The Real Reason We Lost Our Jobs to Robots

FeaturedThe Real Reason We Lost Our Jobs to Robots

The real reason we lost our jobs to robots is because our educational system trains our children to be parts of an 18th century world wide computer system that no longer exists.

This is why children in the 21st century still have nonsensical rules like “you can’t use a calculator on your math test” with the bizarre justification that “You won’t always have a calculator with you” just as they’re Snapchatting that exact absurd moment to their worldwide friends on a device which literally does a billion times more math than the room-sized computers that sent men to the moon. In school, you have to memorize to be able to do simple arithmetic, including long division in case you become a cog in the global human computer that was the great economic machine at the center of all human commercial activity.

Your handwriting must be uniform and precise. You must arrive on time and not leave before the specified time or else face penalties. Any human eccentric variation in these aspects could jam up the human computer and break the system. Thus, uniformity is valued and encouraged in this 18th century ideal of a young worker.

In the 18th century, preparing a population of replaceable computer parts for your global information network made a lot of sense. You needed to be able to find a part with legible handwriting and capable accounting skills to serve as your word processor or spreadsheet or to replace a broken part of your word processor or spreadsheet. In the old days, parts of your human computer could literally die. And you thought losing your iPhone pictures was bad. At least they’re still up in the cloud. Old Wentworth might be up in the cloud after losing his bout with Scarlet Fever, but you’re not getting your data back from him. However, we now have such things as actual computers which handle the tasks of global communication, commerce, and arithmetic far more reliably and cheaply.

We no longer need children to memorize capitals of states and countries so they can potentially serve as a shoddy version of Google Maps. We no longer need children to memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which is not even on Google Maps, nor John F. Kennedy’s speech to serve as a living embodiment of an oral version of Wikipedia as if it were some Fahrenheit 451 dystopia where such information would be lost otherwise. Just now, I wasn’t sure how to spell dystopia, but a two second alt-tab to Google provided me the answer. Although such things are not important anymore, we still have spelling bees for children to exalt this useless skill. We’re told not to use the word “I” in our writing, because writing must be messages intended not for other humans, with senses of humor, but for the global computer made of humans. Never use the word “I” in your writing because you’re not expected to actually communicate with other humans. Your expectation is to communicate only to other parts of the machine which happens to be made up of anonymous humans. Soylent Computer is MADE OF PEOPLE! In fact, in your writing, the more you downplay and disregard that there is a human which is a computer part, the better it is for the computer. Soylent computer runs smoother and more consistently if emotions and human blather like love are left out entirely. Surely, this makes sense. I certainly agree with my 18th century intelligensia that my word processor and my spreadsheet are not made any better by allowing the CPU and internet connection to have human emotions. What a mess that would be.

The real reason we lost our jobs to robots and automation is because our educational system trains our children to be a shitty computer and far far better computers exist now. Instead of training our children to design and invent those robots, our educational system trains our children to BE those robots. Is it any surprise that shitty child robots grow up to be shitty adult robots who can’t compete against actual real and working robots? Is it any surprise that of the few children who can invent a robot to replace 1000 shitty human robots, that the one clever child who invents the robot makes 1000 times as money as those children would have made?

Income inequality, poverty, and joblessness all stem from one source: Computers advanced far faster at an exponential rate than innovation in our educational system. Our educational system was good for the 200 years in which global society used a Soylent Computer. But now that it’s clear that Soylent Computer is no longer needed, we need to change our educational system to reflect that profound change.

So, this is a call to everyone who can make change in the system. The system needs to change. And it must change fast. It’s changing far too slowly and the nation’s citizens are suffering for it for every moment we lag behind. Computers are still advancing exponentially. And the educational system is hardly even advancing linearly. It is static. It’s still stuck in the 18th century. The longer this remains the case, the more people who will be hurt by being born into this stagnant situation.

However, not all people of the earth will be born into this situation. There are many billions of people who, had they been born in the 18th century, would not have been born into an educational system which afforded them the potential to work at Soylent Computer. They would not have received the education to even be a cog in the human computer. They would not have participated in the world economy at any level.

People of China, of India, of Africa could have never participated in the global economy in the 18th century. Yet, now, going into the 21st century, they are not yoked as children into an 18th century rigid educational system. Instead, with no educational system at all, those nations and peoples are free to invent one which is suitable for the realities of the 21st century in which global communications and computers are ubiquitous.

Just as China did not have to build telegraph wires across their entire mountainous and difficult terrain to join the telecommunications revolution, future children of the world no longer have to endure the intermediate step of an antiquated educational system in order to participate in a dynamic and rapidly evolving world economy.

If America loses its dominance, it will be fast because the world moves so much faster now. The root cause will be because of its educational system. Just as in warfare where innovations such as rifling or camouflage or armored vehicles have a profound and upsetting effect on the nations which have met previous success with the status quo, the future of the global economy does not belong to the nations which adhere to the status quo, but instead adapt unrelentingly to the pace of change.

This is why conservatives, in the traditional sense of the word, as in “preserving the status quo”, are far more dangerous to the future of the United States than anyone dare thought, even in its current chaotic and turbulent state.

The pace of global change is so fast that you can put a man on the moon less than a hundred years after learning to fly and then subsequently land a probe on a comet in the same time as the first plane and landing on the moon. Being conservative and adverse to change in this situation is believing that the right shoes can win a footrace against a Ford Model T when the Tesla has already been invented. The man in the Tesla will beat your man with his best shoes on any day, often with heated seats and without touching the wheel.

The world is changing far far faster than the educational system. Even if we were to reverse this trend tomorrow, how much change would be necessary in order for it to make a difference? It would still be too slow. There are billions yet to be born in China and India into this new world economy. Your change to the educational system in the US would only affect millions in a few decades. Do the math. They taught you to do that, by hand, right? Now, do it. You didn’t. Because you know, like the future of the nation, someone else will do it for you, and more efficiently than by hand, at that. In two hundred years, how many billions will have been born into an educational system adapted to current conditions versus how many millions in the US born into an educational system still trying to figure itself out? Just going by the numbers, which system would be most likely to produce the most impactful citizens of the new world economy?

