NPR Jobs Automation Report

NPR Jobs Automation Report

NPR recently created what they’re calling the definitive guide to which jobs are at risk of being eliminated due to automation. I’ve been researching technological unemployment, and was recently considering a similar assessment. I found myself disagreeing with many of the NPR conclusions.

They concluded there was only an 18% chance of airline pilots jobs being automated, despite the fact that most of a pilot’s tasks are already automated today, and autopilots can take off, navigate, and land just fine. Nearly half of all pilots have fallen asleep mid-flight. If they took a first step of reducing the flight crew from two to one, that’s still 50% of the airline pilot jobs being eliminated. Consider that most of the large planes in the air today would have once been designed for a crew of three, including a flight engineer, and that the flight engineer’s position was eliminated largely through automation and computer controls. I would estimate chance of automation for pilots at 50% or above.

They also concluded there was only a 3% chance of database administrators losing their jobs to automation. What?!?! The last time I worked with a DBA was in 2001. Since then we’ve managed just fine using ORMs and new generations of DB schema migration tools, analysis tools, and generally more friendly and accommodating DB engines, all of which puts 95% of database tasks within everyday reach of software programmers. Sure, DBAs still have their role for more complex situations, where there is no substitute for the knowledge and expertise of an experienced DBA, but this represents maybe 10% of the cases where they once would have been involved. I would estimate chance of automation for DBAs at 80% or above.

They gave elementary and high school teachers a 1% or less chance of being automated, but middle school teachers a 17% chance of being automated. That makes no sense.

Physicians also got a 0.4% chance of being automated, even though IBM’s Watson has already demonstrated it is better at diagnosis than human doctors.

In sum, I think the NPR report is flawed. They have lovely graphics, and a nice tool for exploring, but the data that it’s based on just doesn’t make sense.

Hot-Spots, Robots, and 3D Printers:
Libraries’ Role in Bridging the Knowledge Divide
Andrea Sáenz, Chicago Public Library
@chipublib
@andreakalinka
  • Libraries are used and valued more than ever
    • 95% believe important role in person’s chance of success
    • 95% believe promote literacy
  • Libraries have a hard-earned public trust that allows them to work with communities to work on issues like economic issues, cultural awareness, etc.
  • Chicago library system
    • 80 public libraries across Chicago
    • a million unique web visitors every month
    • 3,000 public access computers. for many people, the library is the only place they can get online. about 3 million users a year.
    • about 10 million visitors a year
  • 0-5 population
    • the way kids learn and prepare for school is when adults talk, sing, read, write, and play with them.
  • STEAM for all. Science, Technology, Electronics, Arts, and Math
    • It’s really about creativity and problem solving.
  • If this kind of learning is what’s important, then it needs to be accessible to every single person in our community.
  • Lots of libraries do the summer reading challenges. We’ve now expanded on that to make a summer STEAM challenge.
    • hydroponic garden
    • 300 minutes of reading
    • science projects
  • No one has to come to the library. No one is taking attendance. So we have to make it fun.
    • reptile workshops, explosion workshops
  • The Finch: a robot designed for computer science education
    • make it so you can check out the robot for 3 weeks, just like a library book.
  • For teenagers, want to make interesting and accessible to thm.
    • 3d printers
