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Comment Re:Obvious deflection. (Score 2, Interesting) 220 220

Because there is no good way to lay blame when damage occurs.

With a non-autonomous weapon, the person who pulls the trigger is basically responsible. If you're strolling in the park with your wife, and some guy shoots her, well, he's criminally liable. If some random autonomous robot gets hit by a cosmic ray and shoots your wife, nobody's responsible.

This is a huge issue for our society, because the rule of law and criminal deterrence is based on personal responsibility. Machines aren't persons. The death penalty for a machine is stupid (watch out, robot, if you kill someone we'll take out your batteries!). The number of ways that things can go wrong without the owner of the machine having a reasonable amount of liability is huge.

What if the autonomous weapon malfunctions in the field? Is the owner responsible for having deployed in that particular location? Is the manufacturer responsible for the bugs that occur? What if the machine is operating outside of recommended parameters? What if the machine was hacked, and the bug occurs due to a faulty communication issue, ie the message was sent to authorize targeting your wife, but then a fraction of a second later another message was sent rescinding the order, but the message was garbled or never arrived due to a netwoking delay in transit on Amazon's cloud servers? What if the machine's owner deploys thousands of vermin killing robots around the city without incident every day, but it just happened to kill your wife because she was misidentified as a rodent?

The fact is that AIs and autonomous robots have no legally useful place in society (unlike nonautonomous robots). There is almost no deterrence value in threatening an owner with fines (how much is reasonable in the rodent example?) and there is no value in destroying the offending machine (an autonomous machine is not alive, and it may be the identical model from a manufactured run of 1 million products, so what's the point of scrapping that one unit?). There is no point is blaming a random customer who bought the machine and probably has no clue at all how it operates or how to detect malfunctions. And you can bet that the manufacturing chain is full of lieability disclaimers and insurance companies will pass the buck. So what hope is there for avenging your wife? And if it goes to trial (against whom?) how long and how much cost will be spent for an uncertain outcome?

The ethical issues surrounding blame are serious, and at the risk of going slightly off topic, they are similar to the issues of terrorism. If a suicide bomber blows himself up in a crowded place, you can't pick up his pieces and stick them in jail. Nothing you can do to him has any deterrent effect, and going after his family or friends is, at best, a legal nightmare and an ethical problem. The issues surrounding autonomous machines are a bit like that, because, well, the fact that it's an *autonomous* machine means that no human being was actually pulling the trigger or directly making the choice to shoot.

Comment Re: Solution: Don't Trust Anyone (within reason) (Score 1) 82 82

Dear AC, you seem to be a cheapskate. You want "free labor"? Fuck off. Free software gives *anyone* the ability to pay someone who knows what he's doing to look at, and modify, the code. What more could anyone want? (except for cheapskates like you, but those people's " complaints" aren't worth addressing anyway) That's the beauty of Free: you don't *have* to trust any Google's, Microsoft's or Apples or anyone with your security, because you can choose who will do the work and what exactly the criteria will be for the investigation

Comment Re:qmail and Microsoft (Score 2) 85 85

Yep. Community is exactly the wrong word. These are customers, they will never be a community. In a community, there is shared ownership (hint: community has the same root as communal and communism).

The reason there are open source communities is because by making the source open, it belongs to everybody in the community. This is not so with "shared" source (aka Microsoft's "look but don't share" approach). Merely publishing source code doesn't make it open. Open means I can change it, and I can republish the full system with my changes included, and it will actually run as expected. If there are any legal impediments, or unreasonable technical gotchas, then it's not open source. And there's no community.

Comment Re: How is it (Score 3, Insightful) 176 176

That depends. This may be an unpopular point of view to some here, but the value of people depends on supply and demand, just like the value of goods. To lower the value of people in a country, all it takes is a large increase in population way beyond the required workforce and the available resources. Below a certain value, people will become disposable entities just like the slaves in Roman times. In some of the poorest countries around the world, this is partially happening. In the richer countries around the globe, this could also happen, either because our mix of resources and work changes too radically for our population at some point, or because the poor from other countries flee their homes in extreme numbers at some point.

