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30 June, 201330 June, 2013 0 comments TED TED
“we’re going to see more and more things that look like science fiction"



Lately, you can’t scan the technology section of a paper or magazine without seeing articles about robots replacing humans in the workforce. In a recent TED talk, economist Andrew McAfee mentions driverless cars, Siri, Watson, and other examples of robots performing jobs previously held only by humans.

In the first minute, he forecasts that “we’re going to see more and more things that look like science fiction, and fewer and fewer things that look like jobs.” Well, that sounds bleak. I almost don’t want to keep listening, but anyone who makes a statement that bold in the beginning of a TED talk is going to pivot somehow, or offer a ray of hope. So let’s stick with it.

This isn’t the first time we’ve been warned that the technological age of unemployment is upon us — McAfee hearkens back to the Luddites who destroyed looms to protest the Industrial Revolution, which they were convinced would ruin us. But they were wrong. Since the Industrial Revolution, our economies have generally been okay, McAfee argues. So why would things be different this time?

Because the technology is different.

Our machines have skills that no other technology has ever had. They can see, hear, speak, understand, write, and attend to our needs, and that’s only the beginning. This is the “New Machine Age.”

But don’t worry, McAfee says. This is actually great economic news. Technological progress allows output to go up, prices to go down, and volume and quality to increase. Instead of regarding it as “shallow materialism,” McAfee suggests we regard it as “abundance,” which is what we want.

He also points out that once androids start doing all the crappy jobs, humans won’t have to do them anymore, which will provide the freedom to create a new type of society in which performers, thinkers, innovators, artists, etc. can exchange ideas and philosophies, where people who work crafts and trades can become “makers.” In short, he’s envisioning a society that “looks a lot like a TED conference.” While I love this sentiment, McAfee doesn’t really address how such a shift will enable people to pay the bills in the meantime. He seems to be suggesting that, along with a shift in occupation, we’ll also experience a shift of values in which these ideas (and not just technological ones) are worth money. Time will tell, but man do I hope he’s right.

baxter-robot-rethink_427b-887569fc4e12e1d5a515e7d64dbd7ef3b41fc034-s6-c30

He does acknowledge that it won’t be as easy as that, and there will be challenges. He’s not worried about the rise of killer robots or the Terminator scenario, but he is worried about the fact that corporate profits are up, while wages are down. The median income in the U.S. has gone down, while inequality continues to increase. He refers to what we all know to be true about the struggling middle class, and underscores how important it is for the middle class to be stable and prosperous.

He’s worried about middle class workers who, in addition to suffering economically, have also been proven to struggle in other areas of life. Studies show that blue-collar and middle-class workers tend to have more existential and marital/familial difficulties, and they tend to stop engaging in society as much. The class and employment disparity could, McAfee argues, threaten the “progress we made with the civil rights movement.”

Economically, this isn’t such a hard issue to solve. It’s “Econ 101,” he says, which suggests education that results in relevant, appropriate skills, entrepreneurship, and redoubled investment in infrastructure. Socially, though, it’s a lot more complicated. McAfee endorses radical solutions, such as a guaranteed minimum income and wealth distribution. He argues that they won’t make us lazy or complacent, and refers to Scandinavia, where such support systems are in place and countries boast higher social mobility than in the U.S.

McAfee’s biggest fear is that we’ll end up with “glittering technologies embedded in a shabby society, and supported by an economy that generates inequality instead of opportunity.” The solution, he argues, is to keep the middle class engaged — we have to continue to believe that the world is a fascinating place to explore. People who have been through the ringer, especially in terms of employment and economics, don’t feel that way anymore. Instead of being “bored into submission,” McAfee suggests leaning on technology to re-engage people in education and society, and raised awareness of the machine age and its implications.

He ends on a note of optimism, quoting Abraham Lincoln: “I’m a firm believer in the people.” Humans haven’t forgotten how to rise to a challenge, he assures us.

Until a robot starts writing for GFR, I’m going to believe him.

TagsTags: ted future_jobs 
14 May, 201314 May, 2013 0 comments HD Video HD Video

Recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station. A revised version of David Bowie's Space Oddity.

