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Comment Basic income from a millionaire's perspective? (Score 1) 630

My essay:
"One may ask, why should millionaires support a basic income as depicted in Marshall Brain's Australia Project fictional example in "Manna", but, say, right now in the USA, of US$2000 a month per person (with some deducted for universal health insurance), or $24K per year? With about 300 million residents in the USA, this would require about seven trillion US dollars a year, or half the current US GDP. Surely such a proposal would be a disaster for millionaires in terms of crushing taxes? Or would it? ..."

Comment On why we should assume systems are compromised (Score 1) 98

By me:
"I believe decentralized knowledge sharing is important, especially for disaster preparedness. I also believe encryption is important in practice, the same way as many people have locks on their doors. Such things do affect a balance between state power and individual power, which is important in a democracy, and they also make it harder for vandals and criminals to operate. So, a project like Briar that supports decentralized communications and encryption is important for those and other reasons. Still, as my father (a machinist among other things) used to say, "Locks only keep honest people honest." Here is a partial list of all the ways a tool like Briar can fail when being used by activists engaged in controversial political actions. ..."

Submission + - SPAM: Employment Law and Robotics, AI, and Automation

Paul Fernhout writes: The law firm Littler Mendelson P.C. has produced a report called "The Transformation of the Workplace Through Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation: Employment and Labor Law Issues, Solutions, and the Legislative and Regulatory Response".

The report's introduction states: "As innovation continues to outpace legislation, the 21st Century technologies streaming into the workplace pose novel compliance challenges for employers. Rather than listing a dozen areas of employment and labor law and applying them generally to robotics, AI, and automation, this Report uniquely divides these disruptive technologies into four categories. Each category is then viewed through the lens of the most applicable employment and labor challenges and solutions."

The four categories are:
  • Robotics and Automation
  • Wearable and Performance-Enhancing Devices
  • Telepresence, Telemanipulation and Remote Work
  • Cognitive Computing

Comment Zika problem may be from previous intervention (Score 2, Insightful) 470!
"For decades, Zika transmission was extremely rare. The virus didn't start spreading until after 2012 -- right after the biotech company Oxitec released genetically modified mosquitoes en masse in Brazil. Zika outbreaks quickly exploded from sites where genetically modified mosquitoes were released to combat dengue. Zika has now spread to 21 other countries and territories.
    What's appalling is that Zika virus (ATCC VR-84) can be purchased from ATCC labs. It was deposited by Dr. Jordi Casals-Ariet of the Rockefeller Foundation and sourced from the blood of an experimental forest sentinel rhesus monkey from Uganda in 1947.
    The question remains: Is Zika virus a bio-weapon, intentionally released via genetically modified mosquito? Perhaps it wasn't intentionally released but instead was an unintended consequence of releasing GM mosquitoes into the environment to eradicate dengue. Maybe this Zika strain is a resistant, mutant viral strain -- the evolution of a mosquito-borne virus caused by a biotech experiment gone bad?"

Those articles suggest that spraying pesticides and pushing vaccines on pregnant women may also have contributed to brain development issues in babies.

From the second article: "Children exposed to the aerial pesticide spraying were about 25 percent more likely to be diagnosed with autism or have a documented developmental delay than those living in areas that used other methods of pesticide application (such as manual spreading of granules). If authorities use the supposed threat of Zika to increase aerial spraying, it could increase children's risk of brain disorders, which is the opposite of what anti-Zika campaigns are supposed to achieve. ...
    It's possible Zika-carrying mosquitoes could be involved in suspected cases of microcephaly, but there are other factors that should be considered as well. For starters, the outbreak occurred in a largely poverty-stricken agricultural area of Brazil that uses large amounts of banned pesticides. Between these factors and the lack of sanitation and widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, you already have the basic framework for an increase in poor health outcomes among newborn infants in that area. Environmental pollution and toxic pesticide exposure have been positively linked to a wide array of adverse health effects, including birth defects. ..."

