The Cost of Efficiency

Cost of Efficiency

Automated Out of Existence

U.S. companies have become far more efficient in the way they operate their businesses. Investments in automation have borne fruit. The S&P 500 hit an all time high this year as the longest bull market in history continues. Products and services are becoming cheaper and it’s easier for consumers to make purchases. Much of the business processes that formerly required human intervention have been replaced with technology. Customer service representatives, for better or worse, are now “chat bots,” engineers work alongside machines on the factory floor, and heavy lifting in fulfillment centers is done by robots. All this automation comes at a steep price: human jobs. Is the cost of efficiency justified?

Wage Stagnation

Market investors and company executives have benefited enormously from business automation. Stratospheric stock prices and generous compensation packages have minted many millionaires this past decade. However, those on the lower rungs of the corporate hierarchy haven’t shared in the spoils. Companies are battling to stay competitive, which is why so much is being invested into automation that, over the long run, will cut the costs of their operations. Unskilled workers, or company employees without the pedigree or experience needed to fill white collar jobs, are suffering as a result of these investments.

Many of these struggles are voiced by workers in the manufacturing and retail fields. Robots are now permanent fixtures on the assembly line. Brick and mortar retail stores are going digital. The shifting industrial landscape prevents these unskilled workers from switching jobs, as they don’t have the right skill sets to do so. Increased automation also decreases employers’ dependence on unskilled labor. Therefore, unskilled workers have poorer bargaining positions and, as a result, receive stagnant wages.

The Threat to Skilled Workers

Workers in financial services, legal, and even medical fields are finding that their skills are growing obsolete. Software is used to review large pools of data that formerly required a paralegal. Diagnoses are now made by technology programs that formerly required a doctor. Financial products are sold to investors online, rather than by a broker over the phone. As more and more jobs are automated, we will see an uptick in unemployment. Critics of this argument state that just as many, if not more, jobs will be created as automation increases. However, most of the jobs created as a result of automation won’t have the skilled workers needed to fill them.

Upskill, Beg, or Revolt?

Workers must take it upon themselves to develop the skills necessary for the jobs of the future. We cannot rely on the government to train the masses about new technology when senators don’t even understand the effect technology has on the population. Online training courses, books, and bootcamps are all worthwhile investments of time and money in better securing your future employability. A more likely alternative that many will take is government welfare. Upskilling is hard compared to filling out a welfare registration form. The easy route may prove treacherous, though, as the increased number of government dependents will shrink the pool of money to dispense. If this pool dries up, you can expect revolts.

Preparing for the Future

Worker displacement poses an enormous threat to the future of our country. It is not too late to act. Companies can invest in training prospective workers on the skills they need to fill job openings. It’s a fair price to pay for the cost of efficiency. Governments can wake up to the fact that this problem will not solve itself. We, as preppers, need to continue to train ourselves the skills necessary to stay employable. I can only hope that the masses take it upon themselves to act. Otherwise, things may very well take a dark turn.

Want to talk more about worker displacement? Leave a comment or contact me.

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3 Reasons Why Facebook is More Powerful than Governments

Facebook is More Powerful than Governments

Introduction

Facebook’s stated mission is to, “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.” For the month of September 2017, Facebook averaged 1.37 billion daily active users; nearly a fifth of the world’s population logs on each day. Facebook has unquestionably achieved its mission, as an enormous collective of users has united in its willingness to publish and share information. Over the thirteen years of its existence, Facebook has created the most advanced engine of data collection and distribution in the world. It has so much data, in fact, that it can systematically break down democracy in order to advance a factional agenda. Facebook, with its unprecedented means of organization and information dissemination, has the power to dissolve nation states and usher in a new system of governance.

1. Data Collection

Facebook does not charge its users money to use its namesake platform, Instagram, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp. These “free” services are able to operate due to the data their user bases provide them with. In its readily accessible Data Policy, Facebook details what information it collects and how it uses the information, though the document doesn’t outline the full scale of its data accumulation and processing operations. Facebook believes that the exchange of its services for data is fair, but many of its users are blissfully ignorant of the ways in which their data is being captured and utilized. Russia weaponized Facebook’s platform during the buildup to the United States presidential election by propagating false or partisan marketing campaigns across users’ news feeds. While the effect of these campaigns is still unknown, the threat they posed to our democratic system is undeniable.

