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Archive for the ‘Where are the Robots?’ Category

Technology Leads to… Inequality? Computers Are Exploiting Our FREE Labor.

Posted by middlerage on May 10, 2013

So just like my worries about sharing music, I also stumble on orators who have illuminated an issue in a (to me) awesome way, but perhaps you will be ‘meh’. I hope not with this case, and you’ll be as stunned as me.

For whatever reason (and wealth inequality being a pretty good reason) the recent interview with Jaron Lanier on the Diane Rehm show stopped me in my tracks. I am blown away, and finding myself saying a lot of “Yeah! What he said!” I hope you will too. I strongly hope you will read the transcription (linked at bottom), and here is a (heavily edited) teaser to whet your appetite:

 … when my colleagues and I worked on getting digital networking to be operational, we always anticipated that when it was introduced, we’d see a wave of fresh prosperity. We’d see a wave of well-being. We’d see people doing better in their lives. […] And the reason we believed that is that’s what technologists always want to see. We always — that is what we saw with the advent of plumbing or vaccinations or the freeways or electricity and, you know, not always perfectly, but generally one would see that. […]
I mean, why else do these things? What’s the purpose otherwise? And once networking became available, I was shocked and disappointed to see its effect on the world. And I know there are some triumphs that are often talked about. Maybe it played a role in the Arab Spring. I actually have my doubts about that, but let’s say it did. In the developed world, what we’ve seen is an increase in income concentration. We’ve seen austerity. We’ve seen jobless recoveries. We’ve seen a loss of social mobility. […] We’ve seen a hollowing-out of the labor market where middle class jobs are harder to come by and more people end up either on top or on the bottom, not too many on top. And I started to worry, like, why are we not seeing the benefits? And when I looked at it, I realized that we hadn’t really thought through what we were doing well enough. […] Even if people are created equal, computers are not and some of those people are going to have bigger computers than the others. And those that have the biggest computers have this extraordinary advantage, even if they didn’t realize they were going to get it in advance. [emphasis mine]
Here’s the link. Enjoy. While you’re not tearing your hair out and planning the revolution. http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-05-09/jaron-lanier-who-owns-future/transcript

Posted in observations, Where are the Robots?, wtf | Leave a Comment »

Music Fridays – What’s a Union?

Posted by middlerage on February 22, 2013

And good evening folks! Ho ho ho! Rex Alpha here with ALPHA’S BEST BETS! Everything you need to know for this weekend’s entertainment. Of course, this Sunday, Rex will be tuning into the Grammy Awards along with most of YOU – to see WHO WILL take HOME the Grammy for BEST SONG of 2031. Later in our broadcast, the lovely Tamara Gamma will give us the countdown preview for this year’s crop of hit singles, but FIRST we’re going to talk with a Professor SprinkleSpratz of  Columbia University. Dr. SprinkleSpratz you’re going to be doing something verrrry interesting at this year’s awards, ho ho ho, but before we get to that, FIRST tell us a little bit about yourself, Doc – You belong to something very unusual…

Well, yes, Rex, in fact I am a professor of Music at Columbia, but more importantly I am president of Musicians Local 001.

I see, and tell us what exactly you mean by “Musicians Local 001”?

Well, Rex, it’s a union, as a matter of fact.

[Rex makes a show of mock horror and bugs his eyes at camera one] A UNION! Well, I dare say folks we haven’t heard of unions in…what, oh, a decade?

Well, yes Rex. As a matter of fact, all unions were outlawed in the Great Profit Failure and CEO Revolt of 2019. However, due to the Treaty to Support Our Relations With France, (enacted several years prior), Jazz musicians and Jerry Lewis impersonators were grandfathered in.

I see. So you’re in a union of fellow Jazz musicians – so that means no pop musicians? no rock musicians? Are you a large organization?

Well, no Rex, there’s just about seven or eight of us. Our oldest member was once a member of Polkacide – who came close but never quite – being nominated for a Grammy. And you’re quite right, no rock or pop musicians allowed by law. However, we do have one rocker, the founding member of Dahveed and the Voodoo Switches, but Dahveed actually joined us when a photographers union merged with our organization.

