Beyond the Cusp

June 28, 2017

What Political Message Have Elections Taught?

 

What we need do is to seek out what politics or which politicians invigorated their electorate and the means and methods they used which proved more effective than the others did. To do this we need to look at elections of the Twenty-First Century starting with George W. Bush and ignoring third party candidates, as that has been the way of things. In the 2000 election, we saw George W. Bush running against Albert Gore. Both of these candidates are so exciting that we can refer to one as watching grass grow and the other as watching paint dry. When it all was over it came down to divining the desire of voters and hanging chads and a Supreme Court decision calling the circus to a close with the winner according to the final count before the bell rang being grass growing, George W. Bush. So, this was politics as it had been in the Twentieth Century, a form of politics which died in this century as it no longer plays in the climate of reality TV such as naked survival, alone in the worst climates on earth and we are waiting for the how long can you stay in a viper pit without being bit, losers are buried. How far is television from the Roman Colosseum?

 

The next election in 2004 we saw George W. Bush running for reelection against John F. Kerry. The most interesting item in this election also kind of explains who won and why. John Kerry’s middle name does not really start with an F, or it starts with an F, ends with an F, and is one letter long which is an F. John Kerry was running for the Senate in Massachusetts and decided that having the initials JFK would really help him sound more like John Fitzgerald Kennedy and gain some of the shine and famous recognition using the same initials as the most popular figure in Massachusetts politics. So, in his normal fashion of faking it, he faked three serious injuries for which he required Band-Aids to get three Purple Hearts within four months which he wrote up the recommendations himself and that got him sent home early, so adding the F to the middle of his name was child’s play for this faker. So, this was an election between grass growing and a liar and a fake who nobody believed or really trusted so grass growing won again, only bigger. Again, this election was old school and boring and nothing to see there either.

 

On we go to the 2008 elections and finally the start with the new age of American politics. Here we have a contest between Barack Hussein Obama and John Sidney McCain. John McCain was extremely competent in carrying on the Republican Party technique of being grass growing, and he did it extremely well, much to his detriment. The Democrat candidate, Barack Obama, was fireworks and all about the politics of you. This is where you are defined by policies which excite the younger voters as if they are excited with your policy positions, they will volunteer and climb the Himalayas if that is required to win. And unlike former generations where the young were not interested in politics, the latest couple of generations are all about policy and politics. They are idea driven and can be caught up in a good campaign if it makes them believe. Barack Obama had the idea of the first Black President which got the left wing all a titter and ready to make history, and for the older voters, it was the making history and proving they were not racist. But the youth, though exited by the mantra of first Black President, required much more. The youth needed to know what it was that Barack Obama was going to stand for and what drove him and were to be his policies. This was where he hit it out of the park. For the most part candidate Obama was whatever you wanted to believe, that was his love too. President Obama was the master manipulator of the thoughts of others. His eloquent and smooth delivery and the wording left everyone painting their own picture onto a blank canvas. Barack Obama masterfully would talk both sides of every issue he talked about leaving the listener to decide what they believed and then it appeared that so did Barack Obama. He was noncommittal talking in double circular ovals and squiggly lines leaving everyone assured that yes was maybe while no was why not and all of it was but wisps of smoke which when one finally emerged dizzied and befuddled they would soon decide that what they heard had to be what they wanted to hear and thus Barack Obama was all things to all people. There were those who realized that he was not standing for anything and they tried to call attention to the con-game being played by Barack Obama and you will never guess what they were called by the mainstream media. You might think they were called, “Racist,” but that would be exactly correct. Any discontent or criticism of Barack Obama was labeled as racist and bigoted thus being able to simply deflect any criticism and parry truthful accusations not allowing anything negative to be applied thus we witnessed the initial settling of the whole of the media with the smallest of exceptions aligned as the supportive propaganda arm for the Democrat Party. So, in the end we had a contrast between watching grass grow against a three-ring circus advertised as the greatest show on Earth. Guess which won. Nope, no watching grass grow, this time that lost and lost big. But do not let that shake the Republican Party because in 2012, they gave us watching grass grow once again in the form of Mitt Romney and got a repeat performance of 2008, they lost. So we had Barack Obama two in a row using excitement and selling political positions or the appearance thereof.

