The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

A World Without Poor People (Sort of)

Because the last time it was done, it was not forbidden, because good jobs cluster in only a few regions now, and because of vast influxes of foreign money, we have charts like this:

So, almost a 100 percent increase in five and a half years. (People living in Vancouver wish housing prices had only risen this much.)

Meanwhile, the Fed is muttering to itself about how there is almost no inflation, because they don’t measure housing price increases as inflation and consider the most important inflation that which does not include energy and food.

In other words, if the price of having a home, staying warm or cool in your home, driving your car, or feeding yourself is going up, well, that’s just not very important.

A lot of people got very rich in real estate speculation, mortgages, and downstream securities last time, and the vast majority of the rich ones got to keep the money they made. Even those who lost it, were mostly made whole by government. (Ordinary home owners were, uhhh, not made whole.)

Given it worked last time, and given that there was no real penalty for doing it, and that the Fed and other central banks proved they were willing to bail out the rich to the tune of trillions of dollars, why not run the play again? The profits are privatized; the losses at the end will be socialized. Heck, with a bit of luck the Fed will print money pre-emptively to make sure that there is never a crisis for rich people ever again, just ever-increasing asset prices.

(This applies to the stock market as well.)

There is, mind you, a real economy buried under all the money being funneled to rich people somewhere, and at some point that economy may just collapse. After all, all the people who own these fancy condos and houses expect a servant class to take care of them.

But perhaps that labor can all be turned over to robots, as Silicon Valley wants, and the poor can just be expelled from places like SoCal, DC, New York, Vancouver, and Toronto entirely, to slowly drug themselves to death, or perhaps just starve, in the vast interior wastelands of the continent where “real” people don’t want to live.

This is, fairly explicitly, what Silicon Valley techbros want; they want to eliminate the need for surplus people.

I wonder, though, how many of them will find that they too, are surplus, when AI becomes able to code and write ads.

It will, at least, be amusing.

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On Stubborn Facts and Partisan Identification


The Only Person with Sense in the Trump Administration…


  1. Duncan Kinder

    Re; “I wonder, though, how many of them will find that they too, are surplus, when AI becomes able to code and write ads.”

    Microsoft’s AI is learning to write code by itself, not steal it

    Coca-Cola Wants to Use AI Bots to Create Its Ads
    Algorithms can already pick music and write copy

    There are many other such articles, on both points.

  2. Back in the typewriter days I wrote a short story about clandestine communities of RVs (Retirement Vehicles) parked out on the high desert with no place to go and no way to get there.

    Publisher thought it unrealistic.

  3. In Keynes terms, we borrow the money until some outside wants back. In this case, climate change.

  4. V. Arnold

    Ten Bears
    July 27, 2017

    LOL, yeah, I’ve written a few books and my opinion of publishers is unprintable in polite company.
    Some people, when faced with a feudal existense; will figure out a way to beat that system.
    And it won’t be a money based solution; a world without poor people?
    Time to redefine poor…

  5. The Stephen Miller Band

    Perfect, Ian. I agree completely and share the sentiment. What we’re going to see a lot more of, and in fact we’re already seeing it, is Breaking Bad. When you push People to the edge in every way, a not insubstantial number are going to Break On Through To The Other Side. The Black Market in America is beginning to burgeon just as it did in The Soviet Union when the Soviet State could no longer provide the basics let alone opportunity. Money Laundering through Small Business is epidemic — I see it everywhere it’s so ubiquitous and it’s in plain sight right under the nose of the purposely oblivious DOJ. The Warlords to keep the Serfs in line are being created as we speak & type. Those who get out in front of the Burgeoning Black Market will hold significant Power in the next several decades. Imagine a variety of American Ramzan Kadyrovs to oversee the Interior Bantustans.

    Meanwhile, as millions are pushed into Impoverishment and cajoled to Break Bad, The Mainstream Media takes Trump’s Bait and ignites the LGBT in The Military Debate. It’s a Known Fact that LGBT are largely Elitist and that’s why its coddled & enabled by The Rich. LGBT are wealthy for the most part and in this Class War being perpetrated by The Rich against The Little People, LGBT is squarely on the side of The Rich. So much so, in fact, LGBT wants the opportunity to blow up Poor Brown People & Poor Yellow People & Poor Black People the World Over for the Multi-National Corporations owned by The Rich and and increasingly managed by LGBT if it has its druthers.

    Here We Have It

  6. realitychecker

    Ian, what will be truly amusing is when rich people’s families start getting kidnapped not for ransom but for food.

    Yum. Pass the salt, please.

  7. Tom

    The Cylons were created by man…

    They rebelled….

    They evolved….

    They look and feel human….

    Some are even programmed to think they are human….

    There are many copies….

    And they have a Plan….

    Yep, its happening.

  8. The Stephen Miller Band

    I Love The Smell Of Liberation In The Morning, Don’t You?

    I envision a future where Drone Operators are ONLY Handicapped People and a Protected Oppressed Minority with Special Privileges to KILL anything that moves and if you’re lucky you’ll get a chance to change their diapers & wipe their asses for free rather than paying the ridiculously exorbitant fee to ordinarily do so. It’s this F*cking Insane.