And conservatives want to keep out immigrants? If conservatives love this country, they would be advocating for the exact opposite immigration strategy. At the moment, the US still stands as a coveted nation for immigration. How long will this remain true? A hundred years, at best, given the current rate of progress of other nations and the stagnation of the US. And how does it benefit the US if it loses the status of the most preferred nation by the world’s intellectuals, the world’s most talented people, and the world’s most wealthy people? Easily within 100 years, which, given current advances, it will be within youlifetime if you’re only 10 or 20 years younger than me, the US will no longer hold the esteemed title of most coveted country for immigration. That will be the inflection point at which historians will be able to point to and say that this was the fall of the American empire. That will be the point in time, like the collapse of the Roman Empire, which will attract the most historian scrutiny. But lost in history will be the time and moment when the American empire had the means to change all of that. Perhaps, some historians will point to the election of Trump as the inflection point in which this inevitable turn of events hinged. But this problem is beyond Trump and beyond Clinton. Clinton may have been more tolerant of change than Trump, but she would not have been an advocate of radical change in the educational system since she was most definitely, a moderate, at best. No, the necessary change to alter future history is not anything any politician can realistically implement anyway. The systems of education and politics are too calcified to change faster than the rapid iteration of innovation in human economic activity. Even revolutions did not change the educational systems throughout society. A political revolution is about the maximal change possible in such systems and not all of it may have an immediate positive effect. So, how many revolutions per hundred years would be required to keep up with the relentless pace of change in technological innovation? A thousand per century? Ten thousand? The pace of technological innovation is ridiculous.

Systems such as education and politics which deal with people cannot keep up with the pace of technology. Thus, problems of loss of job skills and economic disenfranchisement will be the primary perennial problems of a post-scarcity world economy for humans. Computers and robots will be fine. But humans live in a wide logarithmic gap between geological scale and computer nanosecond scale. And their silly feelings will need to be assuaged to cope with post-post-modern life lest they cause societal problems with their emotions. Ironically, after being freed from being a human computer cog by real computers, human beings will still be encouraged to suppress their feelings in a world dominated by computers and robots simply because feelings and emotions and irrationality become the greatest threat to destroy a highly ordered and computerized world economy.

The crucial moment when we can still do something about this inevitable collision course with fate is now. Yet, nothing will be done and the events I have described will simply play out as it does in a heavily foreshadowed script. A single person is no longer enough to change history now that billions of people have the opportunity to join the world economy. The myth of the great person only works if there are only so few people in the world that their noble lineage can all be traced such that inevitably a single person with opportunity may arise from that small population of known nobility. The days of nobility are over, now that the opportunity to become great may be afforded to more people than only the nobility. The massive human crush of billions of middle class people will have their own revolution in nothing so dramatic as Marie Antoinette, but whose effects will have far-reaching worldwide consequences nonetheless.

April 9, 2017

Eu-Ming Lee

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Thanks,Obama

Thanks, Obama!

No, seriously, thanks, Obama! ACA literally saved my life.

But even if fate had other plans and I had died, the loss of a single mortal life cannot diminish the kindness, compassion, poise, humor, tolerance, grace, and careful reflection that you’ve brought to the highest office in the land to all of the people who continue to live and thrive in this great nation.

It is those qualities among so many others, rather than saving my life, which earns my thanks. For it is your great character and calm, steady leadership in the face of rabid, intense rage-filled opposition that sets the tone of hope and trust for millions of people who grow weary of the cynicism of politics day by day.

Thanks, Obama. You’ve done a great job, even though those whose job it is to congratulate you cannot do so without losing votes or losing advertisers. Forget about them. You did what was right and what was best, and I’m thankful and grateful that we had someone as thoughtful and nonplussed as you as our leader for eight years. I believe history will judge you best once the nation awakens from the foolish, but profitable business of self-cannibalizing partisan politics. And when that day arrives, hopefully soon, history will finally recognize you as the leader who was gently nudging the nation awake the whole time.

Thanks, Obama. We will miss you when you’re gone. Your legacy is as secure as your quiet confidence in the righteousness of all of your decisions. May you enjoy your retirement blessedly surrounded with company of your beautiful beloved family and comfortably with the knowledge of a job well done.

Thanks, Obama, once again. Your policies allowed me to live to see the end of the final term of your presidency. We are already seeing the evidence of how badly we needed you for those last eight years in the upcoming crop of potential seekers of your office. Be sure to swap in a smaller chair before you leave because it will be difficult for any one of these office seekers to fill the chair as you have.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Debate Interview with Clinton

Reporter: We’ve asked Secretary Clinton if she would share her thoughts with us after her first debate with Donald Trump. She has graciously accepted our offer to interview her.

Clinton: Thank you. It’s nice to be here to answer your questions.

Reporter: Thank you for spending some time to answer our questions, Secretary Clinton.

Clinton: You’re welcome. I look forward to being able to answer your questions without being interrupted every five seconds.

Reporter: At the debate, you said you have been preparing for the debate instead of campaigning. Could you give us a little bit of detail of how you prepared for the debate? Were you brushing up on your facts and policies?

Clinton: Ah… haha, no. There’s no need for that. As you probably know, I’m known for being a policy wonk for the last thirty years or so, so there was really no need to brush up on my facts and policies.

In my line of work as Secretary of State, a dictator of a country may interrupt me at any moment with some comment about my clothes or appearance and it’s my job to bring the discussion back to reality with facts and a sobering explanation of American foreign policy that prevents a lunatic from doing something he’s going to soon regret.

You would be surprised and dismayed at how many times during important state negotiations, a wayward comment about a pantsuit nearly led to a drone strike in a foreign country. It’s unfortunate when it comes to that, and I’m sorely tempted to let their aggressively hostile remarks be the angel of their own death, but I try to remind myself that words are important and have power and pantsuits should not have more power than words, and so I use my words to project American power ethically and in doing so, have inadvertently protected the lives of many deplorable murderous leaders who really deserve the fate of their own careless words.

Reporter: If you weren’t spending your time brushing up and facts and policy, then how did you spend your time preparing for the debate?

Clinton: Honestly?

Reporter: I think the public deserves an honest answer don’t you?

Clinton: Honestly? No, not really. I don’t think so. That’s private. But I’ll answer anyway, because people don’t care about privacy anymore, and certainly not the privacy of a public official. I hate that, but I understand it. You want to know the real honest truth about how I prepared for the debate?

Reporter: Yes, I think the public has a right to know.

Clinton: I respectfully disagree, but I’ll tell you anyway because frankly I really need this interview to end soon.

