leaving the beneficial insects alone. They would be deployed from a slow-flying electric aircraft, and recaptured by the aircraft when the field is clean, to be delivered to the next field, or back to the automated breeding and veterinary station at the aircraft's home base. Designed correctly, there would be strong selective pressure on these "artificial" birds to clean fields fast ("the early bird gets the worm") and return for maximum survival and reproductive success at the station.

The aircraft would also deliver larger and more intelligent "guard raptors" to protect the flocks from wild raptors in the field.

This is very unnatural behavior, but birds are smart for their size and can be trained to do amazing things. Do the training with robots and software; select breeding pairs likewise. Humans (and increasingly, their tools) can do something nature cannot; assemble competitors into collaborators. Hopefully, wisdom and foresight guides the collaboration.

Why genetic engineering? The traits needed may be spread throughout the avian class. Best to select exactly what is needed, and create an artificial species that is not cross-fertile with any wild species, to protect nature from the genes of these highly specialized harvesting birds.

Of course, wild birds will also consume insects in farmer's fields, and should be encouraged to do so under normal conditions. Farmers may have their own permanent "pet" genmod raptors that protect the beneficial wild birds, while driving crop-damaging birds away from fields. This may be more than the raptors can be "programmed" to understand; the flocks of tame harvesting birds and guard raptors will be paired by the same (pheromone? plumage?) signals that bind mothers to offspring, but how to arrange that for a broad class of beneficial wild birds?

Perhaps some clever team can figure that out, and the rest of us will applaud and reward them. Given typical human cussedness, this is unlikely; perhaps we must genemod ourselves to behave more like enlightened collaborators and less like paranoid idiots.

The goal is a rich agricultural life that is productive and secure, without pesticides and fossil-fueled machinery. With server sky communications and access to a whole planet of peer-provided information services, a rural farmer can be safe, healthy, wealthy, connected to the world, and deeply connected to nature.

Imagine someone looking like a barefoot peasant in a coolie hat, but clean and neat, with PhDs in literature and biology. A part-time teacher for students scattered around the world, in all cultures and cultural remixes. Her children can be at home, working on their PhDs with the help of mentors around the world. Her partner(s) might share her home, or gently wander the world and the spaces beyond, always available, never intrusive.

The Earth can support perhaps 10 billion of us, if we commit ourselves to increasing nature's fertility and robustness. We can extend the domain of life to the entire solar system (not merely the surfaces of a few hostile rocks), and help nature adapt to the extreme conditions (and enormous opportunities) "out there". Humans and their tools can (and should) add to the plus side of nature's ledger. We should amplify nature's bounty, not deplete it, and amplify our capability and wisdom for the many responsibilities that come with intelligence.

FeedTheBirds (last edited 2018-08-11 19:23:56 by KeithLofstrom)