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Be Careful What You Ask For 

I never knew so much vilification could be rained down on one living man before, but wow, Donald Trump will surely have some sort of “most hated” title to go down in history.  Vlad The Impaler, Ghengis Khan, Tamerlane, Attila, Lorenzo D’Medici, Torquemada, Ivan the Terrible, these were all pikers compared to Trump.  Hitler was a Boy Scout and Stalin was a choir boy by comparison.  Wow, c’mon now, get a grip… he isn’t even in office yet.

What is equally fascinating is the litany of brutal social media posts all seeming to encourage and push him and his new administration toward a galaxy class failure.  Well, as many know I did not support and did not vote for the man but… but … regardless of your fondest desires, boys and girls, he is the next president.  You have tried every ploy in the book now even cooking up sordid allegations but you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  By the rules of the game he won fair and square.  The bizarre attempt to get the entire electoral college to go rogue failed miserably.  Accept it, he is the next President.

So why are you all clamoring for him to fail?  Remember when Obama was elected (I didn’t vote for him either) how you were all exercised about the idiots hoping for his failure?  You were right, they were idiots; like or loathe the president we are in this, as citizens, together and the president’s failure is our failure as well.  So why is it now OK to hope for Trump’s failure?

Let’s stipulate, for purposes of this discussion, that all of the terrible things said about him are true.  It doesn’t change a thing and isn’t going to, despite all of the last minute shenanigans.  Good guy, bad guy, idiot, or savant, he enters a world about which there is little disagreement among close international observers as to how dire it really is.  Consider this:

We live in a world at a time where geopolitically it is more dangerous than at any time since the Soviet Union failed.  ISIS is now a full-fledged Army with the avowed goal of wiping out the west and all infidels and apostates and ushering in a new world Caliphate.  We push them out of one city only to watch helplessly while they take over another.  Iran has the avowed goal of destroying the Jewish State and, while they are at it, the “Great Satan,” which is us.  They even have been busy with their new uranium from the Russians (bought with our hostage money), creating plans for a HEMP (High altitude Electro-Magnetic Pulse) explosion that would fry our grids (plural) and most of the electronic devices across the U.S.  (However the same result could be achieved by taking out under a score of selected transmission sites manually by conventional explosives and operatives on the ground.)  Then while we quickly descend into chaos killing and eating each other in the dark their sponsored terrorists can make short work of us in the name of Allah.  China is taking over the South China Seas even creating new islands and militarizing them while working hard at building a huge modern navy ignoring UN complaints.  North Korea is boasting ballistic missile capability and a desire to fire one at us and laughing at the UN.  And Russia itself under a leader who seems to want to be the next Peter The Great is expanding into neighboring states and thumbing its nose at world complaints.

Economically, chaos is also just over the horizon.  The Chinese currency has been accepted into the basket of currencies for the IMF’s “special drawing rights” as reserve currency for international trade in furtherance of a goal to devalue the dollar already weakened with unrestrained printing.  If the dollar’s value drops sufficiently then those holding debt from us will want repayment and maybe NOT in dollars.  China is already divesting of dollars in trade for gold   And speaking of the debt, at now almost $20 Trillion (it doubled in the last administration) it would take over $168,000.00 from each taxpayer in the country to repay it.  How likely do you think that is?  Really?

In any case, to pay taxes we must have jobs to create taxpayers.  The government loves to point out that fewer people are filing for unemployment.  Who cares?  That is not the real measure; it just tells us few people are applying.  The REAL measure of employment is the Bureau of Labor Statistics on “Labor Participation Rates” that show we have a lower percentage of people who can work and want to work but are employed than at any time since the 1970s.  We have increased the number of people below the poverty level and massively increased the number of food stamps.

