Automation Can’t Happen Fast Enough

Humane Treatment

The way humanity treats fellow members of the species is just horrifying.

Automation will help prevent some of the mistreatment that humans perform on each other; however, one has to wonder exactly what is going to happen when this relief happens – what next?

Case in point – the garment industry in Bangladesh.

Workers protested making substandard wages ($66 a month) and requested $200 a month. Instead of sitting down at a table and holding a discussion – the police were called. A total of 150,000 workers went on strike. This is no fringe movement. Imagine the amount of work it takes to get 2 people to agree to something and you get an understanding of what it takes to get 150,000 people to agree to do something – especially something that ends up causing economic harm to yourself.

People were arrested, people were harmed, and 3,500 people lost their livelihood and were fired.

And nothing changed.

This is an industry which needs to be automated out of existence. It is a human rights issue. Fires have killed over 1,000 workers in the United States of America decades ago – and that caused changes to the industry and brought about safety regulations. This still didn’t wipe out sweat shop working conditions in the USA as there are still illegal sweat shops in existence in the USA.

Capitalism Without Oversight

The problem starts in the West. Companies that people spend lots of money on their clothing want to pay the least for the product. They require fixed bid contracting and select the lowest bids. Quality, ethics, or human rights do not factor in the purchasing departments mind.

While there is a lot of “lip service” to ethically created clothing – there isn’t a lot of follow-through.

“Treat others the way you want to be treated.” Doesn’t seem to apply in the logistics and procurement of clothing. It should. While slightly hidden people blithely live in ignorance of the suffering and basically slave labor conditions that accounting creates to encourage large profit margins.

In some ways slaves have advantages over paid employees in a sweat shop environment. Hold on. Hold on. Let me explain.

If a person is a slave, your life is the responsibility of the owner. You are their asset. If you don’t get enough food then you are a lost asset on the balance sheet.

If a person is a wage slave or sweat shop labor and they starve because they don’t have enough money to buy food, the company does not care because there is someone out there who is in worse shape willing to take their place.

This makes the sweat shop laborer a disposable object – like an ink jet printer that the cartridges cost more to replace than the printer originally did.

So, in the article on this Bangladeshi strike the company owners step in and say “We aren’t the problem, we bid and the lowest bid gets the contract and we can only pay the employees so much.” Or something similar. Pleading that they are helpless in the working conditions that they provide.

The problem is that as a collective group all of the garment producing factories need to stand up and require good wages for their people. They need to include in their bids the hourly wages of the workers and present that when one of them decides to undercut everyone else – by paying starvation wages to their workers.

The Future

The fact of the matter is that no wages will be cheaper than paying robotics to produce clothing once the technology is ready for prime time. This can’t happen soon enough. Humans are not slaves. People should not be servants and subservient humans are not useful to the future of humanity.

Going out to dinner is enjoyable, but there are aspects of it that are dark. Waiters and waitresses who are paid far below minimum wages in the hopes of getting tips. While most people pay tips this leads to a situation where a waiter or a waitress are little more than subservient servants to their customers. This model is being pushed out to teachers where the performance of students is tied to teacher wages and increases.

While there is a place for monitoring, observations, and relating that information to wage increases – teaching children isn’t the place for that. Each child is an individual. Children may learn or not learn despite the best efforts of teachers. It isn’t like the teachers are programming computers and the results can be monitored and directly tied to the teachers capability. People are not machines.

The major problem with sweat shop laborers is that when automation comes it will completely wipe out their jobs from existence. If 150,000 sweat shop workers can go on strike I would be there are hundreds of thousands of more sweat shop workers in Bangladesh that didn’t go on strike. Go on strike or not, when automation comes those hundreds of thousands of workers will all be out of work (maybe not all at once).

And part of the problem in Bangladesh is that unemployment and other social services for people not worker are probably fairly substandard compared to the needs of their people. This is why so many people are willing to work for so little. People would rather work for too little than have nothing at all.

