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#14880724
If you're interested in such topics as "the singularity" or "AI", I can't think of a more informative and entertaining interlocutor than Charles Stross. (Stross, the author of Accelerando and Singularity Sky invented many of the futurist memes many of us take for granted.)

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-st ... .html#more

Stross maintains that a human-like AI-in-a-box is not in our foreseeable future. Instead he believe that corporations are emerging as trans-human AI collective hive minds. He identifies people like Kurzweil as religious leaders, not futurists.

...transhumanism is a warmed-over Christian heresy. While its adherents tend to be vehement atheists, they can't quite escape from the history that gave rise to our current western civilization. Many of you are familiar with design patterns, an approach to software engineering that focusses on abstraction and simplification in order to promote reusable code. When you look at the AI singularity as a narrative, and identify the numerous places in the story where the phrase "... and then a miracle happens" occurs, it becomes apparent pretty quickly that they've reinvented Christianity.

Indeed, the wellsprings of today's transhumanists draw on a long, rich history of Russian Cosmist philosophy exemplified by the Russian Orthodox theologian Nikolai Fyodorvitch Federov, by way of his disciple Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, whose derivation of the rocket equation makes him essentially the father of modern spaceflight. And once you start probing the nether regions of transhumanist thought and run into concepts like Roko's Basilisk—by the way, any of you who didn't know about the Basilisk before are now doomed to an eternity in AI hell—you realize they've mangled it to match some of the nastiest ideas in Presybterian Protestantism.

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's probably a duck.


On the subject of AI, modern science is barking up the wrong trees. AI has been around longer than we think, in a guise we can't recognize:

...looking in particular at the history of the past 200-400 years—the age of increasingly rapid change—one glaringly obvious deviation from the norm of the preceding three thousand centuries—is the development of Artificial Intelligence, which happened no earlier than 1553 and no later than 1844.

I'm talking about the very old, very slow AIs we call corporations, of course...

...Here's the thing about corporations: they're clearly artificial, but legally they're people. They have goals, and operate in pursuit of these goals. And they have a natural life cycle. In the 1950s, a typical US corporation on the S&P 500 index had a lifespan of 60 years, but today it's down to less than 20 years.

Corporations are cannibals; they consume one another. They are also hive superorganisms, like bees or ants. For their first century and a half they relied entirely on human employees for their internal operation, although they are automating their business processes increasingly rapidly this century. Each human is only retained so long as they can perform their assigned tasks, and can be replaced with another human, much as the cells in our own bodies are functionally interchangeable (and a group of cells can, in extremis, often be replaced by a prosthesis).


In other words, they are artificial entities operating in pursuit of independent goals: AI's. And as the last sentence above hints, they are gradually dispensing with the necessity of employing humans as agents. The evolution of these AIs enabled them to begin supplanting human agency at the beginning of the last century. We now see them evolving out of human direct control.

...our current political upheavals are best understood as arising from the capture of post-1917 democratic institutions by large-scale AIs. Everywhere I look I see voters protesting angrily against an entrenched establishment that seems determined to ignore the wants and needs of their human voters in favour of the machines...Our major political parties are led by people who are compatible with the system as it exists—a system that has been shaped over decades by corporations distorting our government and regulatory environments. We humans are living in a world shaped by the desires and needs of AIs, forced to live on their terms, and we are taught that we are valuable only insofar as we contribute to the rule of the machines.

...If we look at our historical very slow AIs, what lessons can we learn from them about modern AI—the flash flood of unprecedented deep learning and big data technologies that have overtaken us in the past decade?


So we are literally evolving into a corporocracy, but it's not the traditional conception of human-directed corporations forming just another interest block. Instead we have unwittingly enabled a form of governance that transcends states and whose interests are defined by nonhuman entities.

This interacts with strictly human politics in some really uncomfortable ways.

Imagine you're young, female, and a supermarket has figured out you're pregnant by analysing the pattern of your recent purchases, like Target back in 2012.

