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Sell your data to save the economy and your future

Two for tea: These friendly, labour-saving robots might look harmless – but automation is replacing traditional jobs

Imagine our world later in this century, when machines have got better.

Cars and trucks drive themselves, and there’s hardly ever an accident. Robots root through the earth for raw materials, and miners are never trapped. Robotic surgeons rarely make errors.

Clothes are always brand new designs that day, and always fit perfectly, because your home fabricator makes them out of recycled clothes from the previous day. There is no laundry.

I can’t tell you which of these technologies will start to work in this century for sure, and which will be derailed by glitches, but at least some of these things will come about.

On call: At the moment, humans operate surgical robots – what happens to the humans when they can operate themselves?

Who will earn wealth? If robotic surgeons get really good, will tomorrow’s surgeons be in the same boat as today’s musicians?

Will they live gig to gig, with a token few of them winning a YouTube hit or Kickstarter success while most still have to live with their parents?

This question has to be asked. Something seems terribly askew about how technology is benefitting the world lately.

How could it be that since the incredible efficiencies of digital networking have finally reached vast numbers of people that we aren’t seeing a broad benefit?

Jaron Lanier believes that the digital revolution as it stands could be the death knell of the middle classes

How could it be that so far the network age seems to be a time of endless austerity, jobless recoveries, loss of social mobility, and intense wealth concentration in markets that are anaemic overall?

The medicine of our time is purported to be open information. The medicine comes in many bottles: open software, free online education, European pirate parties, Wikileaks, social media, and endless variations of the above.

The principle of making information free seems, at first glance, to spread the power of information out of elite bubbles to benefit everyone.

Unfortunately, although no one realised it beforehand, the medicine turns out to be poison.

Digitally unequal

While people are created equal, computers are not.

When people share information freely, those who own the best computers benefit in extreme ways that are denied to everyone else.

Those with the best computers can simply calculate wealth and power away from ordinary people.

It doesn’t matter if the best computers run schemes called high frequency trading firms, social media sites, national intelligence agencies, giant online stores, big political campaigns, insurance companies, or search engines.

Leave the semantics aside and they’re all remarkably similar.

All the computers that crunch “big data” are physically similar. They are placed in obscure sites and are guarded like oilfields.

The programs that the best computers are running are also similar. First comes the gathering of freely offered information from everyone else in the world.

This might include scanned emails or social media sharing, sightings through cloud-connected cameras, or commercial and medical dossiers; there’s no boundary to the snooping.

In order to lure people into asymmetrical information relationships, some treat is often dangled.

Information is power: One of Facebook’s data centres in North Carolina – your data is held somewhere like this

The treat might be free internet services or music, or insanely easy-to-get mortgages. The targeted audience eventually pays for these treats through lost opportunities.

Career options will eventually narrow, or credit will become insanely tight.

Ordinary people, or more precisely people with only ordinary computers, are the sole providers of the information that makes the big computers so powerful and valuable.

And ordinary people do get a certain flavour of benefit for providing that value.

They get the benefits of an informal economy usually associated with the developing world, like reputation and access to barter. The formal benefits concentrate around the biggest computers.

More and more ordinary people are thrust into a winner-takes-all economy. Social media sharers can make all the noise they want, but they forfeit the real wealth and clout needed to be politically powerful.

Do no evil

In most cases there was no evil plot. Many of the people who own the top computers are genuinely nice.

I helped create the system, and benefit from it. But nonetheless, it is not sustainable.

The core problem starts with philosophy. The owners of the biggest computers like to think about them as big artificial brains. But actually they are simply repackaging valuable information gathered from everyone else.

This is what “big data” means.

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6am Tuesday – It was never meant to be

Bashar al-Bastard knows that he is immune. He knows that he is protected by Russia and China. He will continue as long as he has their protection.

Photo - BBC News

Kofi Annan’s peace plan was just breathing space. Once again he has played the world for fools.

6am Tuesday was the deadline, and… nothing. Reports continue to say the “Assad thugs”* are escalating their violence and that fighting in the capital has doubled.

Monday, the day before the ceasefire, has been considered the worst day yet with more than 100 reported dead.

The extra demands by al-Bastard on Sunday were merely a way to sidestep the ceasefire.

Even the Russians are having doubts… “Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the Syrian government “could have been more active and decisive” in implementing the plan, but that Mr Muallem had assured him Damascus was committed to it.” – BBC News & Here

Syrian assurances mean NOTHING!

“France’s foreign ministry described Mr Muallem’s comments as “a fresh expression of this blatant and unacceptable lie” that Damascus was committed to the Annan plan and urged the international community to react against the “feeling of impunity”.” – BBC News

And the world continues to allow al-Bastard get away with murder. What will it take, another 10,000 Syrians dead before the world realises that al-Bastard is full of shit!

Read on BBC News what the international press are saying.

*One Damascus resident told the BBC that violence in the capital had doubled and that one protest was attacked by “Assad thugs”. – BBC News

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Finally, the Truth

So, it’s not all a bed of roses.

Sarkozy simply says what the rest of the world already knew. What was surprising was Obama’s implicit agreement with the statement.

Maybe there are changes afoot. Any disruption of the US – Israeli relation can only be good, not only for the Palestinians, but the American people… the bankers, however, may view it differently.

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Absence…

Sorry, WordPress has not permitted posting the last 24+ hours, however, back again.

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Cavemen didn’t have Politicians nor Money

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Absence makes the heart grow fonder

 

I have been off the air for a few days, check the story on Life is But a Labyrinth

 

Posting will resume, uhm… tomorrow.

AV

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