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Since the COVID thread started to veer towards automation and AI I thought I'd give it its own thread.

I've always loved and been fascinated by technology from the advent of cell phones to the transition from CRT TV's to LCD flat panels and now OLED TVs. The rise of digital music, from NAPSTER to Spotify, iTunes, etc. and now EV's, Starlink, SpaceX and the list goes on.

I'm interested in discussing those things with you and hearing your thoughts on it all. Much can be made of this transition, also known as the 4th industrial revolution, which we're smack dab in the middle of right now. If we pay attention and play our cards right we can prepare ourselves and our kids for a very exciting and promising future and make some money along the way!
 

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Spoiler alert --

After the time traveling robot eliminates the leader of the resistance, it repurposes itself to sell drapes and carry groceries for single mothers. :cool:
 

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** that **, I’m leading the resistance. I’m just waiting for the time traveling robot to terminate me 🤣
LOL ... Ok John Connor. Yeah, I almost made the title of this thread "The Rise of AI: When will Skynet take over?"

Anyway, there's a lot going on and I think it's worth discussing.
 
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Self driving cars.

We must go through baby steps on getting there. Tesla is ahead if the game by leaps and bounds in the self driving car arena compared to other manufacturers.

4:38 is hilarious.

6:08 is relevant to the baby steps on technology advancements towards self driving.

 

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App based delivery.

Order mcdonalds over the app and my chicken nuggets arrive by self driving car.

Weed delivery by drone. We are out in the woods and need a refill .. Good thing we have GPS.

Amazon .. I need a box of condoms delivered by drone in 10 minutes. Rush delivery. 😂
 

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LOL That secret hand shake and starting sequence of turning off all the extra sh!t is hilarious. Regarding the lane departure warning and assist BS I had a Volvo rental in FL a few years ago that had that and I hated it! The damn thing would fight me when I tried to change lanes. Something that is done regularly when driving! Just like he describes at about the seven minute mark! FUN! His review and description of the technology is spot on.

Anyway, as we were talking about automation removing retail jobs with self-check out registers, etc. I wanted to share this video of an inventory taking robot that I shot at a WalMart in Arkansas back in October of last year. I had never seen anything like it and I was pretty impressed with the technology. Welcome to the future!

 

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I’m going to make a hot take and say every technology that has gone into automobiles since the 1990s that hasn’t been related to what happens when you operate the steering wheel, shifter and pedals has made cars worse than they used to be. Except maybe Bluetooth, depending on how well it pairs. Lane departure assist is for stupid stupid drivers, automakers should add automatic RF jammers that block the signal if the car senses the driver isn’t paying attention, and shock them for that matter(easier now than ever with all the voltage in EVs!

What he described in the video where the assist conflicts with the cruise I am certain I see happen relatively frequently in newer vehicles based on his description.
 

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Safer for how long is the question. Centuries? Decades? Years? AI’s promise is to accelerate progress, is it not? So you learn new skills and after getting your degree, suddenly Johnny 5 can make fine cuisine for the business tycoons who are the only ones who can afford it like the best of them. It’s not rocket science.

Problem is the current global population is approx 4.5x that of John Henry’s time and the work he did was extremely dangerous. Automation and AI isn’t just replacing jobs that will cost someone their life and limbs, it’s replacing mundane work that any capable human is capable of doing to put food on the table, and there is less and less frontier on this planet to enterprise on for them to learn new skills on. If all that is left is skilled trades, how many chefs et al do we need? What kind of living will they have with all the competition? Who will be employing them? This push towards absolute maximum efficiency and profit is creating the most elaborate and inescapable poverty trap ever concocted.




Christie clearly acquired one of those cursed monkeys paws where all his wishes all backfire.

