Technogedon?

Hello,

I watched a video that, I think, was meant to scare me but instead it confused me. Not its message but its lack of solutions. Here’s the video.

But Eric I don’t want to watch the 15 minute video

Fair enough. Here’s a quick explanation on what you’ll see. The human world is on the precipice of a revolution the likes we’ve never seen. Robots and robotics are at a level that they’re either affordable enough or close to affordable enough, to replace 25% of the workforce.

They talk about four tiers of work and how they can be replaced with robots or machinery of somesort. The biggest being transportation. Self-driving cars are already better at driving then all but the best human drivers. Then there’s retail which has had things like automatic checkouts and online shopping for years.

They go on to talk about computer programs, which they call bots in order to be thematic, which can effectively fill in reports and replace most paper pushers.

They then talk about Watson, a self-teaching computer, that is attempting to create the best possible doctor replacement program.

The last is a vague attempt to tell us that creativity isn’t solely a human trait and we are working on robots that can do the same things we can.

The moral seems to be that change is inevitable and that we are completely unprepared for the robots taking our jobs.

It’s important to know that all this technology exists and it’s not science fiction, or speculation.

Technophobia?

The first reaction I had to this was, “OH DEITY! OH DEITY! We’re all going to die.” Totally reasonable right? Well not really. All this technology exists and is getting cheaper and easier to use and may replace all the jobs mentioned. That’s what it is, by the way: Technology, not bots nor robots etc. Your vending machine is a machine, not a robot.

The Oxford English Dictionary says a robot is “A central European system of serfdom, by which a tenant’s rent was paid in forced labour or service”… Oops wrong one. It says a robot is: “An intelligent artificial being typically made of metal and resembling in some way a human or other animal”.

So no, robots are not rising or trying to destroy us. Yet!?

But my Job

The technology may exist but there are two things you need to remember about them “taking” your jobs.

The first is simply fear. People are slow to adopt new technology. It takes time. Think about electric cars, they are completely usable and not to much more expensive but it’s taking a long time for people to adopt them. Same will happen with self-driving cars, unfortunately. As a person without a license, I’d love a self-driving car. As for the rest of the technology, it will take longer to get rid of retail employees only because most people prefer to buy from a person. Especially large or vanity items.

The second is stupidity. Machines are only as smart as their programing. There are some self-programing machines out there but they’re expensive and difficult to make. Anyone who’s tried to use speech-to-text software, or tried to use website autobuilding software knows that it’s not as simple as it seems.

Between fear and stupidity, it’ll be a while before we see robots replacing most jobs.

However, if you’re a Pay Phone repair man, you might look into another vocation.

What about when it does happen

Some jobs will disappear. That’s natural, I haven’t seen a town crier in a while.

The video is right, we’re not ready and I don’t think we should be. Technology changes quickly, and occasionally we adopt technology faster than normal, like cell phones. Trying to guess what the next big boom will be and where it’ll come from is fun but not worth serious effort.

It will happen, jobs will be automated, and people will lose their jobs. I think the first and hardest hit will be transportation probably in the next 25 years. But that industry is also going to need to change anyways due to Climate Change and evolving technology.

If it happens as quickly as the video (fear mongers) suggests, it would have devastating consequences on the world economy. If a quarter of the developed world’s population lost their jobs, the economy would screech to a standstill and that technology would become too expensive to upkeep and after a hard couple of horrible decades we’d find a balance. (yay uplifting!)

Ok, but what can I do?

Enjoy your job while you have it. Unless you want to become one of those survivalist nuts that have a bomb shelter in the woods with years of supplies etc, there’s no way for you to tell what will go first.

I’d assume the safest jobs would be in hard sciences, engineering, or leisure. They’ll be the last ones fully replaced. If you’re super terrified become a Physicist, Engineer, or Party Planner. Could be an interesting unified field theory.

Bottom Line

Hehehehe, Bottom!

Seriously, though. If you can think of a good way to help 45% of the population losing their jobs, tell someone. No, tell everyone!

Do you have a plan for when technology makes your job obsolete?

Eric

Related: Speedy Locksmith in Boulder CO.

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The Cosmic Cuckoos – Short Story

While some children dreamt of candy, school, or some other mundane thing; Helen dreamt of the stars. Not literally the large balls of gas but of everything that was and could be between them. She’d curl up, with a blanket, on her parents’ balcony and stare up wondering what was waiting for her up there.

