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Artificial Intelligence

The end of Jobs is Near and Capitalism as we Know It is Over



More and more news headlines and opinion pieces predict the end of jobs and the end of capitalism as we know it. The logic is simple: technology destroys more jobs than it creates. Automation is rapidly becoming cheaper and better than the labor of both blue and white collar workers, which therefore will be replaced by industrial robots and computer programs.

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The number of new jobs that are created to develop new technologies is nowhere near the number of workers that the new technologies will make unemployable. For some time, skilled workers in sectors that require creativity and a personal touch will be relatively safe, because they can’t be replaced by automation – yet. But advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) are likely to permit replacing nearly everyone with cheaper machines.

This is not a “weak signal” – a small trend hidden in the noise that some intellectual claim to have spotted – but a damn strong signal that everyone can see. The first “unmanned” factory is now operating in China, and companies are replacing stock analysts with computer programs. The end point of the trend is clear – someday in the next few decades nearly everyone will be out of a job in the traditional sense.

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“Within 10 years, we will see Uber laying off most of its drivers as it switches to self-driving cars; manufacturers will start replacing workers with robots; fast-food restaurants will install fully automated food-preparation systems; artificial intelligence–based systems will start doing the jobs of most office workers in accounting, finance and administration,” writes technology and business expert Vivek Wadhwa on The Washington Post. “The same will go for professionals such as paralegals, pharmacists, and customer-support representatives.”

All of this will occur simultaneously, and the pace will accelerate in the late 2020s.

Capitalism in the traditional sense won’t survive the disappearance of jobs.

A new version of capitalism that benefits all

CapitalismCapitalism has been under attack from the left, including left-libertarians, for decades. In his recent visit to South America, Pope Francis strongly denounced capitalism and called for a “structural change to a global economy that runs counter to the plan of Jesus.”

But calls for social justice have had very little effect so far. What changes the equation now is automation technology, which eliminates jobs and therefore destroys the ground on which traditional capitalism stands.

The question is, what to do with the masses of unemployable people. The raw logic of capitalism would suggest to let them starve, but hopefully that can’t happen in a modern society. The only viable alternative is to give everyone a guaranteed basic income with no strings attached, no ifs and no buts, sufficient for a modest but decent life. Wadhwa says:

The idea is to give everyone a stipend covering living costs and to get government out of the business of selecting what social benefits people should have.

How to implement the idea is still unclear, both the legacy political right and left hate the idea, but basic income seems really the only viable option. With basic income, many former wage slaves will become free agents with the time to pursue what they really want to do, including useful activities difficult to justify with the harsh logic of traditional capitalism, which could result in important benefits for society, difficult to quantify but important nonetheless.

Wadhwa conclude that we need to be prepared and to develop a new version of capitalism that benefits all.

Images from Spaces Gallery/Flickr and Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. Petar Posavec

    September 2, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    Creative aspects cannot be automated?

    This is too laughable.

    The ignorance of some people…

    Here’s something that might change their minds:

    Lonf story short… creativity is simply speaking connecting seemingly ‘random bits’ of data together.

    Humans take a while to get into it.

    Computers can sift through seemingly random information far faster and come up with a variety of patterns that Humans cannot even hope to match.

    And the thing is… they are doing it RIGHT NOW.

    Stop playing the delusional postponing game by trying to artificially prolong Capitalism and wallowing in ignorance, and GET WITH THE TIMES.

    Instigate a transition into a Resource Based Economy

    • ultramanjones

      September 8, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      While true on many levels, strangely enough, the “risky” careers of days gone by will become the only careers that can only be championed by humans. I am speaking of acting, dancing, singing, playing in a band, etc.

      While certainly robots will be capable of doing all of the things mentioned above and far more, people just won’t be interested in PAYING to see them perform, while the development of human talent for the joy of it, and the joy it brings to others, will still be a form of currency. If things are handled in the right way, this could be a great Star Trek the Next Generation type scenario for all parties involved. But who will pay to watch poor people dance in rags? Why do I say that? Well…

      As far as the Resource Based Economy goes, unfortunately, when the robots take over all of the jobs, the robots will not be owned by the public; they will be owned by a handful of rich families, just like the slaves of the past. Robots are nothing more than inhuman slaves. Now tell me, how did the ownership of slaves by the rich benefit the poor? It never has, and there is no reason why it will in the future unless we rest control from our Corporate Feudalistic overlords. Resource based economy is by NO means a thing that the world will evolve into “naturally” or even at all, ever. Ever heard the phrase, “Let them eat cake.”?

