back to article Intelligent machines expert heads for the hills

A senior lecturer in Intelligent Autonomous Systems is conducting an experiment to see how, and if, humanity will survive once the oil runs out. Dr Dylan Evans, formerly at the University of the West of England, is heading to the Highlands of Scotland for his Utopia project, where he will build a self-sufficient community …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    All he needs is 1 * Ray Mears and he'll be able to survive for years.

  2. Ian Ferguson

    Why Scotland?

    I know it's more of a challenge, but why conduct this experiment in the Scottish climate and soil type? I would have thought a southern climate, or even Mediterranean, would yield more sensible results. I have nothing against Scotland, but it's not the first place I'd head to set up a self-sufficient vegetable farm if the oil ran out (or zombies took over).

  3. Greg Nelson


    A person well trained in bush lore can survive with the basics. A good knife ( a k-bar ), snare wire ( can also be used for building shelters ) and a lot of bic lighters ( that flint and steel routine is just plain silly). The question is how to define survival. For our species survival, IMHO, would entail the birth and rearing of a new generation capable of raising further generations. Anything short of this is just hanging in there till the last one dies.

    Time would be better spent taking wilderness first aide courses and learning survival skills. In terms of the collapse of civilization a better skill set could be acquired spending a summer homeless and without resources in a major city.

  4. David S

    What's the point?

    Once the oil runs out we'll be back to the middle ages if we're lucky. And there'll never be the option of another industrial revolution - we'll just sit starving and dying young in our new fiefdoms until we get wiped out by some cosmic debris.

    Worst thing is: Whatever evolves to replace us will have a similar fate with no hope of anything better. We've used up all the fossil fuel, so they won't be able to develop anything more effective than the waterwheel, let alone space travel.

    We're a' doomed...

  5. John A Blackley

    All very well but........

    Nice idea and I hope the midges don't see them off. However, when The End of Civilsation As We Know It does come, mankind will continue as it always has. Those with the biggest guns and most amunition will control the rest of humanity.

  6. Dan

    Collapse or change?

    "In terms of the collapse of civilization a better skill set could be acquired spending a summer homeless and without resources in a major city."

    I met a philosophy professor at a scientific conference once that did this to her graduate students.

    OK, on with the comment. IMO it seems unlikely that every oil supply on the planet will simply go "poof" and dry up overnight at some point in the future. Instead, as fields deplete over time, the cost of crude oil will rise, thus allowing the exploitation of reserves that currently are not economical to tap. As things made of oil (like petrol/gasoline and plastics) also become more expensive, market pressure will drive research into things like higher fuel economy cars, alternative fuels, and organic polymers.

    But just in case civilization does collapse I'm going to keep the rifle, knife, first aid supplies, and lighter ready for action.

  7. Jesse Melton


    I would never want to depend on a k-bar. It is most certainly not a "good knife". Its biggest selling point for its users (military) is the fact that it's made of crappy metal and is easy to manufacture. A bit of research into the manufacturers websites will illuminate this. Everybody likes it because it's a cheap piece of crap that can be cheaply replaced when it fails.

  8. Dan


    Cool, a knife comment. Kabars are for the most part inexpensive and not very durable in my experience. At least here in the USA there are so many other kinds of knives available that are far better for the same price.

    And what are you doing with just ONE knife anyway? In a civil emergency or collapse it would be better to have two or three good ones (and maybe a couple more for your friends who forgot theirs).

  9. John Stirling


    Surely the trick to surviving as a species is power rather than oil. We have solar, nuclear fission, wave, wind, hydro, geo thermal, and sometime prior to the end of the oil, fusion (probably). Heck, you never know we might even have zero point. I've probably missed a few.

    Other than the last two it is true that we are going to be a bit short of supporting the current six billion or so in relative comfort, but I think you'll find a couple of those billion don't really see a great deal of power or oil on a daily basis anyway, so what's the big.

    Certainly I might be a little less free and easy regarding my use of power, and it's a long walk, well almost anywere, but it sounds like a change rather than the end of civilisation.

    Incidentally I'm quite happy with the position that we are in a declining culture, and it will all go to hell, I'm just not certain that the oil will be to blame.

    Oh, and as regards knives, I'll settle for a nice bow and arrow, from a distance for all the hunting/defence thingies.

  10. Greg Nelson

    cut like a knife

    In response to the k bar detractors I've owned a Cammilus for over 15 years. It's a k bar by any other name and it's served me very well.. I specified a k bar more as a generic type. Novices seem to think bigger is better and the wilder the design the better the blade. Raised hunting and fishing I now extreme wilderness hike. The extreme part comes with the dead of a Canadian winter, well, it used to :(

    A big part of wilderness survival is having a feel for things. It comes with experience and I constantly vacillate between buying the newest, bestest equipment and staying with the stuff I know the limitations of. To each his own. I go with the simple and always favour that which I can field strip and repair.

    As to the number of knifes, fine, the more the better if you can cache the extra blades. As a preteen my dad and I hiked into an isolated lake. I whined, 'let me carry the gun Dad, please, let me'... over and over, while he explained how the weight of a weapon can become unbearable. He let me carry the gun, after a while he walked on ahead so he didn't have to listen to me whine... 'Dad, you carry the gun now... Dad?"


  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heading for the HIlls?

    Has anyone actually read WHERE this guy is setting up his bizarre experiment? Nowhere near the hills, but on the fertile, low-lying Black Isle, the landmass forming the southern boundary of the main rig-servicing area for the North Sea and the northern boundary of the fastest-growing city in Europe.

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