Is there a price to pay for Progress

Discussion in 'The Meadow' started by Hornet3d, Nov 16, 2018.

  1. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    Well, since we are talking about animated GIFs and things that have no replacement, I would put Adobe Flash right in the middle of that. While Apple and Google have joined forces to remove Flash from the Internet, neither companies have offered something in return. Even Google has declared that HTML5 cannot possibly replace Flash when it comes to anything more than playing videos or making web page animated transitions. Flash has dominated 75% of all interactive web contents for decades, and now Adobe has set its end-of-life for 2020.

    Last year, there was an international meeting with several companies from the entertainment industry, where they considered the feasible alternatives for the immediate future, where they initially came with 5. By the end of the meeting, the set was already reduced to only 1 (Haxe), and it would exclude any non-programmers from using it. Until now, Flash was the only artist-friendly alternative, but Haxe is only for programmers, as it is with HTML5 and JavaScript. When Flash ends in 2020, artists will be the ones left with nothing.

    However, both Apple and Google have used very clever anti-Flash campaigns, making sure people would turn against it no matter what the motives were. It's easy to demonize something having the backing from mega-corporations support with funding and resources. As we have seen here at Hivewire, to stain someone's reputation, you don't need true statements - you only need to pick the right people to demonize it. Once one side is put in a defensive position, they already lost. This is how artistic freedom on the web (without Flash) is going down with applause.
     
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  2. Miss B

    Miss B Drawing Life 1 Pixel at a Time CV-BEE

    Yes, I can't play Flash movies in either of my browsers anymore. In fact, my Firefox won't even let me enable it. I think the issue is with the Flash movie technology, rather than just Apple and Google campaigning against it. If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. I used to create in Flash "years ago", I don't bother anymore because I can't be sure who will be able to see it. If it's broken, it's broken.

    As far as HTML 5, yes there are limitations as far as "replacing" Flash, but I'm not necessarily a big fan of animations on websites anymore, so I don't miss not being able to utilize it. As long as my Firefox will allow me to play videos on YouTube, then I'm good to go. Once upon a time, a few years ago, I couldn't even do that, and a site where I send out greeting cards from, totally redid their offerings because all of their customers were complaining they couldn't view the cards in order to choose which one they wanted to view. I had to "try" to view them with my tablet, because my laptop would freeze up every time. Now that they're no longer utilizing Flash movies, I'm back to viewing their greeting cards without incident.
     
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  3. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished


    Yes I guess when something is overtaken by events, that is one thing, but it something dies because of corporate political agendas that is something entirely different. It would certainly annoy me.
     
  4. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    It's hard to discern what is NOT decided by corporate political agendas nowadays. Or maybe it has always been like this, but I didn't notice it. It was around the early 2000s when corporations started eating one another, with the many buyouts and merges. The more they buy, the less competitors, and the more monopoly. The more monopoly, the easier it becomes to make decisions that affect many people. Google alone has already purchased half the companies in the world. In 2013 they bought 8 robotics companies in only 6 months. The even bought one of the robotics division from DARPA, Boston Dynamics. That is astonishing. And to think that George Orwell wrote about this scenario back in 1949, showing that this has already been happening for much longer than many of us realize.

    There is an old Chinese proverb that claims that "Truth is whatever most people believe". Another one claims "Money is not power. Power is how many people do what you want for free". Those ancient proverbs seem to define quite well how modern corporations operate nowadays. They also explain why information has always been a main source of power. Whoever controls information, controls people, and what they perceive as true. Manipulation of truth leads to making people do what you want - moving your agenda forward for free.
     
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  5. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished


    A very good summary of the situation but worrying all the same.
     
  6. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    When I was a kid, I read Orwell's "1984", and I giggled how far-fetched I considered that possibility back in the 1970s. In the bible it says that "the devil's biggest achievement was to make us believe he doesn't exist". Communism has taken over good parts of Europe, Central, and South America nowadays, where MANY people still believe it doesn't exist anymore. Communism now disguises itself under many different labels and causes, taking over slowly and gradually, putting masses of people to work for it without their knowledge - even those who believe it doesn't exist. It's a completely different strategy comparing to how things were done in WWII and the fall of the Berlin wall, and a much more successful one. They have abandoned old school Karl Marx to now follow Antonio Gramsci with a completely different strategy to reach the very same goals. More recently, we have Venezuela to prove how successful it is.

