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Comment: All trade agreement kill a sacred cow (Score 1) 152

by (#49632987) Attached to: Canadian Town Outlaws Online Insults To Police and Officials
I am not supporting secrecy, but I am not surprised by it. All trade agreements piss someone off and kill someone's sacred cash cow. If there were no special interests to protect, you wouldn't need a trade agreement as there would be no, or low, import taxes. These agreements very specifically say stuff like, we are going to stop taxing microchip imports and you will stop taxing rice imports. Needless to say, your microchip producers and their rice farmers get pissed off. These agreements have been hashed out in long and difficult sessions by dedicated staff and their likely net effects on the economy of both nations have been calculated. So of course after going through this processes, the negotiators don't want to deal with local special interests campaigning to insist that their particular trade barrier remain. Basically you have lots of special interests who correctly see a big danger to themselves, while potential winners only see potential gains, the trade agreement can get quickly picked apart piece by piece.

Comment: Re:You over-focused on the particulars of this one (Score 1) 285

Actually I think my reply was spot on. I will leave the issue of what is a "fair" wage alone for now to simply say, because U.S. workers were so much richer than the rest of the worlds workers, there was never any doubt but that free trade would depress their wages. That is what has been happening for decades, working class U.S. citizens have been losing ground in wages because they more directly compete with others around the world. The Farm owner may be well off, but it is really is true he or she can't afford to pay too much more than they do now. However at the same time you see increasing wealth in other countries and of course the wealthy are doing even better. This was the expected result of free trade and is what we are seeing. Now I am torn about this issue. I would like people in other countries to have a shot at a good job too and it does seem fairest to give everyone an equal chance. Maybe it will be best for the world in the long term and it kind of seems world wide wealth inequity is being equalized somewhat. None the less, a pretty clear and easy to follow line can be drawn between the working class getting a smaller percentage of the U.S. economy and being able to easily hire someone in another country to do the same thing for less. As for CEO pay, check out some stories about stock holders trying to change CEO pay, many businesses are not the democracies you think they are, indeed they sound more like royal courts or high school cliques when you find out how they really run. OTOH, maybe this will finally be the wake up call for stock owners to look a little more closely at corporate governance rules, after all money in the CEOs pocket comes out of profits just like workers wages, AND there might be a business in another country paying their CEO less and thus be more competitive.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 285

Yes, you will, they do in Japan and think it is a bargain, of course Japan does protect farm imports. You won't pay that today because the store knows it can get them cheaper from Mexico. Even if very few strawberries are imported, U.S. producers MUST compete on price or they know they will quickly go out of business. The know the price of strawberry imports and know full well that even if this year they could keep the price up, their market would quickly erode and imports would skyrocket. I am not against free trade, but I don't blind myself to it's consequences.

Comment: Re:Every single time: "living wage" (Score 1) 285

Actually free trade has a lot to do with this, there were plenty of times when farmers and ranchers work hands make fine money. The real problem U.S. farmers and farm workers face is workers in other countries are willing to work for dirt poor wages in their home countries. Note in Japan farmers do well, but Japan protects is domestic farm market very aggressively. Why do you think the immigrants come here to work on farms in the first place? Hopefully in the long term, when the world is more equal, free trade will finally benefit all, but in the mean time it steps down pretty hard on the neck of the poorest people in rich nations. Maybe some kind of social justice to help out those we know for a fact will be hurt in return for cheap strawberries is worthwhile, at least an investment in resources to give them a chance to better themselves.

Comment: Hip Hip Hooray! (Score 1) 285

I picked strawberries as a kid, the job blew chunks and paid awful. If robots can do it, hooray!!!! I swear everyone has become such a bunch of luddites. There are social issues about making sure people are empowered to demand good wages for the work only humans can do, but good riddance to this kind of job! And if robots do everything in the future, maybe socialism will be the answer then. The truth is people are more motivated to work by feeling useful and successful anyway.

Comment: Re:Women in academia are given a little more slack (Score 1) 517

Very interesting post. I am guessing you are hiring for a STEM type professor? While I think there is some level of truth to the statement that someone who is any kind of minority in a field is more likely to still be there because they love the subject, one would expect then for the same logic to apply to male candidates in female dominated fields, but it seems like it doesn't according to the data. Men may brag more, but I understand research shows women are better communicators on average and thus in theory better able to express their accomplishments. Also, if there are more men over all being hired, and a fairly small number of washouts, it is more likely to randomly happen to a male. Finally, I also have not hired people who I thought were too qualified (though rarely), but the gender of the person wasn't relevant. I think the danger is that it is very easy to make an apparently self consistent reason for any kind of bias you like, but hard data ought force us to at least question our assumptions however well meant.

