Basic Income: Bots are going to force the issue 3

CGP Grey released an amazing video today: Humans Need Not Apply, which is basically about how we are now entering our second ecno-techno revolution (the first was with basic atomization and the doing away with a bunch of basic labour as humans and horses were replaced by brainless machinery) where by new smart bots are going to be replacing a whole lot of people in the work force and new high tech jobs are being created at a tiny tiny fraction of the rate of other jobs being destroyed. Paper napkin estimates could place job displacement/unemployment easily from 25% to 45% in the not to distant future. Don’t believe? Charlie Stross has been banging on for a while now about how self driving cars will fairly rapidly replace any other kind of cars which has second order effects like killing any kind of paid driver from limo to taxi to buy to trucker to heavy machinery like at mines to dump truck driver. And the same can be applied across just a shocking number of industries. Seriously though, just go watch the video.


Done? Ok. So maybe now it’s time to talk about Basic Income [or this interesting article] (again) yes? I think we need to just drop any kind of “but it’s supporting the freeloaders” style arguments.  Already now I’d argue they aren’t worth your time because there is a lot of evidence in support of many socialist programs and safety nets that even though they do bleed into some of that, over all they are a boon to society as many “able bodied” and “hearty contributor” citizens are able to bounce back more rapidly (or at all).  But that’s nothing compared to the fact that very soon half of all of us may be unemployed with more on the way.  As CGP Grey mentioned, the Great Depression was at unemployment levels of a “mere” 25%. Anyone want to imagine the economic collapse we’d be facing at higher levels of rampant poverty and starvation and lack of ability to support yourself? If a quarter to half the population around these parts suddenly couldn’t get by?  And this will be just about as bad for the other half still employed because they will be deriving their wealth from the economy, which, as we said, will be in free fall collapse. So basically everyone is doomed if that happens.


So again I say, Basic Income.  Economy is pretty much defined as the velocity of the flow of money (I’m not an economist). We need people to have money to spend to keep it all working for the few people still “contributing” and extracting additional wealth that way.  Also for the reason we don’t want everyone to starve to death in our robot utopia future. Finally we have gotten rid of scarcity and work and yet everyone is poor and starving except the robots and maybe the 1% (maybe)? Only humans…


There’s another effect of this though. Tax. Corporate tax to be exact. If the majority of people aren’t extracting wealth from the economy except in the form of Basic Income, then all the big gains will be made by corporations, that will now be “staffed” largely by robots. If those are the big and really only instruments of economic wealth generation, then that’s where all the tax will have to be extracted from to support all us humans.  And hey, why not, because Corporations are people too now you know :)


More and more people are starting to think this way from Switzerland who is actually voting on it in a referendum soon, to The Expanse Series of books I just finished reading incorporating it, to more mentions in the news.  I think we need to all start discussing and implementing it pretty quickly, for all our sakes. There is a wide range of ways to do it so lets try to skip over arguing about if and just move to how. We may be starting to run short on time.


Edit: And after posting this I learned about the vibrant community over at the sub-reddit r/BasicIncome so welcome to anyone there visiting, and anyone else? You should head over there and look at all the discussion. Reddit comments here.


Reading: We

Keeping a Journal – Xach Holmon

Xach Holmon has a new blog entry Keeping a Journal. It’s a good read, encourages journalling privately as a memory aid and refresh that may allow you to make new connections later.  It could be an interesting approach to the new social I was mentioning. Start as a journalling app, private, with lot of tagging and meta data options (Xach mentions geo tagging especially for photos). Then add on some good search, and charge for use. Then start layering on top some options to share some posts, evolve posts from private rough drafts to public forms, keep live notes/etc going and volia, a potential privacy focused social network/life blog.

Also, Charlie Stross’s and his character Manfred Macx’s use of blogging in the first chapter of Accelerando has always fascinated me.  Again, one platform with solid private/semi-public/public features.  It really seems to be the future solution.


Reading: Cibola Burn

New Tech to Learn

There is a lot of new tech I want to learn this year. To that end I’ve started MongoDB University’s M202: MongoDB Advanced Deployment and Operations which Trulioo is sponsoring me to do in that I can spend sometime at work studying, which is awesome! Other things in no particular order I want to learn about and use before year’s end include:

  • C# – This language is seeing a lot of growth in popularity, and is on all platforms (thanks to Mono and Xamarin) and is used by the game industry a lot (mono + unity) and also a lot in server space (.net and Windows). I’ve heard some amazing things about productivity in it and feel it’s past time to take a better look.
  • Vagrant – I generally want to play more with VMs and VM managment in general and this tool caught my eye
  • Docker - Docker is blowing up in the devops space so it’s again past time I familiarize myself with it
  • MongoDB – I have the chance at work to really bring my skills up with Mongo so I’d be a fool not to take full advantage of it and learn to master it (as I’m starting to)
  • Go lang – Same. My game is much up wrt it already from work but I can still get better and learn more
  • Cluster and devops theory – I’m already helping to run a small cluster of servers but there’s a lot more I can learn and do to make things go smooth and to heklp making scaling up to the next level easier.
  • Haskell – I did a little in school, want to give it another more in depth go


Reading: Cibola Burn

Failure of Social networks and the future of devices

I’ve been raving about Peter Watt’s IAPP presentation The Scorched Earth Society all week.  It’s dense and seems to tie in to a bunch of other stuff in tech, like social networks and Google Glass, to name a few that have come up.

