Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Foxconn Automation Reducing Employment

Around 2016 there was large interest in how factory automation was going to lead to mass unemployment. And this was one of the reasons given for why Universal Basic Income would be introduced.

But have the predictions of then happened? Foxconn was one of the big companies in the news about this at the time.

iPhone manufacturer Foxconn plans to replace almost every human worker with robots

Foxconn had 837000 workers in 2016 30% less now would be 587,000 employees. Instead Foxconn in 2020 employed around 1.29 million people.
There could be more going on here. Mergers could increase the size of the company. But on the raw figure nothing like the 30% reduction in staff happened. 

Saturday, July 10, 2021

Solar Power in Ireland Price Comparison

 There is a good article about Solar power in Ireland here

'It is expected that about 600-700 MW of new solar will come on-stream as a result of this renewable energy support scheme... In sunnier Spain, auctions for solar can get it on the grid for about €24 per megawatt-hour; the equivalent cost in Ireland is three times higher, at €73. "

All else being equal I would rather make electricity in Ireland than rely on abroad. But how much of surcharge should we be willing to pay for purely local generated power? We get coal from Colombia for our coal plants. At three times the price we might be able to mine it here but we don't.

Colombia is relatively uncorrupt place compared to Saudi or the Russian. Which we also rely on for energy. But still not great. Countries could turn off the supply or up the price no matter what a contract says. Could we trust North African countries not to turn off the power at the whim of some dictator?

Columbia is 46th in the worlds most democratic countries index. This index seems a reasonable proxy for likelihood of keeping contracts. Russia is 124th and Saudi 156th. The North African countries Tunisia 54th, Morocco 96th, Algeria 115th. These seem presently to be a bit more trustworthy, contract wise.

Solar power seems so spread out that it would be hard for a dictator to corner the marker and increase the price drastically. There is just more desert and it is easier to put solar farms on there there is locations and the skills needed to mine oil and gas. As such I don't think the argument that we should have solar farms in Ireland even if they are much less efficient because of political stability issues in other countries as that compelling. 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

Solar Power in Ireland

 Is it worth installing solar power in Ireland? Or is it more efficient to build the solar power someplace with more kilowatt hours per panel per year and transport the electricity from there?


"Obton’s aim is to expand their portfolio and solar energy products here to reach a total capacity of 1 Gigawatt (GW) by 2026, their venture will see the total value of its portfolio and projects here reach an investment of €750m in the sector.

The eleven solar farms will have the capacity to generate up to 118MW of power and are a part of the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

These facilities will be located in 8 counties and will include sites in Wexford, Waterford, Cork, Longford, Galway, Offaly, Meath, and Tipperary."

There are three questions here. 1. Amount of power gotten  2. Losses in transmission. 3. Cost per kwh
1. Ireland does not get much sunshine

these counties get about 2.7KWH. In Morocco this figure is double

2. Transmission losses. Ireland to Morocco is about 4000km. Losses per 1000km are about 3%. Which is small enough to make transmission feasible.

3. Cost. Median wage in Ireland is €36,095 and in Morocco is about 6000. Engineers are going to be a lot more similar than this. But much of the standard cleaning and basic maintenance of panels will be much cheaper in Morocco. 
Land in the Sahara is much cheaper than in Ireland so the land costs will also be less.

We might want to keep Irish money in Ireland. But if we are getting close to twice the power for less cost that gives us lots of the spare money to keep in Ireland.
Tunisia will sell solar electricity at 0.036 Euro per kwh . Irish Electricity unit price 21.24c per kWh. There is of course an issue with when the sun shines and electricity reliability. Though if we are going to have a percentage of our electricity from solar surely it should be from a much cheaper source even if that is further away?

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Opening Up with Adults Unvaccinated.

 I argued here Vaccinate the old fast that the old had such higher Covid fatality rates that it was worth trying to vaccinate as many of them as fast as possible as possible.

But what happens to adults 18-50 if they are unvaccinated. The risk of being hospitalised is about 3% across this age group

There are about 1.5 million Irish people in this age group. 3% of this is about 50,000 people who would be hospitalised if we all got it. Though herd immunity might drop this a bit.

The Irish Hospital system went pear shaped in January at '1,846 people with Covid-19 in hospital' which means 50k even if spread out a bit would be really bad for fatality rate of hospitalised cases. Even just for non covid cases if the hospitals are overrun you won't get the other treatment you might need. And we shouldn't traumatise medical workers with the awful conditions that many sick people at once would cause.

