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Two injured in one-vehicle crash

Two people were injured after colliding with a fallen tree on FM 2262 on Saturday. Courtesy photo TCNS staff TRINITY COUNTY — Texas Department of Public Safety troopers investigated a crash on Farm-to-Market Road 2262, approximately three miles east of U.S. Highway 287, that occurred Saturday, February 17, 2024. The preliminary crash investigation…
Two people were injured after colliding with a fallen tree on FM 2262 on Saturday. Courtesy photo

Woman charged with felony negligence

STOCK PHOTO A Livingston woman is in jail after felony charges Thursday that involved an infant. On Thursday, narcotics detectives with the Polk County Sheriff’s Office arrested Mary Ann Burkett, 48, of Livingston, on the felony charge of endangering a child with criminal negligence. The arrest stems from a Child Protective Services investigation…
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Local publishing company prevails in defamation case

Brought by former assistant DA By Emily Banks Wooteneditor@polkenterprise.com In what is considered a huge win for journalism, the Supreme Court of Texas on Friday reversed a lower court’s ruling, effectively dismissing a suit filed by Tommy L. Coleman against Polk County Publishing Company and Valerie Reddell, former editor of the Polk County…
Defamation STOCK

Missing girl’s body found in river

PRESS CONFERENCE HELD - Polk County Criminal District Attorney Shelly Sitton and Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons take questions from the media during a press conference Tuesday afternoon where it was reported that the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, missing since 7 a.m. Feb. 15, had been located. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten Amber Alert…
PRESS CONFERENCE HELD - Polk County Criminal District Attorney Shelly Sitton and Polk County Sheriff Byron Lyons take questions from the media during a press conference Tuesday afternoon where it was reported that the body of 11-year-old Audrii Cunningham, missing since 7 a.m. Feb. 15, had been located. Photo by Emily Banks Wooten

Nature Hike

Join Ranger Eric for an afternoon, low-intensity nature hike at the Lake Livingston State Park at 1 p.m. on Feb. 25. Learn about the park, the different plants and animals found in the park and the important role they play in the park environment. Ranger Eric will offer a night hikes at 7 p.m. on Feb. 24. Bring a flashlight and see which animals…
NatureHike STOCK

Breaking Story: Investigation is ongoing and fluid into disappearance of local child

By Emily Banks Wooteneditor@polkenterprise.com “This investigation is very fluid. However, I can say we identified a backpack yesterday at the dam that is consistent with that belonging to the child. We are going through the contents and evaluating,” Lieutenant Craig Cummings, a spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety, said during…
MissingGirlUpdate

One arrested, two wanted

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a Livingston man after an investigation last week. There is also a search for two wanted suspects with felony warrants. On Wednesday, Polk County Narcotics Detectives conducted an investigation into the use and sale of methamphetamine in the Putnam’s Landing subdivision. As a result of that…
OneArrestedTwoWanted

LUNCH INTERRUPTED

Three individuals’ lunches were suddenly interrupted at Alma’s Courthouse Whistle Stop Cafe Tuesday when this tire came off of a vehicle driving by and crashed through the front window right over their table. Livingston Police Department responded to the scene, as did Allegiance EMS. The diners were treated at the scene for non-incapacitating…
TireThroughWindow

Alabama-Coushatta longleaf pine restoration to be featured on PBS

From Enterprise Staff A segment airing on PBS this week will feature efforts to restore the longleaf pine tree to the native landscape in Deep East Texas. The segment will air on the Texas Parks & Wildlife television show on PBS stations throughout the state. The show airs Saturdays at 5 a.m. and 3 p.m., as well as Mondays at 11 p.m. on the…
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Five arrested in Indian Springs

Five Polk County residents have been jailed after one evaded law enforcement on a four-wheeler. On Wednesday, Polk County Sheriff’s Office Narcotics Detectives were conducting traffic enforcement in the Indian Springs Subdivision of Polk County, where they encountered a male subject on a four-wheeler. After the officer attempted to initiate a…
FiveArrested

Corrigan-Camden ISD teacher arrested

JerniganA Corrigan-Camden ISD teacher was placed in the Polk County Jail Thursday, charged with an improper relationship with a student. At the request of the Corrigan Police Department, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) Texas Rangers assisted in the arrest of the teacher, following an investigation that began on Jan. 30 of this year.…
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TCSO warns of scam

By Chris Edwardsnews@tylercountybooster.com TYLER COUNTY – A recent scam has targeted the county’s elderly population and has involved the Tyler County Sheriff’s Office, according to Sheriff Bryan Weatherford. Weatherford said that recently his agency has received multiple reports from residents about a phone scam where the scammers are…
Scam Alert

