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Comment Bitcoin Microtransactions (Score 2) 375 375

Microtransactions were once suggested as a solution to this problem, but credit card transaction fees destroy the profitability unless these are collected regularly and then charged in bulk. Some startup could sell NetBux, so a $0.05 microtransaction could be transferred free deducting from a $5 balance; credit card companies would only get a cut for that single $5 purchase. However, unless every browser manufacturer integrates NetBux support, it's dead in the water. Since everyone and their grandma would want to own the NetBux standard and take a cut of that, the most viable option is Bitcoin: it's free, noone owns it, it already exists, and has widely supported infrastructure.

Your browser would have a new UI element that lets you type in a redemption code for a Bitcoin card you buy at a store, or you can import from a wallet. It'd also have as part of the UI what your balance is. If you go to the landing page of say it'd advertise prominently what the cost per story is. Click on a story, and before it pops up, the web browser asks if you accept the charge and tells you what the cost is. If you accept, then that amount is deducted, with an option to 'remember for this site.' This site would then be whitelisted, but only at the agreed-upon fee. The whitelist would need to only work for certain subdomains, or something, so that an official page could charge you, but not user content (comments, complementary webpages ala Angelfire, email, etc.) Perhaps it'd involve signed certificates; if you want to charge to access a page, there's no excuse for it not to be encrypted.
It'd be anonymous enough for most people, and porn sites would love it: "click this video, only 3cents; access this photo gallery for 2cents".
It'd also make it trivial to finally implement the 'paid prioritized email' idea, so that non-spam would make it through filters by being accompanied by a 'gift' of a couple cents.

One downside is that it'd be an obvious target for malware; have your botnet send their $5 to your anonymous account. Tying a credit card to the browser to auto-refill the balance would be even worse. There'd also be young kids who click 'accept' on the 'deduct $1.00?' prompts not realizing it's real money, and parents who are sick of refilling their kids' browsers, wondering where that money is going.

Comment Will Drive Sites To Use VP9 (Score 1) 184 184

The big test is if the big MPAA studios using HEVC for UHD Blurays will pay this new patent pool or not. The quantity of money is large enough that they'll probably either negotiate a better deal or take it to court.
Unfortunately, if anyone pays, that'll fund them enough to be able to take everyone else to court, so the patent pool likely won't die unless there's some major court case striking down the patents. If anyone has enough sway with the US government to get software patents killed, it's the MAFIAA.
Smaller sites can use HEVC and noone will care to collect, larger sites will use VP9 or AVC.

Comment Automation Tax Proposal (Score 1) 391 391

Ultimately what will be (I believe) the best solution is some form of tax on commercial automation, that will be used to fund a Basic Income. As automation increases and replaces more jobs, the fund will increase and can support more people. The stock answer to automation is "but that creates jobs for robot engineers/repairmen", but eventually, machines will be able to repair one another, and engineer new designs. Unfortunately, the transition to a fully-automated economy will be slow enough that we can't suddenly drop into a "everything free for everyone!" economy, so a transitory solution is required.
The detail devil is that the tax will need to be well-calibrated, so that utilizing automation is still cost-effective, and that robotics startups will be able to get off the ground. Another issue is what exactly counts as 'automation': do more-efficient tools like carbon-fiber handsaws count as 'automation', since they're modern tools which increase efficiency, or must it have moving mechanical parts like a chainsaw? What about a spinning saw rotated by someone pedaling on a stationary bicycle?

Perhaps that issue could by avoided by setting a standard of productivity per man-hour used, with any excess (through overwork, or better tools, or more usage of machines) being taxed. The rate of 'base productivity' would have to be set by the government, although I'm unsure how that would be calibrated, particularly for a new fully-automated factory that never had human workers. It should also be predictable such that a startup would know how much they would be taxed, when determining if the venture would be profitable. The downside of THIS method is that it's difficult to assess productivity in some fields (computer programmers and similar), and many jobs which utilize automation are service jobs; the field of medicine changes so frequently that assessing 'productivity' there would be difficult. A strict definition of 'productivity' as 'billable value' might help take care of service jobs, but assessing productivity of the more abstract cognitive jobs remains elusive. Call-centers that use automation to provide free tech support for a purchased product, for example, would have their automation taxed how? A combination of the two methods may be required.

Many Americans who are unemployed, or criminals, or on welfare, already live off of $5k or less per year, so a $5k basic income would be 'liveable' to them; if you live in a house/apartment with a few other people like you, you can cover the bills. As the basic income rises to $10k, the unemployed would feel less desperate, and crime would no longer seem like a necessary evil to stay alive. For reference, paying $10k to the lower 50% of adults in the USA would cost $1.2trillion per year, around what we were spending in Iraq each year we were there; and it could replace welfare programs, so the net amount wouldn't be as much.

