Beyond the Cusp

April 16, 2018

Congress to Take On Facebook

 

Actually, Congress will be taking on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Instagram, Vine, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, and the Internet generally. They are addressing it as the problem that Facebook had the information of thousands of accounts used by another company. But this exact same exchange of personal information had occurred in exactly the same manner with a similar company without any big brouhaha coming about. Why all of a sudden is this an emergency to repair what is being described as a catastrophe? Well, that is easy to explain. The former use of Facebook information by forecasting company who advise political campaigns worked for President Obama and his two Presidential campaigns. This time the company which used the data also worked on a campaign, the wrong kind of campaign, for the campaign of President Trump in the last election. That became a criminal act as it worked to aid a candidate who does not desire to grow government fast enough for the political heavy hitters’ proclivities. These heavy hitters behind our politics do not hold office; they hold the office-holders. These are the people who fund the campaigns of almost every incumbent unless the incumbent did not dance to their music, then they finance the party’s choice in a primary challenge. These are the people whose names many would never recognize unless we sit on the boards of any of the Fortune 500 companies. These are the people that control those boards by the same means that they control our political parties and the Congress and often they have undue influence on the person in the Oval Office. The problem is they have no control over Donald Trump simply because he is the maverick from amongst their group, otherwise he would be one of such people.

 

Congress is now coming to the rescue of the presumed hoards of people demanding that their private information be protected from such misuse as happened when the Facebook information was used in predictions of where the Trump campaign dollars would have the greatest effect and may have assisted his victory. People are absolutely jumping out of their easy-chairs and calling their Congress critters demanding they act. Actually, there are very few people who even care after the initial fabricated uproar over the fact that a Republican used the same methods Democrats use to assist the effectiveness of their campaign. How dare a conservative compete on a level playing-field, do they not know they must campaign in the dark and not use any such predictive information, especially when it came from liberal people’s postings on Facebook. This is the story that Congress is playing out in the media to explain that they are on the case and they will pass legislation which will now protect people’s information on social media, especially Facebook. The Congress is going to do what Facebook had already warned people is something beyond their control. How can Congress pass any law which will make Facebook and other social media perform a function they have already warned is beyond their ability? So, let us take a slightly less cursory look and dive just into the shallow end of this entire situation.

 

Social Media Icons

Social Media Icons

 

Facebook warned people when they opened their account in their use of service contract that there was no guarantee intended or implied that anything you placed on your account, regardless of the level of privacy you may choose, was not secure and could become public and should such occur, Facebook was not liable in any way, shape or form. Hopefully nobody was shocked or surprised by this revelation. We know that the people who wrote the code for every piece of the social media were not idiots. They likely were amongst some of the brighter people in computer coding and their understanding of the internet and networking and all other things related to these fields. They are definitely far more proficient than any member of Congress and probably more knowledgeable than the entirety of Congress combined as well as the bureaucrats who will write the resulting regulations to fulfill the legislation the Congress passes providing President Trump is ill advised and signs the bill. Still, eventually there will be a President who will be more than willing to shackle the Internet and assist any Congressional legislation through which they will actually end freedom of speech on the Internet. Do not mistake the broad and wonderful sounding words about protecting your information and making the Internet safe and your information safe because they are not even able to prevent others from breaking into the most protected networks the government uses and they have been unable to protect your information they collect and have in the multitude of government networks. The breach into the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) was one of the seventeen largest computer data compromises in history, and they are going to protect your information on social media, right! From the article The hackers’ access was so extensive that U.S. officials said they think it is “highly likely” that every file associated with an OPM-managed security clearance application since 2000 was exposed. That was twenty-two-million people’s information stolen from a secure government database. We found other Federal Government data breaches with some of the worst being these three Department of Veteran Affairs with over twenty-six-million exposed, U.S. Voter Database where one-hundred-ninety-one-million exposed, and National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) had seventy-six-million made vulnerable. For a further list of breaches of Federal Government databases including the State Department and the White House can be found here. I feel much better now that the Federal Government means to secure my data and not the Federal Government desires to secure the Internet from information and other items they find troublesome.

