Episode-1884- Listener Feedback for 10-17-16 — 32 Comments

  1. I know a teacher that retired at 55. She has a mortgage free home. Now instead of staying out of the system to leave room for those that are coming into the system she grabs all the substitute teaching opportunities she can at the school she taught at. I asked her “why don’t you leave those positions for new teachers coming into the system. After all they need the work and experience. You’re comfortably retired and have a great pension”. Her answer was “I do it for the school because they want someone with experience”. Horse crap. She’s doing it because she is greedy and does not know what to do with herself.

    • Don’t worry. In four(4) years MAX the system is coming down (i.e. pensions, entitlements, HC, etc.)

      Do your own research.

    • Wow, there’s a LOT wrong with that comment.

      • If people want to work and apply their skills and experience instead of retiring and sitting on their asses until they die, GREAT!!! If they can make money doing it, good for them.

      • New teachers are not entitled to employment. They need to successfully market themselves as the best candidate for the job. If they can’t compete in terms of experience or cost, they shouldn’t be hired. That may mean they, like everyone else in the world, will have to relocate for a better opportunity, or make due with the opportunities in their area, even if it’s not what they want.

      • There are tons of opportunities to teach outside of academia. Do you know how hard it is to hire a college graduate in industry who can run a standard deviation? Half of them don’t even know what that is, and it’s remedial math for industry. Teachers are hired by many companies to offer vocational training (necessitated by the failure of academia to prepare kids for real world jobs). That, more than cost is why outsourcing is so prevalent in industry. People in India can do basic math better than many Americans with engineering degrees, lol. In the US, people don’t succeed because of Academia, they succeed in spite of it.

      • Substitute teaching positions don’t give anyone experience as an effective educator. That’s just babysitting experience. New teachers aren’t losing experience because they don’t get the substitute positions, they’re not getting a paycheck, that’s the real issue.

      • It’s not: New teachers don’t get paid because retirees are “greedy”. More like they didn’t provide a compelling reason to justify their own hiring. If they can persuade perspective employers in an interview they’ve prepared for, how will they inspire a room full of kids with a 10 second attention span? Qualification to do a job extends vastly beyond degrees and licenses. Just because a new teacher is qualified on paper, doesn’t mean they are the right person for the job. The only thing a Master’s in education guarantees is a butt-load of loan debt and the potential to be considered for a position. It’s not a promise of employment. If a teacher doesn’t understand that, then they aren’t intelligent enough to teach.

      • I agree with ILW here. She wants to work and get paid for that work and she’s “greedy”? Nah.

        One thing that I was taught a long time ago and still have a hard time practicing is to always assume positive intent in others until there is absolute evidence for the contrary.

        Someone who wants to work, regardless of having a pension or not, does not equate being greedy to me at all.

      • Substitute teaching doesn’t pay that much. I have a daughter who was homeschooling/full time mom going through a divorce and looking at teaching to support herself and her kids while figuring something else out she’ll make $60 a day before paying someone before and after school childcare.

        There is a shortage of good subs, several here have been fired for basically sleeping and ignoring the students. Not calling the retiree greedy. I agree it is more babysitting.

    • Well something isn’t right when she sits there in one breath and says what a shame it is because it is so hard for new teachers coming into the profession to find a position then in the other breath says she’s taking any opportunity they have. You can bet if the tables were turned and she was the new teacher she’d be complaining about the retired ones taking all the substitute positions. Maybe greedy was the wrong word and I sure don’t begrudge someone working and earning money.

      • understood. You know her better than me of course!

        I just hate when people call others greedy. My mom does this ALL the time, and the “greedy” people who she refers to are just hard working self starters. Yet she’s a huge Bernie supporter and wants more govt. assistance for sitting on her ass. But of course, SHE isn’t the greedy one. It’s those “rich” people. Rich is someone who actually works for a living.

  2. Jack, thanks for the answer about teaching PDCs. I pretty well thought that was the right answer based on what I learned but there was some mis-information out there getting in the way. And while our country used to be very limited government and then changed over the years, I didn’t know if that was happening here in permaculture as well. Thanks again and glad to have you back refreshed.

