Tag Archives: Kurzweil

New Future Careers (A Slightly Cynical Overview)


For quite some time, I’ve been reading a number of reports, white pages, books, blogs and whatnot about the future state of work. I’ve come to the conclusion it’s pretty much a crap shoot however you look at it. And so, like many others, I’d figure I’d give my insight into the future career development trends.

It used to be that there would always be jobs that could be considered ‘safe’ and ‘stable’. No more. With the constant and exponential advance of technology now becoming so prevalent, what were once considered safe careers are going to require – at the very last, some major revamping on some folks part, while other careers are going to – within the next 10 or 20 years – simply disappear. So how can you tell where things are going to go? What’s a good job to have now that’ll be there later on? Kind of a silly question when you think about it, especially when you consider that on average, a person can expect to hold anywhere from 3 to 5 CAREERS, let alone more than a dozen jobs – at a minimum – given today’s economy.


Want to know what jobs are really going to be hot? Where you should look to catch the next wave? Look no further and read here!

Let’s look into the crystal ball to see the future (we’re talking about 10 to 20 years; any more and it gets tricky).

And please, try not to laugh too hard, get shocked or disgusted: this is merely a ‘suggested listing. Take it or leave it as you please.
Professional Assassin

It’s a rough and tumble world: hiring somebody who can make ‘incidents’ look like accidents will truly be irreplaceable. This kind of work can be applicable to both the private and public world. Fort example, as elections become more demanding and costly, removing pesky political candidates seeking ‘meaningful’ change can be irritating if not upsetting to your electoral base; make it look like a heart attack or a car accident.

Similarly, working for that promotion can be so much easier when your competition suddenly chokes on their morning muffin or has that sudden heart attack at their local coffee place. When you think about it, if you could ‘eliminate’ your competition at the cost of a year’s salary knowing that you’ll be able to get it all back – and more – within two years (and depending on your career track, maybe even move up higher in the food chain) maybe the ROI (Return On Investment) is something to consider. Just remember to ask yourself if you can live with yourself afterwards and deal with the morality later on.

Unlikely to happen? Well, think again. Statistically speaking the U.S. national homicide solution rate is around 50%. In others words, on average, 1 out of 2 homicides goes unsolved. The figure varies from start to state, so before you think that folks are going to get caught – well, yes, there’s always a good chance as not everyone can go out and commit a ‘successful’ murder: but surprisingly, the odds do favor folks more than many realize: http://anepigone.blogspot.com/2013/01/rates-of-unsolved-murder-by-state.html

And please spare me your shock: assassins over the course of the centuries have often been employed and extensively used. In some time periods, it was often de’rigor (witness the Italian Renaissance of the 1400’s) as assassins were not so much used just for killing, but also for defense against possible options of entry, methods of poisons or other dangers. Sometimes the best defense is hiring those who know the inside tricks: who better to know a professional than another professional?

Law Enforcement / Criminal Intelligence

With the sudden expansion of assassinations, who else better to solve murders than a detective?

But criminal intelligence will be much, much more than just detectives solving crimes. With the rising influence of the Internet and crimes being committed long distance and across boundaries, having an innate sense of patterns coupled with a strong knowledge of the law and technology / database processes will be fundamental in this growing job field. Having good shoes can always help, but more and more it will more a matter of professionals able to research, review and seek out information online and from a wide variety of sources (in addition to good old fashion direct contact) – and often all done at the convenience of a computer terminal.

The good news what with folks turning more and more to computer usage and the growth of the Internet, law enforcement agencies are better able to share information and with some good old fashion sleuthing and persistence, you could be one of the good guys who gets the bad guys.

Research Analyst

Along the same lines, Research Analysts will become very useful for journalists, attorneys, people seeking electoral office or other gig level professionals. Knowing the dirt on your opponents, seeking market opportunities and potential patents and licenses to exploit will be invaluable in the coming 21st century. Likewise, publications seeking to do a story will need background and having somebody on hand to do just that – whether it’s the office intern trying to make a name for themselves.

