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Comment Re:I wish (Score 1) 71

More terrible advice. Programming will be the LAST job to be automated, because once that is automated you can use it bootstrap the automation of everything else.

Well it depends what you call programming. If it's the algorithmic part, i.e., designing a sequence of logical steps to follow to solve a problem expressed in natural language, then I'm ok, it will take a bit longer than the remaining. But that's math, not really programming, right? If its translating specification into machine code (pissing code as we call it), then it's already started to be automated. My guess is that in less than 15 years nobody will be hired to write code for the sake of it.

Comment Re:I wish (Score 1) 71

Good luck with the revolution when police is composed of killer robotic overlords...

Good luck with changing the laws, when the people that make them are those who will loose the most from it (example: how do the poor in the US get rid of wall street short term grinding when Carl Icahn is chosen as regulatory adviser)

The problem with comparing to history is that's it's never relevant, because time doesn't repeat itself, it only goes forward. For example, history of the black death in Europe shows that overcrowded cities have a tendency to suffer heavy loss from pandemic, with over 50% death in many case. Well, it's no longer true. We have good health system, and living in a big city doesn't mean you're likely to die in the next flu epidemic. Again, history has never repeated because it's impossible and dS>=0. We like to think of it that way because it's simpler for our ape brain to process it, but it's not true.

So the concentration of wealth entirely in very small number of hands, may lead to The Time Machine story (which btw just fell in the public domain).

Let's be honest, today 5% of the population (I speak of western countries) are useless, in a few decades it might be 20% or even 40%. There will be culling. Either people will just starve, die from untreated illness, or they will get stuck in a subclass society and not take part in the new advance society.

Let's put it like in the video game Civilization, where there are ages for each civilization. Let's say we are in the Internet age, and we are making the discoveries to enable the Machine Intelligence age. My guess is that not 100% of the people (in western countries, not even speaking of poor countries) will make the transition from the old age to the new one, maybe not even 20% will make it. So we will have 2 different societies living in the same countries. Guys working in convenience stores stuck in traffic jams in their old school diesel cars next to flying cars with autonomous driving while the guy inside speaks with his personal robotic assistant on whatever new jobs this society has (exaggerated, but you get the idea). The old tech society surviving only for the sake of not letting its members starve to death.

But i you're in the old tech society, you'll never get access to the new tech society advances. Which at least may be frustrating, but can also mean dying from otherwise solved problems.

In fact, this is already the case in third world countries where 99.9% of the population lives in a very different technological age than the 0.1% elite. We are just transforming the structure of western countries into that of 3rd world countries.

Comment Small calculation (Score 1) 371

Maybe I'm just bored to death, but I just wanted to do simple ballpark estimation on CO2.

The current world oil consumption is 90 billion barrels a day. Burning the processed products of a barrel of crude oil releases about 300kg of CO2. Which means we release about 1e13kg of CO2 each year (10 billion tons).

Now the mass of the total atmosphere is about 5e18kg, which puts our production of CO2 (for oil alone!) at about 2e-6 of the total mass or 2ppm. In comparison the concentration of CO2 is currently of 400ppm. So if every CO2 kg we produce from oil were to go into the atmosphere, we would be inducing a 0.5% change per year. That definitely at significant man made change.

Now, not all of the CO2 stays into the atmosphere (some dissolve into the ocean causing acidification) which should lower our figure. But we didn't take into account gas and coal. All in all, in this ballpark estimate, we can say that man made CO2 should be in the order of 1ppm (probably less than 5, probably more than 0.5).

Now guess what, CO2 level in the atmosphere have been rising by about 2ppm per year in the last few years, which means that all of it is probably due to us burning things. It's frightening to see we are changing the atmosphere of our planet so quickly.

now, a second calculation. If we were to try to trap this CO2 in plants, how much area would be needed? Well corn or oat have a pretty good biomass per square meter, around 1 kg per m^2. If we were able to perform direct conversion of CO2 mass into corn, we would need 1e13 m^2 or equivalently 10 million square kilometers. To put into perspective, that's about the size of Canada entirely covered with corn, no city, no road, no tree. And that's without taking into account the other elements needed to make a plant, only the CO2. So yeah, we're not going to trap these anywhere.

