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Comment: Re:And I'm the feminist deity (Score 1) 277

Friend of mine, his wife is a dentist, she's pulling in nearly 300k a year.

I make better than 300K per year as a software developer, when you include base, bonus and stock grants (which I view as variable cash bonuses, since I have them sold automatically the instant they vest). And I don't have to stick my fingers in peoples' mouths.

Comment: Different perspectives... (Score 1) 111

by swillden (#49772379) Attached to: Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn

Whatever you think of the various sides of this argument, it's interesting to me to look at how different the sides are.

The US is, on average, far more concerned about pornography and other sexual issues than the UK, but there is not and never will be any significant discussion of government-mandated filters, outside of specific situations like government-run schools. The reason is our belief in the importance of free speech. Although there are plenty of Americans who would like to ban porn, no one at a national level says it out loud. No one seriously talks about it even at local, highly homogeneous levels, because everyone knows it won't fly.

The UK is somewhat less prudish than the US, but is perfectly willing to carve out large exceptions to free speech wherever it's convenient. Therefore, British pols do talk seriously about trying to ban porn, except for adults who opt out.

Europe (as a whole; there are exceptions) is even less concerned about free speech than the UK, but apparently considers porn to be something worth fighting for, to the degree that they're willing to invest at least a little effort in fighting to keep porn available to kids in the UK.

FWIW, I think porn is bad. Conceptually, there's nothing wrong with human sexuality, but porn presents an extremely distorted view of human sexuality. I think regular consumption of hardcore pornography, particularly by adolescents, skews expectations and perceptions in ways that have negative consequences. That said, I have no interest in trying to ban it. I do filter it on my home network, but that's a half measure which mostly serves as an early warning system (I get notified of attempts to get to porn sites) which offers a chance to talk the issues over if I find my kids looking for it.

All of which mostly says that I'm a fairly typical American parent: concerned about porn but unwilling to take the strong anti-freedom steps needed to effectively ban it :-)

Comment: Re:When you're using words like "reeducation" (Score 1) 277


Okay, you raging sexist. Let's take it down a notch for a second here ......... [short time later] ....... It still blows my mind that every time this comes up, almost nobody talks about the elephant in the room: Women are smarter and value their time better than men in general.

Plank in your eye before speck in your brothers, etc.

Comment: Re:no power (Score 1) 277

Yeah yeah yeah. It's so tough being a programmer.

Reality check: many, many other jobs are doing worse. You may think that programming is going down hill as a career* but would mothers rather that their daughters study Eng Lit and then become a Starbucks barista when making it as a journalist doesn't quite work out for them?

*though I don't see that, heck on the front page is a story about how much money is flooding into the industry from VC's right now

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 639

by swillden (#49770527) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would?

How about the individuals that committed the crimes?

That's certainly fine with respect to crimes that justify criminal punishment (e.g. prison). But if regulators choose a market-style punishment (fines), then they're just acting as a market force, and that's a consideration for shareholders as owners.

Do you know how corporate boards work? They're designed to shield the management level executives from any such governance by the shareholders.

Utter nonsense. Yes, in some cases that may be the effect, but it's certainly not the design. Your cynicism has gotten the better of you. By design, boards of directors are intended to serve the same role that elected political representatives do for citizens of a nation; to represent the interests of the voters. It's not feasible for every governmental or corporate decision to be voted upon by the whole body, so they choose representatives. A proper board of directors takes a dim view of executives acting against the interests of the shareholders, and boards that fail their jobs badly enough do get ousted.

Plus, the fines paid by the shareholders are only a tiny fraction of the money the corporation made from these illegal activities.

That just indicates that regulators are not making the fines large enough. If regulators want to use financial penalties, they have to make them large enough that bad actions are unprofitable.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 386

by swillden (#49770359) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

You're assuming that simulating the structure of an organic brain is necessary to accomplish the same functions. That's like assuming that simulating legs is the only way to construct a self-moving machine, just because that's the way that nature has done it. Evolution produces workable schemes and fine tunes them; but it clearly suffers from the local maximum problem, while the scientific approach to generating knowledge is much less prone to that limitation. You're also ignoring the fact that the basic construction of our computers is orders of magnitude faster and more energy-efficient than the neurochemical processes that drive organic intelligence. That fundamental difference in materials has to make a difference at larger scales, I think. There are likely other questionable assumptions underlying your guess.

Your assumptions may be valid, but we have no way of knowing. I suspect they're not, myself. What is certainly true is that we won't know until we understand how intelligence works.

Comment: Re:How is this tech related? (Score 1) 141

by IamTheRealMike (#49770221) Attached to: EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US

Um, yes.

