Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

To state the obvious about finance

July 30, 2018

The collapse is coming! we read every year the year round. It simply isn’t true, it is just a story being told.

The entire financial circus is disconnected from anything physical. Therefore it can not collapse. The only things that can collapse are wages, ability to buy food and ability to rent or buy housing. The financial system wont be affected until it runs out of workers willing to work for wages that can not sustain them. (While that happens, if it does, already existing automation can be phased in.)

Try think of the financial system like this: You, me and 18 other guys are each worth 10 million. We gather in a poorly lit room in the basement of a night club and sit at a large round table. We each write out a note that is technically an IOU. The note says “I will pay 1 million to whoever owns this note” then, between the 20 of us we use these notes as if money. You can use them to pay outsiders as well but the rest of us will strongly dislike you for doing so.

Now imagine that 10 million is entirely made up out of similar deals for 19 of the 20 participants. Further more as a result there of and so on be it known this means that after the deal you are not 1 million in debt, in stead you are worth 21 million. We can play this game until the end of time. If at any time you dare to doubt the formula [out loud] you are simply purged from the system.

This if course is an oversimplification. The “reality” involves many exotic documents and fancy terminology all designed to keep things as confusing as possible. People doing things in the physical world have close to zero leverage over the formula. They simply work for these digital coupons that can be “produced” in unlimited quantities.

Just look how the US dollar inflated over the last 118 years. Prices in 2017 simply were 2814% higher. A hundred dollars in 1900 buys the same amount of goods as 2914 dollars did in 2017. This is only the tip of the iceberg since the stuff made in 1900 was largely made by people. It didn’t pop out of machines.

A fun insight into real estate taxes

February 27, 2018

I much enjoyed this bit for his creative look at the topic. Trying to understand something while sitting back and observing the world produces very different insights from  actively designing a system.


By Ramin Shokrizade.

Complete List of Ramin Shokrizade’s Public Papers


Global government using scopes (as in programming)

October 5, 2017

In programming languages there is something called a scope. If we are to develop a system to organize our world we could use that. It would be a single world government but it would barely have any functionality. Inside its scope there would be separate entities that would be highly similar. Their usefulness would extend little beyond having a convenient name that tries to describe its functionality. Eventually, deep inside the nesting doll there would be tiny heavily localized components that perform tasks (lets call those A). These would be wrapped into a kind of almost-powerless oversight committees that are much like even smaller components contained in A. Besides from very very limited oversight their main purpose is to facilitate communication between that what is contained therein and its outer scope.

For example: you would have a local police station that is funded by the people living in the area, hires people living in the area and people in the area would own it like one would own a business. Activities and statistics are communicated to a centralized organization wrapping all the police stations in the region. The oversight power could be to shut down and start a new police station from scratch when its data is inconsistent with other stations. The oversight in turn would be wrapped in a similar scope that can shut it down and have it replaced from scratch.

Citizens can, at any time, chance their opinion about any such government organization. If enough people in the region are dissatisfied with a component the shut down and reboot mechanism is automatically triggered.  Salaries are cut off, no pensions or golden hand shakes will be paid access codes and badge numbers will be rendered invalid. A sufficient pool of replacements should be trained in advance using public funds so that we can instantly start the job interviews and hire new employees. A small number of former employees will train their replacements where necessary. If they refuse to we put them in prison. A trial will follow to check if any crime was committed beyond public dissatisfaction. If people didn’t do the job they were paid for their savings and property will be seized.

We should balance financial incentive with the harshness of the punishments and decide on this as local as possible. Working for government should be as risky as it is rewarding.

Failure to replace the governing entities below when statistics suggest it or replacing entities below without the desired stats should have entities above replace that entity. It could very well be that a small incompetent police office triggers a replace chain reaction all the way to the top of the international hierarchy.

If your job is to fire groups of poorly functioning people and you fail that job you and all of your coworkers will be fired, either though data or though public rating.

To extend the idea a bit…

All job interviews are recorded and made public. Additional interviews with previous employers will be recorded similarly. There should be a full medical examination, an IQ, memory and a state of the art empathy test. All made public.

If the results are undesirable or below standards funds are assigned to train future replacements. If people don’t want to take the course at a discount or for free we will pay them to do it. If there are still insufficient trained people who want the job we should increase the base salary and offer a temporary bonus until the pool is large enough.

Important vs entertaining

April 21, 2016

For an ideology embracing the infinite growth neolib did a great job destroying everything that produces growth. This with the notable exception of things that take less than 3 months.

For growth on the longer term 1) we need more not less trained people, we need people to have free time to ponder innovation, we need people to finance their ideas and people need to be able to afford buildings where these new industries can happen. 2) we need companies to invest in innovation rather than give everything to investors and you cant drive up the stocks by closing R&D down – if you want growth. 3) we need mature media enabling [now enlightened] people to ponder the real problems so that they can fix them with new products, methods and new technologies. 4) And finally, we need to get money out of the human activities where it contributes destructively rather than constructively as well as the other way around. Have 4 categories: where finance is toxic, where it is beneficial and trials of both kinds so that we can do scientific side by side comparison.

Our survival currently depends on other peoples greed. You can portray greed as something more poetic and lovable than empathy and collectivism but end of the day it is a madly unstable formula. Greed might be eternal – human labor is not essential. We kill people every day by replacing them with machines. The dead are not innovative and the suffering are not innovative in the global industrial context.

I don’t know to what extend a basic income will fix this but it will go a long way teaching people that the business they work for is not their mum. People have to want their share of the insane wealth we’ve created over the last 100 years – they have to want their share or they must perish. There is no alternative. Wealth is not the problem, maturity is. Much like every historic advanced civilization we are at the “grow up or die” stage of development.

