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Comment Learn to read properly (Score 1) 251

Apparently you miss one very important word in my sarcastic post: 'most'. That and the fact it was sarcastic like the previous comment.

Some student are doing just fine, like your daughter, because they got caring parents that gave them a good basic education and could build up from there. They even tend to do better thanks to the effectiveness of current technology. Good for them.

Most students, however, are just plain disastrous. They'll never get bilingual and trilingual is not even considered. For most of the younger people, technology is not an aiding tool, it's a replacing tool. Which means that they don't use the tool the help them doing better (more efficient, more correct), but they use the tool to do something they are completely incapable of doing without it. They don't even know that they are not capable of doing those things.

What online search and social media have done is widen the gap between the good and the ugly. People that were on top are now on a higher top, people that were at the bottom are now at a deeper bottom, and they account for the majority. We believed technology would allow for a cheap mass education and that rapidly we would be in a society of geniuses. Turns out it doesn't work that way, and you can't solve a social problem with a technical solution (that never worked). Because nobody wanted to pay high enough taxes to have a correct education system, we now have a mass of incompetent dudes that don't even realize they're incompetent but still have high expectations of what their job (or better, salary) should be because they're doing college. You have the illusion they're doing fine, but it's technology that's doing fine. With growing automation, they'll be rapidly completely out of the business.

Of course it's not as black and white as I'm putting it here, but you get the idea.

Comment Re:Yellow Journalism (Score 2) 251

He's probably right, eventually taking your glasses off will be like suffering from some kind of learning disability. All text you see automatically scanned and available for perfect recall, the name of ever person you meet whispered in your ear in case you forgot, any equation instantly solved... And an unquenchable thirst for Pepsi, an uncontrollable urge to buy a Tesla.

It's already sort of the case. Most of modern students are incapable of doing anything if they don't have facebook to ask elder friends for what to search on google. And then they have an unquenchable thirst for Pepsi. Conclusion, you don't need a brain interface to sell crap and render people useless.

Comment Re:work less (Score 1) 722

I haven't seen anyone come up with a good reason people wouldn't use basic income to work less and be lazy. I can tell you, if I had guaranteed income for life, I would probably not ever work again.

And then natural selection kicks in. If you sit on your butt all day watching dumbing down tv while eating greasy food, you're likely to die very early. Good riddance! UBI is actually a way to get rid of all the lazy useless assholes while indeed committing no crime. I think it's priceless.

To be even more effective, I think we should double the amount of UBI if you opt in for sterilization.

Comment Re:The republicans will... (Score 2) 399

Without being too cynical (although one has to be given the long history of mankind):

- For the vast majority of people and during the majority of human history, work is a burden, not a pleasure
- People tend to love the output production of work more than work itself
- Humans working for other humans is a way of enjoying the output without the burden of working by yourself, if you are potent enough to afford that
- Everyone want to be at that position where you get the benefit without doing much for it, that's why human workers keep asking for higher wages
- Automation is a way to enjoy an increased output compared to human work, without the burden of having to share part of it with human workers
- Every automation that removes some humans lessen the part that you have to share with other humans, and is thus highly beneficial

Like the OP said, when technology has arrived to the point where there is no need for human work anymore, then 99% are just useless parasites and can safely be eliminated. The remaining society will resemble the utopia in The Dancers at the End of Time by M. Moorcock, which is good if you ask me. Now the problem is, you and I will probably not be part of it, unless your assets put you in the top 1%ers.

Thing also is, it wont be an on/off switch. Changes are gradual and the more technology progress, the more people tend to have zero value on the work market. In 5 to 10 years, the large majority of people working in transportation will be useless. In 10 to 20 years, the majority of people processing information (secretary, accountant, ...) will be useless. Depending on the field, people working in commercial fields will be useless in a shorter or longer time frame, starting with asset managers who are easier to replace. The question is not whether it exists some work that cannot be automated, be rather when you job will be automated. And believe me, it will be you our lifetime.

You have a ticking clock above your head and must enter the top 1%er before its final tick. If you don't, you will see what it was like 200 years ago and like you said, you don't have the knowledge to be self sufficient.

Comment Your skills will be automated too (Score 2) 176

I really hope you will retire before 20 years from now on, because at that time being a self-taught PHP developer will be totally worthless on the job market. That's why the maths are important. The more the time grows, the more low cognition level skills loose their value.

So now you're doing web services in PHP for a living. I'm pretty sure in a not so distant future this will be replaced by a series of drag and drops of functionality boxes in a special designed software that a guy paid on tenth of your salary can do. What will you do when that time arrives? Develop the boxes, these require a lot more maths. Develop the software that produce the software from the boxes? That requires a tremendous amount of maths.

Yes it is not necessary to have a big background in maths to write basic software now, thanks to simpler programming models. The thing is, writing those software will be unneeded pretty soon, because the next programming models will be so simple that they will render yours obsolete. You're like the mechanic refusing to learn how electric/hybrid vehicles work. No consequence right now, but not a very safe bet on the future...

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.

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