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Comment Re:It can't. (Score 1) 103

Are we top predators? We are certainly the dominant species but that is not the same thing.

It seems like our success has been brought about by our ability to engineer the environment to our liking. After we were able to increase our population due to agriculture we started impacting on predator species partly by hunting them directly but more by crowding them out of their ideal territory.

Comment Re:Until an earthquake (Score 2) 107

The partially evacuated pipe is what makes the entire system perhaps better suited to earthquake zones compared to trains.

With a train, there is no way of knowing whether both tracks are still intact short of a visual survey over the entire length of the line. Forcing all trains to stop immediately.

With the hyperloop, any breach of the pipe, will let air into the tube, which increases the atmospheric pressure and forces the pod to slow down. It's a nice passive safety system for everything running in the pipe and is really easy and cheap to monitor centrally because you just need a few pressure sensors dotted along the length of the each pipe section.

It doesn't tell you where the leak might be if there is a leak, but if you can maintain a low pressure you know the pipe is probably still intact.

Comment Re:Seems silly. (Score 4, Insightful) 66

I seems to me the real saving here is that powdered plastic is a lot denser than hollow aerodynamic plastic shapes and so won't take up anywhere near as much storage space.

Rather than trying to store 1000 small drones on board, you just have a big tank with enough powdered plastic to make 1000 small drones and the various non-printable bits (electronics, batteries and motors), which are smaller and easier to store anyway

Then you just keep 10-20 drones ready and print more off as you use up the stock of ready made drones.

Comment Re:Or let us keep our hard-earned money (Score 5, Interesting) 574

I don't disagree with you about the external costs, but I've never been able to work out why the approximate external costs of an industry isn't directly charged to that industry as a licensing fee or additional tax charge.

Effectively, you are picking a possible winner (in this case Solar) instead of making the industry with lots of external costs pay their way fully and letting the market find the best alternative to that (whether it be Solar, or Geothermal, or even tiny little fusion reactors in every electric toothbrush)

Comment Re:Experts know more than non-experts (Score 3, Insightful) 112

That's missing the point. Identifying 1 or 2 differences in approach between experts and non-experts shows 1 or 2 things you can tell the non-experts to do to greatly improve security overall.

In this case, the take away action would seem to be to make sure you keep all the software updated.

Comment Re:Why would Martian cities be far apart? (Score 1) 143

It seems like they'd want to be close together.

You'd stick the habitation where there are resources you need. If you can't find all the resources you need in one place then you will have to have habitats spread out and sharing those resources between bases.

For Example, Water collection near the poles, but Solar power collection and orbital launch pads near the equator.

That doesn't necessarily mean the other habitats are were someone would live permanently, especially not if you have good transport links. I see it more like Oil Rig work, people are shipped out to the supporting bases for fixed periods of time then shipped back to the main base whether living conditions are less sparse (relatively speaking)

Comment Re: Other reasons (Score 1) 306

If there's something in her physiology which makes the pill less effective then the second failure is much, much, much more likely.

If there's something in her physiology which makes the pill less effective, then the first failure is also much, much, much more likely... you just didn't know to use the revised statistic the first time round.

Comment Re:Paper checks vs. electronic payment (Score 1) 385

And yet a cheque allows an individuals to pay other individuals without any infrastructure needed apart from a pre-issued cheque book and access to a bank branch or a post box.

cheques are a painfully slow method of payment but nothing beats them for occasional payment to people who don't normally receive money, everything from individual to individual, to one off small scale charity payments. For example; I can't see the village church taking debit or credit cards for an emergency roof fixing fund but I could see donations being bigger than the amount of cash someone normally carries around with them.

Electronic payments need local readers and telecommunications which mean significant upfront investment for small scale, short term events

Comment Re:Just wondering (Score 1) 227

even if it's just the pilot, that signal will be a "new" one, which pops up in an area that is of interest, as it will have a line of sight access to the areas being protected.


  • the pilot thought to install a remote camera meaning the drone itself isn't emitting anything, just receiving while the pilot is still in WiFi range but not necessarily in an area with a line of sight.
  • or connect the drone to a WiFi access point and control from somewhere more remote, making the drone more detectable (it's now transmitting) but the operator much harder to find quickly

If the drone is really a threat, as opposed to just a drone being somewhere it's not meant to be, then you have to assume the operator will take basic steps to increase the time until they are found.

Comment Re:Barber or Masseuse (Score 1) 420

True, but the question wasn't what sort of career you could choose that can't be replaced by robots. It was what sort of career you could choose that couldn't readily be replaced by a human on the other side of the planet

But what's the point of jumping to a new career to avoid potential threats to your current career if you don't consider the potential threats to the career you are jumping to

Outsourcing is a real threat to knowledge based jobs and automation is a real threat to low skilled (although the bar for skills safe from automation is constantly rising) jobs which need to be done locally. The sort of job you might switch to to avoid Outsourcing will eventually be threatened by automation.

Comment What they mean is (Score 5, Interesting) 39

After a number of high profile cases have been dropped due to prosecutors not being allowed to explain how the device works in court. It's become a very expensive evidence gathering tool which can't be used to collect usable evidence.

This isn't a blow against secret terms of use, it's a business decision to not buy something which can't be used for it's intended purpose.

He: Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science. She: What?!? Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains. -- Walt Kelly