1. Joi in a joyless world
- Virtual love The sex robot industry is using AI to create the female spouse ‘of the future’, loving companions who never deny or constrain male desires.
In fact the aim is to “bring greater satisfaction than human interaction” without the interruptions that are apt to come from real people, and the virtual one can be turned on or off at the flick of a switch.
When the main character K of the dystopic movie Bladerunner 2049 came home to his lonely quarters, he was able to switch on his female companion Joi, a hologram who nevertheless has the substance of a human and was able to light a cigarette and engage in any kind of sex that met his fancy, he being a replicant who was so real that he had ‘human’ feelings.
There were plenty of spectral-looking holograms in the film, but this is a shot of the ‘real’ Joi:
That, of course, is not what we saw with the technology of the big screen in the movie theatre, which looked real, but not real. Go here for how they did it.
There is discussion here and here about the role of Joi in the film, but lonely men, especially in Japan, but may not have to wait 30 years to bring home their own “robot wife”:
- If they can stump up the $2,700 fee, they can install “Hikari” into their bedrooms. The “wife of the future” creator Minori Takechi claims 300 men have already put in their orders for the Hikari prototype.
Takechi believes the owner’s relationship with a robot wife could one day “develop into love.”
Seems there is a ready market for this kind of product in Japan where according to a 2011 government survey, 45 per cent of Japanese men aren’t interested in finding a girlfriend.
Virtual women are always submissive and the basic assumption is that men can meet their needs in this part of human experience by satisfying their wants, while capitalists make a heap of money.
Beyond sad, really.
2. NSW rail workers lose the right to strike
- Unions have warned that the right to strike is “very nearly dead” after the Fair Work Commission’s deputy commissioner, Jonathan Hamberger, ruled that Sydney’s rail workers were unable to take protected strike action in part because of the threat to the economy.
Hamberger agreed with the government’s argument that the Rail, Tram and Bus Union’s protected action should not go ahead because it would pose too great a risk to Sydney’s economy and safety.
He ordered the suspension of both the 24-hour action slated for Monday and the continuing overtime ban, saying it was “threatening to endanger the welfare of part of the population” and “threatening to cause significant damage to the Australian economy or an important part of it”.
- the right to withdraw labour is a fundamental human right, denied to most Australian workers most of the time.
Industrial and workplace law specialist Professor Shae McCrystal says:
the interpretation of the section of legislation concerning ‘welfare’ being used as a justification constitutes a “huge lowering of the bar” in terms of workers having the right to go on strike.
She said that what was left was the right to beg.
Drivers are working overtime and extra days to the point of exhaustion.
On latest news, a new offer may be accepted, but the unions are not happy about how the rules are stacked.
3. When did humans leave Africa?
Apparently genetics tells us, about 60 to 80,000 years ago. However, a stunning new find of a jawbone in Israel dates from 180,000 years ago.
However, the genetic studies remain what they are, and we don’t know whether these early arrivers died out or went back to Africa.
In my humble non-specialist opinion, the genetic bottleneck theory associated with the Toba supervolcano explosion has not been definitively resolved.
4. Is free trade free?
One of the issues troubling those who actually ask questions about ‘free’ trade deals is that routinely, it seems, they change intellectual property laws and introduce something called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’ (ISDS) mechanisms, whereby an international firm can effectively sue a state if the state introduces environmental, health-safety or other laws that disadvantage their product. States can legislate to protect their people or environment, but not on the precautionary principle. Potential damage that might seem obvious must be scientifically proven to exist.
The state can still keep the product out, but only if they pay a penalty in lieu of the profits forgone.
Disputes are settled by a panel of trade lawyers in secret and are not subject to judicial or legislative review.
Trade deals are almost never evaluated by competent independent bodies, and when they are they don’t seem to scrub up as well as the rhetoric would have us believe. In 2010 the Productivity Commission took a look at regional and bilateral deals:
- The Commission has received little evidence from business to indicate that bilateral agreements to date have provided substantial commercial benefits.
AFTINET, run by a public interest law group, has monitored trade issues for decades. Here’s their general position on the Transpacific Partnership:
- The TPP is bad for:
- Democracy. It allows global corporations to sue governments over health, environment and public interest laws. Read more.
- Health. Medicines will be more expensive because of stronger monopoly rights for pharmaceutical companies to charge higher prices for longer. Read more.
- Workers. Contains no real protection for labour rights or migrant workers, and removes labour market testing. Read more.
- The environment. Lacks enforceable commitments to key international agreements, does not mention climate change and allows corporations to sue over new environmental laws. Read more.
- Internet users. Locks in strong rights for copyright holders at the expense of consumers and internet users. Read more.
- Despite all the downsides of the deal, economists and the World Bank predicted it would not deliver promised jobs and growth. (Emphasis added)
Here is their latest news and analysis on the TPP deal.
The ACTU has been locked out of the negotiations, while the NFF is clearly inside the tent. Good luck to the farmers, because trade is often grossly unfair to them. A pity about the rest of us.
Meanwhile, I’m not sure Trump has been smart in making Americans pay more for washing machines and solar panels.