FORWARD BASE B

"Pay my troops no mind; they're just on a fact-finding mission."

Category Archives: Future Trends

Internet Benefits People Asymmetrically

I saw a great article at Return of Kings a little while ago about how the internet is the “great equalizer.”  This is true insofar as internet is the next printing press.  It’s true like all revolutions in communication that it raises all boats, but as always, some more than others.  Every change in a given environment favors species in some niches over others.
Let’s face it, most internet users stay obediently on the designated pasture of facebook, social media, and its attendant shared games.  Those who are able to explore further are affected very differently.
The constant flow of information can give someone a trans-human sort of consciousness or riddle their mind with irrelevant details and outright falsehoods.
In real life and on the internet, I see many people who still don’t get it.  They complain about how the online world has degraded the quality of content and has enabled short attention spans.  That speaks more to the content they choose to interact with than what is actually available.  Someone with a naturally critical mind and inquisitive nature can tear through a hundred different sources, taking note of the bias of each and arrive at a synthesis.  Those who thrive on the internet understand every piece of information has strengths, weaknesses, and biases.  There is no holy gospel or answer to everything.  Those who deal in nuance do well.  Those who can’t handle it end up indignant and frustrated waxing eloquent about the good old days when a few printing presses in New York controlled the entire flow of the written word.  Or they end up in an echo chamber where everyone tells them what they want to hear—but that’s no different than what most people already do in real life.
For anyone willing to learn the internet has made almost any field of knowledge accessible at any time.  Outliers intuitively understand this means a potential path around the usual gatekeepers who weed them out and make would-be-apprentices grovel for their secrets.  Hands on instruction guided by experienced teachers remains important for mastery, but is no longer necessary to get an introduction and crack open the realms of theory.  The more autonomous the individual the greater the benefit derived.

Those who swim in the ocean of information like a natural habitat become a new aristocracy as they wield disproportionate influence over cultural ideas and public opinion.  Anymore the next trend in politics, art, or culture begins far out at sea as a ripple until finally it hits the teeming coral reefs that hug the shoreline as a towering wave.
As time goes on, those who can’t survive outside the safe coral reefs of facebook and instagram get left further and further behind getting liked by all their “friends” while those on the outer rim create the discourse and therefore weave the very fabric of their social reality.  For herdlings, social opinion and consensus are truest reality and a fist to the face, bitter cold wind, fatigue after hard labor, or even the piercing pangs of hunger or the need to breathe are but flimsy dreams compared.

Thoughts On the Ukraine Crisis

I honestly don’t see the need for war.
Ukraine has been paralyzed by conflict between ethnic Ukrainians and Russians since the collapse of the USSR.
I think the government in Kiev is actually better off without them.
My guess for now is parts of Eastern Ukraine, especially Crimea, could end up going back to Russia.
The Russians get to be part of impoverished Russia.
The western part is finally freed to become part of Europe and to join the rich EU.
Russia gains a bit more territory but at the cost of becoming even more diplomatically and economically isolated.  Even more relegated to being a mere commodity provider for rich countries.
It’s not a good move for Russia.
They may actually be doing the Ukrainians a huge favor.
Perhaps the Russian leadership are savvy enough to understand that pressing this issue won’t help them beyond a certain point and are again posturing in an attempt to boost public opinion at home and boost their appearance of prestige abroad.
Yanukovych was Putin’s man in Kiev.  He was an ethnic Russian from the East who wasn’t even fully fluent in Ukrainian, a shortcoming which made him the George W. Bush of Ukraine, sticking his foot in his mouth at every opportunity.
Irrepressible protests arose after he tried to distance Ukraine from the EU in November and there was a revolution that completely ousted him from power.
I find it odd that present news reports barely even mention the Ukrainian revolution that drove Putin to invade Ukraine.
With events out of context, few seem to understand that Putin is the desperate man, trying to salvage what he can from a wreck beyond all repair.
Ukraine is lost to him forever now and it’s only a matter of time now until it becomes part of the EU and NATO.
Putin will seize what scraps he can but even those will come at a precipitous price.  He spent the last 20 years trying to keep the former Soviet Republics in his orbit, so it’s understandable he’s not acting completely rationally.
I’ve looked at an ethnic map of the Ukraine and have understood that ethnic Russians are barely 1/5 of Ukraine’s population. They’re concentrated in the East.  Crimea is the only part of the entire country that’s majority ethnic Russian.  That may well be the only part that goes back to Russia.
I can see people making comparisons to Sudetenland concessions, but I find them ridiculous.  Nazi Germany was an economic powerhouse while Putin’s Russia is a sick man of Europe.
In time, even Russia will be pulled into the economic vortex that is Europe; even their political power plays will amount to nothing, like one tiny person trying to swim against the current of a river.

 

Percent Ethnic Russians in Ukraine Provinces

A US Collapse Vs. SU Collapse

The US and SU had many things in common as massive highly nationalistic, highly idealistic, highly militarized nation states founded on pioneering territorial expansion across their continents.

In fact, it was their very alikeness that made them competitors for the same niche!

The author of this piece argues that for all its flaws, the cooperative, state run nature of the Soviet Union made it easier to weather governmental collapse than we’d see in a zero-sum super competitive ultra privatized US that barely 20 years after the SU’s is certainly in sharp decline and possibly on its last legs.

LINK

Does the Decline Make Statistical Sense? Does the American Way Make Financial Sense?

The American economy is worth 15 trillion, still over twice as big in absolute terms as a distant 2nd place, China a desperately poor nation with a huge population…
But is that wealth proportionally useful compared to other places?
If we consider GDP by purchasing power parity, China with many times more people still has only 75% as much relative wealth as the US.