The way I practiced was I watched 40 straight hours of Jack Ass and tried to keep a straight face and to not to roll my eyes. I gotta tell you, that scene where that guy was in a hazmat suit and breathed his own fart and then filled his helmet with his own puke was so funny and so disgusting it almost got me, but I remembered my dream of becoming the first woman president that I had had since I was a little girl half a century ago and I regained my steely composure. Thank goodness for Johnny Knoxville for helping me prepare for the debates. If I had not seen so many scenes of people getting kicked in the nuts, I might have felt sorry for Donald Trump or laughed at his stupid reactions. Oh my god, the sniffling. (Secretary Clinton struggles to not laugh here. She makes the same grimace she made constantly at the debates, neither a smile nor a frown. Frankly, she looks constipated.) If I hadn’t seen so many people smelling farts, I don’t know how I could have survived all that goddamn hilarious sniffling. Seeing hundreds of stupid reactions helped me keep my composure. It was my duty to the country to watch Jackass in preparation for the clown nut-bashing that was certain to be the debate. It was my obligation to the American people to not seem smug or condescending or gleeful at my opponent’s inevitable nut smashing. And so I was able to accomplish this very important goal by desensitizing myself to men being gravely injured in the testicles over and over again. You try watching forty hours of Jack Ass in a row and tell me again how I don’t have the stamina for the job.

Reporter: Thank you for your insight. Could you tell us a little bit of your strategy for the debate?

Clinton: Umm… We’re not exactly done with all of the debates yet, so it would be premature and a bit reckless to divulge my strategy.

Reporter: Yes, that’s true. But that’s assuming your opponent could take advantage of that information and formulate a strategy to counter your strategy.

Clinton (uncomfortably): Haha, well said. Okay, yeah, well that’s quite perceptive of you. I’ll have to talk to my campaign manager, but it might be okay to talk about it a little bit. I have a team of people who help me make decisions.

Reporter: I see, so you don’t make your own decisions?

Clinton: I wouldn’t say that I don’t make my own decisions. I believe good leaders gather all of the information they can from their smartest and brightest people in particular areas of expertise and then make a calculated decision based on many factors. So, that’s what I’m going to do. Please wait here.

Reporter: Ummm… Secretary Clinton? Are you coming back?

Clinton: Although I’ve really enjoyed this interview, I’m going to have to end it here. You can interview me again after the next debate. I’m sure after the next one, I’ll be happy to speak to a normal person again.

Reporter: So, what are you going to do next?

Clinton: Remember what I said about privacy earlier?

Reporter: Yes. However, I believe the public has the right to know. What are you hiding? Are you against the first amendment?

Clinton: Oh come on, that’s so unfair. I have to go to the bathroom and poop. Is that enough information to satisfy your freedom of the press baiting question? Sheesh.

Reporter: So, you won’t respect the first amendment? Is there any remaining amendment that you’re willing to stand behind?

Clinton: That is not what the first amendment means. Besides, I plead the fifth.

Reporter: Well played, well played.

Clinton: Good night. I really have to poop. If I don’t go, we’re going to have a Jack Ass moment here soon.

Reporter: Well, I guess that concludes our interview. A rare moment of honesty behind the scenes in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. You saw it here first.

[indistinguishable voices off camera]

Reporter: What? You got that on camera? No, I don’t think we should air it?

Producer: But we have Hillary Clinton’s poop. It’s a rare inside look at…

Reporter: Please, let’s not do this.

Producer: But the ratings…

Reporter: Can’t we just fade out on my face?

Producer: We’ll fade into the toilet shot in post, right?

Cameraman: Sure thing.

Reporter: No….

Producer: This election cycle has been such a shit show.

Cameraman: Literally. Tell me about. I filmed the literal shit.

 

 

 

 

Non-Organic Facts: The New Reality

Mark 2016 as the year that fiction supplanted reality. It’s the year that Pokemon GO introduced the idea that physically doing something in the real world enables you to accomplish something in the virtual world. It introduces the idea that doing something in the real world which accomplishes nothing in the real world, but accomplishes and advances your virtual world status is a perfectly reasonable and socially acceptable way of spending your time.

Sometimes, you may also accomplish real world tasks while simultaneously playing Pokemon GO such as walking your dog, going for a walk, or simply shopping. But the idea that simply walking your dog has merit on its own without also advancing your status in a virtual world is now beginning to become an outdated concept. Simply walking your dog for its own sake of enjoyment will be an old person thing. This is culturally what’s happening. Doing things in the real world for its own sake for its own satisfaction will soon be incompatible with the rest of society. This is 2016. What will it be in 10 years? In 20? In 50? In 100?

Right now, in 2016, doing something in the virtual world has value and perhaps more value than doing something in the real world. Fiction is greater than reality. At some point, a virtual economy game will certainly supplant Pokemon GO as the augmented reality game of choice. Maybe within 10 years, we will see such a game that will be an extension to normal life as we now know it.

At some point in this development, we will begin to see activities online as being more valuable than doing things in the real world. You will prefer to walk a virtual dog than a real one. The virtual dog will provide the same benefits— companionship and virtual love— as a real dog without the messy poop and reliance on being fed. You will work online in the virtual world to generate virtual money to spend on your virtual things. You will create virtual things for other people. You are adding to the virtual economy by creating virtual dogs with clever virtual dog AI. Almost everyone will be doing this in the information age economy. As a side benefit, the virtual economy will be hooked into your real world economy so that you can trade what you’ve earned in the virtual world for real world money.

But you don’t really need that much real world money because you are sufficient in your tiny home with your only connection to your friends and family through your virtual world. Your virtual world endeavors sufficiently cover your expenses of keeping you fed and keeping a tiny home roof over your head.
You don’t participate in real life politics. That is for old people who pound a sign into their vast water-wasteful yards. You don’t run for office yourself. Your Pokemons and virtual dog would certainly starve if you spent so much time away from the virtual world to cultivate your campaign.

But you participate in politics online. You choose and select which communities you belong to. Because you can opt out and even remove people from these communities, you don’t have to learn to listen to other people’s ideas that differ from your own and your own carefully chosen friends. You never see the face of disagreement and learn from their point of view. All you see is text online that you disagree with and you can choose not to read it or you can choose a link that confirms you are correct.