Now imagine that all the anti-abortion campaigners in your town have an app called "babies at risk" on their phones. Someone has paid for the analytics feed from the supermarket and the result is that every time you go near a family planning clinic a group of unfriendly anti-abortion protesters engulfs you.

Or imagine you're male and gay, and the "God Hates Fags" crowd has invented a 100% reliable Gaydar app (based on your Grindr profile) and is getting their fellow travellers to queer bash gay men only when they're alone or out-numbered 10:1. (That's the special horror of precise geolocation.)...

...Someone out there is working on it: a geolocation-aware social media scraping deep learning application, that uses a gamified, competitive interface to reward its "players" for joining in acts of mob violence against whoever the app developer hates. Probably it has an inoccuous-seeming but highly addictive training mode to get the users accustomed to working in teams and obeying the app's instructions—think Ingress or Pokemon Go. Then, at some pre-planned zero hour, it switches mode and starts rewarding players for violence—players who have been primed to think of their targets as vermin, by a steady drip-feed of micro-targeted dehumanizing propaganda delivered over a period of months.

#14882237
More on the subject of the future.

(The Future is coming fast and furious folks, like a asteroid on an intersecting trajectory with your hometown.)

How long will the rich be willing to share the roads with the poor?

The age of the individually-owned and operated vehicle is rapidly drawing to a close. Some of the large scale economic forces that are eroding the base of car culture:

1) The development of a permanent hereditary underclass.
2) The increasing cost of a new automobile.
3) Stagnation of median family income.
4) Increasing age of vehicles owned by underclass.

When you see a stop sign at a crossroad, you are supposed to respect it, independently of whether you drive a rusty Toyota Corolla or a shiny Porsche Cayenne. But, if you think about that, the rich must be very unhappy about having to share the road with all those poor people with their clunkers. They might well be thinking of ways to have the street all for themselves, avoid traffic jams, and regain the mobility that cars provided when there weren't so many of them...

...the concept of "public roads" for everyone was developed in a historical period when the Gini index in the US was around 0.35. Today it is around 0.45. That's a very significant variation which is surely destined to have important social consequences...in Italy during the 17th century, the right of way was determined by one's social status rather than by "Stop" signs at crossroads. So, what was the Gini index, then? We don't have values for Italy but...the Gini index in England was of the order of 0.5 in the 18th century, close to the current value of 0.45 for the US. Just like the nobles of that time, our modern nobles may well think that there is no reason for them to share the road with the commoners.



So how to keep the bottom 40% off the roads. First, you chip away at the idea of universal roadways. Toll roads, gated communities, etc. You make car ownership more expensive by increasing registration fees, inspection fees, and taxes. You design inspection regimes to eliminate older vehicles owned by the poor. You increase taxes on gasoline. Much of this is already happening, but you should see it intensify.

Another tactic is to use municipal and state police to target and harass drivers of older vehicles. These clunkers are often poorly maintained, and it's no big trick to find something to ticket. Also, you institute swift and severe impoundment of disabled vehicles; impounded vehicles can have daily fines of hundreds of dollars added. The net effect is that poor people are unable to recover disabled vehicles.

The newest wrinkle is "Transportation as a Service" (TAAS).

This is basically a hi-tech rental service. The idea is that you don't own a car anymore, but you rent it as you need. Theoretically, TAAS should be less expensive than the current scheme because you share the same car with other people. And middle-class suburbanites should be happy to use TAAS.

But, as it often happens, technological changes bring about unexpected social changes. With TAAS, you don't have anymore the "marginal mile" effect, so that in order to save money you have only one strategy: cut the number of miles traveled. With the current trends of rising inequality and impoverishment, suburbanites will be forced to cut all the non-strictly needed trips...

...In the end, TAAS may well sweep the poor out of the public roads even faster than the current trends are doing. Will we arrive at a point when priority at crossroads will be determined by the social status of drivers, as it was in the 17th century? We cannot say, but TAAS vehicles could be programmed to behave exactly in this way. All traffic lights may be green for those who can pay.



