Beyond the Cusp

September 29, 2015

Social Fabric is Being Torn Apart

 

The social fabric since the urbanization caused by the industrial revolution has taken the majority of mankind out of a rural setting and thrust us into a more urban environment. The question which should be occupying a large part of those pondering the future is how will our society adjust the social fabric when approaching one third initially and within this century well over three-quarters of what we consider now as the workforce not only not having gainful employment but no opportunity for employment as more and more occupations are performed by robotic systems. In a recent study Oxford University researchers have forecast that machines might be able to perform half of all jobs in the United States over the next two decades, and by implication the same will be true for the rest of the Western and Industrial nations and beyond. Once robotic workers are capable of executing an occupation, that occupation will be on a fast track to making the human employee a luxury, no employer will be capable of wasting further investments and instead will automate or perish before the competitors who have automated their workforce. Our societies throughout the world will need to adjust to a permanent unemployable class which will far outstrip the active workforce projecting sufficient tax revenues no matter what the taxation rate to support the remainder of society. But do not fret as the price of production and delivery of most goods will be delivered at a great savings which will continually become more efficient and less expensive to produce.

 

One example I recently read of compared the human workers to a former workhorse which powered much of our production either by providing the raw power or was at least required to bring the products to the public. This power and transportation utilized animals such as plowing with an oxen or mule, horse drawn wagons transporting goods from production to the consumers and any other animals mankind once relied upon. In our modern age the sole use for animals is recreation or as a raw material such as sheep for wool and food, cattle for food, dogs and cats as pets and so on with the animals no longer being used as a source of power within modern and industrialized societies. Where the horse drawn wagons and carriages were commonplace on the city streets of New York, Washington D.C, London, Paris and across the world; now a horse within the city limits for transportation is relegated today as some form of recreational use normally reserved for tourists such as carriage rides offered around Central Park in New Your City or central tourist areas in London and Paris and so on. This has caused a drastic drop in the horse population where they have become something that relatively wealthy people keep for their own use and the noble steed has passed its use-by date. The most telling replacement was made painfully obvious when at the start of World War II some of the finest cavalry troops saw their last in the Polish Army until January 27, 1947, when the 1st Warsaw Cavalry Division was disbanded. The initial breakout of World War II saw the attempt to use horse cavalry, as pictured below, in the field against German tanks; one can guess the end result was not too good for the cavalry.

 

Polish Uhlan cavalry armed with the wzor 35

 

The use of machinery initially to aid and augment human workforce was the driving technology of the industrial revolution. Power was initially provided by draft animals or water powered systems some of which have been found dating back well before the Industrial revolution to the Roman Empire. Eventually animals were replaced with steam engines followed soon thereafter by more efficient engines such as the internal combustion engine and also the use of electricity to power the factories using electric motors. Whatever the use in the modern factories of the industrial revolution it could be traced back to either hydropower or petroleum and natural gas powered electrical generators or direct use of fossil fuels as in trains, planes and automobiles. The terminology often used to describe the current stage is the information age though one could make an argument for the full utilization of programmable mechanisms. Such systems can trace their history back to the card operated weaving machines which often were water powered used in the making of cloth fabrics. With the development of the microchip we have seen an explosion in the variety of automated machines and had their size drastically reduced and made more agile and adaptable. These robotic units can be programmed or taken through a routine by a skilled operator and then allowed to simply repeat the process it was ‘trained’ to perform. Electronic automating has taken leaps forward to a point where virtually any manual task can be performed by an automated system even to the point of self-driving automobiles, buses, trains, trolleys, trams and other conveyances. Modern airports have installed moving floors to remove the necessity of having to actually walk to your terminal to board or disembark your flight. The exacting standards can and will be facilitated, and will only become more versatile in material and intricacy, as 3-D printing continues to be developed and integrated into the modern, fully-automated factory with robotic employees and a minimal human presence to basically monitor operations and hit the ‘stop’ button in case of, what will be made less common, an emergency or breakdown. What is frightening is there are robots being developed which would facilitate the repair of such a breakdown.