It is 2016 and we are seeing fiction winning in politics. Does the truth matter anymore? What is the truth anyway? Politics is too far from me personally for me to experience it directly. So, I experience the truth through fiction written by people I agree with. If it’s something I disagree with, there is an immediate rebuttal by someone else I agree with. I can easily dismiss all ideas that do not match my world view. People see what they want to see. When I wrote “fiction winning in politics” above, you thought of a specific person. But I did not mention any person by name. I don’t want to belabor my point because I know you have the option to stop reading at any time if you don’t like what I’m saying. I’m just going to point out that I never mentioned a name, yet someone very specific probably popped into your head. Why is that?

I have a lens through which I see the world. It is a lens through which I am scornful because it is easy for people to sell me that scornful story for their own purposes. It works because I respond to it and others like me respond to it because it fits nicely in our world view.  It is much harder to sell me on a positive story that doesn’t match the world view shaped by those scornful stories. The only positive stories I hear are ones which support my side. But the opposing side cynically distorts my side’s story and so I am distrustful of anything they say.
My tribe is the correct tribe. The other tribe is not only wrong, but stupid. Their tribe lies. Our tribe tells the truth or at least tells it like it is. I know my side is the truth because of everything I’ve read from my friends who I’ve carefully chosen to add or remove based on how much they agree with me. My friends are good. I am good. My side is good. That’s all there is to it.

I love my tribe and my tribe loves me. The other tribe hates me and I hate the other tribe. Our tribe tells the truth about the other tribe, but they won’t listen. Instead, they keep passing these lies about our tribe. Why are they so hateful? Why are they such liars? It’s why I can never be friends with anyone in that other tribe. Because my tribe is the truth.

Reality is eroding away and being replaced by a new land mass. Our minds and our souls are reality. They exist and we seek like-minded souls to fill our lives. And these online people can become the majority and the whole and the entire in our lives because the internet allows us to transcend the limitations of time and space which prevented our ancient ancestors to form tribes with people on the other side of the continent. You may come to this post 10 years from now and welcome me into your tribe because you agree with what I’m now saying. I can connect with you who are from the future 10 years from now. This was not so easy back in the old days, but it is trivial now. I would have had to have been a great author to reach out beyond my immediate circle of friends at a particular time and place. But now, anyone can do it. We all travel through four dimensions trivially every day, like this post. Time and place are abstracted away from the message this post carries.

But now, we can form ideas and morals and judgements and even hatred of other tribes without ever having to meet or know anyone physically. First, we can choose our own neighbors through social media. And also, we can choose to enter various communities where we can meet like-minded people online.

These new land masses that are formed informally by social media and communities are rapidly changing as people friend and unfriend on social media due to polarizing opinions. Existing land masses get bigger and then fracture into smaller, more specific land masses. Then some of those land masses grow bigger over time, too.

Sometimes, these new land masses spill over into the real world. But because the virtual world is more real than the real world, that spill over doesn’t cause dramatic social change. Dramatic social change requires reality to be more real than fiction. And it isn’t. Reality doesn’t have a link to tell you that it is a lie perpetuated by that other tribe. Reality is inconvenient. You cannot unfriend reality. Therefore, reality sucks. And so, you unfriend reality anyway by going online which is your real reality anyway. Actual reality is not really reality, anyway. Reality is the inconvenient domain of your meat body, not your soul, not your spirit, not your humanity. Your true self is beautiful and shining and pure in its online form. Your physical self is just a container for your true soul which you reveal from time to time to your true friends. There are people who live in physical proximity to you, but they are not your true friends. They do not understand you in the same way. They are prejudiced and have had a different experience growing up which taints them. They cannot understand you.

You have carefully cultivated and collected your true friends as careful and precise as any good Pokemon trainer would. These are people who *get* you. They have suffered as you’ve suffered. They have experienced the same virtual experiences and same virtual arguments as you have and have agreed with you! They are indistinguishable from the real you in oh so many ways.

Mark 2016 as the year where various untruths have propelled candidates towards the presidency, yet no one gets up to do anything about it other than trade links back and forth to other articles online. Oh, I’m writing about it. Isn’t that enough? Here I am, pointing out that the other side lies. That should be enough, right? I mean, the other tribe must be *stupid* if they can’t see the truth laid bare before them. Right? I’ve done my part. I’ve shed light on the *truth*. I cut and paste a link. What else more can I possibly do?

It is 2016 and I’m guilty of consuming non-organic facts. I have consumed mostly processed facts because there is no fact labeling that will allow me to distinguish between genuine experiences and non-organic experiences that echo my world view.

It is 2016, and in this year, our poor old dog Gracie died. I miss the genuine experience of petting her and her joy at everything in life. However, sharing that with you is also a genuine experience even though it is not the same kind of experience as petting a dog. It is still real, however.

It is 2016, and the definition of reality is changing. This post is real. Fiction may become even more real as time goes on. It’s something we need to recognize as real. It is strange when fiction becomes reality. When the waters on the beach recede before a tsunami, you get the first sign that something is going to happen. 2016 is the year that the water first began to recede from the beach.

There is a different reality coming. The information age has yet to really have its impact felt on society and culture. We are still products of the industrial age. But the industrial age people are going away. We have exported the industrial age to other countries for cheap labor. We do information age work now. And information age work is a different new reality. It’s a reality propped up by fictions and infinite choices and communities.

What will happen? Who can say? All I can say is that things are very different. I can say that because I am both old and new. I am an old industrial age person who has worked in the new information age and consumed many non-organic experiences. Some could say I helped bring on the new fiction through technology. That would be a generous assessment of my contribution.

Maybe calling the new reality a fiction or lies is too harsh. Perhaps a more neutral term could be “non-organic experiences.” But perhaps that is just another fiction and another lie to hide the truth— that words and communities can form a new reality around you and that you can be forever tainted by those beliefs and ideas to the point where you are resistant against opposing views and ideas.
When I grew up in the 70’s, parents were very concerned about children creating fictional worlds and inhabiting them with fictional characters in role playing games. Perhaps, instinctively, they understood the danger of becoming addicted to non-reality and living in a world of non-organic experiences that eclipse any real experiences they could possibly have. Maybe those parents were a last hold out to reality against the incoming age of information and age of fiction. Maybe they saw reality differently as communism and fascism swept the real world only a few decades earlier. Perhaps they foresaw a dangerous echo chamber trap of media and imagination in a self-contained fictional bubble long before such a thing was possible with cable news networks and social media.

