In the Future There Will Be Robots

I know this because they’re already here. And they went right for the money.

Robots — by which I mean machines or programs that receive and analyze data according to algorithms they use to make decisions, use the results of their decisions to improve how they function, without any instructions or commands from a human or any other outside agent.

Guess what? Bower birds have a sense of aesthetics. Whales and dolphins have language. Most mammals have emotions. Humans are not the only conscious, self-aware, thoughtful animals on the goddam block. Literally! Seen a dog lately? Psychologists proved that dogs are better than humans at interpreting a person’s feelings based on facial expression.

Also: Humans, dunno why, emote more with the left side of their face than the right. No joke. It was discovered that humans pay special attention to this side of another’s face. And then they found out that dogs do likewise. And that they know or lefty bias is a strictly human trait, because they do not pay attention to any other animals in this way.

I think humans are centuries late in getting the fuck over themselves. Concerning machines that collect and analyze data endlessly in a quantity no human could make sense of, and that they choose how to act on the data they know at the time based on what they’ve learned from past behavior, and will learn more and self-improve with each decision… Technically, anyone who knows the terminology realizes they are super-human in their ability to trade on Wall Street. What’s the term mean? That they are better at it than any and all humans.

But are these bits of hardware really thinking?

Yes. And they’re learning. (Ego makes the proper term “machine learning”) And everything they do is evaluated and the means by which they become ever-better at what they already are the best at.

That is: No, they’re not wondering if there’s room for free will in a deterministic universe. Are you?

Nor are they wasting a shit-ton of time and energy thinking about deities.

Humans, pricks that we are, have made no progress in AI since Alan Turing predicted it, as well as a machine capable of computing all things that can be computed — the Turing Machine. The reason? We model machines after ourselves. Meaning humans still design artificial intelligence such that it will be able to understand us.

As I like to say, humans won’t attribute an intellect to anything that doesn’t fucking laugh at its jokes.

Saving that mess for later, let’s go back to Evil, Inc.

Two percent of brokerage houses were started solely to exploit an ability only robots have.This ability (not quite the right word… ) is called High-Frequency Trading. The most I’m able to glean regarding whatever this is informs me that market liquidity is improved, and volatility kept in check. Basically, that these trades benefit all other traders. Which I’d believe if the fundamental truth of stock markets didn’t happen to be: Every winner is funded by losers.

So I read more, and that’s when I found out that many believe HFTs increased market volatility, which ushered in the Flash Crash.

Then I remembered hearing an economist in some interview I was half-asleep during, who said the RoboTraders continually dump and buy instruments to earn a penny or so per transaction, and performs hundreds of them per second, with the trading costs offset by the fact they buy in incredible volume.

Which seems more likely. But sorry, I’m sure I don’t really know what HFTs are all about. And feel  pretty sure that the people and institutions watching over our insipid system have about as much of a clue as I do.

Regardless, HFTs account for seventy-three percent of all equity trading volume.

Let’s hope they don’t grow up evil, as Credit Default Swaps did. CDSs were unregulated, amalgamated swatches of personal or institutional debt, basically (and loosely… I think). Greenspan almost had an aneurism when a colleague (Brooksley Born) sent a memo to Congress (or was it the Senate?) warning them that the things were trouble and regulation could be warranted.

She presented her findings to whatever committee, and Greenspan followed, calling her an idiot who needed firing in many, many more words.

After all, the real estate market was on fire, with CDSs backing unsound lending and debt-assumption for the sole reason that the Almighty Market was trillions deep into CDSs, thought they couldn’t lose, and moved into whatever territory it could find or, in this case, create.

And that’s how Wall Street ruined America. The person who spawned the monster that was/is CDSs?

BLYTHE MASTERS in 1994 while hustling for JP MORGAN.

How was she affected by what can, in a very reductionist way, be termed the recession she made possible? The poor wretch made millions upon millions at JP Morgan before leaving in 2007, as best I can ascertain. (I’m unsure re exactly when her employment there was considered over, not anything of crashing importance.)

Now she’s chair emeritus of the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, and of course still being given money in amounts the human mind is unable to clearly imagine. Doing what? All she can to influence the government re all things to do with the criminal enterprise called the stock market, most specifically making sure markets are free to throw things together until the next explosion. The association, with the rest of Wall Street, pours more money into politics than any other person place or thing. All in the name of, I imagine jokingly, providing financial services to American workers who can’t afford to save because they got serviced in a very uncomfortable place (like the back of a Volkswagon?) quite recently, and are far between lucritive duties devoted to one thing: Making more4 money to use to make more money to use…

WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO ROBOTS! Really. I don’t even have to force it. Observe:

One can, in the wake of the global shitstorm that mauled its way through the global economy (minus the socialist nations) and the hundreds of thousands whose lives it devastated, imagine the appeal RoboTraders brought to the table. Especially since the shitstorm could be traced back to BLYTHE MASTERS.