View attachment 39531
1) Most people start thinking about careers as teenagers and through their 20s; this means that the average lifespan that anyone needs to really consider is at most 40-50 years. We are no longer in the times when people would pass professions from generation to generation (Tanner, Baker, Shumacher, etc).
  • As far as fine skills (like a chef) is concerned. Sure, Johnny 5 will in a few years be able to cook you a fine meal. However, there will be people who will pay a premium to have a human do it. There won't be a ton of demand (think swordmaker 600 years ago vs now) but the best at their jobs will stay employed
  • I remember hearing about a japanese sword polisher in the bay Area that charges crazy money to put an edge on your blade. Sure, it'll be plenty sharp if you pay $1/inch to a local sharpening shop or even sur la tab to put an edge on it but for those people who have an antique blade, paying this guy is worth it.
2) yes, you are right that AI will surplus a LOT of labor. Few different ways this could go fueled by my love of SF
  • As long as we have resources to distribute, I suspect that creative jobs (content of some kind) will also flourish in a post-AI world .
  • If we have to compete with each other for resources (or worse yet, with the AIs), we might end up in a terminator-esque distopia.
  • Population controls. Less mouths to feed means there will be more resources for the people around.
3) You are right that we don't NEED technology to obsolete a bunch of jobs, but we'll still do it esp in areas where it makes people safer.
- FWIW, I've seen other countries handle surplus labor differently in japan; on one trip to Japan, its surprising to see the amount of labor they put into jobs that would be handled by MUCH fewer people vs the US. Two examples I remember were fixing something in the street and giving a parking ticket. I remember in both cases, multiple peoplew ere doing stuff like: directing traffic, setting cones up, doing the work, measuring stuff, etc. The parking ticket was like 2-3 people whereas in the US it would be a metermaid who wouldn't even step out of their vehicle to get the ticket issued/placed. I suspect the reason Japan employs so many people is to have them do a basic job for a basic wage.
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4) Chris Christie was released today. This big boy survived with the best care a connected person can get. He was perscribed remdisiver. Curious how a private citizen can get a drug that is still under Emergency Use Authorization.
 

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Meet Flippy - a bot that costs ~$3/hr for flipping burgers and frying stuff at quick service restaurants.
Both jobs are fairly dangerous as far as the restaurant workplace goes so replacing the people with a robot is not a terrible idea.



 

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I hate those self-checkout lanes. I hate them because:

1. I'm not an employee of their company
2. Individuals using said self-checkout lanes are not getting a discount on items they're checking out.

For those two reasons, I will purposely wait in a long crowded line over a self-checkout line.
 

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I hate those self-checkout lanes. I hate them because:

1. I'm not an employee of their company
2. Individuals using said self-checkout lanes are not getting a discount on items they're checking out.

For those two reasons, I will purposely wait in a long crowded line over a self-checkout line.
I find them faster.
Esp right now, the fewer people that touch my food the better.
Last year, I remember the local walmart tested a scanner system. You pick stuff up, scan everything, and when you check out you have the kiosk scan your barcode gun and take your payment.

It was nice and quicker than going through a line.
 

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I hate those self-checkout lanes. I hate them because:

1. I'm not an employee of their company
2. Individuals using said self-checkout lanes are not getting a discount on items they're checking out.

For those two reasons, I will purposely wait in a long crowded line over a self-checkout line.
I'll take the expeditious route over the long wait any day. I initially hated the self-check out lanes. But I don't mind scanning and bagging my own groceries. I'm quicker at scanning and better at bagging than 99% of the cashiers they have actually working there anyway.

The speed and agility of those robots is remarkable! The only reason flippy dropped those two burgers is because the tray was in the wrong place not because the robot miscalculated placement. Eventually those minor issues can and will be worked out.

Check this out. I love the soundtrack on the second video. I should look at investing in KUKA. LOL


 

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A few years ago, I saw the robotic arm that could play pingpong.
These demonstration platforms are interesting but not super flexible; ideal for welding on a factory line for example but not great for mass deployment in every quick service restaurant in america given the varied floorplans. l don't think people want to pay a premium (or even the same pricing) for a completely robotic restaurant
  • Zume tried this with Pizza and already shut down; I tried it once at my office from their palo alto location w/ a coupon and it was "nothing special" -- certainly not worth ordering again.
  • There was also a tea bot in a local mall here in SF which was ONLY notable for cheekily charging "SF health mandate surcharge" -- a fee some restaurants charge to cover medical expenses for workers instead of baking it into their pricing -- for an operation run almost entirely by robots.)
Died pre-covid.

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In comparison, the idea of Flippy is to make it ceiling/rail mountable so it can be adapted to any restaurant setup instead of a robot restaurant. MUCH more incrementable and adaptable that requiring a special store to be built around the robot. That's the theory at leats.
NOTE: FWIW, they seem to offer individual investors an option to buy in for as little as $1500 into their series C. I need to dig into it more deeply but honestly, this looks pretty damn sketch to me.
 

