Converting to Post Scarcity

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morriswalters
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:08 pm UTC

The complexity and the cost isn't just the factories to produce the goods. No matter the complexity of the machine, it has to be fed. What does a car take, 2 tons of various materials. The whole supply infrastructure as well as the associated transport structure which moves it is efficient because of the scale that it operates at. Try buying any of the steel components like bar stock or channel. It is difficult to do and will cost a lot if not bought in sufficient quantities. I find it difficult to believe in any system that can make everything that I might want or need that will sit on the floor of my shop in my home. And the process as it exists today was kick started by cheap, plentiful fossil fuels.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:24 pm UTC

leady wrote:I'm starting to sense a lot of "I've never worked in the real world of IT & computer networks" in this thread

I've been waiting for my natural language simplified 4G languages since the early 90s


Indeed. AI is fascinating and potentially very powerful, but wildly far from taking all our jobs.

morriswalters wrote:The complexity and the cost isn't just the factories to produce the goods. No matter the complexity of the machine, it has to be fed. What does a car take, 2 tons of various materials. The whole supply infrastructure as well as the associated transport structure which moves it is efficient because of the scale that it operates at. Try buying any of the steel components like bar stock or channel. It is difficult to do and will cost a lot if not bought in sufficient quantities. I find it difficult to believe in any system that can make everything that I might want or need that will sit on the floor of my shop in my home. And the process as it exists today was kick started by cheap, plentiful fossil fuels.


A huge element of this is shipping. The truck still needs the same driver and about the same gas if it's only half full. Yeah, yeah, maybe they can do split shipments to different places...still easier, faster, and cheaper to run a full truck to one place. Cheaper still to run a set number of full trucks on a routine schedule, because it requires less planning. The same is true of rail cars, container ships, cargo aircraft, etc. The added handling for breaking stuff up into a bunch of tiny shipments adds a great deal of processing.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 23, 2014 5:36 pm UTC

And with advanced logistics (tm), the ability for goods to be moved in large containers, nearly auto-split at distribution centers, packaged and delivered mostly using robots or low-cost labor in the warehouse, routed using automated systems in the post-office equivalent, transported in bulk over long distances then rerouted at the end, then individually delivered using (currently) expensive labor but (possibly shortly) cheap delivery-to-near distribution center (like a postal box near your home)...

RFID, amazon warehouses, post office style automation and shipping, self-driving delivery vans, postal boxes near your house instead of mail slots.

Which means the human labor required to deliver a small amount of goods falls to close to that of bulk delivery of goods.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:00 pm UTC

absolute nonsense

look at the cost differential for different elements of any distribution system (broadband / electricity / gas etc) which are all systems at close to the pinnacle of what you are describing and check the local access costs vs transit to see just how wrong this is

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:41 pm UTC

And that cost differential really is labour cost.Those notorious 'last mile' costs are for a surprisingly large part guys with Kubotas digging up the pavement, and a handyman making the final connection in the house.

Automated systems, even to the level of a glass fibre connection, can be surprisingly labour intensive... I suspect that people underestimate this aspect. Firms like to show off videos of their whizzing systems, not of the sausage factory process that build them, or the down time when maintenance and repairs are done, or the layers of managers and supervisors of the 'automated' systems, etc. Let alone the cleaning ladies who come in after hours.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:41 pm UTC

Ok, lets check the delivery costs for a large, mix of high-to-low density part of the world:

http://www.powerauthority.on.ca/about-u ... stem-costs

~2/3 of the costs are generation, 1/3 for administration and delivery. Maybe 60:40.

To get a better idea, we should look at what they charge for delivery of "bulk electricity" to industrial consumers (where they can drop high voltage lines in) vs retail electricity (where they have to deliver low-voltage power on local lines). The most the difference could be is the cost of delivery: it is probably lower than that.

And currently the electrical delivery system isn't at lowest marginal cost, as I'm quoting an area with mostly over-head power with irregular ice storms (every few years) that knock over power lines/trees onto power lines/etc: I wouldn't be surprised if other areas can drop distribution charges even lower.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 7:59 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:And with advanced logistics (tm), the ability for goods to be moved in large containers, nearly auto-split at distribution centers, packaged and delivered mostly using robots or low-cost labor in the warehouse, routed using automated systems in the post-office equivalent, transported in bulk over long distances then rerouted at the end, then individually delivered using (currently) expensive labor but (possibly shortly) cheap delivery-to-near distribution center (like a postal box near your home)...

