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Economists Say Newest AI Technology Destroys More Jobs Than It Creates

melchoir55 Re:Does the job still get done? (662 comments)

" What makes you think this will happen again in the future?

Because it has happened to every human society that has ever existed. Wealth pools, corruption spreads, the wealthy don't read history books and forget that the unwashed masses have way more power than they do, then the wealthy are killed en masse and everything resets.

Revolution is less likely today in the USA because most people in the USA have a pretty comfortable life (even the unemployed people) compared to people in, say, the most recent feudal systems. Despite being less likely, the unwashed masses are unimaginably more dangerous today than they were 200 years ago. Today it doesn't matter how many body guards you have, how sophisticated your body armor is, or how hard you have tried to suppress the people you exploit. It takes one guy and about $500 to present you with a mortal threat that is very likely to beat you.

4 days ago

Is Enterprise IT More Difficult To Manage Now Than Ever?

melchoir55 IT is a vaccine (241 comments)

The situation IT faces has some interesting parallels with that of vaccines, but multiplied to be exponentially worse. An ignorant subset of our society is convinced that vaccines are a Bad Idea. There are a lot of reasons for this we don't need to get into, but similarly to IT, one of the reasons is that vaccines became so ubiquitous and effective that what they save us from has become invisible. These days we are seeing spikes in horrible and preventable diseases because some people have an overriding "out of sight out of mind" component to their cognitive life. The same is true of IT.

IT is critical to any organization. It doesn't matter what organization you're talking about. Efficiency of IT can improve the productivity of every industry. It has permeated them all. I had lunch last week with a nice lady who works in a very large insurance company. This company has a fair number of employees devoted to answering certain kinds of email (negative ones) and a lot of time gets spent forwarding emails to the right person. She was lamenting that there is no way to do that automatically. "There is.." I pointed out, "It is called sentiment analysis and is a branch of NLP. It can probably do what you want with at least 80% accuracy. You would have to hire a computational linguist and pay them 95k a year to make it happen."

And that's the rub. It costs money. People who run large organizations rarely understand technology. That means they need to completely trust the CTO/CIO on every recommendation, because the CEO is entirely unequipped to themselves evaluate any such proposal. It's also the case that large corporations are under the laughably inaccurate opinion that people work harder to make up for being unproductive. That is to say, many think "well it has to get done, they are paid to do it, and it does get done, so why do we need to spend more money on tech"?

The application of technology is nuanced. It is not possible to directly quantify the gains in all circumstances, though the gains could mean an order of magnitude difference in productivity. It doesn't fit easily into a spreadsheet, a sharepoint page, or a powerpoint presentation. Thus, the pointy haired boss will remain impossible to convince.

about two weeks ago

Alva Noe: Don't Worry About the Singularity, We Can't Even Copy an Amoeba

melchoir55 Armchair cognitive scientist (455 comments)

I did philosophy myself as an undergraduate, so I don't want to bash our armchair friend here for doing his best. He is making the classic mistake of making claims about fields he isn't part of. In this case biology, computer science, and cognitive science in general (beyond philosophy).

Regarding the statement "We used 'it' the way we use clocks":
He is mistaking agency for being something that is an end unto itself. This isn't true. Agents commonly use other agents as tools. The mere property of "being used" doesn't dictate whether something is sentient, intelligent, an agent, or whatever. Yeah, we used Watson to play Jeapordy!, but that doesn't mean it isn't smart. Watson is actually way "smarter" than any human in certain ways.

This boils down to what you define as intelligence. In humans, intelligence is a very rough term applied to an enormous pile of features. Processing speed, memory, learning algorithms, response time, and many more features all contribute to what we think of as intelligence. A singularity doesn't need to precisely mirror the way in which a human thinks in order to be a singularity. It just needs to be able to adapt and evolve. I'll be the first to admit we are a long way off from modeling a human consciousness in virtual space. However, existing machine learning and rule based techniques are powerful enough to do some really impressive things (like Watson and Siri). They aren't singularity level, no, but that doesn't make this man's arguments relevant.