    • littlebits.cc
  • For grownups too
    • want to make accessible
    • finch robots: get through obstacle course.
    • make learning playful for all people, including adults
  • Supporting teens and college students
    • we let them hangout.
    • we let them bring food into the library — turns out this is a really big deal.
    • we bring mentors in
  • Digital Inclusion
    • innovation lab
      • a place for us to test new technology, services, etc.
      • first project we put was meant to be a six month project.
      • a maker space: milling machines, 3d printers, etc.
      • we started off with two classes a day.
      • we’ve served 10,000 people since we started.
      • 70% are women. focus is on access for all. if everyone is not participating, then we’re missing out on a lot of brilliant people and their ideas.
      • we wanted a balance between digital crafting and making: one class on designing something digitally, and the next on making origami. blending learning has opened the door to much more diverse participation.
      • open shop: whenever class is not in session.
      • usually have 3 staff/volunteers in the room.
      • people come in: I’ve never used a computer before, but I want to make these earrings for my girlfriend.
      • we have wonderfully patient, nonjudgmental helpers.
      • as result of six month experiment, demand is so high.
      • local company donated the funds to keep it open for another year.
  • Broadband use:
    • some communities have 80% or more broadband at home, but many others are 24% to 54%
    • many neighborhoods are well below the national averages
    • broadband access map is often a proxy for so many other things: crime, poverty, etc.
    • imagine all the things you do in a day that require internet access, and how would you function without that? how would you be aware of anything?
    • many people who come in to use public access computers have never used a computer before. they’re left out of everything: online commerce, social functions, jobs, news.
    • so we really want to help these people make a connection. the first step was teaching people how to use a computer at the most basic level.
    • you can’t even apply for a job at mcdonalds or walmart without filling out an online form.
    • cyber navigators…help people get online.
    • imagine if you’ve never used a mouse, or a keyboard, or a computer in any way, and now you’re unemployed for the first time in ten years, and the only way you apply for a job is with a computer. obamacare, social security benefits. it’s all online.
    • 15% of americans have never used a computer.
    • at first, cyber navigators were totally ad-hoc.
    • got some of the best cyber navigators together.
    • was there a curriculum that could help?
    • we tested many
    • we’re trying to refine and create now.
    • we want to find a blended approach: some human intervention with some computer curriculum. because one cyber navigation to one person doesn’t quite scale to the number of people that need help.
  • Decided to dip toe into providing internet access to people.
    • We decided to lend out wifi hotspots to people. checkout a hotspot for 3 weeks. you get to be online for 3 weeks, and then you bring it back, and the next person gets to use it.
    • we’ll also loan out a limited number of chrome books and microsoft slates.
    • but we also know that people have smartphones, but no plan to use them.
  • Peer learning circles
    • not a new idea
    • often require too much facilitation and expense to make work
    • we’re trying a new system out…trying to bring it into the library.
    • try first to build a human bond between those taking the class.
    • peers that hold them accountable.
    • Two GED math classes.
    • facilitation will help them complete at a higher rate, and get more out of the class.
    • Two python programming classes.