As a lanky, tomboy her high school years were spent ignoring the cruel words of her classmates. She didn’t like school despite the fact that the teachers said she was brilliant. She didn’t try hard and passed most of her classes with a B average. She didn’t care. She knew the stars were coming for her.

There was one classmate that didn’t tease her. Abby was Helen’s best friend despite the fact that they had nothing in common, other than space. While Helen read books about space written by Asimov, Bradbury, and Clark, Abby read about space from authors like deGrasse-Tyson, and Hawkings. They agreed that there must be life on other planet and spent nights with a telescope discussing what they’d do if the aliens visited earth.

It was on one such night at the end of august, when the nights were hinting that they would get cooler soon, that they saw what they thought was a shooting star. The night was calm and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. They had the most beautiful view of the universe. It was one of the few perks of living in a small town.

Jumping up to the telescope, Helen looked through the eyepiece and aimed it towards the falling star. “That meteor is really close.” Helen was excited as she listed off the measurements on the telescope and even more so as they calculated where it could have landed.

“That’s no more than a few hours away,” Abby said with awe. They had calculated that it must have fallen in a certain radius that started a couple hours of driving on back roads.

“Let’s go!” Helen yelled and ran through her parent’s room and down the stairs before Abby had a chance to argue.

“Be careful,” Helen’s mother said as they left the house. Abby’s mother would have freaked out and forbid them to leave at this time of night but Helen’s mother had spent all of Helen’s life confused and trying to bond with her only daughter. She didn’t understand her daughter but she tried her best to be encouraging. That meant if Helen wanted to run out of the house at eleven at night, she’d make sure the girl had a cellphone and knew she could always call for help.

The mother and daughter looked nothing alike. Helen was tall and stick-thin, with dark honey coloured hair and a brownish skin with high cheekbones that hinted that she may have native blood. Her mother was a short and rotund white woman with bright red hair. It hadn’t been a surprise to Helen when her parents had first told her she was adopted. She’d never been curious about her biological parents. They weren’t important to her. Only the stars were.

Helen had had her licence since her seventeenth birthday, a week and a half ago. This was the first time she’d been happy that her parents had forced her to get it as soon as possible.

As Helen drove, Abby used her tablet to pinpoint where the meteor had come down. If they had lived in the city it would have been easier to find. Everyone would have been talking about it on twitter but here in the middle of nowhere, everyone was either asleep, watching tv, or drinking at Pepper’s, the popular girls party. It meant they had no help in finding it but they didn’t have any competition to get there first either.

There was a little chatter on some astronomer sites and a few groups online but no one seemed really that interested. With the estimated size of the object being no bigger than a large RV and it’s entry into the atmosphere the meteorite that they would find couldn’t be bigger than a tennis ball. It didn’t matter to either of them. It would make a great souvenir.

They had a lot of trouble finding the impact site. It wasn’t like in the movies were half the forest would be squished and fire was everywhere, practically pointing to the impact site. It took them almost two hours of searching before they found what must have been the impact site.

It was tiny, the crater was no bigger than a dinner plate. “There must have been a lot of water or it broke apart,” Hele was disappointed. Despite the small size of the crater she kept the car lights on the place and got out of the car in hopes of getting some part of the rock that fell from the stars.

With her eyes on the ground she didn’t notice anything odd about the area until she heard a hollow banging noise. Looking over to the side she saw a woman with a pipe or tube that was as long as her arm. She wielded it like a sword. Lying at her feet was Abby.

“I’m sorry we didn’t mean to trespass, did you kill her?” Helen was caught between the urge to run away and the urge to defend her friend.

“No of course not, I’m not a savage,” the woman said and stepped toward Helen. The woman’s amber coloured eyes glowed in the dark. Other than her eyes she could be Helen’s older sister or Helen in a few years.

“Who are you?” Helen asked all worries replaced with wonder.

“I’m your mother and I’m here to bring you to the stars where we’ll rule as queen and princess of the galaxy,” The woman stood up straight trying to look regal.

“Really?” Helen’s heart beat quickly, her dreams and fantasies were coming true.

“Of course not, why are we always so gullible?”

“You’re one of over three million in your clone batch. Our people are horrible parents so we leave our young with parents in backwoods worlds. You’re of age and it’s time to bring you home.”

“What’s going to happen to me?”

Looking annoyed the woman sighed and said, “You’ll be re-conditioned, implanted with the knowledge you need and then placed where the Superiors deem you’ll be most useful in the war against the enemy.”

