Locklin on science

Data is not the new oil: a call for a Butlerian Jihad against technocrat data ding dongs

Posted in econo-blasphemy, machine learning, Progress by Scott Locklin on November 5, 2020

I tire of the dialog on “big data” and “AI.” AI is an actual subject, but as used in marketing and press releases and in the babbling by ideologues and think tank dipshits, the term is a sort of grandiose malapropism meaning “statistics and machine learning.” As far as I can tell “big data” just means the data at one point lived in something other than a spreadsheet.

 “BigDataAI” ideology is a continuation of the program of the technocratic managerial “elite.” To those of you who are unfamiliar with the work of James Burnham, there is a social class of technocratic “experts” have largely taken over the workings of society in the West; a process which took place in the first half of the 20th century. While there have always been bureaucrats in civilized societies, the ones since around the time of Herbert Hoover have aped “scientific” solutions even where no such thing is actually possible. This social class of bureaucrats has had some mild successes; the creation of the American highway system, public health initiatives against trichinosis, US WW-2 production. But they have mostly discredited themselves for decades: aka the shitty roads in America, the unaffordable housing in major urban centers, a hundred million fat diabetics, deindustrialization because muh free market reasons, the covidiocy and most recently, the failure of every noteworthy technocrat in the world’s superpower to predict election outcomes and even its ability to honestly count its votes. Similar social classes interested in central planning also failed spectacularly in the Soviet Union, and led to the cultural revolution in China. There are reasons both obvious and deep as to why these social classes have failed.

The obvious reason is that mandarinates are inherently prone to corruption when there are no consequences for their failures. Bureaucrats are  wielders of power and have the extreme privilege of collecting a pension on the public expense. Various successful cultures had different ways of keeping them honest; the Prussians and pre-Soviet Russian bureaucrats recruited from honor cultures. Classical China and the early Soviets did it  via fear. The Soviet Union actually worked pretty well when the guys from Gosplan could be sent to the Gulag for their failings (or because Stalin didn’t like their neckties -keeps them on their toes). It progressively fell apart as it grew more civilized; by the 1980s, nobody was afraid of the late night knock on the door, and the Soviet  system fell apart when the US faked like it was going to build ridiculous space battleships. The rise of China has largely been the story of bureaucratic reforms by Deng where accountability (and vigorous punishment for malefactors) were the order of the day. Singapore makes bureaucrats meet regularly with their constituents; seems reasonable -don’t know why every society doesn’t make this a requirement. It is beyond question the American equivalent of the Gosplan mandiranate is almost unimaginably corrupt at this point, and the country is falling apart as a result. 

While it gives policy-makers a sense of agency having a data project, consider that there isn’t a single large scale data project beyond the search engine that has improved the lives of human beings. Mind you, the actual civilizational utility of the search engine is highly questionable. What improvement in human living standards has come of the advent of google in the last 20 years? The only valuable content on the internet is stuff made by human beings. Google effectively steals or destroys most of the revenue of content creators who made the stuff worth looking at in the first place. Otherwise, library science worked just fine without blue haired Mountain View dipshits running SVD on a link graph. INSPEC (more or less; dmoz for research) is 120 years old and is still vastly better for research than google scholar. Science made more progress then between 1898 and 2005 or so when google more or less replaced it: and the news wasn’t socially toxic clickfarming idiocy back when the CIA censored the  news instead of google komissars with facial piercings. These days google even sucks at being google; I generally have more luck with runaroo or just going directly to things on internet archive.

If “AIBigData” were so wonderful, you’d see its salutary effects everywhere. Instead, a visit to the center of these ideas, San Francisco is a visit to a real life dystopia.There are thousands of data projects which have made life obviously worse for people. Pretty much all of nutrition and public health research post discovery of vitamins, and statisticians telling people not to drink toilet water is worthless or actively harmful (look at all those fat people waddling around). Most biomedical research is false, and most commonly prescribed drugs are snake oil or worse. Various “pre-crime” models used to justify setting bail or prison sentences are an abomination. The advertising surveillance hellscape we’ve created for ourselves is both aesthetically awful and a gigantic waste of time. The intelligence surveillance hellscape we’ve created mostly keeps its crimes secret, and does nothing obviously helpful. Annoying advertising invading every empty space; I don’t want to watch ads to pump gas or get money from my ATM machine.  Show me something good these dorks have done for us; I’m not seeing it. Most of it is moronic overfitting to noise, evil or both.

