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Comment Re:Seriously? (Score 1) 154 154

This is a very silly objection, and I'll tell you why.

I routinely start watching a set of Minecraft youtubers for a thing called 'Mindcrack UHC'. I know the playstyles of many of the players, what can be expected of them, even some of the unusual team-ups worthy of a pro wrestling storyline (hi, Vechs/BTC/Nebs!).

They are BOXES running around. I have no idea what they actually look like, nor am I really interested.

Video games have the capacity to become the athletics version of Asian avatar popstars: it helps if there's character customization, but even so, if you want musclebound superheroes doing superhuman feats, reality can't possibly live up to computer generation. You'll find in movies now the big stars and their action scenes are largely videogames, and nobody complains and that's not even interactive. How much cooler is it, if the superhuman avatars are actually being controlled by dedicated human athletes straining their abilities to the limit to prevail? If it's not pre-scripted?

Comment Re:Please Stop (Score 1) 154 154

Imagine competitive Rubik's Cube solving to make it more understandable. That clearly involves intense physical dexterity, but also extremely rapid situational analysis and execution. It might not look as entertaining as football because it's way harder to know where the athlete is going with their cube (in football, you can see what's intended from the outside) but it's more or less the same type of thing.

Same with competitive gaming, with the advantage that if you know the game you can (like football) follow along and imagine how things might be executed, and see whether the players execute them. It's not 'can he run faster than the linebacker chasing him' but 'can he dodge this attack or pull off this complicated move'.

E-games are going to have to become more 'readable' to outsiders to go properly mainstream, but there's no conceptual problem with it. It's purely a matter of how audience-friendly you can make the concept of 'challenge' when it's a matter of situational analysis, threat and reaction. One awkward bit is that videogames can move too fast for the layman: but in the Michael Bay era, that's being steadily reinterpreted, people expect more demanding visual data.

Comment Re:Just get diagnosed with ADHD and be done. (Score 3, Interesting) 154 154

At that point it becomes a prerequisite: you gotta be a great gamer, know your stuff, practice AND have ADHD. So much of it that you function normally on bucketloads of Adderall. You're the twitchy equivalent of a Kenyan long-distance runner with the toothpicks for legs, you've reached your final form ;)

It's horrible but it's also interesting. I've studied this stuff a bit. It doesn't bother me when you have categorical advantage but it gets more worrying when part of the 'qualification' is a dark history that leaves the hapless 'competer' human wreckage with nothing to live for but the will to win, forever unsatisfied unless they are crushing their opponents. Yet that's part of the formula, and a surprising amount of sports and entertainment is the wrangling of these freakish entities and trying to keep them from wrecking their teams, their bands, their lives etc.

You can't get away from this in any competitive sphere including life itself: when it comes down to the cult of the individual, it is ALWAYS possible to guarantee victory if you're okay with it being Pyrhhic. A sense of self-preservation or honoring the sport/context/environment is a handicap, and so you get Lance Armstrong every time, to a greater or lesser extent. That's what winning IS.

Interesting expressing these thoughts for the first time on a site where (a) there's huge respect for the cult of the winner and (b) there's also an entire subculture of shared cooperating, open source, and truly free software that is literally the opposite approach: trying to tear down all barriers to produce a context where anything is possible to anyone, without obstacle.

Comment Re:Existing Law (Score 3, Funny) 310 310

Remember, your autonomous roving drone with a Beretta and solenoid is not an automatic weapon unless you code the trigger as a do/while loop!

Unroll the loop, so it counts as ten individual fire events that just happen to trigger really really fast ;P

Comment Re:Are drones really THAT dangerous? (Score 1) 368 368

All this plus drones flown by arrogant fools to get impressive camera footage will actively try to be IN the vicinity of anything on the scene. If there is an aircraft trying to make a firefighting pass, every single drone being flown with this agenda will try to get NEARER to the plane than all the other drones to ensure there aren't extra drones in the shot.

They'll not only try to get in the way but they'll try to get closer than the other drones for bragging rights. It's certainly not 'cool' to be the drone farthest away from the shot. Hence, human intervention actively making the problem worse.

Comment Re:Are drones really THAT dangerous? (Score 1) 368 368

Also bear in mind what a drone is. These five drones were competing with each other to get better footage. Dramatic close footage of helicopters is clearly good footage, and the kind of person who fights to get camera drones into the middle of a situation like this is the kind of person who'd try to get the helicopters and everything else in the shot good and tight. Close-up of the helicopter dumping water? Score!

These aren't stray animals, they are provably human beings on the scene somewhere, putting themselves and others in danger in order to be annoying paparazzi and excessively-wealthy-Silicon-valley-cocks AT THE SAME TIME.

By all means, shoot the drones on sight. No human paparazzi need be harmed, unless they croak from getting in the way of a massive fire on purpose.

I'm alarmed and impressed that they managed to get FIVE competing drones, all getting in the way as they tried to be 21st century paparazzi-by-wire. Literally, five rich people were doing this at the same time? What were they, waiting for the rich drone pilot bat-signal?

"DANGER on the freeway. Quick! Get in the way, and film it to post on rich douches of Instagram!"

Not that I'm bitter :D

Comment Re:Factual record (Score 2) 193 193

Indeed. I think a fair number of people making the argument,

"This should be operated with minimal rules so the market can decide how best to handle things! Bad solutions will fail and the best solution will prevail!"

are shall we say innocent of history. Typically a system like the NYC medallion system exists because at some previous time, the looser 'freer' system was in place, and it persistently led to catastrophic results. The 30,000 cabs on the street fighting for fares was not an accident, it was the natural consequence of New York City being New York City. The more repressive and thoroughly unfree system that arose, evolved out of the peculiar challenges of New York City. One of them is extreme wealth, which drives the unaffordable cost of the medallions.

