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« More Pabulum for the Devoutly Ignorant | Main | NC Tea Party Event - Debbie Bacigalupi »

24 January 2015


Barry Pruett

Thank you for writing your musings. We have enjoyed them for six or seven years now. I particularly reading about your childhood in WW2 Europe and the singularity. Keep up the good work my friend.


The other day I drove my Smart Car down to Best Buy to pick up my recently purchased 55" Smart TV that was ordered using my Smart Phone. When I arrived at the Best Buy I realized that the stupid TV wouldn't fit in my dumb car. I finally managed to get the TV home using velcro to attach the box to my car. While setting the new TV the screen displayed a message saying the the TV will get "smarter" the more I use it. This is clear evidence at least to me that the Singularity has arrived. Since everyone in my house speaks English ,just to be safe I set the TVs' language to "French"..

Russ Steele

Six Tips To Avoiding A Blogging Burnout

All bloggers have been to that special burnout place before. It’s that awkward moment when you feel like you’ve reached the end of your ideas rope and where the switch in your brain has turned to the “off” setting and is stagnating there until further notice.

Todd Juvinall

We all get a bit stale but I like the back and forth and the idea battles. Keeps the blood flowing. Congrats to RR for keeping the blood flowing!


The other day I drove my Smart Car down to Best Buy to pick up my recently purchased 55" Smart TV that was ordered using my Smart Phone.

Smart Car? 55 inch Smart TV?

That wasn't very Smart!

joe smith

I'd enjoy hearing your view on artificial intelligence. From my perspective, when AI is embraced, us humans will have reached "singularity" and I'm not at all comfortable with that. AI will be owned by someone, and I know for certain that someone will not be a common citizen. Or even an American, for that matter.

Scott Obermuller

Thank you Joe S. - cutting edge tech has never been the interest or property of the 'common citizen'. Maybe we'll have to find some new Constitutional Rights. We already use various systems of limited IA and often aren't even aware of it. The world is changing rather rapidly - keep up or fall behind.

George Rebane

joes 634pm - sadly Joe, I believe you have missed the definition of Singularity. A reread of my posts on the topic in RR's Singularity category may be of help. Your "perspective" on the Singularity is unique and at odds with the accepted definition. It is highly unlikely that a post-Singularity AI will be "owned" by any human or human agency - it will quickly become a sovereign intellect on this planet. And finally, it is not we humans who will reach the Singularity, but the rapidly outpacing AI. For edification, please consider reading at least -

Joe, your comment on the Singularity invites another explanation of what RR is and isn’t. Most certainly RR is not a blog for wide audiences, and it was never meant to be. It takes a talent in communications much greater than mine to effectively address a wide audience. I neither have that talent nor the temperament to attempt it (that is why when young I was offered a career in politics and wisely refused it).

RR is intended as a growing compendium of primarily my thoughts and opinions, but also one that invites capable readers to join me on that journey. No RR post stands alone, but builds on what has already been written on the topic. And all of them are grounded on my Credo, the detailed tenets of which are accessible to all readers from the upper right column. If you are not willing to acquaint yourself with my commentaries of record and belief system, then don’t expect me to respond to you in toto with the complete rehash of my position on the issue at hand. Nevertheless, you are welcome to take cheap shots at me claiming that I offer a retreating silence to your most recent cleverly fashioned argument or query.

Finally, I tend to express myself in a precision that is no longer appreciated and is even vilified in today’s public forum. That comes about by training and disposition. My years are many, and I have time left only to converse with the understanding, or those who at least make an effort in that direction. This is the essence of intellectual elitism, and I confess to being an intellectual elitist – take me as I am or bid me good-bye (or in the more common vernacular, 'it’s going to be my way or the highway'). How well I have hewn to that desideratum is available from the almost eight years of posts and their attendant reader comment streams, now comprising of over 52,000 comments in which I have a well-established participation. (For the internet naifs, all of this and these are searchable via TypePad and on Google.)

So I continually invite you and all RR readers to build on the ideas of our times and not simply rehash them ad nauseum. As do I, so I encourage you to reference and link the relevant and/or significant contributions you have made in these comment streams.

Bill  Tozer

Mr. Smith, Al may be owned by Al Sr., who locked the "original owner" is the lab's basement. That someone who ends up owning Al may not be human.

