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Comment: Re:Ducted fans? (Score 1) 67

by Rei (#49763377) Attached to: The Hoverboard Flies Closer To Reality

You don't need "antigravity" (which in all likelihood is impossible). Diamagnetic hoverboards would be possible... if we could make ridiculously powerful, compact halbach arrays in the board. Also you'd need a clever mechanism to detect and deal with flying over ferromagnetic material, or otherwise it's going to smack into your board really hard.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 4, Insightful) 157

by swillden (#49762097) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

That assumes that the business can raise prices without consequence, which is an invalid assumption.

Only if the competition can avoid the taxes. If all of the players in the market get hit with the same taxes, then all of them absolutely can and will raise prices, and there will be no consequences.

Taxes are a percentage of profits, and are not deductible from revenue when calculating profits. So if Amazon raises their prices (and, assuming no change in consumer behavior, their revenue) by 10%, they also increase the amount of taxes they owe by 10%. So now they have to raise their prices again to cover the additional tax, lather rinse repeat.

This is a standard financial calculation, and a trivial one. The tax is 10%, so the increase is 10%, but there's 10% tax on that, so 1%, meaning the increase needs to be 11%, continue ad infinitum (literally). In other words, the new price needs to be 11.1111...% higher than the old one to keep profit margins unchanged. More generally, the increase needs to be the sum of the infinite series with terms r^n. This series is convergent if r < 1, and converges to 1/(1-r). So for a 25% tax, the company needs to increase prices by 1-1/(1-.25) = 33.333...% to keep profit margins unchanged after accounting for the new tax.

Of course, it doesn't quite happen like that. In practice, companies don't instantly raise prices. They do take the hit for a while, where it gets absorbed by the investors, not the customers. Then they allocate a portion of the losses to employees, in the form of reduced raises, or benefits. Then they raise prices. But eventually they get back to a steady state of roughly the same return on assets that they had before the tax hike.

Comment: Re:To be more precise, Amazon will collect on taxe (Score 5, Insightful) 157

by swillden (#49762053) Attached to: Amazon Decides To Start Paying Tax In the UK

Specifically, all corporate taxes paid come from three categories of individuals: consumers, who pay higher prices for items to cover the taxes; employees, who make lower wages to cover the taxes; and shareholders, who earn lower returns (and note that the two former categories are often also shareholders, via their pension plans). Suppliers can also lose, but they're generally corporations as well, with their own employees and investors who actually eat the loss. In the long run, though, the investors don't lose because capital flows away from lower returns and towards higher ones. So companies must find ways to keep their returns up to somewhere near the mean rate of return.

Once you understand that no taxes are paid by corporations, ever, then you should also recognize that corporate taxes are not only ultimately paid by individuals, but the individuals almost never realize they're paying it. How many people know their prices would be lower, wages higher, or pension more secure, if it weren't for corporate taxes? And, therefore, how many voters have any interest in opposing corporate taxation? To politicians and voters, corporate taxes look almost like free money. Ratchet up the corporate taxes and no people get hurt, just those nasty corporations. (Actually, politicians sometimes get even more value out of threatening corporate taxes than enacting them, since it tends to encourage said corporations to buy off, er, donate to their re-election funds.)

I assert that while taxes are necessary, the electorate should see and understand exactly what they're paying, so they can evaluate the value they're receiving for the money they're paying. Hidden taxes are evil, and therefore corporate taxes are evil, and should be abolished, not raised.

Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 89

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."

Comment: Re: Meh... (Score 4, Insightful) 234

by Rei (#49757847) Attached to: California Votes To Ban Microbeads

The problem is, sewage treatment systems have a lot of trouble (at present, let's just simply say "can't") filtering them out. They go into the sewage, they will go into the sea.

Setting up filters for particles as small as 1 micron for all sewage going out into the ocean is obviously going to be a massive expensive. Who wants to pay for that so that people can keep sticking bits of plastic in cosmetics?

Seriously, whose bright idea was it to make bits of plastic, bite-size for plankton, looking like fish eggs, whose very design intent is to wash out into the ocean? And no, while they're not harmful to us, they absolutely will be to plankton - if not immediately (how healthy do you think you'd be if you wolfed down an entire meal-sized chunk of plastic?), then with time. Plastics act as chelators for heavy metals and a number of organic poisons, to such a degree that they might even be economical to mine. There's simply no way that this isn't going to have an impact.

And it's so stupid when one can just use soluble crystals (salts, sugars, etc) instead of plastic.

Comment: Re:from what I read... (Score 1) 33

The demo of course takes advantage of Sony’s ‘asynchronous reprojection’ technique to ultimately output at 120 FPS." Translation: Two eyes means two frames, so you get 120fps from 60fps. Right?

No, they are talking about a technique that is also used by Oculus to translate variable frame rate renderings to smooth fixed frame rate output without judder.

Comment: I like Quantico (Score 1) 300

by the_Bionic_lemming (#49756437) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Dumb Phone?

The motorola Quantico or the kyocera dura XT are the dumbphones I've carried - I like riding my motorcycle year round - phones like those can take shock, water, being thrown against a wall and still work.

I've owned both and while I liked the Quantico better - US Cellular moved out of my region so I was forced to the dura XT on Sprint.

Comment: Re:Pot, meet kettle (Score 1) 226

by swillden (#49756299) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

Global warming is a sloooooooooooooooooow process

Not necessarily. Greenland ice core records show that in the past the planet has seen temperature shifts of up to 7 C in as little as 30 years. 7 C is huge. It's like transporting Moscow to Rome. Of course, we have no idea what caused such rapid changes in the past. It wasn't CO2 levels, or particulates.

Comment: Re:Math (Score 1) 226

by swillden (#49756245) Attached to: Asteroid Risk Greatly Overestimated By Almost Everyone

i would not be surprised if humans died off within a couple centuries after that.

I would. If one or more isolated populations managed to survive more than a couple of generations after the event, I think it's highly likely that they'd continue to survive indefinitely. The worst of the changes would be past, and they'd clearly have learned how to survive in the new environment, else they'd have died sooner.

Human intelligence makes us highly adaptable, as evidenced by the extraordinary diversity of environments in which we live, and lived even before the advent of modern technology. Humans who lack the necessary knowledge of how to survive in a particular environment are at severe risk of death any place on the planet, but if they manage to survive for even a year or two, odds are that they'll have learned enough to be able to extend that time almost indefinitely.

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated. -- Poul Anderson

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