Comment Broken Screens Ahoy (Score 2) 191 191

A key part of the usability of these glass-covered capacitive-touch devices is that you can very lightly touch the surface and it'll react. Once you get the idea into people's minds that if something isn't working, you should try pressing harder (Force Touching) then frustrated people will think "I'm not pressing hard enough" and press harder and harder until they crack their screen. I've seen people with styluses repeatedly stabbing touchscreens like a psycho killer, because the device wasn't responding the way they wanted (usually because they were missing the button).

Comment That's The Ticket (Score 2) 57 57

Why no, Agent... Dontneedtoknow, is it? I have this document titled "Audacious plan to overthrow the evil plutocracy" on my computer because I'm writing it for a contest held by a security researcher, not because I'm a terrorist who has the knowhow to do all the illegal things outlined in this step-by-step document.

*gets blackbagged and dragged to Gitmo*

Comment Protecting the Mob (Score 4, Insightful) 143 143

I look outside my manse window and see the hooligans shouting and pumping their fists into the air, and wonder, what is the benefit of it all? We've already bought the media, we control the message, so what do they think they're going to incite? The age of protest is dead, the age of tribute is begun. The ones who have the gold make the rules, as the richest voices get to shout loudest; of course, we make sure we're on the right side. And if we get to profit a bit from the arrangement, so what?

The Citizen Safety Law, contrary to its detractors, IS accurately named. The only thing protest is good for nowadays is trashing, looting, and injuries whenever it gets out of hand. Now bereft of purpose, the mob is only able to produce negative effects; this law simply dissipates the chaos before it can cause any harm.


Comment Two Extremes Will Win (Score 2) 155 155

Minor infections will become less common, as the attack surface area is reduced and mitigated over time. New APIs and interfaces will be created, creating N+1 standards, but they'll be more secure than the older ones they supersede. For example, Flash and ActiveX are slowly going away in favor of more secure alternatives. How many critical html5 vulnerabilities are found in your browser of choice compared to critical Flash/Java Web Client vulnerabilities? Open source is a big part of it, but security being baked into the design rather than being tacked-on after thousands of vulnerabilities have been written into legacy code is bigger.

On the downside, when you DO catch an infection, it'll be nasty. New methods for hiding in firmwares will require removing chips and re-flashing them, and unless open firmware takes off in a big way, in practice this will mean replacing hardware very carefully so it doesn't infect the new hardware. It will be virtually undetectable, and have countless methods for defeating airgapping, virtual machines, decompiling, reverse engineering, and antivirus software. So once your machine is owned, it'll really be owned.

The best thing that can be done is to systematically eliminate every motivation to deploy malware: make spam unprofitable, harden SCADA to eliminate sabotage, mature altcoins to not benefit from stolen processing cycles, and regulate online advertising so ad injection is pointless. Also, rework the protocols that allow DDOSing, and require actual two-factor authentication for financial websites/transactions. Eventually, I think malware will be rare/invisible enough that only computer scientists will know about it, ordinary users won't worry about it.

Comment Prosperity Is Bad For Business (Score 0) 341 341

up to 20 degrees higher than today at the northernmost latitudes... the global sea level was about 25 meters higher

I bet some inland Canadians/Scandinavian countries wouldn't mind, and they're not the only ones. There's lots of money to be made by letting climate change create havoc: insurance companies get more business when there's uncertainty; uncertainty gives speculators more volatility to work with; defense contractors have more food riots to quell; politicians get to make more promises to solve the new problems; and corporations get more grants, bailouts and subsidies to help solve them. First-world politicians get to use FUD to gain a bit more control over the populace, and the harsher climates help them avoid that dreaded post-scarcity economy just a little bit longer. Break enough windows and people won't be able to buy a society that no longer 'needs' the robber barons and demagogues.

Comment Real Reason for the Patent Gap (Score 3, Interesting) 126 126

The real reason America has to catch up on the 'patent gap' is not so we'll be the most competitive, but so we can siphon as much money as possible from other countries' businesses. More patents means more lawsuit money coming into the country to offset the trade deficit. Gotta win at every statistical metric fathomable, dontcha know.

Comment That Explains Why Online News Is Removing Comments (Score 4, Insightful) 267 267

That explains why many news organizations are removing the ability to comment from their sites: because it was undermining the effectiveness of the favored propaganda they pass along as 'news'. Remember kids, journalistic bias is all about WHICH propaganda you decide to go to press with.

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982