How exactly do you intend to prove that something is safe? There have been cases in the past where chemicals were thought to be safe, and then found that they cause a higher risk of common disease but only after many decades (smoking is one obvious example of that).

How do you even discover that without large scale usage by humans? How would anything ever get approved? What if the drugs are believed to save lives, but it can't be proved that they're always side effect free? What then?

IMO, this shouldn't be up to governments. They should act as a source of trusted advice, at best. The idea that the FDA might have killed more people than it's saved (by delaying the use of medicines that were later found to be safe and effective) is an interesting one, though I can't remember if it's ever actually been proven or is just some libertarian meme.

Comment: Re:Spin everywhere... (Score 1) 141

by IamTheRealMike (#49768971) Attached to: EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US

How anyone, who is not a subject matter expert, can make a decision in this is just beyond me

You can't easily do so, but you can easily recognise the spin for what it is. As you say, the Guardian wants us to believe that the chemical industry is some cigar-smoking shades-wearing embodiment of corporate evil here, which is unlikely. It seems to be more like a dispute over the costs and benefits of enacting a ban before harm is conclusively established. So ..... just ignore it! My opinions on TTIP have been entirely unmoved by this story as it seems to be a dispute that would have happened anyway, regardless of whether TTIP existed.

Comment: Re:How is this tech related? (Score 4, Interesting) 141

by IamTheRealMike (#49768787) Attached to: EU Drops Plans For Safer Pesticides After Pressure From US

Yes indeed. Whenever I read a story in the press that asks me to believe that a large group of people are utterly, totally evil and get their rocks off by being malicious psychopaths, I go looking for a reality check.

Digging through apparently endless links arrives us at this quote:

Peter Smith, executive director for product stewardship at CEFIC, which represents the European chemical industry, said the Nordic report attribution of health problems to EDCs was “arbitrary”. He said: “The link between exposure to a chemical and an illness has not been shown in many cases. The authors themselves say they have some trouble with causality.”

Smith said the delays to EDC regulation in the EU did not suit the industry. “Nobody is happy with the delays. But we would prefer it to be permanent and right rather than temporary and wrong.” He said case-by-case rigorous assessment was needed and that any precautionary action had to be proportional to the evidence of harm.

However, Professor Andreas Kortenkamp, a human toxicologist at Brunel University London in the UK, said the epidemiological work needed to prove causation is very difficult. For example, he said, analysing links to birth defects would mean having taken tissue samples from mothers before they gave birth. “But there is very good, strong evidence from animal and cell line test systems. The chemical industry only likes to emphasis the first part of that.” He said precaution was the only safe approach and said the Nordic report was good work.

In other words, the EU doesn't actually know these chemicals are dangerous to humans. They have some initial findings from animal studies that should be followed up on, and the chemical industry agrees with that, but heck if every mouse study translated directly to humans we'd all live a thousand years and be totally disease free by now.

So this entire dispute boils down to non-expert bureaucrats wanting to ban some chemicals early without clear evidence that they harm people, based on an abundance of caution, and the chemical industry saying "you should really prove your case first". Not entirely unexpected - EU regulators won't be the people who actually have to find alternatives and then do all the work to transition to them. They'll just issue a regulation, then go home and tell the wife/husband the story of how they fought the Big Chem to save helpless babies. The cost will get passed on the consumer. Skilled manpower and resources will be diverted from other things.

If they're right and the effects reproduce in humans - great, we got a few fewer years in which the chemicals were interfering with fertility. If they're wrong, well, the cost of that would be huge.

I don't see any clearly right or wrong side on this, which probably means the government should stay out of it. Mandate labelling at most, so consumers themselves can decide, at least until the scientific evidence of harm is stronger.

Comment: Re:Banksters (Score 1) 639

by swillden (#49768003) Attached to: Greece Is Running Out of Money, Cannot Make June IMF Repayment

Remember, it's the shareholders that pay these fines. And no one in the bank corporation is held accountable.

What an odd thing to say. Of course the owners of the bank take the hit when fines are levied. Who else would? And it's up to the owners of the bank to decide how to hold their employees accountable.

Comment: Re:Missing the key point (Score 1) 386

by swillden (#49767895) Attached to: What AI Experts Think About the Existential Risk of AI

Very well put. I came here to make this post, but now I don't have to.

One quibble, though:

nobody has any hardware that there is any reason to believe is within several orders of magnitude of being able to run one, etc.

We also have no reason to believe that we don't have hardware completely capable of running one, and haven't for quite some time. Until we have some idea how intelligence works and how to construct an AI, we really can't have any idea whether or not our hardware is sufficient.

"For the man who has everything... Penicillin." -- F. Borquin