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Will technology be a net gain or loss for human jobs?

Whilst some argue that the massive changes we're seeing coming with technology are going to leave people short of work in droves and necessitating a universal basic income, Kurzweil is of the opinion that what's coming is just 'more of the same'.
Despite being a strong believer in the coming technological singularity, Kurzweil argues that job elimination is something that's occurred a number of times in the past, but new jobs keep arising to keep people employed.

"How many jobs circa 1900 exist today? If I were a prescient futurist in 1900, I would say, “Okay, 38% of you work on farms; 25% of you work in factories. That’s two-thirds of the population. I predict that by the year 2015, that will be 2% on farms and 9% in factories.” And everybody would go, “Oh, my God, we’re going to be out of work.” I would say, “Well, don’t worry, for every job we eliminate, we’re going to create more jobs at the top of the skill ladder.” And people would say, “What new jobs?” And I’d say, “Well, I don’t know. We haven’t invented them yet.”

Now, it's not surprising that he highlights new jobs being created from old jobs being made redundant. But I am surprised that the rate of change isn't something he highlights.
He later states that yes, you can be "pretty confident" that jobs for people driving trucks and cars are going to go away, and adds (quite reasonably, I believe) that new jobs will be created that we can't describe because they're in industries or areas that don't exist.

But the timeframes are much shorter, the displacement fairly large, the new areas not necessarily easily transferable for the people being displaced.
Those who drive vehicles for a living may see massive displacement in the next ten to fifteen years. And those who work in call centres or similar areas may also see large displacement in the same timeframes, in both cases from AI and ML. Will there be new jobs for these people to move into? I think the key part there is the second half of that sentence - Kurzweil himself talks about "more jobs at the top of the skill ladder". Now, the displaced people themselves don't have to move into those new areas - everyone can just shift up, as it were, and displaced people move into the new bottom of the ladder. But AI is an interesting technology in that it's eating into mental labour areas, not just the old physical labour areas of past technologies.

One way or another, we're going to find out what happens to those working for income in this wave of coming technological change.

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Does sex with a robot count as cheating? 60 percent of Britons say yes
Now, for context, this survey was being done as part of a Westworld promotion. And there's a large gap between what you see on Westworld and what current or near-term sex robots are like.
It would be interesting to see a more nuanced study:
* for a longer-term future view of fully conscious, sentient robots,
* for advanced humanoid robots capable of meaningful dialogue and some level of simulated relationship
* for robots not much more advanced than what we have today

As well as to what level emotional involvement sways answers.
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AI in 2050

AI scientist Toby Walsh discusses ten ways he sees artificial intelligence changing society by 2050, covering transport, home automation, sports, hacking.
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Complex thoughts, mind-reading and telepathy: "The witness shouted during the trial"

Research at Carnegie Mellon University shows the cutting edge of brain imaging is a lot further along than picking up general emotions or items.

"One of the big advances of the human brain was the ability to combine individual concepts into complex thoughts, to think not just of 'bananas,' but 'I like to eat bananas in evening with my friends,'" said Just, the D.O. Hebb University Professor of Psychology in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences. "We have finally developed a way to see thoughts of that complexity in the fMRI signal. The discovery of this correspondence between thoughts and brain activation patterns tells us what the thoughts are built of."

They are able to pick up thoughts containing several concepts, overcoming previous limitations of smeared signals caused by events occurring in the brain very close in time.

Work going forward includes the mapping of topics to brain activity:
[Just] added, "A next step might be to decode the general type of topic a person is thinking about, such as geology or skateboarding. We are on the way to making a map of all the types of knowledge in the brain."

Given these sorts of advances, Mary Lou Jepsen left Oculus to found the company Openwater, with the aim of developing a non-invasive device that puts MRI capabilities into a lightweight wearable form.

"I think we're talking about less than a decade, probably eight years until telepathy."

Here's to communication @ the speed of thought.

Jepson's background also includes work at Google X, MIT and Intel.
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"I think I'll listen to a lot more books once I can pick the voice I like and don't have to pay for a human to read it." +Matthew J Price

Matthew's quote highlights one possible direction that audio books could travel. But why should I, the reader, select a voice, when I don't know what characters in a novel should sound like? The authors themselves could do this, and they could do it for each of the individual characters.
Before the books ever became films, Rowling could have enabled readers to hear the voice of Harry as she heard him in her own head. Could have tweaked pronunciations so the reader strays less from their own biases.

