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Overlords: New Dominants

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Prof-Stephen-Hawking comments on Science AMA Series: Stephen Hawking AMA Answers! Philip K. Dick's 1969 novel Ubik on the Internet of Things. Photo illustration by Slate.

Philip K. Dick's 1969 novel Ubik on the Internet of Things.

Photos by Thinkstock. Be careful about what you say in your living room if your new TV is on. News broke earlier this week that Samsung’s Web-connected SmartTV can listen to, record, and send what the television hears to a third-party company. The television doesn’t watch you watch it back, but it is listening. Samsung, the world’s largest manufacturer of televisions, tells customers in its privacy policy that “personal or other sensitive” conversations “will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party” through the TV’s voice-recognition software.

How Much Longer Before Companies Start To Run Themselves? Someone I know has held this theory for a while, that big companies are already AIs, just that the computation is done by Mechanical Turk.

How Much Longer Before Companies Start To Run Themselves?

Plutocracy. Political Philosophy. Democracy and Political Ignorance. Democracy is supposed to be rule of the people, by the people, and for the people.

Democracy and Political Ignorance

But in order to rule effectively, the people need political knowledge. If they know little or nothing about government, it becomes difficult to hold political leaders accountable for their performance. Unfortunately, public knowledge about politics is disturbingly low. In addition, the public also often does a poor job of evaluating the political information they do know. This state of affairs has persisted despite rising education levels, increased availability of information thanks to modern technology, and even rising IQ scores. The Extent of Ignorance Political ignorance in America is deep and widespread.

Even Mathematically Literate People Become Innumerate when they Focus on Political Issues. At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum and Chris Mooney have interesting posts discussing a new paper by Yale law professor Dan Kahan and his coauthors, which finds that even people who are generally good at interpreting statistics act as if they are innumerate when faced with data that goes against their political views.

Even Mathematically Literate People Become Innumerate when they Focus on Political Issues

Mooney summarizes the results as follows: The study…. has an ingenious design. At the outset, 1,111 study participants were asked about their political views and also asked a series of questions designed to gauge their “numeracy,” that is, their mathematical reasoning ability. Participants were then asked to solve a fairly difficult problem that involved interpreting the results of a (fake) scientific study. Invaders from Mars. "Voting doesn't change anything — the politicians always win.

I feel the same way. The US's issues of national debate have remained so fundamentally unchanged in the past century. Theories on how to use national debt (like running it up in times of economic stress to boost growth [whether through spending or tax cuts on rich or poor is really just details], then paying it down during bubble years [which always seems to be the part we screw up...], or using bonds and such to ensure corporations and others have a stake in the gov's success) have been around sense Hamilton, Tax cuts vs spending for economic growth is mentioned in The Prince, Socialism's a century old and its roots far older, hell Roe v Wade is already 40 years past- and tension over birth control is probably behind the concept of witches (ps there's a leaf that supposedly acted as birth control in ancient times, but we can't verify it because it was used to extinction), military is military, how much to spend on space exploration is now so old most of the people who've been to the moon have died and nasa's settled the issue with telescopes and robots, even crying about Outsourcing is just 19th century Mercantilism- and an inability to recognize we are a global species ("oh no US programing jobs are going to India" you mean "yay better new economy jobs are coming to india, lets debate over whether this is so far a net benefit for everyone and make sure their transition into a wealthy industrial nation continues more smoothly and hope that one day, everyone will pass the Washing Machine Line"). Meanwhile, hundreds of new issues are emerging, from identity security to bioethics to- i don't know- actually developing a PLAN for dealing with the effects of climate change (notice i didn't say stopping climate change in any measurable fashion- that ship has long sailed, i just mean dealing with it when it comes to try and prevent total societal collapse) to biosecurity, all being paid at best lip service by politicians while quietly being handled by unnoticed bureaucracies and socioeconomc happenstance instead. And thus our future is shaped in true cyberpunk fashion by red tape and chance numbers instead of ourselves, because they're not the issues dependably tested in darwinian combat to get politician's elected. – rgiskard

" 'Twas not always so, but I'm hearing variations on that theme a lot these days, and not just in the UK.

Invaders from Mars

Youtube. Le Future According To Val Part 2: Consequences. Cyberpunk: The Dystopian Prism with Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross and more great speakers! 12 Futuristic Forms of Government That Could One Day Rule the World. Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.  — Matter. I WAS IN PHILADELPHIA WHEN the protests in Istanbul exploded, at a gathering called Data-Crunched Democracy, hosted by the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.

Is the Internet good or bad? Yes.  — Matter

The dystopia of 1984 is no longer relevant. The Robots Are Here - POLITICO Magazine. Isaac Asimov, the astonishingly prolific science fiction writer, died in 1992, but he foresaw much about American politics today.

The Robots Are Here - POLITICO Magazine

_Z_E_R_O comments on Bill Gates: People Don't Realize How Many Jobs Will Soon Be Replaced By Software Bots.