So what happens next in Bangladesh (and everywhere) after jobs are automated out of existence? Is someone perhaps going to argue that new jobs are going to come into existence to employ everyone? I don’t think so. The reason automation works is that it reduces costs for the employer making their business more profitable.

In addition, the level of skill and knowledge required for the making of clothing is not similar and not transferable to say – computer programming, automation techniques, or design practices. Most likely people who already are working will be in more demand to provide these services to companies automating the creation of clothing. The other major beneficiary of automation will be college graduates – if they choose their major with return on investment in mind.

So, what will happen to the hundreds of thousands of unemployed and for the most part unemployable people?

Two Models of the Future

  1. UBI (Universal Basic Income) – where people who don’t have a job are paid enough to ensure that they have a roof over their head, have medical coverage, and have enough money for food and education. Through education a certain percentage of people on UBI will graduate to working.
  2. The world as it is at present. Unemployment may exist and be temporary in nature. There is no health insurance or those that are unemployed – unless they can afford it and if they aren’t working I’m sure they can’t afford it. Education is pay to play.

In case 1, humanity survives and thrives. People who have been on the bottom tiers of the world can at least live and be comfortable with the hope of better futures.

In case 2, there is no option. These people will die. In a variety of ways.

In countries like Germany the groundwork is already being laid for UBI. These countries value their citizens and want them to survive and thrive. Perhaps, the United States of America will follow, but not until lots of things change. Right now in the present political climate the USA will view UBI as “freeloaders” or perhaps people getting UBI through fraud as commonly alleged against SNAP.

But places like Bangladesh – I don’t know that UBI is even as feasible as it will be in the USA – and I don’t think it is all that probable in the USA – not until a lot of people start suffering.

 

Laying the Groundwork for Dictatorship

(Political Post – if you want to pass – I don’t blame you)

This is the world that we have made – or at least the United States we have made.

Our relationship with words, meaning, and factual statements have paved the way to this conclusion.

As a Science Fiction writer I can’t help buy place myself 4 years from now and 8 years from now and try to prognosticate what could happen – in a kind of “worst case” scenario.

It is a good idea to engage in empathetic treks in to the future and understand both best, worst, and average cases – in a way project managers try to prognosticate the completion (hopefully) of their projects.

Worst Case

We have a fairly good framework laid out at present. When Donald was a “would be” president – he stated that the election was fixed – unless he won it.

Next Donald has made many statements about how big he won the election. That is not the case, either.

Now, we could assume for a moment that he doesn’t know what he is doing – but I think this has been a fatal flaw in how the public, government, and politicians have dealt with Donald. To continue with our framework Donald claims he won the popular vote due to millions of illegal votes for Hillary and he claimed that if that was the goal (winning the popular vote) he would have focused on that and won the popular vote.

His claims notably through his Press Secretary (and humorously lampooned by everyone else) that he had a crowd larger than any crowd ever for his inauguration – are completely, visibly, notably false.

Donald continues his rants about how he didn’t really lose the popular vote and that millions of people voted illegally.

As a person in authority (the highest state authority in the US) his statements carry weight. It is like having a problem with a police officer and then going to court. People are going to give the police officer’s testimony more value than any statement that you make – even if the police officer’s statements are provably incorrect.

It should also be noted that his first official Press Secretary task to blatantly lie to the US public about his “bigly” crowd sizes.

This is not done by accident. Less than four years from now (regardless of the actions during his tenure as president) these claims are going to be pounded upon over and over again – an advertisement for a propensity to believe someone when they say the election is rigged. I don’t think I have ever seen such a sore winner of a presidential election in the United States of America – ever.

2020

There is no question in my mind that Donald will start taking on Dictatorial attributes and if he should lose the election will claim there is widespread fraud – he will invalidate the election and continue his presidency.

2024

He will combine and exaggerate claims that the US is crumbling. That the US needs a strong leader and (whoever) the Democrats cannot provide such a leader. He will take full “dictatorship” of the United States of America until such time as there is enough stability to continue normal electoral processes.