Think of it as a list of priorities with just 2 items on it: That what is important and that what is entertaining. We all have to decide for ourselves which to prioritize.

The technozombie invasion

February 13, 2016

RE: How Technology is Compromising the Human Condition
(How Technology Is Turning Us Into Zombies)

This happens every time.

When reading and writing was introduced kids stopped looking to the elderly for wisdom and the elderly stopped looking to provide it. When enough reading and writing was done people gave up on language design, language stopped evolving rapidly.

I’d go as far as to say that towns and cities no longer needed their own intelligent people to ponder life and inspire action. It all happened increasingly far away.

Radio was a similar milestone, now the songs of each town could be forgotten in favor of screaming boxes. The people use to make music themselves before the radio took over.

Television, this device had people sink into a thoughtless coma. There was a time when the majority would watch TV when they woke up and get back to it when they got home again. Kids no longer looked to their parents  for wisdom and parents stopped providing it.

Computers, the web and the mobile web are highly similar events. Most notably in that all of the above were introduced as a revolution in information access. That is the only sad part about it: We didn’t govern the process of adoption to be that beautiful thing it could have been.

Not sure where to put it but even drugs could go on the list, drugs can give enlightenment, ease pain and give you a fresh view on life. No need to agree necessarily, we can still agree what happens when consumption becomes an uncontrolled process.

Food can be educative and nurturing until one starts stuffing random things in uncontrolled amounts. The steam engine, cars and planes each made great contributions to society but if one never gets any exercise one slowly withers away, the convenience kills us collectively.

I’d go as far as to say that not countries but time no longer needs its own intelligent people pondering life and inspiring action. The dead wrote “all” of these things down for us, they build this civilization we ended up living in. It is not ours, we are disqualified from tinkering with it. We might desire to and put effort in it, the masses will just move on to the next stage of unisex assimilation.

Perhaps the best we may hope for is for nature to do her thing and create compatible sub species. We seem well on our ways. The zombies are many and they hunger but they are slow and unsophisticated, they wont necessarily succeed eating our brains.

Maybe we should just laugh about it.

Remove necessities from capitalism to empower it

February 3, 2016

What would happen to the modern world if we had not to work for money? Work doing what we love? In short, if we did not need the money to buy our goods? As would acquire our goods? Which could be an exchange instrument?

While the result depends on how you implement it we lack the ability to guess the result. Our mind is funny in that we attribute value to our guesses without much consideration for complexity. Likewise, it is impossible to compensate for our own bias. If the hypothetical is complex enough to make guessing impossible we end up purely reflecting our personal experience in life. The topic is not at all relevant anymore. You may for example take any useful idea, business or technology that really had a huge impact on society and imagine or read what people thought of it before it was done by others.

To take a silly example, work on binary transmission in the form of the telegraph was started around 1830. Some 50 years later the first wireless signal was received. From our perspective looking back it should have been entirely obvious what to do with it. 20 years later, in 1901, a signal was send over the Atlantic. It wasn’t that the whole world envisioned in advance what amazingly useful thing this could be. I remember when a car phone was commonly considered something silly. We could have had mobile phones many decades earlier, maybe not a computer but a box that sends and receives text messages is not much more revolutionary than the telegraph.

One could argue it is an obvious development but apparently the obvious is still outside our average ability to guess.

In contrast, your idea has many not very obvious angles. Even if we assume such a system to be easy to build there is no way to tell what would happen if you lift people out of the ME-ME-ME capitalist utopia and put them in this completely alien place.

If we further assume people would be quick to adapt and see the glory of the new world it would only take one or two generations before the “great” example of how not to run society is forgotten. Someone might make a similar topic in a similar place where people ponder the idea to create a currency and use it to trade apples for oranges. Some would argue it simply can not work while others would find the idea fascinating. The arguments wouldn’t be very different from the ones posted here.

I therefore take some liberties with your question and take it as to ask what would happen if we ripped the necessities of life out of the hands of capitalism, nationalize this 5-10% of the economy and allow charles ponzi and his frenemies to play their game with everything else. We would no longer *need* to work for that what sustains us, we would work for everything else one can have. This has countless attractive properties that are guaranteed to work.

If housing, food, drink, cloths and medical care, water, electricity, internet, telephone are provided our wages could be much much lower which would give an immense boost to the economy.

Likewise, if everyone can go to school without complexities the economy will benefit immensely. We could enjoy all kinds of experience by taking up unpaid internships.

Working, rather than a means to earn a living could become a learning opportunity.
As long as the employer doesn’t have to pay you he wont mind putting you to work, again the economy grows.

Currently almost everyone needs full time employment simply to sustain himself, this means businesses have to be designed as stable as possible. The design goal is not to become what they can become, stability is much to important to ignore. In the current paradigm, no matter how hard you try, you always have to many or to few employees.

If working hours would be reduced and people had a lot more training and experience we would have a system with great redundancy. As soon as your business needs a hand we have plenty of skilled idle hands willing to jump in right now – for the right price.

Likewise, if you have to much employees for the amount of work at hand you can simply send people home. It isn’t a death sentence anymore, you spend a week on the beach and return all refreshed. One can simply work much harder after a vacation and one is much more motivated without the axe hanging over your head.

Rather than treating workers like children who need to be taken care of our business people can focus on their business. (they are actually good at that) Rather than employees distracting them with important financial problems the employee can help grow the business. If the violin market is slow and making violins is your passion you can just continue to go to work and make violins without getting paid for the labor.

