Tag Archives: politics

Thoughts on… What will happen in 2015?

At this time of year, like many people, I tend to reflect on what has happened in the previous year, and what this year will bring. In the past I’ve blogged about my thoughts on what we might see as a community in the year ahead. Stay with me, as my (for want of a better word) “predictions,” tend to be a little different from the usual crystal ball blog posts out there on the web. Primarily because of my interests aren’t just in tech or science.

First of all, I want to say that this year is going to be a big one for me. I’ll be reaching 3 decades of age in the middle of the year. Beki and I will have been married 5 years this coming August. I’m also plan to fully complete my PhD in Artificial Intelligence & Data Mining (or more officially ” Engineering Mathematics (Intelligent Systems)”), and hope to have secured a postdoctoral position by the end of this year (please do let me know if you’re interested in employing me or working with me!). I’ll also progress from Journeyman to Freeman status in the City of London Livery “the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists.” We’ll also be running the second Computational Intelligence Unconference (CIUUK15), and I hope to start planning other unconferences in 2016. Finally, I’m also hoping to progress from Deacon to Priest in my very liberal (and Science-friendly!) independent church.

Enough about me though, on to the societal forecast…

Politics in 2015!

In the United Kingdom, over the past couple of years, we’ve rather unfortunately seen a rise in ring-wing politics in the form of the political party known as UKIP. This is largely due to distrust amongst the population of the main three political parties here (the Conservatives (“Tories”), the Liberal Democrats (“LibDems”) and the Labour Party), why is there distrust? Well we had two terms of a Labour office, which saw terrorism spread, wars occur, prices of oil and housing rise, and the destruction of main party socialism (i.e. the Labour Party slowly became less and less socialist). We then, in 2010, had an election result leading to a hung parliament, the Centre-Right Tories joined forces with the Centre-Left Radical LibDems. The result of that has been more things getting privatised, the excessive rise of university tuition fees, oil prices rising gradually (although more recently falling), various things being taxed, and various other things not being taxed, it has also destroyed the publics belief that the LibDems are leftward leaning at all. People in the UK are searching for another option. Many people, unfortunately, like to blame other people, and blame is what UKIP do best (they are a traditionalist and nationalist political party with a neoliberal economic perspective). So the right-wing UKIP has seen a rise in interest. This is bad news. However, we’ve also seen a rise in support for the Green Party (which is centre-left/left-wing), as well as the SNP in Scotland and Plaid Cymru in Wales (which are both centre-left), so perhaps not all is bad.

What does this have to do with 2015? Well it is General Election year here in the UK, where the population will go to the polls in May and vote for a new parliament. So here is my prediction…

Distrust in the three main political parties will continue to rise. This means that more people will begin to move away from what the three main political parties see as the “centre of politics”, to political ideologies at the extremities. As 2014 saw a significant rise in nationalist neoliberalist agenda of UKIP.  This year, 2015, there will be more hardcore socialists and communists coming to light. However, in order to combat the right wing, they will have to empathise. This empathy will come in the form of anti-authoritarianism and anti-statism, yes, we’ll start to see a rise in ideologies of anarcho-socialism, libertarian socialism, Trotskyism and anything that combines decentralisation with strong communal welfare. We just have to look at Spain and Green to see their rise in radical socialism (in the form of Podemos and Syriza respectively).

This might be slow, and it may not make a significant impact on the general election, but I suspect that by the end of the year it will be making more impact.

Politics and Technology

I would like to couple this with technology though, as something big is happening behind the scenes. This big thing originates from technology is now reaching every part of our lives, and actually making us live healthier and more sociable lives. It can be used as a force for good, and I think that gone are the times when people think tech is bad simply based on a perception of the masses watching television for endless amounts of hours. You just have to look at the CES 2015 exhibition happening at the moment, to see some wonderful things (including for sustainability of the natural environment! – e.g. the electric scooter “Gogoro” will attempt to make low pollution travel in urban areas). With this is a sense that technology really can help the welfare of humanity, this is good (because I believe it can!).

Coupled with this individualism (in otherwords libertarian) perspective living in a communal welfare system (in otherwords socialist), that I think is going to be on the rise, we will see technology fitting in very nicely indeed.

