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Inequality

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2015 at 06:18
Dare I say religion??

The devout believe they should do things to improve the lot of their fellow humans and creatures, not for the sake of a paycheck but because caring for the suffering, fellow feeling, etc. or you might say because God or Buddha says that one should do so.

Nowadays, however, women seem to need a paycheck to validate their self-worth, and they also usually require that their man make more money or is better educated then they are.  That is a problem because while men will marry a poor, or not so educated woman (albeit usually good-looking), women tend not to marry down.  So whereas it used to be that the man brought home the paycheck and the woman watched over the kids and was active in social activities, now both the man _and_ the woman work, but either both are (over)educated and working cushy jobs, or both are (under)educated and working not so well paying jobs, or sometimes these jobs are well paying, but monotonous or dangerous.  With both working, community activism and direct parenting tend to suffer.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2015 at 07:50
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Dare I say religion??

The devout believe they should do things to improve the lot of their fellow humans and creatures, not for the sake of a paycheck but because caring for the suffering, fellow feeling, etc. or you might say because God or Buddha says that one should do so.

Nowadays, however, women seem to need a paycheck to validate their self-worth, and they also usually require that their man make more money or is better educated then they are.  That is a problem because while men will marry a poor, or not so educated woman (albeit usually good-looking), women tend not to marry down.  So whereas it used to be that the man brought home the paycheck and the woman watched over the kids and was active in social activities, now both the man _and_ the woman work, but either both are (over)educated and working cushy jobs, or both are (under)educated and working not so well paying jobs, or sometimes these jobs are well paying, but monotonous or dangerous.  With both working, community activism and direct parenting tend to suffer.


I'm not a big fan of superstition while it may serve the needs of people in primitive societies to explain this "veil of tears" it has proved to be repeatedly hostile to enlightenment.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jun 2015 at 18:26
The mystics of religion are very much for enlightenment, regardless of their faith.  Or rather, each in their own way, in their own faith.  But maybe when you think of enlightenment, you think the French.  And so I remind you of the reign of terror and the cancer of Napoleon.  They say that revolutions eat their own children.  In the Cultural Revolution it was each other's children instead, with starvation and baby swaps, you eat mine, and we will eat yours.  That's where a complete throwing out of the past leads one.  There are worse things than a little old superstition, it is the new superstitions that are particularly dangerous.

Wolfhound, please specify which and what kind of enlightenment you are talking about.  That is, if you care to do so.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 01:41
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

Originally posted by Captain Vancouver Captain Vancouver wrote:

 
I think this is a key issue facing us in the near future. We really do not need all to participate in the workforce, and the more this is insisted upon, the more distortion and dislocation will occur in society.

What to do with excess workers is a tough problem, but one that will need to be addressed.

The words excess and need should be replaced with surplus and demand.  There are and will always be plenty of labors that people may do to make life better for themselves and others.  

Yes there will always be pro-social activities for people, such as in the arts, or volunteer positions.

The problem is, IMO, many of the reasonably remunerative jobs that were prevalent in society in the past simply can be done more efficiently by software, often more efficiently by orders of magnitude. These are economic trends that are not going to be sidetracked, nor should they be. 

The labour participation rate in western countries has been declining, and today we are really only on the cusp of a digital society. After reading an article on the proposed mechanization of ore trucks in the Alberta tar sands, one that would replace $100k/year drivers with a software program, I went to our local market. I did the automated check-out thing, no human involved, 60 seconds with a computer. When driving and retail jobs start to got the way of bank clerks and factory welders, we are going to see  a big shrinkage of the workforce. And there is more to come.

What is going to be required is a psychological and political shift in the way we see work and compensation, one that is going to be a tough sell, given current popular opinion.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 04:31
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

The mystics of religion are very much for enlightenment, regardless of their faith.  Or rather, each in their own way, in their own faith.  But maybe when you think of enlightenment, you think the French.  And so I remind you of the reign of terror and the cancer of Napoleon.  They say that revolutions eat their own children.  In the Cultural Revolution it was each other's children instead, with starvation and baby swaps, you eat mine, and we will eat yours.  That's where a complete throwing out of the past leads one.  There are worse things than a little old superstition, it is the new superstitions that are particularly dangerous.

