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Comment: Re:Not France vs US (Score 1) 131

Big internet sites make the economy more efficient. But the problem is an efficient economy doesn't need workers. And if there are no workers, there's no one to purchase the goods.

"Workers" can find something else to do, possibly newer and more interesting kinds of work, or possibly less work on a four day week, etc.

Look, humanity is stuck on this rock, we aren't going anywhere unless someone figures out how to do the impossible and fly around the galaxy faster than light. So our society needs an eventual end goal, and it seems widely agreed that this end goal should be that we all live lives of leisure and can do/go/explore/build whatever the hell we like, whenever we like it. Obviously along the way that means we'll end up doing less and less work until hardly anyone is doing any real work at all and it's all done by robots a la the world of Manna which was discussed here on Slashdot not that long ago.

So if books get delivered by radio to a device with a battery that lasts for a month and gives me access to the whole world's library for a pittance, how is that not a giant step towards the kind of utopia I described above? Small local bookshops staffed by smart shop assistant girls with cute French accents are great until you realise they don't have the book you want and you had to haul your ass into town in order to discover this fact (assuming the shop was even open by the time you got there). It's not something I would trade progress for.

Comment: Re:Subject bait (Score 1) 240

And before _whatever_date_is_inconvenient_for_somebody_else Beersheba was a town of Jews. You can go back as far or as close as you want and find somebody living here. I mention that in my other posts.

Yes, but going back indefinitely is pointless. Memories have half-lives. What matters most for resolution of conflict is what people who are alive today remember and feel, not what some goat herder did a thousand years ago (maybe, assuming the historical texts are accurate).

Within living memory, Beersheba started out as being Palestinian. That's the start date that matters. If in 50-100 years or so when everyone who remembers that is dead, pointing this out will be as stale as the statement I quoted above. But not today.

Honestly, when ordinary people outside that place look at the state of Israel and Gaza it's hard not to conclude that Israel should never have been created at all. The Jews who were living around the world could have stayed there, or moved to places with no anti-semitic political forces.

Comment: Re:Why the assumption.... (Score 2) 131

Why the assumption that it is good for for-profit companies to find loopholes and avoid the will of democratically elected governments.

Democratically elected does not equal democratic.

The most democratic place I know of is Switzerland, where there is an absolutely constant stream of referendums on absolutely everything, mostly things that in other countries would be all be lumped under an umbrella vote for left or right. For example the Swiss recently voted on the question of whether to buy new Gripen fighter jets. The French, in contrast, have a system so undemocratic that the President doesn't even need the authority of parliament to start a war!

I think it's very corrosive to imply that people a huge bloc of people get a vote between two or three possibilities every four or five years, that somehow legitimises everything that government does in the meantime. It doesn't. The system of voting we have was decided on hundreds of years ago when most people couldn't even read and letters took days or weeks to cross countries. Representatives chosen locally every few years made total sense in such a world. It's now obsolete, much better possibilities can be imagined or even implemented. Western democracy is merely the least worst system tried so far, not the best.

In this case, there's no justification for the French government to be messing with Amazon. As pointed out in other replies to your comment, if the French people truly prefer their local bookshops over Amazon then they'll vote with their wallet, a far fairer and more democratic way of doing things than central government mandate. This idea isn't stupid, there are parts of the world that places big chain stores and brands don't make much progress in because of local culture. But times change and countries are very large. Take McDonalds in France. In 2013 we have this story about an anti-McDonalds protest and the local government attempting to block construction of a restaurant there. But then in 2014 we have another story where the French are protesting for a McDonald's, they're upset because it's been delayed and they want it to open.

These sorts of disputes are best left to ordinary people to work out economically.

Comment: Re:Not France vs US (Score 3, Interesting) 131

Yeah, and so what?

The underlying assumption behind this kind of move seems to be the belief that small local bookshops are inherently worth protecting. Why is that? It's not like if a bookshop closes the land it occupied is salted with radioactive waste. Something else, possibly something more useful will move in.

The real problem here is not Amazon or books or even Google, it's the French mindset that things should never change, that the old ways are always the best ways. Perhaps France has an unusually elderly set of politicians or voters, but you see this in all its areas, most notoriously agriculture. Old ways of farming were put on a quasi-religious pedestal and vast amounts of EU policy and budget were redirected towards preserving them.

Fetishing bookshops doesn't have any emotional appeal to me - they're just buildings stacked with a small and limited selection of reading materials, which inefficiently deploy land and people. Given the rise of the e-book even large chain bookshops will likely disappear over the coming decades, and who will cry for them?

Perhaps the space the bookshops used up can be replaced by coffee shops - spaces for social interaction and work, where reading an e-book and then meeting a friend and having a nice conversation at ordinary volume is a perfectly acceptable way to spend your time.

Comment: Re:Manager (Score 1, Interesting) 183

by mfh (#47437421) Attached to: New Microsoft CEO Vows To Shake Up Corporate Culture

Weasels that know corporate double speak are ruining everything though. You know we don't mourn the T-rex. We talk about the dinosaurs as being really big and dumb.

They were all psychopaths!! Lizard brains.

When the cockroaches are mulling over what our existences might have been like, they will all say that the weasels died out because of our stupidity and overconfidence. They'll say we were monsters, too. Big and dumb. Lizard brains.

