Category Archives: World
“We are already well into the “end of work.”
The more accurate title would be “The Python (Script) That Ate Your Job.” Python is a computer language whose core philosophy is summarized by “PEP 20 (The Zen of Python)”, which includes aphorisms such as:
- Beautiful is better than ugly.
- Explicit is better than implicit.
- Simple is better than complex.
- Complex is better than complicated.
- Readability counts.
As I understand it (from a non-programmer POV), Python enables rapid development of scripts that may not be optimized by some metrics but which work perfectly well in terms of solving a problem in a cost-effective manner.
(Programmers can be highly partisan, i.e. emotionally attached to their preferred language, so I am trying to be as non-partisan and careful as possible here to avoid arousing the ire of either Pythoneers or Python detractors. I am just an ignorant bystander; please don’t shoot the piano player, etc.)
A senior manager at a small tech company recently related a story that illustrates 1) the power of Python (and other scripting languages) and 2) the changing nature of work:
The company had some time-consuming data analysis that needed to get done on a regular basis, and the manager was considering recruiting a (paid) intern to do the work. Instead, he spent four hours writing a Python script which did the work in a few minutes. He named the program “Intern.”
This story is repeated thousands of times a day across millions of tasks. Virtually all of my self-employed friends use technology to enable one person to produce output that would have taken three people in the 1980s.
As management guru Peter Drucker noted, enterprises don’t have profits, they only have expenses. If you are self-employed or own/manage a business, you will immediately grasp the profound truth of this insight.
If you can replace an expensive worker (and every employee is expensive nowadays, due to the high cost of labor and general overhead) with a Python script that can be crafted in a few hours, financial fact compels you to do so: your business has no profit, it only has expenses.
This dynamic is scale-invariant, meaning it is true of all organizations, from one-person businesses up to global corporations and entire nations. A non-profit group only has expenses, and so do churches, cities and nations. Once expenses exceed income, the organization goes bust.
Could I be replaced with a Python script? In some ways, yes: a script could be written that mined the thousands of entries and essays I’ve written for repeating words, phrases and themes, and the script would rehash the material into “new” entries.
But since the script isn’t logging “experience” in the same way as a human does, the script would not be able to replicate dynamics such as changing one’s mind or taking a new direction, although it could randomly generate such behaviors to mimic human development.
Would the script be “good enough” to attract readers? Perhaps; but attracting and keeping readers is not necessarily a problem-state that can be solved with data-mining and pattern matching, as readers seek not just novelty and expressive writing but insight. Any script that rehashed existing material would not be generating new insight; it would simply be repackaging previous insights.
For highly partisan blogs, this might well be “good enough,” since partisan readers actually want to read the same rehashed material again and again: in effect, a script that repackaged “it’s the Demopublican’s fault” with new headlines and slightly different content would closely match the human content generator’s output.
I have no doubt some clever programmers have already played around with generating rehashed content and posting it as a blog written by a human being….”
Cheers on your weekend!
“New reports on leaked draft versions of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement indicate threats to the rights of news organizations to publish information critical of large corporations. The multinational trade pact will require member states to surrender sovereign control over domestic copyright laws, as well.
In a story published by the Electronic Frontier Foundation(EFF), the agreement being hammered out by the 12 Pacific rim countries will:
give private corporations new tools to undermine national sovereignty and democratic processes. Specifically, TPP would give multinational companies the power to sue countries over laws that might diminish the value of their company or cut into their expected future profits.
EFF reports that a seemingly benign provision of the TPP agreement called the “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) will revoke the right of domestic courts to settle legal disputes between participating countries and corporations with investments in that country.
In a nutshell, if a corporation feels that its ability to turn a profit on an investment made in a member country is being stymied by the country’s regulatory scheme, then that corporation may bring the dispute to the TPP bureaucracy, completely bypassing the nation’s domestic judicial system.
The EFF story summed up this TPP provision’s assault on national sovereignty:
Apparently a country’s own courts can’t be trusted to administer this kind of lawsuit, so investor-state also requires the creation of a new court. It would be comprised of three private-sector attorneys who take turns being judge and/or corporate advocate.
Even if this kangaroo court ruled in favor of the defendant nation, court costs alone would scare countries from adopting (or enforcing) pro-user policies where they might potentially inhibit investor profits. The investor-state tribunal bills its time by the day and decides for itself how many days to work, so it can rack up as many days of work they want. Given this system, it’s then no surprise that current investor-state court costs average about 8 million dollars per case. So even if it wins, the country has to pay those court fees, the lawyer fees, plus compound interest. That’s money that would doubtless be better spent elsewhere.
The process is absurd as well. Once a decision has been issued, there is no way to appeal it. That’s right, if this court rules that the nation is at fault and has to pay huge fees that could even bankrupt a government, there’s no other way for the country to overturn that decision.
The ISDS section of the chapter on intellectual property in the leaked TPP draft agreement is nearly as “absurd,” however, as the agreement’s mandate forces member nations to enact regulations that require Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to privately enforce copyright protection laws.
These private companies — many of which are very small — would be forced to take upon themselves the responsibility of patrolling for and punishing any violation of the copyright laws by its subscribers.
Current U.S. law, specifically the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), would be supplanted by TPP Article 16.3. This provision in the TPP draft document paves the way for a new copyright enforcement scheme that extends far beyond the limits currently imposed by DMCA. In fact, it contains mandates more expansive than even those proposed in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA).
ACTA is widely regarded as a threat to Internet freedom, as well as to the legislative power of the Congress. If ACTA is a threat than TPP is an all-out frontal assault.
Regardless of any flaws of the DMCA, it is U.S. law and should not be subject to de facto appeal by the work of a body of internationalists who are not accountable to citizens of the United States.
