Category Archives: computers

The World is Fast

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/05/opinion/the-world-is-fast.html

“In sum, we’re in the middle of three “climate changes” at once: one digital, one ecological, one geo-economical.” Thomas Friedman

Leave a comment

Filed under alternative education, climate change, computers, future, Sudbury Schools and Sudbury Valley School

AI is problematic

Artificial intelligence (AI) is problematic. I mean, well, it just builds on the basic problem of computers in general. It allows people to do amazing things. So when someone is clever at using them to make money in one way or another, it can make them A LOT of money. Hence huge inequalities in income and wealth (and hence power and freedom).

By…

1) eliminating the need for expensive human workers doing boring work
2) analyzing data in ways that we couldn’t before

and more and more…

3) And AI can/will allow for even fancier ways of doing more of 1 and 2.

THE PROBLEM is that these computers (and the AI) also can do cool stuff for individuals — computers can be used by individuals in many many amazing ways. So it seduces us into thinking we are getting a good deal. But the reality MIGHT be that on balance they (computers) are doing more harm than good when one looks at the overall picture. This is JERRY MANDER’s “limitation of the personal view” which he applies to all technologies. I personally think the jury is out on that. We might swing from one extreme to another, or we may not. I recognize we might look back and realize it’s rather obvious one way or the other.

So anyway, it’s funny that David Brooks is questioning and paints 2 scenarios since his final sentence answers his own question.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/31/opinion/david-brooks-our-machine-masters.html?_r=0

ASIDE:
This sorta connects to a “PRETTY GOOD HOUSE” article I just read over at greenbuildingadvisor.com. Point being that Passive Houses (kinda high tech/complicated to build) can be pretty amazing, but even more amazing is probably building a small and simple house that can get to maybe 90% of a passivhaus (depending on climate) but for a much lower price and complexity — meaning available to be built by more people, more local people, local matericals, etc. etc.

Leave a comment

Filed under computers, erik-green, future, passive house, person: Jerry Mander

The Wolf

From https://medium.com/p/9bc38b3e8a2e

wolves

If you build software for a living (or otherwise), go read these three posts.

  1. @rands: The Wolf
  2. @kellan: “Wolf” narrative considered harmful (also biologically unlikely)
  3. @codinghorror (from 2004): Commandos, Infantry and Police

Leave a comment

Filed under art, computers, contrarian, programming, software, tech, work

Where did the netbooks go?

My 2014 inexpensive laptop buying advice….

Q: Dell, Acer, Asus — all used to make 7″ and 10″ netbooks. We have a great Dell netbook called the Dell Inspiron Mini 1010 from several years ago with Windows 7. It has a 10″ screen and no CD/DVD drive, but otherwise is a very functional laptop with a full-sized keyboard. Perfectly great for email and facebook and Netflix and youtube and such. Why don’t they make such things any more in 2014?

A: It seems like they do, it’s just that they call them inexpensive Ultrabooks now. For example, the Dell Inspiron 11 (Haswell/Intel Celeron 2955U based) looks great for $300.

Q: But what about a “chromebook” like the new Acer C270?

A: It’s a tradeoff. A Chromebook is much simpler, but if you are ever going to want to have the option to run actual Office apps or Steam or Minecraft or Portal, etc, etc. for video games (for example), then one has to go Ultrabook route.

Finally: One of my most important qualifications is a laptop must be dead-simple to install more RAM. Some laptops make this difficult, but with others one can do this in 3 minutes.

Leave a comment

Filed under computers, shopping

In the news…. some related links

The following are some related links. Computers are simultaneously making amazing things possible and helping make some people very rich, but also making it more difficult to make a living for many (see the income inequality video).
It’s touching everything for good or bad. Media, education, news, jobs, food, financial markets, politics. Some win (and we all hear about those people) and most lose (and news tries to not depress or mobilize us too much about that). “The limitation of the personal view” Jerry Mander calls it.

