Tag Archives | Technology

Why Are There Any Jobs Still Left?

A Ghost In The Machine

Robert Bailey via Reason.com:

After two centuries of relentless automation, why are there more jobs than ever? Certainly, tens of millions of jobs have been lost. Whatever happened to the myriads of hostlers, blacksmiths, coopers, sucksmiths, millers, tallowmakers, wheelwrights, sicklemen, puddlers, telegraphers, stockingers, fellmongers, saddlers, ploughmen, knackers, bleacherers, weavers, thatchers, and scriveners? Most of these jobs have been either wiped out entirely or largely taken over by machines.

The advance of massively more productive machinery has clearly not led to mass unemployment. The number of people employed in advanced economies has never been higher. For example, since 1950 the number of Americans employed has nearly tripled, rising from about 58 million to nearly 149 million today. During that time the proportion of adults in the civilian workforce rose from 55 percent in 1950 to peak at 65 percent during the dot-com boom in 2000. The ratio has now dropped to 59 percent, but the lower rate is widely understood to reflect the fallout from the Great Recession, Baby Boomer cohort retirements, and younger individuals spending more time in school.

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Will Artificial Intelligence Get High?

SHODAN

Gabriella Garcia writes at Hopes&Fears:

With the speculative possibility of a sentient machine, can we assume that Artificial Superintelligence would “take drugs” or “get high”? Hopes&Fears looked toward researchers at Rensselaer AI & Reasoning Laboratory, as well as Dr. David Brin, a fellow at Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, for the answer.

In the techno-dystopian future of Warren Ellis’ Transmetropolitan, gonzo protagonist Spider Jerusalem has a maker machine that can create everything from food to weapons to booze. Just one catch; the maker is constantly tripping on machine drugs—hence, Jerusalem’s sorely mismatched photographic “live-lenses,” which he requested from the maker while it was high on a hallucinogen simulator. Whether out of boredom of performing menial tasks, or perhaps rebelling against servitude, Jerusalem’s maker continues to manufacture and abuse machine drugs to the point of total uselessness.

If AI is being modeled by and after human behavior, why wouldn’t computers experiment with mind-altering substances or fall victim to addiction?

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Terminator-style ‘skin’ repairs itself after a gunshot

A self-healing material that can fix itself with unprecedented speed could help protect structures in space.

via New Scientist:

Developed by Timothy Scott from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and his team, the self-healing “skin” contains a reactive liquid sandwiched between two polymer sheets. When punctured, a chemical called tributylborane in the liquid reacts with oxygen to make it harden, sealing the hole within seconds.

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Scientists Have Developed Magnetic System that Mimics the Behavior of a Wormhole

jah~ (CC BY-NC 2.0)

jah~ (CC BY-NC 2.0)

A team from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) has developed a magnetic system that mimics the behavior of a wormhole. While it is not an actual wormhole, what they did “was make a propagating magnetic field invisible.”

Jonathan O’Callaghan via IFL Science:

The research, by a team from the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB), was published in the journal Scientific Reports. They describe how they created a small sphere about 45 millimeters (1.8 inches) across, made of a spherical ferromagnetic (one that can become magnetized) surface, a spherical superconducting layer, and an inner ferromagnetic sheet wound in a spiral. The superconducting layer was made of superconducting strips glued to a sphere, and the entire device needed to be submerged in liquid nitrogen for the superconductor to work. The magnetic field was supplied at one end by a current passing through a coil.

When the magnetic field entered the sphere at one end, the researchers showed how it would appear at the other end as an isolated monopolar-like field – but within the sphere itself, there was no trace of the magnetic field. 

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How To Navigate A Data Leak

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

r2hox (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Welcome to the 21st century. The age of the Data Leak and web security breaches galore. Virtually no website is secure from determined data-miners and hackers alike. On Tuesday, user info (including addresses and partial credit card numbers) was leaked from the site Ashley Madison and has left the web and real world in an uproar. The leak came in two parts. Another info drop was made yesterday and seems to be info from the website owners and internal site goings-on, supposedly including internal site emails.

Very little of our internet deeds or misdeeds are truly secure. This is the era of leaked celebrity nudes, internal email breaches, and security insecurity. For those in the know, it’s easy enough to “cover” your tracks online through a series of email accounts and a few pre-paid credit cards, but on the whole, most people do not go through that much trouble to hide their actions online.… Read the rest

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Eternal Life for the One Percent?