A few of organisations to look out for are:

There is one word to look out for, and this is a very positive word… techno-progressivism.

 

Technologies and Sciences

  • This year I think we will see very significant progress in terms of preventative medicine for cancer. I think this will at first involve analysing our bodies cheaply and easily before we have cancer. So that we can try to stop it in its tracks before we it even develops its early stages. I think this is likely to involve DNA and/or RNA analysis on a large scale.
  • Public and private organisations will shift from just green living, and especially from “greenwashing”, perspectives into a bright green evironmentalist perspective. With particular advances in bright green architecture, but obviously we’ve already seen advances in “smart lighting” and “smart heating,” and that will continue to see uptake by organisations as well as individuals.
  • The rise of privately-funded space project. Not just SpaceX, and other private organisations, but also home-builds. Think home-made quadcopter drones that can easily fly very high, maybe into space ;-)
  • At least one significant and highly publicised study on the positive results of meditation will be released. It would be great if this was related to the relation between meditation and the length of telomeres, which apparently there have been a few studies on already.
  • “Smart clothing” – I think we’ll start to see wearable technology on clothes in retail shops that you see on the high-street. Prices will be quite high at first, and totally unrepresentative to the cost it would be to make it at home, but it’ll begin to reach the masses.
  • There might be a co-operation between bitcoins (or another cryptocurrency) and credit unions. Which would be very neat!
  • I don’t think that computers will see superintelligence this year, but artificial intelligence tools and techniques will continue to be updated and improved… possibly with a bit more effort, and possibly making them a lot more polished.

 

These are just some thoughts. They are based on some insight, but it is all just for fun really, and I don’t in any way guarantee these things happening. Feel free to comment, or to get in touch directly.

Thank you for reading.

Daniel

Thoughts on… making a future

The problems that we have today, for example seemingly endless loops of recession and conflict, are caused by what has happened in the past. It seems that we are having many problems today, than we did in yesteryear. However, we also have it better than ever before – new scientific and engineering advances are improving life and health of humanity and the planet.

It seems to me very odd that many people, and my thoughts are primarily on Europe at the moment, want to revert to some kind of ultra-traditionalist and tribal culture – where greed, injustice, inequality and conflict are commonplace.

So here are the principles I think might solve many of the problems that exist today:

  1. We should communicate and collaborate more, not less. Toleration is crucial for this, particularly of differing opinions and cultural differences. Working together for the purpose of the future. In this, I would propose a worldwide network of communities. I would also propose that Love, Communication, Collaboration and Toleration should be taught in schools, and should be prevalent in news outlets.
  2. Consensus and direct democracy need to become more prevalent, particularly when combined with some pre-existing human rights constitution. We also need a lot more grassroots efforts.
  3. Remove authority from governments. Governments are supposed to work for the people they represent, if they are imposing and limiting humanity, then they are clearly not doing their job. They work for you!
  4. Tie the economy to the environment. No matter whether our community wishes to use a capitalist, a socialist or a communist implementation, we need to tie our processes to the environment. Our products and our energy come from the planet, so if we’re using techniques which damage the earth for the future, then that has a negative value to the community.
  5. Improve news, and take responsibility. We should, as individuals, be getting objective news, about important subjects which relate to the future. We, as humanity, need to know how to live more sustainably and self-reliant. We need to know about environmental issues, and not about the latest celebrity hiccups. We need news outlets to be objective, not full of bias, and we need news outlets not to be afraid of governments because they are being objective. Once news is improved, then we as the populous can take responsibility, and can start to act, rather than relying on governments or businesses to “sort it out”.
  6. Trust developments in science and engineering, in fact push for more progress, and have a greater say in what would be useful for humanity and the environment now and in the future. If rationality and intuition agree, then this is probably the best solution for progress into the future.
  7. If we can use science and engineering to get rid of “toil”, we can end slavery, we can end injustice, we could even end boredom. The workplace could become a joyful place, and productivity would increase. This means, for example, an initial acceptance of robotics – it might be that robots seem to “take jobs” at first, but it does mean productivity would increase, and other jobs begin to open that are less toilful.
  8. As time advances here on planet earth, we get a greater probability of existential risk – i.e. where humanity ends. We need to work out how to get off the planet, and become a multi-planetary humanity (or at least have communities in space). That way if one community dies, then humanity has a higher probability of continuing into the future.
  9. Think global, act local. Think multi-planetary, act global. (Recurring Microcosmic-Macrocosmic relationships)

These are just some initial thoughts. My beliefs on the above may change in the future, and no intention of aggravation, usurpation or mutiny is intended. I present them here in full tolerance of differing opinions, and I would be happy to declare myself incorrect if found to be so.

