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20 August 2012



It's not clear to me how the Roman elite was able to afford robots, other than perhaps captured slaves from their conquests. Before sounding your trumpets too loudly, you might consider the fate of the Roman Empire, and think about ways we might avoid the same...shall we starve and allow to die from curable illnesses the masses? Or shall we harvest their organs, allowing the rest of their families some years of further existence, via a cash bounty?


So George, the Big Question is, " If robots are deployed worldwide, making goods and harvesting food, and almost all of the humans are unemployed, who's going to have any money to buy anything?

George Rebane

TomK 726am - "Before sounding your trumpets too loudly, you might consider the fate of the Roman Empire, and think about ways we might avoid the same... " Doug, the bread & circuses tie-in was in reference to the preamble to Rome's fall, and its obvious analogue to what America is suffering.

This really again demonstrates that there is a block wall between liberal cognition and the rest of the world. I hope that the middle roaders are picking up on this when they try to make sense of liberal argumentation.

Re 834am - Yes, that Big Question has been posed here many times. Before populations pull back to a more sustainable co-habitation levels with machines (assuming the Singularity doesn't occur first), RR readers know that I am an advocate of wealth redistribution. But of a totally different kind than those which have been demonstrated by collectivist societies. Those redistribution methods - which America's Left is trying to reinstate - have only caused wholesale starvation, misery, and death.

Unfortunately, as we see daily on TV, there has been no progress made during the last century in productively discussing with the Left the maintenance of states in a condition such that sustainable wealth redistribution is possible.


George, I've been way ahead of you on these issues since reading Vonnegut's "Player Piano" way back in the 1960's. Now go find yourself a robot to do your brain surgery and get back to me when it is over.

billy T

Automation has made things better and much more efficient in the manufacturing and distribution sector. I ordered something on line yesterday (Sunday) and was told it would be shipped within 2 business days. Within an hour I received an alert that the item had been shipped. No, it was not from Amazon. Amazon runs on razor thin margins and can stay afloat by its automated distribution system which is mind boggling. Tom, there will always be humans involved. Somebody has to lock up at night and clean the restrooms. Thoroughly enjoyed Juan Williams report on technology in the classroom. My my, the results are fantastic with fewer teachers. Instant feedback and more one on one time. Amazing where technology is taking us. Computer chips made by machines are considered a commodity sold by the ton for a few years now. Cheaper than corn? Yes, we will need workers up close and personal to scrap out the old abandoned factories and recycle the wiring. Everyone for years said we need to complete with them emerging markets. Good, bad, or indifferent we are are completing through technology. The local ATM I use never calls in sick when she has a headache and works 24/7. The only problem I have with drones is they are up close and impersonal.


Jobs, BillyT, yes, but no where near enough of them, and once the antique infra-structuire gets recycled, then what? Who's going to break into a warehouse guarded by a bot networked into a thousand sensors and armed with a paintball gun and a net, or maybe something more lethal?

Ryan Mount

Bread and circuses, eh? Isn't that what we have right now? Maybe we should just cut to the chase and bundle a DirecTV subscription with every SNAP aid request? Three months of HBO for new subscribers and liters of Coca-Cola* bought at the local gas station/convenience store where EBT cards are accepted.

* http://www.fns.usda.gov/ora/menu/Published/snap/FILES/ProgramOperations/FSPFoodRestrictions.pdf

billy T

"Good Gawd man. The average income of the 9th Ward is $7,200 a year. We already give them welfare and Medicaid and food stamps. What more do they want!" was my reply to a young co-worker who asked me what I thought about Karina after the wind stopped blowing. He called me "harsh." I kinda of agree with Mr. Mount about the Coca Cola and Direct Tv. I always thought that we should give welfare recipients a place to live, internet, free pay tv, and a case of Doritos and some soda to wash it down with. That will keep them happy and off the streets. Maybe thrown in an alarm clock to make sure they get up in time to meet the kids when they get home from school. That is the life of no jobs. But, the jobs issue is not going to be magically resolved in this new era of innovation. It starts with our broken education system. No excuses. Until our education system starts pumping out masses of students with specific skills the jobs will be filled by foreigners that will fill out Nation's needs. Total education tear down and rebuilt from the wreckage. Not a quick fix. Point them to where the jobs are. Those with skills versus those who break open another pallet of Twinkies for a snack. No other way around it. 32 students gazing at a blackboard and moving along at the pace of the slowest student is not going to cut it anymore. Too many Walter Mittys. Education overhaul equals jobs, jobs, jobs. Think outside the box. Its too late for the youngins' parents. They got what they got from pubic education. Government in the future will continue cutting back reimbursement to doctors and hospitals, but there are still some adequate professions to be found in the medical field. Heck, you don't even need a high school diploma to read an X-Ray and when Obama Care kicks in that X-Ray reader will make as much as a doctor. Meanwhile, perhaps free viewing of cage matches will pacify the restless hordes.


Do not give them a free tv, without strings attached, that may improve their education:


Ryan Mount


I have actually instituted the operant conditioning techniques you listed in your blog (above) at my home. Someone told me I should write the system up, although it was mostly a failure.

In a nutshell this is how it worked. There were timers on reward systems: Software timers for computer time, special power timers (locked with pin codes) on all other electronic devices such as TVs and video game consoles, and WiFi codes after chores are done.

(I can provide a list of the tools I used in case anyone is interested. The only tool I still use is the computer time system. It allows me to observe everything they're doing, and provide strict control over their time on the computer. I can make them take breaks, turns, etc.)

On top of that, I instituted a poker chip reward system for completed chores (sweeping, etc.) that the children (I have many) could use to cash in for money, prizes (I bought a huge box of crap plastic toys) or more media time at the end of the week. This was a quick lesson for me in economics. A black market broke out in my house.

