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  1. #41
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    Might add that Japan was briefly mentioned above. Earlier this year I heard a talk about how Japan was quietly and successfully rebuilding its economy for the long haul. The conventional wisdom is that they are losers. Too many old folks. Not a financial center. Just plugging quietly away on diplomacy. Still dedicated to science and engineering.

    Could be we have lessons to learn from them?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Could be we have lessons to learn from them?
    There have been for 60 years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post

    I stand by the premise of my argument. My state is drowning in pension debt for government employees of all levels. The vast majority of those collecting are baby boomers. Those pensions were never sustainable. You can't have someone work for 30 years and then pay them a pension for another 40 years. It's impossible.

    But, not one of those employees is going to make concessions. Instead, they wrote it right into our state constitution that their pensions can't be reduced.
    Illinois's problem with the pension plan debt has been long coming. I put a lot of the blame at Madigan's feet. He has been speaker of the House for 30yrs. and has done everything possible to stop pension reform.

    This brings us to the problem of municipal unions negotiating with elected politicians over wages and benefits. Unlike the real world in which when labor and management are at the table negotiating, both sides know that ultimately they will both go home without jobs if an agreement is not reached.

    Unfortunately this is not the scenario when municipal union labor contracts are negotiated. There we have labor, which a major contributors to sitting politicians campaign funds negotiating with elected politicians that need the union members votes to continue to get re-elected. The negotiations are taking place over how much the taxpayers will have to pay, who happen to not be even at the negotiating table. The union members are also taxpayers but their actual tax expense only increases by a discounted percentage since their wage increase is the only portion taxed so they do not get hit with the full load of the tax consequences of their actions.

    Is it no wonder that Illinois which is basically ruled by Chicago has the tax problems that it does. All of us down staters pay a higher portion of the tax load than Chicago and yet have almost zero say in how our taxes get spent and or increased.

    It is no wonder that Illinois had 50,000 more people leave the state than were born or moved to the state. Illinois average household income has decreased by 25% since 2000 and yet in the same time period, the Illinois Municipal workers have continued to get very healthy wage and benefit increases.

    It is ridiculous that a retiring teacher will retire at the average of their 4 highest pay years for their pension annual base pay and my wife is an Illinois teacher. This same unrealistic thinking applies to all of the Illinois State workers wage-benefit packages.

    Until the Illinois taxpayer gets to sit at the table and be able to ultimately say that this is all we are going to allow,it will be business as usual.

    When you also talk of sustainability of the past economy, it is important to recognize some key things that have happened during this time period. A very big thing that has happened is that government size and the percentage of taxes has increased dramatically during this time period. This is money that comes off the top from everyone that is in the economy. Sales tax, income tax,municipal fees,etc, this is all coming off at various levels and reduces the actual number of dollars that are left in the real economy. All of the tax money goes to the governmental centers and its associates. They do well and we get poorer by the day. Having a 1.5% annual GPD growth and then seeing taxes go up 30% is not a path to future prosperity for the taxpayer.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CarbideBob View Post
    In the late 70s, early 80s AI was all the rage.
    Tell a group of investors that you were building a AI company and money poured from the skies.
    This popularity more due to the suddenly wide access to computers more than to any real tech advances.
    Neural nets were "rediscovered", we had expert systems that seemed smart, blackboards that just needed cheap memory by the meagbyte and some parallel processing.

    Also very common was a discussion among programmers that this was the end of the road for us.
    Very soon you would be able to tell your computer what to do and it would write the needed software itself via this AI stuff.

    I knew very well paid software engineers who would openly and often say they would not want their children to become programmers as it was a dead end job and a sure way to a life of unemployment.
    Fast forward 30 years and maybe being a programmer is not such a bad job to have. Demand and salaries seem to have held up okay.

    Back in this day I was all heady about AI too, then reality set in.
    I still like it, write some into my machine measuring/size correction routines to "learn" the machine, tooling, and how the system reacts throughout the day to control it.
    Fuzzy logic and nets can map stuff into a close answer where there are so many variables a hard math solution is almost impossible to code.

    There is a tend towards smarter machines and this does shift the manufacturing world somewhat.
    Much as cncs have obsoleted manual shops. Is your cnc control with tool comp, auto cycles for operations a AI? Well kind of it is.
    Is it smart...no, not so much. Yet if you were a machinist from 100+ years ago it might seem so.

    AI is useful tool now for some things but a very long way from human intelligence but I do understand the lure of thinking that it can be done.
    I just need more memory, some faster CPUs............
    Bob
    Here is a link to an article about AI and some of the issues which prevents delivery of future promises.

    The Myth Of AI | Edge.org

    I suspect that if AI is actually possible, it will lie in the realm of quantum mechanics. If we can ever solve the riddle of the Double Slit experiment will probably be a breakthrough into being able to truly understand what AI will require.

    Our present so called AI such as neural networks, fuzzy logic, rule based logic, etc are really nothing more than some fancy brute force computational tricks. All of these methods require an Intelligence to program and setup. The so called AI answers are nothing more than a reflection of the original programmers intelligence.

