2/25/2015

Artificial Intelligence Not Required to Displace Workers

Advanced technology will displace a segment of the population.  But I don't think Artificial Intelligence will be the culprit.  I believe it will be automation of manual processes.  By leveraging large volumes of data and machinery in the form of robotics.  Conscious, self aware life forms are not required.

At one time, a human pumped your gas, washed your windshield and cashed out your transaction.  Now we insert a credit card and pump the gas ourselves.

Telephone switch operators connected you to another person, accepted "collect" calls and looked up phone numbers.  Now we have smart phone and internet access.  And IVR phone systems route your calls accordingly to the correct department.

We used to stand in line at the bank, to write a check to obtain cash.  Now we have drive through ATM machines which accept deposits and spew out cash.

Three simple examples of displaced human jobs with automation.  Didn't require an artificial intelligent being.

This is only going to amplify in proportion and magnitude across all domains.

I believe the next phase will be augmented humans as in Cyborgs.  If you watch the trends, for example, sports athletes take enhancement drugs to increase their performance.  And why not, they get paid for being superstars.

So why not have enhancements to improve your physical well being.  Like the 6 million dollar man back in the 1970s.  Medically this is already happening.  Bringing semi sight to blind people, hearing to deaf people and artificial limbs.

Once this becomes mainstream, it's just a matter of time before everyone jumps on the bandwagon to enhance their physical bodies to form a more advanced segment of society.  Which will spawn a rush to augment more and more as those who don't partake will kind of be at a disadvantage.

And how about mind altering drugs.  To increase cognitive abilities, decrease depression and increase concentration.  That would allow humans to outperform the others.

And in a competitive society such as ours, anyone and everyone is looking for an advantage.  That's how the game works.

So what if artificial intelligence is obtained and we create new life forms.  Will they overtake the humans and rid us of the planet.  Possibly.  But maybe not.

I think a greater fear is who controls the technology and what it's used for.  If AI beings are used to patrol and police mankind, or if they're used as killing machines in an endless war, that could be bad.  And as we know from history, those are the exact organization who fund research and development of new technologies for just that purpose.

Many Private companies are working towards this goal to bring it into the economy, like self driving cars, to improve the quality of life.  So it's a race between Public and Private sectors.  And even if the Private sector wins, you can be sure the Public sector will have their hands in the pie.

And with the rise of accessible data, many organizations are using it to leverage their maximum profits by selling more goods and services.  But you can already see the centralized organization of mountains of real time data, archieved indefinitely, being used for surveillance in an effort to control and maintain order, a "weapon" if you will.

So to summarize, technology advances are following "Moore's Law" of exponentially doubling every 18 months.  Which gives rise to advanced technologies.  Which can be used for good or bad, depending on the owners.  I believe augmented human body parts in one form or another will spawn a market for increased performance, in a hybrid human / robot form, like a Cyborg.  Artificial Intelligence may be achieved, but is not required to begin the automation of average jobs, which will displace many workers.  And if AI were to come to fruition, they may replace humans and become the Alpha species, or perhaps they won't.  Time will tell.

2/19/2015

Service Broker Project is Humming Along

If you've been following along, my latest project is for a major accounting firm and the goal is to have users view reports.  In order for that to happen, the data must be pulled from SharePoint.  By way of Service Broker.  Through c# services on both sides.

I had a long day this week, posted about it here: http://www.bloomconsultingbi.com/2015/02/in-trenches-with-service-broker.html.

Since then I've tweaked the scripts to allow Binary objects to flow back and forth by modifying the front end Stored Procedure and the Internal Activation Stored Proc on the destination server, posted about it here:  http://www.bloomconsultingbi.com/2015/02/service-broker-scripts.html

So today, one of the c# developers created an object by pulling data from SharePoint, then called my Stored Procedure passing in the Binary .net object to the parameter, which wrote a record to the Source Queue, which transmitted the message to the Destination Server Target Queue, which fired the listener, which called the Internal Activation Stored Procedure, which parsed the message and Inserted the object into a SQL Server table as a binary field.

Next, the developer wrote a function to read from that table, pull out the binary field, stream it through a c# routine, which recreated the c# object from it's original state.  So the object found it's way to the other side in tact.

So that means that my code works.  My next step is to pull out the Acknowledgement receipt from the Destination Server back in the calling Stored Procedure, so the developer know the message was sent, and they can update their stuff so the same record doesn't get sent again.

And for the next sprint of our Agile process, someone will take that new c# function and integrate that into our External Activation Windows Service to pull out the information directly from the Service Broker.  And figure out which SharePoint list was sent across, and do an Update or Insert accordingly so our Users can view in reports.