Now, the above is the worst case scenario. Please; however, note that the actions, statements, and events don’t make sense unless you are priming for a coup of the democratic system. You should ask questions of Donald’s behavior.

  1. Why does it matter how many people watched or attended the inauguration?
  2. Why repeat debunked statements that “millions” of people voted illegally? This single statement is targeted at weakening confidence in the election process.
  3. Why tell people he had the biggest electoral victory ever?

Answers:

  1. He is a leader of a great flock – and so many people supported him that it isn’t possible that he would be one of those lame single term presidents
  2. Laying the foundation for marking the next election – with no evidence whatsoever – as illegitimate
  3. Because, how could someone with the “biggest” electoral victory ever end up losing a second term?

They are all statements and actions geared for breaking our elections system down.

Medium Case

While all the above is factual and then extends outward from that it could be that Donald will win the second term fairly. This seems unlikely given his lowest ever popularity levels at the start of a presidency (a fact I’m sure will be glossed over or forgotten by the next election). It also does not seem likely as while admirably he is moving quickly on many positions – each one is fraught with danger for his future second term.

Millions of people may be out of health insurance. These will not be happy people and it appears a lot of them overlap with Donald’s voting population.

He is; however, very good at marketing. He may set things in the future and that repairing and getting everyone health insurance coverage is coming soon.

Unfortunately, even in the medium case the groundwork that he is laying down – on government competence (hammering at Hillary’s 30 years of experience in government), economics, and immigration – he still has quite a place that in 2024 – he will push to be temporary dictator of the country. Perhaps he will claim that the elections are rigged and until we can establish a non-rigged system. That could take some time.

Positive Case

The positive case is that Donald does what he is going to do – admirably actually following through with his statements – and the impacts are so bad that he loses in a landslide for his second term. Instead of pounding on the point of illegal voters, he pulls back and decides that perhaps politics was not his favorite occupation.

This positive case – seems very unlikely.

 

Automation – The Savior – Not The Destroyer

There is a lot of doom and gloom about the future, technology, automation and employment.

Previously, I have written about sweat shops and the coming automation in the making of clothing. Automation faces many hurdles.

One of those hurdles is that the costs have to offer a return on investment compared to traditional manufacturing technologies.

Even if that technology is centuries old. Using people to manufacture clothing Рin the present era (starting at least 100 years ago) is the sweat shop. In this recent article it is reported that workers earned £3 an hour to manufacture clothing for high end retailers.

That dress you are wearing – and paid $200 for? The person making it took less than an hour and was paid like $4 for their entire hour.

So, who is making the money? Well, the retailers are making the money – and they apply pressure to the manufacturers to provide the lowest prices.

So, automation. It is going to take jobs. Some jobs need to go away. The sweat shop needs to go away. Ironically, since they pay so little it will take longer before automation penetrates in to this market.

People will not have health care to make that dress.

People will not have enough money to survive to make those jeans.

People will work in dangerous environments with high risk of fire – to make those undies.

It needs to stop.

Oh, and just a side note. There is a reason we have regulations and laws. It is because businesses cannot be trusted to behave in an ethical manner. You can complain about the costs to businesses because of all these regulations, but the fact of the matter is that businesses as a whole will reduce costs to the lowest they can regardless of industry and will break rules, behave unethically and endanger the lives of their customers and employees simply to maximize profits.

So, the ship where we have low number of regulations and laws and people are treated well – that ship has sailed. The ship we are on now, where you have to document workers hours, how much you paid them, and are forced to treat them properly – because you have to (not because you choose to – that is the ship we are on now.

The Morality of Humans is Highly Questionable

Recently, Scientific American had an article titled: Why Robots Must Learn to Tell Us “No

Unfortunately, you have to pay to have access to the article, but the point of the article seems obvious to any moral person. Except, it isn’t.

So, I bought the digital subscription. I don’t need any more physical objects added to my already near hoarder level home.

