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Comment: Re:Subsidized by the Government (Score 1) 371 371

Changing who pays does not change the equation.
If it takes more resources or more valuable resources to turn garbage into something useful again, then it may not be worth doing. Prices and profits/losses tell you something important.

In this case, I would look at existing subsidies that make the problem worse: for instance, free/subsidized garbage collection (if people don't pay for someone to accept and handle their trash, they will generate more trash), or subsidized landfills (if landfills pollute their neighbors and it is not controlled, then there is an externalities argument).

Comment: Unsupported conclusions (Score 1) 207 207

I read the paper and it is ok (nothing groundbreaking) on the technical side. But I was shocked to see broad conclusion of political or economic nature that were not supported by any argumentation in the paper.

In particular, the first sentence of the conclusion: "The Internet’s principal revenue model leads to misaligned incentives between users, advertisers, and content providers, essentially creating a race to the bottom."
I guess we'll just take your opinion for it.

Comment: Re:Freedom (Score 1) 250 250

Monopoly on what?
Ebooks? Books? Written content? Information? Entertainment? Leisure provider?

Anything can be defined as a monopoly if it is scoped narrowly enough. Apple has a monopoly on iphones. Yet it is under great competitive pressure from substitutes.
Amazon is in the same boat (plenty of competitive pressure) and consumers don't seem to be fleeing away from the supposed monopolistic abuse (higher prices and limiting supplies, according to textbooks).

If you are interested in the history of antitrust, see Dominick Armentano for a critical review of efficacy of government improving on market competition.

Comment: Re:Freedom (Score 1) 250 250

I agree. Not only is it easier than ever to publish, Kindle Unlimited is just one more option. So if you are a noticeable author, you can still publish on hardcover/paperback/Kindle and escape the fixed-pie game of Kindle Unlimited.

I don't know how many people buy one book every month, but Kindle Unlimited is probably more revenue from an average person. If anything it sounds dangerous for readers, more than authors, as it could be like paying for the gym you don't end up visiting often...

Comment: Bayesian senses (Score 1) 244 244

The above explanations for mondegreens seem very consistent with the recent understanding of neuroscience.
All perception of the world requires inference, as the signals coming into the brain are ambiguous, conflicting and noisy.
For instance, the brain tries to reconstruct a stable 3 dimensional perception of the world from constantly moving and imperfect 2 dimensional projections.

An increasing number of studies show that the low-level processing in the brain is surprisingly similar to Bayesian inference. In particular, it demonstrably relies on priors learnt from the environment (for example, vertical lines should be interpreted as corresponding to longer distances than horizontal ones) and by fusing sources of information (for example, the ambiguous local motion detected in one part of the image is reconciled with other ambiguous local motions into a perceived motion of objects).

For anyone interested, I'd recommend some material by Stanislas Dehaene.

Comment: Cost? (Score 1) 103 103

Look, this great shiny technology. Oops, it's uneconomical...
Costs are an important question as this story happens quite often (mag trains anyone?).
For space projects the cost may not matter, since it's paid for by taxpayers. But for applications for the rest of us making this affordable is as important, if not more.

Comment: Already addressed (Score 1) 652 652

Reads the articles:
"Across the board, we need solutions that don’t require subsidies or government regulations that penalize fossil fuel usage. Of course, anything that makes fossil fuels more expensive, whether it’s pollution limits or an outright tax on carbon emissions, helps competing energy technologies locally. But industry can simply move manufacturing (and emissions) somewhere else. So rather than depend on politicians’ high ideals to drive change, it’s a safer bet to rely on businesses’ self interest: in other words, the bottom line."

Comment: Distinction between MPAA and movie theaters (Score 1) 357 357

The MPAA does not have a magic wand to "ban" something, they only have contracts and laws. The article does not mention any new legislation to this effect, so I'm guessing they are relying on the former mechanism.
But how many movie theaters are part of the MPAA club and therefore subject to this decision?

Comment: Re: liability, and necessity of randomized trials (Score 1) 193 193

The issue of liability can be solved with consent, just as it is in the randomized trial. The number of patients to receive the treatment doesn't seem to affect liability, nor does the cost of the treatment.
Also showing product safety is generally much easier than showing effectiveness, and different people (especially those with a terminal condition) have different tolerances for risk.

The question your raise is whether you learn something from non-randomized trials (which I agree are the gold standard procedure). If there is a very lethal disease (that we're able to test for but not treat), and the people taking the treatment (in various locations, conditions, etc) fare significantly better, while the people who don't continue to die, can you draw any conclusions as to the effectiveness of the treatment? I think you can make inferences, although with lesser confidence.
The question that follows from that is, if you are a doctor or producer and have such a treatment, is it ethical or desirable for you to withhold it? That seems selfish to me (putting your preference for experiments over my preferences as a patient).
Is it ethical for prohibit the doctor or producer from delivering to consenting patients? To me, that seems paternalistic and unhelpful (not to mention of questionable political authority). It would seem much better to help inform the patients and give them support for their own choices.

As I suggested in another comment you could imagine a two prong approach: customers are allowed to get a safe but unproven product, or participate in experiments with some compensation/incentives. So you could still conduct experiments on people who accept that bundle (risk and compensation including the satisfaction of knowing they are helping science).
Whether people SHOULD participate in those experiments and therefore those experiments SHOULD continue to exist doesn't seem a categorical/universal question to me. It seems a question of preferences (demand). Assuming enough people demand the extra confidence and rigorousness, and enough people are willing to take the risk of receiving a placebo, then they will exist. Otherwise you are imposing your own will and preferences on people, which hardly seems civilized or peaceful.

Comment: Re:So, of course, it goes without saying (Score 1) 193 193

You seem to be forgetting that some people in randomized trials are receiving the drug. The people who participate in the trial volunteer and are indeed bearing risks. The doctors delivering the drug would be no more liable if they give the other half the treatment too, or to even more people that want to join the experiment.
The question raised here is whether it is ethical to withhold a safe and potentially effective treatment from suffering patients. Of course, the patients would still have to consent, you wouldn't force the unproven drug on them.

In practice, failures in system development, like unemployment in Russia, happens a lot despite official propaganda to the contrary. -- Paul Licker

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