Thoughts on…. Politics & Artificial Intelligence

Firstly, I’d like to draw your attention to an article written by my newspaper of choice (The Independent) entitled “Advances in artificial intelligence could lead to mass unemployment, warns experts.” This particular article was highlighted to me by my good friend Alex Blok.

It pains me that people are probably going to be pulled in to believing that artificial intelligence will only lead to mass unemployment. It simply is not necessarily the case! Before I start my post properly, I’d just like to highlight that I’m not an economist, but I am quite passionate and hopefully quite knowledgeable about both artificial intelligence and politics.

Firstly, humanity has been innovating ever since we’ve been Homo Sapiens. Innovation can be defined as finding new or better solutions for problems we encounter. One of the biggest problems innovation has attempted to solve is problematic health & safety when working. The wheel allowed one person to push a heavy object, when four people would have had to lift it previously. The wheel also lead into innovations such as pulleys. The industrial era attempted to simplify peoples jobs by providing automation, it then also gradually improved health and safety in those factories. So, the assembly line simplified the process of people putting together things (e.g. vehicles and electronic items) – eliminating some of the dangers, and many repetitions of doing things by hand. Each of these innovations, arguably, caused some unemployment (but not mass unemployment). At the same time it, arguably, allows for different jobs to be created.

Automation allows for the simplification of processing, which directly leads to a “freeing up” of costs. This single fact often means that positions in a business are no longer required, and the people in those positions are released – aiding in the “freeing up” of costs. There are now at least four choices about where this freed-up wealth now goes, (1a) it goes on creating new jobs within the business, or (1b) new avenues of business, (2) it goes to philanthropic projects, (3) it goes into paying off debt early, or (4) it goes into the pockets of the management of the business as they’ve been “clever” enough to employ such a solution.

I suspect that in contemporary society, with its ever increasingly capitalist stance it goes more into option (4) and option (3) than the other options (although there does seem to be some hint towards (1b) and (2) but to a much lesser degree).

Now we come to Artificial Intelligence. We’ve been employing Artificial Intelligence techniques ever since about the mid-1900s, where simple AI techniques allow for automated route discovery, automated pattern finding, automated quality assurance, speech-to-text assistance for the visually impaired, etc etc. There will continue to be advances in Artificial Intelligence which simplify human life. Whats different now to allow for such an unemployment worry? Partly, it is more widely known about, and this is thanks to the general public become a bit more technology-savvy and providing greater funds to technology businesses. Another potential reason for such a worry could be that the technological singularity is a possibility within the next 1 to 100 years (there are a variety of speculations), but I think this is a lesser reason for such a unemployment worry, and is more of a problem to existential risk if global unfriendly AI were to be created (but that is a completely different topic).

What needs to happen?

I think that the Future of Humanity Institute at the University of Oxford is correct that we need to start thinking about the risks which artificial intelligence imposes. Particularly as evolutionary algorithms are at such a stage that they could self-evolve at a greater pace than society can cope with. This risk research needs to feed directly into local, national and international governments which are going to have to change rather rapidly. We must keep in mind that freed-up wealth, instead of being fed into the pockets of business owners (or even authoritarian governments), could (and should!) be shared out into making humanity better – allowing for new/different jobs, increased quality of education and research, better health for all of humanity, genuine ecological improvements that are sustainable, and allowing for creativity within humanity to encounter new problems and create new innovations to solve those problems. We must do this with freedom, equality and community in mind.

So in summary. AI, like any other innovation, is not really a problem but a solution. What could be a problem however is the management of those solutions including corporate bosses, politicians and media. We need to collectively find solutions – Collectively being the whole of the community: whether employed, unemployed, management, politician or journalist. Hysteria and panic are not the way forward. Careful analysis and genuine support for humanity is the way forward.