    Now, Orwell's "1984" was about Globalism, which is also something most people still claim it doesn't exist. Nowadays, communism, globalism and the Islam are holding each other's hands, thinking they can used one another to reach their goals, with hopes to be able to control the others when they get it. The current predominant theory is that communism will succeed taking out the world, but will soon after succumb to the Islam, which will prevail over all others in the end. They have been trying for much longer than the other two, and more recently, with much more success over 2/3 of the world (Asia, Middle-East, and Europe). It could also be that globalism could take over, but in all scenarios, the prediction is that the Islam will always prevail in the end in the long run. They have been using the west's own concept of democracy to take it down. Very successful in Europe, always starting in countries already taken by the communists, and with their full support.

    Which of these 3 scenarios is the scariest? There is also a 4th scenario where aliens take over before (or after) the Islam, but that's when the director shouts "CUT!!!", and sends everybody home for the weekend.
     
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  7. mrsparky

    mrsparky Member

    As a risk to our privileged western lifestyles, I'd argue the biggest danger comes from us, not religion or politics.
    Once if we wanted either, we had to leave the house, find the right place and right people, sometimes running the risk of arrest or ridicule.
    Now we have social media and consider how quickly (around a decade ?) that's changed how we interact, how we vote etc.
    Yet we haven't been indoctrinated or converted, we've willingly embraced it.

    Not saying it's all bad, there's sites like change.org, but I feel we should be more proactive in examining our relationships with social media.
    Otherwise there are risks. For example in the 3d world if someone creates something that isn't mainstream slick and polished, it might not get the exposure it deserves. So the artist will create something's that "expected", especially if obtaining some form of status is key.

    Otherwise as Bradbury put it in the "The Pedestrian"...
    "The tombs, ill-lit by television light, where the people sat like the dead, the gray or multicolored lights touching their faces, but never really touching them. "
     
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  8. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    The funny thing about social media was when Mark Zukerman, the creator of FaceBook, claimed that all these people who post personal information about themselves are complete idiots - but people keep doing it all the same. Even Zukerman's friends were asking him how did he manage to get people to post private information like that, and he said he wasn't asking for it. People just decided to expose themselves on their own, not realizing the danger of making it all public. It has become quite easy to build a detailed dossier about entire populations by just data-mining social media. The data is all there for anyone who wants it.

    Zukerman was part of a group who was studying the addicting effect that certain combinations of factors could produce on people. He created FaceBook to put together many of these things, and observe the effects in first hand. It was a case-study to demonstrate how the website that contains these factors could cause people to get addicted to it. Even though Zukerman had initially denied he knew that, his colleagues confirmed it was all planned to be as such from the beginning. The addicting effect was already being studied by psychologists for years, but the idea of making it an addicting website was new. Social media was originally created to prove a point that people could get addicted to it, but the fact that people started to freely expose their personal information like that came as a surprise. Most large corporations can easily monetize this by data-mining social media and directing advertisement against people by exploiting their interests and preferences.

    Luckily for me, social media has no effect on me. I rarely go there, and feel no compulsion to do so. I am strongly against posting personal information not only in social media, but in ANY site. I have also switched to "DuckDuckGo" and quit using Google's search engine, which is yet another data-mining repository that exploits people by directing smart advertisement against them. I have several colleagues from computer science who have specialized on data mining, because that has become very lucrative with the advent of social media and search engines that spy on us. For instance, Google has several web services, but that is NOT where the bulk of their revenue comes from. About 71% of it comes from smart targeted advertising, which is fueled by data mining social media and their search engine. Have you noticed that once you Google search something, you will be followed by related banner ads everywhere you go? That's how Google got rich, caching 95 BILLION dollars just in 2017's targeted advertisement. They even created a special service to create scientific visualization of the data mining process, called Google Analytics. They are definitely not shy about showing off the tools they use to spy on us.