The US national debt has passed 100% of GDP but the US remains one of the worlds most reliable debtors: 2% of GDP, 7-8% of Federal Revenue more than pays off all the
interest each year.  The federal government spends 4x as much each on social programs and the military!
The American debt burden would not impress struggling European powers during the Napoleonic wars.
Nations like Japan are far worse off with close to 150% GNP in national debt or Greece at 200%. Germany isn’t that much better off at 85%

The net US trade deficit is by far the largest in the world at about 450 billion, but another 30-40 billion a year of exports could plug the gap and the difference still pales in comparison next to the massive size of the US economy.

The numbers tell us that the US is a monster, yet those of us who live there are experiencing relentless and accelerating decline.  How do we explain this against awe inspiring numbers?
After all even a US in relative decline is still surpassed only by the entire EU.

Here’s some reflections on reconciling the reality on the ground with the statistics?

Virgin Bride: Unbuyable

Wife: Average income just an entry ticket to the arena

Girlfriend: Average income just an entry ticket.

Job Security: Unbuyable

House: At least $200,000 (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)

Car: At least $10,000 if new. (realistically far more paid after interest, no one can afford that out of pocket)

Rent: At least $600/month, $7200/year even in cheap areas after utilities and fees.

Education: 16 years to satisfy basic prerequisites, consuming at least 6 years from age able to enter workforce. Possibly more than a decade with higher degrees. A doctor or successful lawyer may earn a lot but has to compensate for 10+ years of working part time or not at all. Filling a big black hole of years of tuition + living expenses.

Children, Family Before Age 30: The price is a life of grinding poverty.

How much just to break even?  A couple million dollars earned over a couple of decades? Even if everything goes as planned, break even by middle age?

The simple truth that stares us in the face: The “normal” lifestyle with house/apartment, car, job doesn’t make financial sense.
It entails a huge expenditures of time and energy in a desperate bid to break even.
In the past, people may have had prospect of having a family and securing their genetic futures, but now even this basic reward(readily available to many poor peoples all over the world) is elusive.

Just a glimpse at these basic expenses shows us that rent seeking, fees, tuition, royalties, interest on assets and payments is where wealth can actually be made.

Right now what keeps people going? Fear that the only alternative to the “break even track” is to live in true uncertainty of survival.

The United States remains fantastically wealthy on paper yet is the average person’s life essentially any different than the average across time and place?

Is someone in a poorer country who can hope for a genetic future in their reproductive prime, surrounded by supportive family, with an ancestral home to live in, a family trade to aspire to, in fact, better off?

Are Americans as atomized individuals a whole that’s less than the sum of its parts?
Are Americans despite their unprecedented wealth undermined by backwards and wasteful social institutions and culture?

Or is the present trend of declinism as the numbers suggest, a misguided fad?

Insights on this matter?

Female Mate Preferences Change With Circumstance

By looking at “simpler” animals, we gain insights into ourselves.

Some naturalists in the 80s spent a decade watching trends in populations of Darwin’s finches on a single tiny island.

They discovered that mating preferences were almost mechanically pragmatic based on the circumstances of the times.

During a drought, female finches were only interested in super specialists of their own species because only specialists in a niche stand a chance as food grows scarce.

During a wet season female finches often prefer “men” of other species. They want hybrid offspring that can best take advantage of abundance by being able to eat marginally well from multiple food sources.

If preference for finches is this malleable and pragmatic, what are the implications for humans?

The finches obviously aren’t thinking things through as they go, probably, they mainly look at courtship displays and “wealth” in the form of health and surplus body fat.
Whatever is “successful” she wants to mate with. And to a lesser extent, vice versa.

So if ruthless sociopaths are the most successful humans able to put on the most impressive plumage and courtship displays, they by definition become the desirable mating stock.

Presumably once a social bubble collapses from being over-exploited by defector parasites, more cooperative men are those that prosper. i.e. Christians during the decline of the Roman Empire.(Mormons during the present decline?)

Biologically speaking, all that matters to man or woman is:
a. offspring
b. the offspring succeed in having offspring

It would seem our instincts impel us in this direction as surely as if we were clockwork toys.
Human “reason” is far overrated.

Source:

The Beak of the Finch, Johnathan Weiner

Why the Roman Republic Collapsed

“An order usually fails when the community is no longer able, with its help, to perform its tasks more or less satisfactorily, or at least without causing major damage.
The late republic could no longer do this.  It could no longer contend with the social problems at home or the military and administrative problems abroad.  For any attempt to solve them only increased the power of individuals…This led to fierce conflicts, to restrictions…to growing inefficiency and thus to the disintegration of the inherited order.  The senatorial regime was not designed to cope with the problems that now faced it.
Time and again it showed itself to be superannuated.  Yet it could not be easily replaced.

Hence a great crisis arose, the main feature of which was that for a long time no alternative could emerge.  An alternative did emerge in the end…

It is wrong to transfer the notion of revolution, informed as it is by nineteenth-century experiences and expectations, to Roman conditions…the people cannot be seen as a new force that set itself up against the old one represented by the Senate…
What we observe is rather the contentment of all who were powerful… and the powerlessness of all who were discontented.
This was because the whole existence of Roman society, indeed its identity, was so bound up with the inherited order as to block off any thought of change…

The oligarchic republic could thus be replaced only by a monarchy.  Yet this became possible only when society had been so weakened by protracted civil wars as to recognize that things could no longer go on without a princeps…

The republic thus destroyed itself.  It had to, for otherwise nothing new, no alternative, would have emerged.  And it destroyed itself even though no one desired its destruction.”

Caesar: A Biography, Christian Meier, p. 491-493

In short:  Where there is a power vacuum and things aren’t getting done…it must eventually be filled.

The Dawn of an Age of Solar Flight?

From the 1950s to the 1990s, engineers explored the limits of what was possible in aviation.

In so doing, however, they hit inevitable barriers of cost effectiveness.

We’d made our point with elaborate manned space missions but had no financial incentives to keep blowing fortunes on them.

