Hightower: The Next Wave of the Tech Revolution Will Wipe Out Millions of Jobs—Maybe Even Yours

From Alternet:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

It sounds like science fiction, but automation is closer than you think.

By Jim Hightower
October 12, 2017

Industrial automatons have been on the march for years, devouring the middle-class job opportunities of factory workers. But this time is different.

If you think your family’s future is safe because you don’t rely on factory work, think again. Rapid advances in AI have already turned yesterday’s science fiction into today’s brave new “creative destruction”—the constant churn of economic and cultural innovations that destroy existing ways of doing things. A network of inventors and investors, hundreds of university engineering and math departments, thousands of government-funded research projects, countless freelance innovators and the entire corporate establishment are “re-inventing” practically every workplace by displacing humans with “more efficient” AI robots.

This mass-scale deployment of robots has already ushered in a whole new world of work. It’s a CEO’s capitalist paradise, where the workforce doesn’t call in sick or take vacations, can’t file lawsuits, doesn’t organize unions, and is cheap.

As a result, robots are rapidly climbing the pay ladder into white-collar and professional positions that millions of college-educated, middle-class employees have wrongly considered safe, including:

Doctoring

Robots have long served as surgical assistants, but today’s robotic sawbones can be the primary slicer-dicers, operating with more precision than humans. Robots are now performing millions of surgeries every year. Moreover, advanced doc-bots increasingly diagnose and choose treatments based on their ability to digest thousands of scientific articles, medical reports, patient records, etc. In 2012, Vinod Khosla, billionaire co-founder of Sun Microsystems, noted: “Much of what physicians do … can be done better by sensors, passive and active data collections, and analytics.” His stunning conclusion was that computers will eventually replace 80 percent of what doctors now do.

Delivering the goods

While online retail giants have already eliminated hundreds of thousands of sales clerks by radically restructuring how consumers make purchases, AI systems are poised to gobble up the jobs transporting those products. The first big targets are America’s truckers, who number 1.8 million and have some of the few remaining, decent-paying jobs not requiring college degrees. Engineers at Google, Uber, et al. are rolling out prototypes for driver-less trucks that can crisscross the country without rest breaks, sleep, or days off.

Amazon

This corporate behemoth’s focus on workplace “efficiency” has made it the poster-child job disrupter in the retail economy, maximizing robots to displace as many humans as possible, as soon as possible. Their massive warehouses are already buzzing hives of robots plucking millions of products from miles of shelves to fill online orders. More are coming. While Amazon staged a PR show in August around its nationwide “Job Day” event to hire 50,000 human workers, it has been expanding its current swarm of full-time robots. In 2012, it bought an artificial intelligence developer, now named Amazon Robotics, to breed its own line of androids, and by August had added another 55,000 of these creatures to its 100,000-strong warehouse workbot-force. Amazon is also pushing regulators to let it replace delivery workers with drones and is testing a chain of “Amazon Go” convenience stores “staffed” almost entirely by AI systems. And it just swallowed Whole Foods grocery chain, loudly promising lower prices but whispering the method: replacing clerks, stockers, et al. with robots.

Continue reading at:  https://www.alternet.org/labor/robots-taking-over-jobs

Donald Trump is F*cking Crazy | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

Pope Blasts Gender-Confirmation Surgery

Sex Reassignment Surgery or GCS doesn’t make gender a choice.  I helps make being born trans more bearable.

From The Advocate:  https://www.advocate.com/religion/2017/10/05/pope-blasts-gender-confirmation-surgery

Pope Francis today denounced gender transition procedures, saying they make gender a choice.

By Trudy Ring
October 05 2017

Pope Francis’s remarks today opposing “the biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference” show that he doesn’t understand the situation of transgender people, say LGBT Catholic groups.

The pope made the comments while addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly in Rome. “The biological and psychical manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows us to perceive as completely available to free choice — which it is not! — thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nurtures the alliance between man and woman and which renders it creative and fruitful,” he told members of the academy, which was created by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to deal with bioethical concerns.