Wow, that was a more futuristic talk than I was expecting. And that’s saying a lot. Bring on my neural implant!
The Future of Omnichannel Immersion
Stephanie Sansoucie
@jolisouci
Experience Strategy & Design Research
Kohl’s
  • Multichannel: online, kiosk, in-store, etc.
  • Omnichannel: engagement across all the touchpoint to create one experience
  • Advances in technology are outpacing our ability to craft experiences for them.
  • The biggest challenge for retail experiences or any omnichannel experience, it’s Moore’s Law.
  • Asking how many people familiar with, using, designing for…
    • 3D printing: many
    • virtual reality: less
    • beacons: even less
  • 3D Printing
    • $8.6B by 2020
    • Amazon: 3D printing store
    • Makerbot’s Thingiverse
    • Adoption < 10 years
    • Manufacture burden shift
    • More manufacturers selling schematics, rather than parts.
    • More materials
    • connected devices
  • Wearables
    • Apple Watch: great, focus on aesthetics.
    • Google Glass: failed based on aesthetics
    • Aesthetics
    • Adhesives
    • Biotech / embeddables
    • Kinetic, solar powered
    • internal engines
      • current wearables use an external device, like your phone, to drive them. in the future, that can be embedded in the wearable.
      • and limited power budget for wearables.
      • in the future, with kinetic and solar power, far more power available. so the wearable can be smart, independent from any external devices.
    • CuteCircuit
      • Clothing with built-in lights, LEDs, so that they can change color, make different designs.
      • You can use tablet to make different designs, to customize clothing.
      • You can let your friends control your clothing.
  • Micro-location
    • Wearable integration
    • Monitoring
    • Connected homes
    • Connected ecosystems
    • Beyond digital marketing
    • Retailers playing in this space. Walk into the store, get an offer.
    • Insurance companies investigating connected homes. Philips investigating micro-location embedded in every light bulb.
    • Expected about 60 million iBeacons sold by 2019.
    • Smart Reactive Environments
      • You are a mesh node, walking around…in your home, the store.
      • The lighting or the temperature will change.
      • The information displayed will change.
      • If you’re a store, and all the customers are in the men’s department, do you move your employees there.
  • Virtual Reality
    • The players are huge: Sony, Facebook, Samsung, Microsoft, Google.
    • Primary focus is gaming. But not for long…
    • Beyond audiovisual. into the realm of tactile experiences: you can feel it.
    • Social shopping: Go shopping together with my sister in NJ.
    • Travel: Experience places as if I was really there.
    • Interactive product views: How about buying a house, by walking through it virtually?
    • Virtual collaboration: be able to really feel like we’re in the same room.
    • Immersive, interactive education
    • Biomedical, surgical
  • Big Data
    • Big Data + Data Mining + Human Reasoning = Insight Generation
      • At the end of the day, we need humans to reason about the data.
      • Data scientists in so much demand.
      • But this won’t last for long.
    • Big Data + Artificial Intelligence & Algorithm Sophistication = Insight Generation
      • This is what’s coming.
      • This is like IBM’s Watson.
  • Artificial Intelligence
    • Semantic Models vs Deep learning
      • Deep learning is more powerful long term, but semantic models are what’s working now.
  • BMBI: Brain-machine-Brain interfaces
    • You can get a thought from one person to another person via a machine intermediation.
    • This could be use to fix neuro-degenerative diseases. Or to create a zombie army.
  • What do it mean to design for a total ecosystem that encompasses everything?
    • How do you draw wireframes when you have beacons, and multichannel experiences?
  • Experience Design: Top 5
    • 1) Ready adoption of digital fabrication by studios for rapid prototyping.
    • 2) Experience design of complete ecosystems.
      • Still some specialization, like her friend who designs haptic feedback systems.
    • 3) Active consideration of service, ethics, safety, wellbeing, privacy, legal implications.
      • If you go to Disney with a child, and ask the princess where the bathroom is, they bend down low and interact directly with the child. Because they know the experience means a lot to the kid. It’s not just a request for information, it’s an entire experience.
      • Google Occulas Rift roller coaster funny videos — it’s funny, but it’s a safety issue. People are falling over while trying to ride a roller coaster, because it’s so realistic.
    • 4) Evolve design practice approach, influence, business partner relationships
    • 5) Evaluate emerging technology yourself.
      • Go try VR, if you haven’t used it. Get familiar with it before its mainstream.
  • Design Research: Top 5
    • 1) Extensive field studies to identify moments that matter, evaluate triggers, unique customer journeys.
    • 2) Evolve usability testing practice to support novel interfaces and complete ecosystems.
      • A lot of times we test a website, or mobile.
      • But how do we test VR? How do we test an ambient system – we walk up, and something happens.
    • 3) Identify data collection approach for organizational learning – explicit, implicit.
    • 4) Validate big data findings and insights through design research and testing.
    • 5) Refine approaches for data presentation, business case creation and related strategic design approaches.