 

The Federal Government has desired to sink their claws into the Internet and grab it by the throat and throttle it such that they can have control over what is allowed onto the Internet. The United States bureaucracy has salivated at each time there came discussions over perhaps finding some means of controlling the Internet which most often took the form of some form of net neutrality for the Internet. This was the idea that every source on the Internet would be required to present both sides of every subject and if they had articles or editorials which preferred right or left wing ideas, then they would be required to have a near equal number of the opposing side or they would be prevented from posting any more articles. This was to be something they were going to force the Internet providers to monitor and enforce. The main means which was often suggested was that the providers were to respond to complaints of lacking objectivity or too heavy a preference for one-sided political commentary. The reason for the enforcement based on complaint was simple and obvious, there would be more complaints against conservative bias than liberal bias which has been proven through previous imposing of net neutrality styled requirements which resulted in liberal imposed censoring. These previous discussions in Congress were heavily opposed by the Internet providers who simply all made the same claim, such an imposition would be onerous and result in their refusing service to all forms of societal and political opinion and news coverage in the Internet simply because otherwise they would need to hire an inordinate number of people to handle such requirements and simply refusing to carry such sites would be the only result. This, they claimed, would rob them of much of their paid usage and virtually all of their free sites. We will now admit out of fairness, BTC would be one of the sites which would be considered problematic and our ability to post and be carried in the United States would be terminated, and since our service provider is in the United States, we would be refused service under the ideas Congress has previously discussed. This discussion in the Congress, they will claim, will be different, they are simply going to make sure that social media will secure your information.

 

So, how can the government, particularly the Federal Government, guarantee to make your information on social media secure? Well, that is what is the interesting item, because the Federal Government does not do anything, they require other people, organizations or businesses to do things. The only thing the Federal Government produces are vague pieces of legislation which begets thousands of regulations produced by a myriad of bureaucrats. This is where we need to investigate what any Federal Government action to guarantee the security of your private information on social media would produce. First, it would put a scare across the Internet with many falling into a great panic with much hyperventilating and excessive flailing of arms while running around screaming, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling.” Then there would come the glum predictions of horrific changes and possibly the death of the Internet or at least social media. Eventually the screaming and running would end if for no other reason, people do eventually tire. Now would come the calmer and reasoned discussions with the wisest heads saying that the best approach would be to try to influence the regulations through lobbying and other means. As the regulations would be presented, the most important reactions would come from the Internet providers and the stockholders of the numerous social media providers. As the reactions to the regulations came in to the different agencies and pressures were applied to members of Congress and the department heads, then the different regulations would be adjusted, revised, retracted or doubled-down telling those complaining to just live with it. When each regulation was hammered out and reached the just live with it point, then the Internet providers and social media providers would have to find some means of meeting these requirements or closing up shop and thus avoiding culpability. Depending on what the consequences are for any and every data breach will be applied, some Internet providers and social media providers would choose to simply pay the price for such breaches and adjust the cost to their advertisers and members accounts which would very likely result in the end of free web sites and social media accounts. This would result in Facebook and the other social media providers losing much of their membership and people would be resorting to e-mail or even turning to some new system which uses radio networks which replace the Internet thus getting around the regulations being imposed on the Internet. There also is the long rumored Internet II which has had whispers for years about it being used by a limited privileged people who received invitations for Beta-testing and has thusfar not been brought to the general public. Even if there is no actual Internet II, should the Internet we currently utilize be overly regulated, then one can bet that a second Internet styled web will be developed and brought into direct competition.

 

Now for what is the most probable result of Congress deciding to make the Internet safe for the people and with guarantees that your information will be kept safe. First item is that no matter what regulations are pressed on Internet providers or social media providers, there will be very little actual changes as business is business and business has always found a means to minimize the problems, interruptions, complications and costs of regulations by some means as business only succeeds by providing their service or merchandise at the lowest possible price and with the minimalist imposition on their target customers. The quickest and easiest means for any business concerning the Internet to minimize the effect and interference of regulations will be altering their terms of service such that they warn that they will not be held responsible to protect you the customer or the advertiser from whatever ills the regulations try to make them be held responsible. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media already indemnify themselves from being legally responsible for protecting the information which you post to their service. They will probably need to adjust the wording and may even need to have every user actually check the box claiming that the new agreement has been read and understood and found to be completely acceptable. That done, they will continue with business as usual until the next time there is an uproar over some conservative leaning company, institution or candidate utilizing the personal information gleaned from social media sites demands that such an unforgivable usage of liberals’ information for political use other than those which they agree with politically. For those who claim that an equal uproar would come from the right or conservatives over liberal or left wing political entities had used stolen Facebook personal information, allow us to point out that the reason that there was a need to use presumed hacked information was because the left has been having access to just this information and was used by Barack Obama in his Presidential campaigns and there was no screaming. Perhaps there is only one regulation to end this entire potential invasion on the Internet, make the information available to all who request such and not just to those with whose politics those controlling the information agree. The only problem with that idea is that it would cause even louder screaming, as that would permanently level the playing field. Actually, it would cause quite a deal of lawsuits demanding access to information and long drawn-out appeals such that the case continues until the election has passed. People controlling information will always do whatever it takes to make sure that only those with whom they agree politically have access to said information as information is power and those holding power wield it to their own advantage, and that is life.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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August 16, 2017