 

So, here we come to 2016 and all kinds of insanity. The Republicans came out with seventeen candidates. One was Jeb Bush who had more campaign funds than all the rest of the candidates combined. He was such a great example of watching grass grow that he never got past the first couple of primaries. The remaining candidates were various types of grass growing, some latex paint drying along with enamel paint and some good old oil paint drying, one serious former CEO, one world famous neurosurgeon and a circus barker. The nice thing was all of these candidates talked their best on policies and were pretty much all the same; well, except the circus barker who had policies mixed with ridiculous statements and tone of controversies. Guess who won? You got it, the circus barker won.

 

Meanwhile, over at the Democrat Party there were only two candidates, one was a traditional candidate and the other a wild eyed, far left, older politician who often screamed out policy positions and really wound up the young supporters and he was excited right along with his youthful supporters. This was an interesting primary where the wild, screaming policy-wonk started off really slow but caught fire about one-third the way into the primaries and with plenty of time to close. The standard and favored candidate started fine but bogged down in malaise and lack of feelings and absolutely little to no policy positions. Actually, this candidate spent much of the time fighting accusations of mishandling e-mails or misconduct of different varieties which questioned their character and trustworthiness. The wild leftist was closing and the supporters were getting wildly excited thinking they just might have a chance to win it all when the word came down, there were even more super delegates which consists of Senators and Representatives from Congress, members of the Democratic National Committee and notable Democrats, including such as former presidents and vice presidents and Democrats of note. This came to contain sufficient, apparently, numbers to assure that the conventional candidate wins because the Democrats already had their rallying cry, elect the first woman President.

 

The Democrats had zeroed in on one of the things which had won for President Obama, the theme of being the first Black President, thus Hillary would win as the first Woman President. They ignored the excitement the youth had for what they believed was a candidate who understood their concerns and knew the policies they desired. The Republican candidate who was cast as a clown and a carnival barker by the media, virtually all media uniformly could but laugh at candidate Donald Trump. So the scene is set, the stage lights on and the show begins. The campaign was one which was more incongruous, bizarre and incoherent as any we have ever witnessed, including the one in which we were participants as third party candidate for the District Eight in Maryland’s Seat in the United States Congress.

 

In this one, we had Hillary doing her best possible job of character assassination against Trump while he left the candidate assassination to the media and the realities of her history. Trump also relied on the media to carry his talking points as he mixed them with outrageous statements. The barker did do one thing different, and that was he talked purely message and positions on the economy, immigrations, terrorism and rebuilding the country to lead the free world again and he stuck with that message at every campaign rally which he did almost constantly. The other spent their time accusing the other of being unserious as a candidate who did not deserve to be President while she was due the office as the first Woman President plus she had done all the right things to be owed the Presidency. There was one report which nailed the reality and why Donald Trump won and this theory was, those who supported him ignored his Tweets and listened to his positions while the media ignored his positions and believed his Tweets.

 

Conclusion time for what does it take to be successful as a Presidential candidate in the Twenty First Century. The simple way to put it, you need to concentrate on message, message, message. The youth vote is the secret as they are also the volunteers which can carry a campaign. The youth in this generation realize that leadership of the nations, and possibly the world, is important and that it is your beliefs and positions on critical themes such as the economy, foreign policies and interactions which includes immigration, foreign interventions and the wisdom and what reasons it would take to cause the United States to send troops, what one would do in any situation which required an American response such as if a foreign nations crossed a “red line” or threatened an ally. These are questions they want to hear about but they also have some dangerous ideas themselves. Many youth still are in the grips of the socialist, anti-authoritarian, anti-capitalist, rejectionist theories they were pumped with by their professors in university.

 

Many have not experienced sufficient situations in life to understand the long-term effects of some of their favorite pet policies. The most dangerous of these is fighting income inequity which they were told is a great evil. There is an easy way to point out the destructive effect of this idea, and that is to compare a ditch digger (which will soon be a robotic position along with almost all minimum wage positions) with a surgeon, we like to use brain surgeon. These positions would never be considered to be worthy of receiving equal pay thus are two positions which contain a huge income inequality. Much of income inequality is driven by knowledge, experience and responsibilities. These students have been told of CEO’s who make millions of dollars a year for making obvious decisions, or at least that is the way it is presented and their professors love to point out how the students themselves could make these same decisions given the opportunity. That is a lie as these professors have little if any idea what decisions managers make and there is a simple and necessary policy about managers. Managers need to earn close to or preferably more than those they manage and a CEO manages people who make six and seven figure incomes, make decisions which concern billions of dollars, make decisions which effect thousands of employees and with one swipe of the pen can cause ten thousand people to be fired or two thousand to be hired, all this also decides the health of their company. Often you will hear of a CEO who comes to a company, fires one third of the employees, closes three of the seven manufacturing plants, ends all but four of the company’s products and loses one-billion dollars the first year and only makes three-hundred million the next year and was lauded as a genius. This CEO was brought back to his company and where we may have a few points slightly wrong, the losses and gains in profits are accurate and the man saved the company, his name was Steve Jobs and the company was Apple.