Of course the planet is warming up.  Given where we are statistically between glacial periods some scientists ask why isn’t it warmer?  Given precession and wobble of the earth’s orbit we are prey to the sun and its storms which have historically warmed us up dramatically.  Indeed by sheer luck and a few hours of planetary travel through space we barely missed a solar storm that would have engulfed us just recently (making a HEMP explosion seem like a firecracker). But what are we doing?  We’re wasting time arguing about whether the warming is completely natural or completely human caused and who does or does not believe either side.  We will have lots of time to debate that, what we have very little time for (if the worst case predictions come true which is always the safe course to follow ) is preparing for the results if the sea levels do rise dramatically.  As far as I’ve read, only Boston is taking preparations that will channel the water if it rises and even if not will create an attractive feature along a modified waterfront.  California?  Nope.  They’re still arguing over tidal generators and desalinization displacing a few fish along the shore and how to keep water from the farmers in the Central Valley in order to save the Delta Smelt and Snail Darters.  Meantime true believers keep pointing so an alleged consensus of scientists (as if a consensus in science has EVER been an indicator of reality throughout history) that is largely irrelevant especially as other concerns present a far more existential threat to the country in the short term.

Despite the delusion of the left, Trump is walking into a left over and developing quagmire that could well be beyond ANYONE’S ability to fix.  If he fails, especially if he fails on several of those fronts, this country will be in deep trouble, and could perhaps become a true 3rd world country overnight if the power goes down.  So, given all of that, what level of idiocy does it take to root for him to fail?  What special kind of stupid is required to want to see him unable to stabilize any of those issues much less all of them?  What manner of historical, sociological, political, economical, philosophical ignorance is needed to think that if he fails the result of that failure will be better for us and the country than if somehow, even magically, he succeeds?

Whether you hate him or love him, whether you think his is spawn of the devil or a saving angel, whether you think his is any or all of the scurrilous labels that have been applied to him in the time since the election, you sure as Hell better hope he succeeds as president in getting this country back on its feet and strong again. Given the world we are facing I’m not sure any living human could succeed in saving us over the next few years, much less Trump.  But I am hoping against hope that I am wrong.

I wrote back in the mid-1990s that I believed that by the elections of 2012 we had not turned this country back from its current course we would have passed the point of no return on the slide into our eventual downfall, ready to turn the reins over to the next super power, God Help us, because I thought it would be China.  But that was before ISIS found the vacuum it needed to grow into the threat it has become.

However, we did not make that course correction by 2012.  I do not know but that it might be too late or whether, even if we make it now, we can escape the same fate as all the other great civilizations; and for exactly the same reasons.  So whatever I may believe about Trump’s competence or personality or psychology or intellect, I have no option but to hope he can pull it off, succeed as president and get this country back on track.

Obama said, in his farewell address, there is no greater title than Citizen of the U.S.  I happen to agree with that statement.  And I think our duty, as citizens, is to put the animosity of the election behind us and try to work together at least civilly to help our new president succeed.  That means we have to remind him when we think he is off track, but it also means we have to support him when he actually seems to be making things improve.  And we must learn to do both in a respectful manner likely to appeal to those we seek to persuade rather than simply drive the wedges between us deeper.

No one individual is either all good or all bad, and certainly that is also true of any collective or humans including political parties.  If we cannot objectively see the bad things our guy is doing and work to correct it, but also see the good thing their guy is doing and work to help support it, then we  do not deserve the title of Citizen.

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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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The Sheeple Have Spoken

San Diego – Well, the good news is that it is over.  The lies and misinformation that dripped moment by moment from the politicians as they sought to outdue each other in the amount of venom and vitriol they could spew at the other side has been spent and they will have another few years to recharge their reservoirs of political bile.

The end came, unfortunately, too late for me to retain respect for some of my acquaintances who did not just fall into but rather flung themselves full bore into the hateful, distasteful, and often idiotic fray of yet more bumper-sticker intelligence and cartoon level thinking about issues that were incredibly important on a scale broader, obviously now, than their self serving, simplistic, often one-issue intellects could grasp.

And make no mistake, that preamble is aimed in ALL political directions.  The real issues that face us now and will face us in the near future as a nation were all but ignored by both sides as they sought simply to smear each other with the offal they could only be obtaining by scraping it of off themselves.  Both winning and losing sides studiously avoided a confrontation on truly critical issues of national importance.  The winning side did so because they had no standing to claim a shred of integrity or sincerety had they attempted to enter that arena and the losing side did so for reasons totally obscure to me but which could not be all that flattering.