The capitalists would end up creating so much wealth most wouldn’t dare to complaint about it. Complaints will come from people who currently sit on their ass extracting wealth from everyone else. They are the cause of world hunger, inequality, wars, etc By definition they are not bringing value to the table.

Things would look the same but work very different.

A store for example would be a building where products are sold for what they cost to make – in stead of 95% going towards the mortgage and employees who also have to pay rent and buy food in similar stores where 95% of their money again vanishes.

You think you are buying ice cream but in reality you are paying the rent for the toy maker who made a toy for the kid of the guy working in the ice cream factory. If we cut out the rent seeking ice cream is mostly water, if you pay the 5 cent for it or not doesn’t make much of a difference.

Tractors are cheap for the amount of food they produce, if the crop is not something exotic the guy driving the tractor can simply be employed by government. Challenging or luxury types of agriculture like say making wine are not real necessities and can/should be done in a commercial setting. If there is no real innovation going on government can organize it. It wont be madly efficient but it shall be robust and stable.

Finally, the most miraculous thing that would happen is that nasty jobs would first pay amazingly well, this in turn would motivate us to automate as much of them as possible. If you cant get a cheap wage slave to brush your toilet for you you might as well have it coated with nano-materials that repel all dirt and buy that robot arm that scrubs the tiles tirelessly the year round. People would design those for fun in their free time, optimize manufacturing for fun, with cheap labor abundantly available the arm can be produced on a large scale making it even more affordable for a larger audience.

Our economy is so sluggish because we’ve put way to many people in jobs that do not contribute sufficiently to the bottom line, our system doesn’t motivate us to automate tasks that can be done by machines. Every time we refuse to automate a task we lose one person to a task that really shouldn’t exist. Society as a whole still has to provide for the guy only he isn’t giving something back, it only seems like he does. We are wasting all kinds of resources that we can use some place else or are finite. When people work they destroy the whole planet, to have useless jobs is a grave mistake.

Thanks for your time, its been fun.

Educated slaves are unhappy

November 12, 2015
Making college free without solving other issues like how we push all children into college without a thought about the degree they choose or whether they are really capable of college-level work, or how tuition and textbook costs keeps raising at incredible rates while classes are cut is not going to be feasible. Is the government supposed to keep up with the inflation of tuition? Will taxpayers be expected to subsidize a student who fails out after a year because they were ill-prepared to begin with? Will some degrees with lucrative careers and available jobs be covered while others degrees are less or unsubsidized? Will higher rated schools be treated differently than lower rated ones? Will we subsidize trade schools for mechanics and electricians the same way we subsidize colleges for lawyers and doctors? I agree completely that the student loan issue in America is out of control and will only bring our country down in the long run. Hell, between my husband and myself, we are over $200,000 in debt from college, law school, grad school, and, of course, interest. We were lucky- both of us found jobs in our fields after only about one year of unpaid internships. There is a lot of change needed in our educational system- starting in K-12- that needs to happen. It won’t all be solved by making college free. That works in other countries because they have an entirely different system of education from childhood. College, even free college, is not a panacea on an individual or societal level.

In stead of tweaking an almost unworkable formula/system we should start from scratch.

I’m increasingly of the opinion that attempts at destroying (including profiteering) an education system should be considered high treason as disarming the citizen intellectually effectively puts control of the country into foreign hands. Consider it a last line of defense.

I would also like to see it written into law that education should aim to empower the student so that she may contribute to the wellbeing of the country – in the most general sense thereof.

While might not make up a large percentage, besides from reading and listening there are many other parts of education that do require expensive tools and materials. I suggest we deal with those with an entirely seperate formula (not described on this page) as to not confuse the cheap with the very expensive.

After cursory examination, most education does seem to involve reading texts, listening to speech, asking questions and getting answers. The only expensive thing is student time. The price of student time depends on her food, housing, cloths and recreational activities.

Having an expensive building (shall we say a learning factory) was essential before the digital age. Putting it in an urban area makes both the building and the student housing much more expensive. Government has plenty of ground to provide these things at construction price if they are needed for the type of course.

Getting the students involved in growing food and in building the facilities should be considered high value education as these are the things we eat the means by which they are grown makes up valuable content just like construction is valuable to experience. I’m by no means suggesting everything should be grown and build by the student but borrowing money to have others do things for you that you can do yourself is stupid.

A very important part of education is the selection of the curriculum. This should be done out in the open and be subject to as many views as possible, specially those from companies who are expected to buy the end product.

Things that are considered important to the curriculum should be written up by the private sector, be carefully examined, corrected and brought up to standards. The text should then be frozen until it can be shown to be outdated. For most material government should pay for this. Books should be available but the student only needs a digital copy that can be provided for free. We should aim to have the copy in their possession many years in advance.

For example: On irc I see 2 types of programmers. The first started at age 9-12 and gradually learned quite a lot quite modern ways. The second only started programming when school required it. The later is bullshit, the material should have been in their hands 10 years earlier so that they can reap the fruits of that random moment of curiosity.

Think of this completely ridiculous moment where we all of a sudden ask the teen: so, uhhh, what do you want to study? Think of how easy that decision would be if they had been gazing over the materials for 10 years and accidentally managed to read some of that biology, physics, chemistry, law, engineering, etc etc etc etc Everyone would be able to find at least one thing that tickles their fancy.

Khan academy is doing great work monitoring student progress but I find the videos rather dull, lacking special effects and famous actors. They are about as low budget as a guy in a closet recording a youtube video – in the most literal sense thereof. If we aim to educate there should be no excuse making it needlessly boring. We have technology that can keep any person in constant awe. Boringness is putting serious limitations on the amount of material one can absorb. There cant be an excuse for it.