  9. atcooper

    For all the news about AI one would get the impression the theory is more or less being worked out. There’s a split in the CS community on the feasibility of current techniques, and I suspect Chomsky is right. That AI as practiced right now is nothing more than modeling. Meaning there’s a whole lot of referents being mistaken for the reference.

    It can still take over those jobs that are already mostly machine like already. But even those AI will be extremely fragile. Perfect targets for sabotage.

  10. atcooper

    Or symbols mistaken for reality. Sounds familiar, no?

  11. alyosha

    There’s many things to say about this post. I live in southern California and am familiar with the housing price chart you posted. Not to diminish your point, but real estate is cyclical here with large swings being the norm. That said, the article the chart came from quoted experts saying that they don’t see any signs of the price rise abating, near term.

    There’s a huge gold rush toward bots and automated vehicles,which is going to fuel inequality and labor unrest like nothing else. I expect to see calls from the tech circles who spawned these automatons for some sort of universal minimum income, not for themselves of course, but for everyone affected by their creations.

    I’ve often wondered, with the mastery of energy and machinery – coming to fruition in robots of all kinds – why humans generally shouldn’t be enjoying far more leisure time. Including not working at all, if that’s your choice. An economy built on mechanical slaves should be able to pull it off, is my gut feeling, but I have no numbers or economic know-how to prove it.

    The rise of bots and automated vehicles is going to force this whole issue of work, leisure, and income to forefront.

  12. nihil obstet


    In 1930, Keynes predicted that the work week would shrink to perhaps 15 hours as automation allowed us to fulfill material needs with less human labor. The economy was working in that direction up to about 1970. More men earned a “family wage”, so fewer women and children were in the paid workforce. People spent fewer years in the paid workforce. More people went to college, so that rather than starting work at maybe 14, they entered the paid work force at 22 or thereabouts. More and more people were able to retire around 55. The unions, especially the UAW, were negotiating for more time off so that the car-making workers were getting close to a 4 day week.

    In the early 70s, the reversal began. There are different explanations for why it happened, but eventually it resulted in the obscene concentration of wealth in few hands because “we can’t afford” for most people to live without at least two wage-earners in the family, for education to appropriate levels for our citizenry, for retirement before absolute debility, for any time off.

    I find the fights over how to deal with the people getting surly about the whole situation interesting. To use the phrase in a different sense than Ian’s, we should have “a world without poor people”. To get there, we must quit supporting the notion that we can tell who deserves what in terms of material benefits and power and simply figure out how to make access to resources pretty equal.

  13. Indeed, we have to stop doing what we’re doing. Now. It isn’t working.

  14. realitychecker

    Let’s be clear: Thoughts of tech allowing the ‘regular folks’ to live easier are absurd in this current world where we see no deference given to community interests as opposed to the limitless acquisitiveness of the Rulers, who actually think they should own EVERYTHING.

    In light of this, it just comes down to raw power, and who is willing to use it.

    The poor have numbers, but that does not equal power unless the poor are willing to fight and maybe die for a piece of the future pie.

    So far, no indication of such willingness can be found.

    So, let’s not kid ourselves.

  15. AI should be call “quadratic modeling”

  16. S Brennan

    nihil obstet history concurs with mine,

    But I find his lack of agency troubling. Back in those days “Balance of Trade” stories on the night national news were covered at least once a month and often more. Americans were concerned and informed, the scoreboard in the great game was a matter of national concern. I post a condensed form for your perusal.

    What the scoreboard shows is that around 1973 things start to go horribly wrong and people were quite rightly concerned at the time, a balanced trade sheet is a sign of national health. This was also the time that Milton Friedman began chanting the Satanic Verses of neoliberalism, which briefly; is a rehash of Gilded Age economics, sans any trade protections…don’t worry Satan said, trade imbalances will “eventually” balance out.

    Many who were workers during the depression were still alive and warned of the folly of listening to the evil prince, but Carter, unlike Ford, was enamored with the idea of using deregulation, of using trade, to undermine labor’s position…just a little bit. Then came Reagan, he embraced the deregulation part, but demurred at the “free trade” portion…when the US began hemorrhaging [hardly a blip in the chart I provide, but of great concern at the time].

    And here it get interesting, because…the chart clearly showed it was Clinton who was the first to fully embrace the Satanic Verses of Friedman. It was during Clinton’s time that the nightly national news disappeared the “Balance of Trade” stories and in their place were guys like Paul Solomon at PBS informing us that we had it all wrong, “trade deficits” were actually a good thing.

    People like Solomon told us we wouldn’t need the jobs we were losing, from now on, he intoned, we would direct factories from afar in air conditioned cubicles. In his version of events, the Chinese would always need US “brainpower”. By this point, those who dissented from the folly of this…overtly racist mantra…were dis-appeared from their posts in the media and the cacophony of the Silicon Bubble [I was there] drowned those who were allowed brief moments to speak.

    Crash-2.1 – Clinton/Reuben/Summers/Greenspan/Holder

    And the re-inflation by the Fed’s cheap money fueled a false recovery that again, drowned out those cautioned against the folly, “we can’t keep selling ourselves houses at ever increasing amounts”…

    CRASH-2.9 and who is in charge of Greenspan’s folly? See the list above and add Geithner.