Apart from the issues of sovereignty, putting such pressure on service providers is a threat not only to the owners of these small business, but also to Internet freedom, as well.
It is the good work of these ISPs that has created the Internet we know today. Were it not for the typically low-cost access these companies provide, the pool of readily accessible viewpoints, opinions, and news resources would be significantly shallower…..”
Turn up the volume:
“HEADS UP: The world’s biggest economies will be publishing their June manufacturing PMI reports over the next two days. This is our scorecard.
“Fireworks are a given, even without minor considerations like the 4th of July!” exclaimed Societe Generale’s Kit Juckes.
This may be the most closely watched round of PMI reports in a long time as global economic growth hangs in the balance.
In recent weeks, volatility has returned to the the global financial markets as the Federal Reserve has signaled it could soon taper its stimulative bond-buying program. But any action would be conditioned on ongoing improvement in the U.S. economic data.
Abroad, China’s massive economy has shown signs of slowing as credit conditions have become tighter.
Meanwhile in Western Europe, the economies continue to be deeply troubled. However, they are also showing signs of improvement.
At the beginning of each month….”
“A simultaneous drop in both U.S. and Chinese manufacturing threatens to give the global economy a double whammy.
American manufacturing companies reported fewer orders in May — the largest drop in their business in almost four years. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) index fell from 50.7 percent to 49 percent, the third straight monthly drop.
Meanwhile, the China HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) dropped to 49.2 percent from 50.4 in April, the lowest since October 2012.
“This is not a good moment for the world economy,” David Bloom, currency chief at HSBC, told the U.K.-based Telegraph. “The manufacturing indices came in weaker than expected in China, Korea, India and Russia, and then we got America’s ISM.
“We thought we had a clear picture that the US was recovering, Japan was printing money and were we’re back to happy days, and now suddenly a huge spanner has been thrown in the works.”
Business executives attributed the drop in orders to falling government spending, a slowdown in China and a downturn in Europe.
Tightening fiscal policy in the United States is squeezing consumer spending, according to The Telegraph.
“People have been living in a psychological bubble,” Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research told The Telegraph. “They ignored the cuts but now they are starting to feel it.”
The ISM drop came as a surprise….”
“Pope Francis criticized what he called “savage capitalism” on a visit to a food kitchen, in an address in which he called for the values of generosity and charity to be revived.
“A savage capitalism has taught the logic of profit at any cost, of giving in order to get, of exploitation without thinking of people … and we see the results in the crisis we are experiencing,” the pope said.
Francis greeted the men and women coming to the “Gift of Maria” food kitchen, located at the walls of the Vatican….”
“PARIS (Reuters) – Growth is picking up in most industrialized countries, including in the euro zone, the OECD said on Wednesday, with the United States leading the way.
The Paris-based think tank’s composite leading indicator shows growth firming in Japan and picking up in China while the outlook is improving for Italy and France is stabilizing.
Growth is seen weakening in India, however, while indicators for Russia, Brazil and the United Kingdom point to growth around trend, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.
The monthly indicator for the 33 OECD member countries inched up to 100.5 in February from 100.4 in January, slightly above the long-term average of 100.0, a level last seen in October.
The euro area’s indicator has been gradually increasing over the past months, now at 99.9 from 99.7 in January and 99.4 in October.
France’s 99.6 reading, from 99.5 in January, suggests that there is no further decline in growth, while growth is picking up in Germany, the OECD said….”
This documentary puts together everything I have been saying since i was literally 11 years old.
Friends of mine say why complain, why bitch, and that what i say is too big to tackle too depressing to even think about. They are no longer my friends as i have no time for those who have no humanity.
When i bot my home a bumper sticker on the water heater said “If Nothing Changes, Then Nothing Changes”…while that is true there also comes a time where dislocation comes so slowly or too quick to notice until you are in such excruciating pain you wonder how you will ever get back to normal.
Thankfully, there is hope and wisdom that will get us back to normal. The question is will you participate or be an obstacle ?
Cheers on your weekend!
Get a handle on global growth by looking at PMI numbers that are being released over the next two days.
“There is a currency war, insists Gerald Celente, editor and publisher of the Trends Journal, and it’s going to degenerate into all out combat.
Celente’s declaration and forecast stand in sharp contrast to those of global finance leaders who are aiming to bury concerns about a currency war, as the act of competitive currency devaluation is called.
At last weekend’s G20 meeting, the finance leaders promised to “refrain from competitive [currency] devaluation,”
“It’s quite clear … that everyone around the table wants to avoid any sort of currency dispute,” Canadian Finance Jim Flaherty told reporters, according to Reuters.
“We all agreed on the fact that we refuse to enter any currency war,” Reuters said French Minister Pierre Moscovici told reporters.
“Who are they kidding?” Celente asked.
“The only reason the world economies — the United States, Europe and even China — are doing anything is because of all the cheap money they are dumping into the system. But they don’t call it currency wars. They have white shoe boy names for them,” he told Yahoo.
Names such as OMT, or Outright Monetary Transactions, and QE, or quantitative easing, sound nicer. They sound “proper,” he noted. But Celente said these programs and efforts by the likes of Japan and Venezuela to devalue their currency are part of a currency war that is definitely occurring…..”
“While CAT’s CEO puts on a brave face, the results from his company are clearly indicative of the slowing global growth that everyone (apart from nominal equity indices) knows is occurring. For months, talking heads have used CAT’s results as a proxy for growth and as they are rising confirming their inherent BTFD biases; however, this month’s terrible results – with Asia/Pac down 12% on a 3-month rolling basis and North America down 11% - appears to confirm what has been evident in the lagging global GDP data for over a year - things are not picking up….”