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Comment: Re:Wish I could say I was surprised (Score 2) 146

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:"Security" (Score 1) 118

by the gnat (#47412935) Attached to: A Box of Forgotten Smallpox Vials Was Just Found In an FDA Closet

they were just samples of a common infection

A common infection that killed more people in the 20th century than all wars put together. It's shocking to think that someone would carelessly misplace a vial of an airborne infectious agent with a mortality rate above 20%, even in the mid-20th century. Smallpox is hands-down the deadliest disease in human history - the only reason it could be eradicated was the lack of non-human reservoirs. I'm not particularly afraid of nuclear war, but the thought of smallpox outbreaks scares the shit out of me.

Comment: Re:The question to me seems to be... (Score 1) 148

by SteveWoz (#47357639) Attached to: Lawrence Lessig Answers Your Questions About His Mayday PAC (Video)

End goal: change the constitution. We need a start. It's easy to see how hard this will be and to give up early, but some of us feel the imperative to fight for it. We can change things. The vast will of the masses (corporation political donations are not equivalent to the free speech we enjoy as individuals) needs to be strategically gathered. Critical mass could take decades, as with things like gay marriage.

Comment: Re:Good? (Score 4, Interesting) 273

The next one will be automated "city cars" built by Google, that will pickup and drop off people at work and take them shopping and whatnot.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, such a car has yet to be demonstrated. Google's demo vehicles are incapable of taking riders anywhere apart from a set track of stops, like a Disneyworld people-mover ride.

There's still probably a need in some cities for street-hail livery, which is what classic yellow cabs are -- in NY you can wait 5-10 minutes for the Uber or hail a cab in 30 seconds, and frankly the cabbie will be less of a pain -- my experience with Uber drivers in Manhattan has been a pretty mixed bag. As long as humans are doing the driving it might still be advisable for the drivers to get background checks and have commercial licensing and insurance, such things are prudent and won't kill the magic free market pixies that flutter about e-hailed car services.

As I understand it, city governments have a few simple problems with Uber-

1) Ubers can avoid poor neighborhoods at will, and there's really nothing the city can do about it. I live in LA, and if you live in, say, Watts, you must call a cab if you want a car, no Uber will find you there, because it's "the ghetto" and there's never an Uber within 20 minutes. Taxis can be and are required to pick up from all parts of the city, and their statistics are closely monitored by regulators to make sure they do.

2) Uber's trip pricing structure is very free-markety but it conflicts with most city's basic taxi regs, wherein a trip's price is a fixed formula of distance and time, no special charge for time of day or pickup/destination location. Uber can't provide this, because they use rate premiums to recruit drivers. Again the system is completely open to various kinds of discrimination, and the pricing process is completely private and not open to any sort of public accountability or scrutiny -- even they drivers, who are nominally the service providers ("Uber is not a transportation company"), can't control it.

3) These of course lead to the more philosophical dispute, namely, Uber handles the hailing, transaction processing, driver and rider ratings, and branding of the interaction, but whenever there's any sort of trouble, Uber can vehemently claim they have nothing to do with the driver or the ride, that it's none of their business, and governments and harmed parties must direct all their laws and lawsuits at little sole proprietors. This is a little too clever by half for some people and while following the letter of the law tends to skirt the equities a little too close.

All of this is totally fine as long as e-hail livery is a "premium" service, but some cities rely on taxis as a critical part of the transport infrastructure, and that's when price disparities and availability blackouts start to be problematic, politically.

Comment: Re:ithkuil (Score 1) 176

by iluvcapra (#47341433) Attached to: Meet Carla Shroder's New Favorite GUI-Textmode Hybrid Shell, Xiki

We used to think something like a simple text web search was "too impercise" and you needed a hierarchical organization or semantic web to organize information on the Internet...

When the domain is restricted natural language can be quite sufficient- SHRDLU had a workable natural language system in the 1960s, and the relevant Siri/Android solutions today are quite up to the task of creating and copying logical objects, selection by attribute, transformation...

Comment: Re:Libertarian nirvana (Score 4, Insightful) 534

Libertarians should love this

What's your next guess, asshole?

Libertarians are against the initiation of violence, whether the perps are government thugs or quasi-private organizations like this. You can shove your smug little digs right back up the hole it came from.

-jcr

There is nothing so easy but that it becomes difficult when you do it reluctantly. -- Publius Terentius Afer (Terence)

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