On Social Networks, I think the current generation (Facebook and GooglePlus) are coming to the end of running their course. Not saying they will go anywhere soon, but they have peak, and the evidence is around. Google Plus just gave up their 3 year fight on real names, as the try and beg people to use their platform and they noticed that was the most easily remedied of the reasons people aren’t.  As for Facebook, I have more and more friends not using it because it’s now over full. They have co-workers, and worse often, family on it, and they don’t want those people seeing how they live their social life and even though Facebook has made token attempts to make security a bit better, it’s no where near the level that people need it to be so they just stay off, and more hilariously, ask their friends to not take their photos and absolutely not post those to social networks. Also even with the current set up it is a house of cards, one good Facebook security shake up and again all your settings are reset to what they want and until you notice, data is leaking again.

The solution isn’t obviously forth coming yet, but we can guess a bit at it’s shape. When asked what a more private social network would even be like, “It is adding a lot of difficult code that limits the amount of information that can be shared…. sharing is the life blood ads value of a social network.” it become a bit more clear. That’s only one function of them. Both Google (gmail actually) and Facebook have released emotional hit you at home ads about documenting your entire life on their services and using it as a rich digital scrap book.  That is actually an entire service that can be done fairly easily privately.  Very little sharing actually needed there. The next big service they provide me is communication, quick messages and real time chat, and light event organizing, again, privacy isn’t a hindrance but a requirement of this service. I think the last decade can stand as  a very long case study in the argument that the “all your personal and social information should be public” hypothesis is very fundamentally wrong and naive.  We need a new social network that is privacy focused with option to share some information. As for monetization? Again, the future’s problem but off the top of my head? I already pay for dropbox for storage, so $ for space seems like one venue. Companies pay for communication tools. Anyway, like I said, rough sketch of what might come down the line in the next decade.

As for Google Glass? From a discussion earlier with a friend as well, “hypothesis: if we did tests with random people, the further a camera was away from eye mounted the less creeped out random people report being. test with google glass, some neck mounted one, a wrist mounted one, regular cellphone and a cam corder (both hand “mounted”). I’d say possibly google glass’s biggest ‘sin’ is it’s just ‘rude’”.  After watching a video of people using Google Glass he even reported having a bit of a hard time making eye contact with them. And more and more reports pour in of “Glassholes” and everyone else’s terrible reaction to people wearing glass. I think it ties into some pretty deep brain stuff. Mammals and other animals have a long evolutionary history of eye based communication and culture, and now dropping a new digital third eye infront of yours, people being less able to tell when you are paying attention, and the fact it could be always recording and dumping to google (and therefore, legally, the US government) viscerally and deeply creeps people the shit out.  And I think a bunch of Geeks just yelling from the Google mountaintop that society will have to change to suit their needs… well good luck. I think the final solution to wearable computing will look a bit different.

Me? I’m liking gloves for input (Imogen Heap’s Mimu are a step in that direction) and possible neck/shoulder mounted devices (like some MP3 players already).  We can definitely keep the audio commands, and get audio feed back if we want. Tie in bluetooth gloves for richer input (sorely lacking with glass). The big gap still is rich output, which Glass awkwardly provides. That is a little less obvious. Se we will see.

Anyway, I (again) want to get back into blogging more, this was meant to be a quick brain dump (of many) but it grew a bit (dumping the week). See you again soon hopefully.

Reading: Abaddon’s Gate

TV, Mirror Neurons, the Experience and Addiction

I’ve been reading The Ego Tunnel by Thomas Metzinger (recommended by the back matter in Peter Watt’s Blindsight).  It’s been working through the parts that make up consciousness, but what caught my attention was the discussion on mirror neurons, specifically about how they are probably tied into our own self model, but when we consciously “put ourself in someone’s shoes” we are focusing on our self model, but having it simulate someone else. In more hardware speak, we seem to only have one available hardware model of a person that we usually route all our senses through, but when interacting with others, we can use it to simulate them. This can lead to empathy, because we are “feeling in ourselves” what they are (or at least what we suspect they are), but to a bit lesser extent, since we don’t actually have any of the antecedents (other neural signals in the other person that spawned the feeling in them) re-enforcing it.  But this also happens passively and unconsciously, it’s how we can learn actions, and also unconsciously understand other people’s intentions as we view them acting.


The book drops off just as it starts to discuss the possible social implications, in that this system is what gave rise to human social society and culture, and our storey telling and learning from it and “folk psychology”.  Then it moved on but it made me think about more current video media and possibly why we and especially I like it so much. In watching characters act out lives on the screen, it is probably largely being interpreted and run through our mirror neuron / self model system in a deep way, then this is actually creating bits of feelings of what it would be like to be that person in us. It allows us to actually lightly feel like being someone else, explore other ways of being, and also usually lot’s of excitement and action (because TV).  And also then the other neural and chemical side effects from that experience (adrenaline, dopamine etc). So it’s no wonder we as a society lately and again me especially find this experience so intoxicating and addictive.  It gave me some interesting insight into the process we may be going through watching tv and why I keep coming back for more (even reruns of things I enjoyed, because memory is not the same as “reliving” it). It also may explain different taste in viewing choice, because different people want to feel different things, “try feeling like other people” or have other experiences they may feel are missing in their lives.


We are weak willed and media has given us a very addictive tool we don’t entirely understand to get a lot of different and often strong experiences and stimulus, it is no wonder we find these things addictive. Maybe a little understanding will help me temper that a bit in the future.


An example of the dangers of this: when I come home tired from a day at work, why try and get a feeling of further accomplishment by expending lots of effort hacking on my personal work when I can fire up an episode of Elementary or a movie like Iron Man and get a bunch of that feeling “simulated” into me. We have a dangerous rabbit hole here we could all loose our selves down.

The Singularity Is Further Than It Appears

By Ramez Naam


“This is the so-called ‘hard takeoff’ scenario… It’s wrong because most real-world problems don’t scale linearly. In the real world, the interesting problems are much much harder than that” Read more