All this means I don't think we can have really high rates of covid even in healthy 18-50 years olds without causing so much lack of care that death rates would rise sharply. And we have to make sure we keep the rates low until vaccination rates are much higher in this age group.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

FDA Vaccine Approval

 If you do a search on twitter for unapproved vaccine you will find loads of people saying some version of

A: I will not take an unapproved vaccine

The FDA explains why and how it uses Emergency Use Exemptions for Vaccines here

What will they do when the vaccine gets full FDA approval

I can imagine three responses.

1. Then I will be reassured and take it

2. That will increase my chances of taking it but I am concerned still about B,C,D...

3. No I am concerned about B,C,D...

3 is strange as if B,C,D are actually your worries then why say full FDA approval is your worry initially? I have asked a few people who expressed A what they will do after full approval. Not one of them has said 1 or 2 only some version of 3. That looks more like they are using FDA approval as an excuse rather than an actual real criteria they believe.

Thursday, April 29, 2021

BMI and Covid Hosptalisations

I keep reading people saying that an alternative to covid vaccinations and social distancing methods are healthy eating and  exercise to reduce BMI. How much would these actually help?

According to the CDC not that much. Body Mass Index and Risk for COVID-19–Related Hospitalization. Graphs here the effect of obesity is greater in those under 65. But even then it seems to be about 20%

Which is not a huge amount. Vaccines reduce hospitalization rates by over 80%. And that is if diets actually could reduce your BMI from obese to recommended levels.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Give Children Votes

Demeny voting is giving children votes to be used by their parents, until the children reach voting age. The interests of children are not always represented well in democracies and giving their interest some weight might lead to better policies.

Older people vote more often. And thus their policy preferences are more likely to be followed than those held by young people. No one under 18 votes so their policy preferences get very little attention.

You could argue that because children know so little and don't work we should not get their opinion on policies. Giving their votes to their parents gets away from this objection though. 

But why would you think parents know what policies are best for their children? We trust parents to pick food, bedtime, schools, clothes etc for children and in comparison to them picking a political candidate occasionally is minor. 

If giving children votes would result in more money for schools, less money for pensions etc then the people who want less money for schools and more money for pensions will stop it happening. Which means we should argue on the morality of giving them votes not the particular policies that are likely. Women supported alcohol prohibition more than men did. But women's voting was still the right thing to do even if some policy choices they initially supported were wrong.

The Irish birth rate is 1.75 kids per child. Below the replacement rate of 2.1. The extra .1 is because some small number of people won't make it to the age of having kids. No country that has ever dropped below 2.1 replacement level has ever risen back up again. Extra parental leave, free childcare, increase children support, free children medical care and loads of other things have been tried but none seem to have increased birth rate much. And they are all much more expensive than votes for kids.

Needle Phobia and Covid Vaccinations

Between 10-20% of adults are really scared of needles. Anti Vax people are really hard to persuade. But anti needle people might be easier. And a fair number of people claiming to be vaccine skeptics might just be shy to admit a fear of needles is a big factor.

"Avoidance of influenza vaccination because of needle fear occurred in 16% of adult patients"  Soon we will have enough vaccines for all adults but if 10-20% of them do not get vaccinated due to Trypanophobia thats a lot of unnecessary deaths and it makes reaching community immunity levels impossible.

Trypanophobia is classed as a phobia with a known process of medical treatment. The steps to get over it seem to be three types
1. Cognitive behavioural therapy, hypnotherapy and other psychological techniques 
2. Nice relaxing location. comfy seats etc for where the injections happen.
3. Topical cream to reduce pain on the injection site.
These are described here, here and here.

Tech people think there should be an app for everything. But in this case it might work. A Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) app that gradually helped people get over their fear of needles might really help increase uptake of the vaccine. There are loads of CBT apps out there. If you know a good one that deals with needle phobia please comment.

There will be vaccinations for covid that do not need needles in the medium term. But for the moment getting people over their fear is needed. 

The needle phobia apps I can find I can find are aimed at kids to explain to injections to them. Rather than steps to get adults over a fear of needles.

The vaccinations created and tested in under a year are amazing. And we are going to get a lot more of them soon. Helping people get over the common fear of needles is an important step if we want to get as many people vaccinated as possible.