We are at day four of the Eighth Day!

sabotA few headlines jumped out at me last week:

Bill Gates is worried about artificial Intelligence too.

Rise of the robots at AOL lead to job cuts.

Apple smashes records reporting highest profits in history.

Well, well, Bill Gates has joined in the warnings over AI.  Just like in my novel, “The Eighth Day.”

This eerie development parallels the fears of the fictitious group I created in that novel called, The Sabot Society.   At the time, I made them out to be a bunch of nuts, albeit dangerous nuts with bombs, that were warning about machines taking over, but today their previously fictional ranting of a “dig-topian” future enjoys highly esteemed company in the likes of Bill Gates, Stephen Hawkins and Elon Musk.

What are they seeing that you don’t when you look at your iPhone for a text message or video? Only the eventual enslavement of the human race by machines. In one scenario proffered by a professor at some lofty college, we are doomed. In her vision of the future, we inefficient humans face eventual eradication by artificially intelligent machines “who” will deem us as messy, unorganized, illogical wastes of energy consumption.
Before it gets to that though, I think it will come down to socio-economic “conversion.” This proposition will be proffered by a new class that rises out of the beneficiaries of automation; the “Technosapian Elite.” They will be those last few humans who will wrongly believe that the machines are our friends and only looking out for the betterment of mankind. They will offer a “Sacrifice of Abraham” style of choice. They will enforce a societal norm that will be positioned as a choice; you can have a computer or a child, but not both.  They will justify this ungodly option with facts, namely, that there will be no place in the work force for your offspring in a world of computers, they won’t be able to support themselves.

Orig.src_.Susanne.Posel_.Daily_.News-robots.replace.humans.work_.artificial.intelligence.2025_occupycorporatismA leading economist has calculated that today there are only enough jobs on Earth to support a global population of 3 billion. However, the United States Census Bureau estimates that the world population exceeded 7 billion on March 12, 2012. The rise of A.I. will inexorably lead to machines designing better machines. As these new super machines take over more and more human tasks the number of current jobs in the world could be cut by one third… in the next decade!

If you doubt that, remember why Steve Jobs told President Obama that an iPhone could never be made here in America. He said that if he needed a million more iPhones, he could just call China and they’d work day and night through the weekend and make them. He pointed out that you can’t do that in the U.S.

Please take dire note: Foxcon the main Chinese manufacturer of iPhones is falling apart. Its “workers” are committing suicide rather than work like slaves. There are 40,000 guards “protecting” 20,000 workers at one plant. Now Apple, the company that just posted the largest earnings in HISTORY, is being forced to consider robots to replace the “slaves” in China.

How long before bottom line profits due to affluent consumerism drive millions of the working class from gainful employment?

Here’s a chilling piece of fiction right out of my “Sabot Society’s” manifesto: Unless we start to limit the advancement of machines and the subsequent taking over of human endeavor by them, eventually they will perform so many tasks that only the rich will be able to survive. What of the rest of humanity? Those with no position in the workforce will be deemed non-essential.

My fear is that a new digital form of Fabian Socialism will ensue, driven by the new reality: with machines you don’t need that many people. It won’t be long until someone gets the idea that the “nonproductive class” should not be allowed to procreate. This sanitizing will be done for the betterment of the world and its limited economy and resources.  (If you doubt this, see Roosevelt, Teddy. Sanger, Margaret. Shaw, Bernard, from the last century) 

Before it comes to that (as it has many times in history, see the National Socialist Party; Germany, Mao Zedong; China, Joseph Stalin; Russia, for recent examples) We should draw clear lines of what we will and will not allow machines to do so that human relevance, at all levels of society, remains intact and sustainable.

Of course the above is just one possible progression of the diminution of mankind in the name of progress.

