Category Archives: culture

DystopianFuture = f( Robots, BigData, AI, IoT )

I was standing at the window watching the recycle trunk pick up our container. The trunk was driven by one person who just operated a giant robotic gripper that extended from the truck to hold the container and empty it. Took about five seconds. Up and down our street the truck zoomed. All done. Amazing. Before, there were a few (strong!) people who did this. It was one driver and two other workers. Where are they now?

Currently, only recycle bins in my city are standardized. So, a truck with a single manipulator is usable. In future, its inevitable that the rest of the garbage will be disposed in standard containers, and more people will do less of this manual labor. Nothing new, the march of automation and more powerful computers. For decades there have been those warning of dire consequences, yet we are still here and have more of more stuff. So what is the problem?

There is a confluence of technological breakthroughs that are bound to happen and all these are being quickened by the internet. Internet speed change is occurring. Robotics breakthroughs and applications are only waiting for a new form of power storage and control.

Currently, all advanced technologies are limited. Drones have limited range and robots are mostly lumbering beasts that fall over doing the easiest tasks that humans can do while sleep walking. Yet, this won’t always be the case. In fact, the substitution of humans with autonomous intelligent systems is not even the only way this Change will happen. It could be that the path will just be human augmentation.

People can be augmented to use more AI and robotics technology. This will increase productivity in many fields. Thus, we’ll need less people. Even now we see the effect of more information in knowledge industries. Years ago a software developer had to remember many things, but now with the web the admin-techno-config-trivia is available at a mouse click. The bell curve of who can program has shifted. Since knowledge is available, silos of expertise are reduced. Now one person can do many different things. Again we’ll need less people.

If we need less people, how will the economic system function? Does it become a giant welfare state where only a few do “meaningful” work and the others have a form of guaranteed sustenance? Or will it become a dystopian nightmare of a stratified classes, the majority are the new ‘untouchables’, the middle tier occupied by the technocratic knowledge workers, and all presided over by the upper 1% ruling class?

Links
obots’ Next Big Job: Trash Pickup

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Pluggable End User Processors

Today’s smart devices usually have a way of increasing memory. What if it were just as easy to increase processing power?

terms: Network on Chip (NoC), coprocessor, daughterboard, USB, PCI Express

There are several ways of doing this. One is to actually plug in additional processors as the need arises and finances can support. So, a typical scenario is to purchase a simple feature phone that has a simple single or duel core processor and then gradually add more processing.

Another approach is allowing the smartphone to offload processing to traditional devices, such as a PC, or even other smartphones. This is kind of happening now with “Cloud” services and server based processing of complex tasks like voice recognition. The problem with these networked processing advances is latency, bandwidth, connectivity, privacy, and security.

What I’m envisioning is arriving home and your mobile device connects to your home based processing resources. Your home digibiome extends to provide processing and data resources. Your fridge has spare cycles, your clock is not ringing, the alarm system is not armed. All can do stuff.

Updates
May 1, 2013: Come to think of it, pluggable processors for any computing device should be possible. Network on Chip (NoC) concepts could be applied to a Network In A Box (NiaB).

July 3, 2013: Will the Motorola Moto X be something that can enable something like this? I doubt it.

Links
Chips as mini Internets
Secure Digital
Network On Chip
Mainstreaming
Microbiome

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Video is adding to the rise of misinformation

Rich media, in particular video, is a low “resolution” method of obtaining information. Low because for the amount of bandwidth consumed, there is very little information content.

I never really understood why video on the web is such a big fascination. For entertainment and occasional news information it is fine. And, for some stories it is important to see the participants involved (for those non-verbal cues). However, for really understanding the news or some topic it is necessarily limited. In broadcast networks and web media it is composed of sound bites, interruptions, and entertainment. It is basically just a vehicle to sell advertising to sponsors. If you see a video about some event X, the next video you see also about X will not contain any new information.

A great example of this is the talk and interview shows. Invariably someone being interviewed will not answer questions addressed to them, important questions. Instead, the opportunity is taken to regurgitate what was said minutes before. Hence, no information.

