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Archive for the ‘economics’ category

Aug 30, 2015

AI Dangerous for Economics? The Other Threat Flying Under Radars

Posted by in categories: economics, machine learning, security

Dr. Nils J. Nilsson spent almost a lifetime in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) before writing and publishing his book, The Quest for Artificial Intelligence (2009). I recently had the opportunity to speak with the former Stanford computer science professor, now retired at the age of 82, and reflect on the earlier accomplishments that have led to some of the current trends in AI, as well as the serious economic and security considerations that need to be made about AI as society moves ahead in the coming decades.

The Early AI that Powers Today’s Trends

One key contribution of early AI developments included rules-based expert systems, such as MYCIN, which was developed in the mid-1970s by Ted Shortliffe and colleagues at Stanford University. The information built into the diagnostic system was gleaned from medical diagnosticians, and the system would then ask questions based on that information. A person could then type in answers about a patient’s tests, symptoms, etc., and the program would then attempt to diagnose diseases and prescribe therapy.

“Bringing us more up to the future was the occurrence of huge databases (in the 1990s) — sometimes called big data — and the ability of computers to mine that data and find information and make inferences,” remarks Nils. This made possible the new work on face recognition, speech recognition, and language translation. “AI really had what might be called a take off at this time.” Both of these technologies also feed into the launch of IBM’s Watson Healthcare, which combines advanced rules-based systems with big data capabilities and promises to give healthcare providers access to powerful tools in a cloud-based data sharing hub.

Work in neural networks, another catalyst, went through two phases, an earlier phase in the 1950s and 1960s and a latter phase in the 1980s and 1990s. “The second phase (of neural networks) allowed…people to make changes in the connected strength in those networks and multiple layers, and this allowed neural networks that can steer and drive automobiles.” More primitive networks led to the cutting-edge work being done by today’s scientists in the self-driven automobile industry via companies like Tesla and Google.

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Aug 22, 2015

Citi’s Chief Economist Recommends a Universal Basic Income

Posted by in categories: economics, employment, robotics/AI

It’s becoming clear that increased automation as well as the rise of artificial intelligence is threatening ever more jobs. Now economists are starting to seriously consider a universal basic income.

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Aug 18, 2015

Using drones to explore space

Posted by in categories: alien life, asteroid/comet impacts, automation, defense, drones, economics, engineering, futurism, innovation, space

Long time ago I was wondering why not to use drones (*) (named for that concrete application Extreme Access Flyers) to explore the space, to reach new planets, asteroids … it would be exciting … rovers are limited in action, so what if we make it airborne? Once in space, why not to send a drone or a swarm of them from the main spaceship to explore a new planet? They could interact, share capabilities, morph, etc.

While the economy looks more or less promising for civil and military, there is still a long path to walk …

“Teal Group’s 2015 market study estimates that UAV production will soar from current worldwide UAV production of $4 billion annually to $14 billion, totaling $93 billion in the next ten years. Military UAV research spending would add another $30 billion over the decade.”

Read more at http://www.suasnews.com/2015/08/37903/teal-group-predicts-wo.….-forecast/

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Aug 14, 2015

The Dutch ‘Basic Income’ Experiment Is Expanding

Posted by in category: economics

Utrecht announced that it would give no-strings-attached money to some of its residents. Now other Dutch cities are considering similar plans.

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Aug 13, 2015

Bitcoin needs a quantum theory of money

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, theory

Is Bitcoin money? To its users the answer is probably yes, but to many people the answer is less clear. Alan Greenspan, for example, said in December 2013: “I do not understand where the backing of Bitcoin is coming from. There is no fundamental issue of capabilities of repaying it in anything which is universally acceptable, which is either intrinsic value of the currency or the credit or trust of the individual who is issuing the money, whether it’s a government or an individual.” Indeed, one of the things holding back the adoption of cybercurrencies such as Bitcoin is that they do not fit well with traditional ideas about money.

Answers to the question “what is money” have typically fallen into one of three camps. The first, known as metallism or bullionism, holds that money needs to be backed by precious metal. The second camp is chartalism (from the Latin charta for a record) which holds that coins and other money objects are just tokens, that the state agrees to accept as payment of things like taxes. Finally, there is the dominant, hands-off school of thought, which most mainstream economists would agree with, which says that money has no unique or special qualities, but instead is defined by its roles, e.g. a medium of exchange.

