Podcast 538

Western Minnesota Road Trip. Freestyle talk about my travel in the last last 6 weeks. My reflections on a weekend jaunt to Western Minnesota’s New Ulm and Walnut Grove, tying in the talk about technology threatening jobs in the future. Recent road trips have intensified my interest in the history of the Western United States. There is a lot of significant western history in Minnesota. We often think of historic topics like Indian Wars and Pioneers has happening further west, but one of the bloodiest clashes between settlers and American Indians happened in New Ulm in 1862, when the mostly German townspeople had to barricade the streets of their town to fight off attacks by the Dakota. Further west is Walnut Grove, the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder and the famous ‘Little House On The Prairie’. While the museum in Walnut Grove could use a little bit better curation, some of the artifacts in the museum are interesting, especially grasshoppers or Locusts the size of a man’s hand, which plagued the settlers of Walnut Grove. When you examine items in a museum, it’s easy to think about how old they are. For the people of the time though, it was new technology. It’s fun to flip the script and wonder what our descendants will think of the artifacts of our time in a museum at some point a hundred years from now. Today, supposedly new tech like robotics and autonomous machines and software threatens millions of jobs. Proposed ‘solutions’ to this ‘threat’, like guaranteed minimum incomes and job retraining programs don’t make much sense. When people came west for opportunity, 140 years ago, they didn’t have job retraining programs. They couldn’t have known they’d be plagued by grasshoppers the size of a man’s hand. Yet they came anyway. We need to start thinking about the opportunity new technology provides us in building a new world, and stop being so negative all the time. Sponsored by Karow Contracting and Hydrus Performance.

Podcast 375

Where’s My ObamaNet? FCC Commissioner Tom Wheeler wants to expand a program that¬†dates back to at least the Bush Administration, which became known as the ‘Obama Phone’. Originally the program was intended to make sure older people with no communication could get phone lines, then it was expanded to include cell phones, and was made famous during the 2012 election cycle. Now the FCC wants to expand the program to include free broadband Internet! Surprise! We all pay extra on our phone bills to fund this program, now we’re paying so people who don’t work, can get free or low-cost Internet. When is it time to draw the line? Warning! This podcast includes a freewheeling discussion of technology it all its many forms, economic growth, dystopia, Paul Krugman, Solar Power, Wind Power, the smell of cigarettes and Martinis on a warm summer night, the sound of planes landing, and more! Big argument in the tech world after The New York Times Astrologer in Chief, Paul Krugman claimed the technology revolution has produced no economic growth. Is that true? Then there is the bizarre reaction to Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Machines, Robotics and Additive Manufacturing (to name a few new technologies) threatening to eliminate jobs. Most of the time, it’s disbelief, followed by the darkest predictions about the future. And yet, technology revolutions throughout history while tumultuous, result in economic growth and more jobs. Why does the future have to be so bleak? What if the future is so bright, you’ll have to wear shades? Now, you might have to wear shades because you live next door to a giant solar farm — subsidized by the state and federal governments — while solar produces less than one percent of our power and pollutes the Earth. Why is it, news coverage of the spread of ‘friendly’ solar power doesn’t include stories about the pollution in creating, and eventually disposing of panels, and batteries? Sponsored by Baklund R&D.¬†