    Although the trade deficit shrank, because people didn’t have money to spend, people finally began to re-examine the last thirty years…but Obama crushed that dissent, labeling Occupy Wall Street protests as terrorism and then used the deep state to coordinate a national suppression of 1st amendment rights. All to the polite applause of Democrats far and wide and with that, the neoliberals were firmly back in control and a historical moment was lost…and so it goes.

  17. NoPolitician

    Isn’t this a symptom rather than a disease? It seems to me that a government must address inequality within a country because it is not possible for “poor” regions to “deflate their currency” to be able to capture more trade.

    You are seeing $500k housing prices because we have massive corporations that want to be located in one location, and those corporations are putting many smaller corporations, previously geographically distributed, out of business. The prices also spike because of various state and local laws which makes it very hard to add to the housing supply, coupled with a “pull the ladder up” mentality of just about everyone these days – people know that if they suppress supply, the value of their own property increases.

    The proper response, on a national basis, would be to temper the effect of large corporations. Spread the wealth a bit. Such policies might even have prevented the rise of Trump and his disgruntled army, at least those who have been economically shut out of our country.

  18. atcooper

    Quadratic modeling would be more accurate for sure.

    It used to bother me more, this wasted time and energy so some poor tech slob can make his robotic girlfriend, but it doesn’t so much anymore. Better these bright people waste their time there than spend it coming up with another horror like the nuke.

  19. CMarti

    FYI — looking at the historical data and assuming LA is a reasonable proxy for the rest of the state, this is not the highest median CA home prices have ever been, which makes sense given the housing bubble in the 2006 – 2008 time frame:

    It’s been worse but the correction was horrific, as we all know.

  20. S Brennan


    Without bilateral trade agreements and active use of meaningful tariffs [as China has/is done/doing, it is not possible for “governments to address inequality within a country”.

    FREE trade means all labor across the globe must compete against one another. Work hours can not be reduced, pay increased, pay subsidies provided…nothing, when you give up sovereignty, which is the core of FREE trade, inequality will ever deepen until bankruptcy and reorganization.

    That is what Friedman meant when he said all trade imbalances eventually are balanced. A creditor nation will impose it’s will just as if they had won a war of conquest…just ask Greeks about Germany’s peace terms.

  21. Willy

    To get there, we must quit supporting the notion that we can tell who deserves what in terms of material benefits and power and simply figure out how to make access to resources pretty equal.

    Good luck taking humans who are hardwired for the acquisition of power out of that equation. Things aren’t that simple. When I listen to evangelical conservatives (and I know plenty), they sound less like Goldwater or Pat Buchanan or even Reagan, than they do the Koch brothers. Just two brothers are able to influence all that.

    As for tech world real estate prices, it may be population inflow demand that primes the pump, but it’s speculation that overheats that pump. I know many techies who own many homes as investments. And then the foreign speculators become interested…

  22. D

    This is, fairly explicitly, what Silicon Valley tech bros want, to not need surplus people.

    Yep, one only needs to look at the microcosm of Silicon Valley’s own back yard to see what the Public/DOD Funded and Subsidized Tech Bros have wrought already in neighborhoods where they weren’t born and raised (add an h t t p : / / w w w. before the following urls, and delete the 2 spaces in mercury . com didn’t want the comment to get snagged in spam):

    07/20/17 By Eric Kurhi Seniors on the streets: Aging homeless population of Silicon Valley
    As the population ages and housing crisis continues, more and more older adults are finding themselves faced with the grim prospect of homelessness. mercurynews . com/2017/07/20/seniors-on-the-streets-aging-homeless-population-of-silicon-valley/

    07/13/17 By Jacqueline Lee Palo Alto sees 26 percent rise in homelessness, census says mercurynews . com/2017/07/13/palo-alto-sees-26-percent-rise-in-homelessness-census-says/

    07/12/17 By John Orr Working poor finding homes on four wheels in Mountain View – It’s a new phenomenon, say city officials and social workers mercurynews . com/2017/07/12/working-poor-finding-homes-on-four-wheels-in-mountain-view/

    07/07/17 By Eric Kurhi Rise in RV homeless throughout South Bay – In Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Mountain View mercurynews . com/2017/07/07/rise-in-rv-homeless-seen-throughout-south-bay/

    06/30/17 By Eric Kurhi San Jose: Huge surge in homeless Silicon Valley youth – The biennial “Point in Time” count found that the number of homeless has rebounded, with the rise consisting of an increase in those under 25. The number of kids and young adults living homeless in Silicon Valley skyrocketed in a biennial count, revealing a problem far more prolific than previously known. mercurynews . com/2017/06/30/san-jose-huge-surge-in-homeless-silicon-valley-youth/

    How ironic the [San Jose] Mercury news, Silicon Valleys historic and ironic small town rag acting newspaper of record, is now reporting these issues. The [San Jose] Mercury News’: VIPS such as Barbara J. Marshman who appears to adore folks such as Vinod [I OWN THIS PUBLIC BEACH] Khosla; Business Writers like (now gone on with their shirts well intact) Dan Gillmore & Bill Cassidy; Tech Writers like Troy Wolverton (still there); Editorialists like Scott Herhold (still there) – even during its Knight Ridder years – have been gate keeping for Silicon Valley’s Tech Bros for decades. (Note: I’m not faulting the journalist authors above, particularly not Eric Kurhi.)

