Monday, December 5, 2016

More jobs go buy-bye; retail grocery goes high-tech

"The idea is that Amazon's machine-learning technology can automatically identify when a product is added to your cart, so you don't have to do it yourself. When you leave the store, Amazon automatically charges your Amazon account."

We keep making jobs obsolete but still haven't planned what to do with employment.  Universal Basic Income would go a long way toward fixing that.

When I was a kid the coming robots would make for more leisure time for all workers, while their salary supposedly stayed the same.  Instead, corporations just pocket the savings and fire the workers.  That is not a long-term solution for anything, including corporate profits, which require someone with an income to buy their products or services.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

What happens when you can't trust the news anymore?

"Middle school, high school and college students in 12 states were asked to evaluate the information presented in tweets, comments and articles. More than 7,800 student responses were collected.
In exercise after exercise, the researchers were 'shocked' — their word, not ours — by how many students failed to effectively evaluate the credibility of that information.
The students displayed a 'stunning and dismaying consistency' in their responses, the researchers wrote, getting duped again and again. They weren't looking for high-level analysis of data but just a 'reasonable bar' of, for instance, telling fake accounts from real ones, activist groups from neutral sources and ads from articles."

So what happens when the news is no longer dependent on fact?  What happens to our society when we believe things that aren't real?  How can we maintain a news feed that at least sticks to reality?

I blame Fox News.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Someone with a basic income explains how it works

"Perhaps the most transformative effect of basic income I’ve personally experienced is the power it gives in any negotiation. For many people, this will be experienced as the power to refuse to work for insufficiently low wages (potentially nullifying the need for minimum wage laws), or unacceptable terms of any kind, be it work conditions, hours, benefits, etc. For freelancers like me, it means asking for what I’m worth, and also being able to choose to work for free on anything I consider important enough.
When I didn’t have a basic income, I’d accept a writing assignment for $50 even if it took me an entire week to research and write, because $50 is better than $0. If someone wanted to publish something I’d already written, I’d worry about asking for any compensation in case asking meant not only not getting paid but not getting republished. I don’t think I’m alone in these ways either.
Now that I have a basic income, I know my work has value. I know my time has value. I know I have value. I’m never again going to spend a week writing an article for $50 that’s going to be owned by someone else, but I will and have done it for $1,000. I’m not going to just allow some publishing company to profit off of something I’ve previously written without at least asking for a fee. If they say no, that’s okay, and we can go from there. But I’m not afraid to ask."

This is a great article from someone who is living with a basic income.  He shows how much it can change a life by providing security and consistency.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Elon Musk promotes universal basic income

"Musk’s Tesla Motors is leading the way to self-driving cars, while also pushing factories to new levels of automation. And he thinks that workers displaced by those and other forms of automation will need help permanently, and on a broad scale.
'I think that there’s a pretty good chance we end up with a universal basic income, or something like that, due to automation,'  Musk said. 'I’m not sure what else one would do.'
The Universal Basic Income concept has gained broad traction in recent years, particularly in the tech community. The idea is that all citizens would receive a small regular stipend—enough to cover basic housing and food needs, but little more."

This is gaining traction but is still years away.  We also need to switch to single payer insurance like the rest of the world, and cheaper higher education.  Maybe if we didn't spend as much as the rest of the world on defense, we could afford such things?

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Will fake news drown out real news?

I've been on Facebook for about 6 years now. I like the posts my Facebook friends put up, because it's things I have an interest in that I probably wouldn't have otherwise seen. Of course there are the funny videos and such too. But I like the history, news, and such that I find.

But lately there has been an avalanche of fake news.  This comes from facebook posts directly, and sometimes from a friend inadvertently thinking such posts are actual news.  It wouldn't be too bad  if this was just a once in a while occurrence, but lately it has become almost as frequent as all other posts combined.

"A dozen or so of the sites are published in-house, but posts from the company’s small team of writers are free to be shared among the entire network. The deal for a would-be Liberty Alliance member is this: You bring the name and the audience, and the company will build you a prefab site, furnish it with ads, help you fill it with content and keep a cut of the revenue. Coca told me the company brought in $12 million in revenue last year. (The company declined to share documentation further corroborating his claims about followers and revenue.)
Because the pages are run independently, the editorial product is varied. But it is almost universally tuned to the cadences and styles that seem to work best on partisan Facebook. It also tracks closely to conservative Facebook media’s big narratives, which, in turn, track with the Trump campaign’s messaging: Hillary Clinton is a crook and possibly mentally unfit; ISIS is winning; Black Lives Matter is the real racist movement; Donald Trump alone can save us; the system — all of it — is rigged."

Click bait will destroy Facebook, and maybe a large chunk of the Internet.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What will become of libraries?

"Besides, it's easy to criticize. But when was the last time any of these traditionalists even stepped foot in a library? When I was growing up in the 1970s, libraries were where you went to read books and research papers. They were a portal to new and exciting worlds, a pathway to adventure.
Today, we do all that through electronic devices we can hold in the palm of our hand. Public libraries could soon become just another relic of the past, like the full-service gas station, the five-and-dime and the soda fountain in the corner drugstore."

So what should libraries be doing now that almost any needed bit of information or entertainment can be found in a little magic box we carry around?  How about Internet connection for those who can't otherwise reach it?  How about access to the latest technologies before most people know how to use them?  And how about video games?  
I am happy to see that libraries are flexible enough to move with the times and still provide useful stuff for the public.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The future of farming? Using sea water

"It’s the first agricultural system of its kind in the world and uses no soil, pesticides, fossil fuels or groundwater. As the demand for fresh water and energy continues to rise, this might be the face of farming in the future.
An international team of scientists have spent the last six years fine-tuning the design – first with a pilot greenhouse built in 2010; then with a commercial-scale facility that began construction in 2014 and was officially launched today."

wow, I hadn't heard of this before.  Looks great!