  3. I know this is unrelated to the show, but has everyone noticed that alot of prepper youtubers are going positively ape shit over the start of WWIII very soon? Is this utter crap? Because I reached ‘apocolyptic fatigue’ a long time ago (snake oil man Alex Jones and 2012 as examples). Thoughts?

    • Mike,
      You also left out Y2K, the Russia/Georgia conflict in 08-08, the Bird Flu crisis, the sub-prime crash of 08-09, the Fed interest rate changes, the North Korean nuclear game of footsie, and the evil clown holocaust of 2016. And the list goes on to a count of 24,814 different events.

      For recent evidence, a quick look at youtube vids will prove it with the time stamps. People have been screaming bloody murder about the end times since… well, pretty much the beginning of time. Nothing new under the sun, especially when it comes to fear peddling.

      • True, I’m so disgusted with news right now I couldn’t even listen to it today on my car stereo as part of my commute routine. Even “alt. media” is pissing me off.

  4. Greetings:
    Just a few years ago I got a look at a set of plans for a new high school about a one hour drive south of Nine Mile. $80,000,000. this school had a basketball gym, Volley Ball gym, Coral Room, Theater, wrestling gym, band room, library, football field, soccer field, baseball field, and (are you ready?) four classrooms.

  5. Jack, what you said at the end, “when you’re on your death bed you won’t say ‘I wish I would have kissed more ass’ you’ll say, ‘I wish I would have kicked more ass.'” Awesome man! I’m going to use that myself.

    • Now, I’m not posting that to defend this Zeman fella at all. I don’t think that high schools or colleges should have organized sports programs, and especially not coaches who are the highest paid person in the district.

      However, Jack, I have to push back on the myth that teachers just “get” 3 months off in the summer. I have a family of teachers, and during the school year, they work well over 40 hrs a week, and don’t get overtime. If you want to see someone put in a string of 70 hour weeks, just talk to most any teacher before the semester begins, before midterms, at the end of the semester, etc. etc. Also, they don’t get paid more over the summer. Usually they can take pay just during the year, or have it prorated out throughout the summer. So, if they’re getting “paid” in the summer, it’s because they’re getting paid less throughout the whole year, ie, having the district do their budget for them. I could name a dozen teachers in my life who have had summer jobs to make ends meet till the next school year starts. I think that stuff all evens out.

      There’s a huge problem with the amount of administrators to teachers and how much they’re being paid, and pension systems are going to come to a crossroads for all public institutions. But I think you’re cherry picking situations, taking them out of context, and then ranting on them. I know teachers who are making far less, with far more work, in districts where even YOU would be too afraid to walk down the street without wearing body armor, but I know enough to know that that isn’t standard across the board, either.

      • Just going to respond with cry me a fing river and HORSESHIT.

        Teachers likely work 180 days a year, they are paid a salary so it is paid out across the year. They are some of the highest compensated people by the hour relative to what they actually do in the free world.

      • You have to look at each teacher case by case, too bad there is not a system in place for the school districts to do such and pay accordingly.

        I know a middle school drama teacher who found she could reach many disadvantaged kids through theater. Helped them realize they could become so much more, that they did not have to look forward to a lifetime on the welfare system. She taught a full load of classes. After school, and Saturdays are when the play practices took place. She was not paid extra for her volunteer time. She did other volunteer work during summers. Many schools expect their teachers to put in a lot of time beyond classroom instruction.

        Then you have the high school drama teacher who plays movies most classtime while kids play on their cell phones and everyone gets an A. So many less hours not to mention no value to the students, yet same pay range.

        Or the city manager job whose salary was greatly increased when they hired an ex school district supervisor so he wouldn’t be taking a huge pay cut.

        I’ve decided the worst thing about these schools is that kids are forced to attend, many do not want to be there, security/police are hired making it more of a prison camp. How much less would we spend if only those who wanted to learn showed up and only those who wanted to teach, taught.

        It is very, very hard to hire great computer science, engineering type teachers. Schools still teach obsolete stuff. Teachers teaching programming are learning with their students. Those with great programming skills make several times more in the private sector. But you would not find someone with British literature expertise making more in the private sector. Yet their pay is often the same as a teacher. Same thing as those teaching aircraft mechanics, welding, drafting who could make so much more in the private sector.