But what happens if as the author the voice I want for my character happens to sound remarkably like Arnold Schwarzenegger? Coincidentally, of course. Joined in his action crusade by some John Doe who just happens - also coincidentally - to sound like Sly Stallone.
Hell, the Lyrebird software gives us a glimpse as to how we can get a start on that sort of mimicry.

But at what point do people get to claim infringement on their voice, from something synthetic that just may happen to sound remarkably like them? Is this different from me hiring a friend to do a reading, who's good at imitating voices in order to give me a Morgan Freeman oration?

So of course legal protections will be put in place to protect the voices of celebrities.
And so, of course, there will be pirate sites of voices that people compose for their favourite books.
cue pulp fiction mappings for lord of the rings characters on the pirate bay...
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Kevin Kelly argues against superhuman AI, something he points out that panel of AI experts claim is indeed coming.

Kelly says it's based upon 5 statements that are currently without evidence:

* Artificial intelligence is already getting smarter than us, at an exponential rate.
* We’ll make AIs into a general purpose intelligence, like our own.
* We can make human intelligence in silicon.
* Intelligence can be expanded without limit.
* Once we have exploding superintelligence it can solve most of our problems.

He claims he finds "the following five heresies to have more evidence to support them":

* Intelligence is not a single dimension, so 'smarter than humans' is a meaningless concept.
* Humans do not have general purpose minds, and neither will AIs.
* Emulation of human thinking in other media will be constrained by cost.
* Dimensions of intelligence are not infinite.
* Intelligences are only one factor in progress.
I’ve heard that in the future computerized AIs will become so much smarter than us that they will take all our jobs and resources, and humans will go extinct. Is this true?
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Whatever happened to the technology singularity?
Sci-fi writer +Graham Clements looks back over the books heralding a coming Technological Singularity, and questions whether it's still coming as predicted.

"But, here’s the reality for those of us dreaming of the technological singularity. Engines of Creation was written three decades ago, while The Spike hit the bookstores nearly two decades ago. And The Singularity is Near came out over a decade ago."
"So how near is near?"

Graham goes on to highlight the recent advances across nanotech, 3d printing, genetics, and AI.

But are we making progress to an actual singularity, of the sort espoused by Kurtzeil et al? Are the events we hear about achieved in labs actually taking us closer to a radical change-in-world superintelligent man-machine merging tomorrow in but a few decades? Or will there be ever new scientific advances that aid a small (read rich) segment of the population, but the world at large stratifies and struggles?
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Quantum computing to be demonstrated by Google by year's end
Be interesting to see where this goes. In the article he talks about "useful to get people to talk within google" and to demonstrate that things are getting serious. Which indicates it's still a bit 'here is money and time, research this and see if it pans out'.
Then they talk about having something before the end of the year that would do a particular task faster than a supercomputer, but also that it would need more time before it's more than just academically interesting.

I wonder how this differs from the DWave results (as opposed to design / implementation) we keep hearing about ("outperformed highly specialized algorithms run on state-of-the-art classical servers by factors of 1000 to 10000 times")?

So I guess we'll have to wait and see what the practical outcome of this work is. If Google has quantum chips by year's end, will they be something that actually does production work for them, in some form? Will it be something that can mix practically with traditional work; will it be something niche only that's leveraged for specialised loads (as per their custom chips used in voice translation)?

What are the longer term plans for Google's use of quantum computational hardware, assuming it pans out as desired?
And will quantum computing be more than niche computing?

via +Matthew J Price
By the end of this year, Martinis says, his team will build a device that achieves “quantum supremacy,” meaning it can perform a particular calculation that’s beyond the reach of any conventional computer.
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Neuralink is the company that's working on Elon Musk's neural lace, for a direct brain computer interface.
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Rethinking the future of work
Richard Di Natale of the Australian Greens discuss trialling a UBI as per other countries, for "a 21st century economy, where work is changing radically".
Richard elaborates, saying it could enhance creativity, promote innovation and "reset what is meaningful in our lives".
He also raises the notion that we should discuss the disparity in working hours, where some people are unable to find work, or enough hours of work, whereas others are overworked and would benefit and prefer being able to work fewer hours or days.

~3 min.
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