The concorde, a supersonic jet liner made by the Europeans proved so expensive that not even rich people could keep it commercially afloat.

Super expensive space shuttles with nearly 1/60 odds of blowing up on take off haven’t proved worth replacing.

The age of exorbitant spending just to prove a point is over.

First, new technologies and engineering projects must be cost effective.

And this brings up an obvious frontier in flight if we want to be as energy effective as possible.

Solar aircraft.

It would seem we’re approaching a point where batteries can store enough solar power to get through the night or in bad weather.

Just imagine the larger implications of this…

How long until people actually start living in the air to get away from the power of governments and rent seekers?

LINK

Swiss solar plane

You Are In The Future

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There are some pundits proclaiming the eternal life of “pink collar” jobs in the service and hospitality industry. They are in vogue because that’s where the majority of the job growth has come from, they are easy to create and give people a way to scratch out a living doing rote work. This has lead to the false assumption that the majority of these jobs are irreplaceable by computers and robotics.

One of the prime candidates is nursing, which requires more education and training than most of the other service jobs. Amusingly enough, in an age when people are talking about replacing doctors who have decades of experience in general practice with narrow AI on cellphones and teleconferencing, people believe nurses and other “pink collar” jobs are immune. With the exception of NICU, CCU and other specialist nurses, most of the work that they do can be replaced or augmented by current technology as is, with a much smaller margin of error. Things like delivering medication at specific times, giving a patient ice water, moving patients to avoid bed sores, ensuring that a patient is not given food that is against his diet requirements (e.g. diabetics) and checking to see if a patient is faking a seizure to get attention.

Eliminating this frees up time, and would likely lead to staffing cuts. Even the software that nurses use for giving reports can be vastly improved, though you would have to use programmers who are actually competent. Current software requires hours of training because of the unintuitive design.

The other part of the argument is that human interaction cannot be replicated by machines, and therefore people will always want other humans to help them. This misses the point entirely, the people don’t care about the nurse, they care about how she serves them. When something comes along that can serve them in basic ways dramatically better, the nurse will be put out of work. If people were fooled by Eliza, they won’t mind expressing themselves to modern chatbots, mainly because they just want to express their feelings.

120831035153-low-wage-jobs-monster

Pundits are still talking as if farming won’t be automated for 40 years, when we are already deploying self driving tractors and UAV’s for crop dusting. And more than likely, the crop that the farmer is harvesting is a GMO.

Nevada, California and Florida have already legalized self driving cars. We’ve developed simple plug-ins that stop you from browsing blocked sites after a set amount of time. The first of many pre-commitment devices that monitor, force and shame you into whatever you or society wants you to be:

http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2011/01/the_odysseus_option.single.html

If you agree—and only if you agree—Progressive Insurance will give you a device to install in your car that will rat you out for jack-rabbit starts and slamming on the brakes. * It’s a small thing that plugs into your on-board diagnostic system, and it transmits as you drive. If your little minder shows that you don’t act like Dale Earnhardt Jr. behind the wheel, you’ll save up to 30 percent on your auto insurance. Although there’s no official penalty for letting the company find out that you regularly lay down rubber, in fact you’ll pay more for coverage than will tamer drivers. You’ll also be acting to tame your own behavior by raising the price of recklessness.

Progressive’s driving spy is a sneaky example of the “precommitment device,” a technique that people use to bind themselves to their preferred desires, and a subject I have been studying for my new book about the problem of self-control,We Have Met the Enemy.

It’s too taboo to mention how quickly things are changing, optimism is alright just as long as you aren’t too specific. Complexity is now used as an excuse for not dealing with simple but emotionally difficult problems.

You’re in the future, start acting like it.

How To Drive Cockroaches And Mosquitoes Extinct

No amount of attempts at squashing them all, poisoning them, diseasing ever works.

But there’s a simple strategy that’s obvious if we think about it.

The Earth can support only a finite amount of biomass.

Every gram of that total filled by people, crops, and livestock reduces the amount left over for everything else.

So in theory, if you just kept making more people and domesticated organisms, there would eventually be nothing left over to support pests…Or anything else for that matter.

LINK

The Worldwide Trend of Political Centralization Is Past High Tide

Ever since gunpowder, most inventions have served to centralize more power in the hands of the state.
This trend culminated in the 20th century with technologies such as mass media, mass surveillance, airplanes, and tanks.

Now, with social media, smartphones, and the internet, power is moving back into the hands of ordinary people.
The printing press ushered in political strife across Europe as people suddenly had better access to information.
The same is now happening with new technologies and we see decades long, stable regimes suddenly toppling as the availability of information reaches a tipping point.

Monolithic governments full of bureaucrats are continuing to decrease in effectiveness and importance. These large bodies are now too slow and unwieldly to keep up with commercial enterprises or even the ordinary man on the street.
Events now breeze past these governments before they can even begin to react. The governments haven’t changed…since ancient China bureaucracies have been all about trading speed and flexibility for dependability and security. The world has changed and old school government ministries can no longer keep up.

Culture at large is moving away from the control of a few sources towards a great age of fracture.

Though the traditional culture has died out, new, vital cultures are coming into existence and they will make populations ever more difficult to control from a centralized source.

Here’s to cultural Balkanization:

2 Big Implications of the 2012 Election

I called this election a few weeks ago after Romney’s disastrous “binders of women” comment and his unconvincing performance talking to female voters.
Already, the viability of Romney’s campaign had been dubious.
He was solidly backed by white males but all the rest of the electorate was arrayed against him.
His only chance of success was challenging Obama’s dominance of the female vote.

Romney’s dominant demeanor, height, chiseled movie star looks, dignified salt and pepper hair gave him considerable appeal to women, but his presence and personality couldn’t prevent women from voting for an incumbent who seemed more likely to assure them access to power and material resources.