Wolfhound, please specify which and what kind of enlightenment you are talking about.  That is, if you care to do so.

I mean the scientific and cultural revolution in which religion proved not only to be the source of misinformation but hostile to the truth.  

I was raised a catholic and I have had many interesting conversation with priest who are not only well educated but in most cases good people.  I think it is safe to say that had there been no church these same people would have made at least as great a service to their communities.  The church itself however has proven time and again that it is more interested in maintaining a primitive hierarchical social system than in serving the community.  I haven't been a believer since I was maybe 6 or 7 but I do enjoy the pomp and ceremony in the same way you may enjoy opera.  The difference is I don't act on the precepts of the opera without questioning them.   


Edited by wolfhnd - 12 Jun 2015 at 05:12
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 04:43
Or it could be that the cost of labor is high in the first (developed) world, employers use robotics because it is cheaper than dealing with unions, OSHA, etc.  I like the human involvement, our society complains about how isolating and alienating life has become.  People are eventually going to wake up, and realize they don't like phone trees, automatic tellers and the nanny state, whether or not it will be too late by that time, I don't know.  Jobs have gone overseas, but now they're starting to go from China to Vietnam.  Unions want protectionist laws to "keep" the jobs here, and so the factories instead of going overseas, exchange workers for robots.  The use of robots for mediocre tasks is not inevitable, it is due to a cost/benefit analysis which presupposes a high cost of labor.

Edited by franciscosan - 12 Jun 2015 at 04:47
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 05:19
It seems entirely likely that robots will not only replace labor but their masters as well.  Their rate of evolution will simple out strip humans and make them the dominate life form Geek  How will they view inequality if they are the masters?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 05:24
Wolf, you sound like the individuals described by GK Chesterton, people who are not close enough to Christianity, but also are not far enough away.  These people disparage Christianity, but look on a Buddhist Pagoda, or a Hindu temple as exotic and interesting.  They are stuck in this midway zone where they can't take it nor leave it. If they were from China, they would view Christianity as exotic, and if they were truly inside Christianity, they could embrace it.  But as it is, they are somewhere inbetween.  But maybe you look at Buddhism and Hinduism as superstition as well, malignant superstition.
I would suggest that religion is not as hostile towards the truth as you seem to think.  In fact, the truth, if it was weak enough to be picked on by big bad religion wouldn't be much of a truth, would it?

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 05:27
Robots are not alive.  Sir Roger Penrose makes it pretty clear that we don't even know how to approach the idea of sentient machines.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 09:39
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Robots are not alive.  Sir Roger Penrose makes it pretty clear that we don't even know how to approach the idea of sentient machines.

Things evolve, wouldn't be the first time sentience evolved. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 09:50
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Wolf, you sound like the individuals described by GK Chesterton, people who are not close enough to Christianity, but also are not far enough away.  These people disparage Christianity, but look on a Buddhist Pagoda, or a Hindu temple as exotic and interesting.  They are stuck in this midway zone where they can't take it nor leave it. If they were from China, they would view Christianity as exotic, and if they were truly inside Christianity, they could embrace it.  But as it is, they are somewhere inbetween.  But maybe you look at Buddhism and Hinduism as superstition as well, malignant superstition.
I would suggest that religion is not as hostile towards the truth as you seem to think.  In fact, the truth, if it was weak enough to be picked on by big bad religion wouldn't be much of a truth, would it?


Since we were talking about inequality I think we can throw religion in with the other conservative institutions that resist positive change.  The divine right of kings and the infallible pope are two sides to the same coin.  Authority derived other than by the active, uncoerced and conscious consent of the body politic is tyranny. 

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 12:34
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

It seems entirely likely that robots will not only replace labor but their masters as well.  Their rate of evolution will simple out strip humans and make them the dominate life form Geek  How will they view inequality if they are the masters?

I'm not sure you understand how machines work.