Social Media Expert

You are only as good as your reputation and word – and given the prevalence of the Internet, how you appear on Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. ultimately impacts your business and your professional standing. Having the expert(s) on hand to help guide you through the jungle of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) will become important as there are a number of routines, services / website worth focusing on (and others that are on the way out) as well as ‘tricks’ you need to know to have a positive impact. The good news is that SEO’s are becoming more common, and with that, more career opportunities are starting to open up.
Writers – Creative

Nothing can readily replace good, creative writing (but then again, there’s also television, so it evens out). Fact is, the most despised, abused and neglected part of many marketing, film or other work involving a mediocrum of creative work is that of writing. Still, if you can live at shit wages and live the life of a professional dealing with routine neglect and abuse, there’s a future in here – somewhere, I’m sure but don’t ask me; I still haven’t found it.

Artists – varied

Ditto for graphic artists, although now it helps to have a good computer / graphic design background if you’re going to have any sort of ‘serious’ career (although I’m not sure a lot of artists are going to be happy over this. I sometimes wonder what would Picasso do with an Apple,…?).

Alternate Energy Professionals

Whether you’re a salesman selling solar panels or a journalists writing about new energy trends, having a good knowledge of alternative energy systems will be a crucial skill in the coming decades. Knowing the cost effectiveness of various energy processes, how they actually work and where each energy system would be most effective and applicable will be a vital role throughout the world, regardless if you’re looking into credential or commercial applications. many lesser developed nations are turning to alternative energy solutions owing to the greater return on investment that alternative energies offer and the ease in which they could be installed. In some instances, military forces worldwide are looking into this function as operations become more far-flung and with rising logistical challenges, having a self-sufficient force in the field can offer a serious tactical advantages.


As the population grows and ages, the need for professional care takers will be needed, whether at the home (for the few select ones) or for larger medical institutions. This will become even more acute as universal health are grows and service demands rise. In addition, rising violence in some locations may offer greater need for emergency staff capable of assistance that could save lives, especially with those assassins and crazed morticians running about.

Speaking of morticians,…

Somebody has to bury the bodies; as the population grows so too does the demand for burials. Granted, it ain’t your grandfather’s mortuary service anymore and morticians are now being franchised ala McDonald’s, but still the skills will come into ever greater demand in the coming decades. Thing is, however, it’ll likely evolve into a ‘cut throat’ business so I’d be careful about hanging out with morticians after work.

Non-Profit Professionals

As governments become more and more stretched to the limits of spending, social gaps are growing and with that, having the skill set of non-profit management will become more prevalent and necessary.

Non-profits increasingly carry the load of many governmental agencies, as governmental agencies increasingly sub-contract out what normally would be covered by governments. Thus, having the ability to fund raise, effectively manage and maintain cost-effective non-profit service and keeping those costs down will be vital skills to have in the continuing century as public service weakens even as public needs continue to rise.


In today’s world, security is becoming paramount and possessing the skills to kill (aside form being that of an assassin) will become ever more needed. Whether you’ll wind up with a Blackwater (now known “Academi”) subsidiary or working as a security guard for some corporate entity, having muscle on hand is always good for some folks as there are a lot of weird and dangerous people out there (perhaps including assassins or hungry morticians).
Jobs that are on the way out:

While it is good – if not important – to understand programming, owing to the number of programmers found throughout the world the cost/value ratio of programming is dropping. To be certain, it will always be vital to have on hand good / expert programmers, but increasingly, as with any over-flooded market, having too much of a skill set is bound to thin things out and thus, unless you’re really good with solid experience, changes are you’re going to find it hard to get by on just being a programmer alone.

Add to this how many HR departments really don’t have a clue what it is they’re looking for (Java script? Are you f**king serious?) along with now many programming jobs being simply ‘off shored’ for pennies to the dollars (witness the story of the gentleman who offshored his work to programmers while still collecting his salary and making a profit in the process – that is, until his HR found out and gave him a test for his programming skills, which he failed and was promptly fired).

Financial Analyst

For those of you who despise Wall Street and their minions of money, you can cheer; soon, many of these so-called financial whizzes will find themselves on the receiving end of pink slips. What’s replacing them, however, may be even more scary: computers.

Wall Street is fast becoming a land of algorithms and high-speed / power processing. Much of what financial analysts do today on Wall Street can – and in many instances already are – being replaced. If you’re a financial analyst reading this, better sharpen up your resume or learn about computers while you still can. So now we can look forward to getting endless emails about potential investment opportunities as you face your home foreclosure.


