Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fear breeds evil: Trump is only a symptom of much worse to come

"It is fear that brings misery, fear that brings death, fear that breeds evil."
Vivekananda, the Indian, patriot-saint, whose teachings inspired Mahatma Gandhi, spoke about fear breeding evil in the late 19th century. This was long before a massive wave of post-defeat inflation, which destroyed the savings of its middle class, caused a terrified Germany, home of Goethe, Hegel, Meister Ekhart and Einstein, to hand over its destiny and the lives of many millions of Europeans to an insane, failed water-colorist, ex-corporal, from Vienna... all with the blessing of Germany's "one-percent".

The lesson being, if the corrosive, poisoning effects of fear could cause that nightmare to happen in one the world's most educated and civilized nations, it could happen anywhere and that certainly includes today's United States of America.

Fear as Vivekananda said, "breeds evil". You could say that fear weakens the "political immune system" of a nation and that a "symptom" of an acute failure of that political immune system might be the sudden appearance of the bizarre, massively unqualified figure of Donald Trump as a serious candidate for the US presidency, with its capacity to turn the world into atomic ashes, something which in political terms could be compared to the spectacular Kaposi sarcomas which in the early 1980s announced the beginning of the AIDS epidemic.

Or if you prefer even racier metaphors, The Donald could be a sort of wacky "John the Baptist" for the Anti-Christ...
Imagine, though, a different figure, someone with Mr. Trump’s callousness but without the thin skin, lack of self-control and fragile, oversize ego. Imagine, in other words, a demagogue who embodies the dynamics of America’s pervasive commercial atmosphere, but who is smart, cunning, self-aware and self-disciplined(...)We had better prepare for such a person. In business, Mr. Trump might be called a beta test, or a “proof of concept.” To that end, he has already succeeded. Lee Siegel - New York Times
Mark Twain said that history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes:
The troubled psyche requires a scapegoat. For Hitler, it was the Jews, among others. Today scapegoats are sought everywhere for the widespread feeling that something is amiss: that jobs are being lost; that precariousness has replaced security; that incomes are stagnant or falling; that politicians have been bought; that the bankers behind the 2008 meltdown got off unscathed; that immigrants are free riders; that inequality is out of control; that tax systems are skewed; that terrorists are everywhere. Roger Cohen - New York Times 
What is the objective reality behind the fear that so many people feel today?
When (some economists and technologists) peer deeply into labor-market data, they see troubling signs, masked for now by a cyclical recovery. And when they look up from their spreadsheets, they see automation high and low—robots in the operating room and behind the fast-food counter. They imagine self-driving cars snaking through the streets and Amazon drones dotting the sky, replacing millions of drivers, warehouse stockers, and retail workers. They observe that the capabilities of machines—already formidable—continue to expand exponentially, while our own remain the same. And they wonder: Is any job truly safe?(...) The share of prime-age Americans (25 to 54 years old) who are working has been trending down since 2000. Among men, the decline began even earlier: the share of prime-age men who are neither working nor looking for work has doubled since the late 1970s, and has increased as much throughout the recovery as it did during the Great Recession itself. All in all, about one in six prime-age men today are either unemployed or out of the workforce altogether.   The Atlantic
Andrew McAfee, associate director of the MIT Center for Digital Business at the Sloan School of Management,(…) despite his obvious enthusiasm for the technologies, doesn’t see the recently vanished jobs coming back. The pressure on employment and the resulting inequality will only get worse, he suggests, as digital technologies—fueled with “enough computing power, data, and geeks”—continue their exponential advances over the next several decades. “I would like to be wrong,” he says, “but when all these science-fiction technologies are deployed, what will we need all the people for?” (emphasis mine) MIT Technology Review Magazine
"I love the poorly educated"

When we say, "We the people"... Who exactly are "We"? Who are the winners and the losers going to be in our "brave new world"?

Here is a graph to show the spread of intelligence (hint: most well paying jobs in the future will go to the light purple to red IQs on the right side of the graph)
Lets clarify even further what "average" means:
The average IQ of the population as a whole is, by definition, 100. IQs range from 0 to above 200, and among children, to above 250. However, about 50% of the population have IQs between 89 and 111, and about 80% of the population have IQs ranging between 80 and 120, with 10% lying below 80, and 10% falling above 120.(emphasis mine)
Here is a chart that shows what you can do with the following IQs:

Table 1 - Practical Significance of IQ -
IQ Range
Typical Educability
Below 30
1% below 30
Unemployable. Institutionalized.
30 to 50
1% below 50
1st-Grade to 3rd-Grade
Simple, non-critical household chores.
50 to 60
1.5% below 60
3rd-Grade to 6th-grade
Very simple tasks, close supervision.
60 to 74
5% below 74
6th-Grade to 8th-Grade
"Slow, simple, supervised."
74 to 89
25% below 89
8th-Grade to 12th-Grade
Assembler, food service, nurse's aide
89 to 100
50% below 100
8th-Grade to 1-2 years of College.
Clerk, teller, Walmart
100 to 111
1 in 2 above 100
12th-Grade to College Degree
Police officer, machinist, sales
111 to 120
1 in 4 above 111
College to Master's Level
Manager, teacher, accountant
120 to 125
1 in 10 above 120
College to Non-Technical Ph. D.'s.
Manager, professor, accountant
125 to 132
1 in 20 above 125
Any Ph. D. at 3rd-Tier Schools
Attorney, editor, executive.
132 to 137
1 in 50 above 132
No limitations.
Eminent professor, editor
137 to 150
1 in 100 above 137
No limitations.
Leading math, physics professor
150 to 160
1 in 1,100 above 150
No limitations
Lincoln, Copernicus, Jefferson
160 to 174
1 in 11,000 above 160
No limitations
Descartes, Einstein, Spinoza
174 to 200
1 in 1,000,000
above 174
No limitations
Shakespeare, Goethe, Newton

If these charts are correct it means that 90% of America's population is at the very best intellectually fitted for nothing more than then AI vulnerable jobs like "manager, teacher, accountant" and only 15% could even aspire to that. 75% are between 89 and 111.  All of those jobs from manager on down to caregivers and perhaps even sex workers are vulnerable to the rapid advances in artificial intelligence.