RFID, amazon warehouses, post office style automation and shipping, self-driving delivery vans, postal boxes near your house instead of mail slots.

Which means the human labor required to deliver a small amount of goods falls to close to that of bulk delivery of goods.


It really doesn't. None of those things are free, and they all require significant human labor to design, install, and maintain.

And, in EACH of those cases, scale again comes into play. A guy who only makes occasional, small deliveries does not use a big truck, he uses a car, because it's cheaper for his needs, even if it's more expensive per ton of cargo hauled. If a $100k robot car becomes available, replacing the fairly inexpensive pizza delivery driver is not going to be a practical use.

Yes, yes. It'll eventually pay for itself. EVERYTHING you pick up for improving your business eventually pays for itself if you discount interest, break-downs, maint, opportunity costs, etc.

But, if hiring a new delivery driver results in profits arriving faster and in greater quantity than replacing your existing delivery driver with a robot, you do the first one.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zamfir » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:35 pm UTC

To get a better idea, we should look at what they charge for delivery of "bulk electricity" to industrial consumers (where they can drop high voltage lines in) vs retail electricity (where they have to deliver low-voltage power on local lines). The most the difference could be is the cost of delivery: it is probably lower than that.

I looked up data for the Dutch controller of the high voltage net (115kV and up) They charge in total around 500 million a year, for the delivery of around 100 billion kWh of power to lower-voltages nets and to industrial consumers, so about half a cent per kWh, though the actual calculation is not just per kWh. People on the nets above 280 kV pay substantially less for the same connection size (up to three times) as the 115kV to 280 kV users.

The various low-voltage nets in the Netherlands charge in total about 2.8 billion euro to their users. I am not sure if this already includes the money they pay to the high-voltage controller in turn. In either case, the cost of the low nets is far higher than the base net, just like leady says. Easily more than a factor 10 between a small household consumer and direct connection to the 280kV net. Probably a lot more, as the low-voltage nets also deliver to industrial applications below 115kV, who presumably pay less than a proportional share of the total charge.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:44 pm UTC

Within a few decades, I'd be shocked if you cannot get a robot car under 20k (after inflation). Maybe even cheaper if it is designed never to have a human in it, as lots of safety requirements would drop away (a delivery-bot).

So now we have a 10k delivery robot that uses very little gas replacing the delivery driver. It drives up, calls your cell phone. You walk to the curb, wave your card/phone/face at it, and your food/book/television is slid out a slot. It can even deliver to you when you aren't at home (deliver to phone option), which increases consumption. Possibly it is electric, as recharge downtime with redundant car capacity might be cheaper than paying for gas, and would drop the mass of the bot another order of magnitude.

To pull this off, we would need google-like self driving smart cars. Harder, they need to be able to handle some of the things current ones cannot (delivery during snow storms or bad weather -- or maybe just write that off?) Marginal costs -- it is just software and a few sensors. A relatively tiny electric car doesn't cost much even today -- improved battery/fuel cell costs drops that further. And restaurants can advertise "no tips on delivery required", or just fold tip costs into a "delivery surcharge" of 15% and pocket that.

Seems perfectly reasonable within a decade or two, let alone at the edge of post-scarcity.

If such a bot is used 6 hours per day, replacing a 10$/hour worker, for 365 days/year, it pays for itself in 6 months (assuming delivery charges cover fuel/energy/repair costs). And such a bot can continue to do useful stuff the other 18 hours/day in theory (places often restrict delivery hours so they don't have to pay the driver for downtime -- here, that is a fixed cost, so you can deliver whenever you are open, or you can use the bot for other purposes).

...

Zamfir, that 10x ratio, is that just the delivery charge, or does it include production costs? I could see delivery being 10x cheaper -- but total delivered charge being 10x cheaper? Where are you getting the electricity? Or is delivery really expensive?
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Sep 23, 2014 8:49 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:Within a few decades, I'd be shocked if you cannot get a robot car under 20k (after inflation). Maybe even cheaper if it is designed never to have a human in it, as lots of safety requirements would drop away (a delivery-bot).

So now we have a 10k delivery robot that uses very little gas replacing the delivery driver. It drives up, calls your cell phone. You walk to the curb, wave your card/phone/face at it, and your food/book/television is slid out a slot. It can even deliver to you when you aren't at home (deliver to phone option), which increases consumption. Possibly it is electric, as recharge downtime with redundant car capacity might be cheaper than paying for gas, and would drop the mass of the bot another order of magnitude.