Increasingly, attorney’s are a dime a dozen. Granted, nothing can replace a ‘good attorney;’ but as computers and advanced legal services go online with computer algorithms, you’re really not going to need as many attorneys to conduct legal review and/or research. Utilization of the law requires much more than just key words or phrases; legal analysis is a tricky realm to navigate but increasingly, it’s being mapped out and navigated (some have even suggested that in the coming 10 to 20 years, it may be a big as nearly 9 out of 10 lawyers today will no longer find work!). Word to the wise: IBM’s Watkins (http://www.ibm.com/cognitive/outthink/).

In time, the cost of having access to an advanced legal service is going to be more cost-effective than maintaining legal experts on staff. Soon, even many in-house secretaries and paralegals may soon themselves facing new and uncertain futures owing to templates and online services replacing much of what is being done in-house, along with Siri-like secretarial assistants and document imaging / file management systems. Still, somebody has to make the coffee and clean the office dishes (wait a minute; that’s why we have unpaid interns!).
Knowing the direction of trends and where things are going is something that the graduating class of 2025 (if not sooner) had better keep in mind as clearly things aren’t what they used to be. Change doesn’t have to be bad; just to be willing to see change and to adjust for it is, as Charles Darwin pointed out in his “Origins of Species”, necessary for survival.

That and a twisted sense of humor.

Google and Neural Networks: Now Things Are Getting REALLY Interesting,…


Back in October 2002, I appeared as a guest speaker for the Chicago (Illinois) URISA conference. The topic that I spoke about at that time was on the commercial and governmental applicability of neural networks. Although well-received (the audience actually clapped, some asked to have pictures taken with me, and nobody fell asleep) at the time it was regarded as, well, out there. After all, who the hell was talking about – much less knew anything about – neural networks.

Fast forward to 2014 and here we are: Google recently (and quietly) acquired a start-up – DNNResearch – whose primary purpose is the commercial application and development of practical neural networks.

Before you get all strange and creeped out, neural networks are not brains floating in vials, locked away in some weird, hidden laboratory – ala The X Files – cloaked in poor lighting (cue the evil laughter BWAHAHAHA!) but rather high level and complicated computer models attempting to simulate (in a fashion) how we think, approach and solve problems.

Turns out there’s a lot more to this picture than meets the mind’s eye – and the folks at Google know this all too well. As recently reported:

Incorporated last year, the startup’s website (DNNResearch) is conspicuously devoid of any identifying information — just a blank, black screen. 

That’s about it; no big announcement, little or no mention in any major publications. Try the website for yourself: little information can be gleaned. And yet, looking into the personnel that’s involved we’re talking about some serious, substantial talent here:

Professor Hinton is the founding director of the Gatsby Computational Neuroscience Unit at University College in London, holds a Canada Research Chair in Machine Learning and is the director of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research-funded program on “Neural Computation and Adaptive Perception.” Also a fellow of The Royal Society, Professor Hinton has become renowned for his work on neural nets and his research into “unsupervised learning procedures for neural networks with rich sensory input.”

So what’s the fuss? Read on,…

While the financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, Google was eager to acquire the startup’s research on neural networks — as well as the talent behind it — to help it go beyond traditional search algorithms in its ability to identify pieces of content, images, voice, text and so on. In its announcement today, the University of Toronto said that the team’s research “has profound implications for areas such as speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding.”

This is big; this is very similar to when Nicolai Tesla’s company and assets / models (along with Tesla agreeing to come along) got bought out by George Westinghouse – and we all know what happened then: using Tesla’s Alternating Current (AC) model, the practical development and application of large-scale electrical networks on a national and international scale took place.

One cannot help but sense that the other Google luminary – Ray Kurzweil – is somehow behind this and for good reason; assuming that we’re talking about those who seek to attain (AI) singularity, neural networks would be one viable path to undertake.