Maybe when we grow up in a post-industrial age filled with abundance, our concerns and stresses can be magnified by non-organic experiences and we call those experiences fun because we have never had to struggle against the real world constraints of war, hunger, and famine. Struggling and achieving something is fun. We can do that safely in the virtual world. It is fun to capture Pokemon and have them grow and evolve. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that. It is just as real a feeling as me reaching out to you through this blog entry.

I’m just pointing out that the world is changing. What you want to do with that information is up to you. How much importance you place on the real world versus the virtual world is also up to you.

For me, the virtual world is of utmost importance. It is my livelihood and my social connections and my entertainment. I suspect the same will be true of more and more people as time passes. I suspect some people will resist against this, just as any broad social change brought on by technology is resisted. But to what avail? We can’t put the genie back in the bottle, can we?

If we choose, we can have more organic experiences. I predict there will be more pet ownership in the next 50 years due to our reliance on the virtual world. Pets provide a wonderful organic experience. So, if you’re a stock market or business person, investing in pets as a consequence of virtual reality might be a smart thing to do.

America’s Technical Debt

If you are reading this and you know what “technical debt” means, then you already have a kind of privilege that most of America does not have. For those of you coming to this without knowing what “technical debt” means, I will briefly explain.

Technical debt is something akin to the programmer equivalent of “Honey, I’m busy right now. I’ll do the chores later, I promise.” Programmers do this kind of procrastination so often, that they came up with a term for it. That term is technical debt. Basically, it’s leaving some tough problem to fix later because immediate needs are more pressing.

It’s not as simple as the above explanation. In reality, there are often many good reasons to accumulate technical debt which you promise you’ll get to later, as soon as you find the time. Well, time and time again, we find that there just isn’t enough time to get to that technical debt. We are too busy taking care of the now to worry about the later.

One of the good reasons for technical debt is that there is an immediate thing that needs to be done and we can’t worry about the future because there will be no future for this company or product until this one thing I’m currently working on is done. Often times, the dreaded future never comes or comes in a form that is more manageable than originally believed. When it comes due, you simply pay the cost of the technical debt. You never know when it will come due. But in order to make progress, you must pay that technical debt off. And it’s always painful.

But once that expedient choice is made, the technical debt locks itself into the system immediately affecting all of your future progress and future decisions. But it’s tolerated because to even get to the point of considering the problems of the future would not have existed unless some technical debt was incurred at some point.

By this analogy, which will be more effective if you are an engineer or programmer who has experienced technical debt or have been asked to fix it, we look at America as a country with tremendous technical debt which is about to come due.

Let’s look at one instance of American technical debt which is not quite so politically charged right now so we can illustrate by analogy objectively and not be affected by the very system we live in which carries tremendous technical debt, and thus tremendous influence over our unconscious attitudes and biases because we inherently believe, as humans are wont to do, that whatever we are currently doing is correct and moral.

The first technical debt I would like to discuss is the free pass that the United States government gives to tobacco companies. If any other company made a product that is known to kill people as regularly as tobacco, we would collectively complain and have it stopped or reduced. In fact, that has happened, but the tobacco companies were able to get away with it for a very long time and still do. Have you ever wondered why?

Well, it’s not just because they’re a big corporation with a big lobby in Washington. Well, that is one reason, but the reason for their long-lasting influence over the course of 200+ years is because they have always been hugely influential on the USA from the time before there was even a USA.

In the days preceding the US’s independence from England, the fledgling colonies experimented with printing money. And largely this experiment with printing paper fiat money went about as well as you’d expect, which is not very well. There were counterfeits and inflation and each state had their own currency. It was a mess which is why we don’t have states printing their own money today. Yet, if they did do that, and it was a successful system, you can bet they’d still be doing it today and would be pressing for legislation to keep doing it forever. This is a fictional alternate history version of technical debt meant to illustrate how our past successes can impede our future progress.

And so, because of all of the bad money going around paying for individual states’ militias and taxes and whatnot, people regarded the printed money of the colonies as basically worthless. But the economy still had to keep working, so what did people do?

Well, they bundled up dried tobacco leaves and used it as currency! In this way, you didn’t have to rely on a state’s solvency to back its paper currency. You could, in a pinch, simply sell your tobacco. Bundles of tobacco were made into units of currency. So, a foreign nation such as France who would be quite wary of being paid in worthless Colonial paper currency could instead be paid in tobacco bundles. An average colonist could be paid with a slip of paper that was basically an IOU for some amount of tobacco! Tobacco was literally money!

And so, for a while, the entire tobacco industry propped up the US economy. If the US needed to buy weapons and cannons from France, they could pay in a currency that France would accept: bundles of tobacco leaves. Or they could convert tobacco leaves to gold themselves on the open market and pay in gold.

And so, the fledgling colonies incurred technical debt with the tobacco industry in this way. Without tobacco, there wouldn’t have even been a United States of America. So, that is a great debt that the Colonies and the new country of the United States of America owes to tobacco growers. But more importantly, the political influence that tobacco growers had on colony and US politics still remains very influential even though it is no longer as crucial to the US economy as it was in the early days.

The US has grown far beyond the economy of tobacco. We have largely fixed that technical debt. It was an important and influential backbone to American economy and society for a long time. But then, eventually, the time came to discard it along with all of its associated evils.

Part of that evil was the Civil War which pitted the agricultural slave-owning south with the industrial North. Well, the shape and future of the nation was decided in that war. We would shape the country in the model of the North and not the South. Not only that, but the South was not allowed to continue their course. This is part of fixing the technical debt of slavery and tobacco and an agricultural economic base. We abandoned that potential future because it was unethical and more importantly, not as economically viable as an industrial nation rather than an agricultural nation.

So far, so good. America is doing fairly well now. Certainly, the founding fathers and Abraham Lincoln could not have envisioned where we are today, communicating via global electronic network in a largely industrial society that is supported by mass produced agriculture that is greatly enhanced in productivity by industrial invention with immigrants from every corner of the world.

However, they also could not imagine the technical debt that we suffer today which is a problem left over from a legacy of a nation struggling for survival.

When a civilization arises from a nation built on slavery and wealthy landowners and wealthy industrialists, then is it any surprise that the foundational structure of that system favors the children and grandchildren of those people? Is it any wonder that the descendants of those people would regard former slaves and immigrants as undeserving upstarts who were trying to take away something that is rightfully theirs?