Non of this is radical in my view.

If I had it my way the expectation for people to work their whole lives would be extended to the expectation for everyone to learn new things their whole life. I would cut down the number of hours one is expected to study and cut down the number of hours one is expected to work. I’m thinking of some ratio like 5-6 hours of work and 2-3 hours of education.

Multiple teachers should be available to answer questions in a split shift and they should be required to have a regular job unrelated to their teaching. Some ratio like 2-3 hours of work outside teaching and 5-6 hours on public video chat. Each question should be carefully written down as to create a search-able archive of Q & A.

I’m all for people learning the arts but if they have to sacrifice their ability to have a career and the economy while confusing the purpose of education it ain’t worth it. In stead we should have industries inspire us about the future of labor requirements.

One obvious drawback seems to appear in tenured professors and university research but after bringing the whole population up to high standards we will be quick to fund such projects and laboratories. Forcing other people into debt so that one can be a tenured professor is senseless. If we want them to do research we should chose to pay for it with money we have not be forced to pay with money we don’t have.

But my world view gets much more radical than this….

In order to have an economy that serves humanity in stead of having humanity serve a self-serving economy we need wealth redistribution. Now there are lots of ideologies against socialism, a basic income or any other kind of something for nothing but at the end of the day we need educated workers and business should not expect something delivered to them for free. As a capitalist rule: If something is free it probably sucks but you certainly dont get to complaint about it.

Over the last 200 years we went from 100% occupation in agiculture to a tiny 3-5% had we desired it we could have build the slacker culture many many years ago.

In stead we have a huge percentage of people who are merely pretending to be bussy in order to get a pay check. Neoliberalism certainly doesn’t care what kind of economic activity one engages in. I imagine the ideal neoliberal world to be dildo factories as far as the eye can see. 17% of which can be delivered to your door in 20 minutes. While its idea of growth here is to aim for 18% and 19 minutes.

In stead we can build a much more powerful economy if education is permanent and dynamically delivers that what industry needs while the needs of industries are defined by the customer. Therefore, as a means to avoid the “horror” of something for nothing we are to pay people to accomplish this education.

This is a perfectly socialist and a perfectly capitalist idea that fits perfectly in our economic system.

For example: Soon we will need many people in the field of machine learning. If we leave this to public curiosity and existing education we will first have a 100% male nerd population do the ground work then, 20 years after the fact traditional education will pick up a wildly distorted version of it and talk of great people (read male nerds) who did the ground work while they contributed next to nothing. They might even be teaching that heavier than air flying machines are impossible while the airplanes are flying over the university. Stranger things have happened.

Look around you, this is a world dominated by senseless entertainment. That didn’t happen by acident, it is what people know. It is the type of high end media we’ve delivered while we’ve failed to inspire and teach.

It isn’t unreasonable to argue that in the post-agricultural world one could work 6 years while young then be a slacker for the rest of the life. We didn’t want that world. Why should education be any different? Why would we learn things when we are young and be an ignorant oblivious retard the rest of our lives? It does take a specific kind of training to want all these different dildo’s and it doesn’t involve math, business, history, or any formal type of training.

All the bullshit variations of arguments like overqualified employees being unstable and professional training causing civil unrest are simply the 21th century version of “educated slaves are unhappy”.

Surely the problems you see in the above is not that you object to it but that you can read it!?!?

Or…. maybe not?

Thanks for your time

The alternative to cutting edge education is slavery

October 18, 2015

I was watching this:

What does work look like in a data driven economy?

I think our collective mistake was the lack of innovation, experimentation and improvement in education. In the 70’s we already had big movie and television studios making very advanced media. If tens if not hundreds of millions of people have to learn something (in each language) there should be plenty of room for a big budget production.

However attached people are to the idea of torturing kids though a text book and however appealing the idea of discipline is, you are going to lose a large percentage of the audience and many who tried learned only part of it or forgot most of it by lack of utility. You have to compare things side by side without attaching artificial value to the new or the old ways. We could replace sesame street with a text book listing the numbers from 1 to 12 then use force to have the kid learn to count but is that really a superior solution or are you just being a sadist for thinking it is? After sesame street came a large media void where we seemingly didn’t need to learn anything else.

in the 80-90’s we had great computing, there was cool stuff but also a learning curve, the reward for learning how things work was that it allowed you to create and do absolutely everything you could imagine doing with a computer. Stuff was not very complicated so it was worth learning it.

One could argue people refused to learn the basics but we could have shown them this on the Tee Vee in madly informative formats. Games at the time were written by 14 year olds in machine code or assembly, simply having the 14 year old do a code review or drawing a hero for a game should be exiting enough on its own, the studio wouldn’t have to do much to make it interesting enough to watch but they could have, there is always getting the audio right, switching between cameras, inserting cut-scenes etc etc.

Not knowing the highest programming power level was obtainable and not enjoying aid in the process the now uninformed people wanted windos for the purpose of being exploited. Big money got in, they closed the door behind them and everyone was very exited about their new found prison.

Of course one couldn’t actually do anything meaningful with a computer without being a developer so we wrote billions of web pages about everything under the horizon while big money created new prisons out of every viable idea.

A thousand useless programming languages were developed each trying to appeal to the oblivious masses on its own.

In the 80’s one could just learn all of the machine instructions, had we made that part of the 13 year olds education the creation of something as awful as the x86 monstrosity would have died from the laughter.

