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Comment: Re:Those damn socialist! (Score 1) 752

by javilon (#45398985) Attached to: Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners

In other news, the shit of all countries stinks. Getting into a pissing contest over who is worse to prove oneself's luck as better is pointless and destructive.

Agreed. But pointing at individual policies that can improve things and are done better in one country than in another can help to compare options.

Comment: Re:Hey California, I have a solution for you (Score 4, Informative) 752

by javilon (#45398863) Attached to: Sweden Is Closing Many Prisons Due to Lack of Prisoners

In fact, that is how it is in most of Europe, AFAIK. Even if we don't agree with the government's
policies, we still trust and respect them.

That may be in the North. Here in the south (Spain) we have the opposite. Crowded jails, corrupt politicians and a public that doesn't trust its government at all. Not that we can get rid of them. They have us by the balls.

Comment: Re:Robotic surgery != robots doing surgery (Score 2, Interesting) 130

by javilon (#42979313) Attached to: Unnecessary Medical Procedures and the Dangers of Robot Surgery

Robotic surgery doesn't mean what you seem to think it means. It isn't an autonomous robot doing the procedure. It is a doctor doing the procedure using robotic technology to enhance and assist. It improves capabilities for minimally invasive surgery and remote surgery but it is not what you are describing.

Well, you are mostly right, but having a robot involved, even if it is minimally autonomous, means a complex tool is being used, introducing some consistency to the part of the job it does. A bit like the difference between using an automatic plant to build a car versus doing it manually like it is still done with italian sports cars.
But this is only the beginning. I have seen reports of the next wave of medical robots becoming more autonomous, like sensing the type of tissue and refusing to go into the wrong type.

Common misconception. Automation does not "shed jobs", it simply pushes the jobs elsewhere. We automated farming and that freed the labor force to work in manufacturing and services and we all have benefited greatly from that shift. Manufacturing is now being increasingly automated for many things freeing labor for more valuable tasks. A lot of work is not value added. A lot of my work is as an accountant. Theoretically I could keep the books by hand like they did before computers with large staff but that adds no economic value to what we do, just cost. Better to use Quickbooks and automate and apply that labor more productively elsewhere. The purpose of jobs is not to provide a paycheck. The purpose of jobs is to do economically useful work. If a machine can do the work more economically that labor needs to be applied elsewhere.

This one uses examples from the industrial revolution that are not applicable anymore because the rate of automation is far faster (and accelerating), meaning that the economy doesn't have enough time to rellocate workers to other basic tasks before they are automated as well. In fact, the way things are going, non educated people will have a hard time competing with machines in any basic job. By the time we get around to change society, we'll have so much unemployment that it will be very difficult to manage. This time is the singularity. It is not just better tools that are removing jobs, it is artificial intelligence, of the non strong variety (for now). What is left for the workers to compete?

Doctors don't need to be protected from automation any more than anyone else. If anything they welcome the productivity improvements automation can provide, particularly on the administrative side of things. But it's pretty hard to automate a checkup or removing an appendix. We give them a lot of training because those skills are not presently replaceable with any technology we possess. Perhaps that will change someday but it won't be anytime soon.

If ten years doesn't sound like anytime soon to you, then you are right. The speed things are going, it will start about that time. Please google references to IBM Whatson. It is not a robot, and it is only labeled as an assistant to diagnostic, but it already is capable of being on top of all of the literature about cancer, and make suggestions based on that. This is something very few doctors can do, or have the time and interest of doing. In any case, I agree doctors don't need special protection. That is my point. But it is also true that they will use their collective power to try to stop technology if they see it as threating their position, so it is quite likely they will lobby for regulations using scare tactics.

Comment: Re:Robots good humans bad (Score 1) 130

by javilon (#42978541) Attached to: Unnecessary Medical Procedures and the Dangers of Robot Surgery

From the article: "In fact, 'robotic surgery has been linked to many serious injuries and severe complications, including death.'"

Same thing goes for surgeons, but a robot has two qualities that your run of the mill surgeon doesn't: It is consistent in its results (you can end up in the hands of a drunken surgeon, someone who just lost a familiar, or it just happens to have a bad day), and it is cheaper (in the long run).

If a generation of robots have some problem or make some mistakes, next generation will improve on it, for all of the units. For a doctor, each one is different and have its own particular weaknesses, most of them having to do with emotional stuff, and they are already information overloaded, so no much room for improvement.

Also, rich people will be able to select what doctor treats them, but for the rest of the population that is not possible. The malpractice results of this are usually played down, but we all have heard about medical mistakes from friends and family.

And if you go out of the US, in poor countries "bad" but affordable care from robots is superior to "good" but inaccessible medicine from doctors.

Automation is coming to all other aspects of life, shedding jobs at its wake. I don't see why doctors need to be protected from that, as long as automation brings some benefits to society.

