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.

 

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.

Women Fight Back

There is nothing that should be honored more than women fighting back.

In Pakistan, a law is passed (which I have discussed previously) that creates a mandatory minimum 25 years of prison for “honor killings”. Not familiar with the term “honor killing”? Murder of a family member for not being ‘acceptable’ – is probably a good working definition.

The problem with murdering loved ones because they are doing things that are not acceptable is that it is deeply ingrained in the society. Many cheer when a popular social media personality Qandeel Baluch was killed by her brother and cheerfully defaced her Facebook page with threats (before she was killed), agreement that she was killed, and joy that a woman that had pride in her physical aspect was no longer alive. The page appears to have been taken down since her death.

The point is, that laws are great, but when police officers turn their backs or even aid the aggressors it will be a long time before those laws are effective.

Women in India have an organization that was started just to protect women. The Gulabi Gang trains women to fight back. It was formed when the women who started the organization got tired of hearing her neighbor being beaten by her husband. She picked up a stick and went over to their house and beat the husband.

This grandmother trains boys and girls in fighting techniques. An important quote in the article:

Physical and sexual assault and rape remain at crisis levels in India. 41% of women experience violence or harassment by the age of 19, new research by Action Aid found. Just as troubling, nearly three-fourths of women surveyed in the report say they were harassed or violated within the past month alone.

75% of women harassed in the last month alone – in one of the two most populated countries in the world. This isn’t to say that it doesn’t happen in the US.

In fact, the US could sorely use organizations such as the Gulabi Gang and this grandmother teaching fighting techniques. In the US there is an organization “slutwalk” which has done some good in raising awareness, but on the whole I don’t think it is as effective as teaching women to protect themselves.

In the end though, I suspect that none of these groups are yet willing to do what needs to be done in order to reduce rape. There is an imbalance. Women are killed, faces destroyed by acid, forced to marry their rapist (and basically sold in to slavery), sold for a dowry or sold to settle gambling debts or finally, tricked in to finding work that turns out to be sex slavery (as told in the opening story in the book “Half the Sky”.

There is in states such as India and Pakistan (among others) tribal courts. These courts often give daughters away or have women raped to settle wrong doing or gambling debts . There needs to be the equivalent of these by women in these countries. It needs to be done in secret as the males would view this as a challenge to their authority. In fact, if the existing tribunals order the rape of a woman, sale of a woman to settle a debt, or marriage absolving a rapist for his crime – those tribal “elders” are up on the block.

Sometimes, in courts, the death sentence is recommended. Honor killings result in the deaths of women. I don’t think the men who have these attitudes are going to stop until they start dying for acid attacks, honor killings, rape (which ends a woman’s honorable life and chances for a good future), selling women in to sex slavery, etc. There are often no repercussions to the (mostly men) who commit these acts. Sometimes, the men who do these things go free and taunt their victims as the justice and legal system do nothing.

Our Batshit Crazy World

Once, I had read long ago about a criticism of a science fiction book that the world didn’t have an even application of technology. One group had certain technology and another group didn’t.

Turns out the world building of the author was more accurate than the world building of the critic. Our present world contains many layers of uneven application of technology.

An airplane crashed and it is indeed a horrible event. All lives were lost in the crash.

The appropriate action is to ground the fleet, inspect the aircraft, understand the cause, rectify the cause, and finally return the fleet to service.

Except that the minds of the people who maintain the aircraft and the crew that help the aircraft operate still have minds – oh several hundred years in the past.

So, they determined that the appropriate action was to sacrifice a black goat.

No really. They killed a goat because they screwed up an aircraft and it crashed and killed people.

I have encountered people here in the US that are not too far off from that mentality. People who won’t read Stephen King books because “demons might come out of the book and infect their mind.” Or people who don’t want their kids to read Harry Potter books because it supports the use of magic.

Now, a number of people in the world made fun of these people – ignoramuses – is what I would call them. Ignorance – we all suffer it in various topics. But you can’t be ignorant about aircraft maintenance and work in aircraft maintenance. That is a life threatening combination.

Worse, though is in the back and forth about the aircraft someone supports the sacrifice of the goat:

Meanwhile, one Twitter user by the name of MisBis spoke for many when she wrote: “There’s nothing wrong in giving Sadqa [sacrificial offering]… Sadqa bari balao se bachata hai [it hedges against many troubles]… stop making it a joke”.

I’m sorry it is a joke. It needs to be joked about. This is another case of “my ignorance is equal to your highly technical knowledge of the operation of aircraft and technology”.

And in this case, I have been as a member of the US Air Force Reserve – 8 years of experience maintaining aircraft. In no place in the Top Secret documents on maintaining the aircraft did it say, “Bribe the gods with a sacrificial goat to ensure safe operation.”

Don’t Thank God, Thank AI

There is a lot of strife out there – when things go well medically, people in general like to thank god. When things go bad we always sue the doctor, the hospital, the insurance company or any company even remotely related to the procedures involved.