If real programming was only going to be used by a hand full of elite corporate coders the language design had little requirements to live up to, on the contrary! The harder it was to use the more effective the vendor lock in. The English language is being updated all the time, someone invents a new word, if it is nice or useful to others they will adopt it. If no one likes it it wont be used. There is a lot of scrutiny and constructive criticism going on. Without human requirements the machine language execution speed had priority in the design. A new instruction couldn’t be overly awkward if it improved speed.

The powers available to the 1985ish programmer included pushing a button that would freeze the computer and display an editor that allowed you to edit the “running” program, then after making the modification you could continue running it(!) You could make changes in seconds and see the results straightaway. You could save the whole thing to disk and continue running it at a later date, right where you left of.

Of course people really tried to develop so called higher languages but in the beginning there are few people involved who have to hammer out a whole new language, mistakes will be made but more importantly the billions of people who should be using it are not involved in the design. Yes, things are getting more complex all the time, people wouldn’t even know how and the learning curve in 2015 is so high that no single person knows how all existing languages work, what their advantages are or how they deal with their shortcomings.

It’s a jungle out there and all the fun code projects are locked into prisons.

Take the www, I believe it all started with the mosaic browser or it at least contributed greatly to the experience. Where is mosaic now? If you search a bit you can find and download it but you cant use it, it will crash on your modern pc. So where is the source code? Where is this most significant bit of history? We do have Columbus ship journal from 1492, are we to argue that was really not all that important to keep? Would we have a king James bible if existing texts were closed source unavailable and copyrighted? Or are we to assume the internet is really one of the insignificant discoveries, you know, just like aviation and the steam engine? I’m sure we had a good number of previous civilizations where the knowledge was to be preserved by a small group of insiders. It is not hard to imagine what happened with their knowledge or how the loss of it affected society.

Education offered a great opportunity for everyone to participate in software and hardware development in the 80’s. It didn’t happen, we created an endless number of prisons, you cant escape and there is no way out. And so it happened, we now have a kind of vulture developer who thinks this is the way to go. The one track mind of: How do I exploit other people? Even open source developers cant even make a website anymore, will scream at you for posting a link to yours as if your labor of love is something nasty worth hating on, you spammer! Then the FOSS people think their users should find their creations by sheer magic. 1) Cant make a website 2) cant write documentation 3) uhhhh??? It again isn’t hard to see where this train without rails is going.

I mean, isn’t it nice? You get to work for free to make money for billionaires. If the law would allow it they would have you sign slave ownership agreements. In stead they created the next best thing. Every time you say it is okay and that you don’t mind they go a little bit further. Like where you are actually not allowed to monetize your youtube catvideo channel by making a deal with pooptards directly. Facebook can strip your amazone code from your link whenever they like to. Or replace it with their own, even better!

There are upsides to the seemingly sad story. Knowing what happened allows us to prevent doing it again and again.

One of the major things held back by our collective lack of training and expertise was the internet of things. In the 80’s computer nerds still had welding irons, it was a completely sensible thing to move on to. But then it was all impossible all of a sudden, creating or hooking into hardware was no longer stuff for the amateur. Also, the machines were incredibly expensive but in the 90’s you could send your 3d design to a machine shop and they would carve it out of the material of your choice.

These logical 2 revolutions are about to take off. A smart coffee machine makes as little sense as a smart phone but when we have one and the software matures we cant imagine living without. Why one would want to 3D print anything is also a dubious question but when it gets cheap enough the existing factory can print the products of the future.

If you download and install blender you get overwhelmed by the number of tools. Is it really so hard to imagine making some Tee Vee programs that teach you how to use it in a fun to watch way? (Where is that guy in the bird suit when we need him?) Having the school teacher help the kids learn how to draw things in 3D? Is that hard to imagine? It should be easier than we think It is not like you are carving a statue out of a block of marble the material is endlessly forgiving.

What would be the difference between having a few thousands designers or having a few billion? What would be a reasonable budget to obtain this giant leap forwards? We can spend 600 million to do an amo drop in the middle east, we can spend many billions to host millions of refugees in an effort to get rid of the Syrian government(?!) We can spend trillions in Afghanistan and the middle east (don’ t ask me why) Billions to save banks so that they can pay those same billions in bonuses at the end of the year. Boy, we must be really wealthy if we can waste money like that. Why not spend on the obvious thing that will create the next industrial revolution? Lets not do the minimalistic cheap ass version. Lets have tony stark teach us the magic of 3D printing in an over produced “unlimited” budget type of setting. Lets all sit in awe in front of our monitors and “accidentally” learn that what we need to create the next revolution. If he knows the basics the 13 year old will go wild on the idea of printing his own house when he is 18. Why would his employer not be impressed by that? I certainly would be.

Thanks for your time and dare to dream a bit will you? 😉

We should turn education into a paid occupation

September 26, 2015

We want answers to the economic riddle but before we can have those we have to ask the right question and before we can ask that we have to be some what on the same page. I would like to start with the idea that your money only belongs to you in the sense that no one else should have a say in it.

Money is an inanimate object. If you put a stack of it in front of you it wont grow legs and start building things.

Legitimate economic processes aside for a moment. We could simplify the situation down to 2 people: One holds up a type of contract and claims the other guys labor doesn’t belong to the other guy but is in fact his property. He claims the interest on his 1 million not just makes him the owner of the other guys labor but also that of his children, his grandchildren and so on, until the end of time.

While the victim worker doesn’t have to sign anything, clearly this is already a very reasonable contract? no? It says right here in writing that I own you. Things couldn’t be more obvious?

