Artificial Intelligence Revolution

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You say you want a revolution? Ready or not, a revolution is coming. It’s coming for you and me. It’s coming soon. You might want to try to hold onto your job. And your dignity. But good luck with that.

“The real battles that lie ahead will lack the apocalyptic drama of Hollywood blockbusters, but they will disrupt the structure of our economic and political systems all the same. Looming before us in the coming decades is an AI-driven crisis of jobs, inequality and meaning. The new technology will wipe out a huge portion of work as we’ve known it, dramatically widening the wealth gap and posing a challenge to the human dignity of us all.”

AI stands for Artificial Intelligence. If you want to be cool and appear in the know, you can begin dropping the AI acronym into your conversation or writing whenever possible.

The above quote is from a long piece written by Kai-Fu Lee in the Sept. 15-16 weekend edition of The Wall Street Journal. (I’m not in the habit of reading the WSJ, because I own no stocks and no bonds. But I sometimes pick it up if Publix is sold out of the NYT. Maybe I should read the WSJ more often? But I digress.) The article is entitled “The Human Promise Of The AI Revolution.” (See, I didn’t make up the “revolution” part.) Here’s another chilling quote from the WSJ article:

“This unprecedented disruption requires no new scientific breakthrough in AI, just the application of existing technology to new problems. It will hit many white-collar professionals just as hard as it hits blue-collar factory workers.”

Gosh, I’ve been focusing my worry on global warming, climate change, and the rising sea level. (And Donald Trump, of course. But I promise not to digress in that direction.) Now I have to worry about artificial intelligence as well? No problem. I have a nearly unlimited capacity for Worry, with a capital “W.”

Global Warming and Artificial Intelligence

After reading the aforementioned article, I can see similarities between Global Warming and Artificial Intelligence. Both sound like science fiction with hints of apocalypse.

Both promise unprecedented change with astonishing but uncertain consequences. Many people hope and believe that humans will be able to exert some degree of control over both global warming and artificial intelligence. (This is the “It might not be too late” school of optimism.)

Most folks have heard about global warming, but hope its most dangerous consequences are way off in the future. Many folks have not heard about artificial intelligence. Yet. But  if they have, they assume it is way off in the future.

Many people are aware that global warming has probably been happening for some time. Many acknowledge that we are already experiencing the first effects of global warming and climate change, manifesting as annoying shifts in weather patterns and apparent increase in the size and frequency of catastrophic storms.

However, it hasn’t dawned on many folks that artificial intelligence, like global warming, is already happening. Both global warming and artificial intelligence are HERE, NOW.

A Glacier And A Locomotive

I think I can get away with one more quote from the Kai-Fu Lee article in the WSJ. After all, I’m going to give him free publicity for his forthcoming book.

“The AI revolution will be of the magnitude of the Industrial Revolution — but probably larger and definitely faster. Where the steam engine only took over physical labor, AI can perform both intellectual and physical labor. And where the Industrial Revolution took centuries to spread beyond Europe and the U.S., AI applications are already being adopted simultaneously all across the world.”

Larger and faster than the Industrial Revolution!!!

Here’s my interpretation: Global warming is moving — not as slowly as a glacier, perhaps — but slowly, in terms of human years.

Global warming can make big changes in the lifetime of one human.

Artificial Intelligence, meanwhile, is moving more like a speeding locomotive — more like dog years than human years.

Artificial intelligence can make big changes in the lifetime of one dog.

And what about that Kai-Fu Lee book? It is “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley and the New World Order.” There’s a title to strike fear into the heart. The book is scheduled to be published next week, Sept. 25, by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. So says the WSJ.

And who is this guy Kai-Fu Lee? Never heard of him. He appears to have serious credentials in the brave new world of AI. You could Google him.

— John Hayden

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One Year In Florida

ducks for blog

THE DUCKS THINK THIS BRIDGE WILL TAKE THEM ACROSS THE BORDER TO CANADA. 

As of Aug. 1, I’ve been a Florida resident for one full year! Driver’s license, car registration, voter registration, all accomplished within the first couple of months. Survived my first hurricane, too. Last week, I signed a lease renewal. Small rent increase, now will pay $699 a month. And my typical electric bill is around $46. Zero commuting time and distance.

Won’t try to write a full account of the year, but if I did, it wouldn’t be long. Compared with the first nine months of 2017, which included putting my financial house in order and removing myself from Maryland to Florida, the past 12 months have been a walk in the park.