Regarding "we can't produce "...machines that exhibit the agency and awareness of an amoeba":
The idea that an ameoba displays intelligence in excess of our current ability to simulate is frankly a little ridiculous. Artificial agents are capable of very complex behavior. They can react to abstract constructs which are inferred about their environment. They can anticipate opponents based on statistical probability and thereby win, on average, more often than even *a human being*. An amoeba is closer in behavioral complexity to a simple chemical reaction than it is a contemporary artificial intelligence.

about a month ago

Firefox Signs Five-Year Deal With Yahoo, Drops Google as Default Search Engine

melchoir55 Netscape (400 comments)

Then Netscape said to Firefox: "You and me, we've got nowhere to go but up!"

about a month ago

Colleges Face New 'Gainful Employment' Regulations For Student Loans

melchoir55 Inescapable debt (331 comments)

The entire problem with college loans is that you cannot escape them with bankruptcy. If you take a school loan, you have that loan no matter how messed up your financial situation gets. If college loan debt were the same as any other debt, those giving out loans would be very hesitant to hand 120k to an underwater basket weaver.

It makes no sense for college debt to be inescapable. We allow people to declare bankruptcy after taking a million dollar loan to open a high end spa in an 8k person logging down. There is no reason college debt shouldn't be treated the same. If people were stupid enough to take a loan they can't repay then their credit is destroyed for 7 years (at least). If the people giving the loan were stupid enough to give out a loan that was unlikely to be repaid, they are out of their money.

We need to stop protecting people in the financial industry from their own risky behavior. It is way too expensive for our society and it does nothing but make some super wealthy organization more money.

about 2 months ago

"Police Detector" Monitors Emergency Radio Transmissions

melchoir55 Re:Kickstarter! (215 comments)

Because I have better things to do with my life than sit in my car, and because speed limits are always set far below the speed at which I feel safe driving.

about 2 months ago

Bioethicist At National Institutes of Health: "Why I Hope To Die At 75"

melchoir55 By 75 does he mean 750? (478 comments)

I feel kind of frustrated when I see humans say things like "75 is a pretty good age to go". Really? Why not 60? Or 50? Or 40? We shouldn't be aiming to die when at some arbitrary count of how many times the earth has spun around the sun. We should be aiming to make life worth living for people at any age, and we should be aiming to eliminate this pointless "aging" business entirely.

My great grandmother is 104. She plays board games with her friends, takes walks with them, and is a sharp-witted lady (pretty sure she has tried to cheat while playing cards with me). She her life have ended 30 years ago? No way! Our society has the resources for people of every age to live a fulfilling life. Yeah, most people deteriorate before 104... but so what? Some people deteriorate before they turn 20.

Get over being afraid of old people. They are people, they're just different from you.

about 3 months ago

Treasure Map: NSA, GCHQ Work On Real-Time "Google Earth" Internet Observation

melchoir55 Re:So they'll suffer from TMI (267 comments)

TMI isn't a thing if everything is digital. Machine learning classification techniques (go look up something as simple as maximum entropy) can do a great job of identifying classifications with high accuracy. What is being classified? Well, presumably whatever "they" think are threats to the nation, or at least to whoever has control of the system. One can analyze the behavior of targets deemed a threat and find common features shared between those targets. Even stuff a human would never, ever think to correlate could matter (the humidity, time of day, day of year, AND whether they are a certain religion). The beauty is that a human doesn't need to work out what correlates with a threat. The machine does it. You give it features, it gives you statistical probabilities that the entities in your data are a threat. It would take an enormous amount of computing power to do this with the amount of data the NSA apparently has. Something like this for example:

Then it is just a matter of drawing the line for the threshold of what constitutes a threat. I just described something someone could have done 10 years ago. Machine learning has come along pretty well since.