There are also natural resources that one can purchase with money. We can simplify this to 1 guy and a forest. Here the contract makes him the owner of the trees. As he can chop them down (we assume he is doing the work himself for sake of simplicity) and exchange them for new ownership contracts (money) the size of his budget only determines the speed at which he gets to cut down the whole forest. When all the trees are gone the terms of the contract are not satisfied but after the deed society as a whole owes him even more. If our guy has enough money the interest alone allows him to do this entirely without risk or contribution.

A long story short, money is a contract between people. It only has value if others agree it does. One should wonder if the deal is any good? Keep that what you personally look at as legitimate gains from investments aside for a moment. If those exist or not doesn’t change that people worked for an untold number of generations without accumulating any wealth while natural resources simply run out. After you eat the last cookie the cookies are gone, you might feel you are entitled to 2 boxes of new cookies as the reward for eating the whole box but if we have no more cookies it cant happen. This is not intended to mock anyone, there simply are no cookies left – reality doesn’t care what we think we are entitled to.

Therefore: what should be done with your money is up to everyone involved in the contract. We all want to honor it but there has to be the question if we can. Even in finance, eventually reality does come into it.

This brings us to point 2, that seems best illustrated with a quote:
“They worry, in part, that [welfare] recipients will waste the money spending it on, say, flat-screen televisions, cigarettes, and alcohol rather than nutritious food or school supplies”

Of course it is easy to point out that the poorest people spend their money much more carefully than anyone who has more money than them. If you live on 1 Euro per day and extra 20 cents makes a huge difference. If we ask wealthy people or say top economists what they would do with 20 cents extra they are not even able to give a serious answer. (and neither are you or me)

But there is something much more ridiculous to this *worry*. It strongly suggest we should strip everyone from their money to avoid them “wasting” it on a television. If this was true we should of course start by stripping the most wealthy among us, those who waste <s>their</s> the money on fine wines, boats and private jets. Would we really be that worried what people spend their money on it would be laughable to start implementing MAOism with people who don’t have any. It mocks the (already silly) concept proposed. It would be easier to stop making TV’s because people might buy waste their money on them.

The big “worry” is of course that wealth redistribution of any kind (like say a basic income guarantee) would dramatically cut into the modern slavery scheme. The scheme where one is to work like a slave or face the ultimate punishment. Not sudden death or a bunch of lashes (if only!) but a process of slowly dwindling away, losing friends, your cat, the car, the house and many years of your life if you can call it that and if you still want to live that is.

If we toss you a few bucks at that point you too would want to get drunk asap. What else is there to do for the slave? Buy school materials while living in a card board box by the side of the road? You too would punch the guy who would say that to your face. Smack him with your bottle until he behaves properly.

Much like when government jumps onto your yacht, points at your whiskey and screams: “what?? are you getting drunk now? how dare you! What is that a plasma TV? Have you no shame? how dare you try to enjoy life!” You smack him with the bottle until he shuts up.

The process of excommunication is intentionally slow so that you can contribute to the economy by showing working people what happens if they cant find work anymore. Other civilizations used ritual sacrifice for this.

I would however suggest that there is a real problem with simply providing an income to everyone who doesn’t work. It is not that there is not enough food or that we cant build houses for everyone. The real problem is that a growing percentage of the population would completely uninvolved themselves with that what sustains them. We would end up expecting a tiny group of technocrats sustains us simply because we demand it. Our concept of problem “salving” would deteriorate into waving our fist at it. We already have plenty of that, it hardly qualifies as a solution (if at all).

This is where we are and we are floating towards technological unemployment. Where should we to steer the boat to? What is the answer to the riddle of the ages? Most of our political ideas come from a time that was so different from ours that we can hardly blame the authors for getting something wrong. 200 years ago 99.9% worked on the farm. No one was thinking what if all this is done by robots? 100 years ago people pondered the question but they could hardly envision what we have today.

We all get to take a swing at the puzzle but the requirements your answer must meet are quite unreasonable. It has to be something short and simple so that everyone may understand it while people really don’t have time to listen nor the mental state to ponder the proposal.

My answer would be:

We should turn education into a paid occupation.

Don’t let the simplicity of the answer fool you, it was a requirement.

The idea offers a long term vision as well as short term gains and both poor and rich people should be able to agree about it. We have far to many people competing at the education free bottom of the job market. Many of them could have done better which strongly suggests they don’t belong there. There is no reason to expect physical labor to make a comeback (on the contrary) but would we ever run out of people there we can simply import them from less fortunate places or move production overthere. As long as our citizens are doing well for themselves this isn’t an issue.

As one republican guy rudely noted: if you have to compete for jobs with people who don’t even speak the language you really suck. I would argue that if people have to compete in the job market with people who don’t even speak the language our education sucks. The evidence is overwhelming.

I’m sure many kids think of education as something they have to sit though. They perceive it as something temporary that one just has to survive. We have madly outdated systems that follow methods from ancient militaristic regimes. Imagine a business with the desks positioned like that, with everyone listening to the manager all day. Taking notes etc A platoon of marching soldiers comes much closer to the formula. We do have systems (like khan academy) where the worse student scores 100% while in our schools the best are expected to know about 80% of the material.

The applied formula is just bad then we also put the student on a tight schedule. The schedule begins to divide the citizenry into those who succeed and those who did not and will not. Ohhh that guy who got the flu at the wrong time, he barely made it! To bad for us, now we have to pay for him the rest of his life? It would be cheaper to give him that extra week he needed. Then on the other end of the spectrum we have students sleeping though school. By the time they graduate with high grades they forgot what hard work is. Sure, they work hard compared to everyone else but they cant reach their own potential by sitting there waiting for the slower guys to catch up.

