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01 December 2014


Wayne Hullett

It is interesting to consider who would be left alive in one month if all the computers in the world stopped working today.


I find it fascinating that the "Great Wordsmiths" of your region, guys who tout their multiple degrees from top flight universities, seem to have such difficulty with the english language.

From jeffys latest attempt at networking.

“My tenure with the Auburn Journal was short-lived. After writing a number of columns critical of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce’s incestual relationship with the Auburn City Council, an edict from Brehm Communications (San Diego-based owner of Gold Country Media and the Auburn Journal) limited non-staff writers to one submission per month. This change was designed to silence me.

“Genesis of this blog: After the Auburn Journal declined to publish three columns I wrote, including a piece exposing the decimation of staffing and equipping of the Auburn Police Department, I concluded that my only recourse was to launch my own blog. . .so here we go.




incestual (not comparable)

(nonstandard) incestuous


Spell check tried to fix it three times! You guys might want to look into it...especially since you get so worked up over typos!

George Rebane

WayneH 1147pm - An interesting an oft-considered scenario. Some well argued considerations put the American survivors at somewhere between 25% and 50% of the population. Death rates in built-up areas would be the highest. While more primitive countries would be least impacted. I think if such a humungus catastrophe occurs (a coronal mass ejection comes to mind), then existential culture becomes a great determiner of survivability. Your thoughts?

fish 942am - This comment looks better in the sandbox.

Russ Steele

WayneH 1147pm

There is an EMP blog that is concerned about this very issue, a nuke or the sun taking out the power grid: http://www.empblog.org

There are "prepper" organizations all across the country, including here in Nevada County that are preparing for such and event. We have a survivalist preparation store in Grass Valley, Hills Flat area of East Main.

If you go to the Father's Day ammo sale at the Range you will run into many of the locals who are preparing for the collapse, and are stocking up on ammo.

Here is link to a Prepper web site: http://www.prepperwebsite.com/

The question is, have you taken the basic steps for survive a total power blackout? We just missed a power grid destroying CME last fall (2013). It was not aimed at the earth. More on this issue in future comments if you are interested.

Keen Observer

Dr. Rebane,

I can appreciate the validity of this post, it harkens back to your original discussion on the "Real Jobs" problem. The sad aspect of this is that many high school career counselors fail to acknowledge the advance of machines and their effect of the job market, thus filling the minds of future job seekers with false hopes.

If I recall correctly from my limited exposure to Computer Science (elective) courses in college, the limit of computers by definition lies in their inability to create algorithms from scratch to solve other algorithms. Thus regardless of blazing computational speed, this makes any computer as it stands no more than a very useful slave that caters to the whims of its programmer. However, although computers lack these advanced forms of problem solving capabilities, this does not protect the jobs of multitudes of current employees performing rote or intellectually menial tasks. In time, and as costs for computational power decrease, it would be unwise to assume that computers or machines will not become cost-effective substitutes to those same employees mentioned above. On that note, I would like to add that those involved in sales of any flavor enjoy protection from the machines' encroachment; I would bet that no machine in my lifetime could ever replace the skills of a solid salesperson.

George Rebane

KeenO 150pm - It's good of you to take that position to expand this discussion. Unfortunately you are wrong on both your stated premises - 1) computers have no inherent "inability to create algorithms from scratch" (don't understand your use of "to solve other algorithms.") and have already created many unique algorithms to both improve solutions to existing problems, and solve heretofore unsolved problems, and 2) I believe you would lose the bet if you plan to live beyond 2050. For additional information I point you to Stephen Hawking's recent remarks -

Russ Steele


Nestle has recently appointed an unlikely brand ambassador, a fleet of robots that are programmed to sell its coffee machines in Japan.

Fondly known as Pepper, the robot has replaced Hollywood hunk George Clooney as the new face of the brand. Makers claim that not only is the robot chatty and friendly, it can also indulge in conversation. According to its engineers, the artificial intelligence of the robot is ever expanding its conversational skills by listening to consumers.

The robot has a 4 foot tall body, and has a face resembling a human face which rests on a white plastic body. It also has a tablet pc like structure on its chest.

Around 1000 stores, all across Japan will be seen with their own robot very soon. Pepper is also touted to understand around 80 percent of conversations. According to a statement by Nestle and SoftBank, the company responsible for Pepper's technology, "the robots will help us discover consumer needs through conversations between our customers and Pepper.''

Unveiled earlier this year in June by SoftBank, Pepper is also used for selling mobile phones throughout Japanese stores. The robot is also expected to go on sale to the public in February

Read more at: http://indiatoday.intoday.in/technology/story/george-clooney-loses-out-to-robot/1/404983.html

Welcome to the entry point of a new world of robot sales. You will soon be greeted at the door of fast-food establishments by a robot that will take your order and another will deliver it to your table.

Account Deleted

What a household should stockpile is worthy of an entire post in itself. There doesn't have to be a 'complete meltdown' to show up a need for some basic necessities to be on hand at all times. Witness the calamity from the last major storms back east. Many ignored the warnings and had nothing when the power and water went off.
Anyone who believes their livelihood is immune from automation is sadly mistaken. Yes - some of you might retire before a less costly automaton takes over your duties, but I would advise all young'ins to expect a lot of disruptive change in almost all fields in the future. The entire nature of what folks expect to own as a need vs a luxury is evolving as well. The govts, per usual, will be demanding that the 'buggy whip' types of manufacturers and service industries be propped up as a sop to their support base.

Wayne Hullett

gjr10:27 Agree that culture is the determiner. The Masai would probably not know that anything had happened.

Russ Steele01:35 Thanks for the links. I'm good for at least a year if I can get water.

My purpose in making my original post was to highlight how dependent we are today on computers, and to hopefully to encourage the realization that there is no going back. The rapid advance of this technology reminds me of my skiing days, when I would accidentally get on a slope that was above my skill level, and find myself barely enough in control to survive the trip.

I'm not aware of any serious large scale systems level thinking about how to employ intelligent AI. I'm sure the military has some ideas. I am wondering whether a priority shouldn't be to provide every living human with at least some reasonable standard of living. I can think of several arguments both for and against that. I think there is a much greater probability of a disastrous outcome if intelligent AI arises piecemeal from the various corporate, university, national and international research efforts. I would be a lot more sanguine if there were a roadmap toward a brighter future that would incentivize development toward that end rather than ever more intelligent killing machines. The combination of Kurzweil's abilities and Google's resources suggests an earlier realization of capable AI than many think. I haven't seen much, if anything, in writing from Kurzewil about planning for the global effects of that technology.

George Rebane

WayneH 219pm - Few write about the problem (no matter how temporary) how to use pre-Singularity AI to spread wealth to those permanently out of the labor markets. From your last paragraph it appears that you are of the school believing that peer-AI will occur through a purposive development program. The recent leader of that school may be Nick Bostrom with his recent 'Superintelligence ...'

Since I am of the opposite school of AI - superintelligence will be learned not programmed, and most likely out of human control - I couldn't help but be amazed at the man's hubris (ignorance?) when he considered all the society-AI scenarios that must be anticipated and planned for. I intend to post on this in the new year, and sure would enjoy a conversation on the matter.

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