A MIND FOREVER VOYAGING THROUGH STRANGE SEAS OF THOUGHT, ALONE


This is my second blog.

My first blog chronicled my experiences over three years caring for my dad as he lived through and finally died from Alzheimer's. That is the book that is for sale.

This second blog kind of chronicles of life, what it is like to start your life over in your late 50's. After caretaking, you are damaged, file bankruptcy, and the world doesn't care what you did. After 8 months of unemployment, you wake each day knowing the world doesn't want you. Finally you do find a job, 5 weeks before homelessness, but doing what you did 30 years ago and getting paid what you did 30 years ago. So this is starting over.



The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

DIAMONDS AND RUST

Well, another story in the news.  Elderly couple end up stuck in the mud for several days on a logging road because the damn GPS told them to turn onto the logging road.  And now they are pushing auto drive cars where the cars will drive themselves using the same damn faulty GPS systems and people will go right off cliffs and the second to last thing they will see is the sky through their windshields, otherwise known as the blue screen of death.

The last thing they will see is the green screen of death as the car is inches from contact with the ground.  See, green is good.

The magnitude of unintended consequences that exist because people don't think.  You like the idea of GPS and self driving cars?  Let's see, how will that work.  Well, the car will be using WiFi which means someone will be able to hack your car, hey, let's get rid of those people that are too old, don't vote correctly, or insert your favorite point here: mine would be wiping out all the executives at Goldman Sachs and the other big banks but they won't be driving these things, don't you know.

And statistically, there are going to be defects.  Maybe these cars will have a nice small number of DPMO, or defects per million opportunities.  Except how many cars are on the road at any given moment in this country?  I know I'd sure like to be in front of that tanker truck when it has it's burp.  And what do you do as the truck comes towards you in your computer controlled car?  Shout "REBOOT"?

Computers were not designed to think for us, they were designed to help us get answers to our thinking, quicker.  A calculator is much faster than a slide rule.  Spreadsheets can instantly calculate the single change in interest rates.  And anyone who went through college with a typewriter knows what word processing can do in terms of fixing a mistake.

But they don't write the paper for you, well, yet.

Do you really want to get into a car, a cab, a bus, a train, or a plane where computers make every decision with no chance for operator override?  Even the Gemini astronauts had the smarts to say NO WAY when they tried that line on them.

I was in an accident once.  Got hit by a semi on the Stephenson Expressway in Chicago right after passing 1st Avenue.  I was in the right lane, he was in the center of the three lanes.  The lanes jogged left, he didn't and smacked me right in the side; we were doing 60mph.

And I hit the gas.  Would the computer have known to hit the gas?  He clipped my rear then, spinning me out in front of him and across all three lanes.  I pulled out of the spin on the grass infield that has been since paved.  God was with me that night.  Here is the point: a computer would have hit the brakes and then the truck would run over me.

I know, if the truck were computer controlled it never would have happened.

And that is the problem - thinking if technology controls things, errors won't occur.

I can harp on this until the cows come home and some people will just not understand it. Technology is created by man, man is imperfect and therefore technology will be imperfect.  But we've snowed generations into thinking technology can't be wrong; not only can it be wrong, it can be manipulated, hacked, changed after the fact to hide what really happened.  Hell, you can probably design the stuff to automatically erase any errors.  I'm sure Google has an algorithm for that already.

There are already serious questions about whether our most modern cars can be hacked, especially the GPS systems.  Just send them down the wrong street, alley, and bam, person can be eliminated.

And what happens in the future when Mr. AutoCar and me, Mr. Still Driving a Stick 20 year old car have an accident?  Am I automatically going to get the ticket?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is the thinking problem we have today.  Nobody thinks through a problem and it's solution.  They forget the very simple fact of life: every solution you can come up with for any given problem will create at least one new problem.  And if you are the government, you can bet the problems created by a solution will be 10x as bad as the problem they tried to fix.

Take nuke power plants.  Why the hell, when building Fukushima, didn't at least one engineer, builder, or janitor ask, "is this really smart building a nuke plant right on the edge of the ocean on top of a fault line?"  Hmm?  But the japanese aren't the only ones, we've got a couple of exact same designs in California alone - I bet they even store their radioactive tubes on the roofs too.  And look at all the nuke plants along the Great Lakes, the fresh water, this country lives on and we've got nuke plants all along all those lakes, just waiting to radiate all the fresh water.

When you come up with a solution, stop, and ask yourself what effects will this solution have on other things?  Will this fix the problem but create other problems?  What might those problems be?  Are those problems bigger than the problem we have now?

But so many grow up today thinking technology will solve everything, that technology will make it better.  Well, look at all the technology we've got today - are things better?

CS Lewis wrote many a paper on the god of technology.  We live in a culture today that places Religion/magic on one side and science/technology on the other, but Lewis pointed out that religion and science are together and magic/technology are together because magic/technology seek to change the world in man's image.

And in the end, man's attempt to control the world via technology will be the end of man.


As I remember your eyes
Were bluer than robin's eggs
My poetry was lousy you said
Where are you calling from?
A booth in the Midwest
Ten years ago I bought you some cufflinks
You brought me something
We both know what memories can bring
They bring diamonds and rust


Joan Baez