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Comment: Re:We should have now learned our lesson (Score 2) 106

by alvinrod (#49566469) Attached to: Valve Pulls the Plug On Paid Mods For Skyrim

and most importantly editors/distributors don't have a leg to stand on when requesting 75% of the money on the premise that they sold the engine

The claim that without the game itself there would be nothing to mod seems like a rather large leg. Never mind that Valve is allowing the use of their store and payment system which makes it a lot easier to collect money.

That said, there are far too many problems with the current implementation for Valve to allow for paid mods. They already have enough issues with quality control on Greenlight. Mods are an even bigger problem as there's no guarantee of quality, indication that there won't be conflicts with other paid mods, and the invariable jerks that submit existing free mods that aren't theirs in order to make a quick buck.

If Valve wants to do this they should develop a system that makes it easier to address some of those issues before they try to offer paid mods.

Comment: Re:Since when (Score 1) 545

by alvinrod (#49562263) Attached to: Pepsi To Stop Using Aspartame
If a person isn't ever supposed to drink diet, how would they become acquainted to the taste?

If they drank the non-diet version regularly enough they could probably tell if they were given a mystery bottle, but with fountain pop, the taste isn't always as consistent. There's also the chance that the person normally is a Coke person but found themselves in a Pepsi restaurant (or vice versa) and doesn't have much of a clue about how the diet version of the product should taste.

For example, you could give me a glass and tell me it's Pepsi, and I probably couldn't tell you if it was actually Pepsi, diet Pepsi, or some cheap imitation cola. Similarly, I wouldn't know the difference between Mountain Dew and Mellow Yellow as I never drink those at all.

Before you go off claiming that someone is an idiot, it might be best to examine the problem from their point of view or to look for holes in your own explanation. I myself am a little skeptical that someone could have an episode over what was probably a small amount of the substance, but people have all manner of different tolerance levels and we could be dealing with an individual who is a few standard deviations towards the fringe.

Comment: Re:I'm really conflicted... (Score 2) 98

by alvinrod (#49561011) Attached to: Stephen Hawking Has a Message For One Direction Fans
I think it's just an easy way to add some science to the lives of those who might not otherwise care.

There's a lot of advanced physics for which we currently lack practical applications or even a good way of relating what's being done to the public. If this sparks an interest in a few dozen kids I'd say it's a good thing.

Comment: Re:Good for Amazon! (Score 2) 83

by alvinrod (#49546561) Attached to: Amazon's Profits Are Floating On a Cloud (Computing)
Which is why the stock is valuable. No one is paying the current price because Amazon is making a lot of profit but because in the future they might be the only one left standing to make any profit. They've essentially said that their game is drag a razor across everyone's throat and bet on their skin being the thickest.

It will be interesting to see at what point the government goes after them for predatory market practices if they're only sustainable because of massive revenue/profit from other divisions.

Comment: Re:Please, BCE/CE, not BC/AD (Score 1) 105

by alvinrod (#49536287) Attached to: Ancient Hangover Cure Discovered In Greek Texts
Wouldn't starting in the year 2000 still be basing the calendar on Christ as you're picking precise point in time that's in reference to the old calendar? The year 2000 is only the year 2000 because it was 2000 years after the estimated birth of Christ and you'd still be using it as the basis for the new calendar.

You'd have to pick some other human event to set the start date. You could go with the moon landing or the first atomic bomb test or any other number of historic dates that are well established. Or perhaps you could choose based on some celestial event or even something more mundane like the founding of Slashdot.

Comment: Re:Laugh (Score 1) 399

by alvinrod (#49525503) Attached to: Using Adderall In the Office To Get Ahead
I was mildly interested in whether or not this had any effect at all or if there was a strong correlation.

I grabbed some data from Wikipedia for homicide rate and required minimum leave and did a quick and dirty correlation after removing any countries that didn't have both data points.

Without controlling for any other factors there's only a very weak correlation (r = -.205) which would suggest that vacation days don't have much to do with the homicide rate of a country. Note that this doesn't reflect that actual vacation days, simply the number mandated by law, which may or may not be closely followed. However a bigger problem is that regardless of country, the type of people who tend to commit the most murders likely aren't working the kind of regular job that has vacations so there's probably too many confounding factors for the Wikipedia data to be useful.

It would be nice to have a better data set as the idea is interesting.

Comment: Re:narcissistic spectrum personality disorder (Score 4, Insightful) 206

Plea bargaining is merely a symptom of having entirely too many laws such that almost everyone is guilty of something and far, far, too many laws that make illegal that which has no business being illegal. If you made plea deals illegal, the court system would be so backed up that it might take years to go to court over something as minor as a traffic violation.

If you want to get rid of plea bargaining you're better off getting rid of the vast majority of vice crimes. The court load would drop to the point where it's no longer necessary to offer these kind of deals in the interest of keeping things moving.