2. Data Structuring

Facebook has to structure its petabytes of data in order to make sense of its users’ relationships, interests, activities, and other associations. This structure has taken the form of a social graph. In 2007, donning a Northface fleece and Adidas sandals, Mark Zuckerberg addressed an audience from the stage at the Web 2.0 Summit. An early iteration of the statesman he is today, the visibly stiff Zuckerberg shared his vision of making Facebook’s social graph accessible to developers, which would let them develop applications on the Facebook platform. Mark Zuckerberg didn’t coin the term “social graph,” but he and his company have created the largest one to date. The social graph is a mapping of connections between actors, actions, and objects.  As a one-dimensional example, if I login to Facebook and “like” a post my friend made, then I am the actor, my act of liking a post is the action, and my friend’s post is the object. The social graph is a reflection of the relationships, or “edges,” between people, the content they post, their interests, and their behaviors. As Facebook’s user base grew, its social graph did so exponentially.

3. Algorithmic Micro-Targeting

Facebook has capitalized on its data stores through the development and deployment of advanced algorithms designed for “micro-targeting” users of interest. The Share Foundation, an organization advocating for open and decentralized communication, analyzed Facebook’s many patents. The foundation discovered numerous ways in which Facebook leverages its data to distribute ads to its users. Facebook targets you based on your interests, your social connections, the events you express interests in, your search history, etc.

From Democracy to Oligarchy

A democracy is a system of government in which each member of an entire population can influence the future of the nation he inhabits. Implementations of democracy may differ from nation to nation, but they all share the same principle of “majority rule.” Democracies can only function in nations with informed populations, as they must understand the costs and benefits of a course of action before they make decisions. We rely on the media to communicate how policies and laws will affect us, which underscores the importance of unbiased and unfiltered media outlets. However, not all media syndicates create and share news stories as a public service. Rather, some syndicates spread propaganda across airwaves and television channels in hopes of convincing the public to adopt their slanted viewpoints. Populations need counterbalances to partisan arguments, so they can arrive at their own conclusions. Facebook’s hold on its users subjects them to a bespoke, censored, omni-channel stream of news with the power to change both sentiments and stances. Facebook, therefore, can be tooled to become the most effective system of propaganda distribution in the world.

Prepare Yourself

Facebook and the companies under its umbrella have organized a network of over a billion people distributed across the globe. It knows far more about its users than many would have ever thought possible. In fact, the United States government clandestinely requests Facebook to provide it with information about specific users. Yes, Facebook may know more about you than your government. In its pursuit of growth, Facebook can tighten its control of users by shaping their feelings, forming their viewpoints, dictating their purchases, and collecting fees from their transactions. Facebook’s platform spans across territorial, cultural, political, and economic divisions and has formed a shared designation among its users: a source of data. We have seen the power of Facebook’s infrastructure on relatively small scales, but we cannot expect the growth and exploitation of this infrastructure to stall. Facebook may eventually remove the “country” attribute from its profile screen, as it will have become irrelevant. We will all then be united under Facebook’s control.

Want to chat more about Facebook? Interested in other technology blog postsContact me or leave a comment.

Facebook is More Powerful than Governments

5 Reasons Why Tech Will Lead to SHTF

Tech will lead to SHTF

The Problem with Moving Fast: Things Break

Tech developments are advancing at an exponential pace. Many believe this to be a good thing, as catchy mottos like “move fast and break things” have gone mainstream. Pressure to create, innovate, and scale has led to incredible changes in the way we live, which, up to this point, have largely been positive. That said, the competition among these technology companies resulted in some devastating consequences that cannot be repaired. Evolution tells us that only the fittest survive. It’s no wonder why companies, which are simply human collectives, display many of the same behaviors each employee does. In this post, I suggest that our human nature will ensure the human race is replaced by a superior being.

1. Evolutionary Tendencies

Human beings are the product of 4.5 billion years of evolution. We are the most intelligent organic species on the planet. Encoded in our DNA are survival instincts, like the need to reproduce, the need for shelter, and the need for security. Many men seek money as a means ensuring their own survival and that that of their bloodline. The California Elites (CEs) use their money to attract women, to buy fancy homes and unnecessary luxuries, and to purchase insurance policies against the risk of SHTF. When survival is no longer a worry, our natural instincts manifest as competitive spirits in need of applications. The application that will lead to our undoing is the realm of technological innovation.