TagsTags: space 
17 March, 201317 March, 2013 0 comments TED TED

TedTalk by George Dyson tells the amazing story of Project Orion, a massive, nuclear-powered spacecraft that could have taken us to Saturn in five years. With a priceless insider's perspective and a cache of documents, photos and film, Dyson brings this dusty Atomic Age dream to vivid life.

TagsTags: orion 
17 March, 201317 March, 2013 0 comments HD Video HD Video

The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Fraud Exposed. Satan is working behind the scenes to set up a one world government and one world religion in preparation for the Antichrist.



He has also deceived modern evangelical Christians into believing that they will be removed from this earth before the great tribulation takes place. This doctrine, known as the pre-tribulation rapture, teaches that Christ may return at any moment, and that there will be no signs of his coming. As a result of this deception, most Christians are completely unprepared for what the Bible has warned us is coming.

In this hard-hitting documentary, film-maker Paul Wittenberger (What in the World are They Spraying? and The Great Culling), Pastor Steven L Anderson, Pastor Roger Jimenez, and creation scientist Kent Hovind, prove from the King James Bible that the rapture will take place AFTER THE TRIBULATION but before God pours out his wrath upon this earth. They also expose Satan's plans for a global government and new world order.

If you would like to purchase a copy please go here: http://afterthetribulation.bigcartel....

TagsTags: tribulation 
9 March, 20139 March, 2013 0 comments HD Video HD Video
this blog only for friends
TagsTags: zoetrope 
5 March, 20135 March, 2013 0 comments HD Video HD Video

Infographics on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers.



The reality is often not what we think it is.

References:
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2...
http://danariely.com/2010/09/30/wealt...
http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011...
http://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/news/...

 

TagsTags: wealth inequality 
4 November, 20124 November, 2012 0 comments HD Video HD Video

Pure Magiv Video. Cyber magic tricks augmented realaty and cards. The suits, numbers and colors in a deck of cards correspond to the seasons, moon cycles and calendar.

Marco Tempest - The Virtual Magician explores the boundaries between technology and magic.

New York · http://www.marcotempest.com



Marco Tempest straps on augmented reality goggles and does a card trick like you've never seen before, weaving a lyrical tale as he deals. (This version fixes a glitch in the original performance, but is otherwise exactly as seen live by the TEDGlobal audience, including the dazzling augmented reality effects.)

Category:

Education

TagsTags: magic 
31 May, 201231 May, 2012 0 comments Uncategorized Uncategorized

1. Allstate

CEO: Thomas Wilson

2011 compensation $11.2 million

(predecessor Edward Liddy made

$18.8 million in compensation and an

additional $25.4 million in retirement

benefits)

HQ: Northbrook, IL

Profits: $4.6 billion (2007)

Assets: $156.4 billion8

There is no greater poster child for insurance industry

greed than Allstate. According to CEO Thomas Wilson,

Allstate's mission is clear: "our obligation is to earn a

return for our shareholders." Unfortunately, that dedication

to shareholders has come at a price. According to

investigations and documents Allstate was forced to

make public, the company systematically placed profits

over its own policyholders. The company that publicly

touts its "good hands" approach privately instructs

agents to employ a hardball "boxing gloves" strategy

against its own policyholders.

Allstate's confrontational attitude towards its own policyholders

was the brain child of consulting giant McKinsey

& Co. in the mid-1990s.McKinsey was tasked with developing

a way to boost Allstate's bottom line. McKinsey

recommended Allstate focus on reducing the amount of

money it paid in claims, whether or not they were valid.

When it adopted these recommendations, Allstate made a

deliberate decision to start putting profits over policyholders.

The company essentially uses a combination of lowball

offers and hardball litigation.When policyholders file a

claim, they are often offered an unjustifiably low payment

for their injuries, generated by Allstate using secretive

claim-evaluation software called Colossus. Those that

accept the lowballed settlements are treated with "good

hands" but may be left with less money than they need to

cover medical bills and lost wages. Those that do not settle

frequently get the "boxing gloves": an aggressive litigation

strategy that aims to deny the claim at any cost.

Former Allstate employees call it the "three Ds": deny,

delay, and defend. One particular powerpoint slide

McKinsey prepared for Allstate featured an alligator and

the caption "sit and wait"-emphasizing that delaying

claims will increase the likelihood that the claimant gives

up. According to former Allstate agent Shannon Kmatz,

this would make claims "so expensive and so timeconsuming

that lawyers would start refusing to help

clients."