Is America really the land of the free? Or is that merely a misleading slogan like “The Patriot Act”? Perhaps the meaning behind “The Land of the Free” is that it is the Land of the Currently Free, meaning those who were free men by virtue of wealth and lands at the time of the Revolutionary War, not the land of the free-to-be-in-some-indeterminate-future.

Well, we are that indeterminate future today. We are those upstarts. And we have seen a different America that we like. We see the potential of a land of opportunity. A real land of opportunity, not just for the predestined inheritors of the Colonies, but for people who have immigrated here or whose ancestors have been brought here unwillingly, and for all who have yet to immigrate here and call it home and call themselves Americans. This is different than what America has been or ever was. This is an unintended consequence of immigration, of women’s suffrage, and civil rights. This is what happens when you have the kind of constitution where people can democratically decide how to change it. Small, incremental changes can have huge long lasting effects. But that class struggle is still there, the technical debt from the early days of the nation. If you are not in the image of the original colonists, then you are an outsider and a usurper. You are illegitimate to the claim to the prize that is America. That is the regressive, conservative sentiment. It is understandable. But is it wise?

This class division is America’s technical debt. It has been sitting there for a very long time since before there was even a country or constitution at all. It sits there as a fundamental structure of society, just as crusty as the old code in a program or app gets in the way of adapting it to new things.

American culture has changed, but the fundamental structure of American society as one that is for descendants of the original colonists has not changed. It is now okay to embrace multi-culturalism, but not okay to openly embrace racism and xenophobia. This pivot occurred after the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. Going into the past beyond those cultural lines, those attitudes were more acceptable. Going forward, into the future, those attitudes are becoming less acceptable, although it seems that Trump is tapping into that ancient sentiment to gather votes.

Trump’s movement, to me, seems regressive. He not only does not want to fix the technical debt that America has accumulated into the structure of society such as institutional racism and institutional sexism, but wants to rewind the clock to a time when those were the prevailing attitudes and were both acceptable and morally correct. In essence, he wants to revert all of the code back to pre-civil rights movement and possibly back further, pre women’s suffrage and god forbid, pre-civil war.

The question is, if Trump’s movement succeeds in gathering not only voters but also changing the dominant sentiment on the future of America, then where does it end? If the white male inheritors of America “deserve” to inherit America before all others because of their ancestors’ sacrifice and hard work, then where does it end? Will he expel all people who were descendant from immigrants after the United States was formed? Will he revoke women’s right to vote because that’s what the founding fathers had wanted? Will he revert American society back to a point where not only was slavery legal, but also moral because the Bible is the absolute authority on morality and it’s not only condoned in the Bible, but there are also tons of pro-tips on slavery in the Bible.

Even if Trump is not willing to go that far, his ideas may spawn a future where someone takes his ideas further to regress the code further so that all of the technical debt that we’ve fixed so far is thrown away so that we return to a structure and system more similar to colonial times even though we are now in modern times. How would such an agricultural system work in a modern post-industrial information age society? Who knows? But I don’t think that the people who are seduced by Trump’s ideas care about the practicality. They care about the sentiment: This is “rightfully” ours and everyone else should GTFO.

But they are on the other side of history and progress, I hope. I hope that most of the people who have had this sentiment had died out long before crossing those important historic cultural lines. Like it or not, simply electing a biracial black man into office is crossing a cultural line. I think the Trump supporters instinctively understand what that means: Once you go black… you can’t go back… if I could borrow the crude perjorative phrase to elucidate their greatest racist fears come true. But they oh so desperately want to go back now. The odds are no longer stacked in their favor. And their misunderstanding that this means the odds are stacked against them means they will fight any and all attempts to rectify institutional racism and institutional sexism because they are also hurting, despite their inherent privilege over many others.

In other words, the current existing system that has inherited the technical debt of all of the original colonists still exists and still haunts us and prevents us from making changes to the source code. It still works, people say, so you can’t change it.

Well, some of us would like to build a structure or at least modify the existing structure so that it can last far into the future. And what we’re saying is that the old edifice and the old structures upon which this nation was built are not good and strong enough to last us very long into the future. So, some of us would like to fix that. Some of us, who are denigrated as not the true descendants and founders of this country, still feel strongly about the good of the future and are as invested in the success and future of this country because it is our home, too.

I think this is where movements such as #blacklivesmatter and #alllivesmatter clash. It is this inherent disagreement about America’s technical debt. Does it exist? Should we fix it? Who should fix it? And who should own the source code after we fix it?

These issues arise in a regular tech company and the discussions and arguments get just as heated and just as political. Blame gets cast all around and communication breaks down. It’s both interesting and disheartening to see the examine same thing play out on the national stage. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. People are human, after all.

It’s just surprising to see my experience dealing with people in an office setting play out almost the exact same way in a real life political setting. I don’t know if this is a new thing due to social media collapsing all of our various communities into mono-cultured echo-chambered identities so that a group of people such as #blacklivesmatters becomes condensed into a single identity in the eyes of many others rather than remain the diverse group of individuals that they are.

But it’s interesting there are so many parallels with this class struggle as there are in an office that is struggling over how to fix technical debt.

Anyway, I thought I’d share that insight with my audience today.

And so, my conclusion is that America had incurred a lot of technical debt in its early revisions and we’re seeing some of those consequences continuing to play out today. Now, fixing technical debt is never an easy task and is certainly very technical and not fun at all. But it is something that we must do if we hope to make a foundation that is strong enough for us to rest our entire futures upon it.

If I had a more neutral term for #blacklivesmatter, I would go with #fixAmericasTechnicalDebt. I only make this recommendation because I find people having some trouble acknowledging that the societal structure has some problems and that we can all roll up our sleeves and be on the same side of the issue and get some work done together rather than fight against each other. Unfortunately, #blacklivesmatter has taken on a sort of exclusionary tone to some people who are not deeply listening to legitimate grievances that people may have about a certain issue which is only one of many illustrative issues of the problem of America’s technical debt. Of course, it’s not meant to be exclusionary, but that doesn’t matter. People are gonna hear what they want to hear. So, let’s change the conversation to be inclusive and unmistakably so. Let’s call it fixing America! We know America is old and we know what worked in the past doesn’t work in the future. Are you still walking around with a Nokia phone? Or a Palm Pre? No? Then, maybe some progress is not a terrible thing. So, maybe some things the founding fathers got wrong we can fix today! We fixed slavery! We can fix the legacy to slavery, too! Let’s do it! Those guys in the 1800s got nothing on us! We’re smarter and better than those guys for sure right? And we’re smart enough to not fight a civil war about it!