The Future of Storytelling
Donna Lichaw, Gabe Paez (WILD), Krystal South (Oregon Story Board)
  • There is a sense of competition for our attention to tell those stories. YouTube mixes ads with story. TiVo lets us fast-forward through things we don’t want to see. What does competition do to storytelling in general?
    • Donna: Lots of media organizations looking to other channels. NY radio: they have terrestrial radio, tweeting, website. The power of storytelling is that we create stories in our head, and our brains are wired to create stories. Is it hot or cold. Are people dumb and just passively consuming stories, or are they actively creating the story in their head? Science tells us actively creating. If we’re spanning multiple channels, watching TV and surfing the web, we’re still the same people, creating stories in our head.
    • Gabe: We’re not so much competing for attention. But the consumer has more choice of what they want to give their attention to. The storyteller has to captivate the attention in every moment, so that the audience wants to know what’s going to happen next. We present a question, they want to know the answer. We give a choice, they make a decision. Online game: Candy Box 2, starts with a very simple question: You have a box with 3 candies in it. And then you begin to interact. It doesn’t capture my attention with a flashing screen, it captures my imagination.
  • Is story telling changing, because of the internet? Becoming more visual?
    • Krystal: Of course. It’s still about finding an emotional connection between content and audience, but what creates it is changing all the time. As Donna said, there’s the opportunity to tell stories across all the platforms. But then there are stories that are specific to each platform. What you can tell in a game is different than what you can tell in a TV show or webisodes.
    • You can create a large audience with just a couple of minutes of video. Short form episodic communication is so hot right now.
  • How has technology started to enable storytelling?
    • Gabe: It’s enabled interactive storytelling. It’s a whole new medium, and it’s being actively explored and innovated on. How do you take a traditional story arc and turn splice that up into an interactive story? Everyone is taking different approaches. No one has an answer yet.
    • Krystal: So much potential. Even in the way people produce content on the web, it’s changed journalism. When I was researching this panel, I gathered a lot of information. Where to put? I put it all on medium, where it is well-received.
    • Donna: Another model that’s fun to think about: How do people consume stories at different times? Michael Lease, a social media guy, talks about stories — he has a chart that shows soap opera viewership declining, intersecting with the rise of Facebook. Social media feels the same role as soap operas. It turned out to be designed just like soap operas: you can tune in all the time, or just sometimes, and it works either way. We’re all the stars of our own soap operas, and we’re just consuming soap operas all day long.
  • Is there a confusion between stories and media and news? Once upon a time, in the fifties, the news was completely different than stories. Now there is a mix.
    • Gabe: It doesn’t matter anymore. It doesn’t matter if it’s real or fake. It’s just about being entertaining.
    • Donna: Newscasters are master storytellers, and are meticulous about how they craft narratives. It’s always been there.
    • Krystal: Reality TV nailed that coffin shut.
  • Who are the storytellers of the future?
    • Krystal: Storytelling is a real buzzword right now, but story has always been part of our lives, of being human. There’s a better chance to tell your stories now. Story has a real power, because people relate to it on a really deep level. your Facebook friends are your audience. People engaged in what they say in public now. People are aware of what they say in public much more now.
    • Gabe: it’s no different. Some people make a life and a career out of refining the skill of telling a story. There’s so many more mediums now, and you can pick and choose the medium that’s best for a story. A tweet? A youtube video? The side of a building? The storyteller has tools that previously we have not had.
    • Donna: The storytellers of the future are you.
    • Krystal: Robots are the storyteller of the future.
    • Gabe: Algorithmically generated stories are the future. AI will write stories in the future.
  • Q: Traditional story arc, beginning and end get subverted. Is there a role of non-linear storytelling in our products and services?
    • Donna: When I arrived in my program, the faculty were all done with traditional narrative and film. They were all about interactive narrative. I got bored with doing films too, did an interactive narrative for her thesis project. What I found with my own artsy work with interactive narrative and with other projects….when we work with what we consider to be interactive narrative, we get a systems view of it: it branches, it’s a web. But when we look at experience, experience is always narrative. We don’t get to travel back through time, and even if we did, we still have our memories. Experiences have to design for linearity. On the other hand, there are so many possibilities, each person experiences differently. But each person experiences one linear narrative.
    • Gabe: When I think about non-linear storytelling, I give the user a choice. You’re either designing a huge decision tree, or you’re doing behavioral based storytelling. The huge decision tree becomes something the storyteller has to develop the whole thing. It’s huge. If you program in behaviors, then you might have a super-complex algorithm behind each behavior, but you don’t have to pre-map the entire decision tree. The viewer is more truly crafting their own experience. <— Wow. Future storytellers could design characters like AI personalities, define the setting, inciting incident. Then the reader chooses the plot in essence by interacting with the AI characters.
  • Q: Is storytelling more important than marketing? Is there a backlash to story? Do you have a favorite story you can share with us?
    • Donna: On the one hand: “You’re a roller coaster designer, not a story teller.” but then if you look at the roaster coaster experience: it starts slow, then rises slowly, then gets crazy, then there’s a big loop, and then you come back down, and then it ends slowly and you come back home. Everything is a story. But that doesn’t mean that everything is storytelling.

