Month: May, 2017

How To Survive The Future – The Answers With Joe Podcast

This is the audio version of the YouTube video, so some references may be made to something you can’t see.

Automation and artificial intelligence are already causing massive disruptions to commerce and industry all over the world. Economists warn that in the next 10 years, 30% of jobs could go away due to technological advancement. An unemployment rate that would be worse than even The Great Depression. How does society react in the face of this kind of change, and what can we do to position ourselves to be ready for the changes to come? In this audio version of my YouTube video, I discuss what I think are the best options.

 

How To Survive Our Uncertain Future

Could online communities create underground markets and economies that hold the key to surviving the upcoming technological disruptions? Let’s discuss.

LINKS LINKS LINKS:

The interview I reference in the video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWoyn…

TRANSCRIPT:

I was watching an interview the other day where they were talking about how apparently there are billionaires who are preparing for the kind of economic collapse I was talking about on a previous video.

Tech entrepreneurs who are plugged into the latest market news and know what’s happening with AI and are building bunkers and doing survivalist training to prepare for what’s coming.

Many are worried that as automation and artificial intelligence starts disrupting more and more industries and people start to suffer, that they’ll rise up all French Revolution style against the businessmen and tech leaders like themselves who made all that technology possible.

But I don’t think people will rise up against technology, that same technology makes it possible for them to watch their favorite TV show on their phone and post pictures of their food.

But I do think, and made the argument in my last video, that people will turn on each other.

Start blaming other groups of people for their misfortune.

But in the midst of this discussion, one of the people just kind-of blurted out something that really stuck with me. He said we need to build communities, not bunkers.

I think as trust in our institutions starts to fall apart, more than ever before we’ll need to rely on each other and our social circles for support.

I mean, you only need to look at the growth of Go Fund Me to see it starting to happen.

People who are squeezed by the economy may start to opt out of the system and join these community marketplaces.

Throw into the mix the rise of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and you have whole off-the-grid economies that function completely independent from the banking and commerce system.

A cellular society of underground communities with decentralized self-sustaining economies just doing their own thing while the world burns.

Now, if it feels like I just keep talking about this, it’s because it’s important.

Most people don’t see the big picture, they’ve just got their heads down trying to live their lives and are so caught up in the day to day that when big systemic change starts to happen around them, it looks like something else.

It looks like something conspiring against them, either the elites above them with a boot on their neck or the lower class below them trying to take what they have.

The more we can get people to understand that these changes are inevitable, that it’s a much, much bigger force at work that is completely indifferent to them and their situation, something that is beyond any human’s control, the better.

Because humanity, and humans… are two completely different things.

Just like an ant colony acts as a singular unit, an emergent super organism, that has objectives that are totally different than that of an ant.

Humanity is the emergent super organism created by the natural collective machinations of humans.

Now, the ant metaphor may sound extreme because after all, we’re humans, we’re conscious, advanced creatures, not mindless little automatons, we have free will and reason and emotions…

But there is a foundational algorithm to our decisions and behaviors that, spread out over 7 billion people, creates humanity. A completely separate entity with completely different objectives. And humanity always moves in the direction of technological progress.

Humanity is not nostalgic. Humanity just keeps moving forward. Humanity has had a lot of setbacks because people didn’t understand this and wanted to turn things back the way they used to be.

This forward progress has always and is now disrupting the world of industry and commerce, and the way that disruption affects the average person is not always positive. Or fair.

I like Tim Urban’s description of the Human Colossus, I like putting a name on it, creating a separation between our personal motivations as people and the movements of our entire species as a whole.

But the more people understand that this is the natural flow of things and adjust accordingly instead of pointing the finger at other groups of people, the less likely this whole thing is to devolve into some kind of Mad Max style apocalyptic nightmare.

There is no divide and conquer here. There is only divide and fail. Build communities. Not bunkers.

69-Question Lightning Round Video

This time around I got almost 70 questions and I answer them all right here. Grab a snack. It’s gonna take a while.
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LINKS LINKS LINKS:

Hilbert’s Unanswered Problems:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hilbert%27s_problems

Millennium Prize Problems:
http://www.claymath.org/millennium-problems

PBS Spacetime:

I’ve Gone Viral!

…And by that, I mean I’m sick. For that reason, there won’t be a video this Monday.

Allow me to explain.