The state of affairs is so disturbing because all technical hurdles to a dystopia have been overcome. Someone with these resources won't suffer from information overload. There DO exist learning algorithms which can deal with this much data and they clearly have invested in the necessary hardware. Laws and morality don't appear to be slowing them down. What safeguards are left...?

about 3 months ago

Apple's App Store Needs a Radical Revamp; How Would You Go About It?

melchoir55 Thanks Marx (249 comments)

This approach fails for the same reason communism cannot work (yet). A small group of humans lacks the understanding, wisdom, foresight, and a whole host of other epistemic terms to decide how to organize and prioritize within such a vast system. What they do will work for some people. It will utterly fail for others. The only way to deal with something like this is to have a computer to it (same with communism, btw). I won't defend Apple's algorithms. They probably need a lot of work. Maybe the organization scheme needs to be changed. Whatever. The fix won't be having some humans do it.

about 4 months ago

Ask Slashdot: Future-Proof Jobs?

melchoir55 Re:Simple (509 comments)

Tell her to study home economics.

Never own a credit card. They are all scams and are far more likely to ruin your credit than help it. .

This is terrible advice. Credit cards are the easiest way to build credit. The advice should actually be: Pay off your credit card in full every month. If you won't be able to pay it off, don't buy things with it.

The rebuttal: "This is too hard for some people" is not a reasonable response to this. This is a trivially easy behavior pattern to adopt. If you can't do this, I don't believe it is possible to be financially secure. This is the smallest, easiest, step in playing the game of our society's financial system.

about 5 months ago

TSA Prohibits Taking Discharged Electronic Devices Onto Planes

melchoir55 Re:Actually makes good sense (702 comments)

The situation is only weird if you accept the ostensible reason for the existence of the TSA as the actual reason of those with decision making power. The TSA does not exist to add security. The TSA exists as a money pit for people in power to transfer public money to others. It has the added benefit of eroding civil liberties, and of acting as a distraction for the population from actual problems.

By actual problems I mean the elimination of the middle class, the power grab on information via the NSA, the insistence of every US president to engage in at least one war just for luls and entirely without the consent of Congress, the atrocious state of our education system, the fact our healthcare system only works for the wealthy, etc. etc. blah blah I could go on.

about 5 months ago

Amazon Sues After Ex-Worker Takes Google Job

melchoir55 It's a show (272 comments)

Amazon's suit will obviously fail here as CA will never allow this kind of restriction on a regular employee. Tech industry giants are in trouble for agreeing not to compete with each other. What better way to make it seem like they are competing than to toss a few hundred thousand away on a meaningless but high profile court case which is decided before it began?

They gain billions by not competing for employees. They've been doing it for a long time, and they can continue to do it as long as people don't put a stop to it. This case is a marketing ploy.

about 6 months ago

If Immigration Reform Is Dead, So Is Raising the H-1B Cap

melchoir55 Re:No, they're replacing. (341 comments)

But there are shortages in many areas. For instance, there is a big shortage of non-immigrant farm labor. Do you really believe that an unemployed white guy is going to pick lettuce?

If the wages available to him weren't un-livably low because he would compete with people who don't pay taxes while taking advantages of social programs...? Yes. The unemployed white guy would pick lettuce. A similar effect is strongly depressing wages in the tech sector.

Being white has nothing to do with willingness to work. Economic realities do, though.

about 6 months ago

Court Releases DOJ Memo Justifying Drone Strike On US Citizen

melchoir55 Re: what is so special (371 comments)

The 10th amendment? The 5th? The 14? Pick any.

about 6 months ago

TrueCrypt Author Claims That Forking Is Impossible

melchoir55 Re:Translation (250 comments)

The legal requirement for insecurity exists in the ability of the US govt to dictate to a company that the company must install a backdoor or otherwise compromise their own security. The US govt does this at will, with no oversight, and in secret. They have been shown to have done this to some of the most trusted software on the planet (Such as RSA) and the lack of recourse is proven in the shuttering of companies like LavaBit and, arguably, TrueCrypt. The situation cannot be challenged legally because those served with such orders are under *personal* threat if they do anything to even suggest that such an order has been received. There is no law which stipulates "all hardware and software must have a backdoor or otherwise be subject to the whims of the US govt". However, all software and hardware must be assumed compromised based on the legal environment I describe above.

