Monthly Archives: March 2016

Universal Basic Income

The link you sent, which was quite compelling actually, is an excellent segue into what some are calling UBI, Universal Basic Income.

The reasoning goes like this:

The robotization and automation of work will continue and actually increase apace in the coming decades. Robots, both physical as well as intellectual, are becoming more and more generalized. This is important as dedicated robots have been in use for decades, the car and appliance manufacturing industries for instance uses them to excellent affect. But you can’t take a chassis welding robot out of an auto factory and have it do other stuff. The same goes for informational robots too. The automated voice attendants are an example. “Press 1 to do this or that…” These are single purpose automation devices that cannot be adopted to other purposes.

But generalized robots are another thing entirely. “Mr. Robot, stand here and sort these recycling containers, or the returned items, or the amazon purchase orders, or the frozen foods section in the grocery aisle.” “Mr. iRobot, alert the FBI when you hear the words “fertilizer” and “diesel fuel” spoken in the same sentence across the millions of phone calls you’re listening to. And while you’re idle, parse all facebook posts, and twitter tweets looking for the same phrases. When you find something, compose a security memo and email it to these 10 security services.”

The more generalized robots become the more they can do. And the less humans will be doing.

Capitalists are funding these efforts to replace as many forms of work with automation as possible. The more they invest, the more they replace, the more money they do not have to pay people. The ultimate corporate entity is one where there are NO WORKERs. Where goods and services are made or provided with the smallest overhead possible; where overhead means humans. And nearly all of the income is profit. Workers are a necessary evil to corporations. They only hire more when the have to. And robots are on the way to eliminating as many of those as possible.

But the capitalists haven’t thought this through. Who will possess the money to buy the stuff they make when there are no wages returning to the those who might want to buy their stuff?

There will be a point, soon, when a very large percentage of citizens have literally nothing they can do, as work, to be paid enough to survive. What happens then? What happens when 50% of people not only cannot find work, have no ability to dream up new work venues (entrepreneur style), and can now no longer afford basic survival cost? There will be no work and therefore no way to earn a wage for these hundreds of thousands of people. That day *is* coming whether we like it or not.

Enter the Universal Basic Income.

The Austin Texas woman was spot on when she said she will not be working, EVER, if she can help it. Why should she? I agree. That particular system lack serious oversight. But it’s just a sign of things to come. What work could she perform, really, that would pay her enough to allow her to live the mediocre lifestyle she lives today? Best to just be given a stipend that she can use to keep the commerce wheels grinding. We may feel moral outrage at this behavior. But so what? She effectively has figure out the future before we have. The startling part of this is that this eventuality is NOTHING compared to what’s coming down the pipes in the coming decades.

The UBI is a severely flawed idea. But let’s face it. It’s already in place and not going away any time soon, if ever.

King’s Kitchen

Here’s an idea…

Create a culinary show focusing on the cooking methods, foods and locations of the royalty of the world.

How did the king’s cook prepare and feed hundreds of people throughout history?

What foods and utensils and methods were employed to feed the kings and queens and their retinue during the Middle Ages? The age of enlightenment? Ancient Rome? Ancient Egypt? Ancient Africa? What of the Asian kings?

How do you cook for dozens and dozens in those stone kitchens using those primitive tools. What secrets did they employ? What spices the they leverage? What unsavory bits did they sneak in or die from?

The current culinary scene is all good and well, filled with sus-vide meats, nitrogen foams, exotic presentations and weird combinations. But I think the cooking done in bygone days might be more interesting.

I think there are hundreds of venues, subjects, techniques and ingredients that would be fascinating to learn about. And… actually performing the foraging, the market going, the preparation, the cooking and the serving — IN THESE LOCATIONS… Well, I think that would be a captivating show. Imagine if one would be allowed to enter and use kitchens within the castles of Britain? Or France or anywhere in Europe? Imagine cooking for the kings of Mayan or Incan culture, or at least simulating it, but on the steps of Coba or Telume. How about preparing a feast in the deserts of Egypt? Or Tanzania?

I think if one could start small, local, a few castles in England say, then build an audience…

What’s needed however is someone with an obvious robust nature. Good butchering skills. Not afraid of uncommon foods and their preparation. Someone with a fair amount of experience but not caught up in haught-cuisine. Someone down to earth and able to explain, learn, flub-up now and then and open to giving-it-a-go.

King’s Kitchen sounds like a fun project no?


We see problems

A human’s mind looks at the world and sees problems. Not bad problems (not always). Not broken or stressful problems. Just situations that need resolution. Or that *may* need resolution.

By approaching every single view of the world as a situation to be worked out our brains allow us to continuously optimize, to continuously attempt to benefit from innovation and alteration our environment.

A chimpanzee takes hundreds of trials to solve and learn a simple option problems. Black things go into the right bucket, white things go into the left bucket. But a human when confronted with the same situation will examine the scenario and instantly know that there ARE options and that there may be an optimal solution. And with just one or two trials will figure out the best way, will learn the most beneficial behavior (they get a treat for performing the trial correctly).

Humans have a built in “question everything” directive. Humans are imbued with a sense that they can change their environment to better suit themselves and their social group. For instance, we can walk into a room that appears cluttered with furniture and our natural proclivity would be to rearrange the chairs and couches and tables so as to make it a more livable room. We don’t try to do this. It just happens in our brains. Only humans do this. A chimpanzee would never try and rearrange their environment to better suit them. They would just climb over the furniture to get from one side to the other. (Aside from building a bed or nest when it comes time to sleep.)

We see problems. And in seeing problems (non-optimal situations) we envision solutions.

Mindful tools: how our fingers persist memory

We are a tool using species.

Since the emergence of Homo Habilis / Homo Erectus our large brains and dexterous hands and fingers have been inextricably connected. As we think we use our hands forming and using tools. We carve and cut, shape and mold. And as we do so I believe our brain’s capabilities, its memory is enhanced. I believe, further, that this interaction persists to this day.

We take notes during a lecture to help us record the material but perhaps more than that our writing triggers this enhanced memory mechanism. We keep a diary, and more than just the words we save for posterity, the paragraphs and ideas we transfer to paper are doubly etched in our minds, a double tracing if you will. We doodle with our pens and pencils; we whiteboard our ideas and concepts, we write out equations, we use our hands in myriad ways all the while, I believe, invigorating our minds with additional power to remember and to create.

So, let’s do an experiment. As a control we’ll listen to a pod cast without scribbling nonsense on a pad of paper. And as we listen to another recording, we’ll take a pen and pad and doodle away. At the end of each recording I’ll wager you will have remembered more of the scribble cast than the motionless one.

On Nihilism

“The nihilist is the ultimate ironist.” — Anonymole