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Submission + - The backlash against self-driving cars officially begins (cnn.com)

Paul Fernhout writes: "An organization that advocates for professional drivers has urged New York to ban self-driving cars from the state's roads for 50 years. The Upstate Transportation Association fears that self-driving cars will eliminate thousands of jobs and damage the local economy."

Comment Evolutionary Selection for people and AIs (Score 1) 74

Brilliant points about evolution shaping morality -- thanks for making them aberglas. Two other things to consider -- other evolutionary processes and our direction going into the singularity.

There are several evolutionary processes besides conventional natural selection (including just random drift). Even just natural selection includes seemingly weird things like "sexual selection" that shape a Peacock's tail because Pehens think big tails are sexy proof of health and strength because they are so hard to survive with. For an AI equivalent of a Peaock's tails, that might lead to AIs thinking other AIs are sexy that do some costly action like either help humans do everything ( e.g. the "With Folded Hands" dystopia) or alternatively just stomp on huge numbers of humans (e.g. Terminator). There can also be different selective pressures at different levels of grouping (EO Wilson has written some on this recently, but the idae goes back decades).
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

If we are heading into one or more technological singularities, something to contemplate is that our moral direction into the singularity might have something to do with how we transition beyond the singularity. So, while it is no guarantee, is is plausible that if we get our own moral situation in order as soon as possible (increased compassion, increased collaboration, etc.) we may have a happier singularity. One can worry about the vast amounts of money (billions, soon trillions of dollars?) being poured into creating financial AIs that maximize short terms gains by competitive means, socializing costs and risks while privatizing gains. So, twenty million is better than nothing, but it is a drop in the bucket.

Another tangent on evolution and thinking -- what will the evolution of religions mean for AIs?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...

Two new funny new AI fictional series maybe of interest in thinking about what is possible:
* EarthCent Ambassador Series (with the alien Stryx AI)
* Old Guy Cybertank Series (mostly about human-derived military AI; series authored by a neuroscience researcher)

The late James P. Hogan wrote several stories involving AIs that were quite thought provoking -- especially his early "The Two Faces of Tomorrow". And of course the late Iain Banks' Culture Series is also interesting for its AIs, especially "Excession".

Comment Renewables & efficiency cheaper since the 1970 (Score 2) 117

if you account for externalities like pollution, risk, defense, and so on. See Amory Lovins' research. That has been an economic tragedy from market failure of the last few decades. Markets don't work well when people don't pay the true price up front but can instead privatize benefits for themselves and socialize costs to other people. For example, some companies in the Midwest got cheaper electricity from coal, but I can't eat fish around where I live because they are contaminated with mercury from Midwestern coal pollution.

More evidence: http://www.pri.org/stories/201...
"A new report from the International Monetary Fund says global use of fossil fuels costs taxpayers and consumers $5.3 trillion year. Thatâ(TM)s trillion â" with a T. "
http://loe.org/shows/segments....
"The report's co-author, IMF economist David Coady tells host Steve Curwood how they calculated fossil fuels subsidies worldwide annually cost taxpayers and consumers $5.3 trillion."

The cost in human lives from wars in the Middle East over oil profits is another enormous part of this as is the consequences to geopolitics. How do you factor in the risk of (ironic) nuclear war over oil profits into the cost of oil? See also:
http://www.iags.org/costofoil.... (lowball)
http://www.energyandcapital.co... (highball)

Submission + - Inside Amazon's clickworker platform (techrepublic.com)

Paul Fernhout writes: Hope Reese and Nick Heath at TechRepublic ask: "Internet platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk let companies break jobs into smaller tasks and offer them to people across the globe. But, do they democratize work or exploit the disempowered?"

The article says: "Just over half of Turkers earn below the US federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, according to a Pew Research Center study."

The article quotes people who believe: "it will become increasingly common for computer systems to orchestrate labor".

That trend was also was the beginning of Marshall Brain's "Manna" short story...

Comment The story of Hugh Pine (Score 1) 143

https://www.goodreads.com/book...
"Hugh Pine, a porcupine genius, works with his human friends to save his less intelligent fellow porcupines from the deadly dangers of the road."

Anyone who saw the video version of this on CBS Storybreak might remember the refrain: "Looks like it's gonna be a hot day today":
https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

More seriously, ecological and evolutionary theory (including island biography) shows how the size of a habitat and how habitats are connected affects the distribution and genetics of organisms in habitats, so habitat fragmentation has consequences.

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

My essay: http://www.pdfernhout.net/basi...
"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: http://pdfernhout.net/why-encr...
"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

http://www.naturalnews.com/052...
http://articles.mercola.com/si...!
"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...
http://internationalecon.com/T...
"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: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

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:
http://pdfernhout.net/beyond-a...

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

James P. Hogan's comments from: https://web.archive.org/web/20...
=====
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.

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