      Not to be hyperbolic, but Sky-Net seems a more likely outcome than industrial robots leading us to an enlightened form of economics.

      Have a better one.

      • Petar Posavec

        September 9, 2015 at 9:53 am

        This is why its up to us (the general population) to instigate change.
        When you look at things realistically, you cannot maintain Capitalism under heavy automation, because most people (the workforce) would be out of jobs in 5 to 10 years.

        When purchasing power of a sufficient amount of people goes down to minimum or 0, that’s when the collapse sets it.
        People are far more receptive to new things (such as RBE) when they lost everything they hold dear (or most of it) from the current system.

        Regarding Star Trek TNG scenario… that was actually based off Resource Based Economy – but since Roddenberry didn’t attend all Fresco’s lectures at the time, he didn’t understand entirely on how it would work, or he knew but the network executives found it ‘too out there’, so they kept various aspects from the present system.
        But currency doesn’t seem to be used by Humans in Trek – and why would they need it with all the automation and technology at their disposal?
        They only seem to use it with cultures that still use money or a currency based economy – mostly they resort to trading/barter in such situations… but I would imagine they do this mainly for good relations as opposed to getting resources (since the Federation would reasonably be creating superior synthetic materials that can be made in sustainable abundance with no damage to the environment).

        • ultramanjones

          September 9, 2015 at 6:28 pm

          Thanks for the reply to the reply. It appears we agree on much, however…

          It is unfortunate that the pushing and shoving has already been going on for quite a long time. Kind of like slowly boiling a lobster in water that starts out cold, the general population has slowly been getting more and more accustomed to their overlords. Most people have no idea who is really in power.

          In addition to this, there is a significant portion of the populace who believe that they can somehow preserve their “individual liberties” without having a strong government. It’s really ludicrous when you think about it. The government is the ONLY entity in a representative democracy, or democratic republic, or the like which has the power, or interest, to protect individual liberties. The government cannot be the enemy in this scenario, and it must be refocused on protecting the general populace, not the fat cat powers that be. But what are people arguing about and thinking about? Religion and race relations and gay rights and abortion and shit that frankly is a problem for the people themselves to figure out, through the power of civilized society. Distraction after distraction after smoke screen. Slight of hand and misdirection of thieves is all it serves to be. Allowing the real enemy to suck out the marrow of the nation in the form of wealth, jobs, influence, and intelligence. Meanwhile, hundreds of millions of Ayn Rand conservatives believe that no government is good government and throw wrenches in the gears of every positive change or labor movement that emerges. How dare we put more “regulations” on business they say. Corporations are people too. They are laws people. Stop calling them regulations…

          If we don’t realize that the fight is between the states and corporations and the states are the people’s dog in this fight, then everything will go to Hell in a hand basket long before any real action is taken, and it might just be way too late, once 1984 is all around us. Corporations are already suing whole countries through “international tribunals” and winning. What can the people do when international corporate juggernauts get people diseased, killed, raped, pillaged and exploited all in the name of profiting billions, while our only weapon to stop them is fining them a few million dollars? This is NOT a situation or world where the robots will be working for “the people”. It will take a major revolution and our chance at a peaceful one is quickly slipping away. If we don’t eliminate the current concept of corporation, we might as well start building the Death Star.

          In short, while we are fighting WITH our government, the corporate feudal overlords are solidifying their hold on international power. This includes robots. The first step is recognizing the problem. We are not there yet.

          Oh how I wish we had the intelligent population that exists in the world of Star Trek. What a dream. Call me cynical or just call me 45 years old. I jumped out of the boiling pot a long time ago and I can see from this vantage point that there are still a whole lot of educated people boiling away. Lets hope something or someone shakes the out of it.

  2. Peter Jolliffe

    September 3, 2015 at 6:26 am

    There is no question automation is going to take over more and more jobs…but seriously how can it NOT make sense to start ‘sharing’ the jobs that are left and everyone working less…there is no reason for ANY unemployment if jobs were shared…the machines could take over all the ‘jobs’ they want and all that does is mean everyone gets to enjoy working less….not tons of people unemployed while the rest are still having to continue to work 40 hours or more a week…. How can it possibly seem better to solve the unemployment problem with a UBI?

    • Martin Peel

      September 3, 2015 at 8:24 pm

      Most people do not want to work at a dead end job for 40 hours a week – let humanıty enjoy ıts tıme on the planet whıle robots do the work.