        There are some amazing teachers in the system, more of which drop out because of stupid stuff administrators do.

  6. Imagine… possessions?
    Two years ago last July “The Sharing Economy” was hashed out on EconTalk with Russ Roberts and his guest Mike Munger.
    A definite re-write.
    I’m the parent of two successful Millennials and as foreign as no possessions are to me, they however live in the “Ûber” worldview.
    My thinking is for today’s little children be educated in “creativity skills” as opposed to “get a job and be a consumer” skills.
    -Classical Education
    -Waldorf/Steiner Schools

  7. Well, the PA state universities are probably going to strike for more money (7.25-17% increases), less cost of out of pocket health care (which well over 85% of them voted for when they voted for Obama) while everyone with an IQ over that of a cabbage knew was going to go up, I’m sure better retirement is on the table too.

    These people make $46000+ a year to a high of $112,000 or so a year. You mean to tell me they can’t pony up for their own trash like everyone else? Screw them. I’m sick and tired of every government employee feeling entitled to more out of the tax payer pocket because they are in “public service”. They make as much, or more in some cases than their private sector counter parts, and we save for retirement, suck up the costs of increased health care, etc. ”

    I hope they do strike, and get nothing.

  8. In your discussion about Teachers you said they get their Teacher pension and SS. In IL teachers do not pay into the SS system so they do not get it unless they have qualifying employment elsewhere.

    I am not a Teacher but wife is Lead Secretary at a Government School for a few more (2) years.

    • Thank you I didn’t realize that, I do know teachers getting SSI but I think they all had jobs other than just being teachers.

  9. In Texas teachers and other workers that are school district employees do not pay into social security as the state does not want the extra expense of the social security match. If a teacher has 10 years of earnings that do contribute to social security they are eligible to claim social security, but then they are penalized with windfall earnings penalty that reduces their social security so they are not double dipping. This also goes against them when they try to claim their spouses social.

    Some states do contribute to social security along with establishing a pension program. Texas is one of the 13 states that chooses not to.

    • Which makes things worse not better in my view. Because that means the district is keeping an 7.5% premium on every teacher, which should make their budgets more not less solvent.

      Frankly if all the districts did was match SSI and mandate the teachers pay what they would normally pay anyway and put these funds into government bonds teachers would do better than SSI in retirement and at that point if you want better save money like every other American.

  10. Regarding the question of .357mag vs .44mag in a rifle platform, the listener mentioned the advantage of the .357mag being able to shoot .38special for reduced power. Just wanted to point out that there is also a .44special that could be used for the same purpose in the .44mag rifle.

  11. I wanted to comment on one of the last things Jack said in this podcast. That was about telling an employer to screw off. Defining the moment instead of letting the moment define you is great for your character, but unless you are ready to walk away you are hurting nobody but yourself. The employer doesn’t care and isn’t affected more than a day or two. They delegate your responsibilities and then it’s business as usual. Leaving w/o a moment’s notice doesn’t cause the problems one could hope for if you’re trying to stick it to them.

    • First the ability to say screw off is NOT about them, it is about YOU. And it doesn’t mean screw it and walk out the door in that second, it might but usually it would be turning in notice. Your head is in the wrong place if you think it is about hurting the employer, VERY WRONG PLACE.

      Second as to it only being an inconvenience for a day or two, despite what I said above, it depends. It depends on how good you are and how hard you are to replace. How good the deal they had was as to your market rate, etc.

      If you mop floors or do basic book keeping you can be replaced like nothing flat. If you are in a company with 5 people and you leave and are of top caliber it isn’t easy to replace you. As always it depends. Loosing the best 20% of your workforce isn’t something you are only bothered by for a day or two.

  12. Thirty seven states have teacher retirement and pay into social security. So those employees of those states get teacher retirement and social security. Everyone I know does save for retirement beyond what the other benefits they have earned.