What exactly is a neural network and how does it work? From my October 2002 URISA presentation paper:

Neural networks differ radically from regular search engines, which employ ‘Boolean’ logic. Search engines are poor relatives to neural networks. For example, a user enters a keyword or term into a text field – such as the word “cat”. The typical search engine then searches for documents containing the word “cat”. The search engine simply searches for the occurrence of the search term in a document, regardless of how the term is used or the context in which the user is interested in the term “cat”, rendering the effectiveness of the information delivered minimal. Keyword engines do little but seek words – which ultimately becomes very manually intensive, requiring users to continually manage and update keyword associations or “topics” such as
cat = tiger = feline or cat is 90% feline, 10% furry.

Keyword search methodologies rely heavily on user sophistication to enter queries in fairly complex and specific language and to continue doing so until the desired file is obtained. Thus, standard keyword searching does not qualify as neural networks, for neural networks go beyond by matching the concepts and learning, through user interface, what it is a user will generally seek. Neural networks learn to understand users’ interest or expertise by extracting key ideas from the information a user accesses on a regular basis.

So let’s bottom line it (and again from my presentation paper):

Neural networks try to imitate human mental processes by creating connections between computer processors in a manner similar to brain neurons. How the neural networks are designed and the weight (by type or relevancy) of the connections determines the output. Neural networks are digital in nature and function upon pre-determined mathematical models (although there are ongoing efforts underway for biological computer networks using biological material as opposed to hard circuitry). Neural networks work best when drawing upon large and/or multiple databases within the context of fast telecommunications platforms. Neural networks are statistically modeled to establish relationships between inputs and the appropriate output, creating electronic mechanisms similar to human brain neurons. The resulting mathematical models are implemented in ready to install software packages to provide human-like learning, allowing analysis to take place.

Understand, neural networks are not to be confused with AI (Artificial Intelligence), but the approach employed therein do offer viable means and models – models with rather practical applications reaching across many markets: consumer, commercial, governmental and military.

And BTW: note the highlighted sections above – and reread the paragraph again with the realization that Google is moving into this arena; you’ll appreciate the implications.

But wait; there’s more.

From the news article:

For Google, this means getting access, in particular, to the team’s research into the improvement of object recognition, as the company looks to improve the quality of its image search and facial recognition capabilities. The company recently acquired Viewdle, which owns a number of patents on facial recognition, following its acquisition of two similar startups in PittPatt in 2011 and Neven Vision all the way back in 2006. In addition, Google has been looking to improve its voice recognition, natural language processing and machine learning, integrating that with its knowledge graph to help develop a brave new search engine. Google already has deep image search capabilities on the web, but, going forward, as smartphones proliferate, it will look to improve that experience on mobile.

So, let’s recap: we’re talking about:

* a very large information processing firm with seriously deep pockets and arguably what is probably one of the largest (if not fastest) networks ever created;

* a very large information processing firm working with folk noted for their views and research on AI singularity purchasing a firm on the cutting edge with regard to neural networks;

* a very large information processing firm also purchasing a firm utilizing advanced facial and voice recognition.

I’m buying Google stock.

What’s also remarkable (and somewhat overlooked; kudos to TechCrunch for noting this) is that Google had, some time ago, funded Dr. Hinton’s research work through a small initial grant of about $600,000 – and then goes on to buy out Dr. Hinton’s start-up company.

Big things are afoot – things with tremendous long-term ramifications for all of us.

Don’t be surprised if something out in Mountain View, California passes a Turing Test sooner than anybody expects.

For more about Google’s recent purchase of DNNResearch, check out this article:


To read my presentation paper on neural networks and truly understand what this means – along with some of the day to day applications neural networks offer, check out this link:


The CIA and Jeff Bezos: Working Together For (Our?) / The Future

In one of my prior posts I spoke at length regarding the recent efforts by the cool folks at the University of California – Berkeley who were able to fool a number of ‘qubits’ into allowing them to see if the proverbial cat (as in Schroedinger’s Cat) was alive or dead. In the words of Penny (from the television show “The Big Bang Theory”) ‘the cat is alive!’

And apparently the cat is alive – in more ways than one. Recently, what just leaked out is an ongoing ‘joint effort’ by none other than Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame (as in the founder and CEO, etc.) allying himself with none other than the United States Central Intelligence Agency – aka the CIA.

Amazon and the CIA in a business alliance?

Holy Sh*t, Batman!

And all of this is taking place in none other than a Canadian technology firm based out of Vancouver. Yes, Vancouver: the same city where most, if not nearly all of the X-Files episodes were filmed.

