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Comment What are the commons? (Score 2) 248

The article defines the "commons" as sharing the meager resources available to the masses. But if we are one society, the commons are the property of the society as a whole. As technology increases productivity it also reduces the need for labor. So the wealth moves to the owners of the tech. Society can't survive unless there is a mechanism to re-distribute that wealth. It will happen by progressive taxation (like the 90% top marginal rate in the Eisenhower administration) or it will happen by revolution. I think everyone (including the rich) would prefer that it happen by taxation.

Our country does not exist to serve the theoretical construct of the "free market" (which of course is highly manipulated and not at all free). It exists to serve the people who live here.

Comment Re:"Failed" push for renewables? (Score 5, Insightful) 355

Yes, this is the most important point that can be made about the article. It is based on a false premise: "what's especially strange about the failed push for renewables".

Wind and solar are growing faster than ever, in the US, in China, in Europe and in the developing world. Nuclear is an over-centralized, expensive, and dangerous technology based on a limited fuel source. Renewables would be growing even faster if it were not actively opposed by the incumbent fossil fuel industry which puts up legal roadblocks and receives far more in government subsidies than renewables ever have.

Comment Re:To fit where astronauts fit (Score 1) 35

Yes, I was thinking that everything would be designed for whatever the standard robot is. I don't actually expect humans to be involved in asteroid mining. Too dangerous. Too expensive to provide life support.

Your point about 4 arms is good. It is "quite imaginable-able" that the feet would have articulate fingers/toes. Unfortunately, you thought of it and I thought of it, but NASA didn't. Given their woeful lack of imagination, it would have been better if NASA had just given a bunch of money to MIT and asked them to build AND program a robot for zero/low gravity environments.

Comment Why is it "humanoid"? (Score 2) 35

What a coincidence! It just happens that the best physical form for a space robot is exactly the same as the evolutionary end product of millions of years of swinging in trees followed by millions of years of roaming around on grassy savannahs. Are legs really that useful in zero G? Only two arms when you could have three?

Sadly, this seems to indicate that NASA is more interested in pandering to pop culture than in optimizing a space-based physical effector.

Comment RTP, NC (Score 4, Informative) 464

Research Triangle .... Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill... is the best mix of tech jobs and Southern living. If you like the fine food, art, music, politeness and gentle culture of the liberal South, this is the place to be. Best weather in the eastern US, a culturally diverse society. Right now we have a backwards Republican Governor and General Assembly but that won't last for long.

Comment Re:So how do we live? (Score 1) 176

No, it's not. Socialism means that the government owns the means of production. Countries like Sweden, Denmark, and Finland are no longer socialist. France is still somewhat socialist. But there is nothing about having a guaranteed national income that requires socialism. The American right has intentionally distorted the definition of socialism to imply that any re-distribution of wealth is part of a socialist system that has never worked anywhere. There is a real problem when government tries to run business (as opposed to regulating a level playing field).

The mixed economies of Scandinavia make use of the free enterprise system to efficiently distribute production resources and generate wealth. And then harvest some of that wealth for the benefit of the citizens of the country. Our society exists not for some abstract principle of capitalism. It exists for the benefit of all its citizens.

Comment So how do we live? (Score 4, Insightful) 176

Yes, automation can wipe out most jobs in manufacturing, production, computers, law, medicine, etc, etc. So it's time to start thinking about how we will obtain the necessities (and niceties) of life. We will be a fabulously productive and rich country but all the money will go to the top, the owners of the automation companies. So now it's about the post-scarcity society perhaps as illustrated in Star Trek. But for real, Finland is now working on the idea of a national guaranteed income. This may upset the puritan types who think that hard work is somehow connected to morality. You know, dancing is sinful because it's too much fun.

So yes, this means taking money from the extremely wealthy and providing an income and services to those who are not. Is this socialism? No, not the Marxist version anyway because that means the ownership of the means of production by the state. But this definitely is redistribution of wealth, just as has been done by every nation on the face of the earth in all of recorded time.