Comment: What do you get when you... (Score 2) 294

by (#49328951) Attached to: Steve Wozniak Now Afraid of AI Too, Just Like Elon Musk
...make a computer thinks like a person? A computer that loses it's car keys. When we finally emulating living intelligence artificially, it will have many of the same disadvantages that normal human intelligence has. In fact it HAS to, if it does not it won't be a true replica and I suspect many of our so call disadvantages are inherent to the system. It is interesting to note our most useful tools really are very unlike the things they replace, a bull is much better able to take care of itself than a tractor is. To a great extent computers are useful to us because they do things we don't do well, not the things we do well. FYI, a true AI that could pass the Turning Test would itself want a PDA to help it out and take care of the pesky details it didn't like dealing with. Another time someone once remarked to me that they thought in the future, maybe we would have the way to enhance someone's intelligence with computers. I replied, "like making them better at chess?", they said yes and I pointed out we have that technology now, just give them a laptop with a chess program and have them copy the moves. The future is more like a highly connected hive mind, with human and artificial minds closely linked, in many ways our smart phones are the first step on this path.

Comment: The future of medicine (Score 3, Interesting) 77

by (#49148649) Attached to: Banned Weight-loss Drug Could Combat Liver Disease, Diabetes
In the future, our laws and the FDA are going to have to reform to adjust to a new realty. In brief, there no bad chemicals or bad drugs, only bad uses. Medicine has been so extraordinarily good at providing near miraculous cures, that we have come to have a "magic pill" mindset. This drug magically cures this disease and is "safe". The reality of medicine is a series of tradeoffs, typically the tradeoffs are greatly to our advantage, but not always. Further, it has long been known that a drug that works for one person doesn't work for someone else. There is no doubt that targeted medicine, what I consider a subset of open source medicine, is the next critical system break through. For example, this is why it is so intriguing to be putting IBM Watson on the task of medicine, Watson will be able to analysis your personal health makeup and suggest a drug appropriate for you, along with recommended possible side effect markers to watch and even possibly test for! How do you go about regulating medicine is such an environment, in the future it will no longer make sense for the FDA to "approve" or "disapprove" a drug. Rather the most sensible course will be to monitor an accurate database of effects and make sure all the participants are following correct recording procedures, along with assuring purity of products. If you follow through this logic, you will quickly realize it calls into question the current system of patents. Where an entity has a financial interest is promoting a particular drug, it also has an interest in suppressing negative information and promoting positive. Under such circumstances it isn’t strongly in anyone personal interest, other than an illegal cartel, to promote inappropriate uses of a particular drug. Obviously some system of financial rewards/incentives need to be applied, and of course no can work for free. But just as the open source software movement hasn’t killed off software companies, nor will making a space for open source medicine kill of drug companies. Indeed the free flow of ideas has only enhanced technological progress. I hope I have convinced some of you to embrace a move to open source medicine.

Comment: Re:Does this make sense economically? (Score 1) 245

by (#49132451) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics
On your second point, that is a big part about what open source medicine would be about. All drugs are a bit of a trade off inherently, though some are bigger trades offs then others. The most important thing to a doctor is measuring effect and scale of side effects. Good data about what a drug does, and the ability to effectively implement it, is much more important than a "magic cure all pill" approved by the FDA. I also like Watson looking into medicine, I really like the idea of an AI calculating likely good results from chemicals.

Comment: Re:Simple Solution: Use the patent system (Score 1) 245

by (#49132279) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics
That doesn't work, even if it doubled the profits it would still be the wrong scale of returns. What is wrong with new antibiotics is that the current ones do in fact solve most of the problems, a new expensive one would be used only as a last result. Basic economics dictates that research will only become viable once an antibiotic crisis is already in progress and a sufficient number of people are willing to open their wallets to save themselves.

Comment: Need for open source medical research (Score 1) 245

by (#49132205) Attached to: The Peculiar Economics of Developing New Antibiotics
I like the idea of a bio Xprize, but what if we could go one further? We have to drastically reduce the cost of bringing new medicines to market, without compromising the scientific method. What if drug researches could submit candidate drugs, for a much smaller price, to universities and governments labs for testing, would be paid a bounty, but in return the drug would be licensed for manufacture by all. I assert that the current "winner take all" approach to medical patents is much less efficient than open collaborative systems, really it survives because at the end of the day we are all willing to pump huge amounts of money into it, one way or another. What is nice about an open source system is that there is little incentive for anyone to falsify or hide results, and redundant testing by other labs, along with doctor hands experience, will quickly identify bad actors.

Comment: FDA due for reform (Score 2, Interesting) 80

by (#49051437) Attached to: Unearthing Fraud In Medical Trials
The FDA should have it's scope limited somewhat, focusing more on purity of things is regulates and less on effectiveness and uses. I have heard of various cases of outside influence and political pressure in the past. I think a more open source/wiki approach to medication effectiveness might be better. There is always a big danger of misuse when so much is relying on one organization with no outside checks.

Comment: Re:It is time to change the FDA and drug law. (Score 1) 201

by (#48993437) Attached to: Testosterone Increasingly Being Used To Fight Aging In Men
Maybe, maybe not. First remember how much basic research is done by universities, further much the same thing has been said about open source software. Remember I am not proposing the elimination of for profit drug research companies, but rather simply opening the door for more open source type avenues also.

If all else fails, lower your standards.