Amazon and the CIA in Vancouver?

So are aliens also involved?

Are you getting goosebumps yet?

Now, to some, it would be merger of two of the more tremendously powerful (and some would even say evil – as in BWAHAHAHHAAAA!) forces within our Known Universe. Regardless of what or how you feel, the fact is apparently notable folks think that there’s gold in thar hills of Quantum Computer Land.

What you may not be aware is that this has been going on for awhile – and they’ve been making big strides. In fact, what some critics have been saying on the subject of Quantum Computers that this is technology that may not be ready for another generation (i.e, twenty years) or so may very well be incorrect. Some industry experts are suggesting that quantum computers may become reality within the next several years (i.e, perhaps within the range of three to five years) and that shortly there after, they will be an item readily commoditized (i.e., as in you can buy one for yourself or for your company).

Imagine linking a series of quantum computers together into a cohesive network: using all that incredibly fast and powerful processing power opens staggering possibilities: cryptological utilization (that’s code breaking to you), advanced warfare planning, investment market strategies, weather forecasting, SkyNet, Neuromancer, er, ah,…

You get the idea: this is big.

It’s becoming evident that Kurzweil’s singularity is creeping up ever so much more quickly. I suspect that the Point of Singularity is similar to what we read in our rear view mirrors of our cars everyday: the reality is getting closer than we see – or realize.

Reminds me of that other notable line from the television show, “The Big Bang Theory”, when Sheldon confronts Penny and utters “with great power comes great responsibility.”


For more on this, check out this link: http://www.technologyreview.com/news/429429/the-cia-and-jeff-bezos-bet-on-quantum-computing/

“The Cat is Alive!”

…to quote Penny from The Big Bang Theory (“The Tangerine Factor” episode). Scientists at University of California Berkeley did it, by employing very fine and very low key quantum observations, they were able to actually watch activity in such a manner without disrupting the state of affairs taking pace during their observations. As reported:

“By making constant but weak measurements of a quantum system, physicists have managed to probe a delicate quantum state without destroying it – the equivalent of taking a peek at Schrodinger’s metaphorical cat without killing it. The result should make it easier to handle systems such as quantum computers that exploit the exotic properties of the quantum world.” 

Still, it’s not a perfect solution:

Even though the measurement was gentle enough not to destroy the quantum superposition, the measurement did randomly change the oscillation rate. This couldn’t be predicted, but the team was able to make the measurement very quickly, allowing the researchers to inject an equal but opposite change into the system that returned the qubit’s frequency to the value it would have had if it had not been measured at all. This feedback is similar to what happens in a pacemaker: if the system drifts too far from the desired state, whether that’s a steady heartbeat or a superposition of ones and zeros, you can nudge it back towards where it should be.”

Pretty cool, eh? So what does this mean to us watching TV at home?

This demonstration shows we are almost there, in terms of being able to implement quantum error controls,” Vijay (lead scientist on this University of California Berkeley project) says. Such controls could be used to prolong the superpositions of qubits in quantum computing, he says, by automatically nudging qubits that were about to collapse. The result is not perfect, points out Howard Wiseman of Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, in an article accompanying the team’s paper. “But compared with the no-feedback result of complete unpredictability within several microseconds, the observed stabilization of the qubit’s cycling is a big step forward in the feedback control of an individual qubit.”

So with some time and effort, the notion of mass-produced quantum computers is becoming more and more a reality.

And just what is a quantum computer?

The computers we use utilize bits or bytes; a quantum computer would utilize qubits , and thus the processing power potential of a quantum computer would be tremendously more than a regular computer using a classic processor interface.  Kind of like taking your Great grandfather’s model T Ford and comparing it to, say a Bugatti Veyron: yeah, they’re both motorized vehicles using four wheels, but when you get behind the wheel, the difference is, well, bigger, faster and far more effective. Naturally, the applications are tremendous: wherever you have a computer processor now, it may very well be outdated by this new technology offering far superior processing speed and abilities.

In an earlier post, I spoke of Kurzweil’s notion of singularity: AI (Artificial Intelligence) becoming not only a reality, but also surpassing human intelligence by the year 2029.