The robot apocalypse isn't going to be brought on by Robots that don't obey orders. It's going to be brought on by Engineers who can build Robots and have finally got fed up with their government.
Robots can't out think humans and never will be able to. We can't identify creativity let alone program it.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Jun 2015 at 12:43
Originally posted by literaryClarity literaryClarity wrote:


The real difference in wealth is what that formula entails. Given the same situation in both China and the US if an alien mothership drops by and decides to invest the same amount of money by pouring investment dollars into both economies he would quickly witness the kinds of businesses that he will likely want to generate more revenue with in the US. The goods and services that the US generates are high end and costly while the Chinese ones would be low end and easily purchaseable. Furthermore the US simply has a lot more of it.

If an Alien mothership drops by they probably won't consider our technology high tech and will be looking for easily exploited source of labour that they can train. Nigeria or Pakistan are probably the go-to nations. The US would probably try to shoot the aliens.

The US's big advantage over China is that it has a more open and easier patent system and can attract more international talent. People are able to move to and integrate into the US system, which they can't with China. China's big advantage over the US is they are really, really good at manufacturing. Like whatever's happening in manufacturing in the west, the Chinese are one step ahead (semiconductors excepted).

Also worth noting in the technology industry a "US Company" really means a company based in the US, and/or Malaysia, Phillipines, Thailand, Taiwan, Ireland, UK and Singapore.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 03:01
I have heard that when China goes to Africa, they import their entire system, workers, construction techniques, etc.  They don't use and don't try to foster local talent.  So whomever is bringing the Chinese in, only gets the dam or railway system, etc.  Not the development of local talent.  Instead the US hires locally and invests more in the "human" infrastructure. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 03:44
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Or it could be that the cost of labor is high in the first (developed) world, employers use robotics because it is cheaper than dealing with unions, OSHA, etc.  I like the human involvement, our society complains about how isolating and alienating life has become.  People are eventually going to wake up, and realize they don't like phone trees, automatic tellers and the nanny state, whether or not it will be too late by that time, I don't know.  Jobs have gone overseas, but now they're starting to go from China to Vietnam.  Unions want protectionist laws to "keep" the jobs here, and so the factories instead of going overseas, exchange workers for robots.  The use of robots for mediocre tasks is not inevitable, it is due to a cost/benefit analysis which presupposes a high cost of labor.

It is illustrative that even in China, automation is proceeding at flank speed. A recent op/ed piece in the New York Times ruminated on the future of a country that has yet to draw its entire population into its industrial revolution, but at the same time is now succumbing to the digital age. The effect of I.T. today is that even the most mundane and low paid positions can be profitably replaced by software, even in the third world. It is not unions that are sabotaging work, but the lure of vast increases in profitability with the introduction of robotics. $300/month labour is not immune.

Of course nothing is inevitable, but I think history demonstrates that advances that vastly increase wealth and/or power can be very hard to put back in the box.

The problem remains- the new technology is here, and is not likely to go away, but what to do about its various side effects?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 04:45
But I thought some manufacturing was switching over to Vietnam, Bangladesh, or maybe even Mongolia, from China which is becoming more expensive.

America sometimes has subdivisions of ticky-tacky boxes, with cosmetic differences, some might think that that is wealth.  I see it as a wasteland.  It is pretty easy to mass manufacture goods, but I wonder if the sameness created by the mass activity is really a creation of wealth.

We think positively of eco-systems when they are diverse, industrial production simplifies and streamlines procedures, but does information technology offer a hope for diversity of the human environment?  or is it another way to establish ticky-tacky boxes of one type or another?
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 05:44
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

It seems entirely likely that robots will not only replace labor but their masters as well.  Their rate of evolution will simple out strip humans and make them the dominate life form Geek  How will they view inequality if they are the masters?

I'm not sure you understand how machines work.

The robot apocalypse isn't going to be brought on by Robots that don't obey orders. It's going to be brought on by Engineers who can build Robots and have finally got fed up with their government.
Robots can't out think humans and never will be able to. We can't identify creativity let alone program it.

You mean I don't understand the tiny machines human are built out of?  Are individual cells conscious?

The question of artificial intelligence is little different than the resistance to evolution in earlier generations.  Humans have a profound need to feel special.

When you talk of creativity what is clear that humans have yet to create anything as sophisticated as even the simplest organism that has evolved undirected.  Machines will evolve the serious question is if it is directed or simply random.  I would also argue against any suggestion that cultural evolution is as directed as many people believe it is.