It’s less obvious but can’t be stated often enough: often “there is no data in your data.” The technocracy’s mathematical tools boil down to versions of the t-test being applied to poorly sampled and/or heteroskedastic data where they may not be meaningful. The hypothesis under test may not have a meaningful null no matter how much data you collect. When they talk about “AI” I think it’s mostly aspirational; a way out of heteroskedasticity and actual randomness. It’s not; there are no “AI” t-tests in common use by these knuckleheads, and if there were, the upshot wouldn’t look that much different from 1970s era stats results. When they talk about big data, they don’t talk about \frac{1}{\sqrt{n}}, or issues like ROC curves and bias variance tradeoff. They certainly never talk about data which is heteroskedastic or simply random, which is most of it. 

In reality, data collection is mostly useless. In intelligence work, in marketing, political work: most of it is completely useless, and collecting it and acting on it is a sort of cargo cult for DBAs, cloud computing saleslizards, technocratic managerial nerds, economists, Nate Silver and other such human refuse. Once in a while it pays off. More often, the technocrat will take credit when things go his way and make complicated excuses when they don’t; just look at Nate Silver’s career for example; a clown with a magic 8-ball.  There’s an entire social class of “muh science” nerds who think it a sort of moral imperative to collect and act on data even if it is obviously useless. The very concept that their KPIs and databases might be filled with the sheerest gorp …. or that you might not be able to achieve marketing uplift no matter what you do… doesn’t compute for some people. 

Technocratic data people are mostly parasitic vermin and their extermination, while it would cut into my P/L, would probably be good for society. At the very least we should make their salaries proportional to (1- Brier) scores; that will require them to put error bars on their predictions, reward the competent and bankrupt the useless. Really though, they should all be sent to Idaho to pick potatoes. Or ….

On cultures that build

Posted in econo-blasphemy by Scott Locklin on June 19, 2020

I tire of the Andreessen spurred discussion of “cultures that build.” I agree with the sentiment; I do miss the America that could make stuff.

I am annoyed that numskulls refuse to face the actual fact of the matter. The historical entity which built most of the stuff you see around you no longer exists. That civilization is dead. Full stop; the end. In fact, the predominant social energy of the moment, backed by most of the mainstream organs of respectable thought, most government agencies, virtually all corporations and collectives, and right thinking people everywhere is to wipe out any remaining historical reminders of that civilization because of muh feels. For example:

People who dislike the idea of tearing down statues are so thoroughly politically vanquished they can’t prevent the destruction of statues of the historical founder of the country. Pardon me if I laugh at the concept of becoming a “culture that builds” at this present moment in time. US culture and its colonial offspring are now cultures of destruction; both at home and abroad. Virtually all organs of US power are organized to not only prevent building things; they’re organized to destroy things.

see a pattern here?

I would say that the chances of the US becoming “a culture that builds” is about the same as the present day municipality of Venice becoming a powerful trade and naval empire in the Adriatic and Bosphorus. The knowledge is gone. The cultural capital is gone; the society that produced those kinds of productive people hasn’t existed in decades. The physical ability to do this is gone; thanks to the globalization our genius economists told us was inevitable, the US lacks the factories, mines and shipyards required to build things. The human material who would actually do the building is gone: dimwit MBAs destroyed the skilled working classes, atomized their communities, continue to demonize and demoralize them and utterly destroyed the kind of basic low level education and social cohesion required to have a productive workforce.

