Robotic Overlords?

Our group was featured in this New Yorker article, showcasing Rebecca Pankow and John Oberlin’s work programming Baxter to pick petals from a daisy, as well as some of my thoughts on inequality and automation.  I was thrilled with Sheelah’s work on this very important issue, focusing on the effects of automation and our changing economy.

Our Baxter robot picks petals from a flower.


One thought on “Robotic Overlords?

  1. Re: A Universal Basic Income- A Better Idea.

    Dividends from a Sovereign Wealth Fund, funded voluntarily by the 1% who need to get money back into the hands of the other 99% to keep the economy going. Giving everyone, ownership of the whole economy. This being a natural solution, in lieu of charity and a forced global tax on wealth.

    Another Necessary Part of the Solution:

    A project I’ve been working on in Utah for 7 years. Asking the state legislature to charter The Utah Fresh Start Corporation. Owned by everyone in Utah for the benefit everyone in Utah- to automatically employ the two groups who most conspicuously need it.

    The First Group: Those coping with homelessness. Their initial compensation being the goods and services they now humiliatingly receive as charity. Their job descriptions to include running the company (with the voluntary training and mentorship of those who are successful in the mainstream economy)- to take care of themselves and each other- by they themselves providing the goods and services that those who need a fresh start consume.

    But after that, and even more fundamental, the company’s mission is low tech innovation, creating new low tech jobs to replace the jobs lost to high tech innovation. Innovations like the sustainable urban agriculture garden in my yard I began planning 35 years ago and have been building and operating for 25 years. ( Whereas urban and all other farmers have average sale amounts of between $5.00 and $10.00, people come to my green infrastructure stabilization and remediation botanical garden and leave having spent $100’s even $1000’s of dollars. Every community should provide space where homeless people gather to create gardens like it and thereby give the whole economy, not just those who need it the most a fresh start.

    Other innovations with even more potential than the gardens become surprisingly apparent once someone begins thinking in these terms.

    The Second Group: Those who now or in the future would panhandle. To instead, be certified, licensed , commissioned, co-owner operator, fundraisers- raising enough funds from everyone in the state who as owners of the company, will want to invest in new innovations which grow the whole economy and at the same time avoid involuntarily taxes.

    Significantly innovations that employ those who need a fresh start while at the same time retraining for jobs in the mainstream economy.

    While at the same time combating urban, state, national and global climate change by projects like reforestation.

    The idea of having the state charter a fresh start corporation came from The Delancey Street Foundation (, and The Other Side Academy ( These organizations are run by those in the program. Inmates getting out of prison and people otherwise needing a fresh start.

    This model, somewhat similar to The Doe Fund in New York City truly rehabilitates those who the programs serve by empowering them to take control of their lives and take responsibility for their own problems.

    Delancey Street and The Other Side Academy are even more effective than The Doe Fund specifically because they refuse to accept taxpayer money. Funding themselves wholly or in part by the income generating businesses they operate as they retrain and rehabilitate themselves. Any shortfalls coming from voluntary donations.

    All of this adding up to the revitalization of America’s greatest natural resource, The American Dream.

    Keep up the good work of taking the whole economy into consideration as you introduce high tech innovations.


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