    I think the problem with AI is synonymous with why perpetual motion doesn't work.

    To a novice, a perpetual motion machine seems doable but to a person that fully understands all of the issues, they will just smirk at the folly.

    At best perpetual motion can only theoretically produce unity energy, energy in equal to the energy out. The problem is that there are parasitic loses that prevents even reaching unity. To exceed unity, we will need to be able to extract energy from something behind the curtain of the physics of the universe as we currently know it.

    I see the same synonymous issues with AI. You have the Laws of Information which are very similar to Newton Laws of Motion which limit the transference of information.

    For AI to work, we would be able to build a copy machine that improves the quality of the copy each time we would copy the last copy. So in essence we could start out with a really bad original, copy it multiple times, and end up with increasing quality of copies ad infinitum.

    We know this will not work for the very same reasons perpetual motion will not work, you can not create or destroy energy and or information. Both ideas of perpetual motion and AI ultimately violate these laws.

    This gets back to gets us back to the puzzle of the Double Slit Experiment and why our presence of observation cause the results to change. It would appear that the presence of intelligence causes things to change at the quantum level and indicates to me that there is much more behind the curtain than we can see.

    This is why I stated that I think there is a philosophical side to all of this that contains the answers.
    Last edited by Ziggy2; 09-24-2017 at 02:19 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ewlsey View Post
    I stand by the premise of my argument. My state is drowning in pension debt for government employees of all levels. The vast majority of those collecting are baby boomers. Those pensions were never sustainable. You can't have someone work for 30 years and then pay them a pension for another 40 years. It's impossible.

    But, not one of those employees is going to make concessions. Instead, they wrote it right into our state constitution that their pensions can't be reduced.
    ewsley, you are missing out on the cause of all that. Some time in the late seventies the "private sector" went financial and salaries skyrocketed, driven by the investment banking shmutz. House prices quadrupled adn quintupled, and then went even higher. It would be interesting to see what actually caused this but at the time the "public sector" was getting buried. No way they could keep up.

    So the deal was, teaching and cops and government jobs got lower salaries but had better stability and good pensions and health benefits !

    They lured people into that kind of work with these benefits, now y'all want to screw these people out of what they were promised.

    I agree with you, many of these plans are ridiculous. But it was a promise made to people - a contract. Do contracts have any value or are they just words ? If you make contracts meaningless, where will that end up ?

    There have been a whole lot of promises made in the US that no one ever planned to keep.

    Now what do we do ?

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaMoss View Post
    ewsley, you are missing out on the cause of all that. Some time in the late seventies the "private sector" went financial and salaries skyrocketed, driven by the investment banking shmutz. House prices quadrupled adn quintupled, and then went even higher. It would be interesting to see what actually caused this but at the time the "public sector" was getting buried. No way they could keep up.

    So the deal was, teaching and cops and government jobs got lower salaries but had better stability and good pensions and health benefits !

    They lured people into that kind of work with these benefits, now y'all want to screw these people out of what they were promised.

    I agree with you, many of these plans are ridiculous. But it was a promise made to people - a contract. Do contracts have any value or are they just words ? If you make contracts meaningless, where will that end up ?

    There have been a whole lot of promises made in the US that no one ever planned to keep.

    Now what do we do ?
    The problem is that here in Illinois, we aren't trying to take anything away from those already on a state pension. We can't even change the program for future pensioners.

    Ultimately, no one will get anything once the state becomes insolvent which is not that far away.

    We have around 125Billion dollars in unfunded pension trust fund monies due from the general fund. This has been accumulating since the mid 90's. The state GDP cannot support this and the smart money is fleeing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    I'm all for giving real job-creators a head start. But why we'd want to give tax and regulatory preference to folks with a track record of variously trashing jobs, the middle class, the environment, our youth in wars, our health in 2x costs, and the economy in every-ten-year financial scandals seems pretty much insane to me.
    PeteM for President! You've got my vote...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ziggy2 View Post
    Ultimately, no one will get anything once the state becomes insolvent which is not that far away.
    That seems to be the out they are headed for, all right. But I betcha fifty bucks your state legislators will continue to collect their salaries, bankruptcy or not.

    Or maybe they could get Goldman to sell the water and mineral rights of Illinois to Abu Dhabi for a quick cash infusion ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaMoss View Post
    That seems to be the out they are headed for, all right. But I betcha fifty bucks your state legislators will continue to collect their salaries, bankruptcy or not.

    Or maybe they could get Goldman to sell the water and mineral rights of Illinois to Abu Dhabi for a quick cash infusion ...
    The Legislatures continues to get paid is exactly what has been happening. Illinois at times has been in excess of 12months arrears to its vendors such as hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, etc. Not once did anyone in Springfield not get paid even though vendor businesses didn't.

    Several years ago when the state was running out of cash, the then in progress road construction projects were no longer being funded. The state was continuing to hold the contractors to the contractual completion dates even though the monthly contractual progress payments had stopped.

