Robopocalypse


Wired says “Chill: Robots Won’t Take All Our Jobs”
https://www.wired.com/2017/08/robots-will-not-take-your-job/


I usually like wired, but this piece is either totally misguided or cynically disingenuous…

The argument seems to turn on the fact that productivity (as economists measure it) is not surging, which we should expect if robots were providing most labour, making the handful of human workers left super productive.

There is no mystery; jobs are being degraded: people are being fired from high paying positions and re-hired as burger-flippers and janitors. Hours worked does not change, but the highly trained engineer is now asking “if you want fries with that”.

Also the ‘Deep Learning’ AI revolution is less than a decade old. Sufficiently advanced ‘oids‘ don’t exist yet: self-driving cars are not here; 3D printed houses still a few years away; AI chat bots are only now creeping into the work place. The Robo Advisors of FinTech are destroying the finance sector incumbents, but the big banks can’t fire people fast enough to maintain productivity against their collapsing profits.

Finally, companies are not investing, they are focused on short term cost saving, outsourcing, and downsizing. So even if the ‘oids‘ were available off the shelf, companies wouldn’t be interested yet. They will wait a few years until all the glitches are ironed out–

–even then, as the ‘oids‘ reach parity with humans, productivity may remain low as humans will be performing all the dirty and degrading work too low value for an expensive ‘oid‘.

Perhaps the author simply considers anything more than 5 years away as pointless SciFi speculation, and while the speculation is fun– please read my books!  🙂  –for those of us with kids, these topics are very real.

Can we know what animals are thinking?

A nice article from the economist on animal minds. 
“In 1992, at Tangalooma, off the coast of Queensland, people began to throw fish into the water for the local wild dolphins to eat. In 1998, the Dolphins began to feed the humans, throwing fish up onto the jetty for them. The humans thought they were having a bit of fun feeding the animals. What, if anything, did the Dolphins think?” 
It is astonishing to me how fashion, peer pressure, and group think mentality, inhibit even supposedly critical thinkers. Only slowly are we coming out of this cloud of denial regarding the minds of animals. I am far from being anti-science, but just because subjective mind is currently beyond the realms of what Science can opine on, doesn’t mean it is not real. Denying animal consciousness because we don’t understand human consciousness is just another ravenous bugblatter beast of traal. 

The Unnecessariat: We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary.

Pretty chilling:
https://morecrows.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/unnecessariat/

“Here’s the thing: from where I live, the world has drifted away. We aren’t precarious, we’re unnecessary. The money has gone to the top. The wages have gone to the top. The recovery has gone to the top. And what’s worst of all, everybody who matters seems basically pretty okay with that. The new bright sparks, cheerfully referred to as “Young Gods” believe themselves to be the honest winners in a new invent-or-die economy, and are busily planning to escape into space or acquire superpowers, and instead of worrying about this, the talking heads on TV tell you its all a good thing- don’t worry, the recession’s over and everything’s better now, and technology is TOTES AMAZEBALLS!”

Cory Doctrow says, “Human beings are the gut flora of immortal, transhuman corporations”.

Life as gut flora is not very glamorous, but need not be too bad. We are beneficial, and that gives us some measure of security—our hosts like to keep us around to stave off IBS. But when we add nothing of value to their fitness, our hosts, the corporations, are no longer incentivized to support us. We become unnecessary and start dying in droves.

“If there’s no economic plan for the Unnecessariat, there’s certainly an abundance for plans to extract value from them. No-one has the option to just make their own way and be left alone at it. It used to be that people were uninsured and if they got seriously sick they’d declare bankruptcy and lose the farm, but now they have a (mandatory) $1k/month plan with a $5k deductible: they’ll still declare bankruptcy and lose the farm if they get sick, but in the meantime they pay a shit-ton to the shareholders of United Healthcare, or Aetna, or whoever.”

Mark my words, this is how it ends. #FermiParadox