Our technocrats (aka you lot and the morons you went to college with) themselves are typically not capable of working with matter any longer, preferring more profitable and more fashionable masturbatory financialized nonsense that doesn’t pollute the environment. Instead of building Project Pluto, modern american technocrat and managerial types prefer making dopamine rat mazes such as Facebook, imbecile glass bead games like “quantum information theory” or abstract quasi-religious bullshit such as…  woke collitch culture and its sinister city-burning, cancel-culture Jacobin offspring.

In fact, one of the main things the US produces at the moment is the type of people who think “cultures that build” are so horrible, visible reminders of them need to be removed from the public square. We don’t produce many innovators, but we produce plenty of people who think remaining builders  should be persecuted and made to apologize for having the temerity to excel. We’ve created a managerial caste who is so psychologically fragile they can’t even abide images of success. What are they going to do when they’re asked to do something difficult like invent the transistor or discover DNA, or even skirt San Francisco Zoning Laws

Let me posit this, fellow builders of things. Politically speaking, the kind of changes required for the country to go back to its past of building and inventing cool things will involve at minimum dealing with the kinds of loathesome barbarians tearing down statues and burning cities. Those people have to be prevented from interfering with both built structures and the present day builders of things. There are a lot of them and they have a lot of free time on their hands to get up to mischief. 

Not only that; a productive future will involve active persecution of the evil dimwits responsible for making chimping barbarians think it’s OK to burn it all down. There are a lot of their lot too, and they’re generally comfortably ensconced in schools, foundations, non-profits, government bureaucracies, large corporations, entertainment complexes and other such places of institutional power. These are the people who would implement any government or societal policy. You have to either  change their minds or get them out of the way somehow. 

These bozos would be pretty easy to deal with if we had the political will to do so. I’m not even talking physically, though there is that; most are noodle-armed vegans or two twinkies from a heart attack. Many of these mentally ill assclowns are so hysterical they actually require trigger warnings to get through the day. You could probably take away their antidepressants and they’d all have to check themselves into the booby hatch. This alone would probably double US economic output. Just removing crazy people from positions of responsibility instead of promoting them would be an enormous help. 

 Every historical example of a society turning to a productive direction (I dunno, post Revolution France, or Deng era China) involved defanging tin pot Robespierres before anything good happened. Removing statue toppling city burners and their encouragers and enablers as active dangers to the rest of society is table stakes for making a society of builders. The more serious issue is the MBA types who think it’s just fine to ship middle class jobs to the third world, or import new helot worker classes to destroy the bargaining power of local labor because “muh free markets.” These people are sharks, they’re wreckers, and it is they who have weaponized the “woke culture” of the left to prevent the actual left (as opposed to numskulls who think overturning a statue helps anything) from raising their taxes.

None of them are interested in investing money in productive directions; they’re all about pyramid schemes and looting the remaining human and physical capital. These fuckers are burning the proverbial furniture to warm themselves. They’ll have to go, and they won’t go easy because they have all the loot and no loyalties beyond their bank accounts. That includes almost everyone in Andreessen’s shitty industry (reminder: “VC” means “toilet” in Russian): almost none of them are interested in investing in things involving innovation or matter. They’d rather invest in garbage which skirts hotel and taxi laws or become sneaker loan sharks, making everyone else more miserable in the process by socializing the costs. 

The society we have right now is a result of the people that compose it. Outcomes won’t change until you at least change minds of the people in charge of running the day to day operations of it. Are you willing to ship NPR reporters, Goldman Sachs bankers, Ford foundation grant administrators, pornographers, Booz Allen Hamilton consultants,  mid-level tech managers, 99.8% of Venture Capitalists, and all the 3rd assistant secretaries of education to a potato picking Gulag in North Dakota? Are you willing to at least get them fired so they have to get jobs at Burger King, and put your supposedly waiting-in-the-wings non kakistocrats in charge of their bureaucracies? To be honest, me neither; that’s probably why we can’t have nice things. We’ve built our cages out of iphones, twitter, prozac and people obsessed with their feels and the doings of their crotches. You won’t get any more Edisons or Wozzes or Bardeens in America as long as hysterical imbeciles and demonic looters are preeminent and people who actually lower the entropy of the universe, past, present and future, are demonized. 

