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Comment Re:Why should? (Score 1) 310

I RTFA'd but what he's talking about and what we really want aren't the same thing. I want to be able to summon a vehicle (I can own it, but perhaps it's not parked nearby), tell it to take me from A to B, and wait. Then from B to A and wait. If it can't reach B, it takes me to the best place it can and either I take over or use some other transit. On my daily commute or trip to the grocery store, or doctors in my town, I don't want the steering wheel. I don't need it, a computer could in theory do that job without my input, better than I can do it. With the proper preconditions.

I agree with the good Dr. that it seems unlikely that any level of car automation is going to work on all road, weather, and traffic conditions, everywhere in the world. But then your average car starts to misbehave when it's off paved roads, and if you're on a dirt road in the rain, it can get bad. One day in NYC breaks the hearts and souls of human drivers, I can't imagine what a machine might think. Much like we built the existing road & traffic system to accommodate reasonably trailed human piloted vehicles, we should be constructing a traffic network that a reasonably decent autonomous vehicle system can safely navigate with exactly this level of input: where do you want to go? The car can handle the transport, I will do other things.

Perhaps this road system exists, for the foreseeable future, only in large urban centers with otherwise unsolvable traffic problems, and human drivers may have to continue to navigate traditional roads the old fashioned way for some of their journeys. The horse and buggy didn't disappear overnight, and dirt roads were common enough in the US even 40 years back. But the impact on my daily life of yielding the car to a computer for my commute even if it achieved no average decrease in commute duration, would be tremendous. Lower insurance premiums, more deterministic commute delays, more scheduling options (ex. in austin I leave before 6:25am, or after 930am, and stay at work until just about 3pm or after 7pm...this is stupid!), more time for me (rather than unpaid time supporting my job, or unrewarding time spent schlepping the family). This seems like what the goal of it all should be.

I think the Dr. is probably right that putting the entire burden on some sophisticated AI to handle conditions even humans can't read properly is very unlikely, but we also can engineer our environment to fit the needs of the AI.

Comment Re: Weep for humanity. (Score 1) 359

Free markets develop price signals. This is true in both wholesale and retail markets... in fact whenever there is free trade. The producer does in fact know that the supplier's needs are met, because otherwise the supplier would have asked more for his goods. People just don't normally sell stuff for less than cost. That's an act of a company or corporation with a diverse package of goods. Not a seller of fertilizer.

Not often, and again that's because of the nature of free markets. The market as a whole will not sell for a loss, that's not sane practice and most people aren't insane. The market finds a price which satisfies both the seller and the buyer, or the market ceases to exist.

Or the supplier was in a position to either sell for below cost, and cut his losses, or not sell at all and run out of money quickly. This can go on for extended periods of time (because of these rainy day funds) before someone is forced to relent. It is entirely possible for large players, or players on unequal footing (say they have influenced their government to totally ignore laws which increase their costs) to arbitrarily undercut fair competitors just to run them out of business and ultimately corner the market. This same tactic can be used to discourage competitors from entering in the first place.

Only in the very short term. Markets do not persist in that condition. And a smart trader plans for weak seasons. This is all baked into the price of the goods.

In many cases it can go on for long enough to run the supplier entirely out of business, and allow the price to be set by some other arbitrary force (say: how much do you have in your wallet?).

You neglect the very engine that drives free markets: the finding of a price point over time. Throwing in these abrupt disasters you imagine can indeed happen, but usually don't, and again the savvy player plans for bad weather. That's HOW they set the price.

I would argue these disasters have happened, are happening, and are eternal. Many things work properly, or else we'd be in absolute chaos, obviously. But from my standpoint is the theory is useless if it can't be used to make useful predictions. At any given time, someone is engaging in some sort of shennanigans in some financially significant part of the market.

If computers implemented a free market according to the simple algorithms that we feel they should be using, perhaps economics might have some universality to it (or at least to a universe of sane actors). But, economics is a SOCIAL science. Actors play a very significant role in how it plays out. While it seems like actors always act in their self-interest, that is not very helpful. One's greater self-interest might involve behaving in a way that appears locally irrational, but might make sense if all information necessary were known. In other cases they actually don't understand their own self-interests very well and are engaging in destructive behavior because they think it will produce some result they are looking for.

Comment Re:Stupid people getting a stupid certification (Score 1) 237

Well, anything you can learn in two years about software engineering can be learned without going to school in the first place.

