A contradictory policy

Am I the only one who thinks it a little contradictory that Swedish politicians, and almost certainly those in other countries, are agreed that the age at which one can become a pensioner is set to increase at the same time as these same politicians, if they don't actually encourage the development of artificial intelligence, AI, at least do nothing to minimise its effect on society?

We see daily reports of developments in AI, which have already taken over many jobs in manufacturing industry.  There are already driverless cars on our roads, which in an imminent future will make taxi drivers, bus drivers and delivery drivers irrelevant.  AI handles much of the sorting we experience when we ring a company and are asked to press 1 for one department, or 2 for another department.  In some instances something similar to Apple's Siri actually handles the customer's query.

At the moment it is what one can call manual service jobs which AI and robotics have the most problem with - serving in restaurants, for example, though not fast food places, where the customer is handed his meal or drink.  These will be the jobs we will be expected to do from leaving school until our delayed pension age ... except that it is only a matter of time before the robots improve to the level at which they can deliver our order to the table.

In Japan robots are already making an inroad into old age health care, and I have seen on local tv that AI is already better at identifying breast cancer than doctors.

I'd like to suggest that, instead of scaring us with the idea of having to work more years than at present, our politicians should be investigating the idea of us working fewer years.

Turning on solar power

Just suppose that governments issued interest-free loans for the installation of solar panels on non-industrial buildings.  Here in Sweden one can apply for a 30%* contribution towards the cost of an installation but the sum allocated for such contributions is limited, so that late applicants run the risk of making their investment and then finding that the fund is empty when it is time for pay-out.

Imagine instead that, instead of a contribution, one could apply for an interest-free loan for a period of, say, ten or fifteen years.  The loan could be associated with a particular building so that, if the owner moved, the new owner would take on the loan.

Since the money is a loan and not a contribution, repayments under the system renew the fund itself, so that no limit is necessary on the total sum involved.  One could go further, and allow the government to arrange the - duty free - import and sale of equipment through, say, a department of the ministry of energy.

I can imagine that such a scheme would increase the introduction of renewable energy manyfold.  And why limit it to solar power?  There are, of course, fewer buildings which are suitable for wind power, but why not include this source of renewable energy also.

* There are indications that in 2019 the size of contributions is to be reduced to 15% and the sum allocated for this purpose reduced by half which would be a shame.

A dubious test

Perhaps some of you have seen the attempts by Washington to discredit the Chinese electronics company Huawei, postulating that their equipment may open up computer systems for spying, and demanding that all their vassals choose other equipment for their infrastructure.  Of course no proof of the allegations is provided or even thought necessary.

So I was pleased to see that an attempt was to be made to check the equipment for potential spy-holes and a little surprised - not to say suspicious - to find that Germany had undertaken the job.  Germany is one of the vassal states of Washington, and its leaders usually react with the opening of their bowels if Washington so much as frowns in their direction, so one is perhaps right to be suspicious at this apparent challenge of their masters.  It's a bit like the hens checking on the activities of the fox.

One would have been more confident of the results of the examination if it had been made by, say, Kaspersky Labs, who helped the FBI locate and arrest an NSA employee attempting to steal 50 GB of secret documents.  Notwithstanding this co-operative action, Kaspersky Labs is also currently being taken off all government computer systems on similar grounds to the allegations against Huawei, and with as little evidence.

It is also amusing in a sad way that Washington, which routinely spies on everybody in the world with the help of its tech giants, should be making accusations of hypothetical spying by two companies whose products are generally recognised to be far superior to anything their US competitors have on the market at a fraction of the cost.  Talk about protecting your own with unethical methods!

© James Wilde 2015