But who won or who lost is not what’s most important.

Nation states are fast losing legitimacy in an age of mass communications. Presidents, prime ministers, and premieres no longer run the world like they did at the end of WWII. At best, we can expect the leader of a nation to execute a bold holding action, preventing the state from disintegrating any further.

The two big lessons of this election lie not in the candidates or parties but in the demographics of the vote itself.

This election is a landmark event because it has starkly revealed emerging divides in American society and set the tone for a new era of identity politics.

In this 2012 election,

1) Men were pitted against women in direct combat, both groups voting as blocks.

Whites were pitted against ethnic minorities, both voting against each other in blocks.

Whites no longer dominate politics by default.
White men find themselves outnumbered by a coalition of women and minorities in a struggle for control of the state.

On paper, the economy is stagnant, but in reality, society’s wealth continues to become increasingly hoarded by a noble caste.
The traditional job, society’s favorite means of distributing wealth to most people, has become unstable and sporadic at best. As an institution it is becoming obsolete.

It’s easy to have a plural, inclusive secular society when there’s plenty of wealth to go around.
But if wealth is scarce and growing scarcer, people predictably splinter into factions, each looking for a bigger slice of a meager pie.

With the 2012 election, we see the effects of years of scarcity manifesting in politics.

As more people become desperate, we will see more factional voting blocks locked in bitter competition for power and resources. We might expect the rise of modern day political machines dedicated not to the promotion of policy preferences or idealism, but to “identities” we were born with.

2) A major tipping point: Americans of the Boomer generations and older are no longer able to carry elections on their own.

Politics as we’ve known them for the last few decades have just ended. Because of their massive numbers and high rates of civic participation, the older generations have stubbornly held on to a dominant role, but their ability to shape the nation’s destiny is inevitably waning.

In these times of economic depression and social turmoil, it is the wealthy, powerful, skilled boomers who are still holding this society together.

As they increasingly retire from their jobs, succumb to illness and old age, and decline in political influence, the old order will begin to pass along with them.

Eric and I conjecture that there will be a critical tipping point by 2015 or 2016 as volume of retired/sick/dying baby boomers reaches critical mass and the 1990s and 1980s begin to seem as quaint and culturally dated as the roaring 20s or the prosperous 1950s.

For until societies worldwide drastically rethink the nature of wealth and economies in an age of massively automated manufacturing and advanced computers, countless millions will live in squalor in the midst of plenty. Formerly normal households shown in Hollywood movies will come to seem like something out of a dream.
A peaceful and open society will come to sound like something out of an impossibly naive fairytale as we begin to experience earthquakes along widening social fault lines.

Even CNN Understands Jobs Are Obsolete In Post-Industrial Abundance

“New technologies are wreaking havoc on employment figures — from EZpasses ousting toll collectors to Google-controlled self-driving automobiles rendering taxicab drivers obsolete. Every new computer program is basically doing some task that a person used to do. But the computer usually does it faster, more accurately, for less money, and without any health insurance costs.
We like to believe that the appropriate response is to train humans for higher level work. Instead of collecting tolls, the trained worker will fix and program toll-collecting robots. But it never really works out that way, since not as many people are needed to make the robots as the robots replace.
And so the president goes on television telling us that the big issue of our time is jobs, jobs, jobs — as if the reason to build high-speed rails and fix bridges is to put people back to work. But it seems to me there’s something backwards in that logic. I find myself wondering if we may be accepting a premise that deserves to be questioned.”
LINK

Even if it’s an opinion piece, a lone voice in the wilderness, I’m very surprised to see this kind of sentiment in an MSM publication like CNN.

ezpass booth

The Big Science and Technology Problems of the 21st Century

The big problems are mostly the same as in the 20th century and most of them stretch back much farther than that.

http://www.networkworld.com/community/blog/what-are-grand-technology-and-scientific-challenges-21st-century

In fact, X Prize last year it declared a top eight list of key challenges that could end up being public competitions in the coming months or years.  The eight concepts or challenges included:

1. Water (“Super ‘Brita’ Water Prize”) – Develop a technology to solve the world’s number one cause of death: Lack of safe drinking water:

2. Personal Health Monitoring System (“OnStar for the Body Prize”) – Develop and demonstrate a system which continuously monitors an individual’s personal health-related data leading to early detection of disease or illness.

3. Energy & Water from Waste – Create and demonstrate a technology that generates off-grid water and energy for a small village derived from human and organic waste.

4. Around the World Ocean Survey – Create an autonomous underwater vehicle that can circumnavigate the world’s oceans, gathering data each step of the way.

5. Transforming Parentless Youth – Dramatically and positively change the outcome for significantly at risk foster children, reducing the number of incarcerations and unemployment rate by fifty-percent or more.

6. Brain-Computer Interface (“Mind over Matter”) – Enable high function, minimally invasive brain to computer interfaces that can turn thought into action.

7. Wireless Power Transmission – Wireless transmission of electricity over distances greater than 200 miles while losing less than two percent of the electricity during the transmission.

8. Ultra-Fast Point-To-Point Travel – Design and fly the world’s fastest point-to-point passenger travel system

#1 is probably done. Though it’s possible to create solutions at different scales of production.

#2 is going to be interesting as hackers will add functions to their sensors, and malicious ones will disrupt other peoples sensors for fun and profit.

I’ve heard of many implentations of #3, so it’s going to come down to what is most economical.

#4 is probably done, though a more robust version that can go deeper will be required to really satisfy the spirit of the goal.

#5 is quite difficult considering everything in our economy is forcing more people to be unemployed in the traditional sense. This is a judo problem, you can’t fix it within the normal means.