This is one of the biggest projects I've worked on in a while with a half dozen people working together, each assigned different tasks.  But one things for sure, when the pieces connect to each other and all the data flows through the way it's supposed to, that's what it's all about.

So stay tuned, for another exciting episode, same bat time, same bat station~!



2/17/2015

In the Trenches with Service Broker

Perhaps I need glasses.  Actually, I've had glasses for many years.  But I never wear them.  But now I do.  Except they are only good for seeing things far away.  So when I work on the laptop with really tiny screen, I can barely see.

I think it's time to get a new prescription.  One that allows for both near and far distances.  Because the strain of working 12 hour days is great.

So what did I work on all day?  Service Broker.  I got two new servers today, for different project.  And although I had scripts already written, it was still quite a challenge.  Suffice to say, at the end of the day, we got data flowing from Source to Destination server which land in a SQL Server table.

Now that it's working, the next step will be to get External Activation working, where it calls a c# windows services as opposed to Internal Activation which calls a Stored Procedure.  And that requires an install of a project for CodePlex and configure the config file.

And when that's ready, we'll be passing in c# objects to the Source Queue instead of regular text.  So there's still quite a bit to work on.

I'll admit, Service Broker is a bear to set up.  Secondly, there's no easy way to monitor the flow of data with a GUI visual tool.  Other than that, it's a solid tool for guaranteed delivery of asynchronous objects between SQL Servers, which by the way, don't need to reside within a network.

It seems to be a recurring pattern throughout my career, that I get to work on code that is not 100% mainstream.  Would it be cool to be doing cutting edge technology, perhaps.  But I'd have to admit that this Service Broker is not for the faint of heart.  Because there's about a hundred or more configuration settings, and if just one of them is incorrect, it doesn't work.  And when that happens, you really have to put on your troubleshooting hat and dig in the trenches.

And there you have it.  An entire blog with no central theme or main point.

2/10/2015

Microsoft Innovation Full Court Press

With all the news lately, tough to keep up.

Microsoft announced Windows 10, available for free for Raspberry PI community for IoT
http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/02/windows-10-free-for-pi-devs/

As well as free upgrades from Windows 8.1, and then version 7.
http://www.cnet.com/news/microsoft-to-deliver-free-windows-10-upgrades/

Which includes a brand new web browser called Spartan.
http://www.tomshardware.com/news/microsoft-spartan-windows-10-browser,28436.html

And there's a new version of PowerBI features such as Mobile Device support including IPad and soon to be Android and IPhone.  There's a new Desktop Developer tool, new connectors to data sources as well as a free PowerBI Preview version and a sliced price version.  And Data Connectors to access you OLAP Cubes residing On-premise.
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2876088/microsoft-updates-powerbi-tool-with-new-mobile-apps-free-service.html

Microsoft takes .net Open Source on GitHub.  And now portions of the framework called the "Core" now run on Cross Platform like Linux and Macintosh, at this point just web asp.net and services, no client server apps.
http://news.microsoft.com/2014/11/12/microsoft-takes-net-open-source-and-cross-platform-adds-new-development-capabilities-with-visual-studio-2015-net-2015-and-visual-studio-online/

And how about Machine Learning on Azure.  If you haven't had a chance to explore this domain, you're missing out.  Many many algorithms available at your fingertips to drag and drop seamlessly onto a canvas to process data and find insights.
http://www.citeworld.com/article/2366161/big-data-analytics/microsoft-azure-ml-overview.html

And Azure DocumentDB, a NoSQL database available in the Cloud.
http://azure.microsoft.com/en-us/documentation/services/documentdb/

And Azure SQL Server, starting to feel like Pure SQL Server:
http://visualstudiomagazine.com/blogs/data-driver/2015/01/sql-database-updates.aspx

And Azure Data Factory, a way to monitor your data pipelines.
http://feedback.azure.com/forums/270578-azure-data-factory

And of course Azure HDInsight, process Semi-Unstructured data in the Cloud, spin up a cluster, only get billed for up time, not storage:
http://social.technet.microsoft.com/wiki/contents/articles/13820.introduction-to-azure-hdinsight.aspx

And Microsoft Translator, a product used internally at Microsoft to be released to the public.
http://www.microsoft.com/translator/automatic-translation.aspx

And is Microsoft Bing catching up to Google in the web search arena.
http://seodesk.org/bing-is-catching-up-with-google/

 And Microsoft Analytics Platform System, a massive parallel data warehouse solution combined with Hadoop.
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/server-cloud/products/analytics-platform-system/

All I can say, based on this list, is Microsoft is "red lining" the innovation curve.  There's enough technologies listed here to keep you busy for many late night tinkering.  So get busy learning as technology advances stop for noone.


