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Comment: Re:Wrong way of thinking. (Score 1) 162

by Dr_Barnowl (#48642893) Attached to: What Happens To Society When Robots Replace Workers?

Which is basically impossible unless all the participants are an AI.

Take healthcare. The government of my country has an obsession with offering the public a "choice" in their healthcare. Which is dumb.

What people want from their healthcare is the best treatment. But they're not equipped to make decisions like that. It takes a decade of experience and training to make decisions like that. The remaining differentiators, for certain things, are almost totally meaningless. "Oh, you can go to THIS hospital, which is crap, but has a really good menu in the canteen...."

The whole point of capitalism is to leverage the efficiencies of specialisation. Which by definition, means that you're not an expert in all the goods and services you'll want to consume, because you let other people be an expert so they can make widgets more efficiently and provide them to you at a lower price than you could make them for.

Top that off with sectors of the economy that *deliberately* make it virtually impossible to make an objective choice (mobile phone service, financial instruments, etc), and you cannot have a free market economy, because you cannot have perfect knowledge by all participants.

The natural outcome is that wealth will concentrate. It doesn't matter where it concentrates first. It's like the formation of a solar system. You start with a big cloud of dust, and minor movements cause concentration of mass. Those tiny increases in mass cause more mass to be drawn in, until you have a small number of vast bodies with maybe a few moons orbitting them, and it's incredibly difficult for anything to change.

Money becomes synonymous with power, and power arranges things such that it begets more.

Comment: Re:Sales (Score 1) 215

by Dr_Barnowl (#48624149) Attached to: What Will Microsoft's "Embrace" of Open Source Actually Achieve?

It's a shame that Sharpdevelop is so tied to Windows ; if it lived up to the promise of the platform, it would just run on Linux. Monodevelop is a *terrible* port and really lags behind SharpDevelop on features.

Even MS gets that UI is hard - the Windows.Forms namespace was being specifically excluded from the open-sourcing AFAICR.

Comment: Re:Someone has (Score 1) 270

by Dr_Barnowl (#48576407) Attached to: Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

And for that convenience you sell your control over your coffee maker.

I mean, seriously. It's a hot water machine with DRM on it. If the bottled water guys get hold of this idea, they'll make a kettle that only boils when you put the cap from the bottle into a slot. See what a ludicrous idea that is?

I have an Aeropress. You put a paper filter, and coffee in it. When you're done, you're left with a puck of coffee grounds which you eject into your (compost) bin.

You then rinse it under the tap and enjoy your coffee. Maintenance done.

Comment: Re:Someone has (Score 2) 270

by Dr_Barnowl (#48576343) Attached to: Keurig 2.0 Genuine K-Cup Spoofing Vulnerability

This is why I used a cafetiere for the longest time.

I made all the coffee I wanted to drink at once, and the only waste was the grounds (and yes, it seems I'm wasting them, thanks for the tips about using them as soil improvement, sibling poster.

Now I use an Aeropress.

It makes better coffee, at the cost of a small circle of filter paper as waste. The grounds are much easier to deal with because it compresses them into a puck. I may even start saving them for my herb garden....

Comment: Re:Good grief. (Score 1) 135

by Dr_Barnowl (#48543189) Attached to: British 'Porn Filter' Blocks Access To Chaos Computer Club

That's the "City of London".

It's not the city of London. It's a small, privately owned borough in the middle. It has it's own private police force (who are staunch advocates of strong copyright policing, surprise). It's the scene of many of the financial crimes of this and previous centuries, but curiously, these don't get too much attention from their own private police.

Comment: Re:Great (Score 3, Insightful) 602

by Dr_Barnowl (#48518171) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Yes, you need robot makers.

But the whole point of automation is to reduce costs or increase productivity or quality.

If you robotize McDonalds, you're not going to increase the number of people who eat there ; that's pretty much determined by the size of the restaurant and the capacity of the kitchen. Quality is pretty much set by the quality of the ingredients, and is not the reason people eat in McDonalds.

