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Comment: Re:Under an NIH grant? (Score 3, Interesting) 33

Nope. This particular cure has a long history so it is well covered by prior art. This was done back in the 70s IIRC.

The big difference is that never before have there been so many survivors or an Ebola epidemic that has run so long. Normally after a few weeks Ebola has burnt itself out. For the few handful of healthy survivors there is nobody left sick.

This time it got to the cities, letting it propagate faster than the carries could die out. Then throw in good palliative care, which is new this time around. IIRC that ups the odds of surviving from 10% to 50%.

Comment: Re:Marketshare (Score 1) 205

by alexander_686 (#48551969) Attached to: The Failed Economics of Our Software Commons

Don't look up loss leader, read up on the tragedy of the commons:

If something is free, people will not contribute sufficiently to the resources. Which is the writer's main grip.

There are ways to get around this. You can charge for it, which runs against open source. Yes, one can make money by charging for support. However, while you might charge for support that does not mean you would contribute back to the open source project – so we still have a suboptimal solution. You can force contributions either explicitly (government) or implicitly using social pressure. Social pressure is what is being used now. Social pressure works better in small communities where trust can be built. Not so much in the wilds of the internet.

Comment: Re:When you're right, you're right. (Score 1) 133

by alexander_686 (#48522541) Attached to: Chinese CEO Says "Free" Is the Right Price For Mobile Software

I am going to nitpick a bit, but the IBM is off point. IBM did not sell off its server line. It sold off it low end commodity server line. It kept the high end line. It about a high end company being in the commodity busses, not about if that line is economically viable – which was the main point.

Comment: Re:Reinvesting in the business (Score 1) 110

by alexander_686 (#48498133) Attached to: Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

On the margin side I am going to have to disagree with you. I assume you are talking about gross margin. Sure, Amazon's gross margin has been going up. The average S&P 500 company has a gross margin of 42%, which has been increasing. I would argue that operation margin would be better than gross margin. There AMZN is at 1% where the S&P is at 14.6%. AMZN's ROI has historically been one of the lowest in the S&P. They are operating a supper thin margins.

As for the R&D - I will have to consider that. At first glance I am a little surprise that the numbers that I am seeing. Personally, I would assume (well, guess) that most of those expenses are capitalized but it does give me food for thought.

Comment: Re:Jobs & buying (Score 1) 110

by alexander_686 (#48497545) Attached to: Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

You are missing my point in a couple of ways.

I said productivity would go up, I never said the hours worked would go down. Some people like working long hours to own more toys – bigger houses, faster cars, and exotic vacations. However, in the last 50 years the people with the highest productivity are reporting that they are working longer hours and enjoying their life more. More work has become more interesting.

Secondly, you mean you can't think of any menial jobs other than warehouse jobs? Cleaning parks, walking dogs, and teacher's assistants are just a few that come to the top of my head. None of these require a college education. Personally, I am more optimistic about being able to retain people. But if push comes to shove I suspect society can find something more productive to do.

Comment: Re:Reinvesting in the business (Score 3, Insightful) 110

by alexander_686 (#48497325) Attached to: Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

AMZN is not losing money because they are reinvesting back into their operations. That is not how accounting works. "Earnings" is a balance sheet operation; "Investment" is a balance sheet operation. Think about this way – If I invest $100m of profits in US Treasury Notes, how does that affect my earnings? If I invest $100m in property, plant, and equipment, how does that affect my profits? What if I paid out a dividend? It does not – in all cases one's profit is 100m.

The issue is that AMZN is trading profit margin for market share. Expanding quickly today to reap the profits of tomorrow – in theory.

Comment: Re:Jobs & buying (Score 1) 110

by alexander_686 (#48497223) Attached to: Armies of Helper Robots Keep Amazon's Warehouses Running Smoothly

Read up on Red Queen's Race Hypothesis. We are constantly running. If Amazon stops and thinks if they should implement these robots, somebody else will.

It is going to happen. It will increase productivity, and increased productivity is the only way to increase income, and thus it should be embraced. I am not saying that technology is some kind of magic wand that we can wave and magically everybody will be better. This will free people from mind numbing work and let them do something more productive. Technology is one of those "necessary but not sufficient by itself" type of thing. Society must change and adapt, and a right leaning libertarian I might even conceded that might mean changes in government policy. Still, if we want a better tomorrow things like this must happen.

I am always sad when people fear a better tomorrow.

Comment: It is a fine for quitting XP (Score 1) 57

by alexander_686 (#48469703) Attached to: Was Microsoft Forced To Pay $136M In Back Taxes In China?

The issue is not "Irish Tax Shelters". Even without these Microsoft would still be losing money. You are closer on point on the IP theft. This is not so much as a tax, rather it is a fine for Microsoft dropping support for XP, the widely used but rarely paid for OS. Remember, taxes and the laws are not applied in a "neutral" fashion.

Comment: Re: SO (Score 2) 377

by alexander_686 (#48376943) Attached to: How 4H Is Helping Big Ag Take Over Africa

How are you getting to that conclusion? The title of the study is "A Meta-Analysis of the Impacts of Genetically Modified Crops" The author's results are

"On average, GM technology adoption has reduced chemical pesticide use by 37%, increased crop yields by 22%, and increased farmer profits by 68%. Yield gains and pesticide reductions are larger for insect-resistant crops than for herbicide-tolerant crops. Yield and profit gains are higher in developing countries than in developed countries."

Take an astronaut to launch.