“America is more divided politically, demographically, and geographically than at any time in recent history”, so argues demographer William Frey from newly released US Census data in a report from the left-leaning Brookings Institute (here). The overwhelming evidence for the Great Divide just continues to pour in from all sides. The American Left is at a propaganda crossroads – they cannot afford to allow the explicit pro-US policies of Donald Trump succeed, for that will give lie to everything they have been preaching since the end of WW2. Their goal remains the destruction of constitutional America. (H/T to reader)
Bill Gates wants to tax job-killing robots. While the man no doubt has a good heart and is the world’s richest, he definitely is not the world’s smartest. His latest brainstorm to equate robot labor with that of humans is based on the thinnest of thinking since there exists no way to either circumscribe technologies qualifying for such treatment, or to ascribe human labor equivalents to what machines have done for years and the new tasks they are doing today and will do tomorrow. When you have that much money, it becomes a burden and thoughts of redistribution begin to inhabit your dreams. But Bill’s latest idea is one more slippery slope (from the many popular today) that will lead to the death of the goose that lays the golden eggs. (more here)
Starting this year, the Knifefish robot mine countermeasures vehicle designed to compete with Flipper. Detecting modern bottom mines – especially those buried in silt in cluttered environments – is a hard nut to crack (more here) Mines are among the most cost-effective means known for denying your enemy access to ports, coastal regions, and passage through constrained waterways. For decades now the Navy has been using dolphins to do this job. But it appears that advances in bio-sonars has come a long way since we developed the first critter systems in the 70s (my involvement has been described elsewhere in these pages). Now all that remains is for the developers to figure out how to neutralize the detected and localized mine. Flipper was a complete system in that it could also destroy the mine that it found. But what we should note is that not even critters’ jobs are safe from advancing technology as ol’ dobbin found out starting in the 1800s.
For my occasional foray into the ‘fair and balanced’ realm, I have to report that NPR ran a border wall piece this morning that featured a leading contractor bidding for the job who is the grandson of illegal aliens from Mexico and with relatives in stereotype numbers for such Hispanic-Americans. The man admirably handled his interrogation by the progressive reporter, explaining patiently that 1) yes, no wall will be perfect, but 2) the porosity of the border must be greatly reduced before any kind of ‘immigration reform’ would make sense or be effective. And to put a bow on it, the contractor reported that his family, initially opposed to his participation, has upon reflection and much discussion come to understand the sanity of first plugging the hole in the boat before putting all your efforts into bailing it out.
Did you ever notice that communicating with politicians, people of high rank, and the ignorant is very hard? The prime reasons are that almost all of them have a small knowledge base and a carefully cultivated short attention span disguised as an ‘I’m too busy’ façade. They maintain their informational deficits by restricting all their inputs to 30 second elevator speeches. The media have long recognized this and have appropriately conformed to support the status quo. Thus the behavior has become vogue.
Speaking of the media, the new label of ‘fake news’ has served to focus the public’s attention on the many and longstanding sins of journalists the journalism as a profession. All for good and appropriate reason they are held in low esteem which most of them maintain through their daily labors. The news here is that they have now been so badly tainted that they are taking out full page ads in leading newspapers. One of these reads “Reporters, editors and photographers create real news you can trust.” (Emphasis theirs) It ends with the plaintive appeal, “Help show your support for the journalists – in local communities and across the country – who are working tirelessly to bring you real news.” Now if we could only reliably identify such journalists.
[30mar17 update] Readers know of my deep interest in things to do with human origins, human destiny, and the status/role of intelligence in the cosmos, specifically in our own (and most likely the only) universe. Hence all my scribblings about the Singularity, religion, and Intelligent Design (e.g. here and here). A dear friend, similarly stimulated, just sent me the lavishly produced hard copy of Homo Deus – A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Hariri, an Israeli historian who achieved world renown with his Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind. I am excited about the new and thought provoking ideas that the book’s reviews promise the reader as Dr Harari leads us in an exploration of “the projects, dreams, and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century from overcoming death to creating artificial life.” As with many of you, my reading list is barely managed with more than a handful of books concurrently under way. I will report back as my progress warrants, and invite any readers similarly afflicted and engaged to share their thoughts about what Hariri’s tomorrow portends.