Many of you know about the skin treatment I’ve been doing for sun damage – if you don’t remember, here’s a reminder:

At the end of this video, I mention that I need to eventually do this treatment on my forearms. Well, that’s what I’ve been doing the last month or so. None of you had to see it because I’ve been wearing long-sleeve shirts in my videos, but it’s been fairly traumatic, especially as I was finishing up the treatment last week.

Ladies…

The flu-like symptoms that accompany this hit me pretty hard last weekend and I’ve been running at, tops, 70% since then.

So this last week I got an outbreak of canker sores in my mouth, which is not unexpected with this treatment, so I didn’t think anything of it, except it was a pretty huge outbreak, to the point I can barely eat. And my lips have been insanely chapped. I just figured it was a strong reaction to the medicine.

Then, Thursday morning, I woke up to find weird spots all over my hands…

So… That’s new.

I immediately assumed it was the supplements I was taking.

Oh right… I didn’t mention the supplements.

Last time I visited my dermatologist, she recommended I take a couple of supplements for the sun damage and I just happened to start taking them last week as I was wrapping up the Zyclara treatment. One of the side effects was a “niacin flush” and I figured these spots were a part of that.

Considering that this flush could also be inducing the kind of inflammation that was causing the extra-nasty outbreak of canker sores, I stopped taking them and reached out to my dermatologist to see if this was an expected side effect. I sent an email. She called me immediately.

(On one hand, it sucks when you can’t get a hold of your doctor, but nothing is more worrying than when a doctor is super responsive. It’s never a good sign.)

Turns out this is not an expected side effect of the supplements that she’s ever seen. But they are symptoms of an outbreak that’s been going around. A virus called Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease.

Why is it called that? Because it causes outbreaks of sores on your hands, your feet, and your mouth. Clever.

I nervously checked the bottom of my feet and saw that, yep, I got spots there, too. Great.

It’s a virus that’s very common amongst toddlers, but anybody can get it. And since I get diseases that match my mental maturity, there we are. And because it’s a virus, there’s nothing you can really do about it but let it run its course.

It’s been especially rough the last couple of days. I barely left the couch or the bed yesterday and am basically on a smoothie diet. The symptoms come and go in waves. Sometimes I’ll feel perfectly fine, and then an hour later I can’t peel myself off the couch, my mouth hurts so much I can barely talk and my hands and feet feel like they’re covered with splinters. I rarely go to bed before midnight normally and I was in bed at 8:00 last night. And slept at least 3 hours during the day.

I’m a mess right now is what I’m saying.

One more thing about me is I don’t work through sickness. I lay my ass down and let my body focus all its energy on fighting the disease. I’d rather be flat on my back for a few days and then get back to 100% than try to push through it and drag it out for weeks and months. I know I’m lucky that I can take some time when I need to do that – I haven’t always been so lucky and there’s far too many people out there who can’t.

So, there won’t be a video out this week. It sucks. I finally had a content schedule set up and I’m going to have to push everything back. I’m spending that time (in bed) focusing on behind-the-scenes stuff like getting the podcast worked out on the website.

But I’ll be back soon. Thanks for understanding. You guys are the best.

(Unless you aren’t understanding and hold a grudge against me. In which case I’ll come over and spit in your mouth.)

Cheers,

-Joe

Can A Fidget Spinner Make You Smarter? | Answers With Joe

According to the authors of the book Fidget to Focus, they make the argument that our brains are actually hardwired to not be focused.

It has an evolutionary explanation. Back in caveman times, if you were too focused on, say, weaving a basket or some other repetitive task, you might not notice the cougar sneaking up on the rock behind you.

So people who were more distracted by all the things going on around them were more likely to survive deadly predators. Then they passed those distracted genes forward.

It makes sense when you think about it. Go outside your front door and look. You see any squirrels or birds intensely focused on anything?

No, their attention is all over the place, constantly looking around, sniffing the air, interrupted by the slightest sound.

Seriously, is there any animal that isn’t easily distracted?

The point is, focusing is a very unnatural act. Something only humans can do, and we don’t do it very well.

So the theory is that we fidget because it’s a way of occupying that animal brain that’s constantly on the lookout for dangers.

This is why fidgeting also reduces stress levels, especially in kids on the autism spectrum or with ADHD.

So a lot of schools are starting to embrace fidgeting, some even providing desks with foot bars and other sensory stimulating tactile surfaces that allow kids to move and feel while they learn.

Other research that has backed up this conclusion is research into flow states.

The flow state is when you’re in the zone, when your brain is firing on all cylinders and often when your greatest insights come to you.