On #6, I’ve seen some simple EEG style sensors that can be integrated into games, but for the most part Brain-Machine interfaces are Sci-Fi. It’s easier to run prosthetics off of nerve impulses coming through limbs rather by sensing brainwaves without implants. So it’s going to take awhile to crack that problem. 3d interfaces are hitting the market now, both in VR headsets and 3d intractable  xbox kinect sensors:

The skeleton drawing system the kinect sensors use is software-based and can be modified, but other companies have already launched “improved” sensors that can be used on their own for 3d interaction.

#7 is interesting and we’ll have to see what is the most economical way of tackling it.

#8 needs to factor in safety, otherwise it won’t be widely used.

Some of the NRC’s problems are less thrilling, the benefits aren’t as clear to the man on the street, and it sort of reads like a list of “stuff we were going to do anyway, but we made a report for it”:

From the National Research Council report, the five challenges are:

1. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community invent technologies for the next factor of-100 cost-effective capacity increases in optical networks?

2. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community develop a seamless integration of photonics and electronics components as a mainstream platform for low-cost fabrication and packaging of systems on a chip for communications, sensing, medical, energy, and defense applications?

3. How can the U.S. military develop the required optical technologies to support platforms capable of wide-area surveillance, object identification and improved image resolution, high-bandwidth free-space communication, laser strike, and defense against missiles?

4. How can U.S. energy stakeholders achieve cost parity across the nation’s electric grid for solar power versus new fossil-fuel-powered electric plants by the year 2020?

5. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community develop optical sources and imaging tools to support an order of magnitude or more of increased resolution in manufacturing?

More interestingly, there is no way these questions can cover the whole of desires and needs that technology must fill for the 21st century. What are they missing?

Nooks/Kindles Reveal What People Read, How Quickly & How Many Pages

Governments are too inefficient and behind the curve to execute a real 1984 type society. Corporations, particularly technology/internet ones, are the kind that have the engineering know-how to create the real big brother. That’s why the government bought Palantir’s products, the best engineers don’t work in government anymore. In a real martial law situation I would expect massive privatization to cover the gaps. Even Wal-Mart is using former intelligence officers now. This of course doesn’t cover the “black projects”, but no one can exactly put their finger on where that money goes and what comes of it.

http://consumerist.com/2012/06/barnes-noble-amazon-know-which-sections-of-fifty-shades-of-grey-youre-reading-over-and-over.html

Data collected from Nooks reveals, for example, how far readers get in particular books, how quickly they read and how readers of particular genres engage with books. Jim Hilt, the company’s vice president of e-books, says the company is starting to share their insights with publishers to help them create books that better hold people’s attention.

Implications of Corporate ‘Personality Tests’ Used For Hiring

“our culture is undoubtedly headed in a direction where it will become its phoniest ever. In today’s job market, ‘truth’ has become an inconvenience, something that only gets in the way of our financial survival. But ‘truth’ is, always has been and always will be the most important thing to preserve, even if it makes life a tad more financially insecure.”

Personality Tests: Survival of the Phoniest

AND

“The truly scary thing is that this employment science is still in its infancy. In the near future, could certain personality profiles find themselves unemployable?

If lots of companies use the same hiring software, could they assemble a profile on someone based on multiple applications they’ve submitted?
Thus maybe someone could be disqualified based on inconsistencies in how they answer the personality test?

This brings up final questions. If a history of inconsistencies or unprofitable traits emerged on someone’s profile, could they end up essentially blacklisted through the entire system? ”

7 Reasons Why Unicru is Here To Stay

Asian Immigrants Surpass Hispanics For First Time

http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2012/06/19/the-rise-of-asian-americans/

Note that this only covers legal immigration.

On average, they are twice as likely to have a bachelor’s degree or higher, versus other immigrants:

They are generally older than the median age, which is 36.9. The median for Whites is also 41. The native born have a much lower average age of 30.

They get along better with whites than other Asian groups it seems.

Also seem to be less likely to segregate themselves, with whites being the most likely to prefer self-segregation.

The vast majority believed that the US offered a better quality of life:

This graph shows how many want to be labeled by their ethnic country versus other labels – OkCupid data showed previously that males are much more likely to label themselves according to their ethnic country, whereas the females often don’t. 37% (!) of all recent Asian brides married a non-Asian groom.

Previous data from OkCupid shows that Asians are the most open to interracial marriage and dating, while it also shows whites are the least open of any ethnic group to interracial marriage and dating:

Another graph from that post breaks down Asian female’s replies by race:

China Plans to Open Military Bases Worldwide

Dated 2010:

“It is baseless to say that we will not set up any military bases in future because we have never sent troops abroad,” an article published on Thursday at a Chinese government website said. “It is our right,” the article said and went on to suggest that it would be done in the neighborhood, possibly Pakistan.

http://antemedius.com/content/game-changer-china-plans-open-military-bases-worldwide

Dated 2011:

China is weighing up whether to open an Indian Ocean naval base in the Seychelles in a move which will heighten tensions with India amid fears of a regional arms race.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/seychelles/8953319/China-considers-Seychelles-military-base-plan.html

Dated 2012:

China plans military base in Pakistan
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/china-military-base-in-pakistan-naval-base-at-gwadar/1/167084.html

Craig Venter’s Bugs Might Save the World

Two Contrasting Views On Future Warfare

The State will have become technocratic – fascism by remote control – the dream of control, coveted by evil men for generations, will have come to fruition. We have a scant few years to arrest the development of these technologies or to rearchitect the social foundations of liberty to survive a situation where combat robots leave the population largely powerless to resist tyranny, whether they have their rifles or not. To develop the technology to defeat the rifle utterly in the field is roughly equivalent to absolute, final, global disarmament of the population.

I am not suggesting that these combat robots will have human intelligence. I am not suggesting they will be effective policemen in the crime solving sense. They will start as remote controlled weapons platforms, then evolve common sense on navigation, then target selection, then tactics and strategy. What can be automated successfully will be automated, and the rest will be left to men in bunkers viewing screens where blood is rendered in black or blue, not red, and the faces of the fallen are fuzzed out as distractions from the real work of identifying and terminating enemies among the living.

