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Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)

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Some damn fool asked . . . [Oct. 7th, 2016|11:08 am]
Phrembah (a potato-like mystery)
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. . . if electric vehicles will ever be practical, because some politically inspired academic studies predict that batteries will never be developed that are adequate to the task.

So, did all of this heady analysis and forecasting go into determining the course of the cell phone industry? I’ll bet you anything that if this sort of sphincter-puckering analysis had gone into predicting how well cell phones could eventually perform and how much they would cost and whether or not a viable market could develop around them, in say, the 1980s, the whole cell phone idea would have been abandoned.

Luckily, that industry just took off without a whole lot of academic or political rumination. It has now almost totally displaced and replaced all of the competition. I, personally, gave up my land line because I couldn’t afford it and get by just fine on nothing but a cell phone.

There are a lot of people who don’t want EVs to work for a ton of reasons from folks whose retirement savings are tied up in the fossil fuel industry to folks who just don’t trust change of any kind to people who don’t like Elon Musk’s looks and are annoyed by his vestigial accent. I had one acquaintance who said that EVs should be banned because they are too quiet; people would inevitably be run down by cars they didn’t “hear” coming. Watch the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car.” The people who were given EV1 prototypes to drive for a while loved the cars (which were not near as good as EVs can be these days). GM had to forcibly repo the cars and crush them to destroy the evidence that EVs were possible and viable and salable in the late nineties.

If the EV market is allowed to grow at its own speed without interference, there will be regular improvements in the technologies involved and occasionally “disruptive,” industry-changing breakthroughs, just as there have been in cell phones, computers and the Internet.

I was a computer operator for Mountain Bell in the seventies. The computer I worked on in Albuquerque occupied half of one floor of a building and had 32K of RAM in the CPU, 32K! The machines I worked on in Denver, the serious ones, had 2MB, 1MB and 512K RAM respectively and took up an entire floor of the building they were in. My kinda-klunky, half-assed cell phone has 16GB of memory and occupies my shirt pocket. I, and practically everyone else, carry around in our purses or pockets about four thousand times the computing power that the friggin’ telephone company got by on forty years ago.

Forecasting the development of technology and the attendant market forces has already been proved a fool’s game. It can only be forcibly suppressed like GM did with the EV1 and even that can’t last. Forecasts have to based on assumptions and the best reasoned most popular assumptions can crumble to the ground in a year or two and will almost certainly do so within a decade. Let it be. It will take care of itself and benefit us in the process.
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