It sorta worked, but it didn't feed the bull dog as my Algebra teacher used to say. To my surprise, sometimes the children just wouldn't do anything regardless of the reward. Occasionally they'd just sit and stare rather than do the work. So in the end, it was no substitute for looming over their shoulders and double checking everything they did. Sometimes yelling worked. Sometimes we'd have to literally put the pencils in their hands.

Apparently, there's no Singularity future for parenting.

Russ Steele

It might be worth remembering that global cooling played a major role in the Roman decline.

A new study published in Science magazine suggests climate change actually played a major role in bringing down history’s most infamous decline of civilization, the Roman Empire

It turns out that tree rings are leading many scientists to believe that shifts in climate affected farming and amplified political, social and economic crises.

A 300-year spell of unpredictable weather coincided with the decline including nine major winter anomalies that affected food production and human survival.

Check out the a graphic representation here: http://nextgrandminimum.wordpress.com/2012/05/20/last-ice-age-arrived-in-just-six-months/gtemps-7/


Ryan, I'm sure your kids had secret extension cords. In my situation, the stuff is all beyond the reach of a hacker of low to moderate skill levels, and is fully automated. Either they punch in the twenty answers to the problems and it works, or they don't and it doesn't work. Only expense is replacing units smashed in frustration.

Ryan Mount


There were a lot of fits and starts with this grand experiment. Generally speaking, with secure BIOS passwords, and checking the logs vigilantly, you can keep on top of it. Certainly I had my share of failures.

Security like this is a war of attrition. Eventually I will win, and have, but only after ratcheting back privileges over time. One child in the house figured out how to circumvent my Media timers which guard the TVs and other non-computer devices. I used this gadget:


It senses changes in voltage to detect whether a device is on or not. Anyhow, the said child learned as you observed, to basically enter random keystrokes during the countdown period and thereby crashing the device with a buffer overflow. I contacted the manufacturer, and received a work-around. The child, on the other hand, did not receive such a gracious fix. He was banned from everything but staring at the wall for 1 month for tampering with a device.

For computer timers, I used this:


It is VERY effective and flexible. It is almost impossible to circumvent because you demote kids to "Standard" Windows users and this utility logs them off after a certain period of time. The only risk with this tool is BIOS time changes. Suddenly the computer takes the backtalk, not me. BTW, the same child above tried to circumvent this by moving Windows profiles around. Clever, but stupid. Of course that was a fail and screwed up his environment. His punishment was he had to live with constant environment issues for one month before I fixed it.

Wifi Internet passwords are the easiest: just change them every day and put a list of chores next to the wireless router. This seems to work the best.

I use DD-WRT for my home routers which provides me with plenty of admin options.



NO longer have children around the house, but you ideas are good. My goal was to go for the tv watching crowd, not the Internet watching crowd.

I patiently explained to the Dish Network customer service rep that I could go to direct tv for an average cost of $90 over two years, and that I didn't want to continuing paying $120 for the whole enchilada, and guess what, I get to keep the whole enchilada, guacamole and all, for $80/month(govmint will want another $10 at least), for a full two years, with no contract. Everything's negotiable. More time to experiment with Digital path. BTW, after running the speed tests and bitching on ATT's FB account, my speeds went right back up where they should be. Suspect they've a bot that watches to see who run speedtests, and that it is all automated, customer retention. Moaning on FB only good for letting off steam.

billy T

"Soon will will have more people over 60 than under 14". I guess I won't count of grape pickers to fund my retirement. http://money.msn.com/politics/post.aspx?post=3ea72c7d-5ead-4145-87c8-0132b67ed37d


Unfortunately, Mr. BLT, the robots who will soon be doing the grape picking and vine pruning neither buy products nor pay into social security.

billy T

Tom, Congrats on getting your speeds back up to at least the non-buffering status. BTW, my middle name is Ulysses, but Mr. BLT is fine with me. Watch out for the e-coli in lettuce spreading around lately. Let me know how DigitalPath works in the hinterlands. Just got some junk mail from Digitalpath. No way will I go with Internet over phone wires or slow as crap local Wi-Fi. Its the same as dial up and they claim its high speed, lol. High speed my ass. 6 mgs ain't high speed. Probably be a mute point if I have to live with slow speeds. Oh well. My company paid laptop and service will be fine. Let me know.

Ryan Mount

Fiber > Cable > DSL > WISP > Satellite > T-1/ISDN > Dial-Up > Dr. Oz.

WISPs, such as Digital Path and our local Smarter Broadband are OK relative to my formula above, but subject congestion and saturation (over selling) not to mention obstructions and weather. They also have relatively small data caps, IMO compared to other services.

We are lucky in relatively rural areas to have broadband service. AT&T has done a pretty good job installing Loop Extenders (repeaters) all over Nevada County which are giving many of us up to 6Mbits/sec. People drive by them every day and never notice them. I saw one tacked to a telephone pole out on Lake Vera Road the other day.

In no way should you allow Dr. Oz to interact with any part of your life.


BLT, a delicious sandwich, is a big improvement over the alternative. Or, maybe parents were thinking helicopters, WUT WUT WUT....

Jeremy C

It's just that these automation and professional warehouse management systems are making the process a lot easier and less errors that lead to high cost. If only workers will give their very best in the warehouse then there may not be a need for these technology advancements but they are already here and oftentimes they are proven better than manual system. I agree with billy. We should improve our education system to be able to compete. Although there is still a problem in getting the right education because of poverty and the like. It's very hard, eh? Government and people should cooperate towards what is better for us all. But really there should be a balance between all this. Technology is not that bad only if we also will think of others interests.


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