This may tend to return us to a similar condition as existed before the nineteenth century. Few people wandered more than a few miles away from where they were born. Extensive travel was limited to wealthy merchants or aristocracy.
#14882259
Fascinating. I am not ready to comment on it yet. Much to think about. A charming take though.
#14882323
That was indeed an interesting read. The question is whether it represents the twilight of capitalism, like the desperate death throes of something cannibalizing itself from the inside as Western governments begin to stop pretending they don't serve private business interests and dismantle the state while pawning off wealth and resources to the ruling class directly (as we are witnessing); or the evolution of capitalism into something different, and yet, reminiscent of feudal class structure and institutionalized class hierarchy/quasi-caste-based. The underlying uneasiness of that implication (that either of the aforementioned scenarios are quite probably the nature of things we are beginning to witness) is present in many other articles and literature, and it's hard to say. I think what's easiest to say that things for the vast majority of us are going to end up getting much worse, and with no actual Left in the West, probably worse than we realize.
#14882328
Sounds like I might agree with the author. A lot of this AI stuff appears overblown to me but that doesn't mean more changes aren't on the horizon since most human activities can probably be performed by sufficiently developed algorithms.

Bulaba Jones wrote:That was indeed an interesting read. The question is whether it represents the twilight of capitalism, like the desperate death throes of something cannibalizing itself from the inside as Western governments begin to stop pretending they don't serve private business interests and dismantle the state while pawning off wealth and resources to the ruling class directly (as we are witnessing); or the evolution of capitalism into something different, and yet, reminiscent of feudal class structure and institutionalized class hierarchy/quasi-caste-based. The underlying uneasiness of that implication (that either of the aforementioned scenarios are quite probably the nature of things we are beginning to witness) is present in many other articles and literature, and it's hard to say. I think what's easiest to say that things for the vast majority of us are going to end up getting much worse, and with no actual Left in the West, probably worse than we realize.

Being an Evola nerd, I believe that a return to caste systems has to happen sooner or later.

The entire concept of upwards social mobility is flawed; it only works temporarily when there are technological changes altering our lives (which is not guaranteed to continue happening forever; even continual improvements like some people still insist will happen might not translate into society-changing events) and social mobility also depends on having an inflow of immigrants to perform the necessary labor and trade jobs that western white people don't want to do themselves. Without both of those elements, upwards social mobility as a regular occurrence for many people can't happen because there will be no higher roles for people to fill and no one to take the necessary lower roles.

I figure the reason the phenomenon of caste systems existed was precisely because human society existed in a stable form for a long time and there was little potential for social mobility, so people got good at doing what they could do in order to survive.
#14882418
Being an Evola nerd, I believe that a return to caste systems has to happen sooner or later.


Do you consider identity politics as something to consider in this regard.

Isn't it odd that we all may be looking to the "little red book" for solutions?
If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. Mao Zedong
#14882422
All data is alive - life is data

Data is behaviour - behaviour is device

Device is part - part is behaviour

Whole is non-behaviour

Whole is non-life

The outermost is the non-living, because living is inside

Outside = not enter

Not enter = before

Before = non-living

Life is after
#14882504
OH NO THOMASMARIEL. YOU DID NOT JUST SAY THAT! :eek:
#14882535
For transport for the very wealthy, I think automated drones might be the future. In many ways, these should be easier to automate than road vehicles - fewer unregistered objects up there to dodge or guess the behaviour of (assuming bird strike isn't a significant problem for them). This allows direct routes for those willing to pay, rather than sticking to long-ago-planned highways where the geometry means you're frequently stuck behind people you can outbid a thousand times. Plus they literally get to look down on the proles.

Personal jets or helicopters are a favourite of the ultra-rich already; drones have the advantage of not having a skilled pilot who is more "alpha male" than you when in the machine (or, horror of horrors, a female pilot!).
#14885932
Bulaba Jones wrote:The question is whether it represents the twilight of capitalism, like the desperate death throes of something cannibalizing itself from the inside as Western governments begin to stop pretending they don't serve private business interests and dismantle the state while pawning off wealth and resources to the ruling class directly (as we are witnessing); or the evolution of capitalism into something different, and yet, reminiscent of feudal class structure and institutionalized class hierarchy/quasi-caste-based.