  13. My biggest personal hurdle with transportation as a subscription service is economically viability. I could see it being economically viable in major cities, basically a private version of public transport, with a slightly different infrastructure setup. In the town where I live, you could not operate a program like that competitive with what I spend on fuel and insurance for my current car unless you are getting a serious discount on what I spend right now. To make the comparison fair I am assuming that you don’t have any ongoing financing on the vehicle which I don’t either. To put some numbers on that I spend about $0.36 per mile right now to go back and forth to work. Assuming that you are going to need a full keystone markup over your per mile expenses for fixed costs your variable costs would need to be less than $0.18 per mile. Based on all of the information I have seen from the commercial drivers I know personally you can’t effectively operate a commercial vehicle at those prices here in my town, the vehicle insurance would kill you first. How fleet wide insurance would be structured on an autonomous vehicle fleet is a very interesting question. Now I am not figuring in tax breaks that the business gets that I don’t like depreciation because the first challenge in any business is balancing cash flow.

    • It won’t be a swift or universal conversion over to a subscription service, but it will happen.

      Obviously, you are correct, cities will be first. Many people in one location, not far to travel on average commutes, many of the people don’t own cars as paying for parking costs more than the car, gas and insurance combined. They rely on cabs and public transport now, so this is a welcome option for many. In rural communities, even if service is reliable, no company’s going to stage a fleet of vehicles within a 30 minute drive of your location. The guy in the city calls the car, it’s there in a minute or less. You would have to plan your trips further in advance. They would also stage fewer vehicles in rural areas, so if they’re all taken, it might be a while. Right now, the further away from the city you are, the more you’ll still need your own car.

      There will be opportunities for us country folk however. If you’re planning a trip, you don’t need to take your truck. Calling a car for a long drive may be worth it in gas savings compared to larger utility vehicles. Most of us in rural areas have a truck and a more fuel effecient car for different purposes. This would allow you to keep a big vehicle and only use the car as-needed without carrying payments and insurance on a light-use car.

      Another advantage would be to parents. This can kill the “soccer-mom in a minivan” trend. You can simply schedule a ride for the kids when they need to get picked up or dropped off. Most reservations against services like Uber for this sort of use come down to the driver… can you trust them. When there’s no driver, there’s less of a problem. Parental concerns about child safety will likely be at the forefront. Perhaps a parent can see the vehicle on a map in real-time, or even change it’s course remotely, mid-route if needed.

      Passenger identification will be an issue, but easily solved I suspect. You don’t want to call for a car and have someone else hop in and be carted away on your dime. An RFID card or some basic biometrics could solve that, and help parents know that their kids are getting in the correct car.

      I foresee reserved automated vehicle lanes on Interstates, as automated cars can travel at much higher speeds, and much closer together without as many safety issues. I’ve seen plans with car-train hybrids where they could even physically link multiple cars together, and utilize the combined momentum to achieve better fuel economy. The car drives you to a dedicated track (not suitable for standard cars) and is linked up with others.

      Many people work from home today over the internet. While the number of drivers is up, the number of daily commuters is down from what it was 10 years ago. A subscription service is likely very appealing to those people.

      Deliveries will be more common as well. Not many grocery stores deliver right now. They easily could, but paying a two dozen drivers makes it cost prohibitive without minimum purchase requirements which deter a lot of customers. This could do-away with pizza deliveries and even some parcel services. I imagine a garage door “docking system” of sorts. When you place an order for something, the automated vehicle is deployed. The transaction uses a one-time, expiring code to open this delivery door in your house. It then backs up to it and dispenses a standardized box. These could be insulated packages for hot and cold products. It’s more secure for medication deliveries, and would cut parcel theft dramatically. It would be easy to sense if the delivery bay was full, and alert you to clear it before the vehicle is even loaded and deployed. As these vehicles could double as transport and use existing roads, I think it’s better than amazon’s flying drone proposal. The vehicle could leave dispatch, pick up your package from a carrier, securely, then take on passangers between leaving the carrier and making the delivery. You could call a car to pick you up from work, but the car leaves two hours early, picks up your dry-cleaning first, then swings by KFC for a bucket of chicken, then grabs your kids from their after school activities and they arrive to pick you up just as your work shift ends. Those errands would be done for you, without requiring you to be present, saving you hours every week.