      September 8, 2015 at 7:47 am

      The UBI would be probably resulting in people choosing part-time as they don’t need to work full time to support themselves.

  3. TSRX

    September 3, 2015 at 8:37 am

    People who make this technological unemployment argument have this propensity to talk about inevitability, as if automation is some deterministic, autonomous process. The economy isn’t run by robots just yet; it’s run by capitalists, and there is little reason for them to do something that goes against their own interests, if that really is the case. Automated companies are also less flexible/agile and non-automating firms will almost certainly exploit that rigidity/inertia.

    Much of our economy could have been automated ages ago. What happened instead? Capitalists opted to use cheaper human labor. Don’t make the neoclassical mistake of assuming that capitalism is all about production and productive efficiency.

    • Martin Peel

      September 3, 2015 at 8:23 pm

      CHEAPER human labour.

      • robert

        September 4, 2015 at 1:02 am

        Labor dumb ass

        • Martin Peel

          September 5, 2015 at 8:34 am

          Labour. Learn to speak English dumb arse.

          • robert

            September 5, 2015 at 3:44 pm

            LABOR!! I live in the USA and we don’t use frog spelling unlike the stupid English.

          • Jason Reynolds

            September 5, 2015 at 7:55 pm

            Oh yes, you live in the USA. Therefore your way is right, and everyone else is wrong. Grow up.

    • Hla

      September 7, 2015 at 11:40 am

      Not only that, but if capitalists use only machines, they will not have people to buy their stuff, that is another reason why the still use human labor.

  4. Jim Brown

    September 3, 2015 at 1:11 pm

    What a pointless and uninformed article.
    The author doesn’t know what capitalism is,
    and is also not aware of the fact that capitalism
    DIED way back in the early 1900’s.
    We now live in a fascist dictatorship
    owned and completely controlled by
    a very small group of bankers.

    EVERYTHING is going to remain perverted until
    they no longer print ALL the money they want, at will.

    Search YouTube for
    Larken Rose on removing mental malware,
    Dollar Vigilante,
    The Kaiser Report.

    The small details and wacky aberrations discussed in
    this article miss the point completely.

    • englishvinal

      September 3, 2015 at 6:46 pm

      Keiser is spot on … very incisive and good. Larkin Rose wouldn’t listen to good advice and spent a fair amount of time in JAIL… (success at prognostication?)…. Jeff of Dollar Vigilante scammed a LOT of people out of a LOT of money for land that he didn’t have title or water rights to in Chile…..

      Stick with Max Keiser.

      • Jim Brown

        September 3, 2015 at 8:41 pm

        You speak as if being jailed by a group of completely
        brainwashed jurors and a psychopathic “judge” means
        that the ideas that Laken talks about are somehow invalid.
        I guess you’ve never been attacked by the road-pirates
        with badges and guns.
        I have, and it was just because I just couldn’t believe that what
        I was studying (law) was actually only a ruse used by
        organized crime to lend credibility to it’s criminal actions.
        Sometimes you need to see things first-hand before
        you can believe that it’s for real.

        And as for Jeff Berwick,
        you obviously have no clue about what happened in Chile,
        and, in any case, even if the whole thing was a scam,
        it would have zero bearing on the truth and excellent
        philosophy presented almost daily by Jeff and
        his brillant, exelent guests.

        What makes you so smart and righteous that you can
        go around slandering people who are
        actively DOING SOMETHING that
        will make the world a better place?????

        Until you have educated your self to the point of being able to
        make a positive impact on the problems that we all face,
        please only ask questions,
        and leave out your personal, (and way off base), opinions.
        They only make you look foolish.


      September 8, 2015 at 7:49 am

      I’d say that it’s the result of capitalism. More and more money concentration. Because it’s simple now, if you have money already, it’s a lot easier to make money.

  5. Anders Storsveen

    September 10, 2015 at 9:40 am

    “The only viable alternative is to give everyone a guaranteed basic income with no strings attached, no ifs and no buts, sufficient for a modest but decent life.”

    There is to much focus on the amount being low, and the quality of life it would afford being “modest”. The amount need to be set so the basic income plus the total income earned by work matches our productive capacities. There needs to be a balance.

    If we set the basic income at a low level, and there aren’t enough available work for the people the earn enough to consume what we produce, we’ve designed a failed system.

  6. Max Hernandez

    September 13, 2015 at 9:38 am

    The article misses one critical point: Human nature. There is no limit to human desire.

