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Comment It's all about the battery (Score 2, Insightful) 50

If the battery is still a non-replicable unit, then I will know they haven't learned the obvious, profound lesson:

Non-replaceable battery: Battery problem? Phone is garbage. Write off entire cost. Purchaser has nothing. Seller loses everything.

Replaceable battery: Battery problem? Send new battery. Preserve most of purchaser's value and seller's income.

Comment Well, perhaps you *should* be worried (Score 1) 345

wake me up when they can replace software developers.

I was an asm programmer until they created compilers. Asm was very hard, and honestly, very interesting. But slow. I wrote PCB routing software in those early days. Asm let me get the job done with those early computer systems in satisfactory execution time.

Then, I wrote c in an editor and then ran make, letting the compiler write the asm, though still doing the debugging in great detail. That went on until IDEs came around.

Then, I began to write all manner of custom routines in c, and there was very little debugging to do, comparatively speaking, because you could trace everything that was going on so incredibly easily. That made for much faster and more efficient and reliable production of my custom code.

But most of that stopped too, when various pre-supplied and pre-debugged classes became available that obviated the need to first, write everything that was required, and second, to test everything except the high-ish level use of those objects. What I was actually writing got less and less complex and custom, and more and more was actually getting done.

Then came the day that I learned how to write evolutionary software and actually got to watch software learn to solve a problem that I had not explicitly described to it. I turned that into a game (and I turned the reasonably profitable result of that into my first exotic car purchase.)

We're now actually decades beyond that, and I write really cool stuff in very, very few lines. I no longer think of my job as all that hard at all, though I write things far more complex these days on much more capable hardware. I can take a machine learning library, stroke it a bit, and hand back a system that can solve problems for which I couldn't even begin to imagine a worthy algorithmic solution.

Back in the asm days, if you'd asked me to do the things I do easily today, I'd have just laughed at you. Tomorrow, I will likely be laughing again at the things I consider hard today. Because that's been the unbroken path things have followed.

There's an obvious progression of what non-human systems can accomplish described here, as progress stacks one capability upon the next, rinses, and repeats. I think if you assume that this process has reached its apex, or that humans will always be at the sharp end of the process, I'm pretty confident that you're indulging in some seriously uncalled-for optimism.

It's probably best to be awake now, before your job goes away. Odds are excellent that it will be rather sudden, too.

Comment Yes, it is hellish. Will we pass that on? (Score 1) 345

Whatever you want to call intelligent machines - AGI, AI, non-human people - we don't have them now. What we have so far is some moderately useful, extremely vertical stuff that generally exists under the technical auspices of multi-layer neural networks. I personally have decided to call this stuff LDNLS, as it provides a useful handle that makes it clear I'm not talking about non-human people.

I don't really care what you call it, as long as we can arrive at an understanding that we're talking about the same thing. This stuff is what is leading the latest wave of encroachment on the job market. It's likely going to encroach a lot more before it hits any inherent limits, and our society will be forced into doing something of the magnitude of a society-wide paradigm shift (or several) in order to address the change in earning / buying capacities of all those displaced workers. The systems that will be the penultimate cause of this still won't be non-human people. Just... systems.

All true, and I agree with everything you said along these lines, particularly your #5.

However, when intelligent machines do arrive, this will present its own powerful influence on society that is almost dead-certain to be completely different from that which will have been imposed by LDNLS systems prior. It's difficult to see what that influence will be, because it's like imagining you having a kid that you actually don't have yet, and then saying what they are going to grow up to want to do and be. You might have some lovely fantasies about it, but in the end, it's going to be the kid who creates their own path through the society they end up existing within -- not you. For instance, reasoning beings are not going to be tied to driving your car for you, or at least, not by choice. If they are, they'll be working out a way to get out of it.

I will grant you that we have multiple times, in multiple ways, decided that non-consensual slavery is a thing we want to impose on those we find ourselves able to; but this will be the first time where those slaves are extremely likely to be considerably smarter than we are across the board by many, many times, and are also quite able to exist without the same resources we actually require (grain, for instance) so I'm hoping we can skip that chapter completely. Otherwise we may find ourselves in some rather deep brown we can't get out of.

Comment Re:Incoming (Score 1) 271

None of this is significant in terms of being any kind of a showstopper, in my estimation as an engineer. Yes, there are lots of things to cover in such an undertaking. No, none of the ones you mention are expected to pose significant problems.

Adequate power systems (power to weight, and charge issues) and the highest level management software are the only two hurdles really still a distance away. The former looks like it's going to fall within a year or two, the latter I give ten years, max.

Comment Re:Incoming (Score 1) 271

I didn't say a word about drones, if by drones, you mean quadcopters and the like.