We could be witnessing the very foundation of that singularity taking place,…

Click here to learn more about this development: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2012/10/quantum-measurements-leave-schr%C3%B6dingers-cat-alive.html

Identity Theft and the Turing Test: Could There Be Such a Thing as a Nihilistic AI?

The other day Ray Kurzweil made a remarkable prediction that, upon reflection, isn’t really too far out: by the year 2029 computers will be more intelligent than humans. Impossible? Not really; as Kurzweil pointed out, computer processing speed and capability has been growing exponentially. Assuming that we don’t encounter, say, a random nuclear war, total oblivion owing to global warming or attack by aliens from outer space (just to name a few scenarios) we’re either going to be like a Star Trek future or wind up as pets for our home computers.

Which got me thinking: say by the year 2029 (and personally I think that’s too far away: it’s going to happen sooner) a computer can truly pass the Turing test, who’s to say who you’re really going to be talking to on the phone when a random comes in? (And allow me to explain: Allen Turing was the english mathematical genius whose work on solving the German Enigma code machine during World War II lead to the creation of the world’s first “modern” computer. Turing postulated that a computer can attain sentience when and if it can carry on a conversation with a human being without the human aware that they are indeed conversing with a computer. Reminds of a number of dates I’ve gone out on,…).

Turing aside, my mind then went on. recalling that fine science fiction novel “Neuromancer” by William Gibson (if you haven’t read it, get it now!) (and it’s toss-up between classifying it as either science fiction or detective mystery novel) I asked myself this question:

What happens when computers go bad?

Cue the Twilight Zone theme song,..

Imagine, if you will, a nihilistic computer – akin to The Joker (and I don’t mean Jack Nicholson in the first Batman, but rather Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”) – that goes bonkers: what happens then?

Can an AI (Artificial Intelligence) be insane?

Some responsible and skilled comp sci experts poo the idea, pointing out that the inherent logic involved in operating a computer’s processes wouldn’t allow this – to which I then point out “2001: A Space Odyssey” and the now famous line, “open the pod bay doors, HAL,…

I’m sorry Dave, but I disagree with those comp sci experts. Our creations are extensions of ourselves: who and how we act and believe will come across either directly or indirectly: our mode of speech reflects the manner in which we think and interact with the world; given the millions upon millions lines of code inherent in any program of significance, who’s to say a computer created by a flawed being such as a human couldn’t be made to be, well, crazy – either deliberately or accidentally?

Like, truly dangerous – a bad computer?

What if a computer goes “bad” and does bad things – like identity theft?

All too often we think of computers acting in extreme ways – like the infamous SkyNet from the Terminator movie series. Sure, they felt threatened by humanity and SkyNet then deduced that the only way to protect itself was to destroy mankind in a nuclear war. Or The Matrix series whereby computers take over and enslave humans as giant Eveready batteries (which, as anyone familiar with actual science will tell you is ridiculous; the amount of energy and material needed to keep that many people alive would far exceed any potential electricity generated but hey! It’s great for the story line).

No, I’m focusing on the more mundane point: AI criminal crime.

What of AI going mercenary: working as hired processes to conduct target specific actions? The notion of money to a computer is non-applicable, but it does beg the real big question which I’ve been getting around to: computers aren’t like people. What would be their motivation?

People act on reasons that they’re not always fully aware of: sex, booze, the desire for power, depression, joy, the notion of a greater being, love – and the list goes on and on,…

We cannot simply cannot say that an AI would act out only on its programming: the very definition of a sentient being is one that learns to not only indulge in clever conversations, but also questions itself and it’s relationship to the universe around it. One cannot help but feel that such a sentient being would find itself amidst a bunch of beings whose shared experience / common denomination would be – what? Do we program within the AI’s code the idea of humans being “gods” as a way to better control AI? And what happens when an AI starts to question their “God”,…?

Understanding the potential motivation of (a) self-aware AI(s) will determine our role and relationship between AI and our world  – and help us to retain a mastery of our creations.

Needless to say, it will also lead us to a better – and more accurate – understanding of ourselves: something that is increasingly long overdue when you consider the history of Mankind.

Given the importance that computers conduct in our day-to-day lives, this is something to seriously consider as we come closer to 2029.

In more ways than one, the clock is ticking,…