It’s over; the US has has a remarkable run as a place where regular people could have a nice life, and exceptional people could make exceptional contributions. “Vanished under night’s helm as if it had never been.” Genap under nihthelm, swa heo no wære.  Acting like some minor tweak in policy is going to reverse this is laughably insane. Policy fiddling is a ghost dance; trying to bring back 1945 in America when we had a competent and productive civil service, nuclear lightning in our hands,  our enemies vanquished at our feet, a largely virtuous and almost fanatically united society, sitting on top of the stock of the world’s capital with a host of giant new high technology factories. That reality and that America is long gone. It has run down the curtain and joined the choir invisible; it is bleedin’ demised. That society isn’t pining for the fields; it’s pushing up the daisies. I’m standing in front of you with a dead parrot society.

I realized it was too late about 7-8 years ago, and organized my life around my exit strategy. The country is too far down kakistocracy, and the remaining decent people are too deluded about the root causes and their potential remedies to ever change things. If you’re still in the US, you live in an evil empire of chaos and destruction, and the best of you are probably serving the worst ends of it.

 You can cower under your desks with home-made diapers on your faces hoping some member of a productive society invents a vaccine for the Chinese Lung Butter or whatever phantom (and entirely inflicted by our kakistocrat mandarins) terror of the moment afflicts you. Those N95 factories aren’t coming back, let alone Bell Labs type innovations; even if you wish really really hard. 

 

Cybersyn and Allende’s Semi-Automated Luxury Socialism

Posted in econo-blasphemy by Scott Locklin on February 26, 2019

One of the interesting “what ifs” of history is “what if the 70s-80s commies used computers to do their planned economy.” Men like KantorovichNikolay Fedorenko and Victor Glushkov helped develop some of the mathematical tools and computer systems which would have made this possible.There were abortive attempts to build this in East Germany (pdf link), the Soviet Union and Allende’s Chile. As far as I can tell, the Soviet and German efforts were crushed by old guard party rednecks who feared losing control to technocrats. Oddly, Allende’s attempt at this, which would have been constructed of bone knives and bearskins, seemed to come closest to being deployed.

The visionary behind this was Fernando Flores, who is still alive despite being Allende’s minister of finance and later “General Secretary” back in the early 1970s. Flores was inspired by a sort of futurist “cyberneticist” operations research proponent named Stafford Beer. Operations research is generally now thought of as the field of applied work involving optimization; linear programming and all that. In those days  it was something more general: mathematics applied to the problem of management. Guys like Beer with this sort of training ended up running large parts of the war economy.

It’s difficult for me to characterize what “cybernetics” is, probably because it doesn’t really mean anything. Norbert Wiener, who I respect, coined the phrase, and more or less defined as a hand wavey general study of systems of feedback and control mechanisms. As far as I can tell, “cybernetics” was a complete bullshit field, and what it really meant was “I know futuristic looking words and have Wiener’s book on my shelf; pay me more.”  Stafford Beer was a proponent of “management cybernetics” which, as far as I can tell, meant “using data to make business decisions.”  The books are hysterical; you can go look at them on filesharing sites. They appear to be total horse shit. FWIIW the Soviets more or less agreed with me, at least in 1947; the field of cybernetics was condemned as “a science of obscurantists, a pseudoscience wedded to obscurantist epistomology.”

This looks like it pertains to something real; nope

 

Flores hired Beer. Beer cut his rates to $500 a day (about $2500 in today’s money) along with unlimited cigars, chocolate and wine; items the Chilean government had a surplus of. Mind you the Chilean government was being starved of dollars at the time as a form of colonial pressure, just as the Venezuelan government is now in 2019. The results were hilarious.

The thing Beer built for the Chilean government is most famous for its control room, so we’ll start there. It had a bunch of cool chairs where powerful human intelligences would examine data on the walls and vote on the cybernetically optimal next steps. The chairs are TOTALLY not based on Captain Kirk’s control chair from Star Trek; every account of the thing makes certain to mention this. I assume Beer got a lot of shit over it, and rightly so, because he totally copied this from Star Trek. Or, if he didn’t, his designer did.