Comment: Re:True (Score 5, Informative) 52

by alvinrod (#49523681) Attached to: Protein Converts Pancreatic Cancer Cells Back Into Healthy Cells
While I doubt that's the exact medical terminology used, it's quite correct.

The five year survival rate is only 6% although it apparently can get up to ~20% in limited circumstances.

If this works as well hoped, it would be a rather big deal because right now it's practically a death sentence.

Comment: Re:Whatsisname is...mistaken (Score 3, Insightful) 288

by alvinrod (#49522591) Attached to: Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers
Let's put you in such a position where you are one of these powerful elite who owns or controls a large amount of robotic power, enough that you can provide comfortably for some arbitrarily large (even all of humanity if you'd like) number of people.

Let's further suppose that only about 3% of these people will ever be capable of providing some service that's materially beneficial to you or that your robots are currently incapable of doing. Further suppose another 3% can produce something that has no material value but is aesthetically pleasing to you.

What would you do if you found yourself in such a position? You have the current wealth to provide comfortably for everyone, cast off those who are not useful to you (peacefully or violently) and provide more resources for the small number of individuals who are useful, or you could even isolate yourself from everyone else if you wanted. You might even start giving individuals who didn't own robots their own robot so that they could become like you.

If you know how you would answer that question, under what circumstances would you expect some other arbitrary individual in the same circumstance to choose differently? If you don't expect yourself to be overly evil or oppressive towards others what makes you expect that almost everyone else in the position would be? What would they gain from it? Certainly nothing of material value so unless they want to be some kind of petty ruler or act like a god, or are outright evil for whatever reason there isn't much rational reason for their behavior.

At best you could say that those in power fear what those who are not would do if they could wield similar power and therefore they seek to deprive others of it, but in a world where keeping serfs doesn't benefit you because they are cheap labor, anyone who reasons such is more likely to just kill off everyone else rather than keeping them around as some kind of underclass. That outcomes reminds me of Asimov's Solaria where a small number of people with massive amounts of robot labor isolate themselves from everyone else.

It just seems as though the only reason to keep a perpetual underclass around is for the sake of some individual's own sick mind. Something similar to North Korea perhaps. Most of the selfish people would go for either the Solaria or the Atlas Shrugged strategies.

Comment: Re:Whatsisname is...mistaken (Score 2) 288

by alvinrod (#49520685) Attached to: Robot Workers' Real Draw: Reducing Dependence on Human Workers
Let's suppose for sake of argument that after some number of years things have been automated to the extent that all of human necessities can be taken care of by robots and that people no longer hold these jobs. Essentially, robots can grow and distribute food (or we have some other system that's advanced beyond raising crops) build infrastructure, and provide rudimentary healthcare.

Does it really matter if we're serfs if the standard of living is better than what you can expect for a middle class family today?

Throughout human history the desire to control a population was to have cheap labor. If robots can provide all of that, there's no real reason to have a feudal system where you need a population of cheap labor outside of some human desire to rule over other humans. What could keeping these people enthralled do to benefit another person? Any low-level task that they could perform could be better done by a robot. What value does the average serf give their feudal lord in this scenario? Unless everyone is getting a whole lot of education and doing the design and development for better robots, what good is having lordship over some group of people?

If we reach a point in the future where the have not crowd is only lacking in luxury space liners for weekend holidays on Mars it leaves humanity in a far better position than it has ever been. If there are a few yahoos that "own" everything and waste some of it on inane opulence I'll have a hard time caring if it means that there aren't any people who are starving, having to work 80 hours a week in sweetshop conditions just to keep feeding their family, or being subject to some of the other forms of savagery that exist in the world today.

Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 336

by alvinrod (#49520467) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet
Probably "ook?", but that's just because the chimp cannot not even understand the question that you're asking. It's possible that there aren't any chimps in existence that could understand that question.

The point is that most animals are intelligent on some level. Look at all of the experiments involving rats and measuring their ability to learn and solve problems. Do rats get to receive legal personhood as well? If the answer is no, then what makes chimps worthy of being set apart?

If there are concerns about the way that these animals are being treated, those can be addressed through various laws.

Comment: Re:Hmm (Score 1) 336

by alvinrod (#49519351) Attached to: Update: No Personhood for Chimps Yet
It's a difficult subject, but even though chimps (and other primates) can be taught sign language, they're not on the same level. Most animals already use body language as a form of communication, so sign language isn't some higher sign of intelligence. Are dogs also legal persons because they can be taught to understand human spoken words?

Interestingly enough, despite many primates being taught sign language, none of them have ever used it to ask an existential question. Interestingly enough, the only animal ever recorded as having done this was a parrot that after being taught words for several colors asked what color it was.

This ruling is likely to be overturned on appeal. I'm all for ethical animal treatment, but let's not use faulty reasoning to justify it, especially when that same reasoning could be broadly applied in unintended ways.

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"