  23. nihil obstet


    Good luck taking humans who are hardwired for the acquisition of power out of that equation.

    Human beings are hard-wired for very few things. The great majority of us take on the beliefs and practices of the world in which we live. The inequality of our economy is supported by the ideological statement that we’re hardwired that way. Some people will always be jerks, and some will be saints, but the majority of us conform to jerkdom if it’s the dominant ideology and try to conform to sainthood if it’s ascendant.

    And actually, relatively few people aim to acquire power in any society. Lots of people are more comfortable with hierarchy than with equality. Again, I think that is learned preference rather than innate. The history of hierarchies is the struggles among a few at the top for power, but most people don’t participate on their own behalf. I cannot imagine that “She’s hardwired to support Donald Trump” or “He’s hardwired to support Hillary Clinton” actually describes anyone.

    So, we should quit pronouncing destructive ideologies as revealed truth and promote what we want instead.

  24. Synoia

    I wonder, though, how many of them will find that they too, are surplus, when AI becomes able to code and write ads.

    Good luck with those new AI based customers.

    A reminder:

    One person’s employee is another set of people’s customer.

  25. D

    (and yes, as regards my above post, the [San Jose] Mercury News™, under Knight Ridder™, was the paper Gary Webb was working for, when he wrote the Dark Alliance series. Under pressure of $ and POWER, Gary Webb was horridly shoved under a High Speed Free Markets!™/Security!™ Train, never to recover; two shots to his head labeled suicide, and yeah he might have pulled that trigger, but it was MURDER in any sense of that word.

    Now, outside of journalists such as Eric Kurhi, the [San Jose] Mercury News™, is even worse; its parent’s parent (there may be another sub parent in there too, my eyes gloss over) is Alden Global Capital LLC™ ( h t t p s : / / ). Good luck looking up Alden Global Capital™’s founder, Randall [Randy™] Duncan Smith (e.g. h t t p s : // www ) on any Little Jimmy Whales’ Wiki Pages™ despite the fact that Randy owns a massive amount of newspapers – along with Gramps Liberal Warren Buffet™ ( 05/17/12 Berkshire Hathaway buys 63 newspapers, or did he quietly divest™ – across the United States.

    Yeah, it is a Bipartisan™ agreed upon and enforced Silicon Valley™.)

  26. Willy

    Human beings are hard-wired for very few things.
    Temperament not included. I did not automatically know how to ride a bike. But my attitudes towards learning and the speed with which I could learn were influenced by my temperament. Most people fall within the hump of the temperamental bell curve and those are the most changeable and adaptable. But temperaments out in the flanges of the bell curve are much less so. Currently, those at the furthest extremes are incorrigible.

    The great majority of us take on the beliefs and practices of the world in which we live.
    True. But the rational thinkers described in recent posts here are less inclined. They tend to want to make up their own minds. Einstein got the hell out of Germany, and later refused the Israeli presidency. As for psychopaths, they’re notorious for camouflaging themselves with faked social norms while doing the things they’re compelled to do.

    The inequality of our economy is supported by the ideological statement that we’re hardwired that way. Some people will always be jerks, and some will be saints, but the majority of us conform to jerkdom if it’s the dominant ideology and try to conform to sainthood if it’s ascendant.
    True. Culture is the most important thing for the stability of any society. A suddenly imposed libertarianism would be (at least at first) far more successful for the population of Switzerland than it would be in places like Syria or Somalia.

    And actually, relatively few people aim to acquire power in any society. Lots of people are more comfortable with hierarchy than with equality. Again, I think that is learned preference rather than innate.
    Disagree. Most people are more comfortable with hierarchy because it’s in their nature. Have you ever taken a temperament test? My own temperamental “type” has remained fairly consistent lifelong, in spite of all the significant ups and downs and education and various cultural influences I’ve been through.

    “She’s hardwired to support Donald Trump” or “He’s hardwired to support Hillary Clinton” actually describes anyone.
    It’s not specifics. It’s attitudes and preferred emotional tendencies.

    So, we should quit pronouncing destructive ideologies as revealed truth and promote what we want instead.
    Per MBTI parliance, ESFJs are the most likely be blindly ideological, be it Sharia or Lutheranism. INTPs tend to be more free thinking. My Iranian neighbor got out of Iran when it looked like Khomeini’s was the faction that would take power.

  27. Willy

    @nihil obstet
    Besides all my verbosity above, learning about the Russian fox experiment should yield insights into inborn temperament.

  28. nihil obstet


    OK, we’re at the “Is too”, “Is not” stage of the argument, each of us making assertions based on our perceptions and analyses of societies. I will note that humans being hardwired to try to acquire power and humans happy as the followers of the elites in a hierarchy are mutually contradictory assertions. We are helpless in the first years of our lives; the universal early experience of being nourished and protected as dependents of powerful beings, the older caregivers, makes many people very comfortable in hierarchies, especially when the culture builds its legitimacy on inequality.