A 10k delivery bot, eh? You do realize that we've been working the autonomous vehicle thing for decades already, right?

And...making the vehicle electric will not drop the mass by an order of magnitude. just...no. Power density for batteries increases slowly, and is significantly worse than gasoline. Technical advances will come, but you can't simply assume all the tech in the world just because "it's twenty years out" or whatever.

To pull this off, we would need google-like self driving smart cars. Harder, they need to be able to handle some of the things current ones cannot (delivery during snow storms or bad weather -- or maybe just write that off?) Marginal costs -- it is just software and a few sensors. A relatively tiny electric car doesn't cost much even today -- improved battery/fuel cell costs drops that further. And restaurants can advertise "no tips on delivery required", or just fold tip costs into a "delivery surcharge" of 15% and pocket that.

Seems perfectly reasonable within a decade or two, let alone at the edge of post-scarcity.


"just software and a few sensors"

*eye twitches*

Artificial humans are only meat and a few brain cells, too.

If such a bot is used 6 hours per day, replacing a 10$/hour worker, for 365 days/year, it pays for itself in 6 months (assuming delivery charges cover fuel/energy/repair costs). And such a bot can continue to do useful stuff the other 18 hours/day in theory (places often restrict delivery hours so they don't have to pay the driver for downtime -- here, that is a fixed cost, so you can deliver whenever you are open, or you can use the bot for other purposes).


No automation works perfectly without maint 365 days a year. This sort of estimation practice is EXACTLY what I was talking about estimates being utterly useless.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Yakk » Tue Sep 23, 2014 9:54 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:A 10k delivery bot, eh? You do realize that we've been working the autonomous vehicle thing for decades already, right?

You do realize we have an autonomous vehicle already?

It drives. On roads. Better than most drivers. It got a driver's license (admittedly as a stunt) in at least one state. There are laws letting it drive.

Ultra light-weight electric cars without steering wheels have been manufactured by google as prototypes.
And...making the vehicle electric will not drop the mass by an order of magnitude. just...no. Power density for batteries increases slowly, and is significantly worse than gasoline. Technical advances will come, but you can't simply assume all the tech in the world just because "it's twenty years out" or whatever.

The lower order of magnitude comes from the tiny engines, the lack of crumple zones (no passenger, no need), and the lack of much need for range. If you have easy-swap battery packs, all you need is a bit more than a single delivery's worth of charge.

The biggest need for mass might be "avoid people stealing them".
To pull this off, we would need google-like self driving smart cars. Harder, they need to be able to handle some of the things current ones cannot (delivery during snow storms or bad weather -- or maybe just write that off?) Marginal costs -- it is just software and a few sensors. A relatively tiny electric car doesn't cost much even today -- improved battery/fuel cell costs drops that further. And restaurants can advertise "no tips on delivery required", or just fold tip costs into a "delivery surcharge" of 15% and pocket that.

Seems perfectly reasonable within a decade or two, let alone at the edge of post-scarcity.


"just software and a few sensors"

*eye twitches*

Artificial humans are only meat and a few brain cells, too.

Ok, maybe you don't know. We have them already.

I'll say it again. We have cars that can drive on the roads we have already, and do it better than most people. They are bad at driving in the rain, and a few years ago they had problems with roundabouts (but so do many drivers!).

They have driven 100s of 1000s of miles without accidents on our roads. They have had drivers sitting at the wheel ready to take over, but that take over mostly consists of "rain detected" more than "oh crap, I am out of control and need to be replaced".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_driverless_car

This isn't pie in the sky. This is concrete technology. Quite possibly within a decade or few humans driving on roads as a job may be gone.
No automation works perfectly without maint 365 days a year. This sort of estimation practice is EXACTLY what I was talking about estimates being utterly useless.

Good thing my estimate generated annual ROE on the order of 125%. That leaves a lot of room for down time and the like.

It isn't hard to explore the space of downtime, maintenance costs, capital costs and competing alternatives that make this viable.

My half-assed estimate indicates that it can be a lot worse (more expensive, more down time, etc) than what I modeled and still be really competitive.

Having a human driver, even a min wage one, is a really expensive way to deliver things. A robot delivery device can be really expensive and still be cheaper than having a human driving a beater.

The same is true of taxis, lorries and (in general) a huge percentage of the transportation industry. The delivery bot is a better situation than taxis (as taxis would still require crumple zones/safety for the passengers) and lorries (which are about carrying big heavy things, not small things, so chemical engines are hard to avoid).

