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Comment: Re: Cry Me A River (Score 1) 520

by shutdown -p now (#47420819) Attached to: Normal Humans Effectively Excluded From Developing Software

How can they even whet their childhood apetite with simple code if Windows no longer includes the QBASIC exe?

It does include csc.exe and vbc.exe, however.

An extremely complex barrier to entry needs to be overcome if they want Windows native code

Why would regular people care specifically about having "Windows native code"?

Comment: Re:Modern Day Anti-Evolutionists (Score 1) 347

There can be no "scientific consensus" in a society that hasn't discovered the scientific method. In those times, at best, what you had was the consensus of the "wise people".

So out of all the things you've listed, the "plum pudding" atomic model is the only one that would even qualify. But there was no consensus that it was like that. At best, it was accepted as the most reasonable model given all the evidence at the time (but, really, physicists had wildly different notions of atoms back then, and none of them were solid theories). It only took five years for more evidence to appear that proved the model was not viable.

Comment: Re:Pascal (Score 1) 394

by shutdown -p now (#47411927) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

I think Borland Pascal only became popular because the PC at the time was so extremely limited in memory and speed, so that a compiler for a simpler language made sense.

Borland Pascal wasn't really meaningfully simpler than Modula-2, though. It had modules (units) with separate compilation, and all kinds of low-level primitive, down to inline assembly. At some point (IIRC it was version 5.5? either way, still late 80s) it even became a full-fledged object-oriented language. In terms of what you could do with it, it was definitely comparable with C and C++ compilers available for DOS at the time, and separate compilation helped compile speeds - the short compile time of Pascal, and later Delphi, was truly legendary. They also had what was by far the best DOS IDE, with syntax highlighting, integrated debugger and help system etc. Granted, this was also true for Borland C++, but that was more expensive.

Yeah, on Unix, it never really got off the ground because C was the system language there. On DOS, it was a whole different world.

Comment: Re:I'll enjoy this.... (Score 1) 521

by shutdown -p now (#47410627) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

I'm not advocating the replacement of workers with robots and I do not think the GP was either.

But why not? Clearly, if a robot can do hard labor instead of a human, that should be preferable on humanitarian grounds. If it can also do it for cheaper, then, as you rightly note, it should also be preferable on economic grounds. The only argument to the contrary is that people who are pushed out of jobs by robots (and this will clearly keep encroaching, so a laborer can only "retreat" by re-qualifying etc so far) are out of their source of income. But if the sole reason why we give them jobs is to provide them with income, then it's basically just a thinly veiled form of the broken window fallacy.

We may have to reign ourselves to the fact that if robots can replace unskilled workers, some people will need to be supported by the public somehow.

That was the point that I was trying to make. Automation is inevitably going to drive down the cost of labor so much that selling it to obtain basic income will cease to be a realistic proposition for a significant part (long term, probably the vast majority) of the population. At that point we'll need to come up with some other arrangement.

Note though that the long-term proposition is not "some people supported by the public". It's the reverse - "the public" supported by a few people (those who would still have jobs - like programming the robots). In fact, it's not even clear what "support" would mean, since, if most of society is basically on free welfare, then money is not really a universal medium of exchange anymore... the few people who still work - whom would they get the money for their work for, and what would they spend it on?

Hell, get that proportion high enough, and you'd probably have people competing to get a chance to do "real work" - for free.

Comment: Re:Pascal (Score 3, Insightful) 394

by shutdown -p now (#47410177) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

Pascal had fucked up string handling, though some dialects partially rectified that.

Also, back in the golden age of DOS (late 80s to early 90s), [Borland] Pascal was in fact the language in which many "real" applications were developed, as well; even games. Delphi was also pretty popular on Windows in late 90s to early 00s.

Comment: Re:pointers (Score 4, Informative) 394

by shutdown -p now (#47410121) Attached to: Python Bumps Off Java As Top Learning Language

It doesn't have pointers, but it does have references - which are basically pointers without arithmetic. In fact, in Python, everything in a reference (even primitive types like int are reference types). This is sufficient to explain the core notion of indirection, and data structures built on that notion, like linked lists or binary trees.

Comment: Re:more leisure time for humans! (Score 1) 521

by shutdown -p now (#47409033) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

You may well be right - that's why I said "in theory". The way the originators of the movement saw it is that they would first need to temporarily establish a socialist system with a strong state that would have to be there for some period of time to 1) advance technology to the point where scarcity is not an issue anymore (they believed it is only possible under socialism), and 2) raise several generations educated and indoctrinated with the outlook that is necessary for such an economic system. The actual amount of time necessary for this was never specified by the theorists, though Marxist-Leninist states often declared goals like "building communism in 10 years" (and then, of course, it would still be 10 years away after 10 years).

Regarding altruism, it is actually a well-established fact that it is a basic instinct in humans. There are many anthropological and ethological studies that demonstrate it, even in very young children. The catch is that it's not universal altruism, but what they call "parochial altruism" - basically, mentally dividing everyone into "us" and "them", and extending altruism only to "us", often at the expense of "them" (which makes sense, since the evolutionary mechanism that causes altruism to appear in the first place necessitates such divisions to maximize gene propagation).

Comment: Re:more leisure time for humans! (Score 1) 521

by shutdown -p now (#47408303) Attached to: Foxconn Replacing Workers With Robots

We don't know what people do under communism, since we didn't have it anywhere (nor did anyone ever claim to have it implemented).

The way it is supposed to work in theory is through education and upbringing, by making people (most of them, anyway) conscious of common welfare and willing to participate in the scheme that maximizes it for all, rather than freeloading to maximize it for themselves. You'd inevitably get some freeloaders, anyway - this is a fairly common story device in communist sci-fi - but the majority of people are not sociopaths, and altruism is in fact a strongly ingrained instinct, and you only really need a majority to keep the system going.

When you don't know what you are doing, do it neatly.

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