Monday, June 30, 2014

Welcome to AmeriKKKa

Today's SCOTUS decision had absolutely nothing to do with contraception. It is about corporations controlling people and using religion to do whatever they want, to hell with the health care law mandates. The public at large lost a big one today.

Thanks to our corporate bought Supreme Court, now orthodox jewish employers can deny the coverage of insulin, Jehovah's Witnesses employers can deny blood transfusion coverage, and any other closely held for profit companies can withhold coverage based on their religious whims. The real implication of today's ruling is to deal a mortal blow to universal health coverage. It also allows closely held tyrannies (aka corporations) to disembowel the well being of the public. Shame on the owners of Hobby Lobby and the degenerate Catholic bishops who yammered on about their "Fortnight of Freedom."

Justice Ginsburg, speaking for the dissent, best summarized the implications of the decision here:
"Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision."

Justice Roberts is using each one of these cases to give corporations more and more rights at the expense of the public.  By using hot button issues to do so, he has masterminded a conservative coup that will shake this nation's freedom to its core.  We focus on the red herrings of the issues while he takes us one step closer and closer to a right wing corporate controlled society. 
It is disgusting how America has become so myopic that it has focused on the aspect of contraception while missing the larger point--that now the health care law will be so watered down that it will be essentially useless.  And now corporations have been given a free card in the name of "religion" to do whatever they want.  The big losers are all of us.  More freedoms for corporations, much less for real people.  That is the real outcome.
It is a sad day for America.  

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

We'll Make Great Pets

Some have made the argument that human beings are special above all other creatures because they are intelligent.  We can program a computer, whereas a chimp cannot.  We can write a play, but a dog cannot.  But what happens when artificial intelligence surpasses human beings in all areas?  Then we are indeed faced with a crisis--what then, makes us special?

It used to be that the domain of chess was considered a gentleman's game.  It involved higher order logic, planning, and intelligence.  It was believed that a computer could never beat a chess grandmaster.  But in 1997, this is exactly what happened--a computer beat the world chess champion.  To this day, computers can clean the clocks of any human player. 

It was inconceivable a few years ago that a computer could beat a human in Jeopardy!.  Yet last year IBM's Watson beat Ken Jennings, the greatest Jeopardy! player of all time.  This is no longer the realm of science fiction.  It has been done.

It used to be that those who could calculate numbers in their heads and do computation were valued workers.  Now a $1 scientific calculator can do computation much quicker than any human mind. 

More and more areas of human ability are going to be surpassed by computers.  We need to start looking at ourselves and instead of degrading ourselves, we need to recognize the intrinsic human dignity and value of each person without regard to his or her mental abilities.  Qualities like love, empathy, and decency will begin to matter more.  In a world where deep thinking is done by computers, the cognitive elites in our society will be humbled. 

If enough of the onion is peeled away, how far do we have to go before we don't know who we are anymore?  At what point do we discover that we are hollow men?  These are the questions we will need to begin pondering.  The computers aren't going to need us.  The scientific calculator doesn't give a shit if your feelings are hurt or not.  This will be the time to look inside and see what you are really about.

Some people are going to look deep inside and find there is nothing there.