I see, and how many people were in the Photographers union?

Well, only one, actually. So it made sense for him to throw in with us.

I see. So now on to the interesting part you’ll play in Sunday night’s awards ceremony.  As we all know, the Jazz and Classical categories at the Grammys were phased out in 2027. What,… well,.. please… in your own words, professor…

Yes, well, actually, Rex, we will be outside the LA Pavilion, on Sunday night, protesting.

Protesting! [Rex turns to the camera with mock horror and bugs his eyes out] Protesting what?

Well, Rex, as you well know, fully half the nominated Grammy candidates this year are AI simulacrums.  Like yourself. And we believe that, well, the AI pop stars are taking jobs, and well, frankly, the awards should be recognizing outstanding HUMAN contributions. Even though we have no ball in this game, per se, we want to protest and stick up for the budding pop stars of tomorrow. Those who may not have a chance in this industry as it is taken over by simulations.

Did you hear that, Tamara? I do believe the gentleman doesn’t like us, ho ho ho. So tell me, professor, are you actually going to get out there – Tina I had to look this up! ho ho ho – with sign boards and march a figure eight?

Well, maybe not a figure eight, but yes, Rex, that is our plan, we may even bring along a few instruments just to keep our chops up. But yes, it is going to be a good old fashioned protest. I’m quite excited. And we hope AMERICA WAKES UP! Something HAS to be done! First we saw it when Google replaced the publishing industry with AI editors, then they started to actually write the books. Next it was TV hosts, not to mention the robot cameras that are filling your studio, here. [Rex makes a face at the camera] Now our music industry, which is in my heart and soul, is being taken over by formulaic, AI crafted pablum. We can’t stand by and let robots take over our lives, our very souls. We say enough is ENOUGH!

EeeeeeNOUGH is ENOUGH! Fascinating, I dare say! There you have it folks – a real live union and a real live protest! Tell us what YOU think! Sign in to our opinion page through your teleset and give us your opinion of Professor SprinkleSpratz and his protest of non-Human pop stars. Thank you professor and best of luck. Now on to Tamara Gamma and TAMARA’S TOP TEN! Take it AWAYYYY TINA, HO HO HO…

Posted in observations, Politicks, Thinking 'bout music, Where are the Robots?, wtf | Leave a Comment »

Whatever Happened to the Great Promise of…

Posted by middlerage on August 23, 2012

A couple of technology kvetches that I’ll file under Where Are the Robots?

Where is the hybrid minivan? And whatever happened to FiOS, aka fiber optic broadband?

I’m sure big business doesn’t do anything irrationally; (for the purposes of this post, just ignore the Wall Street/Mortgage securities fiasco); I accept the bean counters have crunched their numbers, and there is sound market research behind these two MIAs. So this is just unconstructive whining, but Geez…

I’ve been hearing about the miracle of FiOS since the mid-90s. Isn’t FiOS supposed to eat broadband cable for lunch? And still want to go out for pizza? It’s been in, like, a market test in Tampa or somewhere for 20 years, and never expanded?! I occasionally read about comparisons between South Korean internet connectivity and American connectivity, and we are in the stone age, comparatively speaking. (Considering the number of Koreans who die after 40+ hours of continuous online gaming, maybe it’s a good thing we’re so backwards?). But from my throne of ignorance, I just gotta say, “Come on already!”

And. As a father, I am in love with my minivan. A more utile vehicle has never been made. What would make it even more cool? Better gas mileage and lower emissions. Hello hybrid! Again, if a hybrid minivan made profitable sense, it’d be here by now; it just surprises the heck out of me that it doesn’t. Really? A hybrid, luxury Lexus SUV makes more sense than a sold-by-the-100ks minivan?!

Here’s an article about a hybrid minivan that Ford is introducing, BUT(!) somewhere between drawing board and production it went from seven seats/sliding doors, to five seats and regular doors. That’s not a minivan, that’s a glorified hatchback.

Posted in Where are the Robots? | 3 Comments »

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