Comment affordable hybrid (Score 3, Informative) 105

Dear car makers,

Instead of pushing useless gadget that nobody cares about, what about trying to develop affordable hybrid and electric vehicles? Right now, buying a hybrid mid-range car costs as much as buying a luxury car, which nobody sane would ever do. So please, focus on affordable green cars instead of bullshit toys.

Sincerely,
A Parisian stuck in the winter smog.

Comment I use it from time to time (Score 1) 83

I still use it from time to time, probably once a year. Sometimes, the cups server is down, or the default configuration of the printing server is messed up and I'm in a hurry, well, then I resort to using ftp to print documents (usually last minute exams). It's quite handy. When this happens I'm usually the only one in the lab able to print something...

Comment Re:The Internet and dumb people (Score 1) 789

Me too. It seems the Internet does not turn dumb people into smarter people. It's simply an enabling tool. Of course the last thing you want to do is to give dumb more power, and this is exactly what the Internet has done. I used to think of it as something that would start an education revolution, but it's marginally the case. Too bad.

Comment Re:He's right. (and has been for hundreds of years (Score 1) 468

Well, it depends on what you think the average human is capable of.

The way our society works is that you exchange your work for money in order to survive. Your whole survival depends on how much your work is valued on the labor market. If the only thing you are able to exchange is physical labor, congratulations, it's already worth almost nothing and you might starve in a near future! If the only thing you can exchange is prone to automation (hint: at the moment everything that is on the labor market is prone to automation), you will not make a dime.

So actually, what you are proposing is that people should evolve skills which value is not going to sink due to automation. Which begs two fundamental questions:
1. What are those skills? You speak of information, but automated information generation is already successful. Automated creation is on the rise, and partly already successful. Or you mean we will discover that soon enough, and the people in college right now are certainly not being taught those next things.
2. Do you really think everybody can catch up? There's the trend: the jobs that remain are the highest skilled one, which by definition are reserved to the lucky few that are able to do them. I don't think 90% of the population can defend a PhD, whatever the domain they prefer. Maybe you think that 90% of the population can improve their skills so as to beat the machine, forever.

So it all boils down to this: your faith in what the average human is capable of that is not automatable and has value on the market. Long term trend, I think is nil. Short term trend, I think it's below 30% of the population.

Comment Re:Time to create a distinction? (Score 1) 80

Please define intelligence. Please do it such that it is possible to test whether something is intelligent or not.

I'm pretty sure you will come to a definition that either leads to the 2 following possibilities:
- A moth is intelligent, albeit less than a cow, which is less than a crow which is less than a human. AI is somewhere on that scale.
- Many humans are not intelligent, and some AI programs are just like them.

It seems most people would like to define intelligence such that only humans have it. Why? Self-esteem? The vast majority of us are already shitty compared to programs on a kiloton of tasks, get over it.

Comment Re:Or... (Score 1) 126

I can related to this story. I've always bought cheap shitty smartphones ($100) not because of money problem, but purely out of ideology (I'm not giving that much money for a useless toy, which I barely use). It was so slow to do even the basic things a good old nokia did 20 years ago that I finally gave up and but a mid-price phone (around $300). I'm definitely happier. Not having to wait 20 seconds to launch the texting app and then wait another 10 seconds before the keyboard shows up has definitely change my emotion when using the useless toy.

Comment Re:As a reviewer... (Score 1) 97

They are indeed very low. The thing is that publishing something is a mandatory part of many students curriculum in China. This means that you have many papers that are written as an exercise part of a project at BSc level. Obviously, there are little meat on those paper, and the writing style is atrocious.

But hey, quantity is the best, right?

Comment Re:This doesn't prove what they were hoping to pro (Score 1) 192

If this follows the same trend as we saw in computer vision in the last few years, then doctors will be outperformed by machines in less than a decade in all the simpler tasks. The thing is, we truly are only in the beginning of the era of machine learning, and currently, there is no upper bound to what it can possibly do.

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