A great talk on women in tech at Webvisions. Very fast-paced panel conversation. Some gaps in notes. Please feel free to put corrections in comments.
Women in Tech
Sce Pike* (Citizen), Emily Long (The LAMP), Janice Levenhagen-Seely (Chicktech), Carrie Bisazza (Ebay Mobile)
  • Do you feel at all conflicted about the conversation about women in tech?
    • Emily: I feel conflicted that we have to have the conversation. I also feel conflicted about celebrating tiny wins. I feel conflicted about having to drum up support.
    • Carrie: I feel a little conflicted. I’m only recently aware of this issue. It’s hard to have conversations when I look at everyone as individuals. It’s hard to make sweeping generalizations, but the statistics do back it up. The problem may be somewhat less in design.
    • Janice: Not conflicted about conversation. I’m angry that it still has to happen. But it’s absolutely necessary. I have to hear stories every single day from women about shitty experiences they have in the industry. There are small gains in some small places. Then you hear “We don’t have to worry anymore. The problem is fixed.” But those small wins are not a win. You still have local colleges that are only 8% woman in tech degrees. That’s 92% men.
  • What do you think about the current state of ownership? (Data, wealth, power.)
    • Emily: Ownership reminds me of the state of New York, it’s a tale of two cities: the income inequality. We’ve got the south Bronx, which is the poorest Congressional district in the US, and then we’ve got Fifth Avenue. Media is the filter through which we see and understand the world. The owners of that filter matter so much. On the surface, the ownership of media seems extremely dull, but it’s so important. It’s nobody’s fault if they’re an older white male. They didn’t choose that. But the result is still the same. What we get now is not what we would get with greater diversity of ownership of media.
    • Janice: Focus is on women in tech. I get a lot of meetings with men in power in their companies. At the end of the conversation, it almost always ends with “Wow, I have a high school daughter. I would love to get her involved in your program. Or, I have a stay-at-home wife, she should get involved.” It’s almost never “Oh, your program is amazing. I want to get involved. I want my company to be involved. I want to help you push this forward. I want to support this financially.” <— super powerful story.
    • Carrie: When I came into Ebay seven years ago, we had Meg Whitman at the CEO, and a woman design leader, and more women in influence and power. But that’s definitely changed. As you start to go up the leadership chain, there’s a point at suddenly there aren’t any or just a few women in the room.
      • But we have had (someone – CEO?) who has been very supportive, who has stepped forward and said “What can I do?”
  • Intel recently said they wanted to make sure they had 30% of their employees should be women. But is that merit based? Is that enough?
    • Janice: Companies say “we want more women in tech”. But they aren’t willing to change anything. And I say “Well, what about doing X?” And they say “we don’t have the money for that.” And I look around their office, and they have free beer, and designer light fixtures, and crazy amounts of money spent on stuff, but they aren’t willing to spend that money on making their culture and offices more appealing to women. I all the time see women who are so frustrated, and want to leave tech. And all the time see companies who say they want women but don’t want to do anything. How are they going to do that?
    • Emily: If you are a women, or a minority, or an “other”, then it’s like you’re on the stairs, and everyone else is on the escalator. It’s not that you can’t get to the top, but that you have to work so much harder to do it. i think it’s fine to have some affirmative action to help compensate for that. The system has been supportive of white men for so long. Affirmative action is just trying to bring balance.
    • Janice: A big concern that bothers me is companies who aren’t willing to share their diversity data. Because if a company isn’t willing to share their data, it must be worse than the numbers coming from big companies, like 15%. And it says that you are not willing to make a change either. Because a company can have bad numbers, but put a plan in place to change. Not sharing the numbers says they don’t have a plan to change. And employees who are considering the company aren’t making an informed decision about how bad it is.
  • What is the right driving strategy that would make change happen? How do you get men involved in this conversation?
    • Emily: I don’t know how to get men involved. I don’t know what would motivate them.
    • Carrie: The men are hugely important in driving this. The encouragement of husbands, the voices of fathers, the CEOs of companies. It’s got to be a whole effort.
    • Janice: A lot of times that men step up, it’s because they have daughters, and they’re worried about their daughters not having the same opportunities as their sons. But it also has to happen in the schools. I didn’t know there was a problem with women’s equality until I got to college. Why? That should be taught younger. This isn’t just a tech issue. It’s an issue everywhere. Women have never been equal: we’ve been slaves, property, a means to have sons. If we don’t educate our kids about this…then the problem keeps going. Women are hearing and internalizing the “I’m not good enough” message by the time they are in high school or college. So it’s too late to intervene then. If we don’t change the messages our women are getting (as kids, high schoolers, college age), they will never gain the confidence.
    • Emily: Women’s history is not being taught. Students at Stanford didn’t know the pivotal role that women played in computers. [Will: specifically, computer software. The men did all the hardware work, the women did all the software program. See history of ENIAC.]
  • Advice to men and women?
    • Janice: Women, you are 50% more awesome than you think. Men: the women around you are 50% more awesome than you realize. Treat them like that.
    • Emily: Men, nobody is saying that you are a sexist, or you personally are at fault. Don’t internalize it too much, but do take collective responsibility and have compassion for the other side. Women: Echo the awesome comment by Janice.
* Pike’s first name has a diacritic above the e, and without an internet connection, I don’t know how to generate on my keyboard. Sorry! Will fix up after conference.
1) Note to self: Share story about gender equality at DevOps conference.