“No, I’m not going,” Helen didn’t want to have her mind wiped. Or fight in any war.

“Oh for Grell’s sake. You’re not my last stop on this planet. I don’t want to deal with this,” the woman pointed her pipe weapon at Helen and with a soft sighing sound Helen fell to the ground.

The last time Abby saw Helen, she was being dragged into an invisible ship but no matter how many times she told people, no one believed her.

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Artificial Gravity

The movie Lucy has me thinking about science and science-fiction. If you haven’t heard about the movie here’s the trailer.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVt32qoyhi0&w=560&h=315]

The premise is flawed. Ridiculously flawed. It got me thinking about other concepts that are flawed or that seem out of place.

Artificial Gravity

This is a normal trope for Science-Fiction space shows but it’s rarely based in science.

Some, like Babylon 5 or 2001 a Space Odyssey, use centrifugal force. (That’s when you spin something to simulate gravity.) However most will hand-wave the technology away and just say they have some sort of way of creating a Gravity Field.

Star Trek has gravity plating in its ships. It creates a gravity field that can be adjusted.

The obvious reason for this trope to exist is simplicity. TV and Movies don’t want to spend millions of dollars creating realistic anti-gravity and audiences want to see their hero’s walking and talking like normal. In stories, it simplifies the storytelling. You don’t have to look into how people and objects would move and it’s less alien to a reader.

But take the concept one step further. If we could control gravitational forces with such ease, why hasn’t anyone applied the tech to something else like weapons, flight tech, or space travel?

A gun or grenade that could control the gravity around an individual would be devastating. Increase the gravity by ten times from 1g to 10g in a second, you’d seriously hurt someone and probably kill them.

The problem with most science-fiction worlds is that Artificial gravity is incongruent with their level of technology. With the artificial gravity of Star Trek, they could easily have created artificial and collapsible black holes. Think how devastating that would have been as a weapon.

In less violent fashions, if they can get the plating to apply in reverse to their ship, they wouldn’t need more than a tiny push to get off planet. They’d be able to nullify the effect of gravity on their ship and float off into space.

 

There are various other pieces of Science-Fiction that are unbelievable or incongruous. What’s your favourite?

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Hal the Sun Speaker – Part 5

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My wife and I have bought a house and are in the middle of moving and setting things up.

Since I don’t want to neglect you any more than I have, I’ll be posting a multi-part story. It was recently rejected by an anthology but I plan on resubmitting it.

I really like this story. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

Start Reading at Part 1

free-wonderful-space-sun-wallpaper_1920x1200_84536

 

Read moreHal the Sun Speaker – Part 5

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Hal the Sun Speaker – Part 4

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My wife and I have bought a house and are in the middle of moving and setting things up.

Since I don’t want to neglect you any more than I have, I’ll be posting a multi-part story. It was recently rejected by an anthology but I plan on resubmitting it.

I really like this story. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

Start Reading at Part 1
sun-07

 

Read moreHal the Sun Speaker – Part 4

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Hal the Sun Speaker – Part 3

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My wife and I have bought a house and are in the middle of moving and setting things up.

Since I don’t want to neglect you any more than I have, I’ll be posting a multi-part story. It was recently rejected by an anthology but I plan on resubmitting it.

I really like this story. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

Start Reading at Part 1

sun-earth-eclipse

Read moreHal the Sun Speaker – Part 3

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Hal the Sun Speaker – Part 2

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My wife and I have bought a house and are in the middle of moving and setting things up.

Since I don’t want to neglect you any more than I have, I’ll be posting a multi-part story. It was recently rejected by an anthology but I plan on resubmitting it.

I really like this story. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

Start Reading at Part 1

PIA03149

Read moreHal the Sun Speaker – Part 2

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Hal the Sun Speaker – Part 1

Hello Imaginary Friends,

My wife and I have bought a house and are in the middle of moving and setting things up.

Since I don’t want to neglect you any more than I have, I’ll be posting a multi-part story. It was recently rejected by an anthology but I plan on resubmitting it.

I really like this story. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy!

800px-Giant_prominence_on_the_sun_erupted

Read moreHal the Sun Speaker – Part 1

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Calculating God – Book Review

Calculating Gob by Robert Sawyer has an interesting premise. Aliens believe that Earth’s fossils could help find proof of God.

Robert Sawyer is a Canadian Science Fiction Writer and Futurist. You might have seen the name when you watched Flashforward on ABC a few years ago. He wrote the book, of the same name, that the show was based on.