    One could claim that is unethical and a violation of privacy, but what do those things even mean with the advent of social media? People just gave up their privacy by their own free will.
     
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  9. Miss B

    Miss B Drawing Life 1 Pixel at a Time CV-BEE

    Personally, I think Zuckerman screwed up, because he could've designed the site so that a personal information warning appeared each time someone tried to post, possibly stating something to the effect it wouldn't be tolerated.

    That said, however, when a social media outlet becomes so popular, as his did, it would be hard to enforce that, which is probably why he didn't bother.

    I'm with you Ken. I don't belong to any social media outlet, and have no desire to. THIS is all the socializing (other than R/L in person socializing) I need.
     
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  10. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished


    I am another one that has to a large degree opted out of the social media explosion, I don't do Farcebook or twatter or any of it's ilk. Strangely the only site that has a fair amount of my personal information is here at Hivewire so other people here can judge just how much of my personal side I have divulged over the years. Although not being personally involved I am afraid my work as a support volunteer has brought me into contact with many that suffer the dark side of the social media explosion. I am at an age where I do not need social media and at the point in life where my campaigning days are drawing to a close. I have always disliked seeing others mistreated or just not treated fairly and I will still try and help on a personal level but my days of trying to change the underlying problems are well gone.

    I am not someone who thinks the young are all bad, quite the opposite I fear for them and the world we are going to leave them. I have lived through some good times, but the days of final salary pension schemes and fair pensions are long gone. They are the ones that will have to clear up my plastic and worry where their power comes form. I do try to have limit the impact I have on the world but anything I do on a personal level will be infinitesimal. I am so very glad I never had children because I do feel for their future but do have nieces and I do not think they will be as lucky in life as my wife and I have been.
     
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  11. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    Perhaps one of the reasons Zuckerman didn't "fix" FB for the things you have mentioned are just because.... he doesn't use FB, and advises his friends and relatives to keep a distance as well. Besides commercial data mining, unethical practices, and blatant violation of privacy, there is also government data mining to build dossiers for the secret service, which are shared with other countries, and with 16 other government agencies. They do this in the name of "national security", in case they need personal information about private citizens they would have no access to otherwise because their privacy is protected by law.

    When I was doing my masters degree in computer science, I couldn't help noticing there were 2 specific areas where government money was heavily concentrating on: health services, and data mining. I have worked many years with health services (national epidemiology registry), but at some point I was offered a chance to work with data mining, where the goals were clearly aimed at commercial exploitation of search engines for targeted advertisement, and the creation of personal profiles of people who used certain web services. At the time, I have evaluated these projects, and considered them to be highly unethical, and refused to take the job. However, many of my colleagues gladly accepted the assignments and started scientific research to develop these areas. That was back in the late 1990s, and these guys are now in very comfortable positions in the industry, because data mining has become a billion-dollar business - with Google leading the pack in nearly all areas. Without data mining, Google would be 70% smaller than it is today.

    The problem is that data mining requires a lot of people to analyse huge amounts of data, so Google started to invest on artificial intelligence (AI) to speed up the process. The AI was also aimed to assist the Google search engine to produce better results, and also to data mine whatever people search for, and build a profile about every person who uses it. What they like, where they go, where they buy, how much they buy, for how much, what they eat and where, and how often. Chances are that Google AI knows more about you and your habits than you know them yourself. This helps Google search to give you better service because it KNOWS you and what you like. This is better and cheaper than having a secret service, because people provide information about themselves several times a day, willingly, and for free. The AI organizes the data and builds a profile for you that Google can sell to others. For instance, telemarketers can know personal information about you before they call you, and exploit that to sell you things based on your personal profile. They can know ahead of time how much money you have spent with every product category over the past year (or years), and offer you exactly what you like, and can afford. And of course, the targeted ads that follow you everywhere you go on the web that pay the bills for Google. Those data-mined personal profiles have become a valuable commodity that is sold from company to company for considerable values.

