Author Archives: Robert Marsanyi

So Shelley and I are talking …

About age-related decline. She had a depressing get together with friends and they were all sharing stories of aging, none particularly uplifting. And last night there’s a thing on the radio about diabetes, and I understand that, genetically speaking, it’s probably something I’m going to be dealing with in a few years, and … on and on.

And lo and behold, next morning I’m reading this, and thinking that he’s onto something. Stuff shows up when you’re ready to pay attention, it seems.


The most thoughtful post I’ve read recently on these two apparently related (problem + solution) ideas is Vi Hart’s.

Her conclusion: AI is going to displace jobs, but it’s not what you think. UBI is a good idea, but not as a solution to AI. A better solution is based around fairly valuing people for the data they generate, which is fundamental to the successful operation of AI. Lots of good references to Lanier, et al.

Definitely worth the read if you’re interested in this. Andrew Yang, do you have a good response?

Facebook and news

I guess I don’t understand the hue and cry over Facebook. The company is clear that it doesn’t, and doesn’t want to, act as an editor for the variety of things that get posted, and it’s clear that given the volume of stuff they really can’t do a good job at it. Meanwhile, there are sources of information that do have editorial standards. As a consumer of information, I get to decide: do I want to get my information from sources I trust to vet and present it truthfully, or do I want to get it from anyone?

As a matter of fact, I do both. I read things on Reddit, but I approach them with much more skepticism than I do with my New York Times subscription or Richard Stallman’s blog. By the same token, I subscribe to Taran’s Free Jazz Hour, because of his curatorial excellence.

So, is the problem just that people have an unreasonable expectation of Facebook?

The workers who will lose their jobs under Medicare for All – People’s World

Had a good discussion with a friend the other night about Medicare for All, and played the devil’s advocate.  One of my bugbears is the speed of the transition from the mess we have now to the new plan; it seems it would necessarily involve laying off millions of insurance analysts, data entry people in hospitals and clinics, middle managers, all the paper-pushers who make up a large proportion of the medical care establishment, which is itself nearly 20% of the economy by GDP.

A good article on exactly this:

Source: The workers who will lose their jobs under Medicare for All – People’s World

As usual, it’s not the end goal that is destabilizing, it’s the sudden transition.  Just like the automation wave that’s happening now.

Knock Down the House

Go watch this documentary, it’s good. Primarily about Brand New Congress and it’s brethren, and the story of four of the candidates they pushed for the 2018 mid-terms. My friend Dave Winer likes it, too. I particularly liked the scene in NYC where the incumbent didn’t show up for a tiny town hall, probably because he was focused on national politics and sort of forgot who he was in Washington to represent.

I joined Brand New Congress way back, after Trump won. They solicit suggestions from their members for 100 or so possible candidates, no particular party affiliation but all regular schmoes agreeing not to take big money for their run (this is key), then they winnow the field down to 30 or so candidates and provide the organization required to make these first-timers competitive. In 2016, they won 8 or 9 House seats from the 30-odd they contested, including the AOC upset in Queens.

They’re going around again right now, looking for nominations. Go check them out here.