“By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as ‘manipulation’ and a ‘free choice’ Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be,” said a statement issued by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which works for LGBT equality within Catholicism. “Gender is more than a biological reality.  It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities. A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities.”

DignityUSA, another LGBT Catholic group, released a similar statement, saying in a press release, “Pope Francis’s statement denouncing technologies that support gender confirmation demonstrates the pontiff’s tragic ignorance on the challenges faced by transgender people, and puts this population at risk of increased discrimination and violence.”

In the release, DignityUSA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke added, “The reality is that transgender people experience tremendous stress in trying to live as who the world believes them to be. It takes incredible strength and commitment for them to risk living as who they are. Not all transgender people can or want to access technological supports that confirm their true genders. Throughout history, we have seen our transgender neighbors use whatever tools are available to live in their truth. Technology that makes this easier should be embraced as a blessing.” She noted that Francis’s words affect trans people’s lives in many ways. “Here in the U.S., where one in six hospital beds is in a Catholic hospital, it is difficult for transgender people in some areas to get the respectful, informed, appropriate care that they need,” she said.

Far from denying the significance of gender, DeBernardo said, “Transgender people actually acknowledge the importance of gender since they recognize how important it is for them to live as their authentic gender, not by the gender assigned to them at birth which was based on the minimal evidence of external genitalia. … Their quest for authenticity is a quest for holiness. They seek to ‘honor the care’ of the identity and life that they have been given. To say that transgender people are acting against the plan of God is actually itself a rejection of God’s plan for these sacred human beings.”

Complete article at:  https://www.advocate.com/religion/2017/10/05/pope-blasts-gender-confirmation-surgery

Vietnam antiwar movement had a bigger voice than portrayed in PBS documentary

From The San Francisco Chronicle:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

By Steve Ladd
October 3, 2017

The PBS series “The Vietnam War” presents a devastating history of the war, showing it to be ill-conceived and a major human tragedy for both America and Indochina. It clearly validates that the peace movement was right to oppose the war and call for the withdrawal of American troops and air power.

But, despite that, in its 18 hours, the series falls seriously short in how it portrays the peace movement. While segments do present some major antiwar events, the series misses its full scope, significant impact, and lessons for today. In the last episode of the series, the producers chose to include two antiwar voices who both apologize for their actions and the movement, rather than take credit for turning the public against the war.

I was part of that historic movement, starting in 1968 as a freshman at UC Berkeley. My opposition to the war led me to file for conscientious objector status when I registered for the draft at 18.

When draft resistance leader David Harris and others spoke at UC Berkeley in 1969, I was challenged to take a further step: refuse to cooperate with the Selective Service System in an act of outright resistance. He and others were traveling and speaking around the country to build support for a mass draft resistance movement that would make it harder to continue fighting an unjust and unnecessary war.

Harris already had refused to be inducted and was facing several years in federal prison.

It wasn’t an easy decision for me, considering the possibility of prison.

But I returned my draft card because contributing to the growing draft resistance movement was a powerful way to help end the ongoing slaughter in Vietnam.

The draft resistance movement grew. Nearly 200,000 young men were cited for draft violations, 25,000 sent to trial, and 4,000 sent to serve an average of two years in federal prison. Eventually, the scale of draft resistance made it harder for President Richard Nixon to escalate troop levels. He ended draft calls in 1972.

The courage of draft resisters also inspired Daniel Ellsberg to risk life in prison and release what became known as the Pentagon Papers, revealing the secrets and lies of the war, another critical factor in turning the public against it.

Despite the significant impact of draft resistance, there is nothing about it in the PBS series. Instead, the series features two men who evaded the draft by going to Canada. But draft resisters were not draft evaders. Resisters publicly refused to be drafted and were willing to face the consequences. The series falls short in several other ways to portray accurately the multifaceted peace movement, including how grassroots lobbying in the early 1970s led to Congress finally cutting off war funding in 1973.