Wrong Answer to Google Political Correctness

 

The new Kurt Schlichter article in Townhall titled Conservatives Must Regulate Google And All of Silicon Valley Into Submission was just wrong on so many levels and we just had to have our say. We just could not see how any honest conservative would call for government to correct what is a problem in a business situation. We are supposed to believe that competition and profit motive takes care of any such situation. The real solution is to compete using our own better business and fair practice openly competing to rectify any such problems. Using the sledgehammer of government to rectify the slide leftwards by Google, the Facebooks, the Twitters and presumably much of Silicon Valley would be exactly the kind of acts by progressives which we have spent much of our time fighting and complaining over. His first sentence states, “Google’s fascist witch-burning of an honest engineer for refusing to bow down at the altar of politically correct lies was the final straw, an unequivocal warning to conservatives that there’s a new set of rules, and that we need to play by them.” Nope, that is not the answer. The answer is for conservatives to enter this market investing capital and establish a competing company which either provides a right leaning response in that market, or better to provide a truly neutral centered market response where people can find straight answers to their queries or have honest discussions without censorship by the company providing the platform. That is the conservative answer.

 

Kurt Schlichter stated the conservative approach was to allow profits, and competition would take care of such problems. His claim then that, “For businesses, one obligation was to generally stay out of the cultural and political octagon,” may have been an old rule but political neutrality has not been true in many businesses for quite some time without people demanding a political solution. One prime example is Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream who have been extremely left supporting with their actions but there has been no demand for any government intervention as there are many other ice cream vendors where conservatives can buy such products thus avoiding adding to the profits Ben and Jerry’s owners can use on leftist campaigns and causes. His next paragraph gives the crux of his argument stating, “But the Woke Weenies of Silicon Valley, flush with cash, power, and unearned smugness, decided that they just couldn’t keep on the sidelines and make their money. No, they had to make change, as in, changing us. They violated the most important of the old rules – they chose a side.” So they decided to choose a side and work to minimize the conservative message which supposedly cripples the conservative message. The answer, let us state it again, is for conservatives or another entrepreneur to enter the market and compete by providing a better and more honest or a conservative effort, thus providing options for consumers. Yes, granted that competing against Google, Facebook, Twitter and let us even add in YouTube, would be a difficult and challenging prospect and would require finding some means of advertising campaign to get a leg up and then allow competition lead them to gain popularity and a reputation. Complaining that these companies are flush with cash and have the advantage of an established consumer base and in order to level the playing field, government intervention should be used to force these companies to play in a manner conservatives would find appropriate. Let us look at some history in the same arena of the Internet when a company called America On-Line, better known as AOL, had a near monopoly on e-mails, gaming, chat rooms and dial-up modem connections which might have appeared to be overwhelming. AOL did run into competition which eventually led to Google taking over many of these areas and then came numerous free e-mail providers and Twitter and ICQ took over chat with a better system and before you know it, within a couple of years and AOL was fighting for its survival. Why would this be any different? Yes, these companies have everything going for them but as Kurt Schlichter points out, they are making a business decision which might be a shaky and problematic decision. This should indicate an opening for new competition which could establish a foothold and then work into direct competition by offering a better and more equal product. That would be the answer.

 

Kurt Schlichter even pointed to another area where the vast majority of those within this area have taken a leftward position, the media and entertainment industry. He also pointed out that the conservatives managed to make entries and had some established companies which grew their audiences as a response to the leftward lunge by especially the news media and opinion in print media through talk radio and establishing conservative competition. That was the correct message he should have used for this situation as well. There was a time when all there was in news media on the air television were ABC, NBC, CBS and a few scattered media systems as well as local stations. Then came cable television and ninety-nine channels and even then the vast majority of news and opinion remained left leaning. As cable became more affordable, the demand increased for variety and even international news broadcasts became available and we soon had five hundred channels and an array of choices which was unbelievable when compared to what we used to have just a decade or so earlier. Today there are cable companies and satellite television where there are a thousand channels and when adding Internet television the number of channels will soon be virtually uncountable. There will be thousands of channels and while you surf there will be nothing worth watching, or so we will often still complain there is nothing worth watching. Again, technology and advancements produced an environment which permitted sufficient room for competition making the playing field even and everybody had their opportunity to try and be heard. If they offered what people enjoyed, they succeeded.

