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LongTomH

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Member since: Wed Oct 13, 2004, 05:42 PM
Number of posts: 8,636

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Kim Stanley Robinson interviewed on Utopia, the Singularity and More

Kim Stanley Robinson is one of the more thought-provoking of current authors and one of the most original thinkers around today. His fiction blends social, political, scientific and ecological themes with a strong emphasis on social justice.

Here he discusses the concept of utopia; not a popular concept in our cynical and pessimistic age:



Robinson has often expressed skepticism about the idea of a technological singularity (and I heartily agree!). Please note his concerns with class divide and transhumanism:



On social systems, optimism and remediating capitalism:



Robinson has incorporated environmental themes in many of his novels. Here he discusses climate change and combating it, including the concept of geoengineering:



On strategic foresight and transformation:



If you want to learn more about Kim Stanley Robinson, his thought and fiction, go to his website or look him up on Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Better yet, look up his books and ask a local bookstore to order them for you.

I found a critical review of Ben Way's conclusion

Googling on 'Jobocalypse' led me to the blog: Robot Futures Book by an author with his own ideas on what a 'robot future' may look like. The author did a very critical review of Ben Way's book and the conclusions Way reached. Some excerpts below:

Ben Way’s book, Jobocalypse, is subtitled “The End of Human Jobs and How Robots Will Replace Them.” The title summarizes the book’s attitude well, and while I agree that this issue is worthy of serious discussion, Way’s book demonstrates common fallacies that are worth identifying. Way starts with a chart showing employment slack, and here he is inspired by McAfee and Brynjolfsson at MIT. The interesting pattern is that unemployment following recession recovers both less quickly and less fully with every more recent case of recession, and this portends business recovery practices that are becoming ever less friendly toward the individual worker. Way explains just how cautious behavior on the part of a recovering company leads toward lower-cost routes to high productivity and profits rather than making long-term commitments to fully employed new workers, even in the face of increasing consumer demand. Rightly, Way identifies increasingly inexpensive and flexible automation as an important enabler of this pattern, and I agree fully with this analysis.

However in looking at automation itself and how it improves over time, Way’s argument repeats a mistaken trope so common that I believe we need to name it: Moore’s Leak (with due apologies to Gordon Moore). Way shows an oft-reproduced chart of computing power from 1900 through 2020. The chart shows MIPS per $1000 and shows a healthy doubling at least every 18 months, as suggested by Moore’s Law. Computers from various years are labeled on the graph, and the future looks bright for ever-faster computers. But the problem is the labeling: “Brain power equivalent” along the right lists bacteria, spiders, lizards, mice, monkeys and of course humans. And humans are shown easily achievable by 2020. That’s less than seven years from now, folks. Moore’s Law is a fine predictor (actually a milestone-setting device for Intel) for computing speed, but jumping over to animal equivalence forces mistaken conclusions from everyone but the computational biologists amongst us. Way’s point, based on the chart, is that robots will do everything humans can by 2020, and cheaply. For this conclusion the chart lends no support. Yes, singularists will argue that just as soon as computers are fast enough, they will also be smart enough to design their own future evolutionary conclusions, and this runaway chain reaction will yield so much intelligence that super-intelligent computers can then do what we humans have not been able to do: fully emulate a human being. But that is an indirect argument that is mostly an article of faith today.

In literal terms, computer speed just does not approach humanity. Moore’s Leak happens when we use Moore’s Law to optimistically imagine a future breakthrough that doesn’t really have anything to do with computing speed. Way predicts that robots will be cheap and capable thanks to Moore: “Within the next generation, the humanoid robots that we see in films such as I, Robot will find their way into our homes and will be able to perform almost any task more efficiently and better than any human ever could.” I disagree strongly; Way is tapping levels of actuation, hardware innovation, perception and reasoning that are more than a generation away with a statement this strong.

Read the rest here: http://robotfuturesbook.wordpress.com/2013/07/28/mini-review-jobocalypse-by-ben-way/

Note that the argument touches on the often touted: Technological Singularity, which is predicted to occur sometime within the next few decades; although, there are many people skeptical of the whole concept, myself included.

Edited to add: You might try Googling on the name: Illah Nourbakhsh, author of Robot Futures.

Legalize Democracy -- the Move to Amend video



This is a great introduction to the issues that Move to Amend was organized to fight:
  • The power of corporations, which has grown over the centuries of American History, and
  • The doctrine that money is equivalent to constitutionally protected speech.

Move to Amend is proposing an amendment to the US Constitution that addresses both of these issues. There are similar amendments before the Congress, but we feel that the proposed "We the People Amendment" is the only one that really addresses all of the issues of corporate power and corruption.

Move to Amend has a website and a Facebook page for more information. Please check out both for information on how to get involved in your area.

I hope you noticed Thom Hartmann's comments in the video. Thom is an ardent supporter of Move to Amend and has often endorsed us on his program.
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