And in the end, we, as a nation, got not what we needed (and probably could not have extracted from either side) but what we most likely deserve and what most likely will be the first major move down the path toward those “step” or “stage” changes prophesied by historians and political philosophers from Polybius to Marx I spelled out in a previous post.

Some of you old timers may recall that years ago, in the late 1990s and early 2000s I predicted that by the time of this election, we would set our nation on a path to reclaiming the shining example to the world our founders gave us or down the road to ruin retracing the same path and for the same reasons previous great civilizations took to their ultimate demise as virtual centers of the world in terms of geo-political importance and economies.  I hoped it would not happen in my lifetime but now, I am sad to say, I think I have lived to see it.

I have now seen the parasitical class out-vote the productive class.  It was bound to happen sooner or later but I truly had hoped it would be a lot later.  I have now seen those who believe they are entitled to the fruits of the labors of others out-vote those remaining few who think they are entitled only to what they can produce and accomplish themselves.  I have seen now those who believe that if there must be some consequence for their actions and behaviors, it is OTHERS who should bear it and not themselves out-vote those who believe  we should all bear the consequences for our own actions and behaviors.

Unfortunately, those feelings of entitlement and social justice have an economic impact.  Of course it does not — or in their minds, should not impact them because it is the others that are expected to pay “their fair share” when some pay nothing at all.  But as the Iron Lady said, pretty soon that approach runs out of “other people’s” money.   Certainly we have run out of our own as a country.

If that were not so we would not have a $16 Trillion dollar debt and be in immediate need of asking to borrow more.  You cannot claim to be solvent and yet require – REQUIRE – additional borrowing just to meet your liabilities.  And the result is each child now alive will be saddled with over ¼ million dollars in personal debt to the country if it is EVER to be settled.

Of course under the new order set in motion at the polls last night it cannot ever be repaid.  Why not?  Here’s a heretical idea, look at the logic.  It is simple Aristotelian logic and not complex at all.  Here are the premises…

  1. The only way to create sustainable revenue to the government is via increases in national productivity.
  2. National productivity is a function of jobs, solid jobs that create the majority of the goods and services needed so that the balance of trade can remain favorable.  And it is those employees who, if the winners of last night are to be believed, carry the major tax burdens and whose taxes keep the ship of state afloat.  So from all standpoints an increase in the productive workforce is mandatory for any sort of national recovery.

    However…

  3. The world that could easily employ lots of unskilled labor is dying at a rapid pace.  Today’s solid jobs depend on skill-sets and knowledge not dreamed of when I was just entering the work force.
  4. The only institution that can properly prepare future workers with those needed skill-sets is education.
  5. The only institutions that can hire and retain those workers, assuming the existence of requisite skill sets are businesses and corporations.

But…

  1. What institution is designated as the first to receive cuts due to those same budget problems that are claimed do not exist?  Education.
  2. What institutions are designated as the whipping boys for all the unfair ills around and so throttled with tax and regulation burdens to limit or stifle their productivity?  Businesses and corporations.

Is not the disconnect apparent to you?  Are you following any of this or am I going too fast and using words that are too big?  The answer has to be that no, you are not following this or the election results would have been different.

Luckily I am an old guy.  My “future” is well behind me and the truth is I had a very good run at it.  In my opinion we took the first big step over the edge last night but we have so much inertia going that even a dedicated transformer like our president cannot undo us overnight.  It will take a little while.  So I may never live to see it all utterly fall apart.

But my students will and I am sorry for them.  They will never see the America I saw as a youth; a beacon to the world as a place of opportunity and hope for all willing to buy into the culture and work for it.  A major nail was driven in the coffin of that old place last night. Maybe it will be the last nail needed.

But my students were and are among those cheering it all on, pleased at the outcome to savor the flow of entitlements and goodies they expect to come flowing down the government food trough.  So maybe I should not feel sorry for them after all.  They will get the results of the actions they have set in motion; actions and results I do not think can be reversed by the time this term will be over.  And it will be what is deserved.  I do not think they deserve the America that was, the America of dreams and fantastic potential.