2. The Economy

We’re in the longest bull market in history and, if you listen to the talking heads on the television, there’s no reason why it won’t continue on. Corporate tax cuts have left public companies flush with cash. In the tech sector, employees are watching their wallets grow fatter and large investments in artificial intelligence have led to feats like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s AlphaGo. The problem is that corporate competition for artificial intelligence supremacy will lead to short-sighted decisions with irreparable long term impacts.

3. Lack of Accountability

Yes, Mark Zuckerberg was effectively forced to testify before Congress following the Cambridge Analytica fallout. However, I haven’t seen much happen since. Facebook promises to get better and invest more money in protecting against similar problems, but little beyond that has been done. I do not expect other companies to fear punishment stemming from stupid decisions they make with respect to artificial intelligence. The government has not held tech companies accountable for their mistakes in a meaningful way, so there is little reason for them to exercise better judgment going forward.

4. Tech Celebrity Worship

Elon Musk. Jeff Bezos. Steve Jobs. These tech celebrities have been the subjects of biographies, movies, TED talks, and discussions among the CE. With so many techies vying to be the next Mark Zuckerberg, little thought is given to the implications of a poorly written AI algorithm. The culture of tech celebrity worship breeds narcissistic developers obsessed with achieving fame and fortune. Focus is not placed on the benefits their products may have on the human race, nor is it placed on the consequences.

5. Risk Mis-Calculations

Humans exhibit risky behaviors all the time, though the impact is often limited to the individual taking the risk. We’ve witnessed during the Great Recession what happens when risks within a specific industry are poorly calculated. However, AI can exceed our own intelligence, which exposes us to consequences we cannot even imagine. You can argue that the consequences may be great–Alexa plays me music and Siri tells me what the weather will be like tomorrow. Who wouldn’t want more helpful products like these? What few techies know is that there will be a point where we no longer choose what the consequences will be, since we will no longer be the more intelligent species.

What Can Be Done?

I believe unchecked technology to be the most likely cause of The Event. You should take the necessary precautions to protect yourself. I wish I could prescribe the solution to the problem we’re seeing play out among the CEs, but it’s ingrained in who we are as humans. If you think you know what to do, please leave a comment or  contact me.

Tech will Lead to SHTF

Preparation for The Event

Preparation for The Event

Preparation is Necessary

The world has become more unstable than it ever has before. The Doomsday Clock is now two minutes to midnight due to the threats of nuclear war, artificial intelligence, and natural disasters. Governments are silencing their citizens. Technology companies continue to increase their power through data collection and the continued development of sophisticated algorithms. The most important aspect of preparation for The Event is knowing what you’re up against, so I’ve listed the potential causes of The Event below:

Uncontrollable Technology

The California Elites (CEs) love their technology. They say they want to save the world, but we know better. Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Amazon all have enough data on us to predict our actions, which, for now, just means they show us more relevant advertisements. That said, the CEs are playing with fire. Technology is improving rapidly and the CEs are too arrogant to realize that their creations will soon be smarter than them. You cannot defeat an enemy that knows your next move, which is why we’ll need to stay off the battlefield. Pack your bug-out bag, prepare your bunker, and plan your escape. We can’t trust the CEs, but we can anticipate their mistakes.

Nuclear War

Kim Jong-un has nuclear weapons and he is ready to use them. He’s an insane man who killed his brother and his uncle. While President Trump knows not to trust him, we need to look at his collaborators. North Korea, China, and Russia are all trading partners armed with nuclear weapons. They have increased tensions with our great nation and rule their countries without any accountability to their citizens. Such power leads to arrogance and incompetence, which makes these dictators no different than the CEs. These countries have made it clear that they intend to expand their borders (China with Taiwan and Russia with Crimea) and are not afraid to do so by force. I’ll be out of harm’s way before the deployment of the first nuclear weapon. It’s important that you are too.

(Un)Natural Disasters

Noah built an ark in preparation for forty days and forty nights of rain. I don’t claim to speak with God, but I do know that he punishes sinners. The CEs are experiencing droughts and the New York bankers will soon be underwater. Arrogance and greed will be replaced with heat waves and floods. Forest fires and torrential tornadoes seem to be on the news everyday. We can survive these threats with advance preparation. Survival capsules, bunkers, precious metals, and non-perishable foods are some of our key defenses against the above disasters. Preparation is everything. We’ll do everything we can to survive. Please contact me or leave a comment with any suggestions.

preparation for the event