2015 August 29 Saturday
68% Of Californians Favor Incentive For Faster Robot Development

While a Washington state court rules in favor of faster robot deployment at SeaTac a much more impactful way to speed up robot development is taking shape in California. This is great because Californians have a ballot initiative system that gives them a very effective way to act on their preference:

Sixty-eight percent of California voters said they support the idea of a $15 minimum wage, according to a Field Poll released Thursday.

That's great news for robot start-ups. Venture capitalists hear the call! You can fund companies that can supply the big coming increase in demand for robots as food prep workers, janitors, security guards, and as workers in many other occupations.

The resulting mass unemployment (especially among the least skilled and least bright) will drive migration that will fall heavily on Republican states governed by cuckservatives who refuse to raise the minimum wage. Those states won't stay Republican of course.

On the bright side, quality of food at fast food places will improve because the robots will be able to do more complex and precise food prep. Also, the influx of low skilled immigrants will stop, at least in the states with $15 per hour minimum wage. The big drop in demand for low skilled workers will see to that.

The 21st century is going to be a very different place than the 20th century. Celebrate the upsides of what's in store.

Update: The national Democratic Party has come out for the biggest incentive for robotics development so far: $15 national minimum wage as a plank in their platform. Wow, that'd be great news for robot developers and software developers in general. Way more money would flow into autonomous vehicles, warehouse automation, fast food restaurant complete automation, security robots, retail store automation, automated delivery UAVs, automated hair cutters, automated nail polishers. What am I leaving out? Much better automated vacuums and floor cleaners. Automated home cooking machines. Autonomous lawn mowers and hedge clippers. What else?

We live in exciting times. The Democrats are bold in their efforts to speed up technological development and cut low skilled immigration. The Republicans (with the exception of Donald Trump) are total wimps in comparison.

Update: The National Labor Relations Board is also adding incentives for robot development by making franchise operators treat their employees like employees of the companies which grant the franchises. There is an obliviousness to their decision-making, much like the obliviousness of the movement to raise minimum wage to a high level in a country which has let tens of millions of low skilled illegal aliens to enter the country. All the happy talk about the potential of high minimum wage is built on false assumptions about the economy and technology. The advocates for higher labor prices are assuming there will be jobs for all the low skilled no matter what costs are placed on employers. But that's not in the cards in an era when computer technology is becoming advanced enough to take over many of the most menial physical tasks.

We are approaching a rude awakening about assorted ignored truths about human nature and about the potential for technology to replace the least mentally able workers. My guess is the awakening will be in full bloom by 2025 and perhaps then the Overton Window will start to move in a rational direction.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 29 09:39 AM 
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2015 August 19 Wednesday
Big Shake-Out Coming: Most Colleges Have Operating Losses

Most colleges are running at a loss.

Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets, according to Fitzgerald.

The shift to online education will cut into smaller colleges especially.

What I'd do if I was operating a small college: Use online courses for lectures and allow students to take a large number of courses and give them tests and credit in the small college. Offer more classes and even more degrees by leaning on online resources to support an expansion of offerings.

A small college that sees itself as more of a tutoring, testing, and credentialing center could enable students to move thru courses at an accelerated pace and to fill in gaps between traditional semesters and trimesters with useful learning toward credits and degrees.

Some small colleges could group together to enable specialized faculty to teach courses to students at all of their campuses. Make a virtual university as a way to offer more of the advantages of the big U while retaining the advantages of a small college.

Update: Mind you, most small colleges are toast. Road kill. The walking dead at this point. But some could avoid that fate by embracing online and video recorded lectures, automated testing systems, and arranged tutoring sessions. A good college would have administrators skilled at organizing small fast paced courses, impromptu tutoring sessions, and fast paths thru for people who want to focus and get some skills in a hurry.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 19 08:30 PM 
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2015 August 18 Tuesday
Anatoly Karlin: Procrastinators Should Not Trust Future Selves

Anyone irresponsible enough to procrastinate today can't be trusted to get it together in the future.

When you are procrastinating, you are essentially trusting your future self to do the work that your present self does not want to. But if you make a habit of procrastination, of being unreliable, would it then be rational of your present self to depend on your (presumably equally fallible and unreliable) future self to do that what your present self is too lazy and slothful to do today? It’s grossly irrational and irresponsible!

What do you think of this argument? To put it another way: what's your rationalization for why you can procrastinate and dismiss Karlin's argument?

One of the ways I make myself more effective is to deny myself things I want until I make some milestone. This can be a small milestone and a small reward. It helps.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 18 08:17 PM 
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2015 August 15 Saturday
ISIS Sex Slaves In 2015

The highest slave prices in Islamic State territory are for kids aged 1 to 9. I was expecting a later price peak. What's with that? I would expect the Jihadists would most want teen girls to rape. Am I missing something?

The potential to rape infidel women is a powerful recruiting tool for ISIS. See: ISIS Enshrines A Theology Of Rape. This one is disgusting too: Hellish ordeal of the 11-year-old ISIS sex slave used as a human shield: Terrified girl is strapped to bonnet of Humvee and driven into battle to protect her captor from gunfire. ISIS has collected together a bunch of soldiers who deserve to die.

Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi kept American aid worker Kayla Mueller as a sex slave and raped her repeatedly. Was he thrilled to be raping an American in particular?