References:
Tobacco currency: http://archive.tobacco.org/History/colonialtobacco.html This link also describes why buying slaves was preferable to buying land when tobacco is your main cash crop. Tobacco wore out the land and so you had to move often. If you moved to a new rented land, you would bring your slaves with you. And so, tobacco and slavery went hand-in-hand in early colonial America.

I Endorse Hillary Clinton Because She is the Shittiest Candidate

I have this analogy when choosing a political candidate. If my toilet is broken, I’m going to hire a plumber. I’m going to hire someone who isn’t afraid to get dirty and deal with shit. Literally. I don’t care if that plumber is shit covered or smells like shit. I want the plumber that has tons of experience doing the job of unclogging shit.

The office of POTUS is a job like any other. Like a plumber. Shit’s gotta get done. Shit’s gotta move. And I don’t care how dirty the plumber gets or how dirty the plumber is. All I care about is that my broken toilet is fixed at the end of the job. I don’t care how likable the plumber is. I don’t care how rude the plumber is. I don’t care if the plumber made money off of rich people giving speeches about plumbing. None of those things matter at the end of the day if my toilet is still broken.

All I want is a plumber who can do the job.

And Hillary Clinton, by a wide wide margin, is the most shit-covered candidate there is or ever will be. And that is a good thing. Because all that shit says she’s got experience. She’s done things before. Sometimes, it goes well. Sometimes, it goes bad.

You know what a candidate who has no shit on him says to me? No experience. You don’t have a single fuck-up on your resume? You’re clean as a whistle? You’re not covered in shit because you got down in the muck to fix something? I don’t want you. You’re going to make mistakes. Everyone does. I want Hillary because she’s made her mistakes already. She’s learned from them. I don’t want your shiny, clean, plumber tools making mistakes when the first toilet they touch is my toilet.

There is big debate about Bernie versus Hillary going on right now. To me, it’s absolutely clear. I absolutely agree with Bernie on all of those ideal things. In an ideal world, yeah, it would be great if… <follow with any number of Bernie’s ideas>. We don’t live in an ideal world. We live in this world. It’s kinda shitty sometimes. It already has an immense plumbing structure known as the United States Government. It’s a massive bureaucratic, slow-moving, antagonistic beast of a thing. And someone’s gotta move the shit in it in some direction. My preference is that shit isn’t dumped on me. My second preference is that shit isn’t dumped on anybody else either. Yeah, it would be great if the plumbing of this nation worked differently. It would be great to overhaul huge parts of it. But what are you going to replace it with? And will it really be better than what already exists? Bernie is a plumbing architect, if there is a such a thing. He’s the theoretical physicist of plumbing. Well, it’s worse than that. Because theoretical physics is based on evidence. I’m not sure liberal political ideals can be converted into policy that improves the machinery of government for the better.

It’s an immense task to do that. And the people in the government and the citizens are not going to let that happen easily. The government is already obstructionist. How can an architect implement his design if the workers assigned to do that job are against it? He can’t. Thus, Bernie can’t. I’m sorry, but it’s just a practical thing. It’s not just politics. It’s common sense. If you got a plumber architect who had never done any plumbing before telling actual plumbers what to do, what do you think will happen? They will disagree and do their own thing anyway. That’s not leadership. Leadership requires changing the minds of all of the workers. And if that can’t happen, fire all of the workers and put new workers in place who will work with the new architect plumber.

That’s not going to happen. You know why? Only voters can fire those old plumbers. Look at Bernie’s base. Young people. Inexperienced people. You know what they are voting on? They are voting on ideals. They are not hiring a plumber. If they were hiring a plumber, you know they would do? They would hire a local plumber. They would vote for their local representatives. But you know what? I’ll bet you anything that TWO years from now, we won’t see them turn out to vote. We all know they only get excited about presidential elections. But when shit needs to get done, they don’t care. Because issues don’t affect them as much. They can afford to vote for an idealist architect because of their privilege. 

You know who can’t afford to vote on their ideals? People without privilege— Minorities. Black, Latino, Muslim, Mexican, and immigrants. Shit’s about to get real for them. They can’t afford to not care about this election. They desperately need a plumber to fix their shit. You can’t worry about ideals if you’re worried about getting killed by police, getting kicked out by the government, or getting stereotyped openly by a leading candidate for president. Rhetoric turns into action. And there is some seriously scary rhetoric out there. A whole ton of shit could be dumped by those other plumbers on perfectly good people. If I were one of those good people, I would be very careful about who I choose as my plumber.

All of the criticisms I see heaped onto Hillary are all positive traits of a good plumber. People keep throwing shit on her. But they’re not throwing shit that I care about— that’s she’s not a good plumber. They can’t throw that because they can’t. She’s the best plumber in the race.

Let’s compare who’s the shittiest.

Winner: Hillary Clinton

Nobody can compare to the shit-covering that is Hillary. She has shit from doing actual plumbing. But more than that, she has shit from other plumbers throwing shit at her hoping it will make her look bad and make her competitors look good. The other plumbers spent 8 hours throwing Benghazi shit all over Clinton. She sat and endured it.

Scandals. Clinton and scandals are synonymous. Email server, Benghazi, speaking fees, all of it. She’s a dirty shit-covered plumber. Except that shit isn’t even exclusive to her. It’s just part of the job of politician.

Speaking fees? I’d be jealous too if I had never had any real experience that people were willing to pay to listen to. How many of her detractors (i.e. shit-slingers) fit this category?

The email servers? She said to go ahead and release them! It only shows how hard she works to dedicate herself to her job of plumbing shit. All of the previous Secretaries of State did the exact same thing as she did. So why not throw shit at them, too? Because Hillary.