….

So what do we do about this future of oppression at the hands of robots developed to defeat the improvised weapons of freedom fighters, revolutionaries and insurgents everywhere? What do we do about a future where little guy finally has no chance at all against the State, should the state turn against him and seek to drive him to the wall? What indeed can we do about that situation?

I want you to get serious about putting aside your political differences about the economy, and to get serious, left and right, about making sure that our children don’t grow up in a world where men they will never see or vote for control the box on the corner that tortures you with an invisible ray any time you get out of line.

I will note that the development of a remote mass torture device contravenes all human and natural law, and the insistence that it will “save lives” is based on a simple misunderstanding: if the people are taking to the streets and screaming for change, and you torture them where they stand to make them stop asking for change, eventually they will turn to real violence and kill the hand that tortures them to make them comply, if they can. And if they cannot kill that hand, what has been created is a hell: a torture state which one cannot overthrow or escape from. What hand will wield these torture machines in a few generations?

Lines are being crossed here. Technologies which stand every chance of enslaving us all are being developed to win the Iraq war, because the Iraq war is typically of armed resistance to government anywhere. It is disorganized, angry men with rifles and bombs dying for what they believe in, however misguided. If the ability to defeat such groups is developed and placed into the hands of the current incumbent governments and power groups, the same processes that gave rise to a free revolutionary America will no longer operate, and there will be no more stands to be made against the Empire. Those who stand will be ceaselessly and cheaply cut down by replaceable robot warriors manufactured far from the fray, operated from bunkers, and deployed far away from TV cameras. There will be little or no home front pressure to stop unjust and unnecessary wars because only the blood of the enemy will be shed in armed conflicts. The human cost of war will be borne entirely by the underdog, and therefore the underdogs will have lost their primary means of making the incumbent power groups change course. And, let me tell you, we are all potentially that underdog.

Link

But note that current drone crews do suffer from PTSD, they are far from being dehumanized. Drones may also change how the battlefield terrain is shaped through construction.

But you’re in luck, all you thin healthy smiley bastards: I don’t think it’ll happen like that. It’s going to be weirder, slower, and a lot less Star-Wars-ey than people think.

It’s easy to get all excited about blasters, space battles, lasers and all that Luke Skywalker stuff. But my job is to give you my best guess on what’s really gonna happen. And you know, I’m not even sure war will survive. War seems too good for people like you: you beach volleyball people. You’ve made getting healthy and thin a religion, so why would you want war? Well, one thing: it won’t be the cool sci-fi war you like to think about, you saving Carrie Fisher from Jabba with your Jedi mind crap….

Spacewar — Killer satellites, orbital lasers…won’t happen. Nothing but lame NASA fundraising ideas, cooked up by corrupt lobbyists and corporations that make a living off the federal budget. Never convinced anybody this side of Newsweek. 150 years from now there’ll be nobody on the moon, nobody on Mars — just some fragile, expensive tools floating up there, not worth blasting, far too expensive to risk.

By now we can keep a Predator RPV hovering week after week, waiting for a target. When they finally persuaded the USAF to give the Predator RPVs a chance in Afghanistan, they had to admit the damn things worked even better than their advocates were promising. They’re amazing: too small to spot, damned hard to shoot down, and cheap enough that we don’t lose much even if it does get hit. And you know the best thing about RPVs? They don’t react to torture. No pilot to go on Iraqi TV looking like Jake LaMotta after twelve rounds with Sugar Ray Robinson and start apologizing for disturbing Baghdaders’ beauty sleep.

The trouble with this nice clean automated-war scenario is that nobody wants to play with us. The US can play that game, but who else can? The Israelis? They’re the only real combat-tested RPV-using army. And if it came to a US vs. Israel war, let’s face it: the US Congress would back Israel all the way, and the US’d have to surrender before a shot was fired.

Try plugging the hi-tech, RPV-heavy war plan to a more even-sided war: say, an all-out struggle for world domination between the US and China ten years from now. The first thing you realize is that it’ll come down to production rates. You’re gonna lose a lot of hardware in a hurry. Like aircraft in the early days of WW I, RPVs will go from surveillance to attack, and that will lead to interceptor models designed to destroy enemy RPVs. There’ll be unmanned dogfights, and since these things are easy to make, the dogfights will be unbelievably massive, maybe hundreds of thousands of individual combats in the sky over the battlefield. It comes down to our factories vs. theirs. If you can replace it faster than they do, maybe you win. It’ll all be as harmless as a nerd picnic on the school field Saturday afternoon, with the Asian kids and the pasty white kids each piloting their little remote-controlled MiG’s and F-16s and arguing about who killed who, then going off for pizza.

As the two-tier war system develops, the hi-tech nations won’t even associate war with death any more. War will be a demolition derby: our machines beat your machines. Nobody has to die. When the dogfight between a Chinese and an American RPV finishes, nobody will die; the US controller will disconnect from his monitor and have a beer, and so will the Chinese.

Production dominance will tilt one way or the other, at last: you own the skies. They can’t send up any more RPVs, and you can. OK; you’ve won. Now what? Do you start carpet bombing their cities? What the Hell for? The civilian population won’t even matter any more. Kill a hundred million Chinese — so what?

because an ICBM isn’t the only way to deliver a nuke.

I mean, just think for a minute. You’re Mao. You hate the US, you have a few big ripe homemade nukes, and you want to be sure the Americans know they can’t push you too far. Do you build ICBMs? Sure, a few — enough to keep the Japanese and the Russians awake. But you don’t really trust those homemade missiles. And — this is kinda the key point, so lissen up here — you don’t need to. Because a regime like Mao’s (or Stalin’s or Kim Il Sung’s) does one thing really, really well: spy stuff.

