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Comment Zuckerberg, really? (Score 4, Interesting) 109

I don't despise Mark Zuckerberg like many do, but I hardly think he qualifies as a tech leader. Facebook succeeded through luck, timing, hard work and good engineering. That's all laudable, but there wasn't much leadership or vision involved. Bezos' initial idea, an online bookstore, was hardly visionary or leading but subsequent decisions, especially the decision to standardize internal system interfaces that led to the idea, and ability, to create AWS absolutely was visionary. Google should have done that, but didn't have the vision. There's no debating the vision of Elon "Mars or bust in my solar-powered electric car" Musk. Musk has so much vision we'd call him a crackpot, except that he has a tendency to succeed. Steve Jobs was clearly a leader and a visionary with a focus on making technology simple and beautiful.

And there are other leaders around who I'd say are much worthier than Zuckerberg. Larry Page, for example, whose goal for his new startup was to "Organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", an insanely ambitious mission which arguably is no longer ambitious enough to describe what Alphabet/Google is doing. Mark Shuttleworth, not so much for Thawte as for Canonical, where his vision hasn't really succeeded in displacing Windows but has gone much further than most of us considered possible. Though a bunch of CEOs probably wouldn't pick him, I'd put Richard Stallman high on the list, too. His vision of the importance of software freedom has been incredibly influential.

I could go on, but the point is... Zuckerberg? Really? For what? I suppose it was visionary to believe that you could build a billion-user interactive system with PHP.

Comment Re:Why is this guy still talking (Score 5, Insightful) 443

But WAIT A SECOND, while the pies and baskets have each fallen in value by a factor of ten, a pie is still worth ONE basket. So Abby and Betty can just continue life as before. The robots changed nothing.

The just-so story is pretty, but it's hard to take it seriously as a prediction of the future when it doesn't even predict the past accurately.

If I replace "robots" with "cheap foreign labor", can you explain why so many American manufacturers went out of business (or moved operations abroad) in the last few decades?

According to your theory, American companies should have been able to continue operating just as before ("the foreign workers changed nothing"), because one ton of American steel was still worth exactly one American-made car (or etc). But that isn't what happened, is it? Instead, many people lost their jobs and ended up either unemployed or working at less-desirable unskilled service jobs afterwards, because they were unable to compete with the cheaper/more efficient new foreign producers who didn't need to hire them.

Abby can just switch to making baskets

Can she "just switch"? Does Abby somehow already have the skills to make baskets, or the time and resources to learn those skills to the point where she can perform them at a commercially viable level? Switching to a completely different skill set is not without cost; not everyone can afford to spend months or years without any income while they retrain themselves. That's why so many previously-high-earning people end up "switching down" to something like Walmart cashier after the industry they trained for becomes non-viable.

So the most likely scenario is to put [the "losers"] on some sort of welfare until we can get riot control robots perfected

And here is exactly where the core of the problem lies. As the skill level of available automation rises, the pool of "losers" (i.e. people who aren't sufficiently skilled or adaptable to economically compete with cheap automation) gets larger every year, and eventually includes most (if not all) of the human population.

Dismissing that issue as a negligible corner case is ignoring the problem entirely. The fact that you think "riot control robots" are the endgame suggests that you do also see the problem; you just refuse to label it as a problem because you lack sympathy for "those people".

Comment Re:Police searches (Score 1, Informative) 224

Well I could sue the police and retire on the settlement. Its like winning the lottery only with a beatdown thrown in

You haven't been paying attention to the news much, have you? It's very rare that police officers are held accountable for misbehavior; society (for better or worse) gives them a lot of latitude. Police officers literally get away with murder(*) on a regular basis.

(*) or at least, actions that would definitely be called murder if anyone else did the same thing

Comment Re:Dumbass (Score 1) 313

If Wheat was the problem, the US would be dropping food bags on the populace instead of TONS OF WEAPONS. GUNS DO NOT GROW OR WATER CROPS YOU FUCKING MORON!

Let me get this straight. Your argument is that the crisis must not be driven by a non-political cause because if it were the US would have solved it? Or, to put it another way, your're arguing that the US government is so perfectly effective at always addressing the root causes of problems in a timely manner, that the government's failure to address this one means it's not the root cause?

Dude, you must know a different US government than I do. The one I know occasionally does the right thing at the right time, but it's mostly by accident.

Comment Re:Continuing the tradition (Score 3, Insightful) 443

I see that Hawking is continuing the tradition of world-renowned physicist commenting on things they have no specialty in.

Well, why shouldn't he? Everyone else on this thread is doing the exact same thing. Commenting on things you aren't an expert on is something just about everyone does, on a daily basis.

The only difference is that when we make a brilliant (or stupid) post to Slashdot, it doesn't get picked up by any news agency. If you find that troublesome, you ought to blame the news agencies, not Hawking.

Comment Re:Not mine. (Score 1) 443

No, your code generates code, or outputs it, or produces it. It doesn't "write" it, and provided you actually do write some code, this should be beyond obvious to you.

But he is writing much less code than someone would have had to write 20 or 30 years ago to get the same results. Now he can get the same amount of functionality implemented by himself that would have taken a whole team previously. Thus his company didn't have to hire so many programmers.

Comment Re:Nope (Score 2) 443

And exactly where does this *magic* money come from to pay out all this Universal Basic Income?

From taxing the profits of companies who have successfully used automation to drive their costs down to near-zero -- with negligible labor, their only costs are input materials, maintenance, and the electric bill.

The one good thing about a vast army of robot workers is that they can provide their owners with fantastic 24/7 productivity at low cost, and thus generate vast material wealth; the only question is whether that vast wealth will accumulate in the savings accounts of the 1% while everyone else starves, or whether some mechanism will be found to allow that wealth to benefit the rest of mankind so that civilized society can continue.

Comment Re:Too much to express here, but (Score 1) 443

How will it work if you have 90% unemployment? Simple, it won't be that way for long. You will have massive unrest, and all of the horrors that would entail.

And what are then eventual results of that unrest? Laws to ban robots so that low-paid humans get to do all the menial work instead, forever? I suppose that's a possibility, but the other (more sensible) outcome would be laws to tax the robots to fund training and/or subsidize employment for humans, so that the humans can find work in other (less-menial) areas that robots are not so good at.

(And the end-game of that, when robots and AIs are finally better than humans at absolutely everything, would be that the training/employment programs would end up supporting humans in "jobs" that are really hobbies; e.g. dance instructor or pottery making. And that would be a fine outcome IMO)

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