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Comment Re:Fingers crossed (Score 3, Interesting) 113

There is a free service called NoMoRobo that implements a massive cooperative blacklist on a grand scale. I use it on my Comcast phone (requires multiple ring). One of the few workarounds for tele-scammers is to falsify caller id with a random number in the victim's area code and exchange. Most telemarketers who call me are dumped by NoMoRobo after the first ring, but once in a while I see what appears to be a local call from an unrecognized number. Any number I don't recognize ends up in voice mail, which is where telemarketer calls go to die.

Comment Re:It's a start! (Score 1) 213

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...

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) 144

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:
"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 (

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 Re:Great (Score 1) 298

Apple needs to rediscover the wisdom of Frasier Crane: "If less is more, just think of how much more more would be."

They need to do a serious re-think about the missing ports, crappy Intel video, soldered RAM/SSD, glued batteries, etc. Apple has effectively discontinued the MacBook Pro and renamed a slightly beefed-up MacBook Air to take its place. If they're going to abandon the Pro market, they should at least be honest about it.

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).

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?

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 Re:Exaggerate much? (Score 2) 168

Not an exaggeraion, IMHO. The impact of patent abuse is a lot worse than a few cases you hear about. It's the cases you DON'T hear about, where the mere threat of a bogus patent lawsuit is enough to suppress competition and prevent new products and services from reaching the market. This ruling in this case does not provide a universal solution to the problem, but it's a good start.

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:
"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. "
"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: (lowball) (highball)

Comment Re:Battery life is not the real issue (Score 3, Insightful) 254

You are correct about managing battery charge level, power drain, depth of discharge, etc. But it's not easy to get 4 solid years of service out of ANY battery in a portable electronic device. Does it happen? Sure. Reliable? Depends on who you ask. 1000 cycles is about 3 years of everyday use, maybe 4 years of Monday-Friday use. Managed batteries work reasonably well on phones. Then again, phones take a beating; the average user can be expected to lose or break their phone before the battery dies. Most laptops are not subject to that much physical abuse. I'm OK with a phone that lasts 3-4 years, but I expect more out of a well-maintained laptop.

Apple seems to think that battery lifetime is good enough to limit the number of in-warranty replacements, while not so good as to extend the useful life of the product beyond 4 years. They may be right, but I'm not so sure a 4-year disposable laptop is worth what they ask for it.

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