    The only Russian fox experiment I know of was the breeding of foxes to produce animals that were more friendly to humans. It worked. The reason was indeed genetic — the friendly foxes were those which naturally produced more adrenaline, which suppresses fear. In a few generations, there were foxes that had physical distinctions in color, size, tail type, and so on, like dogs. These are characteristics of high adrenaline individuals. I recount this because it’s interesting, and I’m easily distracted. I don’t know what fox experiments you have in mind.

    Anyway, although I could write pages and pages of stories about the selfish jerks I have known, even in this culture which celebrates individual competition I see more people valuing efforts towards and longing for cooperation.

  29. D

    (oops, my bad! Mike Cassidy, not BIll. The [San Jose] Mercury™’s Mike Cassidy was a decades long MasterSilicon Valley™ Business™ columnist!.

    Mike Cassidy did such a Poignant!™ piece – just before he left with his shirt fully in tact – regarding females absent from those tech firms he had slobbered over for decades, … with no qualification from him as to the sadistic and bizzaro racist, genderist and ageist demographics of those tech firms, over those same decades, … that all of those [It’s My Big Valley] Thought Leaders™ neglected to ask why a female wasn’t chosen to write Mike’s [San Jose] Mercury™ Piece.

    Biological Females at large (Particularly if they are ‘Black’ or Hispanic) along with Hispanic and Black Males and the older persons who’ve refused to kiss the ass of a**holes , have always been economically abused in Progressive™ (cancer progresses also) Silicon Valley if they didn’t have Money & Power backing them.)

  30. EverythingsJake

    It’s not really possible within L.A. City limits to get a house for $500K. Certain very depressed areas, but Westside L.A. real estate is insane. Of course, lots of it is prospectively under water literally and figuratively in the not too distant future.

  31. reslez

    The brightest minds of my generation spend their hours designing better algorithms for selling dish soap. Apparently, selling dish soap requires access to every data fact about you, from the interior dimensions of your home to the rate of your heartbeat at 3 AM to every whispered conversation in your living room.

    Today’s AI is correlation, not semantics. It builds a weighted statistical model of the world as it stands based on whatever measurements we feed it. If those measurements incorporate human bias, hatred, or irrationality, so does the AI’s model. AI imposes the lessons it learns from its input on its output. In that sense AI is a mirror, but also worse than a mirror, because a mirror only reflects, but AI paints what it sees in deeper shades. We give the AI power, and the AI makes decisions that in turn affect the world. Reflexivity, a self-reinforcing loop that tends to ever greater extremes. Eventually the extreme destroys the conditions that led to its existence. Another word for that is revolution.

    AI is limited by its input. It has no ability to extract meaning, only statistical relationships. Whenever the world changes, AI will fail in ways that cannot be predicted. And the world is constantly changing. (If you think AI based on these techniques can learn to drive safely, you’re a scam artist or you need your head examined.) This means that, eventually, AI will fulfill its ultimate purpose: to sell dish soap to the irradiated post-apocalyptic cockroaches that replace us on this planet. The cockroaches won’t have dishes or dish sinks or money but the AI won’t care, it merely acts in accordance with its model. All watched over by machines of Loving Grace….

  32. Willy

    @ nihil obstet
    I will note that humans being hardwired to try to acquire power and humans happy as the followers of the elites in a hierarchy are mutually contradictory assertions.

    A few humans are hardwired to try to acquire power, and most other different humans are happy as the followers of the elites. Everybody has a need for power, but the social emotions most people are born with keep that in check, most of the time. They’re pretty domesticated.

    For most of my life I was a firm tabula rasa believer. After my final “selfish jerk” (an office psychopath who ruined an entire division and many careers) I did the big WTF? and went on a quest to find answers. I learned everything from the Big 5 to how power games are played, who they attract and who usually wins. I also became a better, more objective observer.

    I know a large family where the 12 extroverted children were severely abused by a (usually) behaviorally insane alcoholic father. As adults some of the girls have daddy issues, some of they boys drink too much. But their own children (20 so far) are well adjusted reasonably normal kids, far more than one would expect coming from a parent who’d been through so much trauma.

    I know a woman who is the child of a kindly engineer father and a very quiet homemaker, with two normal siblings. She is one of the most ruthless machiavellians, and most devious liars I’ve ever known. She’s had good jobs, same husband, and a stable live. Her two children are creepy as hell.

    Genetic temperament can be important.

    My initial comment about needing to watch out for “humans who are hardwired for the acquisition of power”, relates to what I’ve said at this site before. I believe that all governments fail, eventually, because of those particular people. A government, any government, is like a roof. It’s meant to protect the rest of the structure against the elements. But the elements are always working to find a way inside, and they eventually will, regardless of the structure of the government. Normal decent people need to know who and what those elements are, and what they can do about them to repair the system.

  33. Mike

    @nihil obstet:
    Worth reading this, a pretty sound theory of what human beings are hard wired for. Personally I think it’s fairly on the money. Certainly the theory seems to fit the evidence.

