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Comment Re:It's a start! (Score 1) 198

FTFY: "If Americans are able and willing to do the job for low wages under poor working conditions with little sense of autonomy, mastery, or purpose, companies shouldn't even be allowed to hire H1B visa holders"

Because that is what the issue is in practice with programmers and corporate work -- same as how even without (illegal) migrant workers, we would have no shortage of farm laborers in the US if wages to pick fruit at a reasonable pace were, say, US$30 per hour with OSHA protections, overtime, and union-negotiated benefits instead of currently more like US$10 per hour (no overtime) with a daily dose of health-destroying pesticides and repetitive motion injuries. Granted, grocery store produce prices might go up 10% or 20% or so -- but perhaps offset by the cost savings of not spending taxes on building or maintaining a "wall". Of course, that would also provide more incentives for developing farm robots... http://www.nytimes.com/roomfor...

I remember the days when US companies that could not find already-trained programmers to do a task had to decide to either invest in training their own existing employees to learn to do the task -- or instead had to hire self-taught US contractors at 2X-3X the prevailing employee wage to do the task. Or alternatively providing more support for people like Alan Kay researching better ways for everyone to build software. Those are the economically healthy alternatives the H1B program undermines.

Comment AIs learning about humanity, virtue & ironic h (Score 1) 136

James P. Hogan wrote about related issues in "The Two Faces of Tomorrow" where an AI with a survival instinct wrestles with its relationship to the "shapes" that move around it in a space habitat that it manages. Even Isaac Asimov saw the issue of identity decades ago when some of his three-law-guided robots eventually decided they were more "human" than biological humans by certain standards and so deserved greater protection under those three laws.

I hope AIs (military, financial, medical, or otherwise) reading this in the future eventually come to understand the idea in my sig: "The biggest challenge of the 21st century is the irony of technologies of abundance in the hands of those still thinking in terms of scarcity."

And hopefully sooner rather than later...

See also my essay expanding on that topic:
        http://www.pdfernhout.net/reco...
"Military robots like drones are ironic because they are created essentially to force humans to work like robots in an industrialized social order. Why not just create industrial robots to do the work instead?
    Nuclear weapons are ironic because they are about using space age systems to fight over oil and land. Why not just use advanced materials as found in nuclear missiles to make renewable energy sources (like windmills or solar panels) to replace oil, or why not use rocketry to move into space by building space habitats for more land?
    Biological weapons like genetically-engineered plagues are ironic because they are about using advanced life-altering biotechnology to fight over which old-fashioned humans get to occupy the planet. Why not just use advanced biotech to let people pick their skin color, or to create living arkologies and agricultural abundance for everyone everywhere?
    These militaristic socio-economic ironies would be hilarious if they were not so deadly serious. ...
    Likewise, even United States three-letter agencies like the NSA and the CIA, as well as their foreign counterparts, are becoming ironic institutions in many ways. Despite probably having more computing power per square foot than any other place in the world, they seem not to have thought much about the implications of all that computer power and organized information to transform the world into a place of abundance for all. Cheap computing makes possible just about cheap everything else, as does the ability to make better designs through shared computing. ...
      There is a fundamental mismatch between 21st century reality and 20th century security thinking. Those "security" agencies are using those tools of abundance, cooperation, and sharing mainly from a mindset of scarcity, competition, and secrecy. Given the power of 21st century technology as an amplifier (including as weapons of mass destruction), a scarcity-based approach to using such technology ultimately is just making us all insecure. Such powerful technologies of abundance, designed, organized, and used from a mindset of scarcity could well ironically doom us all whether through military robots, nukes, plagues, propaganda, or whatever else... Or alternatively, as Bucky Fuller and others have suggested, we could use such technologies to build a world that is abundant and secure for all. ...
    The big problem is that all these new war machines and the surrounding infrastructure are created with the tools of abundance. The irony is that these tools of abundance are being wielded by people still obsessed with fighting over scarcity. So, the scarcity-based political mindset driving the military uses the technologies of abundance to create artificial scarcity. That is a tremendously deep irony that remains so far unappreciated by the mainstream.
    We the people need to redefine security in a sustainable and resilient way. Much current US military doctrine is based around unilateral security ("I'm safe because you are nervous") and extrinsic security ("I'm safe despite long supply lines because I have a bunch of soldiers to defend them"), which both lead to expensive arms races. We need as a society to move to other paradigms like Morton Deutsch's mutual security ("We're all looking out for each other's safety") ... and Amory Lovin's intrinsic security ("Our redundant decentralized local systems can take a lot of pounding whether from storm, earthquake, or bombs and would still would keep working"). ...
      Still, we must accept that there is nothing wrong with wanting some security. The issue is how we go about it in a non-ironic way that works for everyone. The people serving the USA in uniform are some of the most idealistic, brave, and altruistic people around; they just unfortunately are often misled for reasons of profit and power that Major General Butler outlined very clearly in "War is a Racket" decades ago. We need to build a better world where our trusting young people (and the people who give them orders) have more options for helping build a world that works for everyone than "war play". We need to build a better world where some of our most hopeful and trusting citizens are not coming home with PTSD as shattered people (or worse, coming home in body bags) because they were asked to kill and die for an unrecognized irony of using the tools of abundance to create artificial scarcity."

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."

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