 

One thing I can attest to from my own work experience is that the printed circuit integrated boards have reached a level of sophistication and the manufacture of the integrated circuits made so affordable that the vast majority of these boards, or even modules, are less expensive to replace the entire part of the unit and send the malfunctioning board to be recycled or even destroyed (in an environmentally sensitive manner, of course). One industry which has turned to automation in a big way has been the automotive industry, both in their products and the assembly of the product (pictured below). The muscle of a robot is one of its major benefits as it never tires of doing its assigned tasks, never takes a break, is rarely ill or out of commission, does not complain and is very efficient. The latest addition to the productivity and versatility of the robotic assembler is that the software is almost to the point where a robot will be fully capable of replacing the majority of service jobs as well. In the future there may well be some upscale stores which will offer their patrons a level of service advertised as the most personal service one could expect, and such a boutique would actually have real flesh and blood people. What will be amazing is those people may even approach the efficiency, attentiveness, level of service and any other category except for speed and acute knowledge of the entirety of products available but otherwise just as good service as one can get from an automated shop. The basic for such a machine requires a special set of electronics which will have a microprocessor board which will contain any number of required CPUs (central processing unit), Memory ICs (both read/write and worm, write once-read many), support data ICs holding the AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the various switching, logic gates, and drivers (all of which look a lot alike to the chip displayed below). The current form of Artificial Intelligence in a robot can take many various forms each with their own special abilities and limitations. Some you might choose to have around the home to do the cleaning and be a walking-talking data base to provide information or even take your selfies and post them on Instagram, Facebook or whatever is the latest and greatest once we all have our personal assistant. (see below)

 

Modern Automotive Robotic Assemple Line

 

CPU Central Processing Unit Integrated Curcuit

 

 

Robotic Personal Assistant and Augmentation Suit

 

The predictions are that humans as a part of the workforce will be limited to personal touch niche and specialty markets but manufacturing will be fully automated within the next fifty years. Some of the effects of just sending many manufacturing plants overseas have had a huge debilitating effect of employment and pay scale of average incomes. Additionally, the United States has faced this drain in particular and it is not simply the income of the workforce which has driven many manufacturers overseas but rather the additional restraints and extra costs of making many products which drove them from American soil. The cost of pollution controls are quite stringent by comparison to the near nonexistence of such laws and restrictions in China and other markets. Taxes are another driving force pushing these jobs overseas. One has to realize what the extra costs with compliance with all the labor laws, inspections, building codes, noise limitations and the additional costs of employees with the new addition of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) which in and of itself has produced an expected quirk as far as new hires in the United States. Where part-time work for people employed from twenty to twenty-nine hours per week has increased measurably, some estimates place it as high as twenty-five percent with the average assessments placing it at approximately twenty percent but on the other end. Full-time employment figures have not only not increased as well but in most assessments has dropped approaching five percent. College graduates can expect lower starting wages with many even working in their field starting at below fifty-thousand dollars a year. This is after at the minimum of four years at an average cost of over one-hundred-thousand a year for room, board, books and other supplies and fees. There are also a record number of college graduates who have been forced to accept employment in other fields and at positions which do not require a college degree, and we are not talking about those who majored in Renaissance French Sonnets of the Sixteenth Century.

 

The coming explosion in robotics will be from two perspectives. The first will be the rapid advancement of AI (Artificial Intelligence) to levels where one would have some degree of difficulty determining if they are speaking with an actual person or a computed employee, basically a telephone operator robotic unit. There is work being done now that has computer programs that write the codes for use in robotic systems. There are cad/cam software programs which enable the computer to design the systems to meet specifications using modular designs which are becoming as complex and intricate as anything produced previously by human beings. The truly frightening thing is that we may soon have robots designing and programming their own improved models and able to implement the manufacture and production of their improved design. This also implies that robotic systems in the not too distant future will also be capable of rewriting their own software and improving themselves for their own purposes. Once the machines begin producing more powerful and more capable machines and are capable of writing the programs allowing these improved robots the ability to supercede the level of competence of the initial robot we will have, as the human race, made ourselves superfluous placing us beyond the cusp and onto the endangered species list as we will have just as much relevance to robots speaking their own invented language and, who knows, inventing their own programming language which will completely shut human kind out of the formula. Let us hope the robots of the future find us to be cute little humans and get a good laugh at the humans posting their exploits on the internet. The robots are coming, the robots are coming and many of them are here already and they are assisting the government in watching you.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