(As an aside, yes, I do still think that there is the possibility the technology of efficiently extracting oil from shale noted in my last post will still happen… somewhere.  But having vast oil-based revenues, despite the major growth it has twice allowed in this country, is no guarantee of having things move in the best directions.  Riches do not guarantee a benign government.  Think Saudi Arabia if you do not believe it.  It can also provide the power for a tyrant-in-training to solidify their position by now passing out the goodies even more extensively.  We talk about the best politicians money can buy but the real worry is about the most dependent voters money can buy.)

Anyway…  If I were a national politician this morning, my attitude would be, “OK, you voters made your choice… so be it.  If this is what you want, even though you have no idea what you are asking for, then let it happen and happen quickly.”  Since my own pension and salary are secure as a member of congress, I would give the President everything he wanted with no problems whatsoever.  And make sure who is getting the credit (him) and who will, down the road, deserve the blame.

After all, if we are doomed to pass on through to the next stage, then lets get it over quickly so we can then start setting the ground work to move the cycles rapidly ahead and perhaps the next time we reach the point of wonder and power, we will be able to look back to when we through it all away and see what that cost us.  Perhaps next time we will learn from history rather than ignoring it.

Nah…

 

 
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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Thank God, it’s Almost Over!!!

San Diego – I was beginning to think today would never arrive and that I would have to endure the idiotic, verbal manure being hurled around by people I would expect to know better and have more than a coincidental and more frequent connection with the facts!

The damage is unfortunately already done; I have learned that people I initially respected are willing to throw their intellect and their country onto a midden pile in order to rationalize their often one-issue obsessions and blindly partisan perspectives totally unburdened by the slightest concern over whether or not the invective and venom they spew towards not only the other side’s stalwarts but anyone with the temerity to suggest perhaps on occasion the other side might have a point is accurate.  I find NOTHING to respect in such activities and behaviors and had this gone on much longer I fear my view of some of my so-called “friends” on the social media (some of whom I’ve never even met) would suffer some irreparable damage.  Now it is just a case of damage control.

There are no good sides here.  There is no side with a pipeline to truth and none seemingly interested in even a pipeline to fact.  No side seems willing to withhold wild promises impossible or impractical to keep so long as one more simple minded voter can be swayed in their direction.  No side is willing to be specific about plans to implement their vague objectives, but both are being more than specific, truth be damned, about the ills and evils of the near demon on the other side.

But most importantly, no one is willing to admit and address the woeful truth that we have let the country and the state get so far out of whack fiscally that any plan remotely likely to put us back on solid ground will be so painful to ALL citizens, even if that pain is temporary, that to propose it seriously is political suicide because there are simply too many parasites feeding at the government trough.  That they think so little of the voting public is probably the one accurate assessment they have made.

On the upper end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly complex tax code with so many loopholes one could pilot a super tanker through them.  And at the lower end are parasites feeding off of an impossibly corrupt group of politicians buying votes with taxpayer funded pabulum.  And in the middle are the country’s backbone folks who both sides claim to want to save but who, in fact, are wantonly being used in order to pay for the feedbag used to keep their real constituents in line.

I don’t see any good choices among those presented to us.  The incumbent side wants desperately to tear down the country so it can be rebuilt along the lines of his father’s dream world, a social utopia, a world that has never successfully existed on its own merit and productivity.  And the challenger side would seem to favor a world of the late 19th century where abuses of power became legendary, clichéd, and spawned the start of the socialization process with Woodrow Wilson.

I’m sorry, I don’t like either of those choices yet shortly i will find myself having to vote for one or the other.  Upon what can a decision be made other than the lesser negative?  Well, perhaps there is something…

I think that within the next term, or two terms at the most, several technologies and events will happen that will reframe our world regardless of who is in office though that person will ride its coattails to extreme power or to political perdition depending on how they play those cards.  But the stakes will be enormous and extend way out into the future.