The US govt also has been shown to follow the policy of "gather all information possible no matter how legally or ethically questionable".

In this environment you would have to be either blind to the situation or a complete idiot to trust anything built in the USA (hardware or software) for storing or transmitting information you don't want in the hands of a US three letter agency.

about 6 months ago

WikiLeaks Publishes Secret International Trade Agreement

melchoir55 Re:The elephants are stomping on us again (222 comments)

Our society has finite resources. When some individuals are allocated over 300 times the resources of other individuals then we are seeing the symptom of a significant societal problem. Governments exist in part to intervene in order to solve societal problems in non violent ways. Problems need to be solved. So, if we don't do it nonviolently through an authority in which we all agree has authority, the problem gets solved "the old fashioned way".

When someone makes 2x as much as you and your buddy, the two of you might be incentivized to eliminate that person and take their resources. Twice as much isn't a lot, though, and in fact it isn't exactly safe to try stripping resources from someone when you only outnumber them 2 to 1. There is still a good chance that you could lose more than you could gain. How about when you ramp that ratio up to 300 to 1? That means 300 people could each double their resources by getting together and stripping the resources from a single other member of their society. Alternatively, 10 people could increase their resources by a factor of 30x by doing the same. I don't know how deep you understand human nature, or history, but this is a very bad situation for our society to be in for both the poor and the wealthy.

The amount of guns and ammo sold over the past 5 years is another symptom resulting from what I'm describing. I'll let you connect the dots of where it will end if we stay on the oligarchy road. This is a cycle that has repeated since time immemorial in every oligarchy that has ever existed.

Here are links for my numbers:

Comparing all this to whether two bros who love each other can have a practically meaningless (but symbolically meaningful) title applied to their relationship is ridiculous.

about 5 months ago

TrueCrypt Author Claims That Forking Is Impossible

melchoir55 Re:Translation (250 comments)

Foreign software isn't immune. No one thinks it is. The point is that US software is vulnerable *by law*. It is legally impossible to create secure software if you are a US entity. At least if the software is created in another country it is possible that it is secure. Even if the chance is 1/100, that chance is greater than 0.

about 6 months ago

TrueCrypt Author Claims That Forking Is Impossible

melchoir55 Re:You keep using that word... (250 comments)

Let's toss a few axioms:
1.In order to fork TrueCrypt it must be practically possible to create a fork which is secure (free of backdoors etc.).
2.A fork of TrueCypt must take less time to create and certify than writing an entirely new product from scratch. Otherwise, there is no point.
3. The algorithms used by TrueCrypt must be fundamentally sound. If you change them you are no longer forking TrueCrypt, you are really just writing a new product.

And a totally reasonable assumption:
The authors of TrueCrypt believe the project is compromised in a manner so subtle that the effort required to detect it would be as great or greater than creating a new project from scratch and/or the algorithms TrueCrypt is using are not secure against attacks known to TLAs (or whoever).

In this case the term "impossible" is reasonably applied, if maybe a bit looser than you might like.

about 6 months ago

In the year since Snowden's revelations ...

melchoir55 Re:Neither (248 comments)

Posting to invalidate an accidental karma application. How is this the only way to cancel a karma mistake? Ridiculous.

about 6 months ago

$57,000 Payout For Woman Charged With Wiretapping After Filming Cops

melchoir55 Re:Keep in Mind (216 comments)

All the more reason to have your videos always automatically store in the cloud.

about 6 months ago



State Department takes down 3D printed gun plans

melchoir55 melchoir55 writes  |  about a year and a half ago

melchoir55 (218842) writes "The US Government has sent a cease and desist to DEFCAD. DEFCAD is the company which has been raising a lot of eyebrows worldwide through its development of 3D printable guns. DEFCAD has responded by complying with the C&D. The plans have been removed from their website. However, CNN (and other sources) report the files to already have been downloaded over one million times and continue to be shared via third party methods such as bit-torrent."
Link to Original Source


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