Monday, November 14, 2016

"Right Privilege"

A few days ago a left-handed colleague of mine was complaining about writing on white boards, noting that he erased everything he wrote as he went. A right-handed colleague looked puzzled, then started laughing.

"I'd never considered that!" he said. I assured him that it was common for lefties in middle school to deal with smudged homework and a perpetual graphite grey smudge on the edge of the left hand, opposite the thumbs. and then of course you added spiral-bound notebooks into the mix - those wires constantly gouging the side of your hand.

Righty asked if there were other things like that. So we discussed scissors.
Scissors are made so that when you operate them you push with your thumb and pull with your fingers, causing the two blades to pinch together. When you operate them in your left hand, that same actions pulls the blade apart ever so slightly. More delicate pieces of paper will simply flop between the blades rather than being cut.

Also, when held in your right hand, on the right side of your body, you have a clear view of the cutting edge. In the left hand, your view of the cutting edge is blocked by the top of the blade, making precision cutting more difficult.

Most hand guns eject the bullet to the right, directly across the line of sight of a left handed shooter. And Bolt actions - you have to engage in a weird form of yoga after every shot in order to work the bolt to chamber the next round.

Remember those old school desks? The one with the desk attached to the chair? On the right side? The desk reaching about 2/3 of the way across the chair? Yeah, those are awkward for a lefty.

Can-openers? Awkward, Tape measures? upside-down. Playing cards are all just a white spot when held left-handedly.

Righty chuckled. "I never even thought about it!"

"Of course not." I said,  "It's Right privilege." Then I proceeded to tell him about the suffering of my people in olden days; being whipped for using their left hand in school, having their left hand tied behind their back to force them to use their right hand....

Of course nowadays there are left-handed scissors and can-openers and such, but most of the time, us lefties just learn how to adapt.

Right privilege.

And at that moment I had an epiphany. That is the point the "White privilege" people are trying to make isn't it? That I lack understanding of the black man's experience?

Let me make a suggest to the white privilege crowd. It doesn't come out the way you mean it to.

You are lumping an enormous group of people - past, present and future into one big collective.  There have been rich and poor, free and slave, good and bad, fortunate and unfortunate in that mass of white. such an enormous characterization is impractical, even... racist?

(Besides, where are you drawing the line in the skin color continuum? Actually, the folks in the middle often get it the worst; Too black for white people, too white for black people.)


noun. special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group.

The term brings to mind stuffy kings and their courtiers, or arrogant city dwellers a la hunger games.

"White privilege" - it just comes out of the mouth sounding vulgar, dirty, hateful. And at the risk of being offensive. When white people throw the term around, it sounds more like they are degrading black people. That black people are somehow an inferior species who can't make it on their own and so, like "save the whales", "protect the seals" etc... they need to be sheltered and coddled. Again... racisim?

Might I suggest you instead move to conversations of increasing empathy? From and for both ends? attempt to understand the challenges each faces, and consider solutions for the problems, rather than assign blame?

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The 4th Industrial Revolution vs Capitalism, Socialism, Communism, Work...

I've been pondering the burgeoning fourth industrial revolution again recently...
It is very exciting to consider the possibilities.

One thought which crossed my mind is that of economics and politics.

First consider some of the possibilitie.

Consider FarmBot:

This thing is very nearly a fully automated garden. It is also opensource, and much of it can be manufactured using additive printing and relatively cheap and open source parts. Give it the ability to save/recover seeds and it becomes almost entirely autonomous. In theory any household could grow their own produce.

Consider self driving vehicles:
Uber is planning to launch a fleet of self driving taxis,  several companies are working on self driving vehicles for consumers, self-driving semi-trucks for freight transportation.

Consider Surgery Bots:

And they are learning to perform operations autonomously.

And that's not all.

Amazon is working on drones to autonomously deliver your stuff to your door.
They are also working on robots to handle the warehouse work of picking, packing, and shipping product.
There are printers which can construct any 3D part or object in plastic, or metal.
There are projects to build printers which can print fabric, and not just fabric as sheets of fabric, but fabric as clothes.
Food printers.
Even printers to create human organs.

So, if food production is automated, transportation is automated, manufacturing is automated, medicine is automated. what happens to humans? Notice that none of the above technology requires approaching anywhere near the threshold of the singularity (a self aware machine, which might decide humans are a pest which needs to be erradicated).

What does human work look like in this new world? And if much/most of these machines can be replicated by machines - If I can print my own printers using my friends' printers and a few hundred dollars of metal and resin... Well, that was the primary stated goal of communism - the means of production in every individual's hands.

If anyone can print their own food, their own clothing, their own shelter, so long as they have access to the base materials, and if the base materials are all autonomously extracted/manufactured/recycled, transported... Apart from clinging desperately to archaic intellectual property laws, will any large corporate entity be able to remain relevant? Will the idea of a company as we currently know it become inconsequential? Will the debate over capitalism vs. socialism vs communism still be relevant in an economic sense? And if individuals or small collectives are no longer dependent upon substantial governmental bodies to construct, maintain, protect or interfere in daily operations, will Those terms be politically relevant as well? Will national borders as we now know them matter?

If you no longer work to subsist. What will you do?