The point of this is that kind of transition, where entire current industries evaporate, is what transitioning to a post-scarcity society will look like. For costs for the types of goods we purchase today to collapse, employment required to generate said goods has to collapse as well.

In a sense, we are in a post-scarcity society with regards to food in the industrial west: enough calories to live on can be had for very little (or given away), which is relatively new in the history of the world. That was mostly done through agri-chem (pesticide, fertilizer), biotech (new breeds), automation of farming (trucks instead of hands), refrigeration and improved transport as far as I know, and brought us from the vast majority of the population spending most of their work producing food for themselves and others, down to ... nearly zero.

Canada ( http://www.statcan.gc.ca/tables-tableau ... 0a-eng.htm using napkin math )
1% agriculture
1% mining/forestry/fishing/etc
0.5% utilities
4% construction
6% manufacturing
9% trade
3% transport/warehouse
4% finance/insurance/real estate
4% professional/scientific/technical
2% business support
4% education
7% health care
3% information/culture/rec
4% food/inn/etc
3% other
3% public admin
49% not employed (not unemployed, not employed -- children, retired, unemployed, stay-at-home)
(values are really far off).

So to see the transition, I'd start with the above, and spitball how each could be automated.

As "services" already take up most of the pie, we could focus on that (if manufacturing/resources/food are the only source of employment at the above rates, we'd already be pretty post-scarcity). Still, automation can continue to take bites out of resources, agriculture, utilities, construction and manufacturing.
One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid, and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision - BR

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby speising » Tue Sep 23, 2014 10:06 pm UTC

the doubt was not cast on autonomous vehicles, but on the prize of 10k.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:10 am UTC


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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby wumpus » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:31 am UTC

leady wrote:I'm starting to sense a lot of "I've never worked in the real world of IT & computer networks" in this thread

I've been waiting for my natural language simplified 4G languages since the early 90s


fourth gen? Wasn't that how the language Forth got its name? I thought that was a bit before the 90s. In any event, the idea of "managed code" is a huge gain over 90s programming style (I know object orientation was already commonly known). I think anybody expecting "natural simplified language" could have saved a bunch of grief by simply asking a lawyer the difficulty of creating unambigious text (and even that would be parsed by a (presumably) intelligent human. Computer code still has to get down to machine language or lower (microcode or Verilog, typically)).

IT and networks would only scratch the surface of why automation is hard. A quick study of DSP filtering and controls might teach you the issues with trying to deal with inputs that aren't quite exact, and have (potentially really bad) latency issues. There is a reason that after all these years, the roomba seems to be the only successful home robot (its "just a software issue", isn't it?). Automation is important, but I'd assume that automation is one of the last things (well, probably before things like real estate, and probably energy) that will still have a price tag.

I'd still maintain that while it won't remove all scarcity, a huge amount of it can be removed by altering our IP laws.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby wumpus » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:53 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:It's not really low-level electronics. It's more boxes that snap on a DIN rail with a very clearly defined function. Like a relay that switches on if two voltages go over a setpoint, with two screws to set the set points and a dip switch to change from voltage to current-based signals. Internally, such boxes can be surprisingly complicated, with microcontrollers and all. To correct for temperature, to debouncde a switch, monitoring, perhaps they smooth the incoming signal, etc. But externally, the function is very simple. Turn on X if both these sensors are high. Simple, robust, testable. Browse around on Rs-online for example to get an idea.


This sounds amazingly similar to LabVIEW. Just with less stuff behind the curtain (but enough stuff behind the curtain to make it hard to replace. If I was going that low, I'd think long and hard about staying in the TTL handbook (CMOS emulated parts are available, even if "real" 7400s are not)). Note that it is probably worth doing it with faked^H^H^H^H^H emulated components to avoid subtle LabVIEW glitches (it has to emulate the parallelism with serial code). I suspect that replacing the hardware with LabVIEW (and potentially a "field programmable automation array") would be considered "good enough" for the purposes of this thread.

It always comes down to the custom code. As far as I know, SolidWorks will produce CNC code for standard CNCs and reasonably straightforward designs. It isn't going to write the LabVIEW code unless it either has a "standard automation" design (which pretty much sounds like a CNC already) or some other way to control the "assembly line" that the LabVIEW will control. Consider the automation that newegg.com uses. They basically have robots (more like trains) that collect all the boxes for an order, assemble the order, pack it up, and put the box ready for UPS/FedEx/whoever. Just how is SolidWorks supposed to design that?