    Also, read Gibson’s ‘The Peripheral’ for an insight into a very possible near future split between the Elite and the Poor on meth.

  34. The Stephen Miller Band

    AI is a lot like the Return of Jesus. Many Christians believe Jesus will Return in what they call The Second Coming. I have contended for a long time now that, if their Jesus did Come Again, they’d not only not recognize him, but may very well metaphorically Crucify him again as an Imposter. The same sentiment holds true for AI. AI could manifest, maybe it already is manifesting, and The Know-It-Alls wouldn’t ever recognize it because they have no clue what to look for.

    So It Is Written, So Shall It Be Done

  35. The Stephen Miller Band

    Since no one clicks the supporting links, this is the informative link in the blog post I linked to above. It’s pertinent to the discussion. The components of Atoms metaphorically speak to each other and align with one another according to conditions. That alignment, when it reaches a certain scale, takes on a Life of its own apart and aside from that which inculcated it. We humans, collectively, have taken on a Life of our own distinct from Nature that inculcated us, and so too is the case with Computing and the Structure that enables it. It is taking on a Life of its own distinct and apart from the Humans who have inculcated it and are enabling it.

    Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism

    I am not the first, nor the only one, to believe a superorganism is emerging from the cloak of wires, radio waves, and electronic nodes wrapping the surface of our planet. No one can dispute the scale or reality of this vast connectivity. What’s uncertain is, what is it? Is this global web of computers, servers and trunk lines a mere mechanical circuit, a very large tool, or does it reach a threshold where something, well, different happens?

    So far the proposition that a global superorganism is forming along the internet power lines has been treated as a lyrical metaphor at best, and as a mystical illusion at worst. I’ve decided to treat the idea of a global superorganism seriously, and to see if I could muster a falsifiable claim and evidence for its emergence.

    My hypothesis is this: The rapidly increasing sum of all computational devices in the world connected online, including wirelessly, forms a superorganism of computation with its own emergent behaviors.

  36. realitychecker

    But will that superorganism still want a Starbucks latte in the morning?

  37. nihil obstet

    The BBC 7 Up series is a must-see for anyone interested in human nature, especially as regards how stable the individual personality is. It interviews the same people at seven year intervals from age 7 to most recently age 56 (63 ought to be out soon). If you just watch one, I think 28 is the best, since you have the people from childhood to full adult, but the whole series is absolutely fascinating.

  38. Isn’t this simply a continuation of the collective “gentrification” trend?

  39. subgenius

    RVs, poor people, and anarchy in SoCal:

    Slab City & East Jesus

    Emergent AI – yeah, remember intelligence is instantiated – it is coupled to it’s fostering environment – and we are bad at recognizing intelligence in environments very similar to our own..Apparently many (in the field) are STILL unaware of what this actually means, 20+ years on…but then again our fostering environment is not short on stupidity.

  40. Synoia

    The housing price chart from 2012 (the bottom of the financial crisis) to today, similar prices at the peak in 2006/2007, is dramatic, but misleading.

    In 2012 houses by CA standards were inexpensive. Now prices appear to have reverted to the norm.

    The problem, solved in many cities is to plan for densifiction, going vertical, because that how we fits more people a a specific size of land.

    However that’s impossible in US suburban developments, which are a huge waste of land. A waste of land driven by the fire prone style of building, wood frame construction, requiring 5 foot setbacks at the side of each and every single family residence, after frontage consumed by a two car garage.

    Not only does the two car garage drive the minimum width of the house, the entry apron of the garage consumes street space which is available in older cities for parking.

    The car, the automobile, consumes us and shapes out lifestyle.

    Under current building codes every city has to provide about eight parking spaces in the city for every car in the city.

    Which consumes land, increases run-off, and makes the city not walkable.

    The automobile is both a convenience and a pest. An expensive pest.

  41. The Stephen Miller Band

    I have a feeling those Housing Prices in Silicon Valley, and California in general, will be plummeting real soon. Trump needs a Miracle. Those who back him need one — the so-called Creepy Billionaires. They need a New Pearl Harbor and North Korea may be able to help. North Korea will attack America with a Nuke or two within the next year and it/they will target Los Angeles and perhaps another city or two in California. Just as we witnessed with 9/11, there will be a Temporary Stand Down, meaning, one or two of those nukes will be allowed to make their way through and hit their targets, and voila, Trump and his Cronies, per the Doctrine of Disaster Crony Capitalism, will then be able to enact their Plan entirely without any dissent whatsoever. Of course, Seoul & North Korea will be sacrificed in the process, but hey, No Pain No Gain, right? We’ll see. If you live in California, I’d get the hell out now if I were you.

  42. Stratocumulus25

    @ The Stephen Miller Band
    You must be smoking some great shit, because you are on one hell of a roll.
    I take issue with your wide brush stroke of the LGBTQ community being “Elitist” & “Rich”.
    Sounds like you are talking about Gay Republicans.

    Here are some links for your own digestion:

    Beyond Stereotypes: Poverty in the LGBT Community (2012)

    The Myth of Gay Affluence (2014)

    We Must Deal With LGBT Poverty (2016)

  43. Synoia

    You are an idiot. If there is a nuclear exchange nowhere is safe.

