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At my house pillow talk includes the future of driver-less cars and basic income.

What will Edie do? Maybe she can be a lawyer, we will always need humans to argue on our behalf right? A writer? no computer can add soul to content like a human can — this is my thought process, as the idea of the inevitability of large swaths of jobs one day being completely automated by the time our two-year-old is of age. As we all know, self-driving cars are here, you can sign up on Tesla’s site to order one right now. Uber and Apple are also testing out driver-less cars as well. There are legalities still at play in many states, but the writing and money savings are on the wall. On the consumer level the  idea of self-driving cars is incredibly sexy to someone like me because I hate driving and have actually dreamt of self-driving cars since my college years when I would have to make the 7+ hour drive home between semesters.

But as convenient as the idea is for my car to one day be able to parallel park itself, it would be very short-sighted if we thought driver-less personal cars were a period to the conversation instead of a comma.  If we can have driver-less cars, why not driver-less trucks? The implication of no longer having to hire drivers to operate trucks to ship goods cross-country (rough estimation of 8 million jobs) would cast a major blow to our economy. Depicted below is a breakdown of the most common job by state.

job-in-each-state
Image Source: NPR

Major blow.

Yes, I think driver-less cars much like the internet will be a mainstay someday.  But why stop at driver-less cars/trucks? What about robots instead of surgeons? You wanna talk about steady hands and all the world’s knowledge readily and instantaneously available?

—  All this to say, I believe it’s not too far-fetched of an idea, to think we could one day innovate ourselves out of jobs.

Before you come at me with “but Tracey, what about the Great Industrial Revolution in the 1800’s?– won’t we just adapt?”. My theory is that some of us — those skilled in  computer programming, will still have thriving careers but a large portion of us particularly the last threads of the middle-class might find themselves without  full-time opportunities.

With robots at the  helm, there wouldn’t  be a need to pay for benefits, wages, 401k contributions, raises etc. basically everything it cost employers to hire and maintain employees. This is where the idea of basic income seems to make more and more sense to me.

Enough money so that poverty would cease to exist in America and that social safety net programs would vanish overnight. Families could have the flexibility to have one parent stay home with their children and  we could end world hunger, and finally have peace in the middle east 🙂 …alright alright  I know unicorns don’t fart glitter.. one can dream though right?

I have more questions than answers at this point, but the more we invent and streamline work the harder it becomes to justify keeping jobs around for the sake of keeping them around.

What do you think?

Food for thought.

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Social Justice, Tech, and Privacy.

About a week and a half ago, something revelatory transpired in the intersection of social justice and tech. It was quiet but the implications spoke volumes.

It was revealed that a little-known company called Geofeedia   was giving their clients such as  police departments and law enforcement agencies, real-time information about users — shady,  but not news. But it was further revealed that it has in fact provided user data such as location and even facial recognition during major protests, such as in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore — This is news. You might be asking yourself, but who cares?  I don’t use Geofeedia, why does this matter? It matters because it is more than likely that by engaging in your favorite social media network, you have given them the keys to your internet front door.

Welcome to the new Wild West.

Democracy and Privacy policy, as it pertains to the internet, is the new wild west. As you post and live stream moments in hopes of connecting with others, you may be now inadvertently implicating yourself and setting yourself up to be arrested and even jailed despite the availability of privacy settings. We’ve all been warned about the perils of oversharing on your social media accounts and the importance of privacy controls when it comes to maintaining your professional brand. But being arrested or jailed  for exercising  your First Amendment rights on your personal platform feels sneaky and  backward. The new wild west is created when laws and regulations can’t keep pace with the innovation of technology, and when people by and large  blindly sign away their rights via “privacy & terms of use” while downloading the latest.  As the internet and software continue to eat the world, the vulnerability gap grows larger and larger. And here’s why : social media and the internet,  like it or not, has come to be an extension of your home, your front door if you will. We’ve all succumbed to feeling safe and secure in our “space” and  with the connections and friends we’ve allowed in.

The internet is not going anywhere and the platforms for which we engage are constantly changing, VR anyone? How do we ensure that with the freedom to engage with anyone and everyone that the boundaries of our privacy are not encroached upon?

How do we stay vigilant and maintain safety in the new wild west?

** Back to the story at hand, giant social networks (ie. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) that were feeding Geofeedia the geo-location of users severed ties. Immediately issuing statements.

“[Geofeedia] only had access to data that people chose to make public,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “Its access was subject to the limitations in our Platform Policy, which outlines what we expect from developers that receive data using the Facebook Platform.”

Food for thought.