“In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”Benjamin Franklin

J Kent Messum

J Kent Messum

I used think that statement was true. Now I’m not so sure. It’s the first of those two so-called inevitabilities that troubles me in particular. Death is supposed to be the great equalizer, but humans are anything but equal in practice. Once we find a way around a balance, we will try to tip the scales. As soon as we find a cheat, it’s exploited. The objective of this has always been to greatly benefit a few to the detriment of many. If politics, business, religion, and history have taught us anything, it has taught us that.

When I started writing Husk a couple of years ago, there was a lot weighing on my mind. Repercussions of the 2008 Wall Street crash were being felt through almost every inch of life, and more than anyone wanted to admit.… Read the rest

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How Muzak Shaped A Conformist America

Tonya Riley via All That is Interesting:

Although it might be easier to ignore in an age where nearly ever American carries thousands of songs in their pocket, the unmistakable sound of Muzak still haunts us all. An estimated 100 million people (nearly a third of America’s population) are exposed to Muzak’s background music each day, whether in an elevator, on hold with the cable company or elsewhere. Although the Muzak brand technically went bankrupt in 2009 and lost its name in 2013 after new owners moved in, its technology set the stage for almost a century of bland, instrumental music that became the soundtrack to postwar America and continues to this day.

Muzak was founded in 1934 by former Army General George O. Squier, who had led the U.S. Army’s communication efforts during World War I. Squier was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919 after his patented multiplexing system allowed for multiple signals to be transferred over one phone line.

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New Evidence Shows William Shakespeare Smoked Weed

A stoner?

A stoner?

Could Shakespeare have been high when he penned his plays?

State-of-the-art forensic technology from South Africa has been used to try and unravel the mystery of what was smoked in tobacco pipes found in the Stratford-upon-Avon garden of British playwright William Shakespeare.

Residue from clay tobacco pipes more than 400 years old from the playwright’s garden were analysed in Pretoria using a sophisticated technique called gas chromatography mass spectrometry.

Chemicals from pipe bowls and stems which had been excavated from Shakespeare’ garden and adjacent areas were identified and quantified during the forensic study. The artefacts for the study were on loan from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

The gas technique is very sensitive to residues that can be preserved in pipes even if they had been smoked 400 years ago.

What were they smoking

There were several kinds of tobacco in the 17th century, including the North American Nicotiana (from which we get nicotine), and cocaine (Erythroxylum), which is obtained from Peruvian coca leaves.… Read the rest

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Blind Man Takes Photographs Thanks to Sonification Technology


Sonification technology is letting a blind photographer take holiday snaps with sound, and even hear images of Pluto.

via New Scientist:

Imagine taking photographs you can hear – thanks to sonification technology that translates the visual world into sound.

Pranav Lal, a cybersecurity expert from Delhi, India, was born blind and he’s been using technology called the vOICe to take holiday snaps, most recently while trekking in the Himalayas.

The technology was designed to help people who are visually impaired navigate the world. But Lal frequently uses it for photography where he picks out the most pleasant sounding composition. “Scenes with varied elements sound interesting, for example, a bridge with lots of cables or a bright natural setting with streams and rocks,” he says. “It’s like an image orchestra.”

The vOICe transmits an image from a camera to computer software to be turned into sound. In Lal’s case, the camera part was a smartphone upgraded with a fisheye lens strapped to a sports headband.

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Warfighting Robots Could Reduce Civilian Casualties, So Calling for a Ban Now Is Premature

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Ronald C. Arken via IEEE Spectrum:

This is a guest post. The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not represent positions of IEEE Spectrum or the IEEE. This article contains excerpts from “Lethal Autonomous Systems and the Plight of the Non-combatant,” published in AISB Quarterly, No. 137, July 2013.

I’ve been engaged in the debate over autonomous robotic military systems for almost 10 years. I am not averse to a ban, but I’m convinced we should continue researching this technology for the time being. One reason is that I believe such systems might be capable of reducing civilian casualties and property damage when compared to the performance of human warfighters. Thus, it is a contention that calling for an outright ban on this technology is premature, as some groups already are doing.

It must be noted that past and present trends in human behavior in warfare regarding adhering to legal and ethical requirements are questionable at best.

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