      There are other advantages as well. If there is an accident on the road, automated cars don’t slow down to look. In fact, they can be diverted to other roads in real-time, making the accident site safer for first responders and saving you from traffic jams. Likewise, in an emergency, they could be deployed to create road-blocks. If there’s a road that washes out in heavy storms, the automated cars could create a barricade to prevent manual drivers from entering into a hazardous area, unaware of the danger. If some idiot rips off a gas station and gets involved in a high-speed chase, police could call in empty vehicles to shut down roads, even run a Pit Maneuver (assuming the guy’s not in an automated car himself which I’m sure will have law-enforcement overrides).

      No more speeding or parking tickets 🙂 You are just a passenger after all. Insurance rates should be a lot lower, as the driving patterns are easily quantifiable. Insurance is all about risk assessment. Once the risk becomes static, the need for insurance is minimal. That means vehicle mechanics will become much more uniform. Predictability is the whole point of this, so cars will have similar top speeds, acceleration rates, and a uniformity is design makes servicing them much cheaper and easier. While there may be cosmetic differences, the underlying mechanisms will be largely the same.

      There is also no reason this needs to be limited to cars. Automated earth moving equipment already exists for mining. Advances in the tech with cars may mean you can get a driverless backhoe to dig your pool or a foundation based on a preprogrammed survey plan. It might even be included in your subscription. The same goes for boats. Monday you’re driving on your normal commute, the service sends the cheapest, most reliable option, whatever they have available, you don’t really car. Tuesday, you’re meeting a client at the airport and taking them out, so you call in a luxury town-car to take them out on the town. Wednesday you have a long drive to attend a conference, so you get an SUV for a bit of extra comfort and leg room. Thursday you’re helping your friend move, so you switch your preference to “Van” for a little extra carrying capacity. Friday, you’re blowing off work for a long weekend fishing. A truck pulls up equipped with a camper. You arrive at the campsite and get an automated boat which takes you to the best fishing spots on the river.

      Then you have integrations with other smart devices. How many people now have heart-rate monitors on their watches? It’s easy for such a device to tell if you have a heart attack or stroke. What if it happens while you’re riding in a car? Your smart watch could tell the car “Go to the hospital now”, even if you can’t. Meanwhile other cars are making way for you on the road, just as they would an ambulance. Any car you enter can get your music playlist from the cloud, so you always have your music playing in any car you ride in. No more cumbersome tapes and CDs, fiddling with radio presets, or trying to get the damned blutooth to sync. The car pulls up and your playlist is already playing. You tell the car “Let’s go get some sushi”, the car could display a menu while you’re on you way there, or put your name in at the desk if you don’t have a reservation. In fact, I see that become so pervasive it becomes invasive with advertising. But it might work to your advantage. The car is a neutral party. When you say “Drive me to the Black Angus Steak house”, the car may respond “You have an incoming offer for 10% off and immediate seating from Outback Steakhouse. This will add 4 minutes to your commute time. Would you like to change your destination?” It’s fertile ground for new marketing strategies.

      There is also the privacy concern… Your comings and goings will be recorded by the company who owns the fleet. They will be subject to sale for marketing purposes, and subject to subpoena. The privacy concerns stand on their own as self-evident. What worries me is the impact it will have on shit-writing for TV crime dramas. “We pulled your autocar records and established you went to the sorority house, then to home depot to buy plastic sheeting and a shovel, then out to the exact spot in the woods where we found the girl’s body”… “No I swear it was a disgruntled technician at the car service who’s framing me”…

      And then there’s horrible company names… “Auto-Auto”, or some random, made up word like “Bleeb”, as in “Wait right there, I’ll hop a Bleeb right over! Be there in 10 minutes.” It’s the narcissistic humor of would-be tech billionaires, they love using goofy words to make everyone who uses their products sound like idiots. You can’t “search” for something you have to “google” it. Can’t call a taxi, you need to “call an uber”. Not one of these companies will have the decency to call a car a “car”, it must be something ridiculous sounding, condescending etc. Or they’ll go with the obvious. I’ll bet the voice-assistant in the Mercedes is actually named “Mercedes”.