    So whether Zuckerman did something about FB or not, it's too little, too late. The addicting effects of FB have already been replicated by several other services, and data has already become widely available for government and commercial exploitation. It has spread itself like a cancer. It's in the search engines and many other web services people use for free. For instance, MOST of the free VPN services are actually funded by government agencies, which obviously means what was supposed to make your web navigation private, actually makes it monitored and recorded. And what's worse, more than half of them are located in Russia.

    Even Windows 10 has become a huge data collection service, where if you refuse to give Cortana (the AI) access to your private data, it shuts down many parts of Windows, leaving your experience handicapped. Microsoft has been openly trying to spy on people since Windows Millennium (aka Windows ME), with several law suits in their record. The Cortana AI data mining serves the same purpose than the Google search AI, but with deeper access to your personal information. For example, Google AI has no access to your emails and contact lists, but Cortana AI does. If you deny access to the AI in Windows, Cortana disables itself altogether.

    So if you think social media is the only problem, think again. It's more widespread than you think.
     
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  12. Miss B

    Miss B Drawing Life 1 Pixel at a Time CV-BEE

    You know Ken, that doesn't surprise me at all.
     
  13. Satira Capriccio

    Satira Capriccio Distinguished CV-BEE Contributing Artist

    I'm rather of the mindset that if an adult wants to put all their personal information out there for strangers to know ... let them.

    I do use Facebook and Google+, if one can call visiting a page once or twice a year using. Mostly to exchange birthday wishes with my brothers, and periodically, to check on my cousins or my son. Living 3,000 miles away from family, one tends to be out of the loop for just about everything. And, I've never been very good at maintaining contact with anyone long term.

    As far as telemarketers, it doesn't really bother me if they think they have enough information to sell me something I don't really want. First ... because I don't answer the phone if I don't know the number, and second ... I rarely buy anything because someone reached out to me to sell me something. When I do buy something, it's only after I've researched the product and compared it to other options. A lot of marketing strategies tend to backfire with me. When Sears bought Lands End and started inundating me with multiple emails a day for sales, I filtered out all emails from Lands End.

    I probably worry more about machines becoming sentient and deciding humans need to go than I do about government or big business knowing everything about me. Then too ... machines might actually take better care of the planet than we do.
     
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  14. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished


    Like a lot of things in life there is nothing wrong with Facebook if used with care what I could not understand was the young girl that used to ballistic over comments on a almost daily basis made about her by her boyfriends ex. It did not seem to occur to her not to read the comments but maybe that points to the addictive nature.

    On the wider issue of the Internet, I have a niece that some years ago that took a £4000 loan from the bank to buy a second hand car and lost the lot trying to buy one on the Internet. Of course the real pain there was not having the car and having to continue to pay the monthly charge on the loan. I am not sure if the Internet has actually increased the abuse of children or just made it more visible but I do know that people can be stalked from a distance that was never as comprehensive or easy as before the Internet.

    As to my government having information on me well as I was a Trade Union Secretary many moons ago I guess there is a file somewhere and that is long before the Internet. Most the information will be wrong as, on the occasions I need to give information for a free download or the like I lie about my interests, income, social status, career, likes and dislikes and, if I can use a fake email address. If a fake email address is not possible I use a secondary one set up for that very purpose. Of course my spending habits are possibly well known due to my credit card spending but Poser would be difficult from the UK otherwise and I sort of accept that as a price of having the hobby and shopping on line.
     
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  15. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    @Satira Capriccio It's cool that some of us are aware of the dangers in social media/search engines, but the fact that Google has cashed 95 billion dollars last year just in targeted ads is the living proof that MOST of rest of the people are clueless about it. It even makes me wonder why do they still invest so much on services when those represent less then 30% of their revenue. Spying on people is way more lucrative to them, as it is for FB. The better they spy on us, the more money they make. That is clear to see from Google's annual revenue charts, where every year they have an added increase in targeted ads profits. This means that more people are targeted every year, and they are able to monetize it.