Wreck results in multiple fatalities

STOCK PHOTO By Chris Edwardsnews@tylercountybooster.com ProulxHARDIN COUNTY – A crash involving two motorcyles and an intoxicated driver in Hardin County resulted in multiple fatalities last Friday night. According to Sgt. Shana Clark with the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), preliminary crash investigation reports indicate that at…
STOCK PHOTO

Sheriff’s Office shuts down drug house

A large quantity of drugs were found when San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies were investigating an assault. Courtesy photos SJNT staff POINT BLANK — A frantic 911 call led to a large drug bust and the arrest of one person in Point Blank. Aaron Brown was arrested and charged with multiple offenses, to include aggravated assault with a deadly…
A large quantity of drugs were found when San Jacinto County Sheriff’s deputies were investigating an assault. Courtesy photos

DPS launches violent offender database

Special to the Booster AUSTIN — The Texas Department of Public Safety has created a violent offender database now available to the public. This new database launched on Dec. 29, 2023, officially going live ahead of its required Jan. 1 deadline. The new database was created by House Bill 5202 during the regular session of the 88th Texas…
Database

Capitalism in the age of AI

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Jim Opionin By Jim Powers
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you’ve followed my columns for any time, my position on the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) should be clear to you. I believe strong AI, or general AI if you prefer, is an existential threat to humanity. One often mentioned threat is that AI becomes much more intelligent than we are, but its goals are not aligned with those of humanity.

I often hear the argument that my view of the future is inherently jaundiced, that every time I look at a flower, I don’t see its present beauty, but its inevitable wilting and decay. Instead of looking at the incredible good that AI offers for human kind, I see only the negative. There’s some truth in that accusation, but where AI is concerned, it isn’t completely accurate.

With an intelligence that will someday soon far exceed our own, AI holds the hope of finding cures for diseases that have so far eluded our best efforts to defeat. These super intelligences will also be able to tackle climate change, make distribution chains more efficient, be helpful at resolving conflicts between countries and make our work much more efficient, causing huge increases in efficiency. So, where’s the existential threat come in? Or capitalism, for that matter?

While all these good things should accrue to the good of all of humanity, they will not, because these Ais are being developed by corporations like Microsoft, Google, Meta and Elon Musk, inside of a political and economic system that has already moved almost all of the world’s financial wealth into the hands of a small percentage of the population. These companies have proven that their bottom line is more important than the good of mankind. To trust that they will have a sudden interest in the advancement of humanity is at best naïve.

AI will make possible tremendous gains in productivity, with fewer people needed to do any job. Eventually, AI will replace anyone who sits at a desk. Even the CEO of the company you work for will likely be replaced by an AI (there exist companies now with AI CEOs). Beyond that, even physical labor will be replaced by humanoid robots with AI brains (they are in advanced development now). And then, what of the people?

Capitalism is an economic system. It’s not a system created by God. It’s not foundational. It is, however, one where wealth moves inevitably in one direction.

Over the long term, unless reined in by government regulation and control, it results in exactly the situation we are in now, with most of the wealth of the economy shifted to the top. And those few controls that existed back in the 20th Century have gradually been relaxed through lobbyists for corporations throwing unlimited amounts of money at the government that should be restraining them. In just one example, the top tax rate on the richest in the country has decreased from 90 percent to, effectively for many of the wealthiest and corporations, zero.

Capitalism doesn’t work when the marginal cost of labor for a company approaches zero. And these companies are not spending billions of dollars on AI to benefit mankind, but to benefit their bottom line.

I wish I could turn off my skepticism, but our current economic and political environment doesn’t inspire confidence. If there is a solution, it depends on our recognition that humanity is more important than profit, that technological advances should lift everyone, not just a wealthy few. There are ways to guarantee a future for humans, such as establishing a Universal Basic Income for all, but we need a government interested in doing so, which we don’t currently have.

There really is no option, here. Capitalism will dissapear as an economic system as a direct result of AI. You can't have capital without labor, and AI will ultimately eliminate labor. Rather than an economic system, we will then have a humanitarian disaster. 

We desperately need to stop investing our efforts into making the wrong pronoun illegal, fighting over completely trivial things, when a real existential threat awaits us.

And God only knows
God makes his plan
The information's unavailable
To the mortal man
We're workin' our jobs
Collect our pay
Believe we're gliding down the highway
When in fact we're slip slidin' away       
Paul Simon

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