While I wouldn't argue against free will I would suggest that your concept of creativity seems to be more of the magical kind than the real process.


Edited by wolfhnd - 13 Jun 2015 at 05:53
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 06:08
I mentioned free will in the previous post because the question of inequality is inseparable from morality.  Our membership is the moral agents club is dependant on our having the ability to choose and choice is ultimately dependant on knowledge.  Since we know that income inequality leads to instability the only choice that should be available to us is to give up our membership in the moral agents club and lose the benefits of membership in society or do something about it.  Unfortunately there are many individuals and groups that function similar to Meiotic drivers that wittingly or unwittingly benefit from instability.

It is equally true that too much of a good thing is seldom good.  As too much genetic stability stymies evolution so does too much stability stymie social evolution.  It is a question of balance and how much stability is necessary to prevent cancerous social disorder.    
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 17:29
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

But I thought some manufacturing was switching over to Vietnam, Bangladesh, or maybe even Mongolia, from China which is becoming more expensive.

Sure, profit seeks out the lowest costs, until they are no longer low. After a developing country begins to accumulate capital and infrastructure, it becomes more worthwhile to invest in such automation. Also, as workers become better educated and politically aware, they tend to start demanding a fair wage. This process has overtaken a number of countries, and it surely will Vietnam, Mongolia, and others.

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

America sometimes has subdivisions of ticky-tacky boxes, with cosmetic differences, some might think that that is wealth.  I see it as a wasteland.  It is pretty easy to mass manufacture goods, but I wonder if the sameness created by the mass activity is really a creation of wealth.

We think positively of eco-systems when they are diverse, industrial production simplifies and streamlines procedures, but does information technology offer a hope for diversity of the human environment?  or is it another way to establish ticky-tacky boxes of one type or another?

Good question. On the surface of it, I'd say the digital age has fostered diversity. New, independent artists now have a much better shot at recognition with the internet. A hotel or restaurant now requires the diverse opinion of Trip Adviser as much a a slick, expensive advertising campaign. With Ebay, everyone can be a merchant. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jun 2015 at 17:36
Originally posted by Omar al Hashim Omar al Hashim wrote:

Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

It seems entirely likely that robots will not only replace labor but their masters as well.  Their rate of evolution will simple out strip humans and make them the dominate life form Geek  How will they view inequality if they are the masters?

I'm not sure you understand how machines work.

The robot apocalypse isn't going to be brought on by Robots that don't obey orders. It's going to be brought on by Engineers who can build Robots and have finally got fed up with their government.
Robots can't out think humans and never will be able to. We can't identify creativity let alone program it.

It has been a long running human trait to ascribe the inexplicable and complex to magic, or to at least assume that it is beyond our understanding. Yet many phenomenon that were once religious or mystical items have migrated to science theory, and in some cases working constructions.

Good to see you still hanging out here Omar.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2015 at 05:12
People form societies for security.  It is not much different than it is for any other social animal as a lone wolf has little chance of survival.  If you accept this premise then we can formulate a guideline based on security for measuring equality that removes some ambiguities.  

Separating wealth from the direct measure of equality has some benefits related to what we may call fairness.  Compensation not based on merit or contribution set off alarm bells in our fairness meter.  Fairness of course is an amorphous concept that is influenced by culture and individual preferences.  There are however some universal ideas on fairness and humans are not alone in having a sense of "fairness"  to learn more on non human social justice I would recommend this book  Marc Bekoff;Jessica Pierce. Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals.  Here is a short excerpt from the book.

Animals exhibit fairness during play, and they react negatively to unfair play behavior. In this context, fairness has to do with an individual's specific social expectations and not some universally defined standard of right and wrong. Ifyou expect a friend to play with you and he acts in an aggressive manner, dominating or hitting rather than cooperating and playing, then you will feel you are being treated unfairly because of a lapse in social expectations. We have found, by studying the details and dynamics of social play behavior in animals, that animals exhibit a similar sense of fairness. For instance, one way we know that animals have social expectations is that they show surprise when things don't go "right" during play, and only further communication keeps play going.