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AI that replaces labor is a good thing! To argue against it is basically a variation of the broken window fallacy. When the robot can do the job cheaper and better, in the short run obviously that is bad for the person who's job has been replaced, however in the long run, that means that goods get produced and distributed cheaper, which is better for society overall. Labor has no intrinsic value, its only value is what it is used to produce. The second a robot can flip burgers for $3/hr, the burger flipper's labor is no longer worth the $8/hr or whatever he was making before. As Gunn said, there will be a market for fine cuisine, and some people will still pay $20 for a burger cooked by a human, but society as a whole is enriched by the existence of these robots.

As for self driving cars, I can't wait! The sooner self-driving cars become ubiquitous, the less I will have to deal with the texting soccer moms doing 10 under the speed limit in the left lane while unable to even maintain their lane. I have no interest in owning one, but driver's seem to be getting worse and worse, and if we can take the people who aren't passionate about driving out of the driver's seat, I'm all for that. Of course it does scare me that eventually driving yourself on a public road may be against the law, but I don't think we are anywhere close to that.

I'll tell you the one thing that does concern me about the march of AI technology is the ever increasing "smartifying" every device in your life! I do have a smart phone, which I like for the convenience of internet access anywhere any time, but infusing everything from your TV to your car to your refrigerator with technology that will all talk to one another and report your habits back to someone somewhere, that is scary. I used to think that it wasn't because with such a massive amount of data to sift through, any one person would just be another anonymous pack of information that would likely never be looked at, but with AI being able to read the info, and make predictions about your activity, decide what to advertise to you, what to sell you, decide what food you want to buy and order it for you, or know where you want to go when you get into your car, and then take you there without you even having to know the way, and the fact that the computing power to do this is always getting cheaper and more readily available, that is a scary proposition. If this keeps going, people won't make any decisions anymore because the AIs in their life will already know what they want, and provide it for them without even asking. Skynet won't have to destroy all the humans, just send them their fast food and predict the right movies on netflix, and drive them to and from work, and the people will not only accept being controlled by the machines, but actually embrace it to the point where after several generations of this, people won't be capable of deciding anything for themselves.
 

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AI that replaces labor is a good thing! To argue against it is basically a variation of the broken window fallacy. When the robot can do the job cheaper and better, in the short run obviously that is bad for the person who's job has been replaced, however in the long run, that means that goods get produced and distributed cheaper, which is better for society overall. Labor has no intrinsic value, its only value is what it is used to produce. The second a robot can flip burgers for $3/hr, the burger flipper's labor is no longer worth the $8/hr or whatever he was making before. As Gunn said, there will be a market for fine cuisine, and some people will still pay $20 for a burger cooked by a human, but society as a whole is enriched by the existence of these robots.

As for self driving cars, I can't wait! The sooner self-driving cars become ubiquitous, the less I will have to deal with the texting soccer moms doing 10 under the speed limit in the left lane while unable to even maintain their lane. I have no interest in owning one, but driver's seem to be getting worse and worse, and if we can take the people who aren't passionate about driving out of the driver's seat, I'm all for that. Of course it does scare me that eventually driving yourself on a public road may be against the law, but I don't think we are anywhere close to that.

I'll tell you the one thing that does concern me about the march of AI technology is the ever increasing "smartifying" every device in your life! I do have a smart phone, which I like for the convenience of internet access anywhere any time, but infusing everything from your TV to your car to your refrigerator with technology that will all talk to one another and report your habits back to someone somewhere, that is scary. I used to think that it wasn't because with such a massive amount of data to sift through, any one person would just be another anonymous pack of information that would likely never be looked at, but with AI being able to read the info, and make predictions about your activity, decide what to advertise to you, what to sell you, decide what food you want to buy and order it for you, or know where you want to go when you get into your car, and then take you there without you even having to know the way, and the fact that the computing power to do this is always getting cheaper and more readily available, that is a scary proposition. If this keeps going, people won't make any decisions anymore because the AIs in their life will already know what they want, and provide it for them without even asking. Skynet won't have to destroy all the humans, just send them their fast food and predict the right movies on netflix, and drive them to and from work, and the people will not only accept being controlled by the machines, but actually embrace it to the point where after several generations of this, people won't be capable of deciding anything for themselves.
There are ways to have both. You like the convenience of a smart thermostat (read sensors and control your temps) without the invasiveness of Alexa? You don't need to setup Alexa. Even more paranoid? Block that device's access to Alexa at your WIFI router. Even more paranoid? open that sucker up and rip out the microphone element (Just takes a pair of pliers and a knowledge of what a surface mount mike looks like).