So, another reading of things is that previous expensive interventions (GM mosquitoes, vaccinations, pesticides) caused the problem that is now being used to justify more of the same expensive interventions with more profits to the same pushers... Meanwhile, the root cause of poverty, ignorance, poor nutrition are not being addressed.

Comment Rarely mentioned on "comparative advantage" theory (Score 1) 332

is that it only applies if there is full employment in both countries and zero cost to labor mobility...
"The higher price received for each country's comparative advantage good would lead each country to specialize in that good. To accomplish this, labor would have to move from the comparative disadvantaged industry into the comparative advantage industry. This means that one industry goes out of business in each country. However, because the model assumes full employment and costless mobility of labor, all of these workers are immediately gainfully employed in the other industry."

Comment The limits of the Broken Window Fallacy (Score 2) 367

While of course what you say is true as far as it goes (money can be spent either on repairs or on new stuff), here is a way the broken window fallacy can itself be a fallacy.

If almost all the currency in a society is hoarded by the wealthiest 1% (like kept in the "Casino Economy") and the 1% control the government so it refuses to directly print more currency according to the needs of the 99%, then the economy for the 99% functions as if there were a depression due to insufficient currency in the economy of real goods and services.

The health of an economy for most people (as well as the political health of a democracy) is not just how much currency there is, or how fast it moves, but how broadly the currency is distributed. Many average economic indicators may not reflect this economic depression for the 99% due to currency unavailability -- in the same way that if Bill Gates stepped into a homeless shelter by accident, everyone in the building would on average be a millionaire.

For more on the "Casino Economy" or "Gambling Economy" of abstract finance see the section of Money as Debt II starting around here:

In such a circumstance (which is close to the economy we have now), if a window breaks that a wealthy person or the government wants to fix, then some of the hoarded and speculated cash from the Casino economy may be leaked into the real economy of the 99%. This would temporarily alleviate a tiny bit of the ongoing defacto economic depression until the money is sucked back into the ever expanding Casino economy again via interest on debt or other forms of rent-seeking. Someone breaking a to-be-replaced window of a wealthy person or government in such a situation is then engaging in an indirect form of theft. WWII was another example that led to increased government spending and progressive taxation in the USA, although to great human suffering across the globe in other ways.

To be clear, breaking a window that needs to be repaired by the 99% does not have this currency redistribution effect since no additional currency will be moved from the casino economy to the real economy. Then we are just left with the fallacy in its standard form -- not the fallacy in the limiting case of concentrated hoarded wealth.

Of course, in practice, things getting broken only gives excuses for future crackdowns on "terrorists" and the diversion of what little cash is left circulating in the real economy for the 99% into new taxes for a larger security apparatus to protect the windows of the 1%, so ultimately the path of breaking windows is likely self-defeating.

Better options include alternative currencies, local exchange trading systems (LETS), an improved gift economy like via free software and shared knowledge like with Slashdot, improved local subsistence production like via 3D printing or home gardening robots like Farmbot, better democratic processes leading to better government planning, and political change towards a basic income (with the BI funded by progressive taxation and rents on resource extraction or government-granted monopolies like broadcast spectrum use). I discuss those and more options here:

Comment Name it Chiron for Hogan's Voyage from Yesteryear (Score 2) 347

James P. Hogan's comments from:
An Earth set well into the next century is going through one of its periodical crises politically, and it looks as if this time they might really press the button for the Big One. If it happens, the only chance for our species to survive would be by preserving a sliver of itself elsewhere, which in practical terms means another star, since nothing closer is readily habitable. There isn't time to organize a manned expedition of such scope from scratch. However, a robot exploratory vessel is under construction to make the first crossing to the Centauri system, and it with a crash program it would be possible to modify the designs to carry sets of human genetic data coded electronically. Additionally, a complement of incubator/nanny/tutor robots can be included, able to convert the electronic data back into chemistry and raise/educate the ensuing offspring while others prepare surface habitats and supporting infrastructure, when a habitable world is discovered. By the time we meet the "Chironians," their culture is into its fifth generation.