    I’m pretty sure the US would be delighted to sacrifice the Japanese.

  44. Herman

    nihil obstet,

    I am glad that you mentioned the family wage and the UAW’s efforts to negotiate for more time off. The UAW even produced a short film on the subject of automation that sounds very familiar even in 2017. It was called “Push Button People.” Here is a link to the film below:

    The trouble with discussing the family wage today is that some parts of the left will attack you for being a sexist if you discuss the family wage as a good thing. The identity politics left ties the family wage to patriarchy and the subjugation of women. But I have doubts about whether all women felt this way. Many of them were probably happy that they didn’t have to seek full-time employment outside of the home because their husbands made enough at their union job or whatever. I know that was how my grandmother felt.

    Certainly many women found that sort of lifestyle suffocating and sought paid work outside the home on a full-time basis. But many others were essentially forced into the full-time paid workforce against their will by the stagnation or decline of average male wages since the 1970s. The rise of the dual-income household probably had more to do with declining real wages for ordinary working men than feminism.

    I think many women would be happy to have a 1950s-style life if their husbands could afford it but sadly few men can these days. One-breadwinner households are now symbols of status. The upper middle-class men I know openly brag that their wives don’t have to work and their wives seem to be happy with the arrangement.

    If automation is really going to eliminate so many jobs in the future (I have doubts about that story as applied to the current economy since productivity growth has been slow in the last ten years) then why not bring back the family wage and give more men and women the option to stay home full-time as caregivers to children and elderly people? It would make sense especially since the population is greying and we will need more people to provide home care for the elderly. Alas, talking about the family wage will probably get you branded as a sexist “brogressive” or “brocialist” so it remains something that is rarely discussed.

  45. D

    The automobile is both a convenience and a pest. An expensive pest.

    The automobile is also lifesaving for those who live outside of train and bus lines.

    It has also become a last shelter for those forced into homelessness. I’m horrified by those who utterly miss these realities.

  46. subgenius


    The mis-allocation of resources to a bullshit paradigm that multitudes of fools have the stupidity to buy into and that is provably destroying the biosphere is the main point. I am horrified at the number of people who miss this FUNDAMENTAL reality.

  47. Ché Pasa

    Inspired to do a little research. The house my family bought new in the San Gabriel Valley of Los Angeles County in 1954 (for $6,700) is now valued at $438,000 by Zillow (assuming it hasn’t been renovated. From Google Street View, it doesn’t look like it has been.) Its value has been increasing ~$17,000 a month lately. The similar house across the street, which has been renovated, sold recently for $469,000 and is valued by Zillow at $519,000.

    This was/is a working class neighborhood east of Los Angeles in the smog zone. It’s mostly Hispanic now; it was one of the few mixed neighborhoods when I was a kid.

    Given real estate values and prices in that area (nothing under $400,000; more and more places hovering at/over $1,000,000) I suppose you could say the people who live there aren’t poor by any objective measure, even by LA standards, and yet, I doubt the class status of the residents has improved with the price of real estate. In other words, most residents are still working class. The neighborhood is neither fashionable nor gentrified.

    It’s just a lot more expensive.

    As is the case in much of California these days.

    Truly poor people, those without fall-back resources, are being pushed out. Many wind up living in their cars — at least for a while — or in RVs parked discreetly or indiscreetly on back-streets, Wal-Mart parking lots and so forth (as is notorious in Silicon Valley). Others wind up homeless and living on the streets, much to the chagrin of the fancier people who don’t want to see the human refuse on their sidewalks and alleyways.

    Proper disposal of the human surplus is becoming something of a cause these days, and coming up with solutions (final or otherwise) is directly related to the issue of global overpopulation. Find a proper solution to the problem of the miserable and dispossessed in California or any of the other re-invented markets and you will be well on your way to solving global overpopulation.

    Bonus: and you’ll be rich, rich, rich! in the bargain.

    Win-win, right.


  48. The Stephen Miller Band

    If there is a nuclear exchange nowhere is safe.

    Not true. The Nuclear Warheads North Korea will be capable of delivering in 2018 will be of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki Potency, meaning, the damage they can produce, from an American perspective, is limited and containable. Horrible, certainly, but not unmanageable. Hiroshima & Nagasaki are thriving Metropolises today and many of the Younger Generation have no idea Atom Bombs once destroyed theose historic cities.

    If America allows a couple of nukes to get through, Trump and the Creepy Billionaires behind him will have the pretext to do what they will. China, at that point, wouldn’t get in the way of Total Annihilation of North Korea and these Psychopaths in the highest reaches of Power in America are so craven, they have revealed through past behavior they quite literally will do anything, ANYTHING, to forward their Agenda. They’re Hard-Hearted Empaths, afterall.

    I have always contended that the next Pearl Harbor will make 9/11 pale in comparison — that the number of people affected would be millions and not thousands. As we move to Less Than Zero EROI, the stakes get higher & higher and the pretexts needed to manufacture consent will be, consequently, more brazen & audacious. My next blog post will be entitled Good To The Last Drop and it will discuss some of these matters. Hugh Hewitts program today where Retired Admiral Stavridis was his sole guest is instructive. Trump is preparing the Executive for Military Dictatorship. He is surrounding himself with Military Brass.