Expectation of fairness then is a built in propensity shared by most social animals and not something that can be entirely erased by cultural change.  When we talk of equality and what it means at a fundamental level the "natural" expectation is not equal social status or material wealth but equal justice.

If equal security is the measure of social justice then we can start to enumerate those things that a just society will universally provide.   The short list would be those things that are required to sustain life, food, shelter and medical care.  Those things that are required to sustain life however must also be secured universally.  Fair access to employment and fair compensation are dependent on education and non discriminatory hiring practices and are certainly part of the security equation.  There is a larger issue however related to the need to have a secure economic system in which economic down turns do not threaten the security of the poor.  The rich of course are isolated in most cases from the worst effects of financial crashes and can be more careless with financial risks.  This is one reason that income disparity is such an important issue as we know that financial crashes are associated correlatively to high disparity.

The basic argument becomes; any social system that is not fair will be unstable as it will be in  opposition to immutable instinctual predispositions that all humans share.  Those capitalist that consider themselves Darwinian and believe the survival of the fittest means total disregard for concepts like fairness have little understanding of the complexity of social animals or evolution. 


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jun 2015 at 23:04
Regarding those who think that "thinking" machines lie just around the corner:
We do not see because we have eyes, we have eyes because we see.

I have a next door neighbor in my condo complex that is working very hard to kill himself through crawling into the bottle.  What is fair in this context?  Is there enough money in the world to change someone hellbent on self-destruction?  Should society write him a blank check?  and if the check is limited, well then what limits do you put on it?  I mean, some people believe that to solve a problem, all you have to do is through money at it, but if you devote your resources to one cause, that implies that you cannot devote those same resources to another cause(s).
You can divide up the money of the rich to the point where it is useless.  The rich, however, are relatively efficient in their use of money, founding businesses and philanthropic efforts, even being patrons of expensive restaurants, spas and luxury goods.  I have no need for a$1000 Gucci bag, or a $200,000 Ferrari but I do think that it is neat that such things exist, and I don't resent people who indulge in such toys.  
Or you could pour money into the bottomless pit of someone like my neighbor.  Don't get me wrong, I feel for the guy, but I also am happy that he finally got a DUI (driving under the influence), and I am hopeful that that DUI will force him to change.  Hopeful, but by no means confident.  I try to do things for him, but haven't seen him or heard him for the last few weeks.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2015 at 02:19
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Regarding those who think that "thinking" machines lie just around the corner:
We do not see because we have eyes, we have eyes because we see.

And we may have thinking machines because we believe we want them. As with many things though, desire can take a sharp turn in direction as the object of our desires crystallizes into focus.

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

I have a next door neighbor in my condo complex that is working very hard to kill himself through crawling into the bottle.  What is fair in this context?  Is there enough money in the world to change someone hellbent on self-destruction?  Should society write him a blank check?  and if the check is limited, well then what limits do you put on it?  I mean, some people believe that to solve a problem, all you have to do is through money at it, but if you devote your resources to one cause, that implies that you cannot devote those same resources to another cause(s).

The thing is, it doesn't take all the money in the world to deal with addiction. It does take some very minimal resources though, which are not likely to come from the private sector in the sort of self-centered, polarized, unequal society we seem to be drifting towards.

Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

You can divide up the money of the rich to the point where it is useless.  The rich, however, are relatively efficient in their use of money, founding businesses and philanthropic efforts, even being patrons of expensive restaurants, spas and luxury goods.  I have no need for a$1000 Gucci bag, or a $200,000 Ferrari but I do think that it is neat that such things exist, and I don't resent people who indulge in such toys.

I'd be interested to see your rationale for saying the rich use their resources efficiently. Because on a macroeconomic level, they tend not to, not according to mainstream economic thinking. Successful economies today need to keep money in circulation,  specifically to fund the sort of long term, pro-social projects that will enrich society, and keep it viable. 

For the middle class, and the struggling lower middle class worker, their choice on allocation of funds is very limited: the grocer, home builder, hardware store, car dealer, etc. Spending in these places means jobs and businesses in the local community. The affluent have excess funds, and so their expenditure could take many forms (and it does). Does purchasing a $10M diamond ring in Switzerland contribute to the US economy? 

