machineintelligence

Machine Intelligence

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


Machine Learning is a subfield of artificial intelligence that covers the construction and study of algorithms capable of learning from data without being programmed to do so. In general, they build a model of the real world from input and use that to make predictions.

There are three categories of the tasks performed by machine intelligence:

Supervised learning

This is the sort of intelligence shown in my story, Simple Harmonic Motion. A computer is being taught to operate a spacecraft, and the data given is the different crew members training it. Generally, that’s the form it takes: A teacher trains the computer to map behavior to the desired output.

If you want a copy of Simple Harmonic Motion, you can download the half-hour audio drama free by signing up for Burning Brigid Media’s mailing list.

Unsupervised learning

Unsupervised leaves the algorithm to find its own patterns in order to solve a problem, or as an end in itself.

Reinforcement learning

The algorithm interacts with an environment, working towards a stated goal, learning which actions are optimal – for example, in playing a game.

Generally speaking, the goal isn’t to teach the algorithm a task, but you’re trying to teach it how to learn tasks.

Types of Machine Intelligence

    • Genetic Algorithms –  Heuristics that mimic natural selection, using mutation to find the best solution or method for a given problem or task. Iterations can be processed very quickly.
    • Decision Tree – The AI creates a map of possibilities and outcomes to maximize the liklihood of a desired end state.
    • Association Rule Learning – The AI discovers correlations between variables; certain behaviors are likely associated with other behaviors, which allows prediction.
    • Artificial Neural Networks – Algorithms inspired by biological neural structures using artificial neurons. They find patterns and create statistical structures.
    • Inductive Logical Programming – Paradigms based on formal logic. They build logic statements of examples, databases, and hypothesis, and create a program involving all of the positive examples, then suggest a theory to explain the facts present.
    • Support Vehicle Machines – Allow the classification of new data. Provided with samples of data, they categorize new data based on shared traits.
    • Cluster Analysis – Observations are categorized into sets called clusters, based on whatever criteria are considered important. This is a method of Unsupervised Learning.
    • Belief Network – Focused on the probable relationship between elements; what causes what. This can be used to infer probabilities.

Real World Applications of Machine Intelligence

  • Search Engines
  • Diagnostics
  • Information Security
  • Data Mining
  • Robotics
Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
LEDs

LEDs

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


The earliest use for LEDs were the sort of red “standby” lights, like you’d see on televisions. This was because back when they were introduced in the 60s, they could only handle lower-frequency (red) light. It took 30 years for them to develop blue (high frequency) LEDs, an accomplishment that proved worthy of the Nobel Prize.

The technology has continued to evolve and be refined, to the point where they are quickly replacing filament-based lighting in countries across the world.

There’s an ambitious plan in New York to replace all their street lights with LEDs by sometime next year, due to the lower energy and maintenance requirements. Widespread adoption of LEDs will lead to urban areas that are consistently and safely lit, leading to an overall decrease in crime.

 

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
kuiperbelt

Kuiper Belt

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


The Kuiper Belt is a ring of icy debris that surrounds our solar system, discovered in 1992, several hundred times more massive than the asteroid belt. The discovery that Pluto was a part of this belt is one of the primary reasons why it was reclassified as a dwarf planet.

What else is out there? We don’t know for certain, but we will soon – after the deep space probe New Horizon finished its flyby of Pluto in 2015, it set course for Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69, which it should reach by 2019.

Cut the probe some slack. 2014 MU69 is like a billion miles away from Pluto. That’s not hyperbole.

Until it gets there, all we know about 2014 MU69 is that it’s 30-40 miles in diameter and has a very stable orbit that takes centuries to make its way around the sun.

After that? Well, after New Horizons is done with the Kuiper Belt, sometime in 2022, it’ll be time to mosey off into the sunset. Or rather, away from the sunset, off away from the sun, away from us and into greater unknowns.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
Jobs

Jobs

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


Or lack thereof.