Continue reading at:  http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Vietnam-antiwar-movement-had-a-bigger-voice-than-12250664.php

Think Religiously Motivated Discrimination Can’t Affect You? Guess Again.

From The ACLU:  https://www.aclu.org/blog/lgbt-rights/transgender-rights/think-religiously-motivated-discrimination-cant-affect-you-guess

By James Esseks, Director, LGBT & HIV Project
October 4, 2017

Aimee Stephens knows first-hand how religiously-motivated discrimination can wreck your life. Aimee worked as a funeral director for a Michigan funeral home for six years. Aimee is a woman who is transgender, but for six years she went to work presenting as a man, while she struggled to be able to live her life as a woman. When she could hide no longer, she came out to her boss. Two weeks later, he fired her, saying “this is not going to work out.”

The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on Aimee’s behalf, seeking a remedy for the funeral home’s blatant sex discrimination. The funeral home didn’t deny that it fired Aimee because she was going to present as a woman. Instead it said that federal law allows it to fire her because of the funeral home owner’s religious belief that it’s a sin to transition from one gender to another.

A federal judge in Detroit agreed with the funeral home and dismissed the EEOC’s suit. The judge ruled that the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) permitted the funeral home to use to justify discrimination against transgender employees. That court’s view, if allowed to stand, would carve out an exception to federal civil rights laws for any employer with religious beliefs that support discrimination. And it could authorize not just anti-transgender discrimination, but discrimination based on race, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation – in short, all civil rights protections that are basic guarantees of equality in America.

The ACLU, representing Aimee, is before the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit today challenging the trial court ruling. While the freedom of religion is a core American value that’s protected by the Constitution, religious freedom doesn’t give anyone the right to discriminate.

Aimee Stephens’s case is just one example of how those opposed to LGBT rights are seeking to use religion as an excuse to discriminate. Later this fall, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in another religious exemptions case, Masterpiece Cakeshop, Ltd. v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. In that case, a bakery outside Denver refused to sell a wedding cake to a same-sex couple, Dave Mullins and Charlie Craig citing the bakery’s religious objections to gay people getting married. The Supreme Court is set to decide whetherthe bakery has a constitutional right to discriminate based on its religious beliefs and its artistic freedom.

Anti-LGBT advocates are also trying to use religion to deny people health care. In a Texas case, health care providers have challenged federal rules that bar discrimination in access to health care. They argue that such rules violate their religious freedom in requiring them to provide health care to transgender people. And in California, a Catholic hospital refused to perform a hysterectomy on a transgender man, arguing that its religious beliefs justify turning the patient away.

In the past, courts have largely rejected attempts to use religion to discriminate. But our opponents haven’t given up. We need to fight back, for Aimee Stephens and for LGBT people all across the country.

What Mike Pence’s Cynical Anthem Stunt Cost | The Resistance with Keith Olbermann

Moving Trans History Forward Conference

KENT MONKMAN
Conference Keynote: “Trans as the New Frontier”
Moving Trans History Forward
March 22-25 2018

The Moving Trans History Forward Conference is proud to announce that Kent Monkman will deliver our Saturday evening keynote address, “Trans as the New Frontier.” This event is also open to the public (entrance by donation).

WHEN: Saturday evening, March 24th, 2018.

WHERE: David Lam Auditorium UVic

HOW MUCH:  FREE for all conference registrants. Open to the public by donation.

Kent Monkman uses brilliant artistic talents and a sharp wit to explore Indigenous and anti-colonialist perspectives on Canada’s History. Monkman is a Canadian Two-Spirit artist of Cree ancestry who works in painting, film/video, performance, and installation. Monkman has had solo and group exhibitions and performances at numerous prestigious Canadian and international museums, festivals, galleries, and other venues. Monkman’s works are exhibited in important collections including the National Gallery of Canada and the Smithsonian’s Museum of the American Indian, among others.

Conference registration will open January 2018.  Call for Papers will be announced shortly.  Please consider attending and submitting a proposal.