We’ve all been there. A problem you’ve been wrestling with for days, you just can’t figure out how to handle this and then one day you’re in the shower and BOOM… Revelation.

You know, right when you can’t possibly document it in any way, shape, or form.

Flow states are often triggered by thoughtless, repetitive motions, the kinds of motions that we’ve done a million times and can be done unconsciously, like taking a shower, mowing the lawn, or walking the dog.

Walking the dog, by the way, is my go-to action when I’m trying to figure out how to structure these videos.

Researchers studying flow states once believed that those superpowers moments of thought were brought about by more areas of our brain engaging and connecting, but it turns out, not so much.

By performing fMRI brain scans of people in flow states they found that actually, it’s the exact opposite.

In a flow state, large chunks of your brain shut off. It’s that clarity that allows the brilliant ideas to shine through.

So by focusing all those chattering voices in your head on fidgeting, the voice with the great idea can be heard.

In this same way, some studies have shown that information retention is higher when a person is fidgeting.

Fidgeting has also been shown to burn calories, now it’s not like a weight loss regimen or anything, but it’s a welcome little bit of activity in an otherwise sedentary school or office environment.

So, can fidgeting actually make you smarter…? Well, the jury’s still out on that.

All of the stuff I’m talking about here are preliminary research that was mostly conducted on children with ADHD, so whether or not a normal-functioning adult gets the same benefit is too early to say. But the concepts involved are in line with our current understanding of the brain.

Basically, if it feels right, if it helps you to focus and think more clearly, have at it.

But, if you’re in the middle of the woods where a cougar could sneak up on you… I recommend putting the spinner away.

The Dark Side Of The Singularity

Or… How To Not Be A Horse.
Automation and AI promise to usher in an era of amazing productivity and innovation. But they also threaten our very way of life.

Partial Transcript:

For hundreds, even thousands of years, the horse was humanity’s go-to form of transportation. And in 13 years, that all changed.

Right now, we are on the cusp of a technological disruption that will make the switch from horses to cars look like switching from Coke to Pepsi.

So we talk a lot on this channel about exponential growth, artificial intelligence, the singularity, and that’s a lot of fun, but there is a dark side to all this change, one that really needs to be talked about because the way we respond to it is going to significantly alter our future as a species.

The BBC released a report just a few weeks ago that said that 30% of jobs are going to go away in the next 10 years because of automation.

In the U.S., we’ve heard a lot over the last election about the proverbial coal miners and our current president specifically campaigning to bring back coal jobs.

But coal is just one of hundreds of industries that are taking advantage of employees that can work 24/7, never need a bathroom break, never sleep, never make a mistake and work twice as fast. Oh, and you don’t have to pay them.

Factories already decimated by outsourcing are now losing even more jobs to automation. And as automation becomes more sophisticated, more industries are at risk.

The transportation sector actually makes up 25% of the jobs in the United States, if you can believe that. A full quarter of the population. And autonomous cars… They’re pretty much here, guys.

Famously, the Tesla Model 3, going into production this year, will have autonomous capability, though it may not have the software available, it will have the hardware ready for it.

But less famously, there are a lot of other car companies trying to beat Tesla to market with this. Nissan has a fully self-driving prototype in development that they took a drive in on Fully Charged and it was spooky how good it was.

Cadillac is so bullish on self-driving technology, they spent millions of dollars to create a lidar map of every highway in the United States using their own proprietary system.

This way their cars won’t just rely on sensors and GPS to find their way, the Cadillac system will contain a 3D map of everything, including the roadsigns.

Google’s working on a car, Apple supposedly is working on a car, but the people who are really big on this technology are the service providers.

Uber made over 2 billion dollars last year. Imagine how much they could make if they didn’t have to pay their drivers…

Uber has been working for years on a transportation fleet of autonomous cars, and even Ford has made some intentions known of pivoting in a similar direction.

Many are predicting that cars will go from a retail industry to a service industry, with Peter Diamandis saying that in ten years, car ownership will be an outdated idea.

The fact of the matter is, you can be for automation or against it, you can agree with its use or not, but this is happening. And we need to be ready for it.

Some people are talking about a basic minimum income, a flat amount of money that everybody in a society makes, as a safety net to keep people above water. This is an interesting idea that’s even being tested in some places.

There is a coming change on a fundamental and massive level in this world. One that is filled with amazing advancements and technological wonders. The question is, will we be able to change with it?