I’m at WebVisions in Portland for the next two weeks, so there will be a bunch of notes on media, technology, design, and happiness. This was the first talk, a really interesting discussion about media and how kids perceive it, use it, and respond to it. The LAMP is a NYC project to teach kids how to critique and respond to media and its messages.

Reinventing Mass Media with 10,000 Little Jon Stewards
Emily Long, The LAMP
  • The LAMP focuses on teaching young people to be critical thinkers, makers, and especially media makers.
    • Be thoughtful about what’s coming at you from the other side.
    • Jon Stewart is someone who can be thoughtful about, create responses to media. Create his own media.
    • Work with 600-700 kids every year.
  • PEW study of teens:
    • 24% on almost constantly.
    • 56% Several times per day.
    • 12% About once a day
    • —–
    • 92% on every day or more.
  • Media exposure of 8-18 year olds
    • 8-10: 8 hours/day
    • 11-14: 12 hours/day
    • 15-18: 11.5 hours/day
    • Increases for minorities
  • Who makes the media our kids consume?
    • 7 older white men control 90% of all the media that is created.
    • CBS, iHeartMedia(Clearchannel), Comcast, Disney, News Corp, Time, Viacom
    • these are the companies: “the media” “mainstream media”
  • Everyone else:
    • Of top 120 films, women represent just 30% of speaking roles
    • Of top 100 films, black, hispanic speaking roles were less than 10% of all roles
    • 11% of IT leaders at American-based tech firms were women.
    • minorities make up 13% of total newsroom staff.
  • So it’s not just the men at the top, it’s everyone who works for them too.
    • The people who create the media are not representative of all people.
    • So the stories that are told in media can’t be representative of all people.
  • Dove evolution video
    •  Woman wakes up, looks normal.
    • Then they do hear makeup, hair, etc.
    • And then do a bunch of photoshop on her.
    • It show how much media manipulates what we see.
    • When we show it to kids, they are blown away, but how much it was changed.
    • Then they showed the Axe body spray video that shows a bunch of bikini-clad women chasing after a guy because he’s wearing Axe body spray.
      • And then you tell the kids that the same people who make the Dove video also make the Axe commercial.
  • “So you want people to stop using media?”
    • No, we want people to use media better.
    • A food critic doesn’t tell you not to eat. They give you guidance on how to eat better.
    • A media critic doesn’t tell you not to watch media. They want you to use media better.
    • You should be aware of who makes the media, why they make them, who they make them for.
  • Jon Stewart and other folks who parody and challenge media have a long, celebrated role.
    • Creative, non-violent, powerful.
  • MEDIA BREAKER
    • Online, crowdsourced remix platform.
    • Students can take other copyrighted content, and make critical comments on it: remix it, criticize it, challenge it, add their messages to it.
  • While you’re watching something and enjoy something, you can also think critically about it. It doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, but that you don’t take in the whole message as gospel without thinking about.
  • Asking questions…
    • Why is there only one woman in every action movie?
    • If Boyhood was filmed in Texas, where are all the hispanics?
  • Fair Use
    • allows the use of copyrighted media for fair use.
    • It’s important for people to know when it’s okay to reuse, versus when it’s just stealing.

No. But it’s not you, it’s me.

In 2006, I got some money for my birthday, and I was wondering what to spend it on. My buddy Gene, my friend since grad school, suggested that I buy a then-new Nintendo DS. He assured me that it was awesome and well worth the money.

I had three kids then, all in diapers and two of them newborn twins, and a full-time job. I shook my head somewhat sadly and said that I had no time to play video games.

