News — At The Edge — 10/27

The light seen at the end of the tunnelAI, encryption, data mining, economics and politicalis actually a train coming directly at us.

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“[AI Bias] often focuses on algorithms that unintentionally cause disproportionate harm to entire swaths of society…[though] nefarious actors could [attack]…systems by deliberately introducing bias into them, smuggled inside the data that helps those systems learn….

Employing existing techniques…with biased data or algorithms…make it easier to hide nefarious intent. Commercial data brokers collect and hold onto all kinds of information…that could be used in this way….

Algorithmic bias attacks could…easily advance ideological agendas…to target or exclude people on the basis of race, gender, religion or other characteristics….[Finally] foreign actors could use deliberate bias attacks to destabilize societies by undermining government legitimacy or sharpening public polarization….

Many algorithms are already fed biased data. Attackers could continue to use…[it] to train algorithms, with foreknowledge of the bias they contained…[yet] plausible deniability…[making] attacks so insidious and potentially effective….

[It’s] idea of ‘poisoning’ algorithms by tampering with training data….[This] bias is a systemic challenge…requiring holistic solutions.https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/when-ai-misjudgment-is-not-an-accident/

“Factorizing numbers into their constituent primes… is the foundation…[of] modern encryption….Without it, credit-card details, bank transfers, emails and the like would…[be] unprotected….[Need] math that does not give quantum computers an advantage….

[A] quantum computer might be able to handle…between about 1,000 and 10,000 [qubits]…between 2030 and 2040….Spies and policemen around the world already store…data in the hope…[can] decrypt them…in future…..

[A] second problem is how long a fix will take….[Unfortunately] even once a new standard is agreed, the upgrade will be slow and messy….Changing the encryption changes the way browsers negotiate connections with websites….And all of the proposed quantum-resistant schemes imposed noticeable delays compared with conventional cryptography…[and] generally require more computational grunt than the old sort…[so] industrial-control systems to sensors, may struggle….

[Finally] new algorithms may come with unforeseen weaknesses…[and] the amount of work will only grow.

All this means that quantum-proofing the internet is shaping up to be an expensive, protracted and probably incomplete job.https://www.economist.com/science-and-technology/2018/10/20/quantum-computers-will-break-the-encryption-that-protects-the-internet

“[GM] radio-tracking program…[monitors] listening habits of [drivers]…[capturing] station selection, volume level, and ZIP codes of vehicle owners, and then used the car’s built-in Wi-Fi signal to upload the data to its servers…to determine the relationship between what…listen to and what they buy and then turn around and sell the data….[so] in-car advertising can be more targeted….

[GM] is showing one of the many ways its telematics data can be used to make money’…[as] cars have become rolling listening posts…[to] track our phone calls, log our text messages, answer our voice commands, and…our radio stations. And automakers, local governments, retailers, insurers, and tech companies want to leverage that data….

[Today’s] connected cars create up to 600GB of data per day…equivalent of more than 100 hours of HD video every 60 minutes — and self-driving cars…[will] generate more than 150 times that amount…[worth] more than $1.5 trillion by the year 2030….

[GM] can tell if they listened to it to the end…middle of the commercial…[or] change it to another station…[and] that different GM nameplates may be associated with a certain psychological profile….

[There’s] ‘more than 15,000 terrestrial radio stations…in the United States…and somewhere around $18 billion in annual advertising is spent….

[Also] , GM unveiled a new service called Marketplace in which vehicle owners can pre-purchase coffee and gas or make restaurant reservations, all from the infotainment screen…..

[So] cars of the future will be the inverse of NASCAR racing cars: instead of being wrapped in corporate logos, the brand names will on the inside, facing us.https://www.theverge.com/2018/10/17/17990052/gm-radio-listen-tracking-habits-advertising-future

“[MIT] developed a novel method to mass-produce tiny robots, no bigger than a cell, quickly, easily and accurately with little to no external stimulus. It is a new tool for large-scale fabrication of micro- and nano- scale devices.”

“Paul Volcker said…[U.S.] is ‘developing into a plutocracy’ and suffering from a crisis in good governance…[as] the skill and reputation of the U.S. government has been corroded by self-interested elites shaping law through lobbying and campaign donations….

Respect for government, respect for the Supreme Court, respect for the president, it’s all gone.[Can’t] run a democracy when nobody believes in the leadership….

[N]o force on earth that can stand up effectively, year after year, against the thousands of individuals and hundreds of millions of dollars in the Washington swamp aimed at influencing the legislative and electoral process….

[A]n enormous number of…[rich] have convinced themselves…they’re rich because they’re smart and…don’t like government’…[so] Washington has lost the…people’s respect and pays insufficient attention to bridging that divide.” https://thehill.com/policy/finance/412756-volcker-warns-of-us-descent-into-plutocracy

“[T] biggest economic story…[is] dramatic rise of some formerly very poor nations, and the concomitant shift of the world’s economic center of gravity away from the West…[which] already converged, in terms of technology and productivity.