The privatization of the state is ongoing. Milanovich and others have identified a feedback loop that is accelerating this process.

The bottom line – and the fundamental problem – seems to be clear: inequality rose because the labour movement lost out. Today’s lacking investment means that technology does not substitute for labour – the normal trajectory in capitalism, instead cheap labour substitutes for technology. As a result, productivity stalls. After decades of right-wing policies, stripping away protections for workers, the flexibilisation of labour markets, destroying ‘government rigidities’ and waging wars against trade unions, it turns out that these neoclassical recipes have decreased productivity. They make investment in new technologies less rewarding. In an analysis of 20 countries over 44 years, Kleinknecht estimates that 1% lower wage increase reduces, in the medium term, the growth of value added per labour hour by 0.3 – 0.5 percent (see here). Neoclassical policies led to a more labour-intensive and, hence, less innovative growth path. The unsurprising result is political anger. As misery grows, so does the extreme right....


In other words, labor is now so cheap that it has stalled automation and most other forms of efficiency-seeking.

http://www.flassbeck-economics.com/how- ... g-and-why/

As the power of the right grows, these anti-labor efforts are reinforced, which in turn further radicalizes workers and makes them more vulnerable to rightist fake-populism. Note that without forceful intervention*, there is nothing on the horizon to interrupt this feedback process.

Oddly (or not so oddly), all this hyper-privatization is not leading to a more distributed and decentralized economy. We are in fact seeing the triumph of a top-down command economy, but with the levers being controlled by private individuals rather than public institutions.

An instructive case in point is Jeff Bezos.

Amazon receives tens of millions of dollars of tax incentives for building warehouses, data centers and other projects. In 2017, Amazon also made the list of the state’s employers with the most workers and family members who qualify for food stamps (see here). Amazon is what coal has been to Virginia: it keeps people poor and sick (see here), but what can policy-makers do about it? If Ohio doesn’t seduce Amazon with corporate welfare, another state will. In 2015, Ohio awarded Amazon tax incentives worth an estimated $17 million. In return, the company promised to hire 2.000 workers. And it did, except that the wages of some are so low that they cannot make ends meet. So they depend on food stamps (the threshold is about $12.60 an hour for someone working 40 hours a week)


Bezos' empire is subsidized both by the US postal service (which provides below-cost shipping services) and by an unending stream of capital that has allowed him to ignore ROI indefinitely. Amazon doesn't make a profit, and is unlikely to in any foreseeable future. This doesn't matter. His present business plan is to simply expand his market share enough to destroy normal competitive safeguards. At some point he will have to raise prices, but only after he has entrenched his business via regulation and monopoly.

We are seeing something rather odd here. Capital has become so plentiful, that its owners are willing to defer indefinitely a profitable return. Capital has, in effect, become altruistic - with the object of its altruism being not human welfare, but the acquisition of raw power. Mere money can no longer contain its ambition.

This process will replicate itself throughout the economy, leading to a concentration of economic power in a few oligarchs.

Few economists have, as of yet, recognized the radical inefficiency of this new economic paradigm. Raw power is replacing competition as the chief organizing principle, and Schumpeter's creative destruction is displaced by a kind of steady-state stasis.

Welcome to the new feudalism.

-----------

*To the extent western liberals are unwilling to abandon their reservations about taking forceful action, they are fully complicit in feudalization.

Planning, regulation and control, which they wanted to see banned as dangers to freedom, were then employed by the confessed enemies of freedom to abolish it altogether. Yet the victory of fascism was made practically unavoidable by the liberals’ obstruction of any reform involving planning, regulation, or control.
Freedom’s utter frustration in fascism is, indeed, the inevitable result of the liberal philosophy, which claims that power and compulsion are evil, that freedom demands their absence from a human community.

Karl Polanyi, The Great Transformation (1944)

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