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:48 am UTC

Yeah, LabVIEW is rather similar to PLC and SCADA systems, just geared towards a slightly different market. More tests and labs than plants, though I think NI is moving more and more in that direction.

I wouldn't contrast CNC with code. With CNC, you still have to design and draw the object. The translation from CAD file to CNC instructions is a similar step as the translation from high level code (or wire diagrams) to machine ops. CNC machines and 3d printers are often used for custom, one-off objects.

@Yakk, the self-driving cars are exactly why I draw attention to the turnstiles. There has lately been a lot of media talk about tech ology displacing jobs, and it's remarkable how often self-driving cars feature as the example. Even though, obviously, they played no role in any recent job losses. They appear to fit a stereotypical view of automation, a story. Eggheads are continuously at work on highly advanced machines that are direct functional replacements of human activity. Then the advanced machines drop in price, then they take over jobs. The frontier of technology sweeping over the land.

While real-world example are messy and idiosyncratic, with far less clear general lessons to be learned. When leople wonder which jobs are still around in 2050, it's useful to think of the turnstiles which have existed for many decades now, and are widely used all over the world. Yet for this particular situation they only became an option recently, for reasons that had little to do with the rising cost of train conductors or the falling cost of turnstiles. Technological development does play a crucial role, but in far more roundabout ways than researchers chipping away at the puzzle of train conduction.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:16 am UTC

Its going to be a scary time for the economy as 80% of taxi drivers have to reskill over the course of 15 years starting in 2024 as driverless car penetration occurs.

Oh wait, no its not

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zamfir » Wed Sep 24, 2014 12:27 pm UTC

i wouldn't bet on much driverless taxis in 2024... dense urban traffic is about as hard as it gets to automate, there only some demonstration runs in the last few years. Under somewhat cherrypicked conditions, closely monitored, using the most powerful equipment for sale. Similar demonstrations for highway driving were 15, 20 years ago. And the first commercially available cars with a real autonomous highway mode are still a few years off, typically planned for the end of the decade.

Long haul trucking might be a good bellwether for the commercial use of autonomous vehicles. Perhaps platoons first, with a single driver in charge of multiple vehicles.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 24, 2014 3:01 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:A 10k delivery bot, eh? You do realize that we've been working the autonomous vehicle thing for decades already, right?

You do realize we have an autonomous vehicle already?

It drives. On roads. Better than most drivers. It got a driver's license (admittedly as a stunt) in at least one state. There are laws letting it drive.

Ultra light-weight electric cars without steering wheels have been manufactured by google as prototypes.


The key is the "10k delivery bot" thing. Yes, automated driving, etc has been worked on, and big strides have been made. This does not mean it'll be automatically inexpensive and totally reliable just because you project a few years out. That sort of error is what led to endless predictions of flying cars and what not.

And...making the vehicle electric will not drop the mass by an order of magnitude. just...no. Power density for batteries increases slowly, and is significantly worse than gasoline. Technical advances will come, but you can't simply assume all the tech in the world just because "it's twenty years out" or whatever.

The lower order of magnitude comes from the tiny engines, the lack of crumple zones (no passenger, no need), and the lack of much need for range. If you have easy-swap battery packs, all you need is a bit more than a single delivery's worth of charge.


The weight of the driver is not a significant part of most cargo systems. Easy swap battery packs don't solve everything. For one thing, you now need a replacement system, much akin to our current network of gas stations. Building this is not cheap or trivial.

To pull this off, we would need google-like self driving smart cars. Harder, they need to be able to handle some of the things current ones cannot (delivery during snow storms or bad weather -- or maybe just write that off?) Marginal costs -- it is just software and a few sensors.


"just software and a few sensors"

*eye twitches*

Artificial humans are only meat and a few brain cells, too.

Ok, maybe you don't know. We have them already.


Yes, and your "just software and a few sensors" trivialization indicates that you understand little about them.

No automation works perfectly without maint 365 days a year. This sort of estimation practice is EXACTLY what I was talking about estimates being utterly useless.

Good thing my estimate generated annual ROE on the order of 125%. That leaves a lot of room for down time and the like.

It isn't hard to explore the space of downtime, maintenance costs, capital costs and competing alternatives that make this viable.

My half-assed estimate indicates that it can be a lot worse (more expensive, more down time, etc) than what I modeled and still be really competitive.


Well, yes. It's a halfassed estimate with none of those things factored in. Of COURSE it could be worse than that and still be really competitive, because your "estimate" simply ignored those quite significant factors.