And if you’ve got a good spy service, delivering nukes is a cinch. A pickup truck is a perfectly effective way to deliver a nuke. How many pickup trucks cross from Canada or Mexico every year? Every day? You think every one of those gets searched? How many ships call at US ports every year? How many get really carefully searched? How hard is it to carry a nuke to an American harbor in a harmless-looking Liberian-registered cargo ship, then dump it over the side somewhere near the East River, or the Bay Bridge?

Why bother killing a few million civilians? Won’t settle anything. Just makes you look bad. In fact, nothing seems to be on the line anymore — not people’s lives, not even their jobs, no matter how much they fuck up.

The only enjoyable wars will be the mismatches, when the machine armies are unleashed on the savages. We’ve seen some of them lately: the NATO air forces working out on Serbia, the US and British planes playing with the Iraqis like a couple of kittens with a half-dead mouse. They’re the wars people will enjoy, because the targets are so easy, so undefended, that there are lots of good gun-camera shots.

But these wars have a little weakness: they never solve the problem. NATO killed a few thousand Serbs too stupid to realize their fellow Christians didn’t give a fuck about them. And the Serbs pulled back. But the Albanians moved in. You go into a slum like the Balkans, try to fix things up by slapping around one gang — and the gang next door comes in, kills their families and takes their houses. It’s embarrassing. From what I hear, a lot of NATO soldiers dream non-stop of the day they’ll be allowed to fire on the Albanian thugs they’re supposed to be protecting.

The answer is obvious: annihilation. The two-tier wars will get really annoying. How many times do you go in (and “you” could be the Chinese, the Indians, or whoever’s running the show 100 years from now) and separate these drunken smalltime thugs? Sooner or later somebody will suggest the neutron-bomb option. Nothing dramatic, just a Raid commercial on a larger scale.

They’ll be provoked. That’s a sure thing — before the ruling countries take the annihilation option, they will be HELL OF provoked. The lower tier will have one weapon: the willingness to die and to kill. You don’t need hi-tech to kill a lot of people. You think Mohammed Atta could pass a course on jet engineering? Physics? He couldn’t’ve got into Solano Community College, and all you need to pass there is two-thirds attendance. The loser countries, the ones who can’t do math, are gonna skip shop class, skip the machine crap, and go back to basics: kill a lot of people. They’ll do Columbine on a worldwide scale. All the losers will come to the lobby with guns. Serbs, North Koreans, Tamil Sri Lankans, will walk into the lobbies of the machine peoples’ towers like Keanu in The Matrix. They will splatter those security guards, they will smash up the decorative marble, they will disrupt office routine with drums of gasoline and vials of pesticide and rerouted sewage floods; they will turn the cities against their citizens and kill, kill, kill.

And the upper tier will respond. They’ll be patient. They’ll endure the first twenty or so urban massacres in a civilized way. Then they’ll think of the obvious: the Raid solution. Every pesticide commercial they ever saw will occur to them as they decide what to do with the Haitians, the Tamils…and finally somoeone in a government office in Beijing or Washington or Delhi will decide to do something permanent about the vermin. Ah yes, the Balkans: nice country. Too bad it’s infested with two-legged varmints. Why not clean ‘em out? It’ll strike somebody as a good idea, sooner or later. And that’s how we’ll have our first nuclear war: not the old Cold-War scenario where two nuclear-armed nations wipe each other out, but a perfectly logical one-sided version: China, or India, or us, or whoever, will simply sterilize the Balkans. (Or Java, or the South Bronx).

Link

So key questions right now are:

  • What countermeasures can be deployed versus drones? (Electronic warfare, jamming, masers, drone leader targeting ect…)
  • If the focus is exclusively on electronic elements, what about other spheres that are under-utilized?
  • Will the Nation-State exist in it’s current form, despite the crisis of legitimacy and economic disincentives?
  • Will the economy of scale favor large or small operational groups?
  • Will the production of drones favor mass drone warfare, or a mix of quality and quantity?
  • How will production facilities balance quality and quantity?
  • What is the size of the organization best suited for mass production, refinement and deployment of drones when factoring in automation?
  • What vulnerabilities exist in the all important supply chain?

Some Examples of International Social Entrepreneurship That Worked

  1. Hippo Roller Making the task of collecting water easier
  2. Hexyurt A safe affordable shelter for refugees and disaster victims (hippies are using it for burning man)
  3. Solar Powered Lamps This radio interview has a lot of good stuff about it, including distribution channels – though I think it could use a hand-crank
  4. Grameen Bank For The Poor A microcredit bank
  5. Kiva  Another microcredit organization – doubles as a hilarious social network where you can talk to guys from Tajikistan about their goats
  6. Anti-Diarrhea Treatment  A simple, effective, and generally under-used method compared to most of the aid-with-strings-attached programs
  7. Teach For America One of the many education non-profits in the US

Peter Thiel mentioned in one of his classes that every start-up must be able to answer 10 questions:

markets

mimesis and competition

secrets

incrementalism

durability

teams

distribution

timing

financing

luck

As I mentioned before, one of the more serious hurdles tends to be distribution. Corruption and tribalism is rife in most of these countries, so it’s extremely hard to get a solution out to everyone equally without empowering local tyrants. The financing problem isn’t that serious as long as you create something that can pay for itself. The rest of the factors will vary highly depending on what good or service you are launching. Make sure it is super durable while still being in the price range of the customer.

The Life Force 8 & Technology

Even when elites are aware of technologies they tend to downplay their importance, even the experts in the field didn’t estimate the changes wrought by gunpowder, automobiles or the pc. Tons of engineers had to change their skills almost overnight when the transistor overthrew the vacuum tube. The cybernetic steam engine governor was made by a kid who just wanted to play marbles. The elite’s curiosity wasn’t stimulated enough and they had too much emotional investment in the status quo.