Look for laughs at memory athletes, thanks to simple training they are able to absorb many thousands of times as much information. Look for laughs at speed reading, thanks to simple training they are able to read faster and faster. People doing these 2 sports, much like in any sport, reach a level of ability so high that it looks fake to the rest of us. Why don’t we teach this? If there is any reason it must be some pseudo academic clap trap riddled with lack of expertise about the fields. We’ve all seen them, people who know nothing about a topic but declare themselves an expert on why it cant work.

Sure, it may take a bit more time for some but there is reason to think everyone can reach what is currently considered the highest level of education.

Public discourse, the media, politics, the internet, it will all transform beyond recognition.

How about a diet that contains the necessary resources to actually build a brain? There are no real world examples of building something without the necessary materials. If food should have entertainment value it should come second to nutrition. If one skips things like exercise or exposure to sunlight we cant expect good performance. Do a blood test, take the blood pressure. It should be easy to tell if someone is growing a brain.

As we have phones and internet, teachers can be there for us when we need them. I imagine the right to study at home can be earned. If you fail the trials for some reason you have to show up at school every day of the week until the next trial.

We could argue about the amounts and age but to slap some numbers on it. Above 16 or so we can start paying people for getting educated depending on market demand for their field, as they get older the payments can increase to a decent living wage for good performance (slackers get a bit less) Then at some point a real job should be easy to find where one earns more and doesn’t have to work as hard. If people want to stay in school we can gradually turn them into teachers or homework assistants.

I for one look forwards to a conversation with average people that involves more than just last weeks media propaganda, drugs, alcohol, football, video games, movies, sex, financial drama and 1000 variations of how much [their] life sucks.

It is not by magic that those are the common topics, the media is essentially the enemy of education. Knowingly or not their goal is to keep people dumb so that they can translate things written by professionals into dumb language and sell products in the process. Opinion journalism by nature hates scrutiny. Skilled journalism successfully appeals to the most primitive of emotions to keep the audience as broad as possible. You can’t do much inside the format beyond sensationalism, there is no step by step agenda to teach you anything. You are learning about things by reading articles but any knowledge that doesn’t serve you is part of the problem not part of the solution.

The rise of useless interface design and the humanity killed by it

August 7, 2015

damn, I just remembered in the 80’s I had a clear and specific formula for UI design which I used as an argument why everything was designed the wrong way. I use to attempt to explain it to people but it fell on deaf ears. But now I can barely remember it….

It worked something like this:

Before writing one line of code one should define goals, the highest attainable order of goal is the superior choice.

The highest order is probably something like colonizing the galaxies.

To get there we have a lot of other goals to achieve. Most important of these is to minimize risk. The goal of a stable and robust society that preserves our most precious qualities.

There is no exact order of priorities (goals) but the programmer should always wonder what the parent goal is for his applications.

If the application can be used to accomplish a more generic set of goals it wont be as good as one dedicated to a single one (of those goals) but the sum of the parts may still be the superior choice.

Interface superiority comes in where a person without expertise or experience can accomplish a goal without study, education or reading a manual.

In 2015 normal every day computing we accept as normality that the user should find, chose, install and evaluate an application in order to accomplish some goal fragment of his greater goal.

Would we however flesh out a standard set of goals that people attempted to attain for hundreds if not thousands of years this find, chose, install, evaluate formula is already hurting the user interface to the point where the user doesn’t even know the goal is worth considering. You must think here (first) of incredibly basic things like nutrition, cooking, growing and finding your own food, making and repairing clothing, building and maintaining a house, learning and applying a useful skill, planning and taking notes of ones activities. etc etc The list is by no means limited to those and it should in fact include all human activities but these few make for nice and obvious examples. People dedicated their lives to each one of these activities and they did so far beyond recorded history. There is so much to learn about each one of these that one can never know it all. A sophisticated interface would start by putting these things in the users face and offer to take her by the hand and guide her on her adventure. If the goal is narrow enough the magic of interface forgiveness can be a powerful tool for success.

Analytics is a nice tool but the grand design of things should depend on those who are our most knowledgeable and those who have the most wisdom.

The importance of nutrition is not a statistic derived from the percentage of people who still care about the topic.

We should forcefully confront the user with the topic so that she may actively ignore it. Then, when a 20 second window of curiosity becomes available, the programmer should go out of his way to fit the maximum amount of valuable information into that 20 second attention span. The application should not be overwhelming but draw the user into the process. The programmer should go out of his way to maximize the users empowerment experience. We all know that good applications can do this for us.

In school I always hated topography with a passion, I thought it was the dumbest thing to memorize lists of country names and capital cities, it went in one ear and out the other. This makes a great example because I was among the most willfully ignorant students of the topic and I had the lowest grades that one can imagine. Then, much later in life, I “accidentally” installed Google earth and found myself spinning the globe in sheer amazement. Over a tiny set of very short sessions that felt free from any kind of study like qualities I came to know the countries and big cities but amazingly I even know how to find some tiny villages that captured my curiosity. I see a country fully encapsulated by South Africa with tiny villages on a mountain summit. Strange lines that look like an ancient irrigation system spanning an unimaginably huge area on the border between Namibia and Botswana. I roam around Sidney and New York using street view. I see myself look up the famous Russian village of Kolionovo.