Benghazi? That’s part of the job of Secretary of State is to respond to terrorist acts. Yes, she was in a leadership position at that moment in time. Yes, she responded decisively. Were mistakes made that are now clear in hindsight? After 8 hours of scathing interrogation, the answer is— NOPE. If another terrorist attack occurs, who do you think would be best to respond to it? Someone like Hillary who has had to think about that moment over and over again and consider all of the alternatives? Or someone who has to go through it the first time? All of the Monday morning quarterbacks have offered their ideas of what she could have or should have done. Every opinion of every politician, pundit, expert, polemicist, and politician has been thrown at Hillary. No person is better qualified to know whether any of those could have been good ideas or not than Hillary Clinton. Who has thought about terrorist attack more than Hillary Clinton? Who has been forced to think about terrorist attack?

Loser: Marco Rubio

I’m just gonna throw Rubio in there as an example of someone who is squeaky clean because he’s done nothing. All he’s done is sit in a Senate office clicking yes or no on things that other people have written. He’s qualified only click yes or no to decide if he’s more Aragorn or Gandalf, not lead people, much less an entire government. When someone hasn’t done anything yet, we can’t throw any shit on him. He has no Benghazi because he was never in a position to lead people. He was never in a position to make mistakes that could be criticized. Does that mean he will never make mistakes once he’s in a position to do so? If that’s what you believe, then why do you look up “plumbers” and not “attorney” for someone to fix your plumbing? Maybe because you want someone who’s done it at least once in his lifetime?

Loser: Donald Trump

Trump, like Bernie, is running on ideals. They may not be the same ideals as yours or mine, but they are ideals nonetheless. So he’s a kind of plumber who has a fake solution to a fake problem because you don’t know anything about plumbing and his fake solution sounds exactly like what your solution would be. Trump knowing nothing about plumbing is his greatest strength because his solutions sound like common sense to other people who know nothing about plumbing.

Trump doesn’t care about fixing the plumbing. He just cares about getting hired as your plumber. He knows a lot about business, but business is a whole different machine than plumbing. Could that experience apply to plumbing? Maybe, but probably not. We are not voting for a dictator. We’re voting for someone to fulfill a government office.

Loser: Bernie Sanders

Bernie has the least shit on him. He’s been consistent throughout all the decades as a career politician. He hasn’t changed. But the world has changed. The world has changed enough so that suddenly, he’s somewhat of a viable candidate! But you know what is most damning about Bernie? That change happened without him. He had all of those years of fighting the good fight, but we have never heard of him until this election cycle. Why is that? Well, the answer is simple. He is not a plumber. He did not get shit done to move the country in a direction such that his ideas would get implemented. If he had shown such leadership, he would be considered mainstream instead of the outside position of the liberal ticket. He is the same as before which is the greatest mark against him. He has and always has been a voice for what’s right. But a voice shouting is not the same as muscle rolling up its sleeve and getting shit done.

Finally, a word on Hillary’s speaking fees as a sign of her selling out. This reminds me of the Chris Rock joke about Siegfried and Roy’s tiger going crazy. Tiger didn’t go crazy. Tiger went tiger. Politician didn’t get influenced. Politician went politician.

 

 

 

Donald Trump’s Inauguration

I have this fantasy that Donald Trump somehow gets elected. In this fantasy, Trump gives this fantastic speech after being inaugurated. Here’s how it would go down.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Thank you! Thank you!

CROWD: Trump! Trump! Trump! TRUMP!

Please. My fellow citizens, please. I love that sound. The sound of my name. But you know what would be tremendous? I would love for you to hear my voice. And the only way… the only way that can happen… Thank you! The only that can happen is if you give me your attention.

After a moment, the crowd quiets down a bit.

My fellow Americans, I am humbled and amazed to stand before you as your President of the United States.

Crowd cheers. Trump motions with his palms down to quiet the crowd again.

Thank you! Thank you all again. I want to thank my supporters. I never thought this could happen. I mean, I literally. <shaking his head> Never. In a miieeeelllion years. You know… I never spent one dime on this election. Not one! You know, like you, I thought that American democracy was broken. I thought that without corporation money, no one could get elected.

Trump raises his arms in victory.

But here I am! I proved ’em wrong!

Crowd cheers loudly again.

Fellow Americans, I want you to know. You should know, there was a plan all along. We never thought we could get this far. This was plan B, you know. But it started to work so well, we ran with it. That’s what you do in business; that’s what you do in life. If the ball is in your hands, you run with it. And we did that. We scored a touchdown!

We scored a touchdown for America! But, my fellow Americans, I want you to know something. I have a secret. And it’s been hurting my heart to keep it from you. My heart hurts. Truly. But I have to let you know the secret now. Because plan A didn’t go so well, we went with plan B. But I’ve been a strong supporter of plan A. Strong. Never changed.

My fellow Americans, we scored a touchdown for America! Always remember! Touchdown! Because we are going to win this thing for America! When we started, we focused on one thing. One thing. That was plan A, this one thing. But as things got crazy, it looked like the one thing— this sure thing wasn’t so solid. You know, I like things to be 100%. If I do something it has to be 100%. I don’t like failure. I don’t like losers. So we were going to win this thing for America with plan B.

Let me be clear on this point nation. This was the plan all along. To elect the best candidate for the job. Plan A. Best for America. The BEST! For America!

Trump chokes back his emotions. Those close to the new President could see his eyes welling up with tears.

For that reason, starting effective immediately,

Trump pauses and in a rare moment of humility, breaks his alpha male gaze at the crowd to look down at his notes.

I resign as President of the United States. I resign. You heard it right. I resign.

The crowd is shocked in silence.

My running mate has already resigned. This was the plan all along, my friends. I have already selected and sworn in a Vice President who will become a great President. The best. The greatest you have ever seen. Far better than what I could have done as President. Believe me. It’s the truth. I hire a lot of people. That’s what I’m best at— recognizing excellence. I demand excellence. I only hire the best. ONLY THE BEST! This person has been a great friend of mine for a long time and I trust my life, my business, and my country to this great, great friend. And in time, you will too. This friend is the most trustworthy I’ve ever known. More than any of you out there. And maybe even more than me.

Although I may do a good job as President, I can’t if I believe there is truly someone much better at the job. Today, as of this moment, Trump is fired. Someone better than Trump will be hired. You know I never say that. You know I never say anyone is better than Trump. So, it must be true. That is the one thing I could never lie about— someone better than me. I want you to welcome your new boss with all the trust and faith you put in me.

Today, I proudly present to you, the best, the absolute best, of all of us Americans…

Trump takes a breath and gives a dramatic pause.

Madame President Hillary Rodham Clinton!

Trump applauds and leaves the stage while the crowd is still too shocked to react.