In a sense, we are in a post-scarcity society with regards to food in the industrial west: enough calories to live on can be had for very little (or given away), which is relatively new in the history of the world. That was mostly done through agri-chem (pesticide, fertilizer), biotech (new breeds), automation of farming (trucks instead of hands), refrigeration and improved transport as far as I know, and brought us from the vast majority of the population spending most of their work producing food for themselves and others, down to ... nearly zero.


We have grown quite efficient at producing food, yes. Not quite post-scarcity level, though. Plenty of people would prefer better food, people outside our country frequently experience shortages, and even within the west, a disruption in supply due to disaster, etc can cause scarcity. The scarcity is less than it has been historically, but it has not vanished entirely.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Sep 24, 2014 4:58 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Zcorp wrote:Computers are being programmed to create things that we view as artistic: music, drawings etc.

However they are not likely to soon be creative in the sense that they can create an new idea, let alone an original one.


Why does that matter? What exactly seperates a "real world idea" from a computed task?


Let me put it this way. A half decent programmer could probably generate a program that makes cartoons with stick figures in them. Do you think that program is therefore equivalent to xkcd? If not, what is the difference?

On the note about cameras. Yes, a computer can "see" the world using a camera. That doesn't mean it can interpret the image at the level that even a two-year old can.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:08 pm UTC

Computers are not currently great at humor, but neither are a great many people.

I see no reason why they could not eventually emulate literally everything we do. Not anytime soon, of course, but it's within the realm of possibility.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Sep 24, 2014 6:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Computers are not currently great at humor, but neither are a great many people.

I see no reason why they could not eventually emulate literally everything we do. Not anytime soon, of course, but it's within the realm of possibility.


Within the realm of possibility, sure. The point I have been making is not that it is impossible for computers to be creative or artistic, but rather that a computer that does not interact broadly with the world at large is going to have difficulty creating art that will be meaningful to humans who do have that type of that perception.

Trebla
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Trebla » Wed Sep 24, 2014 7:55 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Within the realm of possibility, sure. The point I have been making is not that it is impossible for computers to be creative or artistic, but rather that a computer that does not interact broadly with the world at large is going to have difficulty creating art that will be meaningful to humans who do have that type of that perception.


I think the level of interacting with the world at large needed for a computer to create "art that is meaningful to humans" is significantly lower than human-level interaction. Machine learning has already come a long way and is already capable of producing independent paintings and music.

I don't think this detracts from your point... it's harder than it sounds to do this, but I'm just always impressed at how much farther some of these things have come than I had previously thought.

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LaserGuy
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Sep 24, 2014 8:58 pm UTC

Trebla wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Within the realm of possibility, sure. The point I have been making is not that it is impossible for computers to be creative or artistic, but rather that a computer that does not interact broadly with the world at large is going to have difficulty creating art that will be meaningful to humans who do have that type of that perception.


I think the level of interacting with the world at large needed for a computer to create "art that is meaningful to humans" is significantly lower than human-level interaction. Machine learning has already come a long way and is already capable of producing independent paintings and music.

I don't think this detracts from your point... it's harder than it sounds to do this, but I'm just always impressed at how much farther some of these things have come than I had previously thought.


Music is IMHO one of the easiest ones for computers to do. Compared to many other art forms, it's very mathematical and algorithmic, and there's a well-established theory about how certain pieces can fit together. That's not to say that composition isn't art, it's just that it's the kind of art that I'm not surprised computers are able to replicate. The painting robot is very impressive.

I'm also a little shocked to find that there are computer programs that can write novels. So maybe I'm wrong.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Wed Sep 24, 2014 9:29 pm UTC

That computers can generate art on some level, shouldn't really surprise anyone who has seen velvet paintings of Elvis. Books, art, and music are all done according to formulas of one type or another. But velvet paintings of Elvis aren't the Mona Lisa. And most of the books in Amazon's bookstore are throwaways. Art is as much a social phenomena as anything else, which reaches people somewhere difficult to define.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby CorruptUser » Wed Sep 24, 2014 11:51 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I'm also a little shocked to find that there are computer programs that can write novels. So maybe I'm wrong.


I take it you never played Dwarf Fortress. Every time you create a new world, the game creates a backstory far more dense than anything Tolkein or George RR Martin created. Every character, EVERYONE has their life story charted. Each has their own desires and motives, constantly competing with one another.

Then of course there is the Tom Clancy Plot Generator.