      So some things will get better, some will be just be trading current problems for newer problems. But I don’t see anything, aside from the privacy concerns which would really be show-stopper.

      • Robert and ILW,

        On remote/urban areas. It will go faster than you expect. The solution is simply scaled to the need. Now the truly remote, that will take a LONG time, but basic small town USA, it will go almost as fast as the cities.

        Take my home town of Pottsville, PA. Population 14K. Surrounded by numerous other tinier towns, Hamlets, Etc.

        Why take auto car service there when you could say go to DFW with 6.5 million people?

        Why? Because self learning mathematical algorithms. That is why. One of my former companies Cerion, did that very thing for cell phone providers. In doing so we were able for instance to tell AT&T your network in NYC is going to fall over in 6 months. All their top guys laughed, they knew better. It took them 4 months to realize we were right, the urgent call came in.

        With some adjustments we bought them an extra month and provided a solution to fix it. This is a real world actual thing that did happen.

        How could our programmers and mathematicians know what VERY GOOD PEOPLE at AT&T didn’t know about their own network, math is how.

        It didn’t matter that the AT&T tech and programmers absolutely did know more about mobile networks then our small team, we simply used data and math. We could have done it with anything, airlines, medicine, you name it. It is all the same.

        So companies who at one time scoffed at this, now have embraced it. So Ford for instance is the company who wants to really take this forward and deploy nation wide by 2021. They can take Pottsville and run it though a self learning math protocol, they likely are already doing this with the entire nation.

        They can be told exactly with precision the perfect numbers of vehicles for Pottsville to remain profitable. Pottsville simply needs less vehicles than Fort Worth, but the profit per vehicle damn well could be higher.

        Why, people in Pottsville DRINK in tiny bars like fish in a pool. The number one thing people are arrested for (other than dope) is DUI. most of them only need to go 2-5 miles to get home. Just one reason.

        Another is kids are broke in Pottsville, you don’t just get a car at 16 or even 18 in Pottsville. But kids want to be mobile.

        Those are off the cuff a true self learning algorithm would know everything including refueling time, competitive impact, maintenance impact, etc.

        People really are not getting it. Once this is in place Ford now or anyone can adapt production of vehicles (made mostly by robots) to demand. No more making 100,000 to many or too few cars. The computer will say of the 1.5 million cars you can produce this quarter send X to this place, Y to this place, etc. All based on need, scale and what is most profitable short and long term.

        If we could do it with a cellular network in 2005, it can be done with anything today. It is being done, that is why companies are committing to it already, the writing is on the wall and the math has already been done.

        • I agree with you. It’s a matter of perspective on how fast the tech will arrive. Depends on how we define “arrived”. We had cell phones at the consumer level by the 1980s, but it’s just in the last few years that every man, woman and child has their own and gets reasonable coverage. Availability of self-driving cars is just around the corner, but I think we’re still decades out from being fully integrated into our lives. Many of the most promising innovations only make sense once they hit a mile stone in adoption. Kid-friendly rider services for example may offset the school bus industry, first with automated busses, then with individual cars. But that can only happen after it becomes culturally acceptable to pack your kids into an automated vehicle and send them out without supervision. So school bus fleets start with automated busses, with a driver for extra safety, but they double as a babysitter. It’s fewer vehicles required to convert busses, and an easier transition for people. But somewhere in middle-school, little Billy gets added as a “child driver” on his parent’s family transport plan. Now he rides to school in automated car, decked out with an Xbox… Riding in style for a 12 year old, and becomes the envy of his friends. Little by little, the trend has to gain momentum. Who knows how that plays out in the long run. When all the kids have a dedicated ride to school, a teacher could update their itinerary for field trips. Maybe it leads to transient schooling. An observatory picks up extra state funding by hosting science classes on Tuesdays, so instead of reporting to school, the kids are delivered to the observatory instead. They can share an underutilized running track, pool or gymnasium for athletics with a local college instead of needing their own facilities to ensure it’s available to all the students. Coupled with internet learning, we may get to the point where schools as we know them don’t exist, (at least not as a physical building), but rather a series of destinations in a lesson plan.