Comment: Re:Disease (Score 4, Interesting) 94

by javilon (#42938239) Attached to: US Joins Google, Microsoft In "Brain Race"

I am not really sure this is about Alzheimer's or Parkinson's. I think this is about the run up to the singularity. There are many riches and power to be gained by the first country or entity able to reverse engineer the human brain. Now it looks feasible and nobody wants to be out of it.

If it were about health, they would invest the same amount of resources into a cure for circulatory diseases.

Comment: Re:Mad skillZ (Score 2) 266

by javilon (#42869925) Attached to: 71 Percent of U.S. See Humans On Mars By 2033

I agree, it is too expensive, and not enough payback.

The only reason to send a human to Mars would be if he is going to stay there and found a colony. Anything else can be achieved in a way that is better and cheaper by robots. And we already know we can send (and recover alive) people to space, so no need to do it again unless it is for good reason.

Comment: Re:Why study the human brain then? (Score 4, Insightful) 181

by javilon (#42739637) Attached to: The Human Brain Project Receives Up To $1.34 Billion

Why study a human brain?

The more ways we attack a given problem, the more chances of success. We have different communities working on different approaches to AI: Statistic, symbolic and biologically inspired. All three have produced interesting results already, meaning they have solved some practical problems.

Also, most human brains can show "intelligent behavior" in certain ways that our latest algorithms can't, e.g. navigating an arbitrary kitchen and finding a beer in the fridge :-)

Comment: Re:The Premise of Conflict in All of Earth's Histo (Score 1) 244

by javilon (#42717275) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Ray Kurzweil About the Future of Mankind and Technology

Well, right now there is an economic war where the middle class all around the world is being obliterated. The likely end result will be a few very powerful and very wealthy entities/individuals owning most of the resources and technology, and competing between them in ways that we won't understand except when they use us.

They have been able to run around democracy and democratic institutions already. Unemployment is growing all around the word, as is social inequalities, the financial / industrial elites openly call the shots now. Manipulating people is extremely easy with the current mass media and people short attention spans.

The natural equilibrium state for this is just one entity calling the shots, the new superpower, and our only hope is that it is benign. The previous superpowers (USA, the British empire before that, the Spanish empire before them) didn't have the means to control all that is important, but with a globalized, homogeneous world and the current understanding of social science and politics and with the current technological means, it will be possible.

The only way around this would be to colonize the moon, or Mars, or somewhere that would allow for a situation where a new power center could have a chance of grow and survive, due to the physical distance.

Comment: Re:Chocolate Factory?? (Score 2) 476

by javilon (#42460763) Attached to: Microsoft Says Google Trying To Undermine Windows Phone

They are also the creators of the term "Freetard" used to reference anyone questioning the current "Intellectual Property" regime.

This gives you an idea of how they drifted. They used to be "bitting the hand that feeds IT", but no more. They used to get information from IT contacts inside companies. Now they are becoming standard journalist that are too dependent on the goodwill of PR departments.

Comment: Re:Microsoft squid tactic? (Score 2) 476

by javilon (#42460267) Attached to: Microsoft Says Google Trying To Undermine Windows Phone

This may have unintended consequences for MS. They are giving a high profile to the fact that their youtube app isn't up to snuff, compared to IOS or Android. Not very smart unless they are really sure they can get some action going in the antitrust front.

If I were looking for a phone and I would come across this information, this would be another negative. If you add this to all of the other shortcomings of Windows phone, I would avoid it.

Comment: Re:The most interesting bit is about unemployment (Score 1) 780

by javilon (#42273445) Attached to: Schmidt On Why Tax Avoidance is Good, Robot Workers, and Google Fiber

Which sounds great until you recognize that corporations and financial institutions don't pay taxes. People pay taxes. So any taxes you levy on said corps or banks will just be passed along to customers in the form of higher prices and/or service fees. I find it remarkable that most people don't realize this, but I guess it's just too easy to beat the "rich corps are EEEVVVIILLLL!" drum.

The reality is you should tax *spending*, not *income*. If you spend less, you pay less in taxes. If you spend more, you pay more in taxes. It neatly gets around the idea that you can hide income because, unless you want to live in a shack off the grid in the middle of nowhere, you're *going* to spend money sooner or later. A 23% National Retail Sales Tax would and could replace our byzantine, impenetrable, lopsided income tax code with a system that is both workable and revenue neutral.

If you only tax spending, hoarders will get rich. They will invest their savings and at some point they will own everything. We should tax production means as well. That means taxing corporations. I am not against taxing spending, but you can't stop taxing corporations.

In fact, my point is that we should stop taxing labor. If a Robot produces some good, the corporation owning the robot pays corporation tax and sales tax. If a person produces the same good, the corporation pays corporation tax, sales tax, social security tax and the person pays income tax. That situation is easy to change. You remove income tax from labor rents and social security. Removing taxes is better than throwing subventions around. Instead of getting money to go through the government with all of the inefficiencies and associated waste, you leave money in the hands of workers. You incentive work.

Then you need to raise taxes in the other areas. What is left? corporation earnings, financial transactions and sales .

The "cutting edge" is getting rather dull. -- Andy Purshottam

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