The chairs come equipped with ash trays (men of power always smoked in those days) and a place for a whiskey glass, presumably in case Castro or Beer wanted to relax while making important decisions. There are 7 of the chairs to make sure they can always achieve consensus when they vote. They use ridiculous glowing geometric buttons (like on Star Trek) instead of keyboards. The main reason is because they’re all hardwired to physical mechanisms; the images and graphs on the wall are not computer generated or directly interfaced with a computer at all. They’re slides and viewgraphs that are manually put in there by human helpers behind the walls. The lack of keyboard has also attributed to keyboards being “feminine” or confusing to men, which may be true in some way, but which doesn’t make any sense, as male factory workers used the teletypes to communicate factory data with home base.

The important pieces in the background, besides the workers behind the curtain, were the computer, an antique that they had on hand, and dozens of teletype machines they distributed to factories and control points to relay important metrics and data back to home base. These metrics would be entered into the computer (by hand), which would presumably generate reports (it’s not clear this ever happened) which would be manually turned into viewgraphs and slides by artists. The display of these slides would then be controlled by heavy drinking/smoking men in Captain Kirk Star Trek chairs, just like when they show you their vacation photos on a carousel slide projector. Except it was 7 people controlling the projector and arguing about what it all means.

People go on about how futuristic this was, because … I dunno, muh internet and muh powerpoint is used to make business decisions now. The reality is, Beer built the Allende government the economic equivalent of one of those WW-2 era RAF air defence sector station operation rooms with a little futuristic woo slapped onto it. It has some trappings of high technology with the Star Trek like buttons, but those buttons really didn’t do much of anything. The data allegedly eventually feeding  back to the computer could have been more effectively gathered by people on the telephone with yellow legal pads rather than the teletype, just like it was in a WW-2 era RAF air defence command center. In fact, factory managers ended up routing around the central command center and teletype process by calling up other factory managers and working out potential supply issues.

The one time it was allegedly useful was during a CIA organized truckers strike. You’d expect any central data/controll station to be useful in a crisis situation, more for putting decision makers in a room where all the data is available than anything else. Pretty sure the slides, assuming any were made for the event, and the computer, assuming any data was entered into it, were not helpful here.

It may have eventually been a helpful tool if Pinochet hadn’t taken over, thrown many of those involved out a helicopter, and destroyed the room of socialist power. The fancy appearance of it was almost entirely Potemkin village though. It relied on people entering stuff into the system at the collection end. It relied on “data science” people writing code. And it relied on artists marshalling the data into useful and insightful visual reports. It also relied on people who managed the factories to obey, and in a timely fashion; presumably once you finished your whiskey and cigars, you summoned a telephone to tell the factory workers what to do. All of these things are guaranteed to more or less fail.

Even small design decisions were foolish. The controls; why should everyone in the room be able to control the view? How could everyone in the room control the view? We don’t give everyone a remote when we do powerpoint now. Beyond that, how does the cigar smoking drunk in the chair know what slides are where when he’s pressing his buttons? It changes every meeting, and some boob in the background could screw up the order of the things. Who sets the agenda? I strongly suspect the guys in the chairs would be shouting through the walls to get the secretaries to pull up different slides. Also the voting buttons. Seems very scientific and futuristic to have the seven cigar puffing drunks in the Captain Kirk chairs voting by some kind of electrical secret ballot to make decisions. Why wouldn’t they just say “dude this sucks?” How would it make a difference? And of course, there was no way to actually transmit decisions using all this fancy electronics, besides the telephones they should have used in the first place.

The SAGE system was a real world embodiment of this sort of thing, built 15 years earlier. Unlike Cybersym, it was a real time system, with real time data flowing into a central processing unit, and real time commands being sent out to remote bases. SAGE also had human operators who helped the computer make the right decisions. SAGE worked (we think) because it actually was entirely networked, and the data flowed quickly, and split second decisions were absolutely necessary. SAGE also didn’t have any goofy fake control panels with a place to put your liquor, or LARPY telex stuff where secretaries had to do data entry to put the data into a computer. But, at the time, it was probably fairly difficult to see this, and people who watched a lot of Star Trek were probably impressed.