And don't imagine that China, often the villain of American job loss, is any different. The Chinese are leading the world in Robitics.  The loss of industrial jobs for "average" people is a world problem and the Chinese, like the Japanese, or Europeans for that matter, at least have the excuse that their population is rapidly aging.

Largely as a result of higher fertility rates and immigration, America’s population, while ageing, is nonetheless likely to remain distinctly younger than other developed countries. Oxford Journals
It seems obvious that there is a critical mass of American citizens/voters who have every right to feel afraid and as Vivekananda said, "It is fear that brings misery, fear that brings death, fear that breeds evil.". This is the stagnant pool where demagogues like Donald Trump swim and flourish.

What  or who created good jobs for people with average intelligence in the first place?

Henry Ford
A good symbol of the economy that is disappearing would be Henry Ford and the philosophy behind that economy and American's legendary prosperity could probably be summed up by these two quotes of his:
Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs 
Paying good wages is not charity at all - it is the best kind of business 
Those two ideas, making complex things cheaply and paying basically  low-skilled workers well, changed the world and created a stable, property owning, comfortable, middle class life style for millions of Americans with only a high school education or less, and gave the United States a political stability that was the envy of the entire world. That stability is disappearing/has disappeared as of today and fear... and the evil fear brings are the result. And soon even highly skilled workers and people with graduate degrees will probably be finding themselves facing the same realities as the poorly educated do today... if they aren't already.

Henry Ford's Detroit factory today
As we try to predict the future of the few winners and many losers of today's technological revolution, it might be useful to consider the fate of the losers (and they lost big) of  Ford's technological revolution.

This is what big city traffic looked like before Henry Ford made cheap automobiles ubiquitous.

This film was shot in London, but it could just as well have been made in New York or Chicago.

What is shown in 1890s London that is missing from today's city streets?


The streets then, the world itself, was full of horses, millions and millions of horses. For thousands of years horses had accompanied humanity and done them great service. The word for horse in Spanish is "caballo" and the word for gentleman is "caballero". Our relationship was once that close:
Due to its natural companionship with man in both work and art, the Horse easily wins a special seat in history, ranking high marks of honor, reverence and symbolism. Serving man in war, mobility, productivity, agriculture, development of all kinds, the Horse is by far one of the largest contributor to the enhancement of civilization. Avia Venefica
When Henry Ford made cheap, reliable cars people said, 'Nah, what's wrong with a horse?' That was a huge bet he made, and it worked. Elon Musk
In a very short time a much loved symbol of the "enhancement of civilization" almost disappeared simply for economic reasons.

What sort of "jobs" are the few horse left doing? What sort of insight could this give us to the future of the masses of today's humans who wont be relevant in tomorrow's new technological environment?

Well, a horse that is very fast or very beautiful, plays polo, does tricks or is very "good with children" still has a place in today's world of the wealthy and the chance of a comfortable, pleasant life. Other less desirable "careers" might be that of a "trail horse" in a summer camp... or participating actively in steak tartar.

But you say, "this horse metaphor is ridiculous, horses are animals and people are well, 'people' ... human beings, 'endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights' and so forth". But what this really boils down to, is that horses couldn't vote and unlike so many Americans today didn't possess fully automatic assault rifles with banana clips.  In short eliminating horses from American life because they were no longer needed or profitable had little or no danger or political cost.
So leaving aside the precedents of certain 20th century figures like Stalin, Hitler and Pol Pot, we can safely assume that Americans with average  to low IQs are not going to be physically eliminated. 

Where are we headed then?

If we want to be optimistic we can see ourselves looking at the problem as Michael Littman does:
We can turn machines into workers — they can be labor, and that actually deeply undercuts human value. My biggest concern at the moment is that we as a society find a way of valuing people not just for the work they do. We need to value each other first and foremost. Make it clear that the machines that we're talking about are machines to benefit everybody and not just the people that have them. Michael Littman, computer scientist at Brown University - Tech Insider
A skeptic might imagine one of the "great and the good", a "one-percent-er" reading that and thinking, "how much is all that going to cost?" and saying, "not by raising my taxes" and then contributing heavily to the campaign funding of any politician or media group dedicated to fighting Littman's point of view.

What will the future AI/robotic America probably look like then?

You won't need much of an imagination to envision where we are going. Think of a big country, thickly peopled, rich in natural resources with a first class scientific and cultural establishment and many mega-billionaires... and enormous masses of desperately poor people... Say, Brazil or India

In short, in the foreseeable future, or the United States of America is  going to turn into a nightmare of human misery something like the slums of Calcutta, the favelas of Rio de Janeiro or today's Detroit and the South Side of Chicago, or the elected representatives of the millions of “unneeded human beings” are going to have to fund the  massive government expenditures that are going to have to be made in public education, social support, socialized medicine, day care centers and public “make work” projects of all kinds. This is what libertarian billionaire, Peter Thiel probably meant when he said that freedom and democracy are incompatible. He surely means that in a democracy his freedom to do what he and other billionaires want to do with their money would be severely curtailed.

In short, American big money will be as cool with this nightmare scenario as their Indian and Brazilian counterparts and like a boxer tying up his opponent in a clinch, will happily finance every nutcase and corrupt politician they can find to avoid this future sacrifice of their power, wealth and privilege. DS