If the US government hadn't worked to destabilize the Middle East (supposedly in the name of democracy and freedom) the Middle East would have far fewer slaves and far more living Kurds, Yezidis, Christians and others. US intervention in the Middle East has been a disaster. To reduce the damage our foreign policy has caused I would heavily arm the Yezidis, Kurds, Christians and some other minority factions. They are going to continue to get shafted as long as they do not have enough military power.

We need much more realism about human nature when setting foreign policy just like we need much more realism about human nature when setting domestic policy.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 15 10:39 AM 
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2015 August 06 Thursday
Next Recession To Cause Chain Of Sovereign Defaults?

Jeremy Grantham thinks a big market downturn in 2016 could trigger a chain of defaults on sovereign debt.

I've made similar comments recently:

Check out this chart of sovereign debt levels of OECD countries from 2008 to 2015. Note the 2008 and 2015 amounts. Add a new crisis. Those countries will enter the next recession starting with much worse debt level, slower GDP growth rates, even more aged populations. A lot of Euro zone countries would default if we had a repeat of 2008. Add 20-30-40% of GDP to each country's sovereign debt load. Even a normal recession will push Italy, Portugal, and Ireland close to the Greece zone.

The European countries are at most risk of default because they gave up their own currencies, have rapidly aging populations, anemic economies, and social welfare states. They are also importing bigger lower classes. The European social welfare state is failing.

Going into the last recession it was possible to drop interest rates to provide some economic stimulus. Central banks can't do that next time around because interest rates are already low. I hope we can avoid the next financial panic for several years because governments are financially in bad shape.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 06 07:13 PM 
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2015 August 03 Monday
CalTech 3 Std Dev Students Win Nobel Prize Contest

Kids out at the 3rd standard deviation in IQ go on to do great things.

He reports that the school with the most Nobel + Fields + Turing prizes, normalized to size of (undergraduate) alumni population, is Caltech, which leads both Harvard and MIT (the next highest ranked schools) by a factor of 3 or 4. Caltech beats Michigan by a factor of ~50, and Ohio State (typical of good public flagships) by a factor of ~500!

This result illustrates why offspring genetic engineering will have such a huge impact on human society. If even a tenth of the people who would otherwise have 120-130 IQ kids can instead have 150 IQ kids our ranks of geniuses will grow by multiples.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 03 09:10 PM 
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2015 August 02 Sunday
Grade School Teachers Discriminate Against Boys

Boys get lower grades for the same level of proficiency. They have to work harder and make more money as adults to compensate.

Separate schools for boys and girls would help. The boys would only get rated against each other. This is the sort of thing you have to do to compensate for systematic sexism.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 02 01:48 PM 
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Social Security Trust Fund Depletion Rate Has Sped Up

In 2009 the Social Security Trust Fund estimated it would have to cut benefits by 2041. In 2014 the estimated date for benefit cut was pulled in to 2033 with benefits being cut almost a quarter. Since the US economy continues to have slow growth I think even 2033 is optimistic.

I think slow economic growth is going to continue. This is why the trust fund exhaustion date is getting pulled in. James Pethokoukis reports: Lost Decade? The US is about to have its first 10-year period since World War II without at least one year of 3% growth.

The average skill level of the American workforce is declining. America's very large numbers of lower class immigrants aren't accumulating skills at the levels of old stock Americans, aren't paying as much in taxes, and getting more in welfare benefits. They too will retire but having paid much less in than natives. This does not end well.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 02 01:48 PM 
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Uber Under Regulatory Assault In California

Regulators care less about outcomes than process.

Notably, complaints about Uber typically aren’t coming from customers, and even among the firm’s drivers, crusades like Berwick’s are rare. In fact, what’s striking about the various campaigns against ride-sharing is their reliance on paperwork and credentialing instead of outcomes. The CPUC, for example, doesn’t assert that Uber is harming actual handicapped people, only that the company has failed to produce paperwork that proves the absence of harm. Similarly, the cab companies’ speech-related lawsuit—which focuses on safety claims made in Uber ads—does not claim that traditional taxis are safer than Uber rides. The plaintiffs assert instead that cab drivers are subjected to more paperwork than Uber drivers.

Then cab drivers should be subjected to less paperwork and regulation.

Government puts its requirements above the revealed preferences of customers.

The anti-Uber campaign’s reluctance to assess outcomes is understandable, given the public’s strong revealed preference for the company. Interest groups can complain, but drivers and customers continue to vote for Uber with their time and money. In a free country or a sane state, a clear market decision in favor of a business would be the end of the discussion. But Uber is increasingly under pressure to furnish evidence that its model works in theory as well as in practice.

Will the choking effect of the regulatory Leviathan continue to rise in the United States? I think the forces arrayed against it are weaker than the Leviathan (with very big banks as an obvious exception).

I do not see how to prevent the decline of the West. The continued progress of Moore's Law has allowed productivity increases in many areas. But the Moore's Law boosts in productivity are partially outweighed by the growth in the Leviathan's interference.

Since the Republican Party is in the process of becoming road kill to immigration (with a great deal of help from Republican elites) we can't hope for a conservative backlash against the regulatory state. While Uber is visible and wealthy enough to do battle against its regulator enemies a great many other companies are never founded because regulators make their founding impossible. We lose a great deal of opportunity because of this.

By Randall Parker 2015 August 02 11:30 AM 
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