In this series we’ve already talked about government benefits for the poor and housing provided for the homeless. Today we’re going to examine why we’re going to need to take care of a large and relatively permanent class of poverty-stricken.

There are no jobs.

Business entities exist for one reason and one reason alone: to generate profit for their shareholders. Everything else they do is marketing (to increase revenue) or incidental to their primary function. A business does not exist to employ people, but employing people is a by-product of its existence.

When technology advances to the point where change will generate greater revenue, a company has to make that change to stay competitive. Some corporate structures in fact legally require the company do what it legally can to maximize revenue, and the fact that it’s “the machine” doing it absolves individuals from making the sorts of decisions that ruin peoples lives.

The point is, automation is advancing rapidly, both in the sorts of jobs it can replace, and in how affordable it is to do so. Within the next decade self-driving vehicles will have completely transformed the transportation industry, and retail will see a vast drop in jobs typically offered to unskilled workers.

Some of this can be attributed to rising minimum wages across the US, but all this does is hasten the process. Truth is that these jobs will be phased out the instant it becomes economically viable for them to do so.

White collar jobs, however, will not be safe. Advanced robotics, facial and voice recognition software, and deep learning artificial intelligence advancements are leading us towards a world where many office jobs are becoming redundant.

The few jobs this automation will create are going to be in high-skill technical fields. The end result: Capitalism does not need you. It does not love you. You are a surplus resource that is no longer required.

You, and millions like you. Got a job? Want to find out the terrifying probability that robots are going to replace it in the next decade or so? The BBC has provided this handy little search box to help you figure it out

auto

Hooray! I’ve only got a 1 in 3 chance of never being able to work again.

So while you still have a wage and a place to live, try to build the sort of world you want to live in when your job is replaced and you can’t find anything else. Vote.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
implant

Implants

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


And I’m not talking about the saline kind.

Advances in medical technology go beyond drugs and procedures to, occasionally, involve foreign objects being surgically inserted into patients. From pins in the hips to artificial organs, we’re often left with more than we enter the hospital with. A big change is coming as technology is reaching the point where these replacement parts are becoming better than the ones we were born with.

Prototype bionic eyes are already in trials, though the resolution was initially very low. Within the next few years, they’ll be sophisticated enough to allow their owners to read large print and recognize faces. Quality will improve rapidly in the decades that follow.

We’re also in human trials for brain prosthesis to improve memory and bypass damaged areas of the brain for sufferers of Alzheimer’s, stroke, or other injury. Electrodes record normal electrical patterns in the brain, then predict what the damaged portions should be doing. The technology is still in its infancy, but is expected to be a common medical procedure by the early 2020s.

A third sort of implant in development makes use of wireless technology to transmit medical data about its owner in case of emergency. These subdermal micro-labs reside just below the skin and monitor a patient’s blood for levels of given substances. This is  of particular interest to diabetics, but for patients with heart disease can provide several hours warning before an incident.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
housing

Housing

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


A few days ago we talked about government benefits in a general sense. Today we’re going to drill down and talk about housing assistance.

The bare basics for survival, the base for Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, are food, water, and shelter. People need places to live, to provide them with security, and to protect them from the elements.

As someone who lived on couches and out of suitcases for years, I can definitely say that not having a place that is “yours” leads to an incredible sense of insecurity beyond even not being sure of your shelter or having a safe place to keep things. It attacks your sense of security on every level, constantly, and if you’ve never been homeless it can be difficult to put yourself in that mindset.

In many places, a form of public welfare is the provision of government subsidized housing for the disenfranchised. Poor persons are provided with housing at a significant discount, with the city or state picking up the balance.

In Chicago this is managed by the Chicago Housing Authority, which is itself the biggest landlord in the city. It was formed in the late 1930s to clear out the city’s unlivable slums, and provide housing for war veterans.

Other public housing is provided in the form of Section 8 vouchers, in which the government does not own the housing, but instead provide the poor with a portion of their rent paid to private landlords.