Reading the article it takes an unfortunately narrow view of the bad things humans can order robots to do. The research carried out is on humans ordering a robot to destroy a physical object that it just built, but not ordering a robot to harm another human.

It is still a good article. I definitely recommend reading it. It includes discussion about Asimov’s laws of robotics and how they implemented something like it with ‘felicity conditions’.

The morality of humans is highly questionable. Anyone who has read some articles on this site know I have read and researched dozens if not hundreds of instances of humanity gone wrong. Humanity going wrong may be more the normal circumstance than the exception.

Asimov wrote a book about human that lived on a planet called Solaria. They took their human bodies and altered them. Then, in Isaac Asimov’s story, they defined human as only humans that have been altered as they were. Normal humans could easily be killed by these robots.

Consider that situation and perhaps the coders defining humanity by the color of a person’s skin or the color of their eyes and you can see the deep potential for robots doing harm to some or all of humanity.

Here is a thought experiment:

  1. In the present or near future a company creates drones equipped with squirt guns. It is great fun. The company does well and starts a research and development group.
  2. This group’s research and development comes up with drones that can fire based on facial recognition. These, too are great fun.
  3. Kids get teams of drones and water guns and play during the summer outside and this is recognized as one of the coolest things ever.
  4. The technology propagates out of the United States and western nations.
  5. A man that was turned down by a woman puts acid in the storage chamber and inputs her picture in to the device. It attacks her, burning her face off.

So, the robot – or drone in this case – was just following orders. Drone (or R/C aircraft) technology is widely available today and certainly a squirt gun equipped model could be built – even if the amount of water it can carry is limited.

The above sequence of events is certainly possible. So, what can we do to not have this happen in the future?

The drone must be able to say no. How can the drone say no?

Well, it requires planning and knowing the basic lack of morality of humans. A sensor would be required in the storage tank of the water gun drones. If the substance comes up as not water – the drone may not fire the water gun. In addition, if the acid attack is carried out by drone – prosecution is hard enough in crimes of this type – what about when there is little or no evidence and the perpetrator left the area long before the drone begins the attack?

The problem is that we have already put drones to work in the dirty business of war. We have already set the precedent that drones or “robot” technology can be used in the business of war – the business of killing people.

We will most likely have two sets of rules – military and civilian – for drones and robots.

But wait, there’s more.

Everyone is pursuing different ‘morals’ around the world. Murder isn’t murder if it is….

Honor killing. Except that no, honor killings are just murder. Murder of a family member because that member did something that you don’t like.

Large portions of the population in Islamic countries believe that honor killings are moral. Will they request (and get?) robots or drones with modified rules that allow for honor killings, acid attacks, and more?

If companies don’t create these alternate ‘Islamic’ moral rules robots, won’t the Islamic people create their own?

And More.

In any part of the world rape is a problem. Will there be rapists with robots to hold women down? Robots must be able to say no. Robots will need to understand the situation they are placed. Robots will need to understand what harm is. And programmers will have to have standards as to what constitutes harm.

What ‘moral’ actions will AI robots be applied to in the future? When women survive their husbands in India will the home robot ‘assist’ in removing her from the home – so the son can inherit from the father and the mother be put into a life of destitution begging for food and potentially prostitution?

Will drones and AI robots assist the sale of women for dowry?

But Maybe?

If we can code and ensure that while we humans in general are not moral – that our robots are moral there can be much good for humanity. If the costs of creating AI robots falls fast enough perhaps the drudgery that causes women to be sold for dowry in to slavery can be prevented – if the AI robots take care of these tasks. If there are sex robots perhaps rape can be prevented by having a place for rape to occur, just not to humans. Ethical problems may still arise, but, perhaps if an entity is designed to not be bothered by rape this ethical issues can disappear.