The viewer, us, is conditioned to think that they got new information, but really they were manipulated. Video is a passive medium, you just look. It requires no interaction and exercise of logical thought, just emotional reaction.

Where to get information? Reading. Reading diverse sources and viewpoints will give one a better appreciation for reality, which is complex, nuanced, and bereft of easy answers. Not that one will automatically know what to think or decide on a course of action, but one will hopefully be more resistant to being manipulated, ’emotionalized’. With the looming elections in the USA, that is very important. There will probably be billions of dollars spent on double-speak and non-content news.

Updates

  1. Jul 29, 2012: Intentional ‘misinformation’ is really ‘disinformation’. I think I read this somewhere.
  2. Just had a thought, is video adding to illiteracy? Why read, there will be a talking head somewhere to tell you what to think about something.

Some related links
Note how some arguments against TV were made in the 70’s. Is the web the new TV?

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Poverty

Poverty

The abandoned wreck lay in the street.

We climbed and jumped; so much to do that week.

A mattress appeared and now our feats grew.

Then one day no more; someone took it away.

Another week, a sewer formed a lake

from which sprung exotic adventures and competitions.

I played a pirate with my wooden sword, my buddy slayed the savage sea beast.

Then one day no more; someone took it away.

Nostalgic, I look back on those days. I was not poor; I enjoyed the endless array

Of things abandoned, trees to climb, hidden corners, and the paradise of neglected yards.

When summer lasted years, and the fun was measured by my socks and

how far they peeked from the holes in the bottoms of my shoes.

On rainy days from the past to today,

I can almost feel my soggy socks

and like an echo in my heart,

hear my mother calling me to come from play.

— Josef

Other works

  1. Scattered A short story about the future extremes of …
  2. Hero waits A nano-story.
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Can the predictive web also enable control?

In a previous post, “Synergistic Social Agent Network Cloud“, I discussed how a web of ‘agents’ could optimize ‘apps’ to be more responsive, proactive, and multipliers of our intents. I was just reading “Should we fear mind-reading future tech?” by Andrew Keen, and was thinking of the possible negative aspects. Still reading the article, so it may cover this. (finished reading it, was not mentioned).

Privacy is the usual concern about this high-tech stuff. This is very important. But, can “faster than realtime” computing, prediction, massive complex-event-processing and correlation also enable the powers that be to also control? We already know that advertising in all it’s forms can control, else why, for example, is the American presidential election a feeding fest of political money contributions?

Could that same advertising and fake news reporting via social media and apps that employ predictive quasi-AI morph into controlling media, an Orwellian manifestation of new-speak? In a scenario that would make a great sci-fi novel, Big Interests like political parties, business groups, and political organizations use social media, not only to advertise, but to gently guide one toward having programmed epiphanies.

Can it even be more “physical” and intrusive? For example, by prediction, these groups can arrange that one will meet a certain someone at the right time. Your a bleeding heart influential liberal? No problem, the future Fox News will arrange that you meet this gorgeous strong willed conservative that will change your mind.

Silly example, but you get the point, when you know, you can make nano-adjustments: unnoticeable, personalized, massive lobbying. Ads are old school, here come the psych-bots.

Some links

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Should Consumer products indicate comparable filler content?

Your at a store and are presented with a choice among two competing products. Lets say its a bottle of juice or some dish soap. How do you decide what to buy?

One way is to see the relative cost per measure. That calculation is already done for you in that little price tag on the shelf, can’t recall the name of that standard. So, price comparison is easy. You could even look at its ingredients; they are usually listed in size order, etc. There are even mobile apps to help you make that decision.

However, that decision is bogus since you don’t really know how much of that product is just filler. Which juice has the most water, for example? Some products will state what that is, like 2% real juice. Is that enough? What do they mean by that? Do they dry out the real juice measure it, then reconstitute it back into liquid form? I think its like that “cheese food” label, all a scam. Boy, am I being negative this week.