If you doubt these trends, I submit to you the large lobbies of older buildings in our biggest cities. Designed to handle the crush of hundreds of employees, from typing pools, accounting, secretarial and administrators. Today you see a trickle of workers at rush hour. Thousands of jobs have been eliminated. Jobs where people made salaries, paid taxes and fed the economy, themselves and their families. Word processing, spreadsheets, project management programs and other labor saving devices that don’t ask for raises, take time to eat or call in sick, have replaced all these workers. They also don’t spend money or pay taxes.

In late 19th century Holland, when machines threatened the jobs of workers they fought back by throwing their wooden shoes into the gear work of the machines to destroy them and preserve their jobs. The shoes were called sabots and the word “sabotage” was born. Also the shoes were called Clogs and thus “clog up the works” also became part of the lexicon.

Today we would all be hard pressed to know where to throw the shoe. At an ATM? At your Smartphone, iPad or PC? Your office server? The assembly line robots? More troubling is that not one of us would do that. We would never sacrifice our comfort, life style or convenience for the sake of humanity’s future. Remember, It’s only fiction `til it happens… and it’s starting to happen now!

 

Digital Deputies

In 2008, when terrorists attacked the hotels in Mumbai, technology was working for them and against the authorities. Those cretins had accomplices on the outside who used cell phones, video cameras and other tech to tell the bad guys, who were inside the hotel, where the cops were and what they were doing on the outside. This ‘real time intel’ allowed the killers more time to kill innocent people and thwart the efforts of authorities to mount a counter-attack. The terrorists could preemptively strike at places the observers on the outside told them the police were amassing. They could move away from places in the hotel where police were entering. 

images-1Last week in Boston, technology came over to our side. Citizens became the observers; crowd sourcing became the new law enforcement tool.  Smart phones became the anti-terror weapon.  The net effect was the people of Boston became Digital Deputies. 

From a psychological perspective, no act of terror can now be contemplated without this new phalanx of smart eyes and smart ears, in the hands of the digitally deputized public, entering into the terrorist’s calculus.  I hope that’s enough to tell these would-be murderers to go somewhere else, or better yet, forget doing anything at all.

We cherish our freedoms; our nation and the American culture founded around them and we have prospered by holding them above all else as sacrosanct.  Running a marathon, attending a sporting event, or celebrating a holiday by parade or public gathering are basic expressions of those freedoms. Sadly, these events are also a magnet to those who would choose to make a political statement by committing violence.  This time, as President Obama said, “they picked the wrong city.” The resilience and spirit of ‘Boston Strong’ proves that the terrorists not only picked the wrong city but the wrong country as well.   

If you can, you can support the victims of the bombing, I found and donated to, The One Boston Fund, which helps the people most affected by the tragic events that occurred in Boston on April 15, 2013.

OneFundFlag-sm

I Love A Parade

This is a very important election for New Yorkers. They will be deciding who will tie up their traffic for the next four years.
– Barack Obama

Recently during Superstorm Sandy, Mayor Bloomberg respectfully requested that the President come nowhere near New York City. That’s because a presidential visit has an inordinate impact on the infrastructure and connectivity of the City on the best of days. During a storm, it would have been positively lethal. The mayor was 100% right.

Tom Avitabile, The Hammer of GodAs Mayor Bloomberg alluded, to live in New York is to curse the President. Especially when you’re in traffic. Even more especially when you’re watching the meter in your cab go past the $20 mark because a cop three blocks away has cordoned off your street in order for the president to get from one hotel to another. And you sit back and you think: Why are we doing this?

As written elsewhere in this blog, my first exposure to anything presidential was in 1968 when Lyndon Johnson flew over my head in the blue and white Air Force One 707 (Tail number 26000). Just seeing the plane created a sense of awe and wonderment, and since those early days I’ve been hooked by all things presidential.

That doesn’t stop me from thinking critically, though. Is this visit worth spending millions of dollars in security? Is it worth tying up all this traffic? Why put up with this terrible impact on the City of New York’s ability to generate wealth for an entire day? And why are streets blocked off for hours even after he’s passed? No one has ever explained that one to me.

And then I begin to wonder if he is even in that limo. Wouldn’t it make more sense to drive Continue reading