Comment: Re:The Elephant in the Room (Score 1) 93

by osu-neko (#47434407) Attached to: Arecibo Radio Telescope Confirms Extra-galactic Fast Radio Pulses

The summary doesn't mention extra terrestrials. Is this because they don't want to jump to conclusions or is it because the nature of the pulses doesn't appear to be organic?

When astronomers point a telescope at the sky and see a large bright object, they tend to assume it's a star, not a giant alien lighthouse. If they see a bright flash of light, they assume it's due to some natural process and not an alien strobe-light. Is there some reason they would jump to an "it's aliens" conclusion in this case? You do understand that light is light, right? Even if the wavelength puts it in the radio-frequencies instead of the visible-spectrum? There's no particular reason light in one part of the spectrum is more likely to be made by aliens than natural phenomena.

Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 2) 171

by the gnat (#47431673) Attached to: Peer Review Ring Broken - 60 Articles Retracted

Alternatively (or in addition), we could increase the penalties for those caught cheating.

FYI, cheating like this is already a guaranteed career-ender. People who do things like this aren't rationally weighing the cost of getting caught against the career advancement that comes from publishing; they simply don't expect to get caught.

Comment: Re:Repercussions? (Score 2) 107

They have shown that they can not be trusted. They must lose the power to do this.

Pull someones certificates or kill some CA. Someone needs to suffer because of this.

What happens now is that there's an investigation. Depending on the outcome the CA may be revoked for good, or merely forced to reissue lots of certificates. The deciding factor is the reason for the screwup - for instance they may have got hacked, rather than been actively corrupt. In that case Microsoft will have to decide if they have patched things up enough to continue as part of their root store program or whether to pull the plug. I doubt many people have certs issued by this CA so the damage would be relatively minimal.

Unfortunately you can't just kill any CA that screws up. For one, if the CA was widely used it'd be disrupted. For another, nothing is unhackable, especially when you get the NSA involved. Expecting CA's to be able to reliably fight off professional hackers from dozens of governments and never ever fail is likely an impossible standard to ever meet.

Hard decisions ahead for browser and OS makers for sure ...

Comment: Re:Disappointing (Score 1) 94

by IamTheRealMike (#47423211) Attached to: Single European Copyright Title On the Horizon

This seems to be quite typical for government consultations. There's very little in the way of rigorous process. I remember years ago in the UK there was some poll that showed people were worried about anti-money laundering laws and their effect on freedom and civil liberties (it was a poll about risks to civil liberties, Ithink). So the British government said they'd respond to this by ordering a consultation on how best to improve Britain's AML laws. They invited public comments, etc. 6 months later the consultation was published and it recommended making the laws even stricter. There was absolutely no evidence-based approach used at all.

Comment: Better still (Score 1, Redundant) 85

by mfh (#47417139) Attached to: A Brain Implant For Synthetic Memory

Let's apply this towards eventually getting Matrix-styled learning models. Eventually we could implant memories of how to perform any skill. We could enable permanent muscle-memory learning instantaneously. Not only learning karate but being able to apply the lessons with strength and precision. Never having to work out to be in shape. Understanding advanced physics without ever taking a course at a university or even having any partial interest in the subject. That's a step towards singularity.

Comment: Human Safety Computing (Score 1) 30

by mfh (#47416879) Attached to: Interviews: Ask Juan Gilbert About Human-Centered Computing

To what extent are we able to compute safety related human dynamics issues and what is slowing us down in this particular programming area?

Can we ever come up with a safety system for a workplace that would be able to overcome employee buy-in issues early on, especially if the typical large corporation is in a constant tug of war with profit and employee needs?

You see whenever we introduce changes in policy in the workplace, employees assume they are going to be required to do MORE but they are not getting more money for the work so this tends at times to cause resistance from employees to safety policies. Management doesn't often understand the issues at hand so they tend to make contradictory safety policies as well, saying that things need to be addressed in a timely fashion.

But in the aftermath of this complexity, companies are often just faking safety in order to appear to be safe when in fact they are running at a significant moral hazard to everyone (their staff, the general public and anyone else for that matter).

This particular problem is of great interest to me and I find that whenever there is an imbalance between management and employee needs there is a systemic problem that is solvable but yet only once all the variables are on the table. The problem with human safety is that most of the variables are unknown.

The general equation for solving safety related issues is:

For every task an employee is required to do or will reasonably be presented with, the employee must be trained to perform the task safely within prescribed safety policy. This idea is fundamentally at odds with bravado in the workplace, hero complexes, profit margins and it goes directly against human psychopathy that is prevalent in modern corporate culture.

What's the best approach to stabilizing a safety model?

Comment: Re:Signals (Score 1, Interesting) 144

by mfh (#47415195) Attached to: Physicists Spot Potential Source of 'Oh-My-God' Particles

Unless the particles aren't the message but the means of communication. Maybe they form some kind of field mechanic communications bridge to enable instantaneous communications?

We should consider something like this instead of probes like Voyager. Eventually we'll find a way to use fields or lasers as a communications field conduit that enables immediate lagless communications. Someone is probably working on this right now. To some extent the teleportation technology we've seen for communications could use such beams as guidance and accelerators that cut down lag. So maybe instead of thousands of years the lag is like a day or an hour or a few minutes.

A darker side of this could mean that the existence these focused particles could prove someone is communicating with their homeworld from Earth.

The film Kpax used this kind of idea as his transportation method, which was a pretty awesome film.

Makes for some awesome sci-fi even if it's far fetched!

The first Rotarian was the first man to call John the Baptist "Jack." -- H.L. Mencken