The kitchen labour is flexible - McDonalds go to great pains to have people on contracts that mean they can have them work as little or as much as they need. So the thing they are making flex is labour, not production. Add robots, and you have less human labour. If you don't, there is no economic reason to do so - you don't need more production (or they would be having problems recruiting, not trying to keep their workforce lean).

If robots cost more to make and maintain than your human labour, you don't use them. Therefore robots mean fewer dollars in the pockets of human labour. It creates SOME jobs higher up the supply chain, sure, but not the kind of jobs that McDonalds kitchen labour can do - these guys are by and large, on the lower half of the bell curve for ability, as you point out. But if you need to spend more dollars on robots and engineers to handle them, you're doing it wrong. Therefore more money departs from the labour end of the economy (the customers of McDonalds) and into the pockets of the owners (the customers of 5 star restaurants).

Extend this to every low-skill employer and you have a vast underclass of unemployed people who i) need supporting ii) can no longer afford to buy goods and services that they previously would have afforded.

Lower demand means less economic activity which means more push to increase productivity and decrease labour.

Before long, robots are making the robots. The only guy with a job in robotics is the guy who maintains the robot maintaining robot. Sooner or later they realise that if they make another robot maintaining robot, they can make him redundant too.

At this point you can go one of two ways :

i) The 0.1% own all the robots and don't see why they should share their wealth. The remaining human population compete for an increasingly small pool of non-automatable jobs, the unemployed are herded into basic subsistence camps (by robot "peacekeepers").
ii) Everyone realises that the robots are made of materials from the Earth, and powered by energy from the Sun, that the Earth should be owned by all of us equally and that we should be striving for universal human happiness, and that if we cooperate we can all have a living standard that exceeds the definition of "comfortable" by some large margin, since all these robots made everything so gosh-darned productive

Comment: Re:There is no single "fair" value. (Score 1) 602

by Dr_Barnowl (#48517963) Attached to: UK Announces 'Google Tax'

Would Walmart be as successful if they had to pay a living wage to keep employees?


Wages that are so low that the government is forced to step in and subsidise them? That's basically slavery. It is in fact, worse than slavery. If I kept slaves, I would have to feed, clothe, and accomodate them. Wal-Mart doesn't even bother to pay them enough for that, because it knows that their cost of living will be kept up by the government, aka, the people.

When all those right-wingers are screaming about minimum wage being too high, they're really advocating more socialism, because you can't have wages that low without social welfare programs. Without welfare, no-one would take a job for so little because they would be unable to survive.

Comment: Re:Why the subsidy? (Score 1) 110

by Dr_Barnowl (#48473075) Attached to: UK Announces Hybrid Work/Study Undergraduate Program To Fill Digital Gap

Because the economy increasingly runs on good IT people, but there aren't enough to go around.

People around the age of 40 - 45 in this country come from a real boom for the IT industry - the introduction of the "home computer" - 8-bit microcomputers within the budget of the working citizen.

The perfect storm of kids TV that only lasted for an hour or so each day, and computers that came with a BASIC interpreter, and you needed to learn at least one BASIC command on to get them to do anything, created a generation of "bedroom programmers". People would learn to program for fun. We then had a perfect progression through 8-bit micros, to 16-bit, and then 32-bit PCs, learning all the way.

The skills you need these days to get your computer to do something interesting, whether it sits in a box under your desk, on your lap, or it's just a circuit board behind a flat piece of glass, are very much different, and typically involve poking a couple of pretty icons.

Kids get very disappointed when they can't make things go all whizz-bang within 5 minutes of their first coding lesson. It's always been a special fraction of the population with the inclination to be programmers. But these days, the bar has been set even higher - you have to have a real obsession with programming to overcome the draw of all the other shiny toys out there, especially when they discover that to make even one simple app requires many hours of dedicated study and practice and work.

That's the problem. Computers were fun in our day because we were doing things that no-one else had done. Catching up to others is work.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"