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Comment Re:Not a problem with credit unions (Score 1) 110

Originally, credit unions had limited charters. These days almost anyone can join any credit union.

In my experience, the economies of scale that are supposed to be coming from the big banks are illusory. Some of the worst penalties and service fees I've seen were from the largest banks. All the money they save on doing business in bulk seems to disappear into the maws of overpriced consultants, questionable investments, and other stuff like super-expensive fad IT systems that often make industry headlines by failing.

I'm not really sure I want "one-stop shopping" for all my financial matters, a la the Wells Fargo "Gr8" initiative. It sounds too much like putting all my eggs in one basket and it's one of the things that made abusive institutions "too big to fail".

For quite some time now the rule I've heard quoted is that if you're a business, get a bank account. For personal finances, you're better off with a credit union. At a minimum, the big banks don't really care about the little people anyway, and if you believe their ad campaigns about how VERY important you are to them, believe ME when I tell you I've got a great deal on a bridge in downtown NYC!

Comment Re:This is banking you know (Score 3, Insightful) 110

It's not just banking - it's virtually *any* publicly traded business.

When pressure is on to look good on the quarterly reports, you quickly lose any sense of ethics.

Not unique to public businesses. Private businesses can press employees to please the bosses, government agencies can be squeezed to placate CongressThings (despite all the civil service cruft that's supposed to make that impossible). And so forth.

Comment Re:Fuzzy math in my opinion (Score 1) 400

Machines and dart boards don't let their emotions or their greed cloud their judgements.

The greed is incorporated into the algorithms.

That's corporate greed though. To the shareholders, corporate greed is good.

What's bad is when the CEO shafts the shareholders to assuage his own greed. Or lust. Or other purely personal selfish reasons. A robot isn't likely to have any personal selfish reasons.

Comment Re:This is a Good Thing... and we aren't prepared. (Score 1) 400

One thing I didn't run across in the Communist Manifesto was the concept of centralized control by a human.

About the closest I've ever heard was the term "dictatorship of the proletariat" and I'm pretty sure that meant democratic rule, not a single ruler.

Even that wasn't in the manifesto. I'd say that if anything what was promoted there was more of an ad-hoc system where interested persons would come together to resolve a situation then return to a more uncontrolled state. But that might be just me.

For the concept of a Communist Dictatorship a la Lenin, Stalin and Mao, I think you'll have to search elsewhere.

Not that the Communist Manifesto doesn't have some garbage in it, but give credit and blame where it's due, not where our ideological programmers have instructed us to.

Comment Re:Complete nonsense (Score 5, Insightful) 400

THERE IS NO WAY HORSELESS CARRIAGES will be here soon. A horseless carriage cannot see obstacles and automatically swerve to avoid them - they'd just run right into or over them! Horseless carriages require specialized fuel. A horse-drawn carriage requires nothing more than easily-obtainable vegetable fodder. And there's no way you could mix horses and horseless carriages on today's roads. We'd have to attach noisemakers to the horseless carriages or something to get their attention.

In fact, today's roads are ill-suited to horseless traffic. The expense of bringing all those roads up to that quality would be prohibitive. And it would take YEARS!

Percival Dunwoody, Idiot Timer Traveler

Comment Re:Fuzzy math in my opinion (Score 2) 400

To my mind one of the biggest issues that needs to be sorted out for widespread adoption of "creative" or "decision-making" robots is liability. If a human screws up, fails to deliver or (worse) gets someone hurt or killed then we have a handy meatsack that can be thrown in jail or sued into poverty.

And THAT, sir, is why we have CORPORATIONS!

Comment Re:Fuzzy math in my opinion (Score 5, Interesting) 400

Robots have already done a pretty good job of replacing unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

What should concern us more is that they're replacing now.

Stop thinking about robots as tin-plated mechanical men or blind automated arm-devices. Start thinking of them as disembodied algorithms. Think of them as Watson. Think of them as Siri. Be afraid.

It's been happening for some time now. AI-directed securities trading programs that make decisions at speeds so fast that the SEC has had to take measures just to give mere humans a chance. In the last few years, we've seen AI playwriting, AI recipe-design, and a lot of other things.

Mostly the AI approach to creativity is pretty primitive at the moment, but when it comes to raw decision making, AIs can often do at least as well as humans. Although to be fair, in some cases, dart boards have been shown to do as well as humans. Machines and dart boards don't let their emotions or their greed cloud their judgements.

What happens when the day comes that major corporations can only be competitive when their executive decisions are made by machines? First you clear out the executive suite - who needs all those VPs and C-levels? Then, might as well dump the CEO himself, since he's nothing but a figurehead. The actual decision-making is done on a rental basis from IBM. Sales people? We've been training people to be "self serve" when buying for decades now.

This is the real SkyNet and it's already happening. Hopefully it won't make a computed decision to kill all humans, but that doesn't mean that it has to keep them on the payroll either.

Comment Re:This is a Good Thing... and we aren't prepared. (Score 5, Interesting) 400

Just out of curiosity, I yanked a copy of the Communist Manifesto off Project Gutenberg the other day and was rather amazed to discover that all this had pretty well been already anticipated by Marx and Engels.

We have been programmed to think of Communism solely in terms of "rob the hard-working rich and give to the useless parasitic poor", but that wasn't the primary focus there. Instead it was based on the idea that industry would become so productive that without communal ownership of resources, we'd ultimately end up with exactly what we fear we're heading for.

Not to say that the Communist Manifesto presents a viable solution to that problem. After touching on the above, it goes on to promote things that have either been demonstrated not to work and/or morally offend, but it does indicate that we haven't discovered anything new here.

Comment Re:Other uses (Score 3, Interesting) 92

Different ink formulations, among other things. We take advantage of stuff like that even now to read many of these old palimpsests.

This is just another arrow in the quiver, but it's an important one, since a lot of old texts are stuck together and frequently too brittle to separate. I'm thinking especially of the charred works recovered from the remains of the Library at Alexandria.

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