    This is the kind of economy where Google didn't produce any goods or services. The profit comes from exploiting people through accessing their private data, be it from Google searches, or from social media data mining. I consider this highly unethical and borderline illegal. And yet, here we are.

    @Hornet3d Keep in mind that social media and Google searches are not the only ways to get spied on. Most of us are using Windows 10 by now, and it has been known for data mining your personal information straight from your computer. If you deny Cortana access to private data, even as little as your location, Cortana will disable herself altogether. We are asked to expose EVERYTHING, including your emails and contact list, or nothing.

    This is not particularly new from Microsoft. They were caught collecting unauthorized private data from Windows ME and responded to a big lawsuit. And then, when they released the Kinect for the XBOX, there were thousands of people claiming the camera and microphone were turning on on their own, which was understood as Microsoft spying on people's homes. To protect themselves, many Kinect "accessories" were created and sold in the market, to cover the camera lenses when not being used.

    All this seems insignificant comparing to the data mining straight from Windows 10, though. At least this time they let us know they are doing it. They claim it's to "improve their products and services". Yeah, sure. It's not mandatory, but if you opt out, Cortana and all related services become unavailable. Very persuasive! LOL
     
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  16. ockham

    ockham Member

    I've been thinking a lot about Github Syndrome, the forced updating and forced bug-injection process. It's a lot like Room 101 in Orwell. You're not allowed to hold onto an idea or a way of doing things for more than a few days. You have to change your workflow all the time. You're constantly off balance, no time to think or analyze what's going on. Every update makes things worse, every update makes it easier for the updater to work faster.

    The problem is deeper than just the change. When you can't count on the landscape to hold still, you have to narrow down your range of skills. I noticed this when my courseware, which had been running as a Win EXE for 20 years, had to be converted to HTML/JS/CSS/SVG.

    With the EXE, I knew exactly what the output would do, so I was more free to create more learning methods and more interactive experiments. Now, with the need to fit into a dozen different formats that may change at any time, I have to stick with plain animations and plain choice buttons.

    Flash would have been a way to keep the interactivity, but as you're discussing, Flash is gone.

    Some economists wonder why productivity isn't improving with improved technology. This is a big part of the answer. Most of our inventive energy is occupied with workarounds for the updates.
     
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  17. mrsparky

    mrsparky Member

    I don't have any issues with social media, I just chose what parts of it to use (such as here) and how much personal info to share.

    Where I have problem with it is where it's become a defacto method of communication for a lot of companies.
    For example take train companies, they have small armies of social media workers, yet there#s no one at the station when you need to get a wheelchair on the train. You have to book, which sometimes means sharing a (smallish) level of personal data.

    But attempt to opt out from data sharing, as is noted here, services can become unavailable.
    That's no great loss if you don't want cortona, not so good if you can't get on a train.
     
  18. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished


    I think you touch on a wider point and that is those who are excluded or have other needs of the Internet. Here in the UK a lot of the local councils have run a survey with a very loaded question with the result that, they claim, there is a majority of people who want to pay the council for any services on line. Having set up the situation to provide the environment they engineered they have now stopped taking cash in any of the council offices. The end result is many elderly and disabled and people without Internet access are now forced to make an additional journey to the ATM in order to draw cash to be able to pay the council. The council therefore saves money in banking and security by making life more difficult for many of their clients/voters. The matter is further complicated in that the banks are closing down the smaller banks, taking the ATMs with them and, in addition, are closing many ATMs. In the bigger towns banks are close to forcing people to bank on line by equipping new banks with teller machines and heavily restricting face to face contact. Hence one bank has 12 machines and, for the most part, only one manned position open. Not only that but the machines are downstairs and the manned position is upstairs making life difficult for the elderly and those in a wheel chair. The one lift that is provided is often out of order making personal banking either difficult of impossible for many. At some point in the future they will then use the excuse that the bank is not being used as a reason to close that down as well. Only one bank bucks the trend, a new start in banking terms and from the US, who opens from 08.00 to 20.00 not the norm of 09.30 to 15.30 (except Wednesdays when they have a training morning (for who I am not sure) when the hours are 10.00 to 15.30). The upstart also opens on a Sunday from 10.00 to 15.00, with staff not a bank of machines, and as the shops only open from 10.00 to 16.00 that covers most of the time frame. If that is not enough in the new bank I always get a cheery greeting where in my bank of choice for the last 30 years I am lucky to get eye contact. I will leave you to guess who I bank with now.