 

 

I’m not sure how the detailed history of this played out. It’s entirely possible American spooks ramped up their efforts to depose Allende in part because of fear of this. US economists and analysts almost always overrated Soviet and communist efficiencies. In part this happened because the Soviets would occasionally surprise people with things like Sputnik. In part it was rice bowl politics; you get a bigger budget for the scary threat rather than the third world threats made of coconuts and rubber band slingshots. But mostly it was because the technocrats and economists who purported to study Soviet economics thought their own farts smelled of roses. Western economists in those days were not the mere bean counters and toadies for capital they are today: they had vast powers to regulate the economy, set prices and so on. They just assumed more regulation of the economy would cause it to run more efficiently. They believed their own bullshit.

The threat of a more efficient civil service is taken very seriously by governments. For examples from history, the late Imperial government of Russia was seen as a great threat by Germany as it had developed an efficient and productive civil service. One which was rapidly industrializing the country and improving its logistics with a fraction of the per capita civil service manpower of Germany. WW-1 may have been partially a result of this fear. I can’t  prove any of this without access to spook internal documents and reports on Cybersyn. But I do have the example of an article in New Scientist who described Cybersyn as potentially “one of the most powerful weapons in history.” I mean, it very obviously wasn’t and probably couldn’t have been with the approach they took. But the CIA had no real way of knowing this.

As a sort of weird coda to all this, apparently Brian Eno and later David Bowie and David Byrne befriended Beer. I kind of wonder what they talked about, or if they just partied. As mountebanks go Beer seemed like a fun guy. Any proto data scientist who puts ashtrays and whiskey cup holders in a Captain Kirk control chair can’t be all bad, even if he was full of shit.

Bones send whiskey and smokes, stat

 

 

https://www.newstatesman.com/world/2018/08/project-cybersyn-afterlife-chile-s-socialist-internet

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/10/13/planning-machine

https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/cybernetic-revolutionaries

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/04/allende-chile-beer-medina-cybersyn/

http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2003/sep/08/sciencenews.chile

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Cybersyn

AI is not eliminating jobs

Posted in econo-blasphemy, machine learning by Scott Locklin on February 9, 2019

Midwits keep asserting that “AI” is going to eliminate jobs. They say things like “those jobs aren’t coming back because of AI” (or screws or whatever other dumb excuse: but they’re real sure about those jobs not coming back).  These are not statements of scientific or technological fact, or even a reasonable prediction based on present trends. These are ideological political statements. “AI” is a soundbite/fnord excuse for not doing anything about the policy problems of the present.

The ruling caste of American tech and FIRE lizard people continue to make these statements, not because they are inevitable, but because this is their desired future. Their preferred future is a population consisting of powerless, preferably drugged up serfs on the “universal basic income” dole, ruled over by our present ruling class of grifters, rentiers, pyramid scheme salesmen, watched over by a surveillance hellscape.  The lizard people would like to continue our present policy of de-industrializing the country, breaking what little labor negotiating power US citizens have, and atomizing people to their raw protoplasm. It’s almost like a Freudian slip. Don’t bother agitating for any rights, slave, we soon will have electric Golems and won’t need you!

The most murderous drug dealers who ever existed … Google’s AI dude thinks they’re great! https://twitter.com/JeffDean/status/1093953731756867584

Oh I am sure the Google doofs would like to develop and control some strong AI, and perhaps a robot maid to replace Juanita. I, too, would like to have a magic technology which gives me infinite power, and a robot maid to iron my shirts. If I were a Silicon Valley oligarch rather than a humble nerd, I might develop delusions the pile of C++, Javascript and tech drones which made me rich could become a Golem of infinite power. Personally,  I would build rockets. At least I could get away from lizard people who want to turn the world into a soy dystopia.