The life force 8 is a good way of working out predictable human desires (Drew Whitman coined it):
1. Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension
2. Enjoyment of food and beverages
3. Freedom from fear, pain and danger
4. Sexual companionship
5. Comfortable living conditions
6. To be superior, winning, keeping up with the joneses
7. Care and protection of loved ones
8. Social approval

Things like curiosity, cleanliness, efficiency, are all put 2nd to these 8.

Local Currencies

Communities print their own currency to keep cash flowing

http://www.resilientcommunities.com/is-a-local-currency-important-to-resilience/

Nantes is also doing something that is likely to ensure that its local currency is successful.  It is configuring its parking system, transport, leisure and other facilities to accept the nanto AND it is planning on paying city employees some of their salaries with the nanto.

This is critical.   Historical evidence implies that local currencies that don’t integrate into the local government’s financial flows are usually limited to loyalty programs.  Those that do are real, tangible currencies that people will use daily.

Ithaca Hours

Online Database of Complementary Currencies Worldwide

http://www.treehugger.com/culture/how-to-print-your-own-money-build-community-not-get-arrested-by-the-feds.html

Begun in 2000, REAL dollars (which stands for Realizing Economic Alternatives in Lawrence) were issued in denominations of 1, 3, and 10 dollars with pictures of local Lawrence celebrities on them (William S. Burroughs, Langston Hughes to name two). Now no longer regularly circulating, the REAL dollar of Lawrence, Kansas shows some of the problems with establishing a local currency.

In an interview with Lawrence.com, REAL dollar creator Boog Highberger pointed out two practical obstacles all such currency have to face: 1) Modern businesses don’t have as much use for cash as they once did—how many places don’t accept credit or debit cards? Not many; and 2) Modern businesses rarely go to local suppliers anymore.

As Highberger said at the time, “If we revitalize [REAL dollars] what we need to do is institute some kind of banking system (that would allow users to debit or credit their accounts).”

Launched in the fall of 2006, BerkShares circulate in the Berkshire region of Western Massachusetts. By some estimates BerkShares is largest circulating local currency in the world, with two million Berkshares issued to date. Bills are issued in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 20 and 50. Currently some 350 businesses accept the currency and 5 different banks offer exchange services at 12 locations. BerkShare checking accounts, ATMs and loans are planned.

Toffler’s Third Wave Theory

most people are culturally more skilled as analysts than synthesists

Book Review Of The Third Wave

Toffler’s three forms of power

Violence

The most basic form of power is violence, or physical forms of power. ‘Might is right’ is their watchword and it is close to the law of the jungle in operation.

The basic promise is ‘do as you are told and you won’t get hurt’.

Those who gain the power of violence do so by controlling the mechanisms of physical domination, from armies and police forces to the ownership of specific weapons.

Wealth

Money is a more flexible form of power than violence as it can be exchanged for pretty much anything you want, from goods to services of all kinds.

Money can be viewed as ‘stored time/action’: you work and are given money, then give the money to others to save time/action. The trick in acquiring wealth is to invest the money in ways that it provides a maximum return on investment.

Those who gain wealth do so largely through a superior ability (or sometimes luck) in investment, taking controlled risks and gaining disproportionate returns.

Knowledge

Knowledge is the ultimate form of power and can be used to acquire both wealth and violence, if applied in the right way. ‘Knowledge is power’ is a common saying that highlights this.

The evolution of power

Toffler indicates how violence was the basic power of the nobility in ancient times, where a powerful elite worked largely through domination that threatened violence to those who did not comply.

In the industrial revolution, violence gave way to wealth, as the merchant classes became more powerful and gained control of critical resources and channels.

Today, in the Third Wave, the power of knowledge is replacing commercial wealth as the primary source of power. If you have the right knowledge, you can get a lot done without recourse to money. Power is thus moving to the educated elite (and masses). The internet is a great leveller of power in this regard.

Interview With Avlin Toffler:

Toffler:


Yes, or attaining wealth, and we don’t know how, a hundred years from now, it’ll all be distributed. It’ll be changing all along, but it may well be that countries that are now poor become very rich – and including tiny ones like Finland or Ireland or whatever. So the point is that (wealth is) on the move; it’s not stable. Time, spatial and knowledge relationships are no longer fixed in place with a slow change. They’re rapidly changing.

….

We invented the word prosumer many years ago in my book The Third Wave. It’s a composite of production and consumption, obviously, and we argue that there was, prior to the invention of money, people who lived without money. Everybody was a prosumer, growing their own lunch, sewing their own clothes, building their own shack and so on. So it was a pre-monetary or a nonmonetary economy. However, more and more prosuming populations (moved over to) become part of the (consuming or) money system.

From a previous post titled You And Your Research:

What Bode was saying was this: “Knowledge and productivity are like compound interest.” Given two people of approximately the same ability and one person who works ten percent more than the other, the latter will more than twice outproduce the former. The more you know, the more you learn; the more you learn, the more you can do; the more you can do, the more the opportunity – it is very much like compound interest. I don’t want to give you a rate, but it is a very high rate. Given two people with exactly the same ability, the one person who manages day in and day out to get in one more hour of thinking will be tremendously more productive over a lifetime. I took Bode’s remark to heart; I spent a good deal more of my time for some years trying to work a bit harder and I found, in fact, I could get more work done. I don’t like to say it in front of my wife, but I did sort of neglect her sometimes; I needed to study. You have to neglect things if you intend to get what you want done. There’s no question about this.

Why Framing Your Enemies Is Now Virtually Child’s Play

A few years ago, a company began to sell a liquid with identification codes suspended in it. The idea was that you would paint it on your stuff as proof of ownership. I commented that I would paint it on someone else’s stuff, then call the police. Link

Neurotechnology and Society (2010–2060)

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