Former Allstate adjusters say they were rewarded for

keeping claims payments low, even if they had to deceive

their customers. Adjusters who tried to deny fire claims by

blaming arson were rewarded with portable fridges,

according to former Allstate adjuster Jo Ann Katzman.

"We were told to lie by our supervisors. It's tough to look

at people and know you're lying."

Complaints filed against Allstate are greater than

almost all of its major competitors, according to data collected

by the NAIC. In Maryland, regulators imposed the

largest fine in state history on Allstate for raising premiums

and changing policies without notifying policyholders.

Allstate ultimately paid $18.6 million to Maryland

consumers for the violations. In Texas earlier this year,

Allstate agreed to pay more than $70 million after insurance

regulators found the company had been overcharging

homeowners throughout the state.

After Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Department of

Insurance received more complaints against Allstate-

1,200-than any other insurance company, and nearly twice as many as the approximately 700 it received

about State Farm-despite the fact that its rival had a bigger

share of the homeowners market. Similarly, in 2003, a series of wildfires devastated

Southern California, destroying over 2,000 homes near

San Diego alone and killing 15 people. State insurance

regulators received over 600 complaints about Allstate and

other companies' handling of claims.

Allstate says the changes in claims resolution tactics

were only about efficiency. However, the company's former

CEO, Jerry Choate, admitted in 1997 that the company

had reduced payments and increased profit, and said,

"the leverage is really on the claims side. If you don't win

there, I don't care what you do on the front end. You're

not going to win."

For four years, Allstate refused to give up copies of the

McKinsey documents, even when ordered to do so repeatedly

by courts and state regulators. In court filings, the

company described its refusal as "respectful civil disobedience."

In Florida, regulators finally lost their patience

after Allstate executives arrived at a hearing without documents

they had been subpoenaed to bring. Only after

Allstate was suspended from writing new business did the

company, in April 2008, finally agree to produce some

150,000 documents relating to its claim review practices.

Still, some commentators believe many critical documents

were missing.

Allstate's "boxing gloves" strategy boosted its bottom

line. The amount Allstate paid out in claims dropped

from 79 percent of itspremium income in 1996 to just 58

percent ten years later.25 In auto claims, the payouts

dropped from 63 percent to just 47 percent. Allstate saw

$4.6 billion in profits in 2007, more than double the level

of profits it experienced in the 1990s. In fact, the company

is so awash in cash that it began buying back $15 billion

worth of its own stock, despite the fact that the company

was simultaneously threatening to reduce coverage of

homeowners because of risk of weather-related losses.

Despite its treatment of policyholders, Allstate's recent

corporate strategy has focused on identifying and retaining

loyal customers, those who are more likely to stay with

the company and not shop around. The target demographic,

as former Allstate CEO Edward Liddy said, is

"lifetime value customers who buy more products and

stay with us for a longer period of time. That's Nirvana

for an insurance company."

Loyalty only runs one way, however.While Allstate

focuses on customers who will stick with it for the long

haul, the company is systematically withdrawing from

entire markets. Allstate or its affiliates have stopped writing

home insurance in Delaware, Connecticut, and

California, as well as along the coasts of many states,

including Maryland and Virginia.

In Louisiana, Allstate has repeatedly tried to dump its

policyholders. In 2007, the company tried to drop 5,000

customers just days after the expiration of an emergency

rule preventing insurance companies from canceling customers

hit by Katrina. Allstate dropped them for allegedly

not showing intent to repair their properties. After an

investigation by the Louisiana Insurance Department,

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon said, "[A]t best, it

was a very ill-conceived and sloppy inspection program.

At worst, they wanted off of those properties."30 Allstate

also used an apparent loophole in the law by offering its

policyholders a "coverage enhancement" which the company

would later argue was a new policy, and thus exempt

from non-renewal protection.

In Florida, Allstate has dropped over 400,000 homeowners

since 2004. The move has landed Allstate in trouble

with regulators because the company appears to be

keeping customers if they also have an auto insurance

policy with Allstate. Florida law prohibits the sale of one

type of insurance to a customer based on their purchase

of another line of coverage. Allstate officials have

acknowledged that most of the 95,000 customers nonrenewed

in 2005 and 2006 were homeowners-only customers.