    The contractors wisely decided to complete the projects as required but refused to allow use of the completed projects until paid in full. Needless to say that once the public got tired of driving around barricaded bridges and roads, the politicians figured away to get the contractors paid rapidly.

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    The comptroller tried to stop paychecks for the legislators. The courts stepped in and forced her to pay them. I'm not sure that's a great answer though. Many of the legislators are just average people who need a paycheck to live. Holding up the payment does nothing to punish a rich property tax lawyer like Madigan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Might add that Japan was briefly mentioned above. Earlier this year I heard a talk about how Japan was quietly and successfully rebuilding its economy for the long haul. The conventional wisdom is that they are losers. Too many old folks. Not a financial center. Just plugging quietly away on diplomacy. Still dedicated to science and engineering.

    Could be we have lessons to learn from them?
    The point I've often tried to make, and infuriated some in the process, is that the USA could learn a great deal from other countries. Others learned from the USA but in some cases the apprentice has become (or should be) the teacher.

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    Artificial intelligence is a contradiction in itself. Something artificial is not natural and intelligence is something one has by nature (or not). Man taking himself too important wants to create himself outside of himself, simply gaga. Man has lost notice of himself in nature. For luck more than half of humanity is female and women would never invent anything as unnecessary as a homunculus or a robot. They can have children and us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechanola View Post
    Artificial intelligence is a contradiction in itself. Something artificial is not natural and intelligence is something one has by nature (or not). Man taking himself too important wants to create himself outside of himself, simply gaga. Man has lost notice of himself in nature. For luck more than half of humanity is female and women would never invent anything as unnecessary as a homunculus or a robot. They can have children and us.
    Guessing you've never had to give birth. I've heard it said that if the man had to give birth to every other kid no family would have more than 3 kids.

    BTW re "children and us"? What's an "us"?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mechanola View Post
    Artificial intelligence is a contradiction in itself. Something artificial is not natural and intelligence is something one has by nature (or not). Man taking himself too important wants to create himself outside of himself, simply gaga. Man has lost notice of himself in nature. For luck more than half of humanity is female and women would never invent anything as unnecessary as a homunculus or a robot. They can have children and us.
    I know two women who worked in the field of AI, and met several with PhD's in robotics. Also know a couple young women who are grad students in fields like robotic surgery. Considering Ada Lovelace, you might be a couple hundred years out of date on this?

    Do agree, though, that we sometimes lose sight of nature. Here's a book you might like, written by a woman PhD, with insights to human intelligence and nature: Amazon.com: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey eBook: Jill Bolte Taylor: Kindle Store

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Do agree, though, that we sometimes lose sight of nature.
    Thank you! It takes so little to make a friend in Europe.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeteM View Post
    Here's a book you might like, written by a woman PhD, with insights to human intelligence and nature: Amazon.com: My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey eBook: Jill Bolte Taylor: Kindle Store
    Overeducated, perhaps. Took her a stroke and eight years of recovery to discover the same thing you get by dropping a $2 hit of acid.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaMoss View Post
    Turns out people are way cheaper and more versatile.
    And just as disposable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SeaMoss View Post

    So the deal was, teaching and cops and government jobs got lower salaries but had better stability and good pensions and health benefits !

    They lured people into that kind of work with these benefits, now y'all want to screw these people out of what they were promised.

    I agree with you, many of these plans are ridiculous. But it was a promise made to people - a contract. Do contracts have any value or are they just words ? If you make contracts meaningless, where will that end up ?

    There have been a whole lot of promises made in the US that no one ever planned to keep.

    Now what do we do ?
    This has nothing to do with Jack Ma, but feel compelled to respond.

    The root of the problem is the same people who ran Detroit to bankruptcy have been running Illinois for the last thirty odd years. They stay in power by currying favor with the unions... and since more than half the union membership is gov't employees these days, these same people are in the direct position to pay for votes through the contract provisions they approve. I'm not sure a contract based on criminal activity is enforceable.

    As it is, the rank and file of those same unions should have paid attention when the gov't bodies they had a contract with stopped paying into their pension fund. If they would have had a series of strikes then, the problem would have come to the forefront of public attention. Instead, it got papered over.

    I worked in one of those positions, long ago. When I started the job, the deal was "55, 30 and out", fifty five years of age and thirty years service and you could take your pension. Then it went to 50, 30 and out, then to 30 and out, no age limit. If you had been hired at age seventeen, you could retire with a pension at age 47.

    Every time the agency had a budget crunch, they were pushing early retirement, trying to transfer their highest paid workers to the pension rolls. I said to myself, this can't be sustainable, and I left. It is indeed proving to be unsustainable.

    The only solutions now are raise taxes to confiscatory levels, or stiff the pensioners. If they raise my taxes like I think they will next time we get a Democratic governor, I'm off to Indiana. My B-I-L has already made the move.

    Dennis

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    So who fixes the robots when they have a problem? Thanks, Jack, but having only chinese, taiwanese, etc. manufacturing products and robots is not helpful to America if we are going to exist in the future.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Krutch View Post
    ... if we are going to exist in the future.
    That's his point.

    Dennis


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