Wednesday, October 21, 2015

"Beyond Automation"

Infobomb: "When a government or corporation collects so much information on a citizenry that the unintentional release, theft, or misuse of it is a catastrophic event." - John Robb

My view is that technology is accelerating so fast it's really going to change things. A Singularity, if you will. Human nature, however, will remain the same unless we can take charge of it somehow. Gene editing? Who can tell?

If I remember correctly, the last computer chip designed by humans is the 486. Since then, all have been designed by computers.

Arthur C. Clarke was right: any technology sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic.

This is from Global Guerrillas and was written by John Robb.

The article starts here.

There's been a big change in the wind for a decade. Many of us have heard and felt it rumbling in the background, shaking the foundations of an already decrepit global socioeconomic system.

Depending on how you view the world, you see it differently. I see it as as technological transformation. A technological transformation that will upend everything.

Here's a taste of what is driving this change forward. It's real and it's coming.

Up until three hundred years ago, the world relied on the work being done by people, largely by hand. The skills and methods required to do this work were largely inside the minds of the people doing that work. We created organizations to aggregate the people needed for doing work on a large scale and guilds to protect this knowledge.

To overcome the limits of a world made by hand, we developed something new: automation. We've transformed the world by building machines (in both hardware and software) that do work for us. Automation is based on a scientific process that figures out how things work and an engineering process that turns these scientific ideas into machines that actually do work.

However, we've now reached the limits of automation. How so? Automation is limited by the ability of human beings to construct the cognitive models (both scientific and engineering) needed to build the machines that provide it.

To overcome these limits, we're now building cognitive machines that can build their own models for how things work and how to accomplish tasks. Unlike the machines that provide us with automation, these machines aren't built in the traditional way and they can tackle problems far more complex than anything done by automation.

The big change is that these machines build themselves. They bootstrap their abilities in the same way human beings do: through learning, training, and experience. However, they can learn it MUCH faster (deep learning) than we do and once they do, they can share their new abilities with other machines all over the world instantly (cloud robotics).

If you don't think this is a big deal, you are wrong. It's the biggest shift in technology we've seen since the rise of automation over three hundred years ago and it's going to change everything. In particular, it's going to upend the rules of economics, warfare, and politics we thought were immutable.


A.B. Prosper said...

I though you didn't believe in mass job replacement by machines. What changed?

Anways no matter what it won't end up anywhere good.

My guesses are we might end up with a s, genocide or world socialism or a Butlerian Jihad ala Dune or just a collapse from lack of demand.

Not one good outcome in there, well unless you make robots anyway.

Anonymous said...

The 486 was the last chip designed by hand? Hell no. That's like saying the last shirt made by hand was done by a Luddite.

Design is not the mechanical layout of circuits based on rules. Software has been written and machines have been made, but the designs have been all Human created.

Mindstorm said...

Do you remember my comment about automating complex tasks? You claimed that even packaging any merchandise into boxes is beyond the capabilities of robots. What do you think about this, then: - industrial robots in controlled environment; - work in more chaotic environment is more difficult to implement, so it still has some quirks to straighten (like closing side-pieces before the main lid).
The packaging business is not yet at this stage, but soon it will be: :)

As for a more general view, this book might help:

As for computer-aided circuit design (ECAD or EDA), it's not fully automated YET. But the necessary human input is steadily dwindling....

Unknown said...

"I though you didn't believe in mass job replacement by machines"

I suspect a lot of things will return to the home, mostly because of 3-D. I don't think driving will ever be replaced by machines of horrible line-production jobs, which I did in college.

Mindstorm said... - to be honest, that was a staged match

Rusty Shackleford said...

"My guesses are we might end up with a s, genocide or world socialism or a Butlerian Jihad ala Dune or just a collapse from lack of demand."

Maybe we'll all just hook up to our occulus rifts in a sort of voluntary version of the matrix. People can just play their flight/ golf/ sex/ medieval warfare/ etc. simulations until they die from a vitamin A deficiency in their 20's from jacking off too much.

I remember watching an episode of Red Dwarf when I was a teenager where the Lister character is playing a VR game. Inside the game he's seducing a woman in a film noir world. Then they cut to the outside world and he's humping at the air with his goofy VR helmet on his head. That was 20 years ago and I remember thing then "this is where the human race is headed." It's like MGTOW taken to its logical conclusion.

Mindstorm said... - Bob, would you like to work as a replacement for these machines? I surely wouldn't. There are little more mind-numbing activities than this.

Black Poison Soul said...

I suspect that the problem is largely self-correcting, in that the world population (at least in the West) is dropping. Once things become pennies to build, and can be conveniently thrown into the recycler-bin once broken or unwanted, and the trash of our older civilization can be similarly recycled easily, things will become much better.

What we are really in desperate need of is a better source of energy. The transition to a Type I civilization is going to be rocky - if we succeed at all.