 

What sounds like a failure may be an intelligent realignment as the slimming of a company to make it more competitive. Another person may have added employees and appeared to grow a company by making twice as many numbers of the same products but as sales collapsed that year he was a disaster. Another myth is that companies are in business to employ people. Wrong, the company is in business to make profits for their stockholders and that might require automation and reduction in workforce as McDonalds is in the process of trying to do. This idea of a $15.00/hr. minimum wage sounds wonderful unless you are seeking a starting position job because compared to current jobs, almost half of minimum wage jobs might disappear should the minimum wage be jumped by so much. Raising the minimum wage simply prices any number of jobs right out of the job market. How does that happen, don’t the companies have to keep somebody doing that job. Well, yes, and let me give you a great example. We will assume we own a shoe store which has a decent business and we have four full time sales people and five part time sales people and a stock person who also sweeps the stock room, vacuums after the store closes and keeps the stock room straight. Now some goody-goody decides to up the minimum wage by fifty percent. Well, now one of the full time sales people, the one closing the store which will often be the owner who will run the vacuum and clean the bathroom and runs the stock and there is no longer a stock person. We would also let at least one part time sales person go, the one with the lowest sales average and possibly one full time sales person and the owner would work opening to closing and might have their wife or one of their children work some hours when business peaked around Christmas. Now how did the raising of the minimum wage help the stock person? Are they making more money or are they making less.

 

What will almost doubling minimum wage do? Things have consequences and many of these consequences are not taught in university, they are learned in life and life is a very demanding instructor. Those of us who are fortunate never have life teaching them many lessons; those are truly blessed people who need to be thankful for their life. Automation and robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems are going to alter the job market drastically and the higher the minimum wage is placed the faster many jobs will disappear. For a good example one need look no further than auto manufacturing. There used to be near to if not over one hundred people on an assembly line which made maybe twenty cars a day way back when. Now there are less than twenty people on an entire assembly line including sub-assemblies which we did not count in the above description and these lines can put out twenty cars an hour and within the next twenty years the number will drop to under ten and even five while even more cars will be produced. This is reality and as we know the ATM machines led to less tellers at the bank and the ones there are usually bored stiff and many banks have management level people who are also assigned to do teller position work when volume required such. Also, ditch diggers have been replaced by a backhoe, twenty diggers, gone. This will become true for every job even to lawyers and auditors as AI takes ever-greater powers.

 

ATM vs. Bank Teller

ATM vs. Bank Teller

 

Some jobs have been altered drastically by modern technology. Auto mechanics now must be trained on diagnostic equipment and specialized tools and how to handle electronic ignitions and make adjustments through programming the modules in the engine and elsewhere. Wrenches, well they are still required as are screw drivers but hammers are a thing of the past, well, not completely, just do not get caught adjusting anything with a hammer if you like your job. Trains no longer need anyone to drive them as they are becoming automated, even the subways as they modernize. There will soon be automated trucks driving the roads and there will be automated cab drivers and in our lifetimes, we should live the necessary twenty to thirty years, all cars will be automated and selecting human driver will have your car emit a signal and do not be surprised if you get additional scrutiny by police just waiting for you to make a human mistake. Eventually driving a car will be illegal which will make life interesting. Your windows will be computer screens which can show you anything except where your car is going, as they do not wish to scare you to death. Fully automated roads will have no traffic signals and the cars will speak to one another and miss each other by millimeters and it will presumably be safer than it is now. Things are going to start becoming unrecognizable and for many our age it already has. When the AI gets to the point that it can design the next generation AI and can design the manufacture of the next generation AI we had best practice our best puppy dog begging eyes and being really cute as our place will be as the robot’s pet. Hopefully somewhere they will place in the robotic basic program along with the twenty (the original were three) Isaac Asimov Laws (but I-robot showed the problem with his laws so we are guessing it will take a few more) includes one which requires every robot to have at least one human pet it cares for and that the number of human pets is a status symbol. The changes are coming and humans are soon to be as obsolete as dogs presumably are to the running of any city, we may require a few but those will be replaced with robot dogs real soon.

 

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

 

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