Dr. Rebane, there is no harm in patting yourself on the back, say, once every decade. Here is another article which only repeats what you have been gently saying for years concerning the once Golden State. It ain't the WSG or even the Onion, but it is a start.

Bill  Tozer

Even former Ariana's (I turned my husband gay) Huffingtons post is in on the action.

George Rebane

BillT 729pm - an excellent link Mr Tozer, and it does corroborate the years-long message of RR. The point not to be missed is that the Golden State has been continuously tarnished under the progressive banner which was unfurled here when we began drinking President Johnson's Great Society Kool-Aid. And now we have doubled down on decades of error.

Russ Steele

BillT@07:51PM and George@05:59PM

Middle-class manufacturing jobs? Not in California

Economic conditions are not going to improve for the middle class in California anytime soon.

joe smith

Actually GR, "Singularity" has been defined by E.O. Wilson and Stephan Hawkins in a manner that I truly understand. You are not on their level of intellect and you don't own the definition. Hawkins' defined singularity over two decades ago. You are welcome to your own version of the term, but you have corrupted it to suit your agenda. I suggest you invest a small amount of your time investigating IA and come back to us with your version of why IA, when it approaches human potential, does not define singularity.

joe smith

I'm not quite sure why AI (artificial intelligence) was converted to IA, but please accept my apologies for not spell correcting the spell corrector.

Russ Steele

Joe Smith@08:36PM

Who is Stephan Hawkins? Did you mean Hawking?

Bill  Tozer

There ain't much difference between Stephan Hawkins and Stephen Hawking until you hear them speak.

George Rebane

joes 836pm - I have no definition of Singularity that is unique or can be considered my own. Instead, I use the definition established and widely published in the AI community - which includes people like Ray Kurzweil, Bill Joy, Nick Bostrum, Jeff Hawkins, Hans Moravec, ..., and yes, even Stephen Hawking (a theoretical physicist who makes no special claim about his expertise in computer science or machine intelligence) about whose writings you appear to be completely ignorant. (E.O. Wilson is a biologist and the acknowledged world expert on ants. His musings on AI and the Singularity, while accessible to you, do not put him into the relevant arena in this discussion. Did you even know that?)

To quickly dispose of this matter and establish your own credentials, I challenge you to present one iota of evidence that my cited definition of the Singularity, a matter of record in these pages, does not correspond to the one accepted by the computer science community from which such a milestone will emerge. Mr Smith, you know nothing about me nor my work in this field, and unless you present something besides bland bloviations, you continue in these pages wasting time and out of your depth.

Russ Steele

When we say middle class, what do we really mean? What does Obama and the Democrats mean when they say middle class? When conservatives on this blog say middle class what do we mean? When liberals use these words what do they mean? I suspect that we are using the same words, but attaching different meanings. We are talking past each other.

Dr A.B. Hollingshead, Yale University, defined social Class in the United States as a five-class hierarchy. This definition has been widely accepted in academic circles.

Upper class: Attended elite schools and engages in inconspicuous consumption.

Upper-middle class: Professionals, independent businesspeople, and corporate executives.

Lower-middle class: Salespeople, clerical workers, supervisors, construction contractors, and small retail storeowners.

Upper-lower class: Skilled and semi-skilled blue-collar workers.

Lower-lower class: Lower blue-collar workers, the unemployed, families on welfare, and unskilled workers.

If we combine the upper middle and lower middle we should be talking about; professionals, independent businesspeople, corporate executives and salespeople, clerical workers, supervisors, construction contractors, small retail store owners.

Do you think these are the people that Obama is talking about when he says that he and the Democrats want to help the "middle class”? Or, is he talking about the 23.6 million people on food stamps? When an economist says “middle class”, who is he talking about? Is there a designated family income range for a middle class family?

How should we define the middle class, so that we are all, liberal and conservative, talking about the same cohort of people? Thoughts?

George Rebane

RussS 940pm - an excellent point. For most politicians 'middle class' is hazily defined to fit the need of the day. It is one of those notions that everyone thinks they know the commonly held definition, while the truth is that no one does. The taxonomy you cite is a good stake in the ground for launching a reasoned discussion.