In the meantime, Earth went through a dodgy period, but managed in the end to muddle through. The fun begins when a generation ship housing a population of thousands arrives to "reclaim" the colony on behalf of the repressive, authoritarian regime that emerged following the crisis period. The Mayflower II brings with it all the tried and tested apparatus for bringing a recalcitrant population to heel: authority, with its power structure and symbolism, to impress; commercial institutions with the promise of wealth and possessions, to tempt and ensnare; a religious presence, to awe and instill duty and obedience; and if all else fails, armed military force to compel. But what happens when these methods encounter a population that has never been conditioned to respond?

The book has an interesting corollary. Around about the mid eighties, I received a letter notifying me that the story had been serialized in an underground Polish s.f. magazine. They hadn't exactly "stolen" it, the publishers explained, but had credited zlotys to an account in my name there, so if I ever decided to take a holiday in Poland the expenses would be covered (there was no exchange mechanism with Western currencies at that time). Then the story started surfacing in other countries of Eastern Europe, by all accounts to an enthusiastic reception. What they liked there, apparently, was the updated "Ghandiesque" formula on how bring down an oppressive regime when it's got all the guns. And a couple of years later, they were all doing it!

So I claim the credit. Forget all the tales you hear about the contradictions of Marxist economics, truth getting past the Iron Curtain via satellites and the Internet, Reagan's Star Wars program, and so on.

In 1989, after communist rule and the Wall came tumbling down, the annual European s.f. convention was held at Krakow in southern Poland, and I was invited as one of the Western guests. On the way home, I spent a few days in Warsaw and at last was able to meet the people who had published that original magazine. "Well, fine," I told them. "Finally, I can draw out all that money that you stashed away for me back in '85. One of the remarked-too hastily--that "It was worth something when we put it in the bank." (There had been two years of ruinous inflation following the outgoing regime's policy of sabotaging everything in order to be able to prove that the new ideas wouldn't work.) I said, resignedly, "Okay. How much are we talking about?" The one with a calculator tapped away for a few seconds, looked embarrassed, and announced, "Eight dollars and forty-three cents." So after the U.S. had spent trillions on its B-52s, Trident submarines, NSA, CIA, and the rest--all of it.

Comment Other ideas on dealing with social hurricanes (Score 1) 264
"This approximately 60 page document is a ramble about ways to ensure the CIA (as well as other big organizations) remains (or becomes) accountable to human needs and the needs of healthy, prosperous, joyful, secure, educated communities. The primarily suggestion is to encourage a paradigm shift away from scarcity thinking & competition thinking towards abundance thinking & cooperation thinking within the CIA and other organizations. I suggest that shift could be encouraged in part by providing publicly accessible free "intelligence" tools and other publicly accessible free information that all people (including in the CIA and elsewhere) can, if they want, use to better connect the dots about global issues and see those issues from multiple perspectives, to provide a better context for providing broad policy advice. It links that effort to bigger efforts to transform our global society into a place that works well for (almost) everyone that millions of people are engaged in. A central Haudenosaunee story-related theme is the transformation of Tadodaho through the efforts of the Peacemaker from someone who was evil and hurtful to someone who was good and helpful. ..."

Comment From US GSA 18F on security and open source... (Score 1) 61


Security and open source

"System security should not depend on the secrecy of the implementation or its components."
-- Guide to General Server Security, National Institute of Standards and Technology

A codebase is a terrible secret.

Because a codebase is so large, it cannot easily be changed. Furthermore, it must be known, or at least knowable, to the large number of people who work on it, so it cannot be kept secret very easily. This is represented at the bottom of figures two and three. Therefore "security through obscurity" is a terrible idea when it comes to a codebase. In most cases your system will consist of code which you reuse as well as code that your write yourself. Therefore both of these types of code should be open.

