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Does Cold Fusion Imply a Surveillance Society?

Now that I have your attention… 🙂

Recently a friend posted to a mailing list about Yet Another Cold Fusion Experiment [1] whose results will soon be in. Unlike most people, my worry is not that these experiments will all fail, but rather that one will succeed.

As the amount of energy available per dollar goes up, the amount of destructive power available per dollar goes up too. When the amount of destructive power required to destroy the world is available for an amount of money obtainable by an insane person, then we have a problem.

That line surely exists; the only question is how close we are to it. My thesis is that, wherever we are now in relation to that line, the development of cheap cold fusion brings us dramatically closer to it.

One of the nice properties of expensive energy is that you know who to watch. Only states and other really big actors can afford, say, nuclear weapons, so all the other states and big actors can watch each other and make a move if someone starts going over the edge.

(Note you rarely see someone get very close to the edge, because they know what would happen if they did.)

But if energy is cheap, there are too many people to watch. Thus I think it’s possible that cheap energy implies a surveillance society.

Sorry to be so grim. If I’m missing a way out, please comment. But right now, the risks of cheap energy look to me much greater than the benefits. (Perhaps it’s important to distinguish between energy that can be “surged” and energy that is cheap but can only come in at a certain maximum rate? That might help; I don’t know.)