Worse yet, and more to the point, these inflated monies can skew the economy in various ways- the recent real estate bubble, the dot com nonsense, the Asian currency crisis.....the list is now long. And it is long because the world is awash in funds with no particular place to go, and so where they go is analogous to teens with too much energy and time on their hands getting into mischief. 


 
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Or you could pour money into the bottomless pit of someone like my neighbor.  Don't get me wrong, I feel for the guy, but I also am happy that he finally got a DUI (driving under the influence), and I am hopeful that that DUI will force him to change.  Hopeful, but by no means confident.  I try to do things for him, but haven't seen him or heard him for the last few weeks.

What is an actuality in our super efficient economy today, is the fact that the essentials of life are pretty easy to come by. Food, basic medical care, housing for those in limited means, and yes, even counselling options for those in distress, are not a problem. I repeat, in an economy with a per capita GDP of US $50,000+, there is no problem. Today there are more talented young people beating down the doors to be doctors, nurses, engineers, social workers, and others than can ever be accepted in academia, or be offered a job. The human skills are there, or available. The infrastructure is there.

What is not there is political will, and this is due, in large measure, to the massive, ongoing program of political spin put out by those that have the most to gain by an unequal society, and those who buy into their ejaculations, leaving review and investigation aside.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jun 2015 at 07:16
I don't resent the rich I have everything I want more or less.  I could use better medical care and I wouldn't mind better food and footwear.  Those of course are minor issues.

I object to income disparity because it has historically been a bad thing.  It is like the correlation between smoking and cancer.  People knew long before the surgeon general stated it that smoking was bad for you.  How smoking causes cancer is still not completely understood nor is it completely understood why income disparity is bad for an economy.  The evidence however is strong enough to act on and we have theories to guide us in correcting the problem.

One of the worst aspects of capitalism is that having money means you can make more money without merit.  The most grievous example is perhaps financial manipulation.   Every day people get richer by manipulation stocks, buying and breaking up companies, using their wealth to influence political decisions, monopolizing markets, and other practices that add nothing to the economy.

Of the rich people I know very few actually enriched the economy.  Worse yet very few of today's rich are even good stewards of those institutions they control.  It's not so much that they are less virtuous than the poor or middle class as it's a case of a system that presents almost irresistible temptation to act irresponsibly.  It seems we have a situation where we need to help the rich help themselves from acting badly in much the same way that we help the poor.  

People have an unfathomable need to believe in magic.  The magic of the invisible hand guiding free markets is no less silly than believing in the balance of nature.  Nature is as indifferent to the evolution and survival of the human species, or any species for that matter, as unregulated economies are to the benefit of society.  If we wish to avoid extinction or economic calamity we need to escape the Darwinian world of indifferent and undirected existence.

To a large extent technology has evolved to the point where natural selection is less and less of a factor but directed cultural selection is lagging behind.  We should be fighting the bad memes in society the same way we fight infectious disease or other forces of nature that in the past were beyond our control.  It's not a case of choosing between socialism and capitalism it's a case of picking the best aspects of both to control our own destiny.  Do we have enough understanding to build a perfect society?  Of course not but perhaps we have enough to make the worst bumps in cultural evolution go away.  


Edited by wolfhnd - 15 Jun 2015 at 07:17
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2015 at 06:04
smoking does not "cause" cancer.  Causality is such that if you do A, then B happens.  That is not the case with smoking.  Some people just have good genes as far as cancer is concerned, others have really lost that lottery.  Most people are somewhere inbetween.  Fact is, though, if you _think_ that you got immunity, well you probably don't.

"A fellow scientist visited [Niels] Bohr at his home and saw to his amazement that Bohr had fixed a horseshoe over the door for luck.  'Surely, Niels, you don't believe in that?'
'Of course not,' Bohr replied. 'But you see-- the thing is that it works whether you believe in it or not.'"

from "The Great Partnership, Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning,"  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  (Head Rabbi of England).

or, one might say, "these are not the droids you are looking for."  Magic works, for people are infinitely suggestable.  Of course, wolfhound, you are immune to this, since you are purely a rational being.<grin>
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2015 at 06:29
Okay Captain, what are these "minimal resources" that it takes for someone to deal with addiction?
You make it sound easy.  How do you stop someone on a personal quest for self-destruction?