I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Sawyer after he gave a talk at the Museum of Science and Tech in Ottawa. He’s an engaging speaker, which that comes through in his writing. There are science facts and ideas that could have been dull but he managed to parse them out and make then interesting.

Below is my review. For more information on how and why I review books read my post here.

Characters

Sawyer’s characters are always interesting. They always feel well rounded and real. This book isn’t an exception. Each character is believable and likeable, even the aliens. The only exception is the villains they felt like an afterthought. It felt a little shoehorned in and they were a bit boring.

For characters, I give it 4 out of 5

Writing Style

Sawyer has a unique writing style that is understandable and educational. He makes even controversial or heavy subjects interesting. Unlike some hard sci-fi authors, I don’t get the urge to look up every fact to see what he means. He explains it that someone with my limited science background would understand.

He has a wonderful way of combining dialogue and facts. I find it makes a reader feel like they are having a discussion with the characters.

I give it a 5 out of 5.

Story

Most of the time I feel that the discussion in his books, doesn’t overwhelm the story. In this case, despite the strong characters and the great premise, I find that the story felt like a vehicle for the philosophy and science rather than a counterpart.

I give the story a 3 out of 5

Fun

The story was bare bones but the character interactions were highly entertaining. Lines like, “Take me to a Palaeontologist.” Make the book enjoyable.

Another rare and wonderful thing about this book was its lack of judgement. Whenever a book discusses God, I expect to get a lot of defending for one point of view. Sawyer never pushes one point of view over the other. It was unbiased, interesting, and informative.

It’s not the first book by Sawyer I’d recommend friends to read but it’s certainly a lot of fun for those who are interested in the philosophy.

I give it a 3 out of 5 for fun

Overall

Final score is 75%

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Armstrong 3 – Part 2

You might remember the Armstrong 3 from this Word of the Day story.

***

It had been two years since Angel and the others had set off on their mission to explore space. The crew of the Armstrong 3 had yet to meet any intelligent life. They’d discovered a native space creature that the crew nick named the Space Manatee but no intelligent life. If it wasn’t for Alina Pierre, the biologist and botanist, Angel would have been extremely uncomfortable on small ship with the four other men. Angel was a small woman who had trouble staying still; she had graduated from flight school at the age of fifteen and won the assignment to the Armstrong 3 when she was just seventeen. It was just a few days before her nineteenth birthday and she was feeling restless.

“What’s wrong Angel?” Alina spoke her name with a French accent which reminded her of home.

“I know… but well when I volunteered twenty years out in the black didn’t seem so long. Or boring for that matter.”

“I can understand but we have discovered over a hundred new life forms since we’ve left.”

At this statement Angel wrinkled her nose. “Yeah but except for the Manatee they’ve all been microscopic. I’m sorry but I’m a pilot and a weapons expert, microbes don’t really make life interesting for me.”

Before Alina could reply the captains voice rang over the loudspeaker. “We have an unidentified object forty degrees to starboard. All hands to your posts.”

Standing Angel smiled and ran out of the garden bay saying, “Finally something interesting.”

* * *                                                    

“We have the object on camera sir” said Sidney Smith, his black hair still ruffled from sleep.

It was roughly triangular with semi circles jutting out, and made of some form of polished metal.

Everyone was silent as they beheld what could only be a craft or probe made by intelligent creatures.

“Sid, try contacting them, try all frequencies and send the universal greetings.” said the captain.

Accessing the pre-recorded greetings in every known human language, Sidney turned and asked, “You don’t actually believe that they speak any of our languages do you?”

It was at this point that Angel walked onto the bridge and took her post. She nodded at the captain and gasped as she looked at the object. It was slowly turning a reddish colour and the point of the triangle moved to point in their direction.

“Sir, I’m getting an increase in energy on the ship, they’re either powering up engines or weapons.” Sidney sounded a little tense.

“You can’t tell which?” asked the captain and Sidney shook his head, “Evasive manoeuvres Angel let’s make sure we’re out of their way whether they’re trying to leave or fire. Make sure to keep playing the greetings, they might get the message eventually.”

The small triangular craft followed them as Angel moved the ship to avoid attack. It was more manoeuvrable then the Armstrong Three. The craft fired on them four times in quick succession and Angel managed to avoid all but one.

The captain ordered them to fire back and within moments two missiles were flying out towards their new enemy. The two missiles collided with the ship, exploding on impact. The blast left small amounts of debris and a lot of questions.

To Be continued…

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