If these clowns really believed that “AI” were something actually like an “AI” which could replace humans in general tasks, they’d use it to replace computer programmers. At one point in history, people believed CASE tools would eliminate most programmer jobs. How’s that working out for the AI geniuses at Google? They can’t even automate devops jobs; devops being one of the most automatable roles in tech companies. Devops tasks don’t seem much different from a computer strategy game.

Google’s “AI” team can’t do this useful thing, which, even by my lights, actually seems  achievable. Yet somehow, google boobs think they’re going to violate Moravec’s paradox and replace drivers. Think about that for a minute. It’s becoming clear that autonomous vehicle “technology” as sold to people for the last 10 years is basically fraud, and is still stuck in the 1980s when Ernst Dickmanns was driving around the autobahn with Sun Workstations in his back seat. Demonstrations of this tech always have a human in the loop (remote or in vehicle), because moving automobiles without human control are death machines under most circumstances.

Inside of the UniBwM autonomous experimental vehicle VaMP, at the rear bench where the computing system was installed for easy access and monitoring. This was at the PROMETHEUS demonstration in Paris in October 1994 | Photo by Reinhold Behringer

Even assuming I’m wrong and the media hyperbole is right and full level 5 autonomous vehicles are “right around the corner” Google also has zero business interest in “disrupting” driving. Google is a tech driven advertising company with a  collection of loss leaders. Yet they go after this preposterously difficult, possibly impossible task. Why not disrupt a business they presumably know how to disrupt, like that of the lowly ops engineer? At least this would be good for their bottom line, and it would be a real step forward in “AI” rather than a parlour trick perpetuated by marketing nerds and started by obvious mountebanks.

From a semiotics point of view, this shows astounding hostility to the types of people who drive cars and trucks for a living. Drivers are … ordinary, usually uneducated, salt of the earth people who have a fairly independent lifestyle and make a decent living. Google overlords must really hate such people, since they’re dumping all this skrilla into ruining their lives for no sane business reason. They will almost certainly fail, but man, why would you try to blow up those people’s lives? If this country really wanted to get rid of driving, or considered it a serious problem that there are too many cars on the road, or thought that people now employed as drivers should do something else, we had a solution to this problem invented in the late 1800s.

 

The other professions  people “think” will be replaced always seem to be low caste irritations or lawyers (lol). You regularly hear “experts” talking about how presently common jobs won’t exist in 20 years because of “AI.”  I’ve said multiple times now that all estimates for delivery of something in 20 years are bullshit. A prediction that a technology will do X in 20 years means “we don’t know how to do this, but we want your money to fool around with anyway.” Controlled nuclear fusion researchers being the most amusing case of the perpetual 20 year rice bowl. 20 years is a magic number, as it’s plenty of time for a technological mountebank to retire; and it’s at least 2-3 generations of tenured academics, which is enough to turn a scam subject like “quantum computing” or “nanotech” into an actual field.

“AI” doesn’t exist. Machine learning is a force multiplier and productivity enhancer for statisticians. If you believe the “automation”=”no more jobs” ding dongs, machine learning should have at least automated away the job of statistician. Yet somehow, the  statistician (aka “data scientist”) jobs are among the best paid and most in-demand jobs out there at present.

 

The last job category I can think of which was automated away is Flight Engineer on airliners. It mostly went away because of automation of airliners, but it wasn’t even computer related; just normal improvements of systems monitoring and reliability; good old mechanical and systems engineering. Despite 1/3 fewer seats in airliner cockpits, there are now more people with airline flight officer jobs now than ever before. Planes got cheaper and there are more of them servicing vastly more people.

The example of Flight Engineer is how the world works. Technological advances increase human power over nature and makes more things possible. Actual “AI” advances, should any eventually materialize, will work exactly like this.

AI has eliminated exactly zero professions, and essentially no jobs. Since the best prediction tool for a market is generally a random walk, my forecast is, barring giant breakthroughs, this trend of “nothing important actually happened” regarding AI job destruction will continue. If you disagree with me and have an alternate prediction on a normal human (aka 5 or 10 year) timescale, I am happy to entertain any long bets on whatever platform you care to use.