We can't assume that human life will always be valued in the future like it is now.

Comment Re:So, the other side? (Score 1) 422 422

I think that being able to recover "trivially" is the issue here. If you fire all the employees one moment, arguing that once you've paid their entitlements the company will have zero operating capital left, then it's going to be difficult to "trivially" recover and start operating as before. Anyone who's hired people knows that the upfront cost of hiring is much higher than the incremental cost of paying an ongoing employee's salary. It's much more likely that the company would be sold off to new owners while the employees are still emplyed, as the owners can inject more operating capital, and the upfront costs of hiring everyone don't apply.

In any case, this has little to do with unions, whose purpose is rather different.

Comment Re:Probably a more useful metric than social netwo (Score 0) 102 102

12 billion users is not that hard to get. For example, the Mormon church has at least 12 billion members by now too.

In truth, these numbers of users are really quite small. The current upper bound seems to be about 108 billion, so there's still a ways to go.

Comment Re:stupid (Score 1) 172 172

So what you're saying is that when I bring a physical print into the digital world by taking a photo and displaying it on my website with a pink frame and blinking title text, my work is transformative because I am messing with random surfers' state of mind?

Sounds weak.

Comment Re:So, the other side? (Score 1) 422 422

Sounds like he'd have happily left them with nothing if he'd had the chance. I can't see any reason why the former employees would have done anything but fight for their severance.

If he had done that he might have gone to prison so he should be happy. I'm gonna say this in capitals because it's true. A COMPANY DIRECTOR IS NOT ALLOWED TO OPERATE A BUSINESS WHICH IS UNABLE TO PAY ITS BILLS AT ANY MOMENT. That's a nono in any modern country.

As soon as a company is unable to pay a single bill, even if it's just for $5, the directors must shut it down and stop operating it. In other words, if you're a company dierctor and you intend to fire anyone, you MUST fire them before the company funds dip below the employee's entitlements. Period.

Comment that's what spy agencies do (Score 5, Insightful) 175 175

It's a bit creepy to see all the photos that Google still has on tap, including many that I've since deleted on my phone

That's what spy agencies do. They keep your photos for 20 years after you've already forgotten about them, and then POW. When you step out of line and vote for the wrong person or support the wrong cause, they'll dredge them back up, and blackmail you on the basis that you were sitting together in the same bar as a known bad guy one day while you were both in college.

TANSTAAFL.

Comment Re:I don't understand Scalia's logic here. (Score 2) 87 87

So the question before the Supreme Court was in the case of induced infringement, what if the defendant had a good faith reason to believe the patent to be invalid? I tend to agree with the majority here: if the patent wasn't declared invalid by a court, the usage of product would be infringing,

Trivially wrong. And I'm surprised you haven't thought about this. There are criteria for a patent to be valid. Some criteria are hard to judge, and need a court to decide. Some are easy. For example, actual prior art can be trivial to prove, so trivial that no court would be required at all, except as a time waster.

The point is that, *sometimes*, a patent beind invalid can be obvious, therefore it is by no means *always* nececessary for a court to make a determination, therefore it is not always true that a product would be infringing unless a court specifically stated otherwise.

Comment Re:Court Rules in Favor of Patent Reform (Score 3, Interesting) 87 87

I disagree. Good faith that a patent is invalid should be the default position of all legal systems. The fact is that the world is full of scientists who can duplicate each other's work. The fact that some guy from company A invented X only means that at the time, other companies didn't have the same priority, not that they didn't have employees Y capable of inventing the same thing X did.

We have to get off this stupid idea that inventors are unique snowflakes who invent unique stuff that nobody else could ever discover and we therefore owe them. The default position should be that a patent is probably invalid, and it should be up to the patent holder to prove otherwise, or pay costs trying. Also, examiners who grant invalid patents should be penalized. The chilling effect of patents and the amount of money being wasted and the lost opportunity costs on the economy are stifling.

Disobedience: The silver lining to the cloud of servitude. -- Ambrose Bierce

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