That very thing illustrates the problem: the market of NYC tries to put so many cabs on the road that the roads cease to work for anybody, including emergency vehicles, garbage collection and so on. It's a bit like a good citybuilder game: you can get situations where things go out of balance and snowballing consequences produce a massive die-off and the destruction of your city.

NYC is allowed to not choose that.

Comment Re:Factual record (Score 2) 193 193

That depends on the extent to which cities and road systems (something created and designed by people, except in the case of Boston which was designed by cows) serve a social function as an indispensable part of that society.

If democratic society functions completely the same no matter what transportation does, then sure. Transportation can do what it likes as it doesn't matter.

If systems like cities absolutely require a transportation infrastructure, then society itself has a vested interest in dictating how that can go. It doesn't mean you have to have a state transportation system (though that does work). You can privatize it. Like taxi companies! Amazing how those can act with their own interests (even to the point of angering slashdotters) while also serving the needs and requirements of the larger society. You could nationalize it: you could nationalize Uber! But we typically don't, and so they function as independent entities but serve the requirements of the larger system, which must have some form of transportation to exist.

There's no special reason why 'a company arranging for rides between private persons' gets to step outside that overall context. If they are benefiting the overall society, we adapt to include them. If they can be recognized as a thing like a pyramid scheme, where it appears desirable but carries inevitable bad consequences that come out of what the system itself means, then we as a society get to say 'never mind the bait, this is forbidden because we don't like the bad consequences'.

Heck, net neutrality is an instance of society saying 'yes, fully enabling the freemarket will give companies more ability to drive profit, but we don't like the inefficiency of maximizing for THAT result and we don't like the bad consequences'.

Uber greases the wheels for certain high-quality easy transactions in transportation-heavy areas serving rich people wanting convenience and servitude, while turning over service of undesirable areas and situations to raw freemarket mathematics. Society is allowed to decide there are situations not subject to 'what the market will bear', and taxi companies are held to that on pain of losing permission to exist.

Uber wants to operate purely on freemarket principles and allow the individual drivers to fail this test with the buck stopping there. No larger global consequences, they just keep the profit and socialize the risk. Part of the system is churning through drivers aggressively with new ones entering the system, so by definition it requires subjecting riders to failing drivers at no penalty to Uber: it becomes the rider's problem to soak up the damage of the failed transaction and 'rate' the driver to get them fired (which I don't think is a guarantee? Depends on how many more drivers want to apply, surely). The rider takes on the burden of becoming the city's transportation police and justice system, actively criticizing the Uber driver and issuing rulings like a judge on which hapless schlub with a cellphone lives or dies in the Uber system. The rider gets a new job, which they must take seriously or the system breaks down and bad drivers continue to operate.

They're not paid for this service. The rider PAYS to perform this service. They are inspecting the meat by eating it, they are issuing licenses for surgery AFTER the operation takes place. (certainly loss of limb or death can be a consequence either from surgery or vehicle travel, licensed or unlicensed)

That's why 'a company arranging for rides' exists in a context. It's possible for a company to arrange for mob hits between private individuals, and that would still be illegal because the range of underlying behavior being 'arranged' contains societally undesirable things. Same with Uber.

Comment Re:The UBER's check-list to be a transport company (Score 1) 193 193

I think you've slightly misunderstood one small detail.

Uber certainly does not add 'actually showing up' because of the ratings system. It adds 'firing drivers' because of the ratings system, which one might call 'churn'.

If you figure Uber's normal operation is stable employment, I think you're not quite understanding what Uber is: it's all about churn. There's nothing persistent about it, it's a 'cloud' of transportation. (if they start using that, especially in court, I want them to pay me)

As such, by design it must sometimes fail you as a user because in any given situation you must calculate the odds of your request being outside the range of accepted requests for that instance of 'driver'. You know nothing about the driver, because people are a wildly varying quantity and Uber is neither equipped for, nor interested in, guaranteeing driver behavior. The driver is a cloud driver and could be anything, if they are wildly inappropriate it's a question of how quickly the ratings gets 'em and Uber blackballs 'em (assuming that even happens, maybe they can just reapply under another name?)

The one thing you are guaranteed is a car that LOOKS good, and is not older than a set year. That's what Uber can draw a sharp line on, and they have the power to simply deny drivers with the wrong car. They're not set up to reject drivers as drivers, because the driver is the cloud and there are always more total strangers offering to drive for Uber. The faster they reject half-decent drivers who don't make ratings goals, the faster they can take in new drivers across the full range from great to miserable or even dangerous/criminal.

So it does NOT add 'actually showing up'. It means 'if they didn't show up, you get to give a resounding 'boooo!' to one packet of that cloud, which may never even know who you were. A guy fails that hard, he's probably failing for more customers than you. Or he got a flat or something? His tires looked good, but they were factory seconds. He cut corners and his vehicle broke: bad rating, he and his cutrate car are gone, and you get nothing. Other people's use of the ratings system did not protect you because it is *not* being applied against a static collection of drivers, as a taxicab company would be. It's being applied against a cloud and all the new drivers constantly coming in by design, are drivers you have no information about whatever.

Can I put it in computer terms? Uber is in permanent alpha. You are always paying for dailies because you're the test case. If, in the 'pissy obstructing of traffic case' something happens in the city that grossly affects transportation systems and they choose to fight back and get their way/protect their profit margin/what have you, the taxi system gets in your face and strikes and obstructs traffic (I assume that's what you mean?). Uber just vanishes, under those circumstances. It's gone, you can't get a ride at all. Not a strike, not a thing that can correct the underlying problem harming transportation, it just politely disappears and you have no rides left, period.

"Summit meetings tend to be like panda matings. The expectations are always high, and the results usually disappointing." -- Robert Orben