On one hand there is the very real possibility that in the short term, say in the first two to three years, a dedicated transformer such as the incumbent can, with the help of the Fed and the fiat currency, so induce massive inflation via continuing the debauching of the currency as to hasten our economic collapse.  On the other hand, I’m not sure or confident that the challenger, if he wins, will be able or interested in bringing back our connection to the political ideals that motivated this country’s founders or if he will simply turn the dogs of the other kennel loose on the people.

At best the challenger may buy us some time by slowing the engine hauling us down a transformative path I openly despise and at worst won’t continue to rush headlong down it.

But within 3-7 years I think we will see something amazing happen that will give us the opportunity to revisit the same levels of growth and prosperity that happened in the late 1800s and again in the late 1940s through the 1950s and from the same resource: energy… oil and gas.  Based on proven reserves we have more oil and gas locked up in the Bakken shale fields and surrounding areas than the rest of the world, including the middle east, EVER had; and it is primarily on U.S. territory (with some substantial areas also in Canada containing oil sands.)

If, and here is the big “IF,” the government supports the research into the technology to extract oil from the huge shale deposits (over 20 known deposits with each having over 20 times the reserves of the giant East Texas fields that funded and fueled those two giant spurts in our economy in the past) we have the potential of seeing a jump in productivity and economic health not seen for nearly a century.

Even now, with limited efficiency, we are extracting so much oil from those areas coupled with more traditional oil fields that we are on our way to becoming a major oil exporter not a major oil importer.  But extraction efficiency for the shale is the key here.  And government support (or at least the lack of interference) to both developing and implementing that technology is the key to developing and deploying that greater efficiency.

Thank goodness the fields are not on public land or the current administration would have already shut them down as it has the more traditional well sites and refining capability across the country!

If the government then will take steps to remove that energy’s marketing strategy from the world market pricing, or even just allow it to drive the supply-and-demand cycle without interference nationally, there is the potential for a huge – HUGE – and positive impact on our economy, our living standards, our employment figures, our national productivity, and of course our national economy.

It was John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil and its offshoots and increasing competitors, using the Vanderbilt railroads as transportation, leveraged by Morgan’s banks using Carnegie’s steel that combined to fuel the industrial revolution and pushed us into the forefront of world economy. It made those giants wealthy but it also raised the standard of living across the entire country and made us ALL much better off with a productivity jump unprecendented in human history.

And it was oil from the so-called “Stickleback” fields in East Texas that fueled the engine of industrial and manufacturing victory against the Axis powers and underwrote the post WWII re-growth that FDR took the credit for.  Without the products and use from that incredible oil flow, none of those “New Deal” projects could have happened.

But, again, the positive outcome for our own future’s exploitation of the Bakken and similar fields will happen only if the government allows it.  If the current administration is still in power it will face a horrid philosophical dilemma.  To allow that oil to be extracted and used will mean acting like the leader of a republic not of a country sized commune.  It will mean creating a comprehensive environmental policy that allows resource development while safeguarding the environment and planning for environmental recovery when needed.  And that is a compromise rabit environmentalists will oppose along with the potential lowering of the price of fuel and its commensurate improvement in productivity from farms to factories. Therefore, to do that will put the president afoul of his base.

On the other hand, if he allows it, when the country sees a huge growth spurt, then like both Wilson and FDR, he will become so popular, and powerful, that he can slip in all of the Czars and extra-Constitutional activities he wants and the people will all applaud him.  I would predict that if our current leader is re-elected and this technological leap happens in the next four years (I’m betting on about three years for it), and if he plays his cards wisely, we will see him toss the XXII amendment out the window, with rabid voter approval, and ride in for even more terms and a free hand to reshape the country as he wishes.

But regardless of who wins today and will be President for at least the next four years, technology will continue to advance either above or below the table.  I think that next big spurt will come regardless of politics and policy and the only issue will be over who is allowed to benefit from it; our country or another.  Because of that potential, even though I think in the short term voting choices are little better than Twiddle Dee and Twiddle Dum, what may happen during this next term is so important and powerful that the person in leadership at that time and their likely policies toward it cannot, by me at least, be ignored.

Since I believe Obama’s approach is up in the air but in the end, if he allows the technology to flourish it will only give him the power to accelerate our rush into a deeply socialistic state, whereas Romney’s seems at least a little less likely to aim his and our future in that direction, I am forced to come kicking and screaming to the position where I will vote against Obama and only tacitly for Romney.