The issues that arise with all forms of public housing come from the fact that the poor are limited in where they can choose to live, and often these developments come in some of the poorest neighborhoods with the lowest property values, and the highest crime rates. The poor often do not have a choice as to where they can live.

In Shadow Decade the climate refugees moving to Chicago are placed in massive Block apartment buildings by the CHA, with little regard for the composition of these neighborhoods or what demographic conflicts might arise from their placement.

While public housing is a great deal better than continued homelessness, these projects have their own problems, and we could be doing a lot better. But for now, at least, it is what it is.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
gangsofchicago

Gangs of Chicago

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


 

Chicago is a city that’s always been known for its gangs, from Al Capone’s Outfit and Bugs Moran’s North Side Gang to the modern People and Folk Nations. Why are gangs so popular in Chicago? Why is the world’s impression of the city colored by tommyguns and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre?

Truth be told, Chicago has always been a cosmopolitan city, a home for wave after wave of immigrants, and the crossroads of the nation. Part of it is the permissive attitudes of early 20th century city ward bosses allowing organized crime to thrive under prohibition, part of it is communities of outsiders needing to protect themselves when the city fails to give them a safe place to dwell.

That latter is a focus in the Shadow Decade books. Once again, Chicago sees waves of immigrants coming to the city, though this time they’re refugees from places that have been flooded by rising sea levels, or otherwise rendered inhospitable And, as we’re currently seeing with Syrian refugees, some resent having to accommodate them..

As the European Jews were, as the Irish did, as the Russians and Latinos and everyone else has done, these newcomers are segregated upon arrival, placed by the city or by necessity into the neighborhoods they can afford, an island of “home” in a sea of otherness. Eventually the city will find its equilibrium and assimilate them and adapt, but until then, they have to protect themselves against tides of hostility and apathy from the civic authorities.

Of course, eventually gangs become less about protecting their communities and more about profit and exploitation. In 21st century Chicago, there are two main gang families, or nations – the Folk and the People.

The Folk Nation formed in 1978, when incarcerated gang members decided to form an alliance between various Black, White, and Latino gangs. The formation of the People Nation occurred shortly after, as a reaction, with the alliance of the El Rukns, Vice Lords and Latin Kings.

Over the years, more and more gangs have joined both sides, and the Nations have spread well beyond Chicago. But once again, it’s the midwestern city that gave genesis to one of gangland’s more transformative states.

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.
5gStandard

5G Standard

This post is part of the A to Z Challenge, in which each day of April a post is made inspired by a letter of the alphabet. Each post will be related to the research done on upcoming trends for the near-future techothriller series Shadow Decade.


5 totally starts with an ‘F’ so this totally counts.

First of all, a quick primer on what a “G”-Standard is. G stands for “Generation,” and each represents a major leap forward in telecommunication standards, starting with the big honkin’ 1G brick phones in the 1980s all the way up to the 4G devices giving us mobile web access.

This blog entry isn’t about the Gs, though. That’d be tomorrow, and we’re talking about something else entirely. Just know that what separates the Gs is largely what we can use them to do.

Today we’re talking about the 5, as in what we can look forward to with 5G technology.

The big one: Ubiquitous computing. We’ll be connected to several networks at the same time, and able to move between them smoothly. Everything will be networked, from our televisions to our toasters, and we’ll have many concurrent ways to access this constant stream of information.

And what devices! Combined with the manufacturing possibilities offered by electronic paper, we’ll be wearing most of ours all the time, connected in some kind of personal network. The only real question is, how will we interface with it?

Less obvious to many but maybe more important is the HAPS system – High Altitude Stratospheric Platform Stations delivering high-speed internet over very large areas.

One unified global standard uniting all devices regardless of brand, manufacturer, or model.

And all this is only four years away from us, to be rolled out in the year 2020.

 

 

Questions? You are invited to either leave a comment below, or ask directly through the comment form.