 

The Internet should be the place where this would be true for any service and if the current Silicon Valley companies desire to take a leftward lunge, then perhaps it is time for some group of startups to build a wonderful area where the weather is nice and start employing those programming engineers and technicians and mathematicians and other related fields required to build competing companies perhaps in or around the Myrtle Beach area (see image below). This could start just what will obviously be required to remedy this situation, not government regulations. Kurt Schlichter wrote, “Yet they still expect the same laissez-faire treatment as any other business even as they try to gut us politically. They discriminate against conservatives,” and they should get exactly that, as should their competitors. He adds, “See, what leftists do not get is that principles are part of systems,” which is why they should be easily competed against as they offer a less and less diverse product.

 

Myrtle Beach

Myrtle Beach

 

Kurt Schlichter then uses the argument of, “the period after feminism demanded total female social equality with men, but men still generally picked up the check. That imbalance cannot persist forever; eventually the people on the other side feel like suckers, so they stop playing by the old rules. That’s when the new rules arise,” which is exactly the solution here. The new rules need to be social and in competition and not in rules put in place by government. Then Kurt Schlichter takes a sharp turn back to having the government intervene with, “And that’s why conservatives now need to savagely regulate companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter. We need to use our political power in Congress and red state legislatures to incentivize Silicon Valley to return to a system where its companies embrace political and cultural neutrality, or suffer crippling consequences.” That is wrong, wrong, and so very wrong. Then he admits the problem with his argument but stands on it again, with, “Yeah, I know that heavily regulating private businesses is not “free enterprise,” but I don’t care.” Additionally, I just feel like letting him make the argument and then refuse to demand we simply compete stating, “they didn’t keep their part of it, and I see no moral obligation for us to be played for saps and forgo using our political power to protect our interests in the face of them using theirs to disembowel us. I liked the old rules better – a free enterprise system confers huge benefits – but it was the left that chose to nuke them.” And then we get, “Well, size matters, and Silicon Valley’s giants are just too darn big. Time to chop them up like old Ma Bell. Let’s apply the antitrust laws that were made for taming just these types of octopod monopolies.” Ma Bell is a false flag as there were companies attempting to compete with them but the government granted Bell a virtual monopoly. While despite the government using the Silicon Valley services, they are not granted a monopoly and there is no prevention of competitors to step up to the plate and go for the big one, the home run of toppling one of these companies with a better product.

 

Closing, Kurt Schlichter makes recommendations including, “So how about the Algorithm Transparency Act, a law that bans these big Internet companies from putting their fingers on the scale of discourse and requires them to make available online all of their operating algorithms? Yep, that would give competitors a peek at their intellectual property, but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for transparency.” I do agree with his last line which reads, “Like I always say, you’re going to hate the new rules.” True, we would hate any new rules as we would rather there be less rules. Our argument for such things will always be competition, competition, competition. As far as making their algorithm opened up to competitors, no. Once there are competitors who come up with competing algorithms such a law would become a double bladed sword and counterproductive as their algorithm would be their advantage. We are sorry Kurt Schlichter but we have to claim that the proper answer is to out compete by giving the people an honestly fair and even product which simply provides the best answers regardless of the political slant and allow Silicon Valley to go as far left as the Democrats and become unusable by the average American or the people of the world, we need remember that competition on the Internet are international so really the competitors could set up on the Riviera or even in Israel where the talent for such a start-up is plentiful.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

September 16, 2014

Realities and Deceptions of the Living Wage

There have been demonstrations and protests spanning the United States often by workers of fast food restaurants demanding that governments, either local, state or Federal, enact laws setting the minimum wages at fifteen dollars an hour. They carry signs calling their demands for either a minimum wage or a living wage, both calling for wages to be set at fifteen dollars, the one consistency of these obviously organized demonstrations. The coordinators behind these protests have remained obscure though the best bet is that the labor unions are in the background somewhere pulling the strings for their own benefits as often union wages are keyed to the minimum wage thus a sizeable increase in the minimum wage would also push union wages skyward as well. But what are the ramifications should such minimum wage or livable wage demands be met? Would it be the panacea providing the workers with the cornucopia they appear to believe their demands would produce or would there be catastrophic and unexpected ramifications should their demand be realized? Perhaps some news from futurists and leading edge robotics news might shine some light on the potential future should these demands come to fruition.

