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Comment Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense. (Score 2) 150 150

Not really. The judge simply ruled she was bound by precedent that her court did not have sufficient authority to overturn. That's actually a good call, but it has nothing to do with the issue or arguments.

In any case appeals to "common sense" aren't worth squat when that common sense is based on ignorance or inexperience. It's common sense to talk about "the dark side of the Moon" or to think that the next flip of a coin is affected by prior flips.

For 80% of the existence of our species we coexisted with at least one other species that would pass any reasonable philosophical criteria for "person": the Neanderthals. If we were able to use biotechnology to recreate Neanderthals, Jurassic park style, there's no question that if successful the experiment would create people. But would they be legal persons?

It's an important philosophical question because it potentially colors a lot of mundane ethical questions. Do we recognize the rights of others as a kind of tribal convention? Or are we compelled to do so because of something in human nature? If the latter presumably non-human entities would have an equal ethical claim to personhood.

Comment The real question... (Score 2) 95 95

Ok, so he's the CEO of a big company that makes robots--among many other things. So I really have to wonder if he's actually as clueless as this makes him appear, or if he's cynically trying to convince stupid people that they should by his company's pseudo-friendly robots?

Or is there some third option I'm overlooking?

I mean, he might as well say, "robots must be designed to answer the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything." That's just about as plausible, given the state-of-the-art. (And then he could try to sell us speaking robots that can say "forty-two".) :)

Comment Re: stupid article (Score 1) 448 448

With Google you are for sure giving up privacy, support, and the product may be suspended at any minute. With MS at least you have a chance. The default setting are troublesome, but at least they be changed. That said MS generally will sacrifice security for ease. Does everyone remember when entire hard disks were by default shared on the Internet?

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 813 813

People are sick and tired of car payments and insurance payments.

A subscription service has to pay for these too. They're just hidden from you. Plus there is the additional overhead from the subscription service company. Total cost per mile is roughly the same, the savings come from parking costs and not having to deal with age related problems on the cars because you wear them out with pure mileage before they get old.

You don't have the upfront cost of owning the car, but you end up paying more per mile than people who own cars. There's a tipping point where car-as-a-service don't make sense anymore and a lot of Americans are well past that point. In fact most people who live in the suburbs and anybody rural are past that point. If you don't have ready access to good mass transit then you probably need to own a car. If you do live in a city, then you have to weigh the car-as-a-service option against just using mass transit and taxies, and traditional car rental for those rare occasions where you need to travel a good distance from the city.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 2) 813 813

Of course EVs in their current form are almost totally unsuited for a subscription model, since their usage model depends on being parked in places with charging support for a relatively long time and only being used on short to medium trips. They're amazing as commuter cars, but not a good idea for a Taxi. Supercharging is hard on the car and should be used sparingly.

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 813 813

Or you know, having to install the kid car seats every time you want to go somewhere would get old fast, especially if it's a different car every time and you have to figure out where the manufacturer hid the bars this time. Or if the car doesn't have the bars and you have to use the seatbelt method. Or the bars are there but spaced differently so you have to adjust the annoyingly difficult to adjust sliders on the seat to make it fit properly.

Comment Re:Dubious assumptions are dubious (Score 1) 283 283

I'd be curious about the distribution of the lights. Turning off lights in cities isn't going to help astronomers much. And if they're turning them off in places where there are few people walking, such as rural lanes, it might help astronomers without hurting pedestrians. (Criminals would be less likely to gather there, though those pedestrians had better be really aware of cars.)

I could see it working if there were more streetlights than we really needed. If that were the case, it could yield positive results. But it would also be invalid to extrapolate from those to the majority of lights in more densely populated places.

Comment Re:Doubtful (Score 1) 813 813

Indeed. There was an article floating around a few months ago with a hypothetical review of a gasoline-powered car if electric cars dominated. A lot of the downsides of ICEs that we take for granted would be really aggravating if we hadn't grown up with them.

Gasoline Car Test Drive: Noisy, Wasteful, Polluting, Fast But Pricey Refueling

Comment Re:quickly to be followed by self-driving cars (Score 1) 813 813

Even for you, there could be considerable advantages to hiring an automatic car rather than owning one. You offload the maintenance overhead (though that's smaller for an electric car than an internal-combustion engine); that doesn't save money but it does save time. What would save you money is if your car were off servicing four or five other families during the times you didn't need it. Cutting a $30,000 expense by a factor of 4 or 5 would be a huge cost saving to you. Even if the service imposed an overhead of a factor of 2, it's still not an amount of money you'd give up on lightly.

It need not even reduce your flexibility, if you could summon anybody's car on five minutes' notice. It's easy to see how that could happen, if large fleets were deployed strategically, even in the suburbs. (It would work less well as the density dropped, but even in a residential neighborhood, a car can move a fair distance in five minutes. Your house, your work site, your grocery store, etc. are all likely to be five minutes from a lot.)

There are still advantages to just having your own car. Mine is full of my crap, for example. I haven't taken my toolbox out in a while, but I will, and I don't know when. If I were calling for a car every day I wouldn't lug my toolbox around, and thus wouldn't have it. Customization is nice. Not having to worry about peak usage times would be nice (though peak usage will also coincide with peak traffic, which I try to avoid anyway).

Still... I'd consider ditching a car entirely if it saved me that much money. My car hit 200k miles, and while it's a Honda, I'm still gonna need to fork out $20k within the next few years. (I'm cheap, and don't want a luxurious car. I just want it to get me places.) A two-car household would likely make it very compelling to at least split the difference.

Comment Re:Editors : WTF (Score 0) 283 283

Technically it's giving smaller amounts of something, not taking anything away. Nonetheless marginally it makes perfect sense to talk about "doling out cuts". It means starting with a total net cut and dividing the marginal impact among several parties.

Yes, it will raise a few eyebrows among editorial prigs, but it's perfectly clear what "doling out cuts" means.

Staff meeting in the conference room in %d minutes.