Bullionists and chartalists therefore emphasise a different aspect of money – the inherent value or the authorising stamp – while most economists treat it as an inert chip. But none of them seem to apply well to emerging cybercurrencies, which are not backed by precious metal or the state, and (at least at first) are not much use as a medium of exchange. So how do they become money? The answer to this question is that money has quantum properties which allow it to be booted up from the ether.

Quantum money

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Aug 6, 2015

Japanese Court: Bitcoin Cannot be Owned

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, economics, government, internet

Responding to this nugget from Engadget:

Tokyo District CourtTokyo’s district court has ruled that it’s not possible for people to own bitcoin, and therefore they cannot sue for compensation in the wake of Mt. Gox’s collapse.

The ruling comes days after the head of the world’s largest bitcoin exchange was arrested on charges of fraud. Judge Masumi Kurachi felt that bitcoins do not possess “tangible qualities” to constitute owned property. Mt. Gox held thousands of individual accounts, and so there’s plenty of angry customers looking for compensation.

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Aug 6, 2015

Why Are Tech Billionaires Investing In Aging Research?

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, economics, life extension

Peter Thiel, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Bill Maris, Mark Zuckerberg…investment in biotech by leading figures in the world of technology is reaching new heights, with the regenerative medicine market projected to reach $20 billion by 2025 and the overall anti-aging market $345.8 billion by 2018.

These forecasts combined with a recent biotech boom mean that the economic reasons for investing are becoming clear and rising demand is virtually inevitable as the proportion of older individuals continues to grow to unparalleled levels. Bill Gates may have labelled anti-aging efforts as ‘egocentric’, but the investment doesn’t appear to be due to economic reasons alone; there is also a strong humanitarian and aspirational aspect that links some of these individuals together — the desire to utilise technology to create a better society.

‘With all being from a scientific background, Page, Brin and Maris particularly are clear in their belief that science holds the key to radically improving both the human condition and the world we live in — the pinnacle of this being radically prolonging human lifespan. In a recent Bloomberg interview Maris points out we live in an era where science can make all the tools available for any audacious vision out there…To these tech billionaires, evolution is meant to be transcended, and the resources put into organ regeneration, drugs that control ageing, or reprogramming DNA reflects their conviction that people have the right to lead better lives.’

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Aug 4, 2015

Millennium Project releases ’2015–16 State of the Future’ report

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, economics, energy, health, nanotechnology, robotics/AI

The Millennium Project released today its annual “2015–16 State of the Future” report, listing global trends on 28 indicators of progress and regress, new insights into 15 Global Challenges, and impacts of artificial intelligence, synthetic biology, nanotechnology and other advanced technologies on employment over the next 35 years.

“Another 2.3 billion people are expected to be added to the planet in just 35 years,” the report notes. “By 2050, new systems for food, water, energy, education, health, economics, and global governance will be needed to prevent massive and complex human and environmental disasters.”

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Aug 1, 2015

So — what is Ethereum; and, how does it relate to Law?

Posted by in categories: automation, big data, complex systems, disruptive technology, economics, ethics, governance, human trajectories, information science, law

Quoted: “Traditional law is a form of agreement. It is an agreement among people and their leaders as to how people should behave. There are also legal contracts between individuals. These contracts are a form of private law that applies to the participants. Both types of agreement are enforced by a government’s legal system.”

“Ethereum is both a digital currency and a programming language. But it is the combination of these ingredients that make it special. Since most agreements involve the exchange of economic value, or have economic consequences, we can implement whole categories of public and private law using Ethereum. An agreement involving transfer of value can be precisely defined and automatically enforced with the same script.”

“When viewed from the future, today’s current legal system seems downright primitive. We have law libraries — buildings filled with words that nobody reads and whose meaning is unclear, even to courts who enforce them arbitrarily. Our private contracts amount to vague personal promises and a mere hope they might be honored.

For the first time, Ethereum offers an alternative. A new kind of law.”

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Jul 30, 2015

The unintended consequences of rationality — By Leah Burrows | Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Posted by in categories: economics, robotics/AI

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“The idea of rationality is a shared construct between AI and economics. When we frame questions in AI, we say: what are the objectives, what should be optimized and what do we know about the world we’re in? The AI/economics interface has become quite fertile because there is a shared language of utility, probability, and reasoning about others.”

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