Comment When does it stop? (Score 1, Insightful) 148

Reminds me of the shuttle launches in 1986. Just keep on launching them in colder and colder weather until one blows up. I guess we keep on recertifying nuke plants until one blows up.

A nuclear plant will eventually blow up/melt down in the US, just like in Russia and Japan. And when it does, we will suddenly be surprised at how costly it is to abandon a large section of the country. We will suddenly realize that nuclear is not a good deal at all. So why can't we just decide that right now, before we destroy a big part of the country?

Comment Patent terms (Score 2) 345

The reason it is so profitable for companies to continue to sell old antibiotics is that the research and marketing is largely done. It' s pure profit with no additional investment. And there is no competition because they are protected by long patent terms.

Patents exist (see Art. 1, Sec 8 of the US Constitution) to encourage science and the arts. Not to encourage profit. The Congress has been bought and they keep extending the length of patent and copyright protections.

So shorten the time that patents are in effect. When the old antibiotics become public domain there will be a strong incentive for the big rich pharma companies to invest in developing the new ones.

Comment Re:Hardware is rate limiting (Score 1) 115

Well, 3DXP is random access so in a sense it is already RAM. It will be about 1/10th as fast as current RAM but it will be cheaper and more dense and non-volatile. So in some applications (in-memory apps in cloud servers) 3DXP may replace current RAM. An all-3DXP system might be faster than a combination of current RAM with SSD memory.

Comment Hardware is rate limiting (Score 4, Informative) 115

This comparison says nothing at all about 3DXP except that it is much faster than NAND. With NAND, it is the NAND memory itself that limits the speed. With 3DXP memory, it is the PCIe connection hardware that is the slowest component and therefore rate limiting for the entire retrieval speed.

When Intel/Micron says that the 3DXP is 1000 times faster than NAND, they mean that it has only 1/1000th of the latency. You will never see that speed in an SSD drive. The speed of 3DXP will only be realized as a DIMM module in a custom designed server with all the software modifications optimized for it. 3DXP is revolutionary for in-memory applications running in server farms. And once Intel includes 3DXP on the die with the processor, nothing currently envisioned will be able to compete with it.

BTW, although Intel will have a great advantage using this technology, from what I can tell it was actually Micron that invented (or developed from an early purchased prototype) this memory. I'm still waiting for Micron to start telling us what materials were used and how this memory actually works. That will tell us what its ultimate limits are.

Comment Re:Jargon (Score 5, Interesting) 160

I think this is basically correct. Another way to say it is that "simple" is not always clear. But good technical writers will make the text as simple as possible, consistent with clarity. I remember in my Chemistry 101 class I had written a description of an experiment. The grad student grading the work had written over my text "Make it sound more scientific!". and the professor who had checked the papers had written on top of that, "NO".

Comment These folks know nothing of science. (Score 4, Insightful) 248

"Having made innovations, it will then pay for research into the principles behind them. Having invented the steam engine, it will pay for thermodynamics."

Oh, brother. That's just ridiculous. It was an understanding of thermodynamics (by the physicist Denis Papin) that led to the innovation of the steam engine. They imply that some guy messing around in his basement will "innovate" something and only later will the principles behind it be understood. But it is basic research and the building of mathematical models of the world that lead to inventions. And those steps in basic science are not profitable. Many blind alleys will be followed before a basic advance in science is made. Only a government dedicated to basic research will follow that path for long enough to see solid usable results.

And if occasionally a private company does advance the frontiers of real science, that's great. But I wouldn't count on that for the progress of mankind. I do agree however with the author's premise that patents are abused. Folks have forgotten why we have a patent system. It's not to make money, it's to advance the sciences. Don't believe me? Just read Art. 1, Sec. 8 of the US Constitution.

Comment So NOW they say it! (Score 0) 130

When it was being claimed in the media that there had been NO effects of radiation on non-employees of the nuclear plant, we did not hear these disclaimers. But now that a study shows the possibility of thyroid cancer in children, the "experts" say it's too early to tell. So why did they not say that when the claim was being made that there was no effect?

ASHes to ASHes, DOS to DOS.