    With all this, self service tills and dark stores set up for Internet food deliveries I fear for the quality of life for those not connected to the Internet.
     
  19. Ken1171

    Ken1171 Distinguished Contributing Artist

    I have been reading articles about the immediate jobs taken over by machines and artificial intelligence. The first jobs that went down the drain were bank tellers, now mostly replaced by ATM machines. They have also shown a couple of law school 1st year students, showing them a company that already uses AI to do their [future] jobs, faster, better, and cheaper than they will ever be. They put an experienced lawyer and the AI program together to see who would analyze a pile of commercial contracts better, no matter who took the longer to do it. They just wanted to see who would do the better quality job telling which contracts were more promising. The AI has finished the job in half the time, and produced the better quality analysis than the experienced human lawyer - under the agonizing eyes of the young students. They were told that the AI will be many times better by the time they graduate, making their efforts basically pointless.

    Another AI x humans battle was for commercial drivers, where the major argument was that humans have better judgement over what to do in quick emergency scenarios. This was coming from the current generation of self-driven cars and trucks, where reaction time can be slow, and they cannot predict all possible scenarios. For instance, if a small child crosses the way of a large truck, the AI may not even be capable of discerning it from regular road debris. However, driving AI has been developing at a steady pace, so commercial drivers may be out of jobs sooner than they think.

    AI has also been capable of designing airplane panels that are twice as strong, while being half the weight. Those are used to divide the different sections for passengers. Reducing the panels weight allow companies to save fuel, and make the airplanes safer. The head-scratching part is that human engineers could not understand HOW the AI-designed panels structure have become twice as strong after having studied it for weeks. It doesn't seem to make sense to us humans, but the fact is that the new panels did pass all tests with flying colors. They do have the required properties, but we couldn't understand how or why, and the AI neural networks [by nature] have no means to explain how they came to the results.

    Nowadays there is a lot of discussion concerning what kinds of jobs could be "safe" for humans in the long run. AI is taking over steadily and silently. For instance, data analysts was a very profitable profession in the early 2000's, but they have been mostly replaced by AI nowadays. Librarians can be replaced by a computer terminal, factory workers have been steadily replaced by robots, as well as fully automated large mail order distribution warehouses that require no human labor.

    The ultimate AI triumph was when Deep Mind has defeated the world champion in the ancient board game of Go. As opposed to chess, Go cannot be defeated by brute force, because the number of possible moves at all times is as vast as the number of stars in the universe. That is, a computer cannot predict all possible moves from a given time. In addition, Go is a game where the next move is typically decided based on instinct, intuition, and "gut feeling" - something we assume only humans can have. Nonetheless, Deep Mind AI has defeated the world champion from Korea 4 times out of 5 games. The AI was defeated once, but after that, it has learned the moves and would even start using it from that point on. In addition, it has presented a new set of techniques never seen in THOUSANDS of years of Go history. New books are being written about these new AI techniques as we speak, where some old taboos have been broken. And now, the punchline: Deep Mind was NOT taught how to play Go - it has learned by playing on its own, with no instructions whatsoever. After playing alone a few million times, it has become the best "intuitive" gut-feeling player in the world, even defeating and revolutionizing human knowledge that took thousands of years to perfect. And consider that Deep Mind was not created to play Go games in particular. In a matter of months, it has surpassed what took us humans thousands of years to achieve in the illusive field of intuition.

    If we are talking about the price to pay for progress, that's a hot topic. :)
     
  20. Hornet3d

    Hornet3d Distinguished

    And there was me worrying about a few formats not being available. The other problem is even if you job does not get replaced who the heck is going to pay for your pension. The only saving grace for me is AI will take long enough for it to have limited impact on me.
     

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