The remaining differences in GDP per capita mainly reflect different social choices over things like vacation time and retirement age…[not] an indicator of some kind of failure….

[The] rapid convergence by emerging markets…has something to do with…the unprecedented surge in world trade made possible by breaking up value chains and moving pieces of production to lower-wage countries. But we don’t really know even that….

[But] not all countries have that mysterious ‘it’ that lets them make effective use of…advanced technology….Once a country acquires It, growth can be rapid, precisely because best practice is so far ahead of where the country starts. And because the frontier keeps moving out, countries that get It keep growing faster….

[So] middle-income countries grow faster than either poor or rich countries…[that] are already at the technological frontier, limiting the space for rapid growth….

[A] world in which inequality among countries is declining if you look from the middle [up]… but rising if you look from the middle down….

[Also] it’s a story of diminishing Western exceptionalism, as the club of countries that can take full advantage of modern technology expands….

[Thus] concentration of income and wealth at the top is worrisome, not just economically, but for its political and social implications; it’s one reason US democracy is teetering on the edge.” https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/20/opinion/notes-on-global-convergence-wonkish-and-off-point.html?rref=collection%2Fsectioncollection%2Fopinion-columnists

“U.S. has the highest level of economic inequality among developed countries…world’s greatest per capita health expenditures yet…lowest life expectancy among comparable countries…[and] jostling for the…lowest measures of equality of opportunity….

The life prospects of a young American depend more on the income and education of his or her parents than in almost any other advanced country…[and] appear to be getting worse….

[Markets] are shaped by rules and regulations, which can be designed to favor one group over another…[now] is rigged — by those in the inherited plutocracy….

[Inequality] in the past 40 years it has reached new heights…[as] income share of the top 0.1 percent [quadrupled]…[as] top 1 percent has almost doubled…[while] bottom 90 percent has declined.

Wages at the bottom, adjusted for inflation, are about the same as they were some 60 years ago…with just three Americans having as much as the bottom 50 percent….

[Defenders] refer to the workings of a competitive market, where the laws of supply and demand determine wages, prices and even interest rates….[But] 2008 financial crisis, when the bankers…market manipulation and various other antisocial practices walked away with millions of dollars in bonuses just as millions of Americans lost their jobs and homes…[though] none of these bankers were ever held to account for their misdeeds….

Changes in technology are global and should affect all advanced economies in the same…globalization has been integral to all advanced economies…[and] shift to the service sector is happening in most other advanced countries….

[So] why is U.S. inequality practically unique?….[It’s] a consequence of our policies, laws and regulations…[as] the market power of large corporations…increased even more than elsewhere…[while] the market power of workers…has fallen further than elsewhere….

[It’s] rigged rules of the game…set in a political system that is itself rigged through gerrymandering, voter suppression and the influence of money. A vicious spiral has formed: economic inequality translates into political inequality, which leads to rules that favor the wealthy, which in turn reinforces economic inequality….

Technological changes have concentrated market power in the hands of a few…[and] with deep war chests enormous power to crush competitors….

Rigged rules also explain why the impact of globalization may have been worse…[since] unions provide workers less protection against the efforts of firms to drive down wages or worsen working conditions….

[T]he stripping away of regulations…enabled the finance industry to grow in size and profitability and has increased its opportunities to exploit everyone else.

  • Banks routinely indulge in practices that are legal but should not be…[and] frequently do things that are illegal, including market manipulation and insider trading…[and] moved money away from ordinary Americans….
  • [Law] in 2003 prohibited the government from negotiating drug prices for Medicare — a gift of some $50 billion a year or more to the pharmaceutical industry.
  • Special favors, such as…oil at below fair-market value or banks’ getting funds from the Federal Reserve at near-zero interest rates…[and] favorable tax treatment for the rich…[enable] those at the top pay a smaller fraction of their income in taxes than those who are much poorer….

[IMF research] suggests that economies with greater equality perform better, with higher growth, better average standards of living and greater stability….[Inequality] in the U.S. and in the manner generated there actually damages the economy….

Societies could make up for this gap by increasing government spending — on infrastructure, education and health…[needed] for long-term growth…[so] people living in unequal societies have less equality of opportunity…[and] wasting the country’s most valuable resource: Americans themselves….

[Meanwhile] children of the rich…think of themselves as a class apart, entitled…and accordingly more likely to break the rules necessary for making society function.

All of this contributes to a breakdown of trust, with its…impact on social cohesion and economic performance….

Its origins are largely political, so…[no] meaningful change without…[taking] money out of politicsmore progressive taxation and high-quality federally funded public education…[with] affordable access to universities for all…modern competition laws to deal with the problems…[of] market power and stronger enforcement…enforcement of antidiscrimination laws…[and] more sensible inheritance….

The basic perquisites of a middle-class life, including a secure old age, are no longer attainable for most Americans…[and] already paying a high price for inequality…not just our economy…[but] our democracy…[as] a demagogue blaming the country’s problems on others and making false promises of rectifying ‘a rigged system’….It could get much worse.https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-american-economy-is-rigged/

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Doc Huston

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder — dochuston1@gmail.com