Now, people might try to sue IBM’s Watson, or Enlitic’s software for diagnosing lung cancer. They will, I suspect, be going after these pieces of AI software less often than they currently go after current malpractice lawsuits. Early detection is the best method for treating lung cancer – and if Enlitic’s software can detect it better than humans can – then more people have a chance at surviving lung cancer.

Maybe, just maybe, we’ll start thanking AI for saving our lives rather than god. At least AI might have more of a personal hand in saving your life. We don’t tend to thank tools for saving us – nor the operators of tools such as ultrasound devices and ultrasound techs. So, I won’t hold my breath, but I’ll be happy if AI or ultrasound tech saves my life.

In the future, it might also be a question if you should thank AI, if it attains intelligence to be treated as a sentient being.

Lessons Learned in Government – Meaning of Words

I’m going to straight out state something that many people will disagree with – and then I’ll back it up.

The United States of America will never be a racially or sexually equal country.

I say this as a veteran of our armed forces. I say this thinking that the United States of America is probably one of the best countries in the world. No matter what I would like to think about my country – the facts and the symbolism are there. Even if we are the best country in the world there is always room for improvement.

And it all started in the beginning.

The basic problem is that when we started when the Constitution was written we were a divided nation. The whole “United we stand, divided we fall” idea is necessary in the United States of America because we are and always have been divided.

I’m not going to go over the whole Constitution of the United States of America here – just a bit – just the beginning to prove my point.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

If I read this now – as a member of the 21st century it seems to hold together. However; while some of the signers may have meant it the way I read it now, some most certainly did not.

In 1776 the only people who had the right to vote were white property owners. This requires we amend the Constitution to reflect what they really meant.

“We the White, Male, land owning people of the United States, in Order to form a more….”

This change in scope from decoding word meanings to actual implied meanings is the split in the United States of America in 1776 as well as it is the split in the United States of America in 2016.

In a recent meeting of NPI celebrating Donald’s winning of the office of President of the United States of America, Richard B. Spencer – head of NPI, said:

“America was, until this past generation, a white country”

“designed for ourselves and our posterity.”

“It is our creation, our inheritance, and it belongs to us.”

He isn’t correct – and he is not incorrect. His words are chosen carefully. The word posterity weaves in with the Constitutions preamble I quoted earlier in this article. It matches the change – the literal meaning of the constitutions “We the White, Male, land owning people of the United States,…” that was the de facto of early United States of America’s history.

A lot of things have happened to who votes and who “People” refers to in the Constitution. This document shows the many changes to who a voter was over the history of the United States of America.

This highlights of the document are:

  1. 1870 – African Americans granted citizenship nearly 100 years after our country formed and 101 years before I was born.
  2. 1920 – Women are granted the right to vote
  3. 1924 – Native Americans granted citizenship and the right to vote (but this wasn’t enough)
  4. 1940 – Congress recognizes Native Americans have the right to vote
  5. 1943 – Chinese immigrants have the right to citizenship and vote
  6. 1971 – 18 year-olds are permitted to vote – this is the year I was born

Antonin Scalia who was a Supreme Court Justice in the United States of America indicated that you could not change the meaning of the words in the Constitution to their modern usage. The word people meant something different to the signers of the Constitution than after the hundreds of years of modifications to the voter, i.e. the “People”. That the words don’t mean something different because of the current time or interpretation, they only mean and permit what was voted upon by Congress at that time of the vote. He said people need to vote at the ballot box and have Congress enact laws or amend the Constitution. That there is no law preventing treating women different from men, only that women have the right to vote.

Antonin Scalia wasn’t 100% wrong, either. The problem is words and their meanings.

What do the words “We the People” mean to you? The point is; however, more than just the meaning of words. Do amendments about the vote cover equal treatment or do they just cover the right to vote?

The point is that the United States of America started out – not as a consensus, but as a ruling minority over a majority of other people – people of different religions, different skin colors, different historical origins.

No matter your interpretation of the words, the white supremacists are given power by the historical fact that this country was originally a White, Male, Landed country only. That George Washington owned slaves even after the revolution. Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. People (capital P in the Constitution) owned people.

The Lesson Learned here is that whatever new country that comes in to existence, either by revolution, creating a new home in the vast oceans, or in the depths of space – consensus needs to be created at least once – in the creation of that country. And that consensus needs to be on the definition of the words level for that constitution, that charter, that founding document(s). There can be no ambiguity.

We are quickly coming on an era where “people” whatever it means, may not be the only self-controlled entities on Earth. Our constitution is being stretched to cover all people of biological origin. What will it do to the first codops (computerized doppelgangers), the first AI, or the first cyborg?

What we do to those three categories of people will determine if codops, AI, and Cyborg have to fight biological humans for their rights. The time to be thinking about these formerly science fiction problems is now – before it is too late.

One final note:

Often, when a government is torn in two because the foundation is not built on consensus – you have to not only write and pass a law once, but you have to do it several times in order to say, “Yes, I really mean it this time.” This seems to apply the strongest in terms of rights to vote than on any other topic.