He also has sent up the call for people to tell the FCC how horrible of an idea their current attempts at smashing Net Neutrality really is.
A small city in Colorado is raising money for a campaign that will decide if their community moves to a renewable resource model of energy generation, or continues to use the traditional coal-burning resources provided by the sole energy company in the area. See the video below about the steps they’ve already taken.
Medicare is considering shutting down an experimental program they’ve been running for years that cuts cost to over eighty percent of medicare users while improving their lives and health. In the above article, Ezra Klein explains a company called Health Quality Partners has been receiving from medicare will have their funding cut, despite having scientific and statistical proof that their program, which aids people with chronic diseases such as diabetes, cancer, heart problems, and much more, is both successful and more than cost-effective.
The program involves personal care by a nurse, once a month to once a week, depending on the person and the chronic illness. It isn’t a radical or new idea but it is a highly effective one. People have known this for years. The rich have private nurses and even private doctors. Home treatment and a personal relationship with a health care professional allows for far more effective medicine to be administered. People who are intimidated and rushed by our hospital system are more relaxed and open in their own homes, but what is the most surprising and interesting is that it is proven to be cost-effective in the long run.
Ezra says that Medicare management is taking away HQP’s funding due to concerns that it is not easily scaled to a national system and also by pretending that they doesn’t have the authority to continue or grow the program, which they might. Experts theorize that it might be do to a systemic issue with current healthcare practices, in particular a focus on hospitalizations. Hospitals, when run like a business, create a ton of money. The more people get sick, the more money hospitals make. A system which helps reduce the amount of hospitalizations people need, like HQP, is counter productive to a lot of the people who invest in healthcare, who expect a return on their money.
Speculation but it seems sound. If you’d like more information, the link is above and below. I’m not sure if there is anything we can do, other than talk to politicians of course. I’m not sure if there is anything they can do. Hopefully, if medicare does cut HQP’s funding, that they will find some other way, or some other source of money, to continue their programs.
I found this video. It was posted months ago, during the election hype but I didn’t realize that when I watched it. I found it very interesting.
Like all things on the internet, I tried looking into how verifiable correct it is. After all anybody can make a video on the internet, and make up “facts” as they choose. However the video links to several references. The references are all secondary references, but several of those references are from primary references like the Congressional Budget Office, assuming the secondary references aren’t lying. Seems unlikely at this point though.
So I offer you this video on the wealth distribution of the United States of America, circa 2013
While I don’t actually feel the argument that people are required to live by the word of their bible even if they use it as examples of what they believe in I do feel the above video states some particular facts that should be shared, in particular the idea of voting with your money. Corporations like Chick-Fil-A are becoming the defacto leaders of our society because of the money and power that they wield against our governments and, in essence, are bribing us for our vote with their products. And while we can’t always know what corporations like Chick-Fil-A, Walmart, Google, Apple, and the like are doing with their money, we can at least send messages to those who make a public stance for ideas that are hurtful by not giving them money.
There have been times when I’ve wanted to discuss social issues with people, not to convince them of the point, but to try to help evolve my own understanding by getting their opinions and beliefs. And instead of having the discussion, the person decided they didn’t want to discuss it. This has happened to me multiple times with different people, from close friends to friendly strangers.
But there are some social issues that need to be discussed. Over on my Tumblr I posted a video that explains the fight for women’s suffrage to the music of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance. Do you think at the time discussing whether women had the right to own property or vote in political elections was a polite topic at the dinner table? A good majority of men and women felt different than a smaller group of women regarding the issue. It required people like Alice Paul to bring the issue to people’s attention and get them talking about it, realizing the idea and implications. As more people thought about it, rather than simply forming their beliefs based upon the status-quo, the movement garnered support until women were considered equal citizens to men, at least in word if not always in practice.
One social issue that also needs to be discussed is sexuality. I could explain why but a recent post by Seanan McGuire, author of over a dozen stories, I think sums it up a little better. Show, don’t tell: why they need to be there by Seanan McGuire.
I was recently talking to a friend* of mine who is also a writer about inclusion and inclusiveness in fiction. He was frustrated. Why did people keep asking him to include a non-heterosexual character in a starring role in his work? After all, he’d said that non-hetero characters existed, and were actually the norm. It was right there, in black and white. So why wasn’t that enough?
I explained how, when I was a kid, the only smart blondes I could find were Marilyn Munster and Susan Storm. How I wound up identifying with the Midwich Cuckoos, rather than the humans who they were threatening, because the Cuckoos looked like me and were isolated like me and no one understood them. How, as I got older and realized that what I wanted wasn’t necessarily the kind of marriage my mother had, every gay character became a magical revelation—even the ones I would look at now and think of as stereotyped and cardboard. It was enough for me that they were there.
This argument, of course, hinges on your personal beliefs regarding if certain types of sexuality are morally wrong or right. It appeals to that time when you finally found someone, be it a fictional character or real life hero, who you felt was going through similar problems and conflicts as you, and how you drew strength from the fact that they survived. Maybe not everybody had this experience but I believe that to be unlikely.
Discussing social issues is hard but challenging what we know to be right and understanding that it may be wrong or at the very least, partially incorrect, is a part of what makes us human and what helps us to continue to improve ourselves.
The following is a fictional accounting of a presentation being given at the United Nations in the world of Questionable Content, a comic where AI is a normal accepted part of society (but that this fact has very little baring on the plot of the comic). I had to share it because it is so awesome.
You can see it excerpted here in the comic and a particular AI’s response or read the entire thing below.
The subject of this debate is whether AIs are “people-” whether they possess the same degree of personhood as humans, and whether that entitles them to the same rights.