The company ran afoul of regulators in New York

for the same reason, and was forced to discontinue the

practice.

In California, while other major homeowner insurers,

including State Farm and Farmers, agreed to cut rates,

Allstate demanded double-digit rate increases in what the

former insurance commissioner described as an "exit

strategy." John Garamendi, now the Lieutenant Governor,

said, "[T]hey've said they want to get out of the homeowners

business in a market that is competitive, healthy

and profitable."

Consumer advocates have also complained that Allstate

put an ambiguous provision in homeowners' policies that

may have deceived some policyholders into thinking they

had coverage for wind damage when they did not. Socalled

"anti-concurrent-causation" clauses state that wind

and rain damage-damage covered under the policy-

is excluded if significant flood damage occurs as well.

Therefore, those with policies covering wind and rain damage

and "hurricane deductibles" still faced the prospect of

learning, only after a catastrophic loss, that they had no

coverage. In 2007, then U.S. Senator Trent Lott sponsored

legislation requiring insurers provide "plain English" summaries

of what was and what was not covered in order to

stop this kind of abuse. "They don't want you to know

what you really have covered," said Lott.

22 May, 201222 May, 2012 0 comments TED TED

Until we escape the feedback loop of unsustainable consumerism... the reality is that job creation occurs when consumers spend money, not when robber barons amass wealth and invest in politicians and legislation to lower their taxes and favor their businesses. Endless exponential growth is a failed paradigm anyway, so why are we even arguing about the drivers of infinite consumption??



On another note, TED curator Chris Anderson is full of it in saying this was not censored, and that is "needlessly partisan" when the issue is ALL ABOUT PARTISANISM! Manipulation of perceptions is the game here, and shame on TED for not allowing an important perspective to be viewed. Anderson's excuse that the talk was rated as mediocre belies the standing ovation at the end of the video. Nick Hannauer

TagsTags: ted job_creators 
1 May, 20121 May, 2012 0 comments TED TED

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Build and Surf an Origami Hang Glider on a Wave of Air (revised August 22, 2010)

Good News! I have completed (July 2011) instructions for foam gliders, which I think are much better for beginners: easier to adjust, lighter weight so you have more time to react, not affected by high humidity (makes paper limp). To check out foam gliders, go here.

Shortcut to the EZR Origami Hang Glider Pattern (PDF)

If you want to know more about the history of walkalong gliding, there is great new material, including interviews with the pioneers of walkalong flight.

Yikes! You are surfing a paper airplane on an invisible wave of air that you create with a piece of cardboard. With practice you learn how to levitate the origami hang glider using only your hands to create the wave. Check back soon to see foam gliders

 
If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent link Part 1 Here are some still shots from the introductory video. If you would rather start walkalong gliding with an easier to build project, go here to the tumblewing instead.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent link Part 2 Here are some still shots from Part 2, the construction video.

 

If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent link Part 3 Here are some still shots from Part 3, more construction.

If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent link Part 4 Here are some still shots from Part 4, adjusting and flying. It is not clear in the video, but the center of gravity marks are only starting points. You can add tape if it stalls or cut off tape if it dives.

Part 5: Advanced Flying (with your hands)

If YouTube is blocked at your school, try this SchoolTube equivalent link Part 5 Here are some still shots from Part 5, flying with only your hands

Here is a video that shows how our origami hand glider flies using the same principle as big hang gliders

 

Here is the SchoolTube equivalent

Here is a video about the Walkalong Glider History and New Directions. Here is some text explanation for the images.

 

Here is the SchoolTube equivalent

Finally, here is great clip from Scientific American Frontiers. The program was mostly about Dr. Paul MacCready, the inspiring pioneer of human powered flight. However, this was a segment about his son, Dr. Tyler MacCready, and his foam walkalong glider (commercially available, see YouTube text box). Also, check out this preview of excellent video (it won an Academy Award for best short documentary) about the making of the human- powered Gossamer Condor. You can see a teenage Tyler both test piloting the airplane and flying a walkalong glider.

How did the project go for you? Contact me

Back to sciencetoymaker.org home page

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