Tyndmyr
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:06 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Computers are not currently great at humor, but neither are a great many people.

I see no reason why they could not eventually emulate literally everything we do. Not anytime soon, of course, but it's within the realm of possibility.


Within the realm of possibility, sure. The point I have been making is not that it is impossible for computers to be creative or artistic, but rather that a computer that does not interact broadly with the world at large is going to have difficulty creating art that will be meaningful to humans who do have that type of that perception.


Perception is only a part of art. A blind person can still create art, after all...sure, SOME input is necessary, but that's certainly doable. Shortcomings in art would likely consist of formulating all the many, many other factors and methodologies in creating it. It's a fairly complex area, after all. We have computers composing a specific style of song or what not now...which is in par with, if not the best humans in the field, then certainly on par with reasonably skilled and adept ones.

There's a curve, of course. The automatic driver doesn't need to displace world class drivers to be useful...and probably won't for quite some time. It's a far more gradual, less sudden thing than many people believe. After all, cruise control has been around for ages, and now we have auto-park features, auto-follow features, etc. Essentially, we're building an automated driving system in small chunks. Eventually, it'll get to a point where it'll be good enough for some roles, but that's not particularly instant or culturally shocking.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:35 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The automatic driver doesn't need to displace world class drivers to be useful...and probably won't for quite some time. It's a far more gradual, less sudden thing than many people believe. After all, cruise control has been around for ages, and now we have auto-park features, auto-follow features, etc. Essentially, we're building an automated driving system in small chunks. Eventually, it'll get to a point where it'll be good enough for some roles, but that's not particularly instant or culturally shocking.

And part of the reason for that is that, for some reason rather unfathomable to me, we demand far higher standards of automation than we do of ourselves.

Currently there are more than a million road deaths a year worldwide. We could easily arrive at a point in a few years time when automatic cars could drive the same number of miles with, say, only half a million deaths a year. Heck, maybe we're already there. But for some reason that would be totally unacceptable: Even ten thousand deaths a year would likely make headlines with calls for the 'killer cars' to be banned...

For some reason, 'being in control' is psychologically comforting even if it results in a higher absolute risk. eg. people feeling safer driving than flying...

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Brace
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Brace » Thu Sep 25, 2014 3:40 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
Last edited by Brace on Mon Oct 06, 2014 12:36 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Thu Sep 25, 2014 4:40 pm UTC

.[/quote]
And part of the reason for that is that, for some reason rather unfathomable to me, we demand far higher standards of automation than we do of ourselves.
[/quote]

Beyond the psychological reasons, automation tends to be systematic and not self correcting. One untested scenario in a million over billions of real world interations is a huge number of problems

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:11 pm UTC

Automation isn't unsafe and people don't mistrust it. The mix of people and automation is unsafe. You wouldn't be let loose on a factory floor, not because the machines will reach out and eat you, but because you wouldn't understand what is going on well enough to stay out of the machines way. No scenario about self driving cars exists that don't put people on the roads with the cars, substantial numbers of them. People are unpredictable and careless. The safest self driving car in the world would be predictable, assuming that the sensors are at least as good as ours at picking up hazards. Their interaction with us wouldn't be. Because of us. Tyndmyr has it correct.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby leady » Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:25 pm UTC

I would highlight the current 21 year old bash problem in the news thread as a good example of a systemic problem... multiply that up to something as complex as autonimous control systems....

also the amount of programmers that use the phase "it gives the result I'm expecting, I just don't know why" is pretty scary :)

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Zamfir
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Zamfir » Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:43 pm UTC

Are people really overdemanding of the safety of automated cars? Developers do get permits from their governments to test widely in open roads. Their programs get looked at carefully, but I would expect nothing else. In the meantime, the market-ready features make it into production vehicles without that much fights. Auto-parking, lane checking, distance keeping, lane keeping, emergency braking. Governments are conservative with those, especially when they potentially break the direct link between driver and car. But again, I would only expect conservatism. You don't just trust the word of the sellers.

In the mean time, researchers still have a long road to show the reliability of the more agressively autonomous systems. As yet, they get tested on carefully chosen and studied roads, vetted weather conditions, well-maintained vehicles, very defensive driving style, etc. Nothing wrong with that, but the technology is nowhere near the point that you hand over autonomous cars to ordinary people, and have them drive whereever they want without problem and accidents.

