Thursday Not-Morning: Stupid

Jeepers. I need hip waders. There is just so damned much stupid over the last 24 hours. It’s a veritable flood.

The Future is here, and it’s stupid

  • Law firm “hires” first artificially intelligent lawyer (Futurism) — Oh how nice. Treat human misery like a fungible commodity by using IBM’s AI ‘lawyer’ Ross to process bankruptcies. Want to bet it’s cheaper to hire paralegals to do the work Ross does? Want to bet Baker & Hostetler’s Ross will be replaced by a competing internet-based firm processing bankruptcies even more inexpensively? Hey Congress: doesn’t it say something to you about the number and kind of bankruptcies when a ‘robot’ can process them?
  • Facial recognition expected to be $6 billion by 2020 (Curatti) — No invasion of privacy issues there, nor any security risks whatsoever. No chance at all two or more people have the same facial characteristics in terms of dimension.
  • Chinese tech company prepares for future where our consciousness lives forever in a computer (Bloomberg) — This is really creepy, and yet very much possible in the near-term future. If AI can nearly reproduce you from your social media, why can’t it replicate your consciousness?

The Past remains, and it’s stupid, too

  • Staffing company Portico sent home a receptionist for not wearing high heels (BBC) — A petition emerged in response, asking Parliament to outlaw such policies; 100,000 signatures mustered overnight. They’ve reversed their position today after a furor arose about their policy requiring women to wear 2-4 inch high heels on the job at a PriceWaterhouse Cooper facility. PwC says it’s not their policy. Come on now — it’s 2016, not 1956. It’s just plain stupid to ask workers of a specific gender to wear attire for looks — attire which causes discomfort and is not recommended by doctors.
  • Belgian beer company changes iconic American brand name to pander to voters (AdAge) — Take one of the oldest and most recognized U.S. brands on which hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent to entrench an immigrant’s name into the American psyche. Then remove it and replace it with the country’s name for six months. My gods, the stupid on this one. Fortunately a West Michigan brewer is taking advantage of this opportunity with ‘Murica! I could use one right about now.
  • Some SAP accounting software users attacked because they screwed up in 2010 (The Register) — Talk about time travel. I’m sure there’s some folks who’d like to go back to 2010 and execute that security patch correctly this time before hackers smite their business to smithereens.

The Present’s no gift

  • Don’t feed the sea turtles (Scientific American) — Surprise! When tourists feed junk food to sea turtles, the turtles’ health mirrors that of humans fed the same crap.
  • Study: Ransomware cybercriminals provide better, faster service than internet service providers (Nature) — Not even a rational comparison next to Comcast. Seems like there’s a market opportunity here; if crooks held a machine hostage AND offered a PC tune-up, would PC owners happily fork over cash? Hmm.
  • Marijuana use during pregnancy increases risk for pre-term birth (ScienceDaily) — What a surprise that a psychoactive drug combined with toxic by-products from smoking a plant product might have negative effects on pregnancy.

Ugh. Hope tomorrow is kinder to us. See you in the morning!

11 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I assume “Ross” would be classed as administrative staff for legal liability purposes, not as a paralegal or lawyer. Which means a real lawyer would still need to sign off, be the responsible party, for competence and liability purposes.

    Baker & Hostetler must offer a full indemnity to every lawyer playing that role for Ross. That would not get the lawyer off the hook for professional licensing purposes, only for the cash costs of a screw up.

    Who reviews the work and, if it’s done by Ross himself, who reviews the review process? Quickly gets circular. Perhaps B&H doesn’t much care: personal bankruptcy clients wouldn’t have much energy or many resources to detect and pursue claims for foul up. Corporate bankruptcies, which are often done for “strategic” reasons rather than because of liquidity or asset problems? That’s another matter.

    Ross, of course, won’t be happy limiting his practice to bankruptcy. He’ll want the whole pie. And why, pray tell, was it not Roselyn?

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Ah, facial recognition. It used to be that banks and phone and cable companies just stole your voice print – solely for “identification” purposes, mind (just like the ubiquitous abuse of SS##). Rights to one’s face are presumably given over by terms buried in that one-click process. These kinds of data are never used in a restrictive manner, never solely for internal privacy/liability protection purposes. They become part of the data holder’s data set and are subject to multiple commercial uses, all hidden from the supplier of that information. It’s inherent in and central to many business models.

    Commercial use and abuse claims come to mind: invasion of privacy, rights to publicity. Johnny Carson and Ahnold would not accept granting their face rights to just any old vendor for the privilege of using some generic online service. Why should Joe and Jane?

  3. Peterr says:

    Re Future #1: I can see the commercial now: “We’re Baker & Hostetler. We put the ‘robo’ in ‘robo-signing’!” Their banking business ought to go through the roof.
    Re Past #2: Three generations of the Busch family are spinning in their graves, and two living generations are shaking their heads. Meanwhile, brewers all over Missouri are laughing their asses off, especially in Kansas City.