          On the shadier side of things, this could enable crime or disgusting behavior. It’s not hard for the jealous husband or suspicious wife to monitor their spouse’s driving records to keep tabs on them (we can do this already with smartphones). Protesters want to make a scene at a political rally, so they send passangerless cars to obstruct traffic in and out of the venue, playing custom audio tracks over the speakers, a real-life DDOS of sorts. Or pack a car with explosives and send it off on it’s own into a crowded area… granted car bombers just park and walk away today, I’m not claiming there would be a rise in the number of incidents, but when done with new and unfamiliar technology, public reaction will be increased. Look at the Uber Shooter. He’s hardly the first one to drive around shooting people, but that was much bigger news because it involved the Uber service, pushing for legislation which was never needed in the past, and the services out-right ban in some areas. New tech scares people. Fear (and pandering to fear) lead to some insane laws and regulations which will shape the entire industry in ways we can’t predict.

          Stuff like that is a long way out still. It will be available soon, but mostly as a novalty. The real social impact will take decades for the public and lawmakers to sort out all the details, for manufacturers to perfect designs, and for infrastructure to change in a way that better facilitates the technology. How we use the tech in the next 10-20 years will be very different from how our kids and grandkids use it. It will take time for the impact on society to reach critical mass. Who knows what the long term effects will be. Perhaps we have startups that put stationary bikes in the vehicles and offer it as a safer alternative to cycling, lol. But as safety improves, there’s no reason these things can’t drive 150MPH+ on suitable roads, so that may be a viable service at that time. Maybe instead of compact vehicles with tiny seats like we have now, they go double-wide with them, and put in a full dining room. The car loads up your dinner at a restaurant, then takes you on a scenic tour as you enjoy your meal, timed to arrive at your next destination, a theater or concert just as you’re completing your meal. The low-profile sports car may become an antiquated design, and passenger comfort pushes the re-adoption of a carriage-style design where passengers face one another, instead of everyone facing forward.

          On the technical side, we have better fuel mixes than the standard 10% ethanol, 89 Octane mix. We don’t use them largely because of consumer dissatisfaction. Engines don’t “feel right” when driving on some of these mixes, so refineries don’t produce them on a large scale, and with no consumer availability, manufacturers don’t design engines to run better on them. When you take refueling out of the hands of the public, that bias goes away and we could actually get more efficient and cheaper fuels.

          I’m 100% on-board with this idea, it has so much potential to fundamentally change society. The promise of this type of tech feels right now like online message boards felt in 1994. You know it’s going to be a social and technological revolution, but’s it too early to know how it will really play out.

  14. I wouldn’t call my hometown rural, but it also isn’t a major urban center either. I could see this type of program working for people who have two car payments already, not me because my vehicles are already paid off. Given the average 15 to 20-year service life a modern vehicle I think the transition won’t be overnight like ILW pointed out.

    With regards to your views on automation Jack, I take more the pessimist view as compared to your optimist view of things with regards to the abilities of Weak AI to automate almost everything. The reason I say that is excluding decision trees, expert systems, and the linear algebra based equation solving that you mentioned in the AT&T example most of the commonly touted forms of solving everything AI like Neural Networks and Genetic Algorithms are really forms of applied curve fitting with all of the ensuing problems that entails. One of the biggest right now seems to be correlation being confused for causation. This particular problem is causing issues with pattern matching and other categorization tools right now. Genetic Algorithms are largely used to create Neural Networks so these issues also apply to them also.

    Researchers have reversed the internal data flow in these Neural Networks and found out that they may only use 2 or 3 of the criteria expressed in the model to actually make their decision of what category is a certain input. The reversals have lead to a serious question of can you even be sure that an item categorized as a say a picture of an orange isn’t actually a picture of orange tinted lemon for some of the simple examples and even worse problems on some of the complex examples. Since categorization by probability is such a crucial requirement for a lot of things we want weak AI to accomplish this calls for some caution in my point of view. At least for the tasks that require a heavy amount of probability based categorization to resolve.

    Decision trees and expert systems along with the equation solving models you mentioned are frankly poised to completely upset a lot of entry level and even mid-level jobs.