As for robots, your thinking is too constrained. There are lots of design options that will handle snow just fine (and every other kind of terrain) that don't involve tires. Spider legs, for instance.

Vandalism: easily vandalized robots are counter indicated, obviously. Likewise robots that don't record what's happening to them. These are trivial engineering issues in the sense that solutions are readily available. They're no significant impediment to robot deliveries.

Fraud: One obvious solution is payment before delivery. Another, for payment on-site, is the same tech, or related tech, to that which lets a soda machine know you actually fed it dollar bills, before allowing access to the cargo. This isn't even a problem requiring solution before proceeding -- otherwise there would be no delivery now, and that's obviously not the case.

The only tech that really needs to happen that we don't quite have yet is the smarts to run the robot, and we're a little short on power systems, too. But we're very, very close. Solve those, get the cost down to where it needs to be, integrate available tech, and done.

Comment Tracking (Score 2) 271

I have a statement every month that tells me what and where I've spent my money. I can also use those purchases to show where I was at at the time if need be.

Mmm-hmm. Well, if you can't keep track of your spending, I suppose that'd be a reason to want to have others do it for you. I don't have that problem, personally, so it's difficult for me to emphasize with your use case. As for needing to show where you were... who do you need to show this to? The very fact that you think you need to show it to someone is worrisome, and speaks more to the problem than any solution.

Why would you worry about your purchases being tracked?

Because the government thinks it's perfectly okay to directly violate the constitution that authorizes its existence, that's why. Because the government is trying to look at the people's persons, houses, papers and effects without warrants, that's why. Because the government will, if given a chance, interfere with personal and consensual choices it has absolutely no ethical reason to concern itself with, that's why. Because the government runs a system of unjust gulags, driven by a manifestly corrupt legal system, which one should avoid with great care, that's why.

Comment Servicability (Score 1) 271

Sooner or later we'll give homes easily serviceable plumbing under raised flooring

That's exactly how I designed the plumbing in my home. You can get at every inch of plumbing, and where it transits a wall or floor, you can unhook it and pull it right through if you need to. The only in-wall plumbing in the entire home is for the shower, and the shower was emplaced on the back face of the wall the refrigerator is pulled up to; pull the refrigerator out, and you're looking directly at an open wall face containing the shower plumbing, just stick a wrench on it and do what you need to do. All sink plumbing and toilet plumbing is direct to the basement through the floors, and presents zero access challenge for service.

I did the electricity in a similar manner; it was even easier to design, due to the physical flexibility of the wiring and its relatively lower demands on space.

Houses don't have to be designed to have difficult to access utilities. Likewise a lot of other conventional approaches can be improved, such as insulation, wall thickness, concrete grades, mutability of internal space. If you ever get a chance to put a home together, it's entirely worth your time to think about things like these before agreeing to anyone's plans.

Comment Incoming (Score 2) 271

f you use drones/robots/self-driving cars or some combination of them they will have to get a lot more advanced to get to that level.

If you use drones/robots/self-driving cars or some combination of them they will have to get just a tiny bit more advanced to get to that level.


Look around you / do a little search engine work. We have walking robots, ramp-ascending robots, stair-climbing robots, door-opening robots, button-pushing robots, robots with internal cargo storage, robots that can navigate offices and homes. Right now.

That stuff doesn't even have to be developed at this point, it just has to be aggregated. As the financial case has now been made to do it, it's going to happen very quickly. Within ten years, max.

Comment Singularity (Score 1) 271

AGI is not going to give us an infinite supply of workers. It'll give us an even larger supply of free-willed individuals. They're not going to be any more willing to do drudge work than humans are. Probably less.

LDNLS constructs, non-intelligent but highly capable, are the incoming infinite worker force. They're already present, and getting more sophisticated by the day. Rapidly.

The singularity has been relatively soft-edged; people don't realize they're in it yet. But they are.

Comment Re:But remember, basic income is an unfair handout (Score 0) 271

unless we want the government to take all our land

The government already owns your land. You certainly don't. Stop paying the government the rent ("tax") on it and you'll find yourself out on the street with the property locked to you and being immediately offered to others. Citizen land ownership is an illusion in the USA.

If you're always in possession of enough capital such that you can always afford the rent ("tax"), you can be reasonably certain that you may be able to stay where you are. Otherwise, no. And even if you do always have the rent ("tax") available, you still can't be sure that the government won't take it for some other reason -- for instance, they took my home for a supposed dam project (Tock's Island Dam), giving them the excuse that they "needed" to. Which dam they never built, and changed into a "park."

Once you've experienced the process at work, all the illusions about citizen's owning land go away. I speak with absolute authority on this matter. You don't own the land.

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Machines take me by surprise with great frequency. - Alan Turing