    I haven’t seen the numbers, but I wonder what the domestic sales figures look like, comparing today’s figures with those from before the sale of AB. As soon as AB sold out to InBev, Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewery proclaimed themselves Missouri’s largest locally owned brewery, and soon discovered that hundreds of bars and restaurants in greater St. Louis suddenly had thousands of tap spaces available. Seems the locals weren’t too keen on the sale and a non-trivial number had been asking for non-AB products, like Boulevard, Schlafly and others. Who could have anticipated . . . ?

    Sounds to me as if this six-month name game is a bit of a pushback.

  4. gmoke says:

    Realtor friend here in the Boston area posted on Facebook about a feeding frenzy on a house in Medford, dozens of offers most above listed price. When I responded that it sounded like an indication of another looming housing bust, the comment back was “Oh, the Boston area continues to be awesome!”

    Maybe I’m being negative after watching “99 Homes” and “The Big Short” recently. Still, I’ll be watching for news about the Chinese real estate market for the effects a collapse there might have on our markets here. After all, another trend I’ve been seeing is the global plutocracy’s gobbling up of prime real estate all around the world and forcing rising prices on everyone else in the market, even the ones not looking for their fifth pied a terre for an occasional weekend in a world class city.

  5. bloopie2 says:

    Not everything is stupid. As I tell people who question my understanding of things, “Hey, I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.”
    Also, remember this: The average person is, well, average. Not smart. Half the world has an IQ below 100. Maybe that’s where all the stupid comes from. (I’m not being elitist when I say that, am I?)

  6. Larry says:

    Regarding #2 under “The Present’s no gift”, which is about Ransomware’s business model: From my experinece, Dell’s been doing that for years.

  7. bevin says:

    If you’ve read The Good Soldier Schweik, you will recall the Czech town of Ceske Budewice (as I recall) which is the place that Germans call Budweis. They still make beer there, Very good beer and they would love to get the name back/.
    If you haven’t read The Good Soldier you ought to, it is a very funny book by a great writer.

  8. Rayne says:

    bloopie2 (3:59) — The word stupid comes from the same Latin root as stupor and stupefy; it has a second meaning besides ‘dumb; lacking in sensibility or knowledge.’ Stupid also means ‘stunning; insensible or senseless.’

    So yes, all of the above was stupid.

    Larry (7:07) — Think that’s been MSFT’s gig, too. With more services in the cloud, they can keep a tighter rein on their shakedown service offering.

  9. martin says:

    quote”Law firm “hires” first artificially intelligent lawyer”unquote


    Artificially…. intelligent….. lawyer.

    There’s an oxymoron in there somewhere. Perhaps it should have read

    Artificial lawyer intelligence? hmmm.. still seems like an oxymoron to me.

  10. seedeevee says:

    “What a surprise that a psychoactive drug combined with toxic by-products from smoking a plant product might have negative effects on pregnancy.” — Such a good Drug Warrior!

    “Women who use marijuana also tend to smoke cigarettes and are more likely to use other drugs and alcohol, for whom national statistics [25] have shown that amongst Australian women aged ≥14years who used marijuana in 2010, 82.7% also consumed alcohol, and 68.5% were cigarette smokers, with similar patterns of prevalence in New Zealand [10].”

    “Although the numbers are small”

    “There have been inconsistent results reported from American prospective cohort studies, in which associations of marijuana use with adverse pregnancy outcomes were either found [21], [26] and [27] or not found [28], [29] and [30].”

    “Whereas the results from this study are in agreement with other studies, it needs to be noted that a few American and a UK prospective cohort studies did not find an association between marijuana use and SPTB [28], [29], [30] and [40]. However, these studies have a higher percentage (>40%) of black race, whereas there are 89.9% Caucasians in this study. Although the studies have also adjusted for ethnicity, age, BMI, and other lifestyle factors, interaction tests were not performed in the analysis to examine the interaction effects of marijuana use and cigarette smoking on pregnancy outcomes.”

    “Furthermore, apart from a cigarette smoking-marijuana interaction, it is also well recognised that cigarette smoking and illicit drug use are associated with low socio-economic status”

    “It needs to be noted that the number of SPTB cases amongst women who reported marijuana use at 20 weeks’ gestation is small (n = 11) even in this large cohort. The use of self-reported marijuana use and cigarette smoking status may be a potential limitation, as it may be subject to participant recall bias. Furthermore, this study was undertaken in a nulliparous cohort so it may be the case that our findings apply only to nulliparous women. ”

    “Further research is required to confirm these findings, and future studies should include appropriate corrections for the various important confounders (e.g. smoking, BMI, ethnicity).”

  11. Rayne says:

    seedeevee (12:33) — “Drug Warrior”? Seriously, fuck off. I don’t give a shit about adults consuming pot. I think it’s pretty goddamned naive bordering on gross negligence to think a psychoactive drug — and that’s why adults consume it — won’t have an effect on fetal neuro tissue.

    I’m also the “Drug Warrior” who thinks ultrasound (which has proven mutagenic effect on fetal rat neuro tissue) and BPA (ditto on fetal rat neuro tissue) are also to be avoided as much as possible during pregnancy. You can fuck off on that, too.

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