Of course, your system will have secrets in most cases -- keys, passwords, and the like -- but you should assume they have been discovered and change them often. We call these secrets a "red thread", because, like a red thread in a white handkerchief, they should be as vivid and thin as possible. By making them thin, such as a single password, you make them very easy to change and keep secret. Although these secrets are tiny, they must be managed carefully and conscientiously. We believe this concept is so important that we have placed it on our reusable version of the Wardley-Duncan map linked to above.

There are risks of defects and complexity associated with using open source modules indiscriminately. There are also security vulnerabilities to any system, either through negligence or by the intention of a bad actor. The key to preventing this is code review.

You must make sure that each component you use is code reviewed. In practice this means either that you must use very popular projects whose code is looked at by a large number of people on a regular basis, or you must use small projects which your team can code review itself. In practice, the criteria for making this decision for reused components is similar to the rules of thumb that we have already laid down for managing risk.However, you may need to adjust these rules of thumb based on how often you plan to update the component.

For example, a small component which is very stable need not be updated at all. If it is small and you can code review it or pay a team to code review it, then you may use it. On the other hand if the project has frequent updates, your team will have to decide how to manage these updates. A large project may have both stable and experimental branches. In general your team will want to update as frequently as the major number of the branch. If the project is very active and many people are looking at it, this does not represent a security risk. If however a project is changing rapidly and producing many releases and your team does not have the resources to ensure that each new release is code reviewed and you do not trust the community to do so, then you probably should not use that component.

With an open source component, it is at least possible to understand how much code review it is receiving.We know of no way to do this for closed source code kept as a secret.A firm which is asked to maintain the security of the code that it has written is placed in a conflict of interest. It isn't in its short-term interest to spend resources on this code review, and it is not in its short-term interest to admit defects.

Security of your own code

Make all your code open and examinable from the start. Moreover, it is best to encourage as many people to look at it, because the more people who seriously review the code the more likely a security flaw is to be found. Programmers will code more securely when their code is in the public's eye from the beginning.

Code that you write or contract to have written should be open source from the start, because it relieves you of the terrible risk and burden of maintaining the secrecy of the codebase. This means not only that it is published under an open source license as explained in our open source policy, but that it is published in a modern source code control system.

Submission + - In Memory: Seymour Papert

Paul Fernhout writes: The MIT Media Lab sadly informs us: "Seymour Papert, whose ideas and inventions transformed how millions of children around the world create and learn, died Sunday, July 31, 2016 at his home in East Blue Hill, Maine. He was 88. Papert's career traversed a trio of influential movements: child development, artificial intelligence, and educational technologies. Based on his insights into children's thinking and learning, Papert recognized that computers could be used not just to deliver information and instruction, but also to empower children to experiment, explore, and express themselves. The central tenet of his Constructionist theory of learning is that people build knowledge most effectively when they are actively engaged in constructing things in the world. As early as 1968, Papert introduced the idea that computer programming and debugging can provide children a way to think about their own thinking and learn about their own learning. ..."

Papert created the Logo programming language. He advised the Lego Mindstorms project (named after his book) and the OLPC project. Papert's "Hard Fun" essay gets at the core of why being a techy is enjoyable. Papert's work also helped inspire our Garden Simulator as an educational microworld. How has Seymour Papert's work affected you?

Comment Upside potential: The Skills of Xanadu (Score 1) 367

1956 Sturgeon story about mobile/wearable computing's potential that inspired Ted Nelson and others leading to the web and so the iPhone:

Let's hope the upside is realized -- not a surveillance/control downside.

Still trying to help when I can -- just so little time:

Hope others can carry things forward in their won way -- and many are! :-)

Half-way through reading the "The Jennifer Project" new sci-fi novel by Larry Enright, which almost seems like a Skills of Xanadu remake in some ways. Nor sure how it ends. :-)

Hopefully not the same as "With Folded Hands". :-(

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