I know, we "fix" society first, and then everything else will be easy.  But, right now I am dealing with the reality of what is, not the ideality of what ought to be the case.  But, if you know what "minimal resources" will take care of the problem, I am all ears.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote wolfhnd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2015 at 06:59
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

smoking does not "cause" cancer.  Causality is such that if you do A, then B happens.  That is not the case with smoking.  Some people just have good genes as far as cancer is concerned, others have really lost that lottery.  Most people are somewhere inbetween.  Fact is, though, if you _think_ that you got immunity, well you probably don't.

"A fellow scientist visited [Niels] Bohr at his home and saw to his amazement that Bohr had fixed a horseshoe over the door for luck.  'Surely, Niels, you don't believe in that?'
'Of course not,' Bohr replied. 'But you see-- the thing is that it works whether you believe in it or not.'"

from "The Great Partnership, Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning,"  Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.  (Head Rabbi of England).

or, one might say, "these are not the droids you are looking for."  Magic works, for people are infinitely suggestable.  Of course, wolfhound, you are immune to this, since you are purely a rational being.<grin>

Nice reply Wink

I agree that smoking doesn't cause cancer in some people, so you are saying that being the case we should expect no decrease in cancer if everyone quit smoking?

The same logic applies to income disparity as it certainly is only correlated with economic instability but would you expect greater stability as it increases?

The same logic also applies to climate deniers, should we increase co2 polution to see what happens?

With questions of this complexity correlation is likely the best guide you will find.   


Edited by wolfhnd - 16 Jun 2015 at 07:00
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Captain Vancouver Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2015 at 09:13
Originally posted by franciscosan franciscosan wrote:

Okay Captain, what are these "minimal resources" that it takes for someone to deal with addiction?
You make it sound easy.  How do you stop someone on a personal quest for self-destruction?

I know, we "fix" society first, and then everything else will be easy.  But, right now I am dealing with the reality of what is, not the ideality of what ought to be the case.  But, if you know what "minimal resources" will take care of the problem, I am all ears.

By minimal resources, I mean that in the scheme of things, it takes little to fund 12 step, or other self help groups, and basic counselling and educational programs. This is chump change in relation to many other expenditures made by society.

I do not mean by this that it takes a minimal personal effort to escape the grip of addiction, or other psychological problems; for those involved the work can be daunting.

The point is that there are relatively inexpensive social programs that can, and often do, made a huge difference in people's lives, and in the health of the community at large. They are not massive expenditures, not in danger of breaking the economy, but do contribute significantly to making the sort of middle class, civilized society we take for granted today.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote franciscosan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 Jun 2015 at 21:00
The problem is getting them to the point where a 12 step program will help.  When they're drinking to keep away the DTs... well, I think you get the point.  In the past 6 months there was an article in Scientific American (or Scientific American:Mind) that said that 12 step programs aren't as affective as they are portrayed as being.  Mind you, I think a drowning man can't be picky about that which he is reaching out to (or is reaching out to him.)  For AA, everybody eventually "bottoms out" (and starts coming back up.  But some people only bottom out after death.

Yes, they can and do make huge differences, if the person will let them.  But when they go to detox and look around and say to themselves, "well, at least I'm not a crack whore, or a meth head."  That shows that they are _fundamentally_ not getting the point.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Omar al Hashim Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jun 2015 at 11:39
Originally posted by wolfhnd wolfhnd wrote:

The question of artificial intelligence is little different than the resistance to evolution in earlier generations. Humans have a profound need to feel special.




When you talk of creativity what is clear that humans have yet to create anything as sophisticated as even the simplest organism that has evolved undirected. Machines will evolve the serious question is if it is directed or simply random. I would also argue against any suggestion that cultural evolution is as directed as many people believe it is.




While I wouldn't argue against free will I would suggest that your concept of creativity seems to be more of the magical kind than the real process.

How can you make something if you don't understand how it works?

If you want evolving robots you have to answer this question:
What is the that brain process allows a human to identify a better way of doing something that an animal lacks?

We aren't anywhere close to answering that question. Without it the best we could do is build an AI that behaves like a pet.
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