October 21, 2014

Upcoming Midterm United States Elections, a Slightly Different Look

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Who is ahead in the different races depends on the state and even on the political leanings of the news or talk shows one follows. If you go to polling it gets even more confusing. Not only are the polls often slanted depending on who ordered the polling but it also depends on what the subject the poll is covering. Here are a few examples from some polls. A CBS poll recently showed that fifty percent of those responding said the Democrats are the party that “cares more about the needs and problems of people” while only 34 percent chose the Republicans. Meanwhile, the Republicans have a nine point lead concerning the economy, an eleven point lead on foreign policy and a twenty-one point lead on addressing terrorism in an October CBS poll. So, who wins; the party of the people or the party which appears to be more competent? These numbers are nothing new as often the Democrats have polled well on sympathy and feeling the people’s pains while the Republicans historically win on foreign policy and confronting threats from the outside world. The fact the Republicans are polling slightly ahead of Democrats on the economy is not nationally definitive enough to be applied to every race. The probability is that in the traditionally Democrat leaning states the Democrats will probably poll even or ahead of the Republicans while in traditionally Republican states the Republicans will poll ahead. The place where that mere nine point lead for the Republicans becomes evident will be in what is often referred to as the ‘purple’ states where the parties have split the wins between them would thus likely give the Republicans a slight lead on the economy. Unfortunately that may not transfer to votes as there is also the personality of the candidates as well as the effectiveness of their campaigns and whether there are third party or independent candidates on the ballot and from which side they will draw away votes. Libertarian and Constitution Party candidates tend to take more votes from Republicans while Green and sometimes Libertarian Party take more votes from the Democrats. But other than their campaign, their affability or their campaign commercials and use of media and social networks, the most important determining item will simply be which party gets the voters to the polls, period.

With this year not being a Presidential election year, the national party machines are operating but there are far fewer volunteers and fewer funds for them to make a large determining difference. This means that it will be up to the State and even more local party machines and the candidate supporting campaign staff which will make up a significant part of the get out the vote efforts. States with Gubernatorial elections this election will have more party influence than those without. What makes these midterms so difficult to make predictions is because there is no real enthusiasm evident in the electorate and it is very possible that both of the major parties will suffer from miserable voter turnout and thus calling the elections near impossible. There will be some states where polling data is so skewed to one candidate that there is almost no challenge to picking the likely winner short of an unseen stumble where the leading candidate is caught in a criminal act or other compromising situation. They do not even need to actually be guilty as that will depend on a court of law, but such accusations can sway the court of public opinion and that is exactly what elections are, the court of public opinion choosing those they feel are less guilty of potentially bad leadership. That has been the truth in all too many elections in the United States in recent times where people are literally trying to choose which evil is less harmful. Some have gotten to the point that they have finally refused to vote for the lesser from two evils and they refuse to ever again vote for evil no matter how slight. These voters are demanding the parties to put forth candidates who are capable of leading and representing the people with integrity and virtue. This might even lead to making a third party or independent candidate to have a real possibility to take elections and possibly change the American political landscape once again. Perhaps it is time for a new political movement as the last great movement was the Abolition Movement which birthed the Republican Party and the Whig Party was laid to rest. The more likely bet is that the two major parties have so slanted and poisoned the election laws throughout the United States that it has become next to impossible for any third party or independent candidate to make the ballot, let alone have any funds remaining should they manage to make ballot, and trust I know from where I speak. This is really a sad problem as this may prevent a new direction to be proposed and placed before the American electorate and instead continue forcing them to choose between two toxins, progressive Democrats who want to double the size of government every decade, or the progressive Republican who wishes to slow government growth so that it doubles only four or five times each century. Since both the major parties are in favor of growing government and the sole difference is exactly the rate of growth the American people can rest assured that over time the Republicans will seem like the Democrats of a few decades back while the Democrats will be breaking new ground which the Republican will fall in love with a few decades hence. Should this trend not be reversed soon the United States will continue in decline and only accelerate with time.

Beyond the Cusp

November 22, 2013

Obamacare Working Just as Actually Intended

Everywhere you turn on the media, be it news coverage, late night entertainment, Comedy Channel faux news or virtually any talk show, you are hearing all about the failures of the Obamacare rollout and how literally thousands, hundreds of thousands and soon rumored to become millions losing their health insurance coverage largely because their current policy does not meet the stringent government mandated standards. Virtually everybody is treating all of the litany of disasters which is becoming the standard for all phases and measures of Obamacare as if they are either unintended consequences, results from measures which were mainly caused by miscalculations, overzealous application resulting from no clearly defined standards, or simply put none of the problems were intended, planned, foreseen or desired. Well, perhaps the media has gotten this as wrong as they have virtually everything else about President Obama and his entire agenda from their initial praise and infatuation with “Hope and Change” without even bothering to question Hope for what and Change what and how. Perhaps all of the problems with Obamacare including the disastrous computer site “healthcare.gov” with its cycle of having far more down time than operating normally, if anything with that site can be referred to as normal, has all been part of a delicately balanced, fully flushed out, intentionally plotted and insidiously nefarious plot and plan to destroy the entire private healthcare and health insurance industries in order to get to a completely different kind of healthcare imposed on the American people.