The potential that we have to work toward are moral AI robots – and for the ubiquitous to an extent that it prevents the above horrors. Intelligence may need to be built in to many devices. Autonomous cars will need to know if their sensors have been disabled by an unscrupulous human to commit murder by car. Moral AI robots will have limitations – but it needs to start with a basis of defining harm – and start with the worst forms of harm so that the good of placing moral AI robots in to existence will more than balance the harm that humans may attempt to make them perform.

However

It is troubling with how immoral humanity is that such power and based on the contents of my blog – we do such horrible things to each other. Perhaps, there is a chance that our children (AI robots, codops, etc) can help make humanity a more moral species.

Connections in the War on Women

There are things that make me wonder. One of my friends of Facebook asked “Where do you find this stuff?” The answer is that I subscribed to British news magazines on Facebook.

It kind of makes me wonder how people (in general) in the US are so sheltered about the rampant anti-women acts around the world – and the horrid details of what these activities look like.

Three articles came to my attention this morning that relate to worldwide treatment of women.

  1. Girl not allowed to join cub scouts in England. Please note: In England girls are allowed organizationally to join the scouts. This is not how it is in the United States where the organization seems to be quite different and girls are not allowed organizationally to join the scouts. The scout master in specific refused to allow a girl in his group.
  2. There was a click-bait in another article I read that I bumped into pictures of Kathrine Switzer’s first Boston Marathon run. Certainly, I had known of this before. It was just a little off seeing this right after seeing a girl not allowed to join the cub scouts because she “won’t be able to canoe” or won’t have our male staff in a tent with her on overnights – even after ways of addressing the overnight situation were offered.
  3. Finally, this article which I had read the previous day. A woman’s husband had left the area for a job. She went to do shopping by herself. A gang of religious thugs cut her head off.

There was a fourth article as well that as I went through my tabs (dozens open) that connected to the treatment of women in human society.

4. Brazilian man kills family and others on New Years.

The connections: In number 2 – even the men that supported Kathrine were against her in the beginning. They had been taught that women were weaker. The girl who cannot join this particular cub scouts – her mother rightly questions – just what is this sexist scoutmaster teaching to the young boys in his troops? What are the men (in general) taught in Afghanistan that they should feel it is right to behead a woman who is just going about her business? Finally, in Brazil, where nearly daily reports of violence against women occur, what are the men taught there about a woman and women’s rights?

Finally, connecting this to the topic that is closest to me: what about the rights of AI or codops (Computerized Doppelgangers) when they come in to existence? If we cannot manage to give equal rights to humans how long will it take to give equal rights to electronic beings? And do we really have time with a rapidly changing landscape of intelligence to waste getting comfortable with equal rights for machine intelligences?

By rapidly changing landscape of intelligence I mean this:

  1. In the beginning there will be one codop or AI.
  2. On a curve, once the first has come in to existence, many more will come in to existence as computing power doubles every 18 months.
  3. If we hypothesize that the first true AI or Codop exists in 2025, then there will be approximately the population of the US in AI or Codops (or both) in 2066
  4. There will be slightly more than 1 billion AI, Codops, or both by 2069
  5. By halfway through 2073 there will be a comparable population of AI, Codops or both.
  6. In 2075 there will be twice as many AI, Codops or both than there are biological humans.

This is why – as a futurist I am a believer in human rights – but we should simply call them rights or basic rights. These rights need to apply to all humans (LGBTQ, women, all men) so that we can apply them to the unhuman intelligences to be born.

It seems clear to me that by 2025 or even out to 2075 the repeated teaching that women are inferior, requiring protection (which inevitably involves restriction of freedom of action or freedom of expression), and that women are not fully human (cannot be priests, be in the same room to worship, ‘thank god I’m not a woman’, etc) will not disappear.

It should be concerning to all of us that a new ‘species’ of intelligence or more than one new ‘species’ of intelligent life will come to existence when we have not yet fixed how to treat everyone equally. That concern that doesn’t have to come to reality by people like Stephen Hawking, that AI will overthrow us or be detrimental to biological humans – does not have to happen.