2/08/2015

Ready or Not, Automation and Robotics on the way

Intro
I wrote a paper for a college course in 1994.  I'm not sure what the topic was, but I did touch on the fact that computers will get so advanced they will displace human workers. Fast forward to today. Robots, algorithms and automation is advancing rapidly.  Moore's law is in effect.  Thousands of company's are racing to find the solution to reduce the human factor in many complex tasks.

And why not?  The goal is to reduced costs, increase sales and streamline processes.  By removing the most expensive part of the equation, the human, you can significantly increase profit.  Human's are a substantial cost.  Aside from hourly wages, you have healthcare, unemployment tax, vacation days, holiday days, sick days, smoke breaks, etc. So it makes sense to automate as much of the process as possible.

Just Low Income Jobs?
Many low income jobs can and will be displaced.  However, it will not be limited.  Middle class jobs will also be automated.  As will high income jobs.  At some point, when technology advances sufficiently, just about any job will be under threat for automation.

What will people do?
When a person loses a job now, they go on unemployment, until the benefits run out or find another job.  Or take a lesser paying job which requires less skill.  What happens when half the workforce is out of work?  Social anarchy?  Revolution?

I think not.
In order for there to be an uprising, you would need to have a strong network of like minded individuals.  Those people would need some type of communication.  And means to arm themselves.  And fight.  Well, our communication is tightly monitored.  People can't stand each other and I don't see them coming together for a common cause, because the temple of babble is in effect.  By design, people have been divided against each other, the social fabric or the glue which holds society together has been rapidly stripped away.  It's every man and woman for themselves.  And as far as arming themselves, loosely organized bandits are no match for the rise in police state with their surveillance techniques, their weapons and intelligence.

What Intelligence?
Believe it or not, the social posts on Facebook, Twitter, etc. are actually forming social reports on every individual.  You can be scored and labeled based on your characteristics.  As well as possible threats to the establishment.  If you have tendencies to be a dissident, you've already been identified.  And you gladly helped them by posting opinions on the web.  As well as your shopping patterns and such.  Big Data has allowed Big Intelligence.

Road Blocks.
Why hasn't the automation happened faster?  Because the United States was still wealthy.  And because of that, they would never allow such consolidation of wealth and power to occur.  So before that could happen, the wealth must be stripped out from the US. And that happened by systematically dismantling of the economy.  By lowering interest rates for too long, to create the housing bubble and wiping out the wealth, by transferring it back to the top.  Prior to that, same thing happened with the stock market bubble.  And it resulted in the crippling of the economy.  No more road blocks.

Concentration of Everything.
Next you will see an organized attempt to centralize power.  Just this week, Bill Gates said we need one Government organization.  And with that, we'll probably need one Military.  And who will be the military, Robots perhaps?  A cheap, automated, fierce, strong soldier who's obedience is never questioned.  Only cost is manufacturing, as they don't take sick days or require healthcare benefits.

Internet of Things.
When every electronic device is connected, some system will be able to track everything in real time.  People too.  So how will people barter in the future if everything gives off a signal.  If no money exchanged hands with a new owner, that will be traceable.  Why was the transaction not recorded and why was no tax paid.  Every item will be accounted for, it's born date and termination data, rightly owners, etc.  The Internet of Things will connect all devices and all devices will be trackable in real time.

Human Basic Wage.
With millions of people unemployed, how will they survive?  People have discussed the Basic Wage.  Sort of a welfare package, basic sustenance, demoralizing as it is, to create a welfare state, or police state, whichever you prefer.  Automation and Robots will be doing your job as well as your neighbors.  Perhaps some weird disease will trickle through humanity and wipe out a good chunk, similar to how the Spaniards wiped out the Native American Indians through the transfer of blankets when they arrived in the New World.  With less population, less Humans to sustain, less of a burden to those with money and jobs and power.

Free up your time?
After all, we have the freedom to earn and spend money.  If there's not jobs available, we won't be spending as much.  And a consumer society requires consumers.  What then will be the purpose of many human beings?  Free up leisure time?  More like a prison, dependent on your rations.

Ready or Not.
Now that the Earth is financially equal across all countries for the most part, there's very little resistance to move forward with the plan to automate, using algorithms and robotics, to dismantle the workforce and consolidate and centralize power.  Ready or not, here it comes.

Get Sh#t Done!