Now companies have a right to trade secrets and all that. But, as consumers we would like to know when we are just buying colored water. Or maybe we don’t. After all, we twaddle around with our fat asses in the big box stores searching for deals on junk food to keep the billion dollar soft sweet drink industry going.

Anyway, there must be some better ways to make our devalued earnings buy a little more.

Further Reading

  1. Toward a Consumer Product Information Resource
  2. 1862 – 2012: A Brief History of Food and Nutrition Labeling
  3. Food Ingredients Most Prone to Fraudulent Economically Motivated Adulteration

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Got the “Downton Abbey” bug.

Just finished seeing season one of “Downton Abbey” in Netflix streaming. What can I say that hasn’t been written before, it is grand. Such superb story, characters, filming, scenes, language, and most important great actors.

What I don’t get is why the household let Thomas come back to work?

More stuff

Downton Abbey – Main Theme Song – Piano Music

Downton Abbey theme- Did I Make The Most of Loving You?

Downton Abbey- The Suite

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News Literacy Project teaches how to sort fact from fiction

Just saw this on a TV news show. Boy is this needed! You’d be surprised what people take for real news today.

The News Literacy Project (NLP) is an innovative national educational program that mobilizes seasoned journalists to help middle school and high school students sort fact from fiction in the digital age.

The project teaches students critical-thinking skills that will enable them to be smarter and …
Learn More

The only negative I can see is that if people really start questioning the “news” and scrutinizing the bombardment of political-social-economic morass being spewed, there may be a revolution. Minimally we wouldn’t even vote in elections; after all what criteria distinguishes one bozo from another, the shiny nose quotient? (Just lame attempt at humor, maybe).

Further Reading
News Literacy Project


Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme) from “Empire Jazz”

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999 should be 6789

The Cain 999 tax simplification is attracting attention. Well, it should. In this political climate the major candidates have not been proposing anything bold, just the same phrases, party lines, and lack of answers to specific questions.

But, perhaps the 9-9-9 plan is too bold and as some critics are writing, lays the burden disproportionally on the 99%.

My counter proposal is just as simple, 6789:

  • 6% – income on the 99%
  • 7% – sales tax
  • 8% – corporate tax
  • 9% – income on the 1% rich

That is more equitable. Of course, economists and mathematicians can tweak the numbers. Most importantly, these numbers should be part of a feedback system. Why is everything “fixed” when the world is dynamic?

Based on economic performance and quality measures, the whole sliding scale could be shifted up or down. For example, in an overheated economy it could be shifted up, and in a difficult period, like now, it could be shifted down, such as, 5-6-7-8, etc.

Further Reading

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Do we need an ad-free top-level domain?

From its roots as an information sharing infrastructure, the internet is now increasingly composed of marketing and sophisticated attempts at private information harvesting. This has led to an adversarial relationship between providers and consumers.

Advertising is important. Commerce is important. Getting information on new products and solutions is important. Consumerism as culture is not important (it leads to a debtor nation). Advertising that preys on the bases ‘instincts’ and misinforms is not good. There are no easy solutions to fair advertising and fair use of personal information. Invariably, the consumer will be pimped.

When telephone soliciting became absurd, a Do Not Call registry was created. The same approach may not work in the web, for even the act of searching for something is subject to ad-fluenced manipulation.

A top level domain (TLD) that prohibits advertising will be useful if and only if it is also transparent. Since it must be funded and probably would not survive on donations or sponsorship by users, an ad-free domain must rely on organizations and companies. These must be explicit. No shenanigans like we have in the political process where influence is nefarious like the Political Action Committees (PAC) that subvert the democratic process.

Some difficulties:

  • What is advertising? How can it be identified?
  • Who does the filtering?
  • What people, organizations, and companies can become part of this domain.
  • What to call this? Radio Free Earth (rfe).

Oh well, perhaps a bad idea. It was out there, my brain picked it up.

I wrote about advertising and privacy before, but in a fictional short story format: Scattered.

Further Reading

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