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.

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.

UPDATE 26 July 2017:

I think a number of people mis-read this post thinking that I’m against giving (poor) people money to pay for their basic needs. I don’t have a big problem with this.

My point with this post was to explore: what will be our reason to get out of bed in the morning when robots do most of the work? What will fulfil us in a useful and productive way? In short: purpose.

My latest answer is:

  • Off grid living in smaller communities, connected with high speed fibre.
  • Modern farming: aquaponics, aeroponics etc.
  • Educating our children. A society of educational abundance.
  • Educating ourselves. Long term continuous learning.

Previous posts in my Strong Opinions series.

Use 24h Time

Use 24 hour time when you write something. Set all your devices to 24 hour time. Yes, your watch too. Life is too short to decode confusing messages.

09:00 or 21:00, not 9.

How do you even start explaining the Six-hour clock?

Bonus points:

Set all your servers to UTC. Especially if you have servers in more than one timezone.

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: 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 Simplenote.

Sync your RSS reading on your phone with Inoreader app.

Use DuckDuckGo for search.

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

Use iTerm2, mosh, mutt, and zsh with oh my zsh.

Learn a photo management tool like CaptureOne.

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

Learn Linux, run Ubuntu or Debian.

Don’t use Gmail. Run your own email server. Try to avoid “the cloud” as much as you can, this includes things like iCloud. Use a bit of Dropbox if you must share a big file. Keep all photos of your children private! Don’t share these online or in “the cloud”.

Make regular off-site backups.

Get a personal server at Linode or Digital Ocean, or host your own hardware.

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 and 40s.

“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. Understand the mechanics of infatuation.
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.
  • Dog/cat person. I suspect it’s a very useful personality indicator.
  • 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.
  • Can’t hurt to know their MBTI personality type.
  • Resourcefulness.

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

Good first date question, ask person to complete the following: If you really knew me, you would know…?

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

Generally a good spec: Smart, calm, healthy, interesting, tall. In that order.

Remember: “Needing nothing, attracts everything.” Bonus points, read/listen to the book Models by Mark Manson.

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

This motivated me to write a series of blog posts.
You can find them here: Strong Opinions by Joe.

Geeky Movies for Kids

I have this weird worry that kids today have a huge list of great movies to catch up on. So, I started making a list of classic movies for kids, age 10-16ish, geeky gems, iconic cultural reference stuff. Movie education. Things you wish you had seen before they were referenced in a Simpsons episode. If that makes sense. Suggestions welcome.

Obviously check age restrictions and filter to suit your moral framework.

Seen by genetic offspring #1…

War Games
2001: A Space Odyssey, and 2010
Contact
Back to the Future series
Ferris Bueller's Day Off
Ghostbusters
Goonies
Gremlins
Star Wars and Clone Wars series
Princess Bride
Indiana Jones series
Galaxy Quest
The Last Starfighter
Studio Ghibli films
Gattaca
Guardians of the Galaxy
Sneakers
Stardust
The Count Of Monte Cristo
Flash Gordon
Rushmore
The Royal Tenenbaums
The Truman Show
Star Trek series, reboot mostly
I, Robot
Zombieland
E.T.
Honey I Shrunk the Kids
The Mask
Ace Ventura series
V for Vendetta
Men in Black series
Divergent
Harry Potter series
Treasure Planet
Avatar
Interstellar
Batman Returns
Casablanca
Hackers
Spaceballs
Jurassic Park series
Groundhog Day
The Fifth Element
Willow
Dune
Zoolander
Jumanji
Ghost in the Shell (original, and new)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Spirited Away
Titan A.E.
Forrest Gump
Short Circuit
Mimic
Life Aquatic
Neverending Story
Edward Scissorhands
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Man of Steel (Superman)
Blade Runner, and the 2nd one
Inception
12 Monkeys
Pitch Black 2000
The Chronicles of Riddick 2004
Riddick 2013 (not ideal language)
The Prestige
Meet Joe Black
The Aviator
Minority report
Dark City
Batman Dark Knight series
Matrix series
Enemy Mine
Ready Player One
The Black Hole (1979)
The 13th Floor
District 9
Donnie Darko
Die Hard
The Bourne Identity
Flight of the Navigator
Corpse Bride
Secret of Nimh
Highlander
Braveheart
The Last Action Hero
Independence Day, and ID4 Resurgence
Interview with a Vampire
The Internet's Own Boy
Pirates of Silicon Valley
Revolution OS
Cocoon
Dead Poets Society
Brazil
Karate Kid, I, II, II
Looper
Predator
X-Men series, all 9 of them at last count.
Black Hawk Down
Alien series, all 6 of them.
Napoleon Dynamite
Planes Trains and Automobiles
Fantastic Mr Fox
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Moon
I Am Legend
Edge Of Tomorrow
Oblivion
Logans Run
Arrival
Valarian
Solo
Big Blue
Amelie

Find and watch…

See No Evil Hear No Evil
Innerspace
Young Guns 1 and 2
Dances with Wolves
Ronin
Twins
Bond series
Takedown
Dr. Strangelove
Tron
Night before Christmas
Little Shop of Horrors
The Lost Boys
Robotech
Brewster's Millions

Maybe not just yet, but good.

Robocop
Terminator series
Johnny Mnemonic
The Big Kahuna
Shaun of the Dead
Army of Darkness
Being John Malkovich
Pump Up The Volume

Favourite Podcast Episodes

kid

After re-listening to a few good podcasts recently, I think it’s time to start keeping a list of really good podcast episodes.

Here is my current list of regular shows (Nov 2016):

img_7728

See my previous post about podcast shows.

Why I Don’t Use WhatsApp

A number of people have been asking me: why are you not on WhatsApp?

The quick answer is: don’t cross the streams!

streams

I don’t like the idea that Facebook has access to my private conversations.

Facebook owns WhatsApp.

I use Facebook. I kinda like finding random things to read and seeing what friends are up to (even though I did recently switch off all notifications from Facebook).

Facebook is public, I choose to share (or not share) things there. Text messages are private – I don’t want to mix the two.

Don’t cross the streams…

Hmmm, ever stopped to think…

  • How does WhatsApp make money?
  • Why did Facebook buy WhatsApp?
  • Why does Facebook keep asking you to enter your mobile number? …maybe it’s for more than just “safety” reasons.

We all know: if it’s free you are the product, but it should worry you much more when you become a product where they have insight into your private communications.

I use Telegram. I really hope Telegram stays independent. I use iMessage. Please don’t send me Facebook messages, even though I will probably end up reading them.

I kinda use Twitter, but in a “write only” mode – I never read anything there, just too noisy. I use uBlock Origin in Firefox so I don’t see the lame Facebook ads (turns out Ad Block Plus is not cool).

I’ve never used Gmail, I try and avoid “the cloud”, I recently deleted just about everything I had in Dropbox. That’s just me.

Now you know.