I think home cybersecurity is something everyone needs to get better at. Police your devices and what access they have via Ad Guard/PiHole/your WIFI Access Point.

Another example: Samsung "smart" TVs have recently started adding ads to the UI. If you were paid money them ot show ads, fine, live with it . However, if not, disable that without hampering your ability to use the smart functions by blocking your Samsung TV's access to Samsungs cloud servers. At least some companies (like Amazon showing ads on the idle screens of kindles), they are giving you a "discounted" price in exchange for ads.
 

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I'll take the expeditious route over the long wait any day. I initially hated the self-check out lanes. But I don't mind scanning and bagging my own groceries. I'm quicker at scanning and better at bagging than 99% of the cashiers they have actually working there anyway.
If I'm in a hurry, yes, I'll suck it up and take the self-checkout lane.

As for bagging my stuff, for grocery shopping at least, the Food4Less (Kroger) I go to does self bagging. I don't mind this and compared to a Ralph's (Kroger) where they bag for you, the same groceries are cheaper.
 

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I'll pretty much always go to the self checkout over the person. Bagging groceries is a pet peeve of mine. The weakling kids always put like 2 or 3 things in a bag instead of filling them, and then I am left with 42000 bags to bring in instead of 5! I legitimately had a kid one time try to bag each item individually!
 
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Post pandemic:
  • I think this would be a decent services-based side hustle for a teenager/young adult: 20-25 years ago it was just "fix some old persons PC".
  • Now, I bet you could come in, some adults WIFI AP, update their network security with a VPN and ad blocker, setup their smartTV and various smart devices (not just cameras but things like smart doorbells, amazon echo/FB portals, light bulbs, sprinkers, thermostats, etc).
  • I bet a lot of non tech people would pay decent money for help like this.
 

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What goods and services that have already automated to one degree or another have become cheaper than when they used to be with 100% human labor(accounting for inflation of course), that can’t be attributed to manufacturing or customer service labor that went overseas, or overseas companies themselves undercutting? What’s more likely for a business, reduce labor costs and use the savings to reduce product cost? Or use the savings to distribute amongst themselves and shareholders, and what’s to prevent that? This is where I see the argument for UBI, as automation and AI makes more people than ever mercy to the rich and powerful, who still need us to profit on. If we cannot uplift ourselves to that level, then we should receive dividends for the profit. Sorry, but a glut of chefs and artists isn’t going to be a viable living by itself, knowing how to make a delicious hamburger will be a hobby to show to friends, like knowing how to play a 30 year old rock song on guitar.

Self driving cars from the utopian safety point of view are fine, but nothing ever works out that way. There doesn’t have to be an outright ban to get people like us out of operating our own vehicles, insurance rates on manually operated vehicles could be prohibitively raised, as could registration fees, and future traffic planning based on how responsive AI is could make driving among them like playing an old Nintendo game on expert difficulty. We won’t be forced out of our cars, we won’t want our cars.

I legitimately couldn’t think of a less appealing thing to own than an Alexa. I don’t need or want everything I own connected to a central server somewhere, because I have these things called legs and fingers and they can be used to carry me to and manipulate these primitive little things called switches. It has very little to do with personal data being used, I just have no desire for something constantly prodding for my money with the return of completing a very easy task remotely(Alexa is a glorified clapper), so far the algorithms haven’t matched me with anything I’ve spent money on, and I hate subscriptions. Even Netflix, which is a service I frequently let lapse, which it currently is. I have a smartphone and an iPad, I use the phone as a phone and a music player and that’s it, the iPad I use like a more portable laptop, and I could honestly live without either the way I use them. My iPhone in particular is positively ancient, it’s a 5, I have no intention to upgrade until the screen breaks, and I replaced the battery last year.

I do use self checkout on trips where I buy a small amount of items, I always treated them as more of an express line. I’m not scanning and bagging all my groceries though, **** that. I’ll give a stranger $5 to do that for me if there was no alternative lol


My dream more and more is to dump all my smart electronics, disconnect from the internet and live off the land. This world isn’t changing in my favor, and whether it benefits humanity in the long run, I don’t care, I’m not going to be the guinea pig for greedy futurists during the transition period. I’ll just choose to live in the proven past.
 
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