But what a pathetic place in which to find ourselves!  The only candidate with a real vision has a vision to which I am profoundly opposed on political and philosophical grounds.  We as a country are sitting on the greatest find of important resources the world has ever seen.  We got to where we were in the first place because we had, what appeared to be unlimited resources while the rest of the world had depleted or were in the process of depleting theirs.  Now we have under our feet more oil potential than we could use in 100 years.  If – IF – we used that to power a major growth spurt while, at the same time, exploring all of the alternatives that could be used to actually run the country and allow those reserves to be extended way out into the future, we would have just insured our long term position as THE place in the world to come to.

But it is one gigantic “IF!”

Oh well, I guess I need to get dressed, and get on down to the polling place where I can hold my nose and once again, vote for the lesser of two (to me) awful choices.  Here in Kalifornia it is probably a true throw-away vote but the process is important and its retention is vital to us as a country.  So get out and vote for whatever you believe in.  It is your right to do that, a right purchased with blood.  So don’t ever take the process lightly even if the specifics of a vote, at the moment, seem less important.  There are still countries and places that are amazed and jealous that we actually can choose our own leaders.  Whether those choices are wise ones or not, is another matter entirely.

 
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Posted by on November 6, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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QUO VADIS?

San Diego — Under the radar of the current ugly scream and screed fest known as a Presidential Election, one of the ugliest since Andrew Jackson was able to sling more mud than his opponent, technology is muddying the waters of that great goal of higher employment like a great double edged broadsword slicing through friend and foe alike in close combat.

Alex Daley, editor of the Casey Extraordinary Technology newsletter noted that this year is seeing the foundations of several technologies that will certainly bring massive changes to our culture.  But one of those changes unmentioned (he was talking mostly about investment opportunities) is the commensurate need for fewer jobs.  Here are a few of the technologies he discussed.

  • The promise of a paperless future is unlikely to be met in full, but a promise of needing LESS hard copy paper for reading material is already being met.  From the iPad to the Kindle, the electronic book is becoming more and more accepted due to convenience and expense.  But it does not take publishing houses and major web/perfector printing presses to distribute millions of copies… it takes only a server.  A single person (at the moment) can be responsible for maintaining the system that distributes those electronic files and soon even the human will be replaced.
  • The rise of both industrial and service robotics is making repeatable precision possible in areas as far flung as manufacturing and surgery and developers are looking at the consumer arena as a major frontier to tackle.  That has idled car makers, some medical personnel, and perhaps, in the future, janitorial/custodial workers in both corporate and residential environments.  One warehouse now uses the robotics from Kiva Systems that turn warehouse operations on its ear by literally bring the bins and shelves to the people who box and distribute items and essentially eliminates the need for one of the last semi-skilled jobs of warehouse attendants.
  • The rise of “additive manufacturing” via 3D printers is invading not just industry but slowly working into the consumer area as well.  With a 3D printer if you have something break you can simply have your 3D printer make a new one.   The technology started in the 1980s but as the technology has improved the rise of additive manufacturing machines has risen, in the last few years, over 35,000%!  Now THAT is growth to notice.  Yet few have.
  • And a biological revolution is taking place following the mapping of the human genome creating amazing new drugs with genetic targeting and the potential to cure many types of fatal diseases and physiological issues.  Meaning that while other technologies are working hard to make the need for human workers obsolete, this area is working hard to make us live longer and longer and extending our working life.

And yet the two allegedly intelligent candidates we are left with are battling each other in exactly the way most wars are fought in the beginning, that is with tactics from the last war.  No one is addressing the complex issues that will arise when even for that increasingly small group of citizenry willing to actually work for their keep simply has been made obsolete by technology and there are not enough jobs to go around?  What then?  No matter how firmly entrenched their work ethic, if there is no place to apply it, it becomes a moot point.  And where goes the class warfare arguments when increased productivity and therefore revenue is being generated by increasingly smart machines and there is no one whose revenue can be confiscated by the government to carry those who will not (and at that point, CAN not) work?