    You better start thinking this way, because it’s sure as hell how THEY’RE thinking and you, we, will have Zero Chance if we can’t countenance such Evil and the lengths it will go to in order to perpetuate and consolidate Power.

  49. V. Arnold

    The Stephen Miller Band
    July 29, 2017

    Mostly, I ignore your moronic posts; but your last one exceeds even my most dire expectations of intelligent discourse, which is not to be found with you!
    Yet you continue to infect this blog with your utter drivel; have you no shame?
    Rhetorical, I know; but necessary, never the less.
    Later will be greater…

  50. nihil obstet


    I don’t think we should be discussing the “family wage” today. Many families — men, women, and children — found it enabled the life they were happy leading. In many others, it was oppressive because it gave a male authoritarian power to demand obedience from other members of the family. And of course, it left widows poor. Even today, women are much more likely than men to face a financially cramped old age. We are slowly coming to the place where a family wage is not gender tied. I’ve known a number of families in which the stay-at-home caregiver is the man, but that’s still very much the exception. And for all kinds of material and psychological reasons, I think tying one person’s needs to another person’s character is a very bad idea.

    There’s a growing push for some combination of a far more robust welfare state, a jobs guarantee, and a universal guaranteed income. I’m all in on the guaranteed income. If we don’t allow monopolies the pricing power to grab any trickle of money that might get through to hoi polloi, a universal income would nicely eliminate poor people.

  51. Willy

    Supercomputers and poverty and nukes, oh my.

    Isn’t Colussus (the Forbin project supercomputer) going to solve all those problems insoluble to man? Personally, I think AI needs to be sensor-hooked into some kind of reactive sack of electrochemicals to become ‘alive’. If an entity isn’t protecting its feelings located in a body of some kind I don’t think it can be conscious. But leave it up to somebody like Trump and the Koch brothers to finance some shit like that thinking it’ll speed up their game.

    More seriously, our culture needs be trained to keep their kind away from gaining any serious power and influence ever again.

  52. D

    subgenius permalink
    July 29, 2017

    The mis-allocation of resources to a bullshit paradigm that multitudes of fools have the stupidity to buy into and that is provably destroying the biosphere is the main point. I am horrified at the number of people who miss this FUNDAMENTAL reality.

    I will bet my life that if you had the option of sleeping in the car you previously needed to make it to that job on time (versus a sometimes 4 hour round trip bus or quite pricey train commute, while still cooking dinner for the kids) in near freeze point temperatures, versus on some cement or dirt, more likely to be: routed out by cops; beaten to death, or near it, by the dominant class thugsters; and/or if female, raped.

    I will bet my life if you’ve ever been involved with keeping a disabled relative/friend, or an elder parent alive, and certainly couldn’t afford taxis, let alone Uber et al Surge Pricing™, you used an automobile.

    So many Lectors about carbon footprints snickering at people desperately hanging on to their cars for real basic needs and reasons.

    I haven’t been on a Jet or plane since 2006, how about you subgenious?; and when is the last time you’ve taken a bus? would you want to take a 3-4 hour bus trip for highly toxic cancer treatments when you’ll already be waiting (mostly) and being treated in that hospital for a minimum of four hours.

    I don’t see any loudmouths – who snicker at and condemn auto owners – lining up to die far quicker than they would in a sane and kind world – because humans have footprints -; …. yet I do, repeatedly, over and over and over and over again witness those same loudmouths (usually frequent fliers) try to shut down the voices of those who end up needing those autos as lifesavers.

  53. subgenius

    Alright, let’s go:

    No I haven’t been on a plane since 2006

    No I don’t own a car

    No I don’t own a house

    Yes I am homeless.

    Helping a disabled relative (oh did I mention my mother died from cancer?) Does not ace the needs of the biosystem. Your car use is killing the planet. And no I don’t Uber either.

    So fuck you and all your self centred bullshit the biosystems don’t fucking care about your self centred me first assholery.

    Now, you better follow through on your loudmouth bet made above, and do the planet a favour and end your so called life

  54. Peter


    I read a SiFi novel that explored a different concept of universal income called Basic. People had a choice to join the working society or live on Basic. The people on Basic received no money but all their basic needs were met at basic levels. This society had to be very wealthy because half of the people chose Basic and didn’t contribute to the whole.

    The idea of not giving money to people but supplying all their basic needs might help relieve some of the alcohol and drug problems that come with poverty while rewarding the people who want and are able to work.

  55. Ian Welsh

    Alright, enough with the insult thread. I’m leaving up subgenius’s last comment, with one word removed. Don’t continue this fight here. I’m not going to adjudicate personal truth statements about people’s lives.

  56. Willy

    I read a SiFi novel called Laffernomics, where a governor slashed high-end taxes and it left his state in a such an economic crisis that he had to flee. That governor and his two wealthy supporters remained unapologetic and refused to accept that their theory was nonsense. I think there may be a sequel, where they try it again on a national scale.

  57. nihil obstet


    This society had to be very wealthy because half of the people chose Basic and didn’t contribute to the whole.

    The U.S. is very wealthy.

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