I met the neighbors in the other three apartments on my floor. Three lone individuals, like me. I speak to one of them nearly every day. Big improvement over the $900 basement apartment in wealthy Montgomery County, where my neighbors were the storage room, the trash room, and the laundry room.

I soon discovered two excellent public libraries and one big bookstore with excellent discounts. And I tried a few churches. Like everyone else, I shop at Publix supermarket and Walmart. Four cheap restaurants are nearby. They meet my need for simple food and ambiance. But I eat in the apartment a lot. I know where to recycle newspapers and aluminum cans, but not plastic bottles.

Each apartment has its own air conditioner outside. My unit died in early July. No problem. Apartment management installed a window unit to tide me over two days while a new outside air conditioner was installed. It is powerful and efficient. Inside air temperature is NOT a problem, I can assure you! The outdoor temperature, humidity and rain in summer, that’s another story. Don’t even want to talk about it.

You have not seen lightning until you’ve lived in the Tampa Bay region.

Full disclosure requires me to report that I turned 70 in June. I’ve been aging at an alarming rate the past few years. Sleep too much. I accomplished the move to Florida on adrenaline fumes. Did it in the nick of time; not sure I’d be able to manage such a feat five years hence.

Truth is, I’m well on the way to becoming a cynical old man. Possibly I’ve already arrived. If a man isn’t cynical at this point, he just hasn’t been paying attention.

The move to Florida was necessary, and possibly life-saving. I escaped the nasty winter cold and the impoverishing Montgomery County cost of living. I haven’t had bronchitis since departing Maryland. Here on the Gulf Coast of Florida, I survive nicely and balance my budget. And that’s enough honesty for one blog post.

— John

Snowzilla Blizzard Success: Car Dug Out, And No Heart Attack

It’s the simple pleasures!

It’s being grateful for the ordinary, everyday things we take for granted.

Such as living and breathing and your heart beating. Can’t get more ordinary than that. You’ve got to do it every day.My car 2My Honda Accord has been freed from the grip of Snowzilla. Took me two days  to accomplish. I consider it a grand success, anytime a male  over 60 digs a car out without a heart attack! And I do not brag. Some other folks were not so fortunate. There but for the grace of God go I. Heaven knows, it’s not because I’m so physically fit. Because, well, I’m not.

I’m delighted to report that here in Gaithersburg, MD, Snowzilla is in full retreat in above-freezing temperatures.

Thanks to all who shoveled, to all those who were prepared in advance with snowblowers, and thanks to the guys who drive those little mean, green machines.

— John Hayden

Snowzilla Blizzard Photo Gallery

Posting this gallery, Blizzard of 2016 snow photos, before the snow melts.

Snowzilla in Gaithersburg, MD, January 2016. I estimate we received 35 inches of snow, with drifts deep enough to bury a Corvette.

All photos by Bernard John Hayden. Please do not reproduce without giving credit to the photographer and/or the blog. Thanks! Stay warm.

Snowzilla In The Rearview Mirror

Amazing, isn’t it, how quickly the first snowfall of winter loses its appeal as an exciting adventure? Even if it’s a blizzard?

Saturday evening, it was so deep that even the plows could hardly move. And snow continued to fall, at a rate of one-half inch an hour or more!

We were all in this together. Hopelessly, helplessly, stuck. When the blizzard finally tapered off Saturday night, the world was quiet and at peace. It was perfectly cozy, being snowed in.

That didn’t last long.

By Sunday afternoon, eager beavers were digging cars out. (Hey everybody, what’s the big rush?) Little green machines — miniature bulldozers — were doing what the big snowplows could not. Busily hauling snow away, one scoop at a time. The green machines didn’t care that they were destroying my excuse for hibernating in place.

Monday, even though everything important in Maryland remained closed — all the schools, the federal government, most businesses — people were impatient to be out and about. Even with no place to go. Turns out, there are places to go. The Giant is open, and McDonald’s.

And so, this afternoon, I have no choice but to put on boots, venture out and see about the damn car. Personally, I think  it’s too soon to declare that Snowzilla, the Great Blizzard of 2016, is over. My rearview mirrors, at least, are still covered with snow.

I hate to think about Tuesday. 

— John Hayden

Snowzilla Is a Nor’easter Along Maryland Coast

Interstate 70 and Interstate 270 reported Closed.

The state of Maryland has closed Interstate 70 Saturday evening, from the Baltimore beltway in the east to Interstate 81 at Hagerstown in the west.  Interstate 270 is also reported closed from the Washington beltway to Frederick, where it merges into I-70 going west.

