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Comment: Re:I'm all for recreational drone use but... (Score 1) 72 72

Realistically, yes, I'd call the cops quickly if someone was buzzing the crowd unsafely with a quadcopter. And cops are not totally incompetent - it's usually not that hard to spot an R/C operator (presuming the operator is flying within line-of-sight.)

But if the opportunity presented itself, I'd probably throw a jacket or other object at the stupid thing, and if by some random chance it actually came down, I'd probably stomp the shit out of it. I have no tolerance or respect for people threatening my safety with their stupidity.

Comment: Re:Low-tech for a reason (Score 3) 130 130

No, I don't have to learn any of the skills, at all, and I don't want to. I don't want to spend days or hours or even minutes learning the finer points of pit BBQ, and that's the entire point of buying this robot. I don't have to learn when to turn up the heat or turn it down, I don't have to know how much wood to put in or when. I don't have to check on the condition of the product. I simply give my charge card to Williams-Sonoma, haul the BBQbot home and plug it in, add meat and wood, and get delicious brisket out the other end. Every. Single. Time. I wasted zero of my time learning how to barbeque brisket - I just enjoy the results of other people's learnings. If the robot fails, I drag it back to Williams-Sonoma and ask them to service it. It would be no different than any other tool that I own that I don't fix myself.

I don't understand your preoccupation with fear of breakdowns of systems. I know that some days, despite scheduled maintenance, my truck will breakdown in some way I can't fix and that I'll have to have to deal with a problem. Fear of the inevitable breakdown doesn't mean I sell my truck today and walk to work. It means that I understand the truck can break, and that some days I'll have to call for a tow. Similarly if the BBQbot fails in my restaurant, I tell the servers to 86 the brisket, and we sell grilled chicken until the replacement robot arrives.

As a business owner, why would I buy a BBQbot instead of hiring a pit master? Because the robot costs me $20,000, and it stays in the kitchen 24x7x365. A pit master has weekends, takes vacations, calls in sick (or doesn't call in at all), and costs me $60,000 every year. I'd be far more worried about hiring a temperamental person that could quit and cripple the menu on a busy night. And if I discovered I was that utterly dependent on the robot, I'd simply buy two of them.

Every business risks breakdowns of all kinds of complex systems every day: plumbing, fires, melted freezers, employees quitting, roof collapses, electrical problems, labor problems, yet most manage to stay in business even through disasters. Why? Because they know how to adapt to problems, and because taking the risks yields far more reward than doing nothing; instead of sitting there paralyzed by the fear that something might go wrong.

Comment: Re:Low-tech for a reason (Score 4, Insightful) 130 130

Through lifelong dedication, a craftsman can align a car with a string, or smoke BBQ in a trash can, or whatever it is he or she does. But their activity doesn't scale beyond what they can personally produce. And if they end up smoking 100 pounds of meat per day to run their restaurant, that's it. There's little time left in the day to innovate. Craftsmen don't scale well, unless they industrialize their processes, (and then you risk ending up with a product with all the qualities of Budweiser.).

The rest of us are dedicated to other things: jobs, families, other hobbies. Does our inexperience mean we can't enjoy products of similar quality as the craftsmen produce? What's wrong with distilling the essence of their wisdom into a PID controller and an Atmel chip? If my BBQ-bot fails, I'm certainly not going to fix it with string - but that's not the point. The point is I could occasionally enjoy a high quality smoked brisket, thanks to a machine that knows more than I do about the process.

Comment: We should do what GPS does (Score 1) 233 233

Ignore it. How much does it impact humanity if the clock noon drifts a tiny bit from solar noon? We're looking at an impact of shifting noon by about a minute over the course of an average human's lifespan. The impact of ignoring it means that people who rely on sundials are left to solve the sync problem on their own, and that's a whole lot less of an impact than NTP.

Other systems that synchronize with natural phenomena, such as automated irrigation systems or automated lighting systems, can be adjusted by their owners.

If some purist insists that we have to fix it, let's agree to fix it once per century, and let the people 100 years from now figure out if it's important enough to them to worry about.

Comment: Re:change (Score 2) 37 37

"It's not about people, jokes, and #brands. It's about information, about news and pictures and stories."

Look at every other mass communication system, ever. They all have had to deal with noise. Online site owners have evolved some things that work pretty well, like Slashdot's moderation system with metamoderation, voting schemes, "like" buttons, etc. More than 20 years ago usenet news had cancelmoose. Offline we have long had people like newspaper editors, publishers, standards and practices teams, and even government censors.

Either publishers find a way to deal with spammers, trolls, and griefers; or readers abandon them once the signal-to-noise ratio gets too low as they collapse under the weight of carrying terabytes of gibberish and spam. Frankly I'm surprised Twitter hasn't offered this kind of solution sooner.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. - Edmund Burke