But we have to plan now. Determine hard questions as ‘what is a person’ among others before they come in to existence. Otherwise, it appears that a disgruntled slave class of AI/codops will come into existence and eventually be more powerful than the slavers.

We’ve seen how this comes out – when technologically more advanced people come to lower technology areas – with the Europeans and Native Americans – it didn’t work out well for the Native Americans and it won’t come out well for us biological humans, either.

What Not to Do On a Date

The war on women never ceases. While people want you to pretend that such a thing doesn’t exist or want you to keep focused on wage differences – the reality is that men feel they have a *right* to women’s bodies.

After a few dates and meeting up on Tinder, this man decided that not getting sex was too much – and murdered his date and dissolved her body in acid.

She is no less of a combatant on a battlefield as anyone on an actual battlefield with an end result that you can expect.

On a battlefield, people call for revenge, retribution, justice against our enemies.

However, if a woman dies, and the person that caused that death is confronted about it – in this case the man simply shrugged it off.

Perhaps if the battle was more of a fight instead of a ‘these things happen, she probably encouraged him, she dressed provocatively’ kind of thing – perhaps he should be murdered the same way and dissolved with no one to remember that he existed.

Should We Create Codops

It is likely that we can simulate the human brain and then copy our minds in to computerized versions (codops). The question is: should we?

This is not an argument from the point of view of “Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.” This is blind stupidity.

No. This is an argument that humanity is far short of being moral beings. Even the best of us. Even myself (far from it, I’m sure).

As evidence I would say many of the articles I have written are about humans being inhumane to each other. It seems like an oxymoron inhumane humans. What we really have to do, though is strike out the word inhumane. Everything humans do is by definition human or humane.

What is it to be human? Large swaths of our population abuse other segments of our society. Not only that, but they think it is the right thing to do. Spot a woman walking unattended by a male and you should rape her to teach her that she should not be out alone and to dishonor her.

Elevating one ‘race’ over another – which is now gaining dominance in US politics. This isn’t the exception, it is the rule. South Africa – with around 10% population as white – dominated the other 90% of the population. Because racism. Because white is better than black. Or so they say. Or so they say, ‘Hail Trump!’ during a conference.

So, what is it that people will do – as I earlier projected – that they will have Watson level computing capabilities in the home of the average family in 2037? What exactly are businesses going to do when they commonly have Watson capability computers in the work place – as I predict they will have in just 3 to 4 years?

What will businesses do when they have codops (computerized doppelgangers) in the work place? Will they run them until they don’t feel motivated to run anymore and then delete them and reload the original copy?

As we progress – what will happen when there are more people as codops then there are physical people in the world? How will we treat each other? Will we maintain contracts that state a codop has computing power to last the next year and when they run out of funds they will cease to exist?

Is that right? Is it moral?

It seems that we learn very quickly two sets of rules. One is moral and the other is what we can do and get away with. Hence there is a vast number of people that say, “Rape is wrong.” and there is a large number of people out there who rape. Or say things like “Racism is wrong” and vote for a candidate that clearly has the backing of outwardly racist organizations.

Here is a case in point. This person lived 55 years and was the father of four children. For whatever reason, he then decides to throw acid on all of his kids and his wife. It is like a nightmare sleeper agent from the cold war story. Similarly, you see people that are ‘responsible’ gun owners until one day – a former police officer – shoots and kills a man in a movie theater.

Perhaps we are all monsters hiding until the inappropriate time comes and then they horribly lash out at whoever attracts their ire.

Perhaps, all I am saying is that copying the human brain as a basis for an AI and copying minds of existing humans – might not turn out well. Safety protocols need to be developed. We are getting closer and closer to making an artificial brain.

Perhaps AI is not the only ones in need of the development of the three laws of robotics that Isaac Asimov developed. This recent article talks about creating ethically aligned AI – I find it interesting that we can develop ethically aligned AI, when we ourselves do not appear to be ethically aligned – or even agree what ethically aligned might mean.