These are not issues that will seriously impact us tomorrow or even the next day.  But given the exponential rise of technological abilities once a given technology reaches some critical mass, that day is probably not more than a few years away and once it happens then is not the time to wake up and ask, “Now what?”

What does this do to the educational world when there is no longer the major need to educate and train people as worker bees when there essentially are no more worker bees because the machines can now maintain, and perhaps build themselves?

Yes we will still need authors for the books, designers for the cars and for the items to be replaced, surgeons to determine what to do in the operating room.  But for how long.  We already have computers than can mimic the phraseology and cadence of famous writers, do a credible job at replicating a new symphony in the style of anyone, do a 3D scan of an item to be replaced, and soon will be able to read an MRI or X-Ray for a flawless diagnosis.

Star Trek painted a vision of a world where all of that had already happened and it was a lovely picture where needs were met by replicators working for free while mankind was free to pursue their human need for growth and exploration as they wished.  But is that a realistic vision for today’s human?  Or tomorrows?  How do we prepare for such a world?  I think we had better prepare for it, talk about it, discuss such issues, make them a part of the public debate and bring them into the open.

Because if we do not, then a country with 80% or more of its population out of work because they are not needed, with no plans, no safety net, no ability to meet the needs of simply living will simply stage a revolution and those are perhaps the most frightening of possibilities.  If we arrive upon that new stage unprepared then our world and environment will not look like that of star Trek, it will look like the future world in Terminator.

I have no answers to it because the potential is just slowly beginning to dawn on me.  Like all techies I was initially seduced by the wonder of the gadgets (I would DEARLY love to have a 3D printer and a robot housekeeper) and like most, was not thinking about the unintended consequences of those possibilities permeating the society.  But I would dearly love to see our so-called leaders talk about it, talk about their visions for the future, talk about ANYTHING other than how and why the other guy is an idiot, a criminal, and/or some other type of human vermin.

I once was privy to a major project in a then Fortune 100 company where I was under contract to provide content for training videos and documents.  An army of programmers was hired to create a huge, interrelated enterprise application.  They were quickly modularized into little fiefdoms each charged with a specific aspect of the program.  The company owned an IBM 3090 mainframe computer, one step down from a super computer.  But as the modules were finalized and uploaded it brought the computer to a crashing halt on a daily basis.

Each module was flawlessly authored but by groups who did not talk to one another.  Each working virtually autonomously, indeed each jealous of the other groups’ progress, were all producing modules than, when compiled, asked for exactly the same computer resources.  There was no leadership module that divied out resource allocations to spread the load on the mainframe, no generalist who could look at it and note that all of the parts were perfect, in a vacuum, but when united, would crash and burn.

We are now in an age of hyper specialization.  Generalists are an increasingly smaller group.  So there are fewer and fewer people who can look at the big picture and say that each part is wonderful but when put together they will blow up.

On a company level it was merely humorous to watch, but on a national, much less international level, it can be catastrophic.  I do not need my leader to know how to do everything down to the last technical “jot and tittle;” that is what specialists and experts are for.  I would rather they were domestic, economic, and geopolitical generalists who could see the big picture and identify those places and intersections of imminent disaster.

But I do not see any single individual on the political stage under any label that is showing themselves capable of doing that.  Each is so buried into the specifics of their own platforms, blind to the others and blind to the issues of what conflicts with what in a world filled with nations all on their own narrow agendae can lead to global catastrophe, that I think they are all to some degree dangerous to our futures.

There are bigger issues at stake than a person’s tax returns (a little disingenuous coming from a side that hires a known tax cheat to head the treasury department) or whether they managed to attend an ivy league school on a foreign student’s fee waiver.  It is our future at stake… not our past.

Both sides have a very different, perhaps a diametrically opposed view of the world and our place in it.  But neither has demonstrated that they can see beyond their narrow platforms, neither seems capable of seeing a true big picture based on an honest appraisal of all of the players and issues at stake, and neither seems to be looking at the very real and potentially chaotic world technology is on the verge of laying at our feet.

I find that pretty frightening.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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