You can teach yourself absolutely anything at all without going to school in the first place, the question is always how much and how quick. Schools should be offering you, the student, a one-stop-shop to the information you need to educate yourself, a curriculum to help you focus on the most significant subjects in the field, experts in the area for you to discuss questions and hone your investigation, and generally save you a lot of time in becoming competent.

To the industry they should, arguably, offer a certification that says so-and-so did learn this thing and did meet our criteria for basic competence. My opinion is that schools should NOT be doing this, that should be an independent entity outside of the school, so as to facilitate self-taught people, and also discourage the cheating-culture that is becoming more common.

But as for two years, the question is what is "enough"? The difference between what my child knows at 7 and when he was 5 is tremendous, and it will absolutely all stick. Of course at 18 the subject matter will be significantly more involved and detailed, but it's not necessary to master it to be useful to the industry.

Comment Re: Weep for humanity. (Score 1) 359

Markets establish price for the orange

You mean a competitive process that is left to anneal for a period of time?

producer of the orange already knows what inputs went into making that orange

He knows what he was able to invest that was sufficient to produce the orange. He does not have any idea, or concern, about whether his investment covered the costs from his suppliers (human, corporate or natural). Nor does he know for t>0 that his costs will be covered by the market price, it may happen he has to sell for a loss. He has some historic data about market prices for oranges that may or may not hold true leading him to believe that he can sell profitably (or he'd probably get out of the business), but at any time that can change arbitrarily. He will then be forced to sell for a loss.

All we know about economics for sure is right there. We look at markets of things based on sales prices, not any actual truth or concrete data.

Comment Re: Weep for humanity. (Score 3, Insightful) 359

Economics is a social "science". Because it involves money, it feels more quantitative and objective, like an actual science. But it is a social science, arbitrary numbers have been assigned to ill defined metrics, and a delusion is formed. Perhaps those arbitrary assignments are the result of a real competitive process, left to anneal for a period of time, but that's just a further level of self-deception. We cling to these things individually because it is the best we've got socially, but at no level in the universe can you establish the value of an orange at X resources/unit, it's therefore impossible to build any kind of universal truth around a system that is fundamentally based on that sort of value assignment.

So when the talking heads start talking about economics, and making predictions and saying the sky is falling if {such and such}, it is ok to laugh and walk away. We'll make it work or we won't and it'll change.

Comment Re:We should not protect them (Score 1) 344

Exactly, it seems like if you have an employee who is incapable of not causing harm to your business and/or customers, he's more of a liability than an asset and you let him go. If you can keep him around but out of contact with female students, you can possibly still leverage what he brings to the table with minimal risk of damage assuming he can produce sufficient to compensate for losing him on the cash cow. If he is such a liability that no amount of brilliance can compensate, you must let him go and hope that whatever great advances he is capable of bringing, somehow happen in spite of what is almost certainly a ticking bomb. If not, someone else will, some other time. Nobody is so great an asset that immoral behavior can or should be tolerated, down that road lies a nightmare.

I don't really understand the comparisons with Feynman, what was (not entirely) acceptable in the 60s is totally not acceptable now, and hasn't been since I was a kid. And professors know it, I don't care how decrepit they are, there should be no debate. Perhaps Feynman should have been disciplined back then too, but I don't see the point in what-ifs that are impossible. If the culture then was the same as now, maybe numerous men would have exercised more restraint? If owning slaves was illegal in 1820, very likely very few would have owned slaves then too. It's not really a reasonable comparison.

Comment Re: Debian Spiral (Score 3, Insightful) 218

it's "getting a bit old" still seems a little tone-deaf to me.

I think it amounts to "your arguments have been heard, logged, rejected, but you have the right to scream I told you so later", which is really where the incessant whining needs to end. I'm not convinced Wayland is famine, nor that systemd is pestilence. Unity certainly rode the pale horse, but the beauty of Linux is that we just fork around the offending software and carry on. Unlike when Microsoft or Apple do something reprehensible and we just have to suffer through it, with Linux we can just lob it off and replace it with something else.

When Ubuntu gets rid of Unity, I'll use Ubuntu again, until then there are plenty of good options. If systemd or Wayland make me cry, I'll do away with them. It's magic. Best, the people who like that sort of thing can keep having it, and not bother me in the slightest.

Science is what happens when preconception meets verification.