 

Recent robotics news predicts that many fast food restaurants will soon be completely or predominantly automated needing few if any human workers as all of the cooking and cleaning would be performed by robotics. They even predicted with the advances being realized in artificial intelligence (AI) that there will soon be robots operating the checkout and cash registers in many retail outlets replacing humans in supermarkets as well as fast food restaurants. Any serious rise in workers’ salaries will only drive these changes to automation and robotic workers that much faster. You want an example of higher wages driving automation one need look no further than the automotive big three and the other car manufacturers. The worker salaries continued to climb and their benefit packages also rose considerably in the middle of the twentieth century and this spawned the demand and implementation of robotic assemblers, welders, painters and virtually every other position on the assembly line even to the point of robotic carts delivering the parts as needed from the storage warehouse using just in time delivery. These parts in the warehouse are also placed in their respective storage bins by robotic carts who take the components often from robotic assemblers, welders and fabricators. Some of the most advanced car factories use five to ten workers on the assembly lines and in parts production and line parts supply where the entire operations used to require fifty people or more on each line. The impetus for automating the production of automobiles owed some of the urgency to the rising cost not only of workers who were necessary to produce the products but also the rising retirement packages making every employee now a life-long financial demand which was rapidly driving the auto industry to bankruptcy, and for some manufacturers it still is. There are some who define General Motors as a retirement and healthcare provider which happens to occasionally produce and sell vehicles to the public. The real question is when the AI programs will reach the point where robots will be capable of replacing salespeople, especially those on commission who are actually incentivized to provide the customer with polite and helpful assistance. Some prediction is such a day will come before many of us think, who knows.

 

Back on January 24, 2009, we posted an article titled <a href=http://wp.me/pIou8-7f> Socialism; Right Idea, Wrong Time</a> which predicted that the future would eventually reach the point where employers would be forced, or decide prudently on their own, to replace as many if not all workers with robotic and AI systems as they would prove to be less expensive and more productive. Some friends took that article rather poorly and sent e-mails and other more personal communications stating so, though none cared to leave their notes to be used as comments. Many of our closest friends decided after some time not to question predictions as that would mean making a counter prediction of their own. Either way, the reasons behind the Google data tracking which records every search wording and the web locations chosen by each search in order to attempt to fashion an AI program that closely matches the functions of a human brain is due to the plans, predictions and guidance of futurist Ray Kurzweil, likely one of the most famous and accurate futurist and genius on the face of the Earth.

 

The sole complaint I have regarding Mr. Ray Kurzweil is that he sees only the good and positive side of the potentials of advanced AI programs and futurist programs that he is the driving force and visionary directing the direction of the extensive efforts by Google to gather data on everything people do and the data they produce. Google is far from alone in these efforts and they have teamed with Microsoft and also have arrangements with many sources of data permitting them to gather all kinds of data produced in numerous ways which are sourced such as credit cards, power consumptions, driving habits, travel habits, vacation preferences and other data they receive either through contracts or through providing services which also gather the data the futurist cooperative of computer and internet companies have formed. Also partnered in these efforts includes General Electric, Yahoo, Cisco, HP and Motorola among others not to mention the numerous start-ups and established companies that have been swallowed up by Google and Microsoft. The one item which makes this futurist project cooperation, especially when the data available to the partners in these ventures is coordinated and compiled, is these futurist in the conglomerate effort have a silent partner which provides them with data beyond most companies’ wildest dreams is the Federal Government of the United States. The future is rushing towards us mostly unseen and unknown to the average Joe, but rushing forward at light speed it is. These demonstrators are simply giving more companies the impetus and a financial reason to join with those who are producing tomorrow today to quicken the pace even more. Where I am unsure as to whether these groups should be trusted as it makes little difference as the conglomeration of futurist companies are moving full speed into the future, and they are not using a Delorean or any flux capacitors, though they might invent one if such a capacitor could exist and have whatever the properties they were presumed to have in the movie (which was not actually well defined). Perhaps this is why I tried to avoid using Google search, but then they went and bought or gained access to virtually every search engine which actually produces usable results. If anybody knows of a Google free search engine, please enlighten us. Thanks in advance.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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