I apologize, but if anything I’m being too nice to BLYTHE MASTERS. Because she didn’t simply create CDSs, she was instrumental in selling the ever-loving crap out of them. Why? Because it made her more wealthy than any person need be. Making money — more accurately, taking money from people, since the financial fuck-you-in-the-ear industry has never created anything ever, other than jobs tailored to people unable to feel shame, guilt, nor even pity — devoid of all emotion.

Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho (Patrick Bateman) was a stock broker because the occupation is perfect for psychopaths. This one percent of the population is unable to feel anything for anyone but itself. (I’ve heard it attributed to a fetus’s brain being flooded with far too much serotonin and similar neurochemicals, which leads to the birth of a person inured to them. Which means the person is, in fact, physically incapable of emotion.

Of course, that’s only the nature of the beast. Most of the psychopaths who go into murder instead of, say, finance, experienced quite the opposite of nurture on their way to maturity.

AM I EVEN TRYING TO FINISH THIS POST? This thing seems intent on mimicking a Tesla Coil — throwing a lot of energy a lot of places with a lot of noise. (I have to find out what Einstein and Tesla talked about when they got together.)

[BREAKING NEWS! TO ME! I just frittered away a good hour trying to get an answer to my last sentence. I’ve learned that Tesla, unsurprisingly, showed genius in physics, as well as… Everything else. He seems to be the the first person to have reasoned photons behave as though both wave and particle, and even more. Buuut, I’m about to embarrass the hell outta myself, and I think leaving physics to people who can see sense in numbers as especially prudent about now. I disdain them for lacking nuance, emotion, history… I don’t like them because they aren’t words, which were are and will be my overriding obsession.

[I AM A STUPID, STUPID MAN! Guess what I was never ever taught by anyone? That electrons, all gwadzillion of them, spin 1.37 times faster than light. And the person teaching me about electrons didn’t think it worthwhile to mention, even in passing, that — Oh yeah, guys, Goudsmit and Uhlenbeck discovered back in the roaring 1920s that electrons disprove relativity. Not that it matters, since as far as you’ve been told, if Newton’s Laws are good enough for the Apollo astronauts, you damn well better believe they’re good enough for you.]

…It seems I instinctively employed the big-ass attribution error in an apparent attempt to minimize the significance of my ignorance of a fact resulting from my ignorance. I immediately blamed the public school teachers, whose pensions the government so much wants to steal. Same with government employees — not including elected ones, who get full salary and benefits for life. No wonder all of them let the rich write their own rules — they need an in with employers.

Or the exact opposite. Which makes the fact they are fucking zealots about screwing America out of Social Security, Medicare, etc the more appalling for standing in such stark contrast.

I CAN’T FUCKING DO IT! I cannot stay on topic. Perhaps because I’m trying to for once (and boy does it ever show!).

So this is the deal: I’m squirming out of this metastatic mass, ending this trivial pursuit.

Next post: All business, friends. I’ll tell you what I think are the most interesting ways in which machines learn; their biggest handicap, which is the astounding and glaringly counterproductive arrogance of the things that design them; that the intelligence machines are capable of won’t be artificial, viz, man-made; about The Singularity OR: How to Stop Worrying and Love the AI; and I have a built-in capper to all of it: When SexDroids are perfected, males react just as mice react to a lever that dispenses food next to another that delivers cocaine: And so perhaps twenty-five percent of males die within days from dehydration, with ninety-nine-and-one-half of all males dead by the time human females look for them. Extinction appears to be one generation away.

And that is when I make my move.

Sorry! I have a genuine love of bad jokes. …But in truth, the first androids will be specifically for sex/companionship. The initial prices will dictate the droids be marketed to the half of humanity genetically engineered to always want sex. Also, if droids were orifice-less, guys would still be getting off through them within a week.

Would women tolerate such misogyny? Allow the sale of live-in, guilt-free working girls?

Um… The fucked up thing is the misogyny at best and lives under house arrest, etc etc etc etc etc women tolerate right fucking now! And speaking of working girls, the 1.2 million — god damn it! — child prostitutes in India would fucking love techno-misogyny.

Simply: Woman are fucked over by men all over the world to varying degrees. If men disappeared, a billion? two? women would be able to behave, for the first time, as though they’re actually human!

And now I’m just being fussy. When I need sleep, The Evil Ghost of Andy Rooney tries to write through me.

It’s a bitch.


PS: Genetic Algorithms. …Proper term for an important way a lot of robots improve their ability to understand, reason — everything — by, in this case, using their most effective ways of understanding to propagate even better ways.


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