======================================

- The Rise of the Blockbuster (blockbusters are actually on the increase. the “long tail” is still there, but aren’t the real winners %-wise)

http://wgbhnews.org/post/rise-blockbuster

======================================

- Misconceptions about wealth Inequality in America

======================================

- “Q: If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared today, what would be the most difficult thing to explain to them about life today?”
“A: I possess a device, in my pocket, that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look at pictures of cats and get in arguments with strangers.”

(original at: http://as.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/15yaap/if_someone_from_the_1950s_suddenly_appeared_today/?sort=top)

======================================

- University megastar professors

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesmarshallcrotty/2012/08/07/the-coming-age-of-the-teaching-megastar/

======================================

- Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us?
Smart machines probably won’t kill us all—but they’ll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think.

http://ehaugsjaa.wordpress.com/2013/06/14/2040-our-robot-paradise/

======================================

- BAY WATCHED: How San Francisco’s new entrepreneurial culture is changing the country.
BY NATHAN HELLER
OCTOBER 14, 2013

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2013/10/14/131014fa_fact_heller?currentPage=all

Naval Ravikant “… the cost to build and launch a product went from five million … to one million … to five hundred thousand … and it’s now to fifty thousand.”

======================================

- The Nacho Dorito
“I visited Steven A. Witherly, a food scientist who wrote an insider’s guide, “Why Humans Like Junk Food,” and we raided his lab to taste and experiment our way through the psychobiology of what makes Nacho Cheese Doritos so alluring.”

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/10/01/dining/nacho-graphic.html?_r=0

======================================

- TOO COMPLICATED TO FAIL

https://www.google.com/search?q=%22too+complicated+to+fail%22

Leave a comment

Filed under computers, contrarian, person: Jerry Mander, tech, thinking

The personal vs the aggregate in computers (and hence, programming)

http://threads2.scripting.com/2013/june/theHumanWave

This resonates with me as well.

See also:
Battle for the planet of the APIs

http://adactio.com/journal/6291/

“The official line from Twitter is that RSS is “infrequently used today.” That’s the same justification that Google has given for shutting down Google Reader. It reminds of the joke about the shopkeeper responding to a request for something with “Oh, we don’t stock that—there’s no call for it. It’s funny though, you’re the fifth person to ask today.””

Leave a comment

Filed under computers, programming

2040: Our robot… paradise?

“…I chose Lake Michigan because its size, in fluid ounces, is roughly the same as the computing power of the human brain measured in calculations per second.”
(see cool animation in the link below…)

LINK
Welcome, Robot Overlords. Please Don’t Fire Us?
Smart machines probably won’t kill us all—but they’ll definitely take our jobs, and sooner than you think.

“What are the signs of a computer-driven economy?
1) First and most obviously, if automation were displacing labor, we’d expect to see a steady decline in the share of the population that’s employed.
2) Second, we’d expect to see fewer job openings than in the past.
3) Third, as more people compete for fewer jobs, we’d expect to see middle-class incomes flatten in a race to the bottom.
4) Fourth, with consumption stagnant, we’d expect to see corporations stockpile more cash and, fearing weaker sales, invest less in new products and new factories.
5) Fifth, as a result of all this, we’d expect to see labor’s share of national income decline and capital’s share rise.
These trends are the five horsemen of the robotic apocalypse, and guess what? We’re already seeing them…”

Exciting times. Hard to say whether to be optimistic or pessimistic. Probably it will all work out and best to focus on 2013!

===================

SEE ALSO:
How Technology Is Destroying Jobs, MIT Technology Review
By David Rotman on June 12, 2013

http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/515926/how-technology-is-destroying-jobs/

“Then, beginning in 2000, the lines diverge; productivity continues to rise robustly, but employment suddenly wilts. By 2011, a significant gap appears between the two lines, showing economic growth with no parallel increase in job creation. Brynjolfsson and McAfee call it the “great decoupling.””

Leave a comment

Filed under computers, future, predictions, work