Google earth did not arise out of tweaking an application based on user click though rates but it wraps and builds on many areas of expertise. But what is the real goal here? It seems to aim to show the world which is nice but a superior goal would be to interact with her. I could easily envision a more passionate relationship between me and my world that the kind between an actor and someone watching a movie. Lara Croft is very pretty but if she wont go out with me I will have to let her go. Sherlock Holmes seems like a fascinating guy but if I cant have a discussion with him our interaction wont attain the level of enlightenment I deserve.

In life the bottom line should not be to make as much money as possible but when designing a product one should ponder what kind of people we want to create.

The carrot and the stick are used to condition the donkey but they have as much influence on their user.

We might think that successfully controlling a character in a video game merely offers instant gratification but your influence on that character is of little importance compared to his influence on you.

Even just the tiny barrier of finding, choosing, installing and evaluating other applications accumulates to a full blown prison where the user does nothing else.

Building on what one knows he shall be more tempted to find a new game than to engage in any of the serious activities that our ancestors rightfully deemed so important.

I know I know, “fuck, I don’t know anything about gardening” but if we simply remind you it exists and offer those valuable insights when you need them a good bit of software could take all of the cognitive pain out of the process leaving you nothing but the work to do. Not even the greatest specialized expert knowns all the thousands of different onions and neither you nor him really needs to know that. It would be a fun novelty to include the data set some day but the general goal should be to have available to you a set of correct choices for your climate, soil and the amount of sun in your garden, the ways to obtain them, instructions to nurture them and of course the big question if you want to grow onions at all.

The mindless clicking around should need not be less enjoyable than playing a video game but the long term gratification and sense of accomplishment shall far exceed any amount of candy crush.

No doubt one skilled in the arts can design a dress in ms pain, gimp or blender but these applications are not going to forgive you for anything. It really shouldn’t have to involve more than measuring your sizes, picking your fabric and tweaking some templates. You may print your designs and make the dress yourself, you can email it to your mum or a professional tailor.

There is no reason why a carefully crafted application should require the user to have any expertise. Arguably, if anything goes wrong repeatedly it is always the programmer who is to blame. While they are no substitute for goals statistics and feedback are important here.

Maintaining a house is not some fringe exotic activity but in the “every man for himself” setting we end up using google to find well intended but poorly researched articles. A dedicated application would be wonderful but if one has to go find it first the “marketing” funnel will burn 99.9999% of the users of houses before installation and the features will be gawd awful.

If the icon was always there the user can feel empowered just looking at it. If his place needs a pain job it should take no time at all to learn about the different kinds of paint and if everyone is using the tool every paint merchant would want to streamline this process as much as possible. If things are rotten beyond the powers of paint there are logical steps to progress that can be illustrated and purchased. The software can accomplish much more and in contrast with a construction company it has endless patience. You can show of your results to friends and future house owners and view real world examples.

It can be hard for overworked deprived people to get into full system engineering for the greater good. Hell, knowingly or not, most people on the internet seem to aim for a world as sadistic as possible. But even if your soul desire is to exploit others you may consider giving others the means to flourish before exploitation. You may hate the idea that future generations would learn skills and obtain wealth in the end your quality of life depends entirely on theirs. The only type of joy left in the doctrine is to see others suffer.

It shouldn’t be as hard as currently imagined to have a pre-installed driving simulator that kids can use to become competent pilots of motor vehicles. Experienced drivers may want to learn how competent they really are, brush up on their skills or learn to pilot ever bigger vehicles – on land, on water, under water, in the sky and in space.

Trust me, simulators can do a lot more than teach you how to shoot people in the head or cut monsters in half with swords. Real life rewards are not looted from zombies and skills are not acquired by killing zombies for X hours. Ingame items are only valuable if you live inside the game. That might seem a silly statement but the numbers don’t lie, millions play games 24/7 only to be defeated by those who “miraculously” obtained better items, higher levels and greater skill. Things that can only be accomplished by superior dedication. Working people who dedicate every free hour to the game are left far behind and are not as easy to quantify but we can be sure they exist – millions of them. Non of these people are interested in any of those real world activities our ancestors filled their whole lives with.

The metrics, or shall we say leadership-free economic circle jerk where everyone is looking at everyone else has it-self completely convinced that gaming is the future, it is what we should invest all of our money in. No doubt we can study the brain to design the most addictive entertainment formulas. It shouldn’t be to hard to see what kind of silly goal that will accomplish in the long run.

The Walkman, the mp3 player and the smart phone already created a new kind of person, one permanently unavailable for social interaction. I’m not referring to interactions with me but interactions between all people. If the barrier is already to great for someone actively trying to talk with a person then the combined barrier between 2 such isolated people is just going to prevent the whole thing.

If applications are not designed around goals there wont be anything worth talking about.

The reason for us to talk or the goal of talking is to exchange information to aid in our survival. This isn’t as mundane as it sounds. Imagination plays an important role in shaping our vision and all these different kinds of entertainment combined with comfort allow us to dream like never before. That is until we remove the goals from the equation, then you one day wake up and you find yourself surrounded by brain eating zombies.

I welcome your skepticism and I’m sure you can find ways to disagree at least some things written here if not trivialize the whole concept. You might not be impressed by our understanding of the brain nor our ability to monitor it and obtain the statistics on how successful we are at locking you into pointless applications. You might even think that we wont make any progress in that field.

But I assure you, when we lock mankind into virtual reality it can be as potent an agent towards utopia as it can be towards dystopia. You might think you are slaying the zombies fast enough but they will slowly eat your brain from behind. Your arms extended in front of you your vocabulary will reduce to basic grunting. Even ordering food wont require any language.

Are you, dear reader, you self respecting programmer, are you a visionary or a zombie master? It is all up to you, are you going to nurture or eat the brains?