    Free up the time of everyone and most will find something ‘cool’ to do instead. Like invent a new product or service. Develop it. Market it. Design and program the machines to make/offer it.

    And the cycle starts all over again.

    It’s called progress. Civilization has been doing it for millennia. True, they didn’t use machines, so the cycle was much slower and more expensive. But it was still there.

    The power of ‘cool’ will save us as long as there is a free market to pay for what it produces.

    Because machines can’t make ‘cool’.

  7. Snowdog

    September 18, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    This essay is just pure biased speculation. You have no idea how capitalism will evolve. Capitalism is freedom of choice; nothing more; nothing less. Capitalism doesn’t let people starve. It lets them be free to help others voluntarily. You cannot replace creativity with a machine. In the end, we may all be owning our own machines, and pursuing our own dreams, but nothing like this can happen if you pursue the same goals that have been pursued for over 100 years through socializing the means of production.

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Artificial Intelligence

Bitcoin Giant Bitmain Enters the High Stakes AI Race



Artificial Intelligence

The Sophon, named for a fictional proton-sized supercomputer, could be the tool to train neural networks in data centers worldwide. It is the latest project being developed by Bitmain Technologies Ltd., the bitcoin mining giant that has carved out a dominant position in bitcoin mining.

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Such chips, called application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs), could unleash a new wave of distributed computing, according to Michael Bedford Taylor, a University of Washington professor who studies bitcoin mining and chips.

Sophon is due to debut before the end of the year.

Bitmain Has The Know-How

Bitmain has the background to play a role in the expanding artificial intelligence industry. The company designs the silicon that goes in bitcoin mining equipment, assembles the machines and sells them worldwide, in addition to its own bitcoin mining operation and the ones that it manages for other mining pools.

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Bitmain’s founders are not averse to playing a spoiler role.

Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, supports the New York Agreement that seeks to double the bitcoin block size under the SegWit2X proposal, a move that some in the bitcoin community view as an attempt to give the miners control over bitcoin.

Some also believe Wu was behind the recent bitcoin split known as bitcoin cash, which at least one of Bitmain’s miners supported, a contention that Wu has denied. Wu points out that he was among the supporters of Bitcoin Unlimited, an earlier bitcoin scaling proposal that did not get activated.

Why Wu Supports Forks

Wu nonetheless said splits should be allowed. He said a fork is inevitable since people in the bitcoin community do not agree on how to best scale bitcoin.

Wu met Micree Zhan, Bitcoin’s co-founder, when Zhan was running DivaIP in 2010, a company that made a device that allowed a user to stream a TV show on a computer screen.

In 2011, Wu needed a chip designer to build a mining operation and approached Zhan. Zhan first designed an ASIC to run SHA-256, the cryptographic calculation used in bitcoin, at maximum efficiency. It took him six months to finish the job. His first rig, Antminer S1, was ready in November 2013.

Bitmain felt the sting of the 2014 Mt. Gox meltdown. But by 2015, bitcoin’s price bottomed out and later recovered. In the meantime, Bitmain introduced its Antminer S5.

Bitmain now employs 600 people in Beijing.

Also read: Bitmain clarifies its ‘bitcoin cash’ fork position

Ready To Take On Google

Bitmain has since developed a deep learning chip with improved efficiency. Users will be able to build their own models on the ASICs, enabling neural networks to deliver results at a faster pace. Google’s DeepMind unit used this technique to train its AlphaGo artificial intelligence.

Bitmain plans to sell the chips to any company looking to train its own neural nets, including firms like Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu. Bitmain could build its own data centers with thousands of deep learning rigs, renting out the computation power to clients the way it does with bitcoin mines.

Professor Taylor said companies like Bitmain that have excelled in bitcoin mining could take on the Googles and Nvidias since they have developed the skills to survive in an ultra-competitive and highly commoditized industry, and have the system level design expertise and the ability to reduce data center costs.

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Artificial Intelligence

Dutch Police Use Augmented Reality to Investigate Crime Scenes



Dutch police are undertaking an experiment to see if augmented reality can help officers at a crime scene, according to the New Scientist.

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Using an AI system video from the body cameras worn on the officers at the scene will relay back to experts who can guide the officers by making virtual notes which the officers will be able to see via a smartphone or head-mounted device.

Dragos Datcu, principal researcher at augmented reality (AR) company Twnkls in Rotterdam, the Netherlands said:

We now have good enough software and hardware to use augmented reality at crime scenes.