He said that I didn’t understand; that the Nintento DS games were designed for short gameplay and some of the games could be played in just five minutes at a time.

I laughed maniacally and said “You have got to be kidding me. I don’t have five whole minutes. That’s absurd.”

He didn’t understand and went away puzzled. Then he had twins, too. (Understand now, buddy?)

The moral of this story is that sometimes things do get so busy that the idea of five minutes to spend on anything extra  is an impossibility. And that’s where I am right now. Under the best of circumstances, I’d be overcommitted with work and professional obligations right now. And of top of that, I’ve got some chaotic life stuff going on.

No. But it’s not you, it’s me.

In better times, I’d love to speak at that event, blurb your book, do that interview, read that article, come to that party, etc. I really love all of those opportunities, and I’m always amazed and feel incredible fortunate when such wonderful opportunities come my way.

But right now, I have to say no to everything. It doesn’t come easy. My instinct is always to say yes. But if I say yes to anything right now, baby unicorns will die, and neither you nor I want that. I’m mentioning this publicly because any time I say no to someone privately, I can’t help but worry that they’ll take it personally. Please don’t. It’s not you, it’s me.

My over-committed period runs through the end of June.

From IEEE Spectrum:

Last night, Freightliner introduced the world to its Inspiration truck, a prototype for the first semi-truck capable of fully autonomous highway driving that’s been officially licensed to operate on public highways in Nevada.

 

Once the truck is on the highway, in daylight during good weather, it can operate without further control from the driver. This is a big deal for trucks, since they typically operate over long distances on the highway, so even this limited autonomous capability represents a good fraction of the total miles driven.

 

daimler-autonomous-truck-infographic2-1430922089638

 

This might be a welcome break for drivers, for now. They’ll be able to do anything they want: watch TV, text, or play games on their phone while the vehicle is in control. On the other hand, how long until the driver isn’t needed at all?

According to this blog post, six million people are employed as professional drivers, including taxi, delivery, truck, and bus. Virtually all of those jobs will evaporate over the next ten to fifteen years.

After several emails and a flood of tweets telling me to go watch Ex Machina, I finally saw it tonight.

If you like the Singularity series, I think you’re definitely going to like Ex Machina. The movie description I found online: “A young programmer is selected to participate in a breakthrough experiment in artificial intelligence by evaluating the human qualities of a breathtaking female A.I.”

I know there’s been a lot of AI movies in the last year or so, but i think Ex Machina is the most cerebral of the bunch, without giving up anything from a storytelling perspective. (In fact, I think writer/director Alex Garland pulls off quite a few great storytelling maneuvers.)

I’m not going to say too much about the movie, as I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I definitely recommend it.

 

It’s been a crazy few months and I have several books I’m excited to talk about but haven’t had the time to discuss at length. Rather than wait indefinitely to review them individually, I’m doing one big post.

pandorasbrainThe first book I want to mention is Pandora’s Brain by Calum Chace. I first met Calum in a roundtable discussion about the risks of artificial intelligence, and he was kind enough to share an early draft of Pandora’s Brain which I devoured over the course of a day or two. It immediately struck me as a tour de force of virtually all singularity-related concepts, from mind uploading to artificial intelligence to simulated universe theory. I had a blast reading it, and if you’re a singularity geek like I am, I think you’ll enjoy it too. It is the first in a series, and I’m looking forward to reading the rest and learning where the story goes.

superposition-dwThe second book is Superposition by David Walton. I received an advance review copy of Superposition from Pyr. It was pitched as “a quantum physics murder mystery, a fast-paced mind bender with the same feel as films like Inception or Minority Report. The story centers around a technology in which some of the weird effects that apply to particles at a quantum scale can be made to affect everyday objects, such as automobiles or guns or people.” I had had a blast reading it. Very fun, and you’ll learn a bit about quantum physics in the process. We’re in for some weird times if we ever harness quantum effects on a macro scale.

zeroboxerFinally, I’ve been looking forward to Zeroboxer by Fonda Lee for months. Fonda is a local Portland author, and I attended the launch last night, where she completely rocked the reading. I just started Zeroboxer, and so far I’m enjoying the book very much. Imagine zero gravity martial arts combat. If that sounds as awesome to you as it does to me, then go buy the book immediately. :)