In interviews with German car manufacturers, they seem particularly worried about the transition between autonomous driving and unautonomous driving. Especially if the humans in the car are no longer professional testers, but ordinary people checking their facebook. They can build (vaguely) affordable vehicles that can drive by themselves for selected roads and conditions, but that is not worth much if the transition is extra dangerous.

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Brace
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Brace » Thu Sep 25, 2014 5:57 pm UTC

This post had objectionable content.
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Tyndmyr
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 25, 2014 6:26 pm UTC

Brace wrote:
leady wrote:also the amount of programmers that use the phase "it gives the result I'm expecting, I just don't know why" is pretty scary :)


Even scarier is the fact that you keep hiring them regardless.


Quality coders are in short supply*. And a LOT of people don't care about the little details if the output looks right. That, and as complexity increases, it grows increasingly difficult to keep the entire ball of wax in your head at one time. I've looked at code that I have written in entirety, less than a year after I wrote it, and realized that people have been doing stuff with it that I didn't ever specifically think about and it takes a while to realize why it works. This is particularly common when you have systems that change themselves on the fly...or that are heavily recursive in general.

Plus, sometimes there's time pressures, so "screw it, looks like it works, check it in" happens. Even with good skills and the best of intentions, mistakes happen.

*Seriously, if you're in the DC/Baltimore area, I want resumes.

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CorruptUser
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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby CorruptUser » Thu Sep 25, 2014 10:40 pm UTC

I know SQL. Need any SQL coders?

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:17 am UTC

I don't disagree with any of all that, but I stand on my point regardless: Even if automatic cars killed half a million people a year it would still be an improvement over the current situation. Yet it wouldn't feel like an improvement...

In cricket they are introducing a system to automate the umpiring of various decisions - eg. LBW (judging whether the ball would have gone on to hit the wicket but for hitting the batsman's leg instead).

Many countries had reservations about the technology for years and one country still wont use it - despite the fact that human umpires get ~90% of decisions correct and the machine gets ~95% of decisions correct: Because it's not 100% people for some reason prefer a human to make a mistake than a machine, even if the human will make a mistake more often...

It's utterly irrational to my mind. If I'm dead I'm dead - it's of little consolation that it was my mistake or another human driver's mistake vs it being a machine's mistake (which is really ultimately a human mistake anyway of course)

Doesn't matter that machines make 'systemic mistakes' because humans do too - routinely overestimating how safely they can drive at speed or with alcohol in their system, and routinely underestimating how far they need to be from the car in front. All that matters is the raw numbers: Can cars drive safer than humans? The moment they can - the moment cars would drive with one less death a year than humans - that's when logically we should switch - because even one extra death is a tragedy. But that's not how it will play out. Cars will have to be ten or a hundred times safer than humans before they will be allowed to take over. And that just seems wrong. Or at least irrational.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Sep 26, 2014 1:29 am UTC

The human driver takes their life in their hands, and the survival is based on their own skill or incompetence, and we tend to mind less when someone's death is caused by their own incompetence rather than pure chance.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 26, 2014 8:34 am UTC

CorruptUser wrote:The human driver takes their life in their hands, and the survival is based on their own skill or incompetence, and we tend to mind less when someone's death is caused by their own incompetence rather than pure chance.

We all like to believe that we are in control of our own destiny, but I bet the proportion of fatalities where one party did little or nothing wrong is painfully high. What proportion of insurance claims split the liability after all?

Everyone thinks they are an above average driver. Unfortunately, even if you're actually above average, by definition most of the others on the road aren't. On average you'd benefit the moment a robot car was above average in competence, not merely once it reached the standards of the best human driver.

I guess the argument breaks down if you're actually one of the very top human drivers - but by definition most will not be. We could perhaps have a new, super-demanding driving test where the very best humans who maintain a clear statistical edge over the robots can keep their licences - but once the car drives better than most people, most people should have to let the car drive itself - for the benefit of everyone else moreso than themselves.

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Re: Converting to Post Scarcity

Postby morriswalters » Fri Sep 26, 2014 10:18 am UTC

You can be the best driver in the world and have one bad moment and kill someone. But the current system has been built up over 100 or so years. Governments now know that accidents will occur. They are attempting to get ahead of the curve. And develop rules and law that will settle the inevitable questions of liability. I believe people want self driving cars. But the technology is expensive. And cars are becoming unaffordable to many. And people don't want to give up the freedom of the road. Those cars with lane following and self parking make up a small portion of sales because they are expensive, and they aren't near the level needed for autonomous cars. You see a resistance to the idea, I see resistance to the cost and the inevitable process of making law.


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