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Comment: Re:Built Upon Failures (Score 1) 244

by PieSquared (#37002298) Attached to: Google's Self Driving Car Crashes
Because we have a need to *blame* someone when something goes wrong. If a robotic car makes a mistake, crashes, and kills someone, who goes to jail? The owner, who submitted it for through testing before allowing it to drive on the road? The manufacturer, who did the same and also preformed thousands of hours of independent testing? One of the dozens of engineers or hundreds of programmers who worked on it? A person is hypothetically dead, and they wouldn't have hypothetically died if not for this robotic car! Who do we get to punish!?

The statistical fact that if every robotic car on the roads had been driven by a human, then there would have been ten fatal accidents in the time it took for this first robotic car fatality to happen isn't much comfort to the family of the hypothetical dead victim. Especially when the on-board cameras show that this particular accident would have been trivially prevented by a human driver. And you can bet that *some* politician is going to plaster that hypothetical victim's face all over the national news until everyone knows that robotic cars are a terrible idea and should be banned.

Now, we can hope that cooler heads would prevail, and the video of the avoidable crash would be shown along with dozens of videos of crashes that no human could have avoided. That people will point out that even if it does sometimes make mistakes, it's still better then a human driver, that injures and even deaths result from seatbelts and airbags, but that we keep them anyway because they save more lives then they take. That we can change the software so that this particular mistake never happens again, and do more testing to eliminate any other extant problems before anyone is hurt. Not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We can *hope* for that, but I personally don't have enough faith in US politics to really believe it.

Comment: Re:Not a good sign... (Score 2) 171

by PieSquared (#36901378) Attached to: OK Go Goes HTML5
"And what happened with HTML5 being an open, cross-platform standard"

Nothing. It's just that so far nobody has a complete implementation, and different browsers have different parts working. At the moment it appears Chrome is the furthest along, and they're pushing people to use their working subset of HTML5 to the fullest with the whole "chrome experiments" thing. The others will catch up eventually.

Comment: Re:How... Ironic. (Score 1) 458

by PieSquared (#36586162) Attached to: US Supreme Court: Video Games Qualify For First Amendment
Because Breyer dissented for a different and less interesting reason? "It's okay to abridge the freedom of children to protect them" vs "the founders' society didn't give kids freedom of speech, so we can't grant it to them on the basis of the constitution."

You might disagree with the first, but if the second was applied everywhere then the very justice that voiced this opinion wouldn't be allowed to hold office. (Or, well, if you ignore the 14th amendment.)

Comment: Re:Simple solution: (Score 1) 1070

by PieSquared (#36381518) Attached to: Have We Reached Maximum Sustainable Population Size?
No, that's stupid. Do you know what will happen if enough people switch to vegetarianism? Land will become cheaper. And then when the housing slump ends, it will be turned into cheap housing. We won't, for example, use the extra land to grow more food and ship it overseas out of the goodness of our collective hearts.

When (if) overpopulation actually becomes a serious problem, food will become more expensive (beyond inflation), and farming more profitable. Then some of the land sold by farmers to developers over the last few decades (and where I live, that's a lot of land) will be bought back, and we'll grow more food. If things get really bad, meat will start to cost more in line with its increased land use and effort, and people will eat less meat.

Why hasn't this already happened, if there are places where people are starving? Blame the local governments, that are either ineffectual or corrupt in just about every case. That prevents people from earning money with the serious expectation of being allowed to spend it, and they therefore can't seriously affect the price of food.

Comment: Re:What it comes down to (Score 1) 174

by PieSquared (#36344004) Attached to: India's Schooling Experiment Tests Rich and Poor
No, they won't. Or at least they won't become the equals of the students that attend the 35k schools at the moment. The reason is simple: to get into a 35k school you have to have 35k to spare and think a good education is worth 35k. Parents who value education are more likely to have kids who value education, and kids who value education learn better then those who think it's a waste of time... no matter how much you spend on them.

Comment: Re:Another viewpoint on calculators and exams... (Score 1) 636

by PieSquared (#35787902) Attached to: Are Graphical Calculators Pointless?
"You separate man from his tools - take his clothes, his history and his language away... he becomes an animal. The machines... they are the hands and we are the head. Only together do we make humanity."

Now, teaching people how to do basic math by hand... sure, there are good reasons for that. But once you get to a certain point it is more useful to be able to describe a problem to a computer (and to understand the results) then it is to work it out by hand, and kids should be taught that as well.

Comment: Re:Firefox5 would be fine if it's a major advance (Score 1) 453

by PieSquared (#35702692) Attached to: Firefox 5 Details: Sharing, Home Tab, PDF Viewer
The only thing I can think of is that they haven't used it much. I mean, if all you want to type is URL's it will add a few keystrokes until it 'learns' the ones you frequently use, I guess. But if you ever can't remember exactly the name of a website it's a good way to search only your browser history rather then everything on the internet. It's honestly one of the few things I actually miss going from firefox to chrome.

Comment: Re:20 feet of steel, not 200. (Score 1) 294

by PieSquared (#35254114) Attached to: US Navy Breaks Laser Record
The problem with weaponized lasers has always been that it's hard to keep them exactly on one spot long enough to really do damage. I mean, against a static target you're probably not going to need 20 feet of steel in a second, but if you're aiming at a ballistic missile then maybe you need to get through a quarter inch of steel in a millisecond. Then of course there's the typical "paint a mirror on your missiles" defense - but mirrors aren't perfect, and some fraction of the damage gets through (and once it starts melting, the mirror gets less and less perfect).

Comment: Re:Selection effects (Score 2) 184

by PieSquared (#35086668) Attached to: NASA Finds Family of Habitable Planets
They're requiring three transits to flag a potential planet for verification with other telescopes. And my understanding is that the resolution is sufficient to detect earth-sized habitable zone planets without considerable trouble, once it's been up there for the three years required to find 3 earth-like transits, so size isn't nearly the selection effect that distance (from their star) is.

"And do you think (fop that I am) that I could be the Scarlet Pumpernickel?" -- Looney Tunes, The Scarlet Pumpernickel (1950, Chuck Jones)

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