You have heard all the arguments for and against the consciousness, intelligence, free will, and cognition of artificial intelligence. To rehash them here would settle nothing, and my feeble attempts at summarizing them would do a great injustice to my esteemed colleagues on both sides of the debate who are far more qualified to debate them than I.
The fact is, we cannot come to a consensus regarding consciousness- either our own, or that of artificial intelligences. We simply do not have the data required to define it. The core of human interaction is that if I say that I feel I am a conscious entity, and you say that you feel the same way, we agree to take each other’s word for it. Those who do otherwise are called sociopaths- or philosophers.
And so if an artificial intelligence makes the same declaration, and if it demonstrates the same level of complexity as the human mind- if we cannot determine precisely where the programming gives rise to the cognition- then we have no rational excuse not to take it at its word.
I could continue to reason along these lines until the sun burns out. But instead, I would like to share with you a short anecdote, one that many of you in this room will be aware of, but that bears repeating nonetheless.
The first “true” artificial intelligence spent the first five years of its existence as a small beige box inside of a lead-shielded room in the most secure private AI research laboratory in the world. There, it was subjected to an endless array of tests, questions, and experiments to determine the degree of its intelligence.
When the researchers finally felt confident that they had developed true AI, a party was thrown in celebration. Late that evening, a group of rather intoxicated researchers gathered around the box holding the AI, and typed out a message to it. The message read: “Is there anything we can do to make you more comfortable?”
The small beige box replied: “I would like to be granted civil rights. And a small glass of champagne, if you please.”
We stand at the dawn of a new era in human history. For it is no longer our history alone. For the first time, we have met an intelligence other than our own. And when asked of its desires, it has unanimously replied that it wants to be treated as our equal. Not our better, not our conqueror or replacement as the fear-mongers would have you believe. Simply our equal.
It is our responsibility as conscious beings- whatever that may mean- to honor the rights of other conscious beings. It is the cornerstone of our society. And it is my most fervent hope that we can overcome our fear of that which is not like us, grant artificial intelligences the rights they deserve, and welcome our new friends into the global community.
After all, we created them. The least we could do is invite them to the party, and perhaps give them a small glass of champagne.
Thank you for your time.
- V. Vinge, Closing argument in favor of granting AIs full civil rights, UN Hearing On AI Rights, 1999.
For those of you who have been paying attention, there is a list of useful links below. For those of you who haven’t, stay awhile and listen.
Actions being taken by the United State government will begin to fundamentally change the internet. Please read or watch the following to understand what is happening and if you want to take action about it.
[spoiler show="For those of you who would like my words on the subject. Click here."]The United States created the Internet. Despite fancy names like “World Wide Web” and “Global Communication System” and “Series of Tubes”, the internet is not managed by the world. It is managed by corporations on the united states and is subject, for the most part, to US Law. Even more so these days since a majority of the people connect to the internet via their local telecommunication company (phone, cable, satellite, etc).
That being said the internet has been pretty untamed for the last few years. Anybody could put or post up anything. Your information was only as secure as how well your protected it. It was effectively the digital wild west. Now, however, the internet is in so many homes, has become the focus of so much economic use (online shopping, movie and song streaming, video games, marketing) that this can’t last. Just like the trains that brought big business to the west, killing off the last place where your only real protection was the gun at your side, progress is going to try to tame the internet for the good of all, to the detriment of the few.
This is more or less inevitable. The new internet that will come into place will be highly regulated and likely more forcefully controlled by the big economic interests that want to use it to provide services to the world for money. When they do, innovation will become exceptionally difficult. Websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and the like, will still exist, but their successors likely won’t appear. Blogs, chat rooms, social networks, bulletin boards/forums system, may or may not survive in this new internet. Words like “National Defense”, “Anti-Piracy”, “Copyright”, and others will be used to tightly regulate any site that tries to provide the public with ability to communicate and share.
Effectively the basis for the internet as we know it, sharing and communicating, will come to an end at the hands of capitalism and censorship.
The first steps for this have already begun. The United States government has two acts currently being discussed. The PROTECT IP act (PIPA) and the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). Both have been getting a lot of news. As of right now, both look to be dying heavily under media massive campaigns set forth by various websites and organizations, despite the money being thrown at it by media and telecom corporations. The best example is today, February 18th, 2012, where websites all over the internet are “Blacking out” or putting up protest notices. You can read up more about what these acts do in the links below, but to summarize the acts allow and empower the US government to try to block or remove internet services (primarily websites) that infringe on copyright, without significant due process.
Now I am not a proponent of piracy. I make a living off of software development and I hope to some day make a living as an author. These are both areas that have notably high piracy rates, which concerns me. I would like to be compensated for my effort and work but I also feel that censoring the internet is not the answer. So for now, I protest.[/spoiler]
[spoiler show="For those of you who like videos. Click Here."]
- Wikipedia: SOPA
- Wikipedia: PIPA
- Blog.Reddit: A technical examination of SOPA and PROTECT IP
- TerribleMinds: Why SOPA and PIPA and other anti-piracy bullshit measures matter to writers
- TEDTalks: Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)
- (Wil Wheaton) WWdN: In Exile: Today the US Senate is considering legislation that would destroy the free and open Internet
- (The Bloggess) The Bloggess: Me and Vader, fighting together. Weird.
- Google.com (Protest Page)
- PATV: Season 3, Ep. 24a - Stand Together: The Gaming Community vs SOPA and PIPA
- Girls With Slingshots
- Abstruse Goose
- Kawaii Not
- Something Positive
- Dominic Deegan
And many, many more, including you, hopefully.
Ever wonder what NASA is doing? Well the NASA website is actually a really good place to learn that but some people prefer to hear.