Category Archives: Strong Opinions

Universal Basic Income Is Not The Answer

What do we do when automation systems and robots make the mundane jobs redundant?

We could teach people new skills and let them find other jobs. This might negatively impact people who are already in these jobs. New skills might work for a small percentage of people.

We could ask some people to assist the robots and manage them. That could keep some people working.

The popular answer seems to be: Universal Basic Income.

Many countries probably can’t afford universal basic income, but let’s look past that for a moment.

The cost of living will probably go down a lot in the next twenty years as things get much more efficient. Producing food, transport, housing can all be done much better by machines. We could tax the profits made from the labour of the bots.

The idea with universal basic income is that governments give everybody some money to cover the costs of food and shelter. If there is no need for boring and mundane jobs people will be free to enjoy their lives and be creative. Write novels, make art, make movies, write music etc.

I’d like to think this is true, but I don’t see it working out this way.

Trouble is, only about 5% of people are creative and ingenuitive… and this 5% will probably not be replaced by the bots in the near future.

What are we going to do with all the people that currently drive cars and trucks for a living? It’s a fairly big problem, I think.

Xbox, endless social media feed scrolling, virtual reality and pain killers.

Not ideal. Any better ideas?

Universal Basic Income is not the answer.

South Africa is interesting. About 15m people work, and about 17m people get social grants. That’s not really working all that well for us at this point.

Living in big cities without something to do and keep us busy is going to be a mess… unless you like the idea of a mashup of Wall-E and The Matrix.

Let’s try distributed living. Smaller communities. Small towns. Off-grid, sustainable, solar, clean-tech, long distance fibre optics, aquaponics etc. Something to build and do. Get farming again.

We don’t need cities anymore.

ps. I’d really like to see government taken over by machines. Humans don’t have the best track record with running countries. Give the bots a chance.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Listen to Podcasts

Radio killed the video star…

In the future everybody listens to podcasts

Start listening to podcasts today! Use spare cycles – while driving / walking etc.

Listening to stories lights up a huge number of areas in your brain. It’s probably good for you. The joy of learning. Stay curious.

Podcasts offer an incredible storytelling medium. They’re made with passion, accessible and entertaining. You basically get the very best radio content from all over the world, for free.

Upgrade your brain

Start here:

Some of my favourite podcast episodes.

A list of podcast shows to get you started.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Save Water

How to save water in Cape Town…

The usual answer:

  • Shower less and keep it quick.
  • Flush toilets only when needed.
  • Minimise laundry.

If everybody who lives in an apartment does the above, we might save up to 6% of our water resource. Hmm. Not that much of an impact? Yeah, sadly.

The total percentage of water that ends up in our homes is only 19%.

Solution:

  1. Cut down on outdoor water use.
  2. Fix the 20% of leaks that cause the most waste.
  3. Figure out some form of tax on commercial and agricultural water use, to incentivise optimal use.
  4. Rethink agriculture. Create aquaponic urban / rooftop farms.
  5. Build more dams since Cape Town water demand will probably surpass supply by 2020, even if climate change does not impact us.
  6. Reduce evaporation from our existing dams. Cover dams with solar panels maybe.
  7. Make sure the stuff we do grow and export is high value and healthy. Don’t grow soy to feed chickens to make KFC.
  8. Bonus item / global context: Eat less meat. Support aquaculture projects. Drink less coffee.

Lastly, don’t feel so bad about showering.

btw. I had to hack together some numbers from a few data sources. Could be out a bit. If you have better data, let me know.

Data:

GreenCape report. Seems the Cape Town water distribution network wastes about 15% (well below the 37% national average).

Use This Tech

Stating the obvious, but…

Get an iPhone. Use Prey and Find My iPhone. Use True Caller. Use SwiftKey.

Get a Macbook Pro. Make Dvorak your keyboard layout. Make an encrypted file system on your laptop.

Use Telegram, Firefox, Vienna RSS, Pocket, and Wunderlist.

Use Duck Duck Go for search.

Install Pocket Casts and listen to an unhealthy number of podcasts.

Use iTerm2, mosh, mutt, zsh with oh my zsh, emacs with prelude and jed if you want something light.

Learn a photo management tool like Aperture or Lightroom.

Learn to code Python, use Django to build web apps and APIs. Get PyCharm and PyCharm Edu.

Learn Linux, run Ubuntu or Debian.

Run your own email server, don’t use Gmail. Try to avoid “the cloud” as much as you can, this includes things like iCloud.

Make regular off-site backups. Delete Facebook and Instagram off your phone, forget about Twitter.

Get a personal server at Linode or Digital Ocean.

Host your own personal homepage and blog, use WordPress. Write about interesting things you do.

Share strong opinions.

Full Unemployment

After a recent chat with a friend about saving the planet, I kept thinking: technology is the answer.

The economics of the future are somewhat different…

I hope you are not busy creating jobs. Jobs are things people hate which they get paid to do. Don’t create jobs. Create an abundant and automated future.

“The goal of the future is full unemployment, so we can play. Life is too short to be busy.” — Lazy: A Manifesto

Things you should be working on: UN, SU, YC.

Create these things, which impact the lives of billions of people, then scale and automate. Go read this.

Don’t build things which need “admin staff” or “support staff”.

Work on things that scale.

In 2001 I had a 64Kbps leased line at home. The general market price for this was about R5000/m. Considering inflation and how easy it is to get a 100Mbps home link now, fixed line home internet has improved a fair bit in the last 16 years. 1600x the speed, at 1/10 of the price… or sixteen thousand times better value! I now have a gigabit internet connection at home. About 100k times better value. Not bad.

If we do technology right, we don’t need jobs. We just need to work out how to let most of society benefit from improvements in technology.

Technology is the answer.

ps. I now have a blog category for strong opinions.

Dating for Nerds

In the spirit of sharing strong opinions, I figured I’d write a post about relationships. A note to self kinda thing.

I’ll try and keep it short. This is mostly for nerds in their 30s.

“Hell yeah!, or no.” — Derek Sivers

“Smart, interesting, not-cooked. Pick two.” — Paul.

Step 1: Get comfortable being single. Dating is a huge waste of time and energy.
Step 2: If you find somebody really cool (smart and interesting), jump in and love them like crazy. Do this a few times.
Step 3: Optimal stopping theory.
Step 4: Long term compatibility.
Step 5: The Final Frontier.

Here are the key things that you need to look for…

  • Culture, ideas about the world, background, language etc.
  • Career, is this person happy in what they are doing, building, learning.
  • Mental health, tricky one, but get a feel for it.
  • Religion, kinda boring, but could be a show stopper.
  • Kids, yes/no/maybe.
  • Burner, yes/no, I’ve found this to be an interesting aggregate for a number of metrics.
  • Health and fitness, not too much, not too little.
  • Location, live and work in the same area and plan to stay in the same city for a while.
  • How busy they are.

Have a chat about the above in the first three weeks of finding somebody that passes the optimal stopping filter (step 3).

“Work ethic, taste, integrity, curiosity. The rest you can learn.” — Ma.tt

Follow these channels…

LLAP.

Strong Opitions

“3. Share strong opinions.

Strong opinions are very useful to others.

Those who were undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance.

But those who disagree can solidify their stance by arguing against yours.

Even if you invent an opinion for the sole sake of argument, boldly sharing a strong opinion is very useful to others.” — Derek Sivers