The Snowzilla blizzard of 2016 is also a Nor’easter along the Maryland coast. Nor’easters often cause some flooding and erosion on Maryland’s ocean coastline and the Chesapeake Bay area.

In Ocean City, waves driven by high winds and unusually high tides were reported pounding the beaches on Saturday, continuing Saturday night and probably into Sunday. For some Ocean City streets that typically experience flooding during storms and extremely high tides, this storm was no different. Continue reading

Snowzilla Blizzard Photos in Maryland

The Blizzard of 2016, dubbed Snowzilla, as seen from my front door Saturday afternoon.

Blizzard 4

LOOKING STRAIGHT AHEAD FROM THE FRONT DOOR. SOMEONE TRIED TO SHOVEL A PATH EARLIER, BUT DRIFTING SNOW HAS MOSTLY FILLED IT IN.

Blizzard 2016 A

SNOW DRIFTS AT THE SIDE OF CARS.

Blizzard 3

SNOW BUMPER-HIGH, EVEN ON AN SUV. SOME SMALLER CARS HAVE SNOW DRIFTED UP OVER THE HOOD. THERE’S A SIDEWALK BEHIND THAT LINE OF CARS, BURIED SOMEWHERE UNDER THE SNOW. IN THE LEFT CORNER, WIND CREATED A POINTY CAP ON TOP OF A FLAT TRASH CAN.

Blizzard 5

THIS PHOTO WAS TAKEN FROM A KNEELING POSITION, THE CAMERA ABOUT 3 FEET HIGH. IT’S THE PILE OF SNOW TO THE RIGHT OF THE ENTRANCE. SOME OF IT IS SNOW SHOVELED FROM IN FRONT OF THE DOOR, WITH DRIFTING ON TOP.

Photos in Gaithersburg, MD, Saturday, Jan. 23, 2:30 p.m. All photos by Bernard John Hayden. Permission granted to reproduce, with credit to the photographer and/or blog.

— John

Snowzilla Survival Plan

The Capital Weather Gang reports as follows:

“Snowzilla is just beginning to hit its stride. Conditions deteriorate into the night as heavier snow moves in.”

I’m always skeptical about blizzards and hurricanes until they live up to expectations. So often they breeze past without much trouble. Maybe not this time.

In 2050, will people still be talking about Snowzilla and calling it “The Blizzard of the Century?” Or will climate change bring us ever more amazing blizzards, piled higher and deeper?

Yes, we expect to be snowbound until Monday, maybe longer. No problem. I have a plan.

Sleep, eat, read. Repeat. Have a nice weekend.

— John

Blizzard of 2016, Snowzilla, From Virginia to New York, At Least

The Blizzard of 2016 is beginning to bury the entire Washington, D.C.-Baltimore urban area and surrounding Maryland and Virginia suburbs under a predicted 16 inches to two feet of snow.

One of the best sources for continuing updates on the storm is The Washington Post’s Capital Weather Gang. The Gang has nicknamed the potentially record-breaking snowstorm “Snowzilla.”

Snow began falling in my part of Maryland, just north of Washington, about 2 p.m. Friday afternoon. It will continue snowing all night, reaching a depth of up to 20 inches by dawn Saturday. Then the storm will continue all day Saturday, into Saturday night, possibly reaching depths of two feet to 30 inches. All this according to many weather forecasters. Continue reading

Florida Next Winter

Note: This post was first published Jan. 8, 2015 on one of my experimental blogs. Now it’s December 2015. The year has come and gone, and a new winter will begin Dec. 21. And I’m not in Florida yet. My excuse is that major life decisions take time. I’m working  on it. 

Baby, it’s cold outside!

Tuesday, we had snow and 26 degrees. Wednesday, it was 17 degrees in late afternoon, and down to 12 degrees by the time I got home from work, around 9:30 p.m. I live in the Mid-Atlantic states. The climate here is supposed to be relatively moderate.

Except when it’s not. Tonight, it’s cold as a witch’s tit.

The heater in my 216-square-foot apartment runs constantly all night. It can’t raise the temperature inside high enough to cut off.

Is it any wonder that every year about this time, my thoughts turn to Florida? I’ve only been there once. I flew into the Tampa airport to help rescue my brother (he was very ill) and drive him back to Maryland. I have very little direct experience of Florida, but I know a lot about it second-hand. (Update: Took a two-week road trip to Florida in June 2015 to research housing options. So I’ve made a little progress.) Continue reading