What’s great about the new AI system is the fact that experts can get involved with what the crime scene investigators are doing regardless of where they are located.

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So by viewing the footage that is sent from a camera on the police vest, a chemical specialist in one location can view it while a forensic scientist in another location can too. The system is similar to the popular Pokémon Go smartphone game that has grabbed the attention of millions of people around the world.

Not Suitable for Making an Arrest

However, while the technology may prove beneficial in providing an extra pair of eyes for investigating crime scenes, when it comes to making an actual arrest the technology is not suitable for that just yet.

According to Nick Koeman, innovation adviser from the National Police of the Netherlands, the officers undertaking the AI system trial found the extra information distracting.

Of course, some may simply say that ensuring a complete team is at the scene of a crime would be more beneficial for an investigation; however, that is not always possible due to budget cuts and time constraints.

As such the use of an AI system that can cut down on the number of people involved at a crime scene without sacrificing on the required thoroughness could potentially provide the answer that many police departments are searching for.

Not only that, but by reducing the number of people at a scene it cuts the potential possibility of contaminating evidence. The use of AI gives people the chance to assess the evidence and discover additional clues without being at the crime scene.

AI could also help in court cases by helping to recreate a scene for a jury, but as Michael Buerger, professor of criminal justice at Bowling Green State University in Ohio states, legal challenges are likely to raise when augmented reality (AR) is used in the courts.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Artificial Intelligence

Apple Patent Reveals Siri-Assisted iMessage P2P Payments Platform



Apple has filed a patent application for a “virtual assistant in a communication session.” On first glance, application 14/713,410 might scare developers of chat bots and the like, but Apple is specific in the scope of their claims – Siri, their virtual assistant platform, will be able to directly communicate with either user in an iMessage conversation and then be able to act on the instructions given. The other participant of the conversation will not see messages intended to Siri, nor messages sent from Siri to the user activating her. This is somewhat different from current implementations of chat bots and virtual assistants in chat programs, in that the classical chat bot for, say, IRC, would be accessible by most of the users of the chatroom.

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Siri Sharing Location Information Between iMessage Participants

Source: USPTO

Siri will also be able to privately give information requested of the other party, even if the other party has not provided it. In the above image, Siri lets the user know that everyone will arrive within five minutes, clearly flexing the GPS data available to her from the other user’s iPhone. One would assume a massive update to the iMessage user agreement will be necessary, and the privacy implications of voluntarily allowing an AI to be involved in every conversation are clear. However, as shown, the default is for the user to give permission for their location information to be shared. If Siri is ever compromised, so too could every conversation on the famously secure iMessage protocol.

Siri Scheduling Meetings Between Participants

Source: USPTO

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However, Siri is not involved in conversations until she is summoned. She is added as another participant when the user summons her or, presumably, adds her manually. As seen in the image above, she can schedule meetings in addition to her other functionalities. However, perhaps most interesting, and most appetizing for malicious hackers, is the prospect shown in the below image. Users who have their financial details linked to their Apple account (which is to say, most or all users) are able to send money via iMessage at the stroke of a message.

Siri Faciliating P2P Payments in iMessage

Source: USPTO

As you can see, Siri suggests giving the funds via cash, likely due to the small amount. According to the patent application, Siri first figures out what options are available to both party, and then presents options. Both users appear to use Bank of America and Paypal, but Siri recommends cash. Both the illustrations and their descriptions in the application make it unclear which option the user selects, although the logo to the left of the success message indicates that cash was, indeed, used. Also shown are some security features in the actual sending of funds, including a thumb print scan and password. One would assume that Apple Pay will play a role in all this, and speculation has abounded that the new platform is meant to rival the Venmo system.

About a year ago, reports were in circulation that Apple and banks were discussing the implementation of such a system, and indeed this patent was first filed over a year ago. Presumably it will see ratification within the next year or two, supposing that other major AI developers like Microsoft choose not to contest it on some of its broader implications.

Microsoft and Google would surely oppose paying patent licensing fees to Apple in order to instantiate their own AI peer-to-peer payment systems, and for the most part, the patent application seems to indicate that Apple would then have sole dominion over that field. Therefore, with numerous dogs in the fight including Cortana, the future of this patent and/or the platform itself (failure to acquire a patent would not prohibit Apple from creating the platform, necessarily) is still very much up in the air. More is sure to surface in the coming months, and Hacked will keep you posted.

Images from Shutterstock and USPTO.

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