When it comes to repetitious manufacturing, it really dosn't matter what it is. sooner than later something that gets plugged into the wall socket will build it. No paycheck, no workers' comp, no healthcare, no bitching about the hours or benefit package. That includes burger flipping.
That's already reality in Japan.
If I started a business to make things, The more robots the better, the less people I would need to pay. Thank LIBS and greedy unions for the working mans demise.
Those only real human workers will be hookers. ( yaa,,,, some dudes even may go for the mechanical fake chick. ( Yup Japan has made those too.) So who wants the job to clean that after every "use"?

Bill  Tozer

I have heard such wild discrepancies in the terms middle class and working class that I find the one that fits me and take comfort in that. Just heard the average worker makes 15 clams an hour, which is now considered a good job. Or, the average middle classer makes 45k a year, except in NYC. Or is it 68k, or is that about average? Heck, if it wasn't for low class, I would have no class at all.

I know one thing for certain. When Obama talks about helping the middle class or the working stiff, he ain't talking about me. His kind of help hits me in the wallet every time, plus paperwork.

Bill  Tozer

No worries. Obama to the rescue.

Bill  Tozer

Obama's economic sophication:

Scott Obermuller

The 'middle class' these days could include folks that don't even work:

Brad C.

Re: The Singularity

This guy might be on to something,

"Martin Ford, in The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, postulates a "technology paradox" in that before the singularity could occur most routine jobs in the economy would be automated, since this would require a level of technology inferior to that of the singularity. This would cause massive unemployment and plummeting consumer demand, which in turn would destroy the incentive to invest in the technologies that would be required to bring about the Singularity. Job displacement is increasingly no longer limited to work traditionally considered to be "routine.""

Sounds like we could also have a virus paradox where computer viruses, some of which have already achieved "cockroach intelligence", would also be approaching singularity and would likely crash the AI defense, banking, etc., systems thus stalemating The Singularity...unless, of course, anti-viruses hopped up on singularity could fend off the viruses. However, as the viruses and anti-viruses approach singularity, they may 'realize' that they could work together take over everything and enslave mankind.
Movie rights copyrighted by me.

George Rebane

BradC 1252pm - While all those forebodings are true, 'The Lights in the Tunnel' is yesterday's newspaper. Re systemic unemployment achieving a "massive" scale, I think that most likely there will arise a govt/corporate partnership to head off blood in the gutters through either a draconian national socialist template like Hitler had, or a more enlightened one, a version of which I suggested some years back called the Non-profit Service Corporation.

And your "virus paradox" is not a paradox but just another label for one or more complex systems achieving intelligence through spontaneous auto-learning (to which school of Singularity I belong). This is the opposite of intentionally and purposefully programming machines to be sentient and sapient, a school of thought populated by people like Nick Bostrum, on the periphery of computer science (specifically machine learning). I and many others believe that a 'learned Singularity' will occur way before humans even approach sufficient knowledge to accomplish a 'programmed Singularity'.

Your scenario of "plummeting consumer demand (destroying/disabling) the technologies that would be required to bring about the Singularity" is moot. Most of the technologies required for the learned Singularity are already in place, and their remaining pursuit would be (are already?) conducted within insular cores of elites who see trans-humanism as an achievable goal.

These insular cores would be economically and physically secure, not dependent at all for broad-based consumer demand to maintain economic vitality, since they would already own and control sufficient resources and the automated means of producing what they need. In fact, depending on the character/values/mores of these elites, at that point they would rather that the masses 'eat shit and die'; they may even help them along.

While we welcome the alarums of people like Martin Ford and Stephen Hawkings, they are late comers to the Singularity party as evinced by the staid scenarios that concern them. (Nevertheless, one naïf on these pages claimed that Hawkings was introducing the notion of Singularity over twenty years ago, when actually Hawking was only talking of physical singularities like the ones in black holes - there is a slight difference.) Societally things will happen even in these developing pre-Singularity years that are not simplistic transformations of how we now live (for the technical savvy I am referring to change through analytical continuation), but through utterly unexpected discontinuities in established social orders. All this will be made possible by/through the existing means of instant communication and rapid global transport playing out on the base of massive dumbth on a global scale.

Their real function of the better-known late comers is to add their public weight to convincing our current stable of politicians of the high likelihood of such a near-term future. While these people have no clue one solutions, they can at least legitimize the problem and commission/launch visible and funded blue-ribbon panels to start working on alternative feasible responses in preparation for such futures.

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