 

Believe it or not, but the entire Obamacare system with its thousands upon thousands of regulations, many of which are unfathomable to any sane person, is designed to ruin the health insurance industry initially and then, as a result of possibly the majority of Americans being forced from their present insurance coverage into the government provided insurance through the exchanges, placing a plurality if not majority of Americans on government provided health insurance and thus place their healthcare decisions under the thumb of government bureaucrats.  The initial proof comes when one considers the required coverage that must be included in from even the most basic plan all the way to the most expensive so-called Cadillac plans. Why must every insurance plan cover birth control pills, breast exams, prostate exams, prenatal care, and a complete list of either gender related items or age specific items with no exceptions even for single individuals whose gender makes such coverage ridiculous, not simply superfluous. There is but one logical reason to have a long list of gender, age and other very specific coverage to be required in every insurance package for it to be acceptable in the President’s plan. The Gender specific requirements would never be necessary for either one gender or the other yet they are still demanded to be in even plans for single adults. Age specific requirements are placed as requirements for insurance plans for all ages. Even items that have such a low instance of occurrence in certain age groups or either gender as to make it required makes no sense and which would seldom if ever be covered in any regularly issued health insurance plan has been included in Obamacare to make sure that the vast majority of health insurance policies in some way do not meet the specific and stringent required coverage demanded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Healthcare Act thus making them unqualified and thus their holders become uninsured fulfilling  the plan is to force all, or at least the vast majority, of these victimized people onto the government exchange insurance rolls.

 

What comes after such a large number of Americans are forced onto the exchanges and government regulated and run health insurance? Well, these plans are still backed by the health insurance companies but not all of those who were eligible to participate actually chose to pick up such coverage. The insurance companies who will underwrite the exchanges will likely find that payments will be delayed, contested, and eventually regulated so that the payments are made more affordable for the government when reimbursing the payment for care given. These companies can expect bureaucratic snags and the government contesting prices and other monetary remunerations and these insurance companies will soon find that their repayments have fallen so far in arrears that their very ability to make a profit will be in peril. Eventually the government will push many of these insurance companies into bankruptcy. Once this situation has made it so that the health insurance companies have refused to remain in the government system then the government will take over the responsibility for payment for all healthcare for those people still on the exchanges. With the government not being the most efficient system known to mankind, eventually there will be sufficient backup in making payments that hospitals and physicians will either end up financially destroyed or leaving the system and practicing on a cash only system. The government will make that illegal as soon as there are sufficient physicians and hospitals working independently from the now government healthcare payments and coverage that putting these renegade healthcare providers completely out of the system and business or begging to be reincluded under the government plans. This will cause sufficient boondoggle that the repayment of fees for coverage that the entire system will collapse under the weight and tangled inefficiencies and healthcare will be in complete disarray.

 

When this situation becomes dire enough and unworkable through planned obstructions to remuneration and payments the people will demand that the government do something as the healthcare system will truly be broken. That is when the salvation that will be offered will actually be the formalization of the very system that caused the problem, a single payer healthcare system under the auspices and whims of a fickle Federal Government. Once there healthcare will never return to anything even remotely close to the quality and quantity of healthcare which has been the benchmark of the American healthcare industry. Americans can forget any research producing new drugs, pioneering surgeries and treatments being formulated and perfected in the United States, efficiency which is among the best in the world or new innovated diagnoses. What can be expected is long wait times to see a physician, even worse wait times to see a specialist, delays in receiving surgery, managed care, refusal of care if deemed too expensive or risky by government agency which has no physicians or other healthcare workers on the committee, general delays in all forms of treatment eventually reaching the point that if one has the flu they will receive care within two or three weeks, eventually months, after they have completely recovered. If all of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, pick whichever name you prefer, has not been discarded into the waste-can of lost causes totally repealing every aspect, every regulation and any other vestiges of this approaching intentionally designed and engineered disaster then we will be telling our children and grandchildren about the time in the seemingly distant past, though it will be only a very few years, when sick children were taken to see a doctor and be treated within hours or maybe a whole day and receive possibly lifesaving treatments and be healthy and outside playing even before we get to see a doctor these days. I hope no parent or grandparent ever needs to tell their sick child such sad and unnecessary stories, especially as an explanation of why they are still suffering from some formerly easily treated illness. The entire disaster